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Reports: U.S.-Backed Troops Used White Phosphorus in Raqqa

HeadlineJun 12, 2017
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In Syria, U.S.-backed troops fighting ISIS in Raqqa have been accused of deploying munitions loaded with white phosphorus, an incendiary weapon whose use in populated civilian areas is banned under international law. Photos and video published by the local journalist group Raqqa Is Being Slaughtered Silently show what appears to be white phosphorous filling the air over Raqqa on Thursday night, amid the U.S.-backed offensive to retake the city from ISIS. White phosphorus munitions can burn human flesh down to the bone, and wounds contaminated by the chemical can reignite up to days later, poisoning victims and leading to organ failure or death. An unnamed U.S. official told The New York Times that the U.S.-backed forces fighting in Raqqa have access to white phosphorus munitions. The apparent use of white phosphorus came the same night as a U.S.-backed coalition airstrike reportedly hit an internet cafe in Raqqa, killing as many as 14 civilians. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says one of the civilians killed was an activist who was in the middle of sending a report to the monitoring group, when the airstrike destroyed the Al-Hason Net internet cafe.

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More Headlines fromJune 12, 2017

Yemen: More Than 859 People Die from Cholera as U.S.-Backed War Continues

Jun 12, 2017
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In Yemen, a civilian is dying nearly every hour from a massive cholera outbreak, as the ongoing U.S.-backed, Saudi-led bombing campaign and naval blockade has devastated the country’s health, sanitation and water systems. The World Health Organization says cholera has now killed at least 859 people. More than 100,000 people are infected. This is the Health Ministry spokesperson Abdelhakim al-Kahlani.

Abdelhakim al-Kahlani: “The ministry had to announce the state of emergency. The ministry announced that it is powerless in facing this epidemic on its own and that we need international support and international organizations to aid in combatting this epidemic.”

Last month, President Donald Trump signed a series of arms deals with Saudi Arabia totaling a record $110 billion during his visit to Riyadh. United Nations monitors have warned Saudi-led airstrikes in Yemen could constitute crimes against humanity. Over 10,000 people have died since the Saudi-led bombing campaign began in 2015. We’ll go to Yemen for more on the cholera epidemic after headlines.

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Reports: U.S. Troops Kill 3 Civilians, Including Two Children, in Afghanistan

Jun 12, 2017
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In Afghanistan, U.S. troops have been accused of killing a civilian and his two children outside his home this morning in Nangarhar province. A local Afghan official says the U.S. troops opened fire, killing the three civilians, after the soldiers’ car was hit by a roadside bomb. Meanwhile, three U.S. soldiers were killed on Saturday, also in Nangarhar province, when an Afghan army commando turned on the U.S. troops. The U.S. and Afghan army were in the middle of a joint military operation in Achin district when the killings took place. Six U.S. soldiers have died in Afghanistan so far this year.

Iraq: 21 Killed in a Suicide Attack in Baghdad Market

Jun 12, 2017
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In Iraq, at least 21 people were killed in a suicide attack on a market south of Baghdad on Friday morning. The attack came as families were shopping for Ramadan.

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Pentagon Carried Out Drone Strike in Somalia Against Al-Shabab

Jun 12, 2017
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The U.S. war on terror continues to expand under President Trump. On Sunday, the U.S. military said it had carried out a drone strike in southern Somalia against the militant group al-Shabab. It’s the first known strike of its kind since President Trump relaxed the rules governing U.S. military operations in Somalia. The Pentagon says the strike killed at least eight militants when an armed Reaper drone, launched from a U.S. military base in Djibouti, dropped a series of Hellfire missiles on the al-Shabab camp.

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Pentagon: U.S. Special Operations Troops Supporting Philippines Army

Jun 12, 2017
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Meanwhile, the Pentagon has also confirmed that U.S. special operations troops are supporting Philippines troops fighting militants in Marawi City. An unnamed U.S. official told Reuters the U.S. support includes training, aerial surveillance and electronic eavesdropping. The U.S. has 300 to 500 troops in the Philippines, although they are reportedly not engaged in direct fighting. The militants linked to ISIS seized control of Marawi City on May 23.

Maryland & D.C. AGs Suing President Trump over Foreign Payments to Hotel

Jun 12, 2017
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In the United States, the attorneys general of Maryland and Washington, D.C., are suing President Trump, accusing him of violating the Emoluments Clause of the Constitution by accepting millions of dollars in payments from foreign governments to his companies while serving as U.S. president. The lawsuit centers on the Trump International Hotel in D.C., which is near the White House. Representatives of Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Kuwait have all stayed at the hotel since Trump’s inauguration. The lawsuit is the first of its kind and comes as Trump is also facing multiple investigations over his ties to Russia.

