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Scientists are warning that the Earth’s sixth mass extinction is already underway. In a new study published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the researchers said billions of populations of animals have disappeared from the Earth, amid what they called a “biological annihilation.” They said the findings were worse than previously thought. The scientists say the main causes of the mass extinction of wildlife is human overpopulation and overconsumption, especially by the rich; the destruction of animals’ habitats; toxic pollution; and climate change. The report also warns that humans will be impacted by this mass extinction, writing, “The resulting biological annihilation obviously will have serious ecological, economic and social consequences. Humanity will eventually pay a very high price for the decimation of the only assemblage of life that we know of in the universe.”
A separate report, also published Monday, reveals that only 100 companies are responsible for a shocking 71 percent of all global greenhouse gas emissions since 1988. The Carbon Majors Report, published in collaboration with the Climate Accountability Institute, found that ExxonMobil, Shell, BP and Chevron are among the worst polluting investor-owned companies. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is former longtime CEO of ExxonMobil. This weekend, as Tillerson received a lifetime achievement award from the World Petroleum Congress, a climate change-fueled heat wave shattered temperature records in Southern California, including in Los Angeles, Long Beach and Woodland Hills, where the temperature soared to 110 degrees on Saturday. Climate change-fueled wildfires also continue to burn uncontrolled across California and Canada’s British Columbia, forcing thousands to flee their homes.
On Capitol Hill, at least 80 people were arrested in more than a dozen protests at the offices of House and Senate Republicans, where activists demanded the lawmakers oppose the Republican healthcare plans to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. Activists lay down outside Texas Senator Ted Cruz’s office blocking traffic, while other protesters flooded the offices of Ohio Senator Rob Portman, Tennessee Senator Lamar Alexander and Arizona Senator Jeff Flake, where activists yelled “You are killing people!” as they were arrested and forced from the building in handcuffs.
Protester: “You are killing people! You are systematically killing people! Healthcare is a human right! Healthcare is a human right! Healthcare is a human right!”
If passed, the Republican Senate healthcare plan could cause 22 million Americans to lose their insurance over the next decade. CNN reports at least 10 Senate Republicans oppose the healthcare plan in its current form. President Trump has heavily backed the effort to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act.
The New York Times is reporting President Trump’s son, Donald Trump Jr., knew before agreeing to a meeting with a Kremlin-linked lawyer promising damaging information about Hillary Clinton that the material was part of a Russian government campaign to help his father win the U.S. election. The Times reports Trump Jr. was told this information in an email sent by publicist Rob Goldstone, who helped arrange the meeting in June 2016. On Monday, Donald Trump Jr. hired a lawyer, amid increasing calls for him to testify before the Senate about the meeting. The White House is trying to downplay the revelations. This is White House Deputy Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, speaking during, once again, an off-camera briefing on Monday.
Sarah Huckabee Sanders: “Don Jr. took a very short meeting, from which there was absolutely no follow-up. But the only thing I see inappropriate about the meeting was the people that leaked the information on the meeting after it was voluntarily disclosed. At this point I’d also like to add Donald Trump Jr. has made a statement on this, president’s outside counsel has made a statement on it, and now I have, as well, and I’m not going to add anything further.”
On Monday, the White House again denied that members of the Trump campaign colluded with Russia to interfere in the 2016 election.
The White House is contradicting President Trump’s own claims about whether he discussed sanctions during his meeting Friday with Russian President Vladimir Putin. On Sunday, Trump tweeted, “Sanctions were not discussed at my meeting with President Putin. Nothing will be done until the Ukrainian & Syrian problems are solved!” But on Monday, White House Deputy Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said the conversation did include a discussion of the sanctions, which were imposed by the Obama administration in December in response to the alleged Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. election. This morning, Russian media outlets cited Russian Foreign Ministry sources saying they are considering expelling about 30 U.S. diplomats and seizing control of U.S. diplomatic buildings in retaliation for the sanctions.
In Britain, London’s High Court has rejected a bid to end weapons sales to Saudi Arabia, amid the devastating Saudi-led bombing campaign in Yemen. The group Campaign Against the Arms Trade had tried to block the sale of British-made bombs and fighter jets, arguing their use in the bombing campaign in Yemen has violated international law. On Monday, speaking at the British Parliament, British Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn called on Prime Minister Theresa May to end the weapons sales.
Jeremy Corbyn: “Will she halt immoral arms sales to Saudi Arabia, as Germany has done, and back Germany’s call to end the bombing in Yemen?”
But on Monday, the High Court dismissed the case, drawing condemnation from Human Rights Watch and other international groups. Human Rights Watch has documented over 80 apparently unlawful Saudi-led coalition attacks in Yemen that have hit schools, markets, homes and hospitals. The airstrikes and Saudi naval blockade have also devastated the country’s health, water and sanitation systems, sparking a massive cholera outbreak that has now infected 300,000 people—with an estimated 7,000 new cases every single day.
