Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is heading to Russia today, where he’s meeting with Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov amid increasing tensions between the U.S. and Russia over the ongoing war in Syria.
Russian President Vladimir Putin will not meet with Tillerson—a move that points to increasing conflict between the two countries following the U.S. decision to launch 59 missiles at a Syrian government air base last week. The U.S. says that strike was in retaliation for a chemical weapons attack, allegedly carried out by the Syrian government, which killed 86 civilians, including dozens of children. On Monday, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer signaled the U.S. may take further military action in Syria—not only in retaliation to chemical weapons attacks, but also to attacks like barrel bombings.
Press Secretary Sean Spicer: “I think the president has been very clear that there are a number of lines that were crossed last week. I think what not just Syria but the world saw last week is a president that is going to act decisively and proportionately and with justification when it comes to actions like that. I mean, and I will tell you, the answer is, is that if you gas a baby, if you put a barrel bomb into innocent people, I think you can—you will see a response from this president.”
U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson spent Monday in Italy for the G7 meeting, where the foreign ministers discussed the ongoing Syrian war. Outside the meeting, demonstrators protesting the G7 meeting were attacked by Italian police. This is one of the protesters, Marco Rizzo.
Marco Rizzo: “The people in Europe and the Middle East need to wake up and find a way to make their real enemies pay the price [for what is being done]. Our real enemies are the governments, the banks, the big multinational arms manufacturers, who make profit with the blood of each one of us. This is the only solution there is. We think the only solution is not to expect anything more from these governments.”
Meanwhile, U.S.-led coalition airstrikes targeting ISIS militants in Syria’s Raqqa governorate continue to kill civilians. The journalistic monitoring group Airwars says that on Friday a U.S.-led coalition airstrike on a house reportedly killed at least five civilians, while another strike that same day on an internet cafe reportedly killed at least nine civilians, including three children. The following day, a U.S.-led coalition airstrike reportedly killed at least seven civilians, including six children, when the strike hit a boat on the Euphrates River the family was traveling on. And on Sunday, a U.S. strike on a market reportedly killed three civilians—a married couple and their son.
North Korea is warning the United States it’s “ready for war,” following the Pentagon’s decision to send an aircraft carrier, known as the Carl Vinson, and three guided-missile destroyers and cruisers to the Korean Peninsula. A North Korean Foreign Ministry spokesperson told the state-run news agency, “We will hold the U.S. wholly accountable for the catastrophic consequences to be entailed by its outrageous actions. [North Korea] is ready to react to any mode of war desired by the U.S.”
In San Bernardino, California, residents gathered Monday night for a vigil to mourn the deaths of 8-year-old Jonathan Martinez and elementary school teacher Karen Elaine Smith, who were murdered Monday morning when Smith’s estranged husband walked into her special education classroom at North Park Elementary School and began shooting at his wife with a high-caliber revolver. The man, Cedric Anderson, had a history of domestic violence. Karen Elaine Smith’s mother says she was planning to divorce him at the time of the shooting. Anderson shot and killed himself in the classroom, after murdering his wife, fatally wounding 8-year-old Martinez and injuring a 9-year-old student. This is San Bernardino Police Chief Jarrod Burguan.
Chief Jarrod Burguan: “Cedric entered the classroom and, from what we understand, without saying anything, armed with a large-caliber revolver, opened fire on his wife. She was killed in that exchange. There are two students in the classroom that were behind the teacher that were struck by gunfire. One of those children is identified as Jonathan Martinez, common spelling. He’s 8 years old. He was taken to Loma Linda University Medical Center via helicopter, airlifted out almost immediately, as soon as we can get resources there. Tragically, he has passed away.”
A new investigation by Global Witness has revealed oil giant Shell knowingly participated in a massive bribery scheme that ended up robbing Nigerians of more than $1 billion. In 2011, Shell and Italian oil company Eni paid a combined $1.1 billion for access to a massive offshore oil block. Newly revealed internal emails show Shell executives knew the money would be stolen by Nigeria’s former oil minister, a convicted money launderer, who used the stolen money to bribe government officials and to buy a private jet, armored cars and firearms. Shell has long denied knowing anything about the corruption involved in the deal.
