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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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In the United Kingdom, British Prime Minister Theresa May suffered a major setback Thursday in an election that saw her Conservative Party lose its majority in Parliament less than two weeks before the country is scheduled to begin talks over exiting from the European Union. May called the snap election three years early, expecting to win a large mandate to negotiate with European leaders over the terms of the so-called Brexit. But Thursday’s election instead left the Conservatives without a clear majority and a hung Parliament. Minutes ago, Prime Minister May said from 10 Downing Street that her party would form a coalition government with the Democratic Unionist Party of Northern Ireland.
Prime Minister Theresa May: “What the country needs more than ever is certainty. And having secured the largest number of votes and the greatest number of seats in the general election, it is clear that only the Conservative and Unionist Party has the legitimacy and ability to provide that certainty by commanding a majority in the House of Commons.”
The election saw Jeremy Corbyn and his Labour Party make big gains that shocked even veteran poll watchers. Corbyn, who ran on a progressive platform of “For the many, not the few,” said the results are evidence May should step down.
Jeremy Corbyn: “What’s happened is people have said they’ve had quite enough of austerity politics, they’ve had quite enough of cuts in public expenditure, underfunding our health service, underfunding our schools and our education service and not giving our young people the chance they deserve in our society.”
After headlines, we’ll go to London for more on yesterday’s historic U.K. election.
On Capitol Hill, recently fired FBI Director James Comey told lawmakers on Thursday that President Trump tried to derail an investigation into National Security Adviser Michael Flynn’s links to Russia, and accused Trump of lying about why he was fired. The comments came during dramatic testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee.
James Comey: “Although the law required no reason at all to fire an FBI director, the administration then chose to defame me and, more importantly, the FBI, by saying that the organization was in disarray, that it was poorly led, that the workforce had lost confidence in its leader. Those were lies, plain and simple.”
Comey told senators he believes he was fired by Trump because of his investigation into Russia’s meddling in November’s presidential election and whether any top Trump officials colluded with Russian officials. Comey detailed how Trump repeatedly cornered him in one-on-one meetings, asking him to declare his loyalty to the president and pressuring him to back off the investigation into Michael Flynn. Comey testified that he documented every meeting he had with Trump.
James Comey: “I was honestly concerned that he might lie about the nature of our meeting, and so I thought it really important to document.”
At the White House, presidential spokesperson Sarah Huckabee Sanders declared, “The president is not a liar.” Trump’s personal attorney, Marc Kasowitz, suggested that Comey perjured himself during congressional testimony.
Marc Kasowitz: “The president never, in form or substance, directed or suggested that Mr. Comey stop investigating anyone, including the president never suggested that Mr. Comey, quote, 'let Flynn go,' close quote.”
In a tweet early this morning, President Trump broke more than two days of Twitter silence, writing, “Despite so many false statements and lies, total and complete vindication…and WOW, Comey is a leaker!” For more on James Comey’s dramatic Senate testimony, we’ll host a roundtable discussion later in the broadcast.
The House of Representatives voted along party lines Thursday to overturn Obama-era rules aimed at preventing a repeat of the 2008 financial crisis. The House repeal of the Dodd-Frank Act faces an uphill climb in the Senate, where Republicans hold a slim 52-seat majority.
In Yemen, medical groups warned Thursday an outbreak of cholera has infected more than 100,000 people. The World Health Organization says the water-borne illness has claimed the lives of nearly 800 people, and Oxfam estimates cholera is claiming one life every hour in Yemen. The WHO says the number of cases could reach 300,000. The epidemic comes amid a U.S.-backed, Saudi-led bombing campaign and naval blockade that’s left the country’s sanitation, water and health infrastructure in shambles. The U.N. warns some 19 million of Yemen’s 28 million people need some form of aid, with many of them at risk of famine.
Meanwhile, the Associated Press is reporting three children and their grandmother were killed today after Saudi-led warplanes bombed their home in Yemen’s capital, Sana’a. Their neighbor, Bassem al-Raghy, said there were no military targets nearby.
