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You turn to Democracy Now! for ad-free news you can trust. Maybe you come for our daily headlines. Maybe you come for in-depth stories that expose government and corporate abuses of power. For over two decades, we've produced our daily news hour without ads, government funding or corporate underwriting. How is this possible? Only with your support. Right now every donation we receive 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. Thank you! -Amy Goodman
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The Trump administration on Wednesday threatened military action against North Korea over its nuclear weapons program, saying the U.S. was prepared to defend itself and its allies. The threat came a day after North Korea successfully tested a new intercontinental ballistic missile, which the U.S. says is capable of reaching Alaska. This is U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley speaking at an emergency meeting she called of the Security Council.
Nikki Haley: “Their actions are quickly closing off the possibility of a diplomatic solution. The United States is prepared to use the full range of our capabilities to defend ourselves and our allies. One of our capabilities lies with our considerable military forces. We will use them, if we must, but we prefer not to have to go in that direction.”
Haley said the U.S. would soon propose new sanctions against North Korea, adding the U.S. was prepared to “go our own path” if U.N. members didn’t agree to its terms. Russia and China urged restraint. Russian diplomat Vladimir Safronkov called on the U.S. and South Korea to stop large-scale joint military exercises, while urging North Korea to halt tests of missiles and warheads. He also called on the U.S. to dismantle the THAAD anti-ballistic missile system.
Vladimir Safronkov: “The deployment of the THAAD system in Northeast Asia is a serious blow to the strategic stability of the region, including for Russia and China, and certainly does not serve to denuclearize the Korean Peninsula based on the principle of ensuring peace and stability in the region.”
The new South Korean president is also opposed to the THAAD missile system and last month ordered an investigation after learning that four more missile launchers had been brought into South Korea.
In Poland, President Trump said in a major speech today the future of Western civilization is at stake, as he warned against the threats of “terrorism and extremism.” Trump spoke in Krasinski Square, near the site of the 1944 Warsaw uprising against the Nazis. Earlier, President Trump spoke briefly at a joint press conference with Polish President Andrzej Duda. Trump repeated his recent attacks on CNN, calling the network “fake news.” Trump also said Russia probably meddled in the 2016 U.S. election.
President Donald Trump: “Mistakes have been made. I agree, I think it was Russia. But I think it was probably other people and/or countries, and I see nothing wrong with that statement. Nobody really knows. Nobody really knows for sure.”
President Trump will next travel to Hamburg, Germany, where he’ll join other leaders of the world’s top economies at the G20 summit, including his first meeting as president with his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin. Ahead of the talks, thousands of people converged on the city for protests. This is protest spokesperson Georg Ismael.
Georg Ismael: “We want to discuss the fact that 20 dangerous criminals from around the world are meeting here, who are responsible for the highest military expenses, who are involved in all the wars of the world, who are significantly responsible for the climate catastrophe and who are responsible for freezing or greatly shrinking our salaries.”
On Wednesday, a thousand demonstrators covered themselves head to toe in gray and shuffled through the streets of Hamburg in a procession of “zombies” symbolizing political apathy.
In Iraq, the United Nations warned Wednesday up to 20,000 civilians remain trapped in Mosul, as ISIS fighters battle to control their last stronghold in the city. U.N. humanitarian coordinator for Iraq Lise Grande said civilians remain in “extreme danger,” adding that the destruction in western Mosul is unprecedented.
Lise Grande: “In western Mosul, what we’re seeing is the worst damage of the entire conflict. So, in those neighborhoods where the fighting has been the fiercest, we’re looking at levels of damage incomparable to anything else that has happened in Iraq so far.”
The U.N. warned the price of restoring basic infrastructure to Mosul will top $1 billion.
Meanwhile, in Syria, thousands of residents continued to flee Raqqa as U.S.-backed militias intensified their assault on the ISIS-held city. On Wednesday, escaping civilians arrived at an open-air relief camp outside Raqqa complaining of constant airstrikes, artillery raids and extreme hunger.
