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You turn to Democracy Now! for ad-free news you can trust. Maybe you come for our daily headlines, or for in-depth stories that expose government and corporate abuses of power. We produce our daily news hour at a fraction of the budget of a commercial news operation, all without ads, government funding or corporate underwriting? This is only possible with your support. Right now every donation to Democracy Now! will be doubled by a generous supporter. This means if you give $25 today, Democracy Now! will get $50 to support our daily news hour. Please do your part. It takes just a couple of minutes to make sure that Democracy Now! is there for you and everybody else in the coming year. Thanks so much. -Amy Goodman
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The U.S.-led coalition is now reportedly killing more civilians in Syria than ISIS, Russia or even the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. That’s according to the journalistic monitoring group Airwars, which based its findings on data from the Syrian Network for Human Rights. This data says that U.S.-led coalition forces reportedly killed at least 273 civilians last month—which is slightly more than the number of civilians reportedly killed by ISIS. Overall, the data says nearly 1,000 civilians were killed in Syria last month alone.
President Trump’s Muslim travel ban has been dealt another legal blow. On Monday, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit unanimously ruled that President Trump had overstepped his legal authority in signing an executive order seeking to ban from entering the United States all refugees and citizens of six majority-Muslim nations. The court wrote, “The order does not offer a sufficient justification to suspend the entry of more than 180 million people on the basis of nationality. National security is not a 'talismanic incantation' that, once invoked, can support any and all exercise of executive power.” In its opinion, the court also cited Trump’s tweets, as well as a White House statement confirming that all of Trump’s tweets are considered to be official statements by the president.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions is slated to testify today before the Senate Intelligence Committee, where he’s expected to face questioning about his role in the firing of former FBI Director James Comey, as well as about Sessions’s multiple meetings with Russian officials while he was serving as a member of Trump’s campaign. Sessions has acknowledged meeting with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak twice last year. There are also unsubstantiated rumors based on U.S. intelligence reports that Sessions may have also met with the Russian ambassador in April at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington, D.C., during a Trump campaign event.
This comes as a close associate of President Trump’s says Trump may be considering firing special prosecutor Robert Mueller. This is Christopher Ruddy, head of the right-wing Newsmax Media, speaking Monday to Judy Woodruff on ”PBS NewsHour.”
Judy Woodruff: “Is President Trump prepared to let the special counsel pursue his investigation?”
Christopher Ruddy: “Well, I think he’s considering perhaps terminating the special counsel. I think he’s weighing that option. I think it’s pretty clear by what one of his lawyers said on television recently.”
In response, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer did not deny the claims but said only that Ruddy had not spoken to the president about this.
In the midst of these controversies, Trump pulled together his full Cabinet on Monday.
President Donald Trump: “Never has there been a president, with few exceptions—in the case of FDR, he had a major Depression to handle—who’s passed more legislation, who’s done more things than what we’ve done. We’ve been about as active as you can possibly be and at a just about record-setting pace.”
In fact, Trump has not signed a single piece of major legislation since taking office. His executive orders restricting immigration have been blocked by multiple courts. Last week, former FBI Director James Comey called him a liar on national television. And during his first 100 days in office, Trump has spent twice as many days playing golf as Presidents Obama, George W. Bush and Bill Clinton all did during the same period combined.
During Monday’s meeting, each one of Trump’s Cabinet members took turns heaping praise on Trump and expressing their loyalty to him in what appeared to be a publicity stunt. This is Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price.
Tom Price: “Mr. President, what an incredible honor it is to lead the Department of Health and Human Services at this pivotal time under your leadership. I can’t thank you enough for the privilege that you’ve given me and the leadership that you’ve shown.”
Vice President Mike Pence said serving President Trump has been the greatest privilege of his life.
