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You turn to Democracy Now! for ad-free news you can trust. This weekend, we're broadcasting live from D.C. as students and people of all ages converge on the capital to demand action on gun control. Our coverage is produced at a fraction of the cost of a commercial news operation, without ads, paywalls, government funds or corporate sponsors. How is this possible? Only with your support. If you and everyone visiting this website gave just $4, it would cover our operating costs for 2018. Pretty exciting, right? Please do your part. It takes just a few minutes to make sure that Democracy Now! is there for you and everybody else.
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Today is International Women’s Day, and across Spain, women are on strike.
Women on strike: “Aquí estamos, las feministas.”
“Here we are, the feminists,” they’re chanting, banging pots and pans and refusing to work for 24 hours. Organizers say it’s the first nationwide women’s strike in Spain’s history. Their motto: “If we stop, the world stops.” This is Concha Gonzalez, a psychoanalyst who is not practicing today, because she’s on strike.
Concha Gonzalez: “It scares society, and also many women, when they realize how strong we can be, especially when we are together. That’s why I will strike, and that is why I am here.”
The historic women’s strike in Spain comes as women across the world—from Afghanistan to the Philippines to Mexico—are marking International Women’s Day, demanding equality, justice and an end to patriarchy and violence against women. We’ll have more on their strikes, marches and protests after headlines.
In the United States, the confrontation between the Trump administration and California escalated on Wednesday, as Attorney General Jeff Sessions traveled to Sacramento and attacked California for its so-called sanctuary laws, a day after the administration sued the state over its policies limiting local law enforcement cooperation with federal immigration agents.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions: “So, California absolutely, appears to me, is using every power it has—powers it doesn’t have—to frustrate federal law enforcement. So you can be sure I’m going to use every power I have to stop that.”
Attorney General Jeff Sessions also attacked Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf, who issued a warning to the community ahead of ICE raids in Oakland last month. On Wednesday, California Governor Jerry Brown accused the Trump administration of declaring war on California and called Attorney General Jeff Sessions a liar.
Gov. Jerry Brown: “And like so many in the Trump administration, this attorney general has no regard for the truth. What he said earlier today is not true. It is a lie. And—but what can I say? We’ve seen in the Trump administration, with the investigations going on, the pleas of guilty to lying by countless individuals, colleagues. So there it is.”
In Washington, D.C., at least eight students were arrested at a sit-in at Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s office on Wednesday demanding federal lawmakers pass gun control measures in the wake of the school shooting in Parkland, Florida, which left 17 people dead—14 students and three faculty. Lawmakers in Washington have so far failed to pass any gun control measures since the mass shooting.
The Florida Legislature has passed a package of moderate gun control measures in the wake of the Valentine’s Day massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. The measures raise the age for purchasing firearms statewide, ban the purchase and possession of bump stocks and impose a 3-day waiting period to buy guns. But the measures do not include a ban on the sale of assault rifles or limits on high-capacity magazines, as the survivors of the school shooting had demanded. The measures also allow local school districts to arm certain school workers, including teachers. The legislation now heads to Florida Governor Rick Scott’s desk.
On Wednesday, the confessed Parkland shooter, 19-year-old former student Nikolas Cruz, was arraigned on 17 counts of murder. And there was another school shooting Wednesday, in Birmingham, Alabama. One student was killed, and another is in critical condition. Authorities say the shooting appeared to be an accident.
The New York Times reports that last week President Trump’s personal lawyer secretly obtained a temporary restraining order to silence adult film star Stormy Daniels from speaking out about her alleged affair with Donald Trump in 2006 and 2007. White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders claimed Wednesday that Trump won the arbitration proceeding aimed at silencing Daniels.
Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders: “Look, the president has addressed these directly and made very well clear that none of these allegations are true. This case has already been won in arbitration. And anything beyond that, I would refer you to the president’s outside counsel.”
Journalist: “When did the president address specifically the cash payment that was made in October of 2016?”
Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders: “The president has denied the allegations against him. And again, this case has already been won in arbitration. Anything beyond that, I would refer you to outside counsel.”