Djazia: “We left because of the fighting. We were afraid. We have children. We almost died of hunger, and no one helped us.”
Oubayd: “We are displaced now, and we live in the open air. These are our house belongings. We just managed to get them today. This is what we have. These are the last things we owned in the house.”
Some 200,000 people have been displaced from Raqqa, with more expected to flee as fighting intensifies. U.S.-led airstrikes have killed hundreds of residents, in what U.N. investigators have called a “staggering loss of civilian life.”
In Venezuela, dozens of supporters of President Nicolás Maduro stormed the National Assembly Wednesday, attacking opposition lawmakers with rocks, sticks and firecrackers. Video from the chaotic scene showed two members of the Assembly with blood running down their faces. At least seven lawmakers were reportedly injured. Speaking at a military parade celebrating the anniversary of Venezuela’s independence, President Maduro condemned the violence.
President Nicolás Maduro: “At the door and in some of the gardens and hallways of the National Assembly, there were incidents of unrest and violence. I absolutely condemn these acts.”
At least 90 people have died during weeks of political turmoil in Venezuela, as opposition protesters hoping to topple President Maduro have set up checkpoints, staged massive protests and assassinated a judge who jailed an opposition leader.
Meanwhile, a Venezuelan police officer who led a helicopter attack last week on the country’s Interior Ministry and Supreme Court released a new video Wednesday vowing a second wave of attacks. Oscar Pérez apparently recorded the video from hiding, after abandoning his helicopter during his escape.
Oscar Pérez: “There are 30 million Venezuelans that go with truth. And they will have to imprison the entire country in order to silence our mission, our duty, our patriotism, our fight. We will go to the street, and we will be there with you. You are not alone.”
Opposition leaders have accused President Maduro of working with Pérez to stage last week’s attacks, which damaged government buildings but did not injure anybody. Maduro called the attack “terrorism” and an attempted coup d’état.
In Virginia, prison officials are preparing to kill a condemned man using a three-drug lethal injection cocktail that critics say will lead to a torturous death equivalent to drowning. Thirty-five-year-old William Morva is scheduled to receive the lethal drugs at 9 p.m. this evening at the Greensville Correctional Center. According to autopsy records, the last prisoner killed by Virginia six months ago, Ricky Gray, died after the same lethal injection method brought on acute pulmonary edema—effectively drowning Gray in blood-tinged fluid he coughed up during the execution. Morva’s attorneys argue the approach is unconstitutionally cruel and unusual.
In Chicago, a wave of violence over the long holiday weekend claimed 102 victims—with 15 people killed and 86 others injured by gunfire. Police say amateur fireworks confused and overwhelmed the computerized ShotSpotter system, which uses microphones to track gunshots and alert police. The youngest person injured was a 13-year-old boy seriously wounded by gunfire on Friday.
In New York, employees at the Bronx-Lebanon Hospital remain in mourning, after a doctor killed one of his former colleagues and injured six others in a shooting rampage at the hospital on Friday. Dr. Henry Bello used an AR-15 assault rifle he purchased legally from an upstate New York gun store, even though he had a criminal record for unlawful imprisonment and left his hospital job in April over unspecified “personal problems.”
Meanwhile, U.S. Congressmember Steve Scalise is back in intensive care, as he recovers from multiple surgeries following an attack last month that also wounded four other people. Doctors say Rep. Scalise is at risk of infection after a round from an AR-15 entered his hip, shattering bones and tearing through blood vessels.
And in Turkey, Amnesty International is demanding the release of the director of its Turkish operations and seven other human rights activists, after they were detained by police Wednesday at a workshop. In a statement, Amnesty International’s secretary general, Salil Shetty, called for the release of Idil Eser and those detained with her, adding, “Eser’s incommunicado detention and that of the other human rights defenders attending a routine training event is a grotesque abuse of power and highlights the precarious situation facing human rights activists in the country.”