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President Trump has canceled plans for a June 12th summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un to be held in Singapore. In a letter signed by Trump and addressed to Kim, Trump cites Kim’s “tremendous anger and open hostility” in recent comments as his reason for canceling the talks. This comes after North Korea repeated its threat to walk away from the summit, citing statements from Vice President Mike Pence it called “ignorant and stupid.” On Monday, Pence repeated the Trump administration’s talking point that North Korea could end up like Libya if it doesn’t abandon its nuclear weapons—a reference to the U.S.-led intervention in 2011 that led to the overthrow of leader Muammar Gaddafi, who was dragged through the streets and publicly killed by rebels. In response, a top North Korean official said Wednesday, “Whether the U.S. will meet us at a meeting room or encounter us at a nuclear-to-nuclear showdown is entirely dependent upon the decision … of the U.S.” At the White House, President Trump was noncommittal when asked Wednesday whether the June 12 summit was still on.
President Donald Trump: “Well, we’re going to see what happens. On Singapore, we’re going to see. And it could happen, could very well happen. But whatever it is, we will know next week about Singapore. And if we go, I think it will be a great thing for North Korea.”
On Thursday, North Korea invited foreign journalists to observe as it appeared to demolish its nuclear weapons test site. Many observers believe the site was already damaged by multiple nuclear tests and had become unusable.
A White House official said Wednesday that President Trump’s senior adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner has been granted permanent security clearance, allowing him to view highly classified documents. For over a year, the FBI refused to grant Kushner permanent clearance, after he failed to report over 100 foreign contacts on his initial application, which he has since revised three times. Meanwhile, reports emerged that Kushner met with special counsel Mueller’s investigators for a second time last month, answering questions over a seven-hour period.
Meanwhile, the White House says it will hold a bipartisan meeting today to brief House and Senate leaders on classified information about the Russia investigation—after it holds a separate meeting for Republicans only. The concession came after Democratic leaders blasted the White House for politicizing intelligence surrounding news that the FBI used a confidential informant to investigate whether foreign governments had infiltrated Donald Trump’s campaign ahead of the 2016 election. In the first meeting—initially the only such meeting scheduled for today—the White House and top intelligence and Justice Department officials will brief House Intelligence Chair Devin Nunes and House Oversight Chair Trey Gowdy. Afterward, a group of lawmakers known as the Gang of Eight—including top Democrats—will be briefed in a separate meeting. President Trump has claimed, without evidence, that the FBI spied directly on his campaign, calling the purported scandal “bigger than Watergate!”
A federal court has ruled that President Donald Trump cannot block people from following his Twitter account, @realDonaldTrump. In a 75-page decision, District Judge Naomi Reice Buchwald ruled that Trump’s Twitter feed constitutes a “public forum” and that his decision to block dozens of critical voices was unconstitutional. Click here to hear one of those voices he blocked.
In India, police opened fire on thousands of environmental protesters opposing the expansion of a copper smelter in the southern city Thoothukudi, killing 12 people. Tuesday’s deadly crackdown came as protesters torched cars and a local administrator’s office, after an environmental regulator said the copper smelter was exceeding pollution limits and fouling nearby air and water, sickening residents and threatening fisheries. In 2013, a gas release from the smelter left hundreds of nearby residents struggling to breathe, with nausea and throat problems. The copper smelter’s owner has temporarily shut the plant for maintenance but wants to reopen the smelter at double its capacity in June.
In Ireland, campaigners are making their final pitches ahead of a referendum Friday that would roll back the republic’s Eighth Amendment, which outlaws almost all abortions. Ahead of the vote, pro-choice activists in Dublin wore red-and-white outfits evoking Margaret Atwood’s “The Handmaid’s Tale.” This is pro-choice campaigner Katie Donoghue.
Katie Donoghue: “We want the three-and-a-half thousand, four thousand women a year that are having to be forced out of this country for abortion care to be able to have those rights and that healthcare here in Ireland, safely, with the support of their doctors, with the support of their peers, and without the expense of traveling to England and the trauma that’s involved, really, with having to be exiled to another country for making a basic choice about your body.”
Back in the U.S., the Senate is poised to overhaul its secretive process for reporting sexual harassment in Congress, with critics saying the changes don’t go far enough toward holding lawmakers accountable. The Senate bill would bar lawmakers from using taxpayer money to settle lawsuits claiming harassment—but taxpayers would still be forced to pay for settlements involving gender discrimination. Both the Senate bill and a separate measure passed by the House earlier this year would end mandatory counseling and mediation periods that required anyone claiming sexual harassment or discrimination to wait months before settling their cases.