In Charleston, South Carolina, convicted murderer and white supremacist Dylann Roof pleaded guilty to nine counts of murder in state court on Monday. Roof has already been convicted and sentenced to death on federal charges of murdering nine black worshipers, including Pastor Clementa Pinckney, at the historic Emanuel AME Church in June 2015.
A Houston district court judge has ruled that Texas’s 2011 voter ID law was written with the specific intent to suppress the votes of African-American and Latino residents. This is now the fifth time a judge has ruled that Texas’s voter ID law is discriminatory. The law created a list of IDs required to vote that skewed heavily toward IDs carried by whites, such as concealed-carry permits, while excluding IDs often carried by people of color, such as government employee IDs and public university IDs. The ruling comes after the Justice Department dropped part of its legal objection to Texas’ strict voter ID law in February, saying it would no longer argue the law had a discriminatory intent.
Alabama Governor Robert Bentley resigned Monday as he faced the first day of impeachment hearings over accusations he was having an affair with his senior political adviser and then used public money and resources to try to cover up the relationship. Bentley will be succeeded by Lt. Gov. Kay Ivey—the second female governor in Alabama’s history. Meanwhile, Seattle Mayor Ed Murray is facing multiple accusations he molested and had sex with underage boys in the 1980s.
Two Wells Fargo executives are being forced by the company’s board to pay back $75 million in compensation over a massive scandal in which Wells Fargo workers created 2 million fake accounts in order to meet grueling sales targets. Wells Fargo former CEO John Stumpf and the former head of community banking, Carrie Tolstedt, are forced to return a combined $75 million in pay, making it the largest “clawback” in U.S. banking history. Wells Fargo has fired a staggering 5,300 low-level workers over the creation of the fake accounts. People nationwide also continue to protest Wells Fargo over its role in funding the $3.8 billion Dakota Access pipeline.
The Pulitzer Prizes have been announced. The New York Daily News and ProPublica won the top public service journalism award for a joint investigation into the New York Police Department’s use of eviction rules to force people of color out of their homes.
The Washington Post’s David Fahrenthold won for his investigation into how President Trump lied during the campaign about donating millions of dollars to charities to help veterans.
The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, McClatchy and the Miami Herald also won for their reporting on the massive Panama Papers leak that revealed how the Panama-based Mossack Fonseca law firm set up a global network of shell companies for heads of state and other elites to store money offshore to avoid taxes and oversight.
Art Cullen of the tiny, family-run Iowa newspaper The Storm Lake Times won for his editorials that challenged the corporate agricultural industry, including the Koch brothers, Cargill and Monsanto. Cullen is not only the paper’s editorial writer, but also the paper’s editor and part-time reporter. His brother John is the paper’s publisher.
The Pulitzer Prize for biography went to Hisham Matar for “The Return: Fathers, Sons and the Land in Between,” which chronicles the author’s return to Libya, where his father had been imprisoned by Muammar Gaddafi two decades earlier.
And the Pulitzer Prize for history went to Heather Ann Thompson for “Blood in the Water: The Attica Prison Uprising of 1971 and Its Legacy.”
This is Thompson speaking on Democracy Now! about her investigation into the decades-long cover-up about how armed state troopers raided the prison to break the standoff, firing more than 2,000 rounds of ammunition, killing 29 prisoners and 10 guards.
Heather Ann Thompson: “For 45 years, the majority of the records for Attica remain sealed by the State Attorney General’s Office, or at least very difficult to get. And the reason is that for all of the death at Attica, no member of law enforcement was ever held responsible. So, the book was the journey to figure out who had created so much trauma; what had happened in the Governor’s Office to lead to this retaking; who were the members of law enforcement that not only shot their weapons, but indeed the highest levels of the state police, who worked very had to tamper with evidence, to conceal evidence and to protect their own. And that was a key journey for finding out that information.”
Lynn Nottage also won her second Pulitzer for her drama, “Sweat.” New Yorker critic Hilton Als won the Pulitzer Prize for Criticism. Colson Whitehead’s “The Underground Railroad” won for fiction.
To see our full interview with Heather Ann Thompson, as well as with Hisham Matar and Michael Hudson, senior editor at the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, go to democracynow.org.