Trump is expected to announce Friday plans to roll back some of the United States’ new diplomatic and commercial relations with Cuba, which were brokered under the Obama administration. Trump is expected to make the announcement in Miami on Friday. Bloomberg News reports the changes may include curbing travel between the U.S. and Cuba. Other changes may include reinstating restrictions on Americans visiting Cuba and bringing back famous Cuba goods, like cigars and rum. Officials also say Trump might demand the extradition of people who have received political asylum in Cuba, like Assata Shakur. A Newsweek investigation has revealed that before becoming president Donald Trump’s businesses violated the U.S. embargo on Cuba, secretly doing business in Cuba in the late 1990s and then trying to cover it up.
Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders attacked the Democratic Party, calling it an absolute failure and blaming it for the election of President Trump. Sanders was speaking at the People’s Summit in Chicago in front of about 4,000 people.
Sen. Bernie Sanders: “Trump didn’t win the election; the Democratic Party lost the election. Let us be very, very clear: The current model—the current model and the current strategy of the Democratic Party is an absolute failure.”
Montana Republican Congressmember-elect Greg Gianforte has been sentenced to 40 hours of community service and 20 hours of anger management, after he was accused of body-slamming Guardian reporter Ben Jacobs to the ground and breaking his glasses the night before Montana’s special election. Gianforte won the election; more than 70 percent of Montana voters had cast their ballots during early voting before the attack occurred. This is Gianforte after pleading guilty Monday to misdemeanor assault.
Greg Gianforte: “I take full responsibility for my actions. I didn’t act in a way that was consistent with my behavior in the past, and, you know, that’s why I was—I was pleased to be here and get this done, so we can move forward. And, you know, I look forward to putting this behind me. I’ve apologized to Mr. Ben Jacobs. He has accepted my apology. I’m grateful for that. And now I look forward to going to work in Washington.”
Gianforte attacked Ben Jacobs after Jacobs asked him a question about the Republicans’ healthcare proposal.
In Russia, thousands of protesters flooded the streets in more than 100 cities across Russia in the latest mass demonstration against government corruption. More than 1,000 protesters were arrested. The protests were organized by anticorruption activist Alexei Navalny.
In India, protests continue in the agricultural state of Madhya Pradesh, where farmers are demanding debt forgiveness after a crash in crop prices has left farmers unable to repay the exorbitant loans. The Indian government has launched a violent crackdown against the protests, deploying more than 1,000 police and paramilitary troops to the region. On Thursday, the police opened fire on protesters, killing five people and setting off a new wave of demonstrations. Last year, as many as 1,600 farmers committed suicide in Madhya Pradesh as a result of unpayable debts.
In California, a group of asylum seekers on hunger strike in the for-profit Adelanto Detention Center say they were violently attacked by GEO Group guards Monday morning as they waited in the breakfast area for immigration officials to respond to their strike demands. This is one of the hunger strikers, Isaac Lopez Castillo.
Isaac Lopez Castillo: “When they saw that they could not remove us, they sprayed us with more pepper spray. And once they were able to pull us out, they threw some of us against the wall. In my case, at least, they threw me up against the glass of the phone booth. They pushed my face up into it, on the corner. And Timoteo was drenched, including his private parts, with pepper spray. Our skin is all covered in rashes, and some have gashes from their fingernails. And one of the guys had his dental crown knocked out. They knocked it out, because they threw him face-first against the wall.”
And here in New York City, Delta Air Lines and Bank of America have pulled their sponsorship of the Public Theater’s summer performance of Shakespeare’s “Julius Caesar” because the play depicts the assassination of a Trump-like Caesar, complete with blond hair and a gold bathtub. A 2012 staging of “Julius Caesar” depicted Caesar as an Obama-like figure. This is Public Theater artistic director Oskar Eustis, speaking about the lessons of “Julius Caesar” before the play Monday night.
Oskar Eustis: “This play, on the contrary, warns about what happens when you try to preserve democracy by nondemocratic means. And, again—spoiler alert—it doesn’t end up too good.”
“Julius Caesar” is commonly understood as a play that advocates against assassination, depicting the widespread upheaval and violence that results from Julius Caesar’s murder.