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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. This month, Democracy Now! is celebrating our 23rd birthday. 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, in honor of Democracy Now!'s birthday, every donation we receive will be doubled by a generous supporter. This means if you give $30 today, Democracy Now! will get $60 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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President Donald Trump said Tuesday he’s preparing to deploy the military to the United States’ southern border, in the latest escalation of Trump’s campaign to win funding for an expanded U.S.-Mexico border wall.
President Donald Trump: “We are going to be doing some things. I’ve been speaking with General Mattis. We’re going to be doing things militarily, until we can have a wall and proper security. We’re going to be guarding our border with the military. That’s a big step.”
Trump has offered few details on how such a plan would be implemented. Presidents Obama and George W. Bush both deployed National Guard troops to the Mexican border to assist the U.S. Border Patrol. An 1878 law known as the Posse Comitatus Act bars the military from carrying out law enforcement actions inside the United States.
A coalition of 17 states, Washington, D.C., and six other cities filed suit against the Trump administration Tuesday, demanding it halt plans to add a question on citizenship to the 2020 census. Voting rights activists say the question is meant to deter immigrants from participating in the census, which is used to allocate public funds and draw congressional districts.
In California, three people were injured Tuesday when a woman opened fire at the Silicon Valley headquarters of YouTube before turning the gun on herself. The violence broke out just after noon in a courtyard outside YouTube’s main building in the San Francisco suburb of San Bruno. Police have identified the shooter as Nasim Najafi Aghdam but have not yet cited a motive. Aghdam was a frequent uploader to YouTube who’d had videos banned from the streaming service for “multiple or severe violations” of its policy. In one online video, Aghdam accused YouTube of censoring her and depriving her of income from advertising. The incident is a rare case of a mass shooting conducted by a woman.
Special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 election has netted its first prison sentence. Alex van der Zwaan, who worked with Donald Trump’s former campaign chair Paul Manafort and his aide Richard Gates, was sentenced Tuesday to 30 days in prison and fined $20,000 on charges of lying to the FBI. Van der Zwaan is a Belgian-born Dutch attorney who’s married to the daughter of a powerful Russian billionaire. He was charged after he failed to disclose details to the FBI about work he did on behalf of a pro-Russia Ukrainian political party.
Meanwhile, The Washington Post reports that Robert Mueller informed Donald Trump’s lawyers last month that the president is not currently being investigated as a criminal target. However, the president remains a subject in Mueller’s probe into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia—meaning prosecutors could still bring a criminal indictment, including possible obstruction of justice charges, over Trump’s firing of former FBI Director James Comey.
Environmental Protection Agency head Scott Pruitt on Tuesday formally announced plans to roll back Obama-era fuel efficiency standards, saying the move met a central promise of Donald Trump’s campaign.
Scott Pruitt: “This is another step. This is another step in the president’s regulatory agenda—deregulatory agenda. … The president, again, is saying, 'America is going to be put first.' And we have nothing to be apologetic about.”
Pruitt made the remarks at the EPA’s headquarters in Washington, D.C., after Chevrolet dealers objected to Pruitt’s plans to use a Chevy salesroom in Virginia as a backdrop to his announcement. The event was attended by auto industry lobbyists, and only a handful of reporters were allowed to attend.
The announcement came as Pruitt is under increasing pressure to resign, over reports he paid just $50 a night to live in a Capitol Hill condominium linked to a prominent Washington lobbyist whose firm represents fossil fuel companies. Meanwhile, The Atlantic reports Pruitt bypassed the White House last month and used an obscure law to give big raises to his closest aides. Pruitt also used the provision to hire Nancy Beck, a longtime lobbyist for the chemical industry, as the deputy head of the Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention—in a move that allowed Beck to avoid signing a White House ethics pledge. On Tuesday, two Republican lawmakers from Florida joined a chorus of Democrats who are calling on Pruitt to resign over the mounting scandals. At the White House, a reporter asked President Trump about Pruitt’s future.
Reporter: “Scott Pruitt, sir? Do you support Scott Pruitt?”
President Donald Trump: “I hope he’s going to be great.”