New York AG Investigating Eric Trump Foundation After Forbes Exposé

Jun 12, 2017
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Meanwhile, New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman says he’s investigating the Eric Trump Foundation, following a Forbes investigation that revealed Trump’s son’s foundation took $100,000 of donations that were supposed to go to children with cancer, and instead funneled the money to the for-profit company the Trump Organization.

Dianne Feinstein to Senate Committee: Investigate Trump for Obstruction of Justice

Jun 12, 2017
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California Senator Dianne Feinstein is calling on the Senate Judiciary Committee to investigate Trump for possible obstruction of justice in the events leading up to Trump’s firing of former FBI Director James Comey.

On Friday, the day after Comey testified to the Senate Intelligence Committee, President Trump took to Twitter to attack him, tweeting, “Despite so many false statements and lies, total and complete vindication…and WOW, Comey is a leaker!” Comey testified that Trump has lied about him and the FBI. Comey has also said Trump pressured him to drop the investigation into former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn during a private meeting that Comey said was inappropriate.

Former U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara now says President Trump also made him feel uncomfortable during a series of phone calls. Bharara says he reported one of the calls to Attorney General Jeff Sessions’s chief of staff because it made him uneasy. Bharara was fired less than 24 hours after refusing to take a call from Trump. Attorney General Jeff Sessions will be testifying to the Senate Intelligence Committee Tuesday, although it’s not yet known whether the testimony will be open to the public.

Meanwhile, California Senator Dianne Feinstein is separately calling for Congress to look into Comey’s statements during his Senate Intelligence Committee testimony that former Attorney General Loretta Lynch asked him to downplay his investigation into Hillary Clinton’s emails during the 2016 presidential campaign.

Chelsea Manning in First TV Interview: “I Have a Responsibility to the Public”

Jun 12, 2017
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Formerly imprisoned Army whistleblower Chelsea Manning has given her first television interview after being released from prison last month.

Chelsea Manning: “I’m getting all this information, and it’s just death, destruction, mayhem. And eventually you just stop—I stopped seeing just statistics and information, and I started seeing people.”

Juju Chang: “There are those who say you may have been motivated to get the information into the public sphere, but you might have also given it to our enemies.”

Chelsea Manning: “Right, but I have a responsibility to the public. We all have a responsibility.”

That was formerly imprisoned Army whistleblower Chelsea Manning, speaking with ABC’s Juju Chang.

Statehood Wins Puerto Rico Referendum After Opposition Parties Boycott Vote

Jun 12, 2017
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Puerto Rico held a controversial referendum on its political status on Sunday. Ninety-seven percent of those who cast ballots supported Puerto Rico becoming the 51st state. However, only 23 percent of eligible voters took part, because many Puerto Rican opposition parties boycotted the vote. This is Raul Torres explaining why he didn’t vote in Sunday’s referendum.

Raul Torres: “I didn’t go to vote today. I’ve always voted in every election that I saw as legitimate, but I don’t think today’s election is valid at all, because the United States Congress isn’t going to validate this referendum, and it’s just something they are doing there, the party in power, to get a little closer to statehood. Statehood is a form of government that I don’t like, first of all. And second, this is just a waste of money.”

Oscar López Rivera and Thousands More March in NYC Puerto Rican Day Parade

Jun 12, 2017
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Sunday’s referendum in Puerto Rico came the same day tens of thousands turned out Sunday for the National Puerto Rican Day Parade here in New York City. Marchers at the New York parade included Puerto Rican independence activist Oscar López Rivera, who was imprisoned for about 35 years. We’ll hear voices from march later in the broadcast.

Trump Considering Canceling State Visit to Britain Amid Fears of Mass Protests

Jun 12, 2017
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President Trump may cancel his planned state visit to Britain, amid fears of mass protests. Nearly 2 million people in Britain have signed a petition saying Trump “should not be invited to make an official State Visit because it would cause embarrassment to Her Majesty the Queen.” London Mayor Sadiq Khan has also called for Trump’s state visit to Britain to be canceled, after Trump misquoted and then berated the mayor following the attack in London earlier this month.

Demonstrators Shout Down Islamophobic Protesters in a Dozen U.S. Cities

Jun 12, 2017
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Crowds of demonstrators shouted down Islamophobic protesters in more than a dozen U.S. cities Saturday. The Islamophobic rallies were organized by the anti-Muslim hate group Act for America. But in most cities, the counterprotesters greatly outnumbered those who turned out for the Islamophobic rallies. Protesters were arrested in Seattle, New York City and St. Paul, Minnesota.