The American Civil Liberties Union has filed suit against the state of Ohio, charging that Republican lawmakers unconstitutionally drew up the state’s redistricting map to keep their party in office. The ACLU said in a statement that Ohio’s oddly shaped and winding congressional districts are among the “most egregious examples of partisan gerrymandering in modern history.” The lawsuit comes on the heels of similar challenges to Republican-drawn maps in other states, including North Carolina, Texas and Pennsylvania.
A new policy adopted by the National Football League on Wednesday will fine teams whose players kneel on the field during the national anthem. The vote was made by team owners without involvement from the NFL Players Association. This is National Football League Commissioner Roger Goodell.
Roger Goodell: “All 32 clubs want to make sure that during the moment of the anthem and the flag, that that is a very important moment to all of us, as a league, as clubs, personally and to our country, and that’s a moment that we want to make sure is done in a very respectful fashion. And that, that was something that was very strongly held in the room.”
Goodell said players who don’t want to stand for the anthem can remain in the locker room without penalty. This comes after Colin Kaepernick helped spark a movement against racism and police brutality across the National Football League after he refused to stand during the 2016 season for the national anthem before an NFL game. We’ll have more on the national anthem and the NFL later in the broadcast with sports journalist Dave Zirin.
The Milwaukee Police Department has apologized to NBA player Sterling Brown, after a newly released police body cam video showed Brown’s violent arrest on January 26. Brown is African-American and a 22-year-old rookie player on the Milwaukee Bucks basketball team. The body cam footage confirms Brown was not “combative”—as police initially claimed—in a dispute over a parking violation, before a group of officers tackled him to the ground and electrocuted him with a Taser. Brown was then arrested, but charges were later dropped. Brown has since said he plans to file a lawsuit, writing in a statement, “What should have been a simple parking ticket turned into an attempt at police intimidation, followed by unlawful use of physical force, including being handcuffed and tased and then unlawfully booked. … This experience with the Milwaukee Police Department has forced me to stand up and tell my story so that I can help prevent these injustices from happening in the future.”
In Rio Bravo, Texas, a Border Patrol officer shot an undocumented immigrant in the head Wednesday, killing her. Video of the aftermath of the killing shows Border Patrol agents sealing off the scene and detaining at least two people. The agents claim the officer fired in self-defense after officers were attacked by “blunt objects.” An analysis by The Guardian newspaper found that Customs and Border Patrol officers were involved in nearly 100 “fatal encounters” since 2003, with the U.S. paying out more than $60 million to settle lawsuits alleging wrongful death and other illegal behavior by border guards.
Meanwhile, Mexican journalist Emilio Gutiérrez Soto and his son Oscar have been granted a new asylum hearing in Texas, which could see them released from an immigration detention center where they’ve been held since December. Gutiérrez first sought asylum in the United States in 2008 after receiving death threats for reporting on alleged corruption in the Mexican military. Mexico is one of the most dangerous countries in the world for journalists, with at least four media workers killed so far this year alone. Click here to see our full jailhouse interview with Emilio Gutiérrez Soto.
Former CIA operative and Cuban exile Luis Posada Carriles died Wednesday in Miami, Florida, at the age of 90. Posada Carriles is best known as the suspected mastermind of the 1976 bombing of a Cubana airline jet. For decades, the U.S. refused demands by Cuba and Venezuela for Posada Carriles’s extradition to face terrorism charges. This is Peter Kornbluh, director of the National Security Archive, speaking about Luis Posada Carriles on Democracy Now! in 2011.
Peter Kornbluh: “While he was in Caracas, in October of 1976, according to CIA and FBI declassified secret documents, he was one of the two masterminds of one of the most heinous acts of international terrorism in the Western Hemisphere before our own 9/11: the bombing of a Cubana flight, mid-air, killing 73 men, women and children on October 6, 1976. He has a long history beyond that. He went on to orchestrate a series of hotel bombings in Cuba in the late 1990s. He was arrested in Panama in November of 2000 with a car full of C-4 explosives and dynamite in an effort to blow up Fidel Castro during a Iberian-American summit. I mean, the list goes on and on and on.”