The Trump administration published a list Tuesday of about 1,300 Chinese products to be hit with a 25 percent tariff, prompting retaliation from China, which responded today with a 25 percent tariff of its own on $50 billion worth of U.S. goods—including cars, airplanes and foodstuffs. This morning, Trump tweeted, “We are not in a trade war with China, that war was lost many years ago by the foolish, or incompetent, people who represented the U.S.”
In the Gaza Strip, Israeli police shot and killed a young Palestinian man Tuesday, in the 19th such killing in less than a week. Twenty-five-year-old Ahmad Arafa bled to death after he was shot in the stomach near the border wall separating Gaza from Israel in the city of Khan Younis. Israel’s military said Arafa had breached the border, and labeled him a “terrorist.” His father, Omar Arafa, said otherwise.
Omar Arafa: “He was next to me. He went to the wall like everyone else. He was near me. They shot him with a bullet from a silencer. He was far from the wall.”
The latest killing followed a massacre last Friday, which saw Israeli forces open fire on a protest near the Gaza Strip’s eastern border with Israel—killing at least 18 Palestinians and wounding as many as 1,700 others. The massacre set off protests across the Middle East and worldwide. In Boston, Massachusetts, on Tuesday, eight young Jewish Americans were arrested outside the Israeli Consulate as they locked themselves together in a nonviolent protest.
The United Nations is appealing to international donors for $3 billion to combat hunger and disease in Yemen, as the U.S.-backed, Saudi-led coalition continues a campaign that’s killed more than 15,000 people and devastated Yemen’s health, water and sanitation systems. This is U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres.
Secretary-General António Guterres: “Every 10 minutes, a child under 5 dies of preventable causes, and nearly 3 million children under 5 and pregnant or lactating women are actually malnourished. Nearly half of all children aged between 6 months and 5 years old are chronically malnourished and suffer from stunting, which causes development delays and reduced ability to learn throughout their entire lives.”
Last month, 10 Senate Democrats joined a majority of Republicans in a 55-44 vote that rejected a bill seeking to end U.S. military involvement in the Saudi-led war.
A warning to listeners and viewers: This next headline contains disturbing content. In North Carolina, the city of Asheville has released police body cam videos showing a white police officer beating, choking and tasering Johnnie Rush, a 33-year-old African-American man, after officers stopped him for jaywalking. Rush had allegedly crossed the street in an area without a crosswalk, when officer Christopher Hickman yelled and ordered him to place his hands behind his back. When Rush ran from the officers, Hickman tackled him, repeatedly struck him in the head, tasered him, and used both arms to place Rush in a chokehold. At several points in the video, Rush is heard echoing the words of Eric Garner, who died in 2014 after a New York police officer placed him in a chokehold: “I can’t breathe.”
Johnnie Rush: “I can’t breathe! I can’t breathe! I can’t breathe! I can’t breathe! I can’t breathe! Oh, my god!”
Rush survived the assault with burns from the Taser and injuries to his head and face. Officer Christopher Hickman resigned in January, just before he was to be fired for violating his department’s use-of-force policy. Last month, Hickman was arrested on charges including felony assault by strangulation.
In California, state lawmakers introduced a bill Tuesday that would tighten the rules under which police officers could use deadly force. The measure would change the standard of when officers would be allowed to use firearms from a rule of “reasonable force” to one of “necessary force.” The bill has drawn support from the American Civil Liberties Union, as well as Sequita Thompson, the grandmother of Stephon Clark—an unarmed African-American man who was shot to death by a pair of Sacramento officers in his own backyard last month, a killing that sparked protests across the country.
Meanwhile, the Supreme Court sided Tuesday with police who use deadly force, writing in a 7-2 decision that an Arizona police officer could not be sued after he shot a woman to death in her own front yard. The majority ruled the officer was entitled to “qualified immunity”—the doctrine that police are immune from lawsuits charging excessive force. Justice Sonia Sotomayor dissented, joined by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, writing that the majority’s decision “tells officers that they can shoot first and think later, and it tells the public that palpably unreasonable conduct will go unpunished.”
And in Florida, a jury at a federal court in Fort Lauderdale on Tuesday found former Bolivian President Gonzalo Sánchez de Lozada—and his ex-minister Carlos Sánchez Berzaín