The journalistic monitoring group Airwars says up to 100 civilians were reportedly killed by U.S.-led coalition airstrikes in Iraq’s Anbar province Saturday. Residents say the airstrikes continued for four hours and hit an internet hall, multiple homes, a stadium and a cemetery, where a funeral of an ISIS fighter was being held.
Meanwhile, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says U.S. airstrikes killed at least 30 people, including more than a dozen children, in Syria’s eastern province of Deir ez-Zor Monday. This comes after U.S. airstrikes on May 11 reportedly killed at least a dozen civilians, including eight children, north of the Syrian city of Raqqa. Two days earlier, airstrikes on two villages around Raqqa reportedly killed 19 civilians, including at least five children.
In more news on Syria, the U.S. State Department says it believes the Syrian government has been burning the bodies of those killed at the Saydnaya prison outside Damascus in a crematorium. Amnesty International says the Syrian government has executed up to 13,000 people at the prison since 2011. Physicians for Human Rights said, “If shown to be true, the Syrian government’s use of a crematorium demonstrates the extent to which the Syrian government has become a machine that commits mass murder with impunity.”
In Yemen, the death toll from a cholera outbreak has risen to 187, as the U.S.-backed, Saudi-led bombing campaign has devastated the country’s health, water, sewage and sanitation systems. There are more than 11,000 reported cases of cholera in Yemen, and the International Committee for the Red Cross warns the disease is spreading like wildfire.
In Afghanistan, five children between the ages of six and 10 were killed on Sunday when a mortar round exploded as the children were playing cricket. The mortar round was likely fired amid fighting earlier in the day but did not explode until the children were playing. The United Nations says fighting in Afghanistan has killed 283 children so far this year.
In Mexico, award-winning journalist Javier Valdez has been assassinated in the northwestern state of Sinaloa. Valdez was a longtime reporter on drug trafficking and organized crime. He wrote for the prominent newspaper La Jornada. He was killed Monday after gunmen opened fire on his car in the city of Culiacán. This is Valdez, speaking in 2011 when he won the Committee to Protect Journalists’ International Press Freedom Award.
Javier Valdez: “I have been a journalist for 21 years, and never before have I suffered and enjoyed it this intensely, nor with so many dangers. In Culiacán in the state of Sinaloa, in Mexico, it’s a danger to be alive. And to be a journalist is to tread an invisible line determined by the bad guys, who are in drug trafficking and the government, in a field strewn with explosives. This is what most of the country is living through. One must protect oneself from everything and everyone. And there does not seem to be options or salvation, and often there is no one to turn to.”
His death marks the fifth reported killing of a journalist in Mexico this year. Only hours after his assassination, gunmen opened fire on another journalist, Sonia Córdova, and her son Jonathan Rodríguez Córdova, in the state of Jalisco. Córdova is the deputy director of the weekly magazine El Costeño. She survived the attack and is in critical condition. Her son, who also wrote for the magazine, was killed. Mexico is one of the world’s most dangerous places to be a journalist. Since 2000, more than 100 journalists have been murdered in Mexico.
President Trump is meeting with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan today at the White House. Today’s meeting comes amid tension between U.S. and Turkey over the Pentagon’s arming of the Syrian Kurdish militia. During today’s meeting, Trump and Erdogan are not expected to discuss the deteriorating human rights situation inside Turkey, where nearly 50,000 people have been arrested, 150,000 public and private workers have been fired, and more than 150 journalists have been imprisoned, since last summer’s failed military coup.
In Seattle, Washington, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals heard arguments Monday over Trump’s second Muslim ban, which sought to ban all refugees and citizens of six majority-Muslim nations from entering the United States. Two months ago, a federal judge in Hawaii blocked Trump’s revised ban just hours before it was slated to take effect nationwide. This is Neal Katyal, a lawyer representing the state of Hawaii.
Neal Katyal: “The government has not engaged in mass, dragnet exclusions in the past 50 years. This is something new and unusual in which you’re saying this whole class of people, some of which are dangerous, we can bar them all.”
We’ll go to Seattle later in the broadcast to speak with Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson, who filed the first lawsuit against Trump’s Muslim travel ban.
In more international news, in Japan, thousands of people protested against U.S. military bases on the island of Okinawa Monday, as the island marked the 45th anniversary of its reversion to Japanese rule. The protesters gathered on the shores near Henoko to protest a highly controversial new U.S. military base, which began construction in April after years of opposition from residents. For decades, residents have called for the expulsion of U.S. troops from Okinawa, which houses about two-thirds of the 50,000 U.S. troops currently stationed in Japan.
The Trump administration said Monday it would vastly expand the so-called global gag rule, a Reagan-era policy that bans U.S. funding for any international healthcare organization that performs abortion or advocates for the legalization of abortion or even mentions abortion, even if those activities are funded by non-U.S. money. The expansion of the global gag rule is expected to affect hundreds of health clinics worldwide, particularly in Africa.
The Supreme Court has dealt a major victory for voting rights activists, after it refused to hear an appeal over North Carolina’s voter suppression law. Last year, a federal appeals court blocked the law, ruling the measures discriminated against African-American voters and targeted them “with almost surgical precision.” On Monday, the Supreme Court announced it would not hear a challenge to the appeals court ruling, meaning the highly restrictive voter ID law will not be reinstated.
In Bakersfield, California, dozens of farmworkers are recovering after they were exposed to a highly toxic pesticide, the use of which was recently greenlighted by the EPA in one of the agency’s first decisions since Trump took office. Last year, the EPA was on the verge of banning the Dow Chemical Company pesticide. But under EPA administrator Scott Pruitt, the agency unexpectedly reversed course and approved its use. Multiple studies have found the pesticide causes both immediate symptoms, such as vomiting, diarrhea and blurred vision, as well as long-term damage in children, such as developmental delays and higher rates of autism.
And in West Virginia, former police officer Stephen Mader is suing the city of Weirton, after he says he was fired from the police department for not shooting a suicidal young man. In May 2016, Officer Mader arrived at the house of 23-year-old African American Ronald “R.J.” Williams Jr. after Williams’s girlfriend called the police because he’d threatened to hurt himself. Officer Mader says he found Williams holding a handgun and acting suicidal. Mader says he was trying to de-escalate the situation and was urging Williams to put down the gun, when two more police officers arrived. One immediately opened fire, killing Williams. The police later found Williams’s gun was not loaded. Officer Mader says one month later he was informed he would be fired for “apparent difficulties in critical incident reasoning.”