Stormy Daniels’s lawyer disputes this claim, saying Trump himself never signed the non-disclosure agreement, making it null and void. Throughout this agreement drafted by Trump’s lawyer, Trump is allegedly referred to by the pseudonym David Dennison. Trump’s personal lawyer Michael Cohen says he paid $130,000 of his own personal money to Daniels to keep her quiet. The payment was less than two weeks before the 2016 presidential election, and it could amount to a violation of federal election law.
French President Emmanuel Macron has blasted President Trump for his controversial decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and move the U.S. Embassy there.
President Emmanuel Macron: “When he announced unilaterally the recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, I think it didn’t help with resolving the conflict and the situation. I don’t even think it helped with the situation in terms of security.”
Control of Jerusalem is one of the most contentious issues between Israelis and Palestinians. This comes as Guatemala has announced it will also move its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem in May, two days after the U.S. moves its embassy. Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales made the announcement after a visit by U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley.
White House trade adviser Peter Navarro now says the Trump administration will initially exclude Mexico and Canada from Trump’s new steel and aluminum tariffs, as long as the two countries sign a new version of NAFTA, the North American Free Trade Agreement. This is a reversal since Sunday, when Navarro said there would be no exceptions. The announcement comes as President Trump’s son-in-law and senior White House adviser Jared Kushner traveled to Mexico to meet with Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto. Meanwhile, Trump’s proposed steel and aluminum tariffs are causing major tensions with another key U.S. ally: South Korea, which is a major exporter of steel to the United States. The tariffs threaten to further deteriorate the relationship between the U.S. and South Korea at a time of increased nuclear threat on the Korean Peninsula.
And in more trade news, officials from 11 nations have gathered in Santiago, Chile, where they are slated to sign the sweeping trade agreement formerly known as the Trans-Pacific Partnership, or the TPP. President Trump pulled the United States out of the sweeping trade deal shortly after taking office, after years of global public resistance by those who say free trade deals benefit corporations at the expense of health and environmental regulations. But the rest of the nations involved in the pact have gone forward with the deal, now called the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership, which will represent about a seventh of the world’s economy.
In San Francisco, an appeals court has ruled that a group of young people suing the Trump administration over climate change can take their lawsuit to trial. The 21 youth are arguing the government has failed to take necessary action to curtail fossil fuel emissions, violating their constitutional rights. They first launched their lawsuit under the Obama administration.
In Pennsylvania, regulators have ordered an emergency shutdown of a major gas pipeline Wednesday, after massive sinkholes began opening up around the pipeline in suburban Philadelphia, forcing some residents to evacuate. The state’s Public Utility Commission ordered the temporary shutdown of Sunoco’s Mariner East 1 system, warning its continued operation and the construction of the adjoining Mariner East 2 pipeline could have “catastrophic results.” Sunoco is a subsidiary of the pipeline giant Energy Transfer Partners, which is also behind the controversial Dakota Access pipeline.
In Asheville, North Carolina, a police officer has resigned, and the city’s police chief has offered to step down, amid mounting outrage over the release of body camera video showing a white police officer beating and tasering an African-American man who was stopped for jaywalking. The video, from August 25, shows police officer Chris Hickman choking, beating and tasering Johnnie Jermaine Rush, who repeatedly says, “I can’t breathe.”
And the Vatican has announced that Salvadoran Archbishop Óscar Romero will become a saint. Archbishop Romero was a champion for the poor and oppressed, who was murdered by a U.S.-backed right-wing death squad in 1980 at the beginning of the brutal war in El Salvador. Only weeks before his assassination, Romero wrote a letter to U.S. President Jimmy Carter calling on him not to provide military aid to the right-wing Salvadoran military government. Then, in the archbishop’s final and now-infamous sermon, he made a direct appeal to Salvadoran soldiers to lay down their weapons.
Archbishop Óscar Romero: “In his name and in the name of our tormented people, who have suffered so much and whose laments cry out to heaven, I implore you, I beg you, I order you: Stop the repression!”
One day after giving this sermon, gunmen assassinated Archbishop Romero while he was celebrating mass. Nearly 40 years later, Salvadoran Archbishop Óscar Romero will now be made a saint.