Bassem al-Raghy: “At exactly 12:15, after midnight, the Saudi-led coalition bombed residential houses, which led to the death of four who were martyred, along with dozens of injuries, spreading fear. This neighborhood is not a military base nor a government building. They’re all civilians.”
United Nations monitors have warned previous Saudi-led attacks on Yemen could constitute crimes against humanity. During a visit to Riyadh last month, President Trump signed a series of arms deals with Saudi Arabia totaling a record $110 billion.
In Qatar, Al Jazeera said Thursday it was resisting a massive cyberattack that forced the satellite TV network to temporarily shut down its website. The cyberattack came two weeks after hackers published a fake news article on Qatar’s state news agency website which falsely cited Qatar’s leader making friendly statements about Iran—Saudi Arabia’s regional opponent. The fake news story inflamed tensions between Qatar and other Arab nations, including Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Egypt, Yemen, Libya and the United Arab Emirates—all of whom broke off relations with Qatar this week, accusing it of backing militant groups, including ISIS and al-Qaeda.
In Somalia, hundreds of fighters with the militant group al-Shabab overran an army base in the northern state of Puntland Thursday, killing as many as 70 people and wounding dozens of others. It was the deadliest attack on Somali security forces in several years.
Back in the United States, Louisiana Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards is poised to sign legislation that would cut the state’s prison population by 10 percent over the next decade. The state estimates the measure will save taxpayers more than $260 million over the next 10 years by shortening prison time for certain nonviolent and drug offenders. Louisiana imprisons more of its residents per capita than any other U.S. state, leading critics to declare it the “incarceration capital of the world.”
In Sylvester, Georgia, 9 high school students have filed a federal civil rights lawsuit, alleging they were among 900 students who were groped after the local sheriff ordered school-wide pat-down searches. The students say that on April 14, sheriff’s deputies searched hundreds of students for drugs, with some officers groping students’ breasts and genitalia. In an interview with local media, Worth County Sheriff Jeff Hobby said he believed the searches were legal because school administrators were present. Officers did not have warrants, and the pat-downs did not yield any illegal drugs.
In New Jersey, video has emerged showing Jersey City police assaulting a man shortly after he emerged, in flames, from a burning car wreck caused when a suspect in a high-speed pursuit crashed into his vehicle. The graphic video was first broadcast by Univision. It shows 28-year-old Miguel Feliz-Rodriguez rolling on the ground to extinguish flames that had engulfed his upper body. Moments later, he’s kicked repeatedly by officers who then drag him into the street. It was apparently a case of mistaken identity. The officers had been in pursuit of another suspect, Leo Pinkston, firing repeatedly at him during a high-speed chase that ended in a fiery crash. Feliz-Rodriguez is reportedly fighting for his life, with facial injuries and burns on 30 percent of his body. A Jersey City spokesperson said the city will seek to fire the officers and press charges against them.
In Augusta, Georgia, U.S. intelligence contractor Reality Leigh Winner pleaded not guilty Thursday to charges she leaked a top-secret document to The Intercept. Winner was charged for allegedly leaking a top-secret document claiming Russian military intelligence conducted a cyberattack on at least one U.S. voting software company just days before last November’s election. Prosecutors told a judge Winner had plans to reveal more classified files. A federal judge denied bail to Winner pending her trial on charges she violated the Espionage Act. Winner was led away in shackles, wearing an orange jumpsuit. She faces up to 10 years in prison if convicted.
And in New York City, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton delivered a commencement address Thursday to graduates of Medgar Evers College in Brooklyn. Outside Clinton’s speech, members of the Haitian human rights group Komokoda held a protest, saying the Clinton Foundation stole money intended for Haiti’s reconstruction after the 2010 earthquake. The protesters also blasted Clinton’s record of public service. This is protester Dahoud Andre.
Dahoud Andre: “Hillary Clinton, the Clinton family, the harm that they have done to our people in Haiti, in Africa, in Libya, in Honduras, right here in the United States, the 1996 crime bill, criminalizing, incarcerating—mass incarceration of our youth, that she called superpredators. We said, whatever Donald Trump can do, whatever harm he can do, it cannot be worse than what the Clintons have already done to our people.”