The New York Times is reporting Erik Prince, the founder of the now-defunct mercenary firm Blackwater, and billionaire Stephen Feinberg, owner of military contractor DynCorp, developed proposals for the Trump administration to use more private military contractors in Afghanistan, rather than deploy thousands more U.S. troops, as the Pentagon has requested. Prince, who is also the brother of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, and Feinberg developed the proposals at the request of Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner and Trump’s chief strategist Stephen Bannon. The proposal represents an obvious conflict of interest, given that both Prince and Feinberg profit off the use of private military contractors in U.S. wars. The State Department has already paid DynCorp $2.5 billion for its military contracting work in Afghanistan.
In financial news, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has moved to bar Wall Street banks and other financial firms from forcing people into arbitration, and instead allow people to file class-action lawsuits that could cost the banks billions of dollars. Currently, people who are trying to dispute banks over credit card accounts or student or payday loans are forced into mandatory arbitration, a process that benefits the banks because it forces people to try to fight the institutions on their own. The change could take effect as early as next year, although it faces fierce opposition from Wall Street.
In Mississippi, a Marine Corps plane crashed into a field in Leflore County Monday, killing all 16 people on board. The Marine Corps has not released any more details about the cause of the crash of the military C-130 airplane.
In Brazil, the rapporteur for a lower house committee has recommended putting Brazilian President Michel Temer on trial for corruption, following accusations from federal prosecutors that Temer accepted millions of dollars in bribes. On Monday, protesters again took to the streets to demand Temer be ousted or resign. This is protestor Marcio Alves.
Marcio Alves: “Not one less right. Out with Temer. He represents the rejection of all rights. But this is bigger than Temer. If Rodrigo Maia comes into power, he will do the same thing or worse. So today is not just about ousting Temer, but about everything else. Not less rights, because tomorrow the Brazilian Senate will cut wages.”
In Turkey, more than 40 academics and university workers were arrested at two Istanbul universities on Monday, amid Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s widening crackdown. Among those arrested on charges of alleged terrorist links was professor of political science Koray Caliskan. This is Koray Caliskan speaking on Democracy Now! last summer about how he and more than 1,000 other Turkish academics signed a peace petition.
Koray Caliskan: “Of course. I signed that letter, too. First, it was signed by more than 1,200 academics. When Erdogan called us terrorists or voices of terror, 1,000 more academics signed it. Since then, more than 100 academics lost their jobs. What Erdogan does is to do what all authoritarians do: If there is—if he is being criticized and if he doesn’t agree with academics or journalists, he accuses them of being with terrorists.”
In Bahrain, human rights activist Nabeel Rajab has been sentenced to two years in prison on charges of “spreading fake news” during his television interviews. Amnesty International said, “Imprisoning Nabeel Rajab simply for sharing his opinion is a flagrant violation of human rights, and an alarming sign that the Bahraini authorities will go to any length to silence criticism.” Rajab has been imprisoned multiple times in recent years for participating in pro-democracy protests and for criticizing the Bahraini government. This is Rajab speaking on Democracy Now! in 2014, just after he was released from spending nearly two years in prison.
Nabeel Rajab: “A struggle for democracy in this part of the world is not an easy thing. It’s a difficult thing. You are dealing with a ruling family that came outside and ruled this country 200 years ago, treated people like slaves. Now we want to change the situation to more democratic environment. It’s not an easy thing. It has a cost, and there will be more costs. We’ve paid a lot of lives, thousands of people behind bars, hundreds of human rights and political activists behind bars.”
Bahrain is a close U.S. ally, home to the Navy’s Fifth Fleet. Click here to see our full interview with Nabeel Rajab.
In the Israeli-occupied West Bank, the Palestinian Ministry of Health says an 18-month-old baby has died after inhaling tear gas shot by Israeli forces into his bedroom two months ago. The baby, Abdul Rahman Barghouti, was exposed to the gas on May 19, when Israeli soldiers attacked Palestinians demonstrating in the town of Aboud near Ramallah in support of the Palestinian prisoners’ hunger strike and fired tear gas into residents’ homes. The Palestinian Ministry of Health says Israeli jeeps then blocked an ambulance from reaching the baby, so he was instead rushed to the hospital by members of the Palestinian Red Cross by foot. Eighteen-month-old Abdul Rahman Barghouti died on Friday of asphyxiation.
And the award-winning media critic, author and professor Jack Shaheen has died at the age of 81. The author of the groundbreaking book “Reel Bad Arabs: How Hollywood Vilifies a People,” Shaheen dedicated his life to challenging the media’s negative stereotypes of Arabs and Arab Americans. He was also professor emeritus at Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville. He was also a former consultant on Middle East affairs for CBS. This is Jack Shaheen speaking in the film version of his book “Reel Bad Arabs.”
Jack Shaheen: “I looked at more than 1,000 films, films ranging from the earliest, most obscure days of Hollywood to today’s biggest blockbusters. And what I tried to do is to make visible what too many of us seem not to see: a dangerously consistent pattern of hateful Arab stereotypes, stereotypes that rob an entire people of their humanity. All aspects of our culture project the Arab as villain. That is a given.”
Award-winning media critic, author and professor Jack Shaheen died Monday in South Carolina at the age of 81.