Asylum Seekers Launch Hunger Strike Inside GEO Group’s Adelanto Detention Center

Jun 12, 2017
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In California, a group of undocumented Central American and Mexican asylum seekers are launching a hunger strike inside the for-profit Adelanto Detention Center this morning. Most of the hunger strikers were part of a caravan of refugees who spent April and May crossing through Mexico to reach the United States border to ask for asylum. They’ve been incarcerated in the GEO Group-owned Adelanto Detention Center since reaching the U.S. border. This is hunger striker Isaac Lopez Castillo.

Isaac Lopez Castillo: “The reasons for our hunger strike are, one, bail is set at impossibly high levels; two, denial of the right to political asylum; three, humiliation and discrimination toward the detained; four, facilitation of the paperwork and processing of the detained; five, bad food; six, incompetence of medical staff; seven, paperwork in English.”

Uber CEO Travis Kalanick Facing Possible Forced Leave of Absence Amid Scandal

Jun 12, 2017
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Uber’s board of directors has forced out a top executive and is considering a leave of absence for CEO Travis Kalanick, amid a slew of scandals at the Wall Street-backed ride-hailing company. Kalanick has faced widespread criticism after Bloomberg News published a dash cam video of him arguing with and insulting an Uber driver in an expletive-filled tirade earlier this spring. A number of women workers at Uber have also reported widespread sexual harassment within the company. Last week, Uber fired 20 workers over sexual harassment.

Activists Disrupt D.C. Pride Parade to Protest Sponsors Wells Fargo, Lockheed Martin

Jun 12, 2017
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Tens of thousands of people took to the streets for Pride marches on Saturday and Sunday in cities across the United States. In multiple cities, LGBT activists, led by queer women of color, staged disruptions of the Pride marches themselves, in order to protest the increasing corporatization of Pride. The D.C. Capital Pride Parade was the site of major disruptions on Saturday, as activists with the group No Justice No Pride blocked the street with a sign reading “War Profiteers have no place in our community.” The group is demanding Pride scale back the police presence at the march and cut ties with its corporate sponsors that profit off war and fossil fuel extraction, including the companies Wells Fargo, Lockheed Martin, BAE Systems and Northrop Grumman.

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Orlando: Hundreds Gather for Vigil on Anniversary of Pulse Nightclub Massacre

Jun 12, 2017
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In Orlando, Florida, hundreds of people gathered Sunday night for a vigil to honor the 49 people who were killed at the Pulse nightclub massacre one year ago. The shooting at the LGBT club was the deadliest mass shooting in recent U.S. history. The majority of those killed were young LGBT people of color. During Sunday night’s vigil, 49 people dressed as angels and carried candles as they surrounded the club, which is being converted into a memorial to honor the massacre victims.

Tony Awards: Actress Cynthia Nixon Honors Those Who Are Resisting Trump

Jun 12, 2017
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Last night were the Tony Awards. Among those who gave political speeches were Cynthia Nixon, who won best featured actress for her role as an abused woman in Lillian Hellman’s play “The Little Foxes.”

Cynthia Nixon: “It is a privilege to appear in Lillian Hellman’s eerily prescient play at this specific moment in history. Eighty years ago, she wrote, 'There are people who eat the earth and eat all the people on it, and other people who just stand around and watch them do it.' My love, my gratitude and my undying respect go out to all the people in 2017 who are refusing to just stand and watch them do it.”

U.N. General Assembly President Miguel d’Escoto Dies at 84

Jun 12, 2017
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And former U.N. General Assembly President Father Miguel d’Escoto has died in Nicaragua at 84. The Maryknoll priest was a longtime critic of the United States and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. This is Father Miguel d’Escoto talking about the United Nations in an interview with Democracy Now! in 2010.

Miguel d’Escoto: “The United Nations is a fraud.”

Amy Goodman: “What do you mean they have veto power over it? Who’s 'they'?”

Miguel d’Escoto: “The Security Council.”

Amy Goodman: “And the countries, in particular, on the Security Council?”

Miguel d’Escoto: “Within the Security Council, there are five countries that have veto power. But without a doubt, the most influential country in the United Nations is the United States. And it’s really, really amazing the most warmongering country in the history of mankind is put there in charge to make sure that there is peace.”

That’s Father Miguel d’Escoto speaking to Democracy Now! in 2010. He died in Nicaragua at the age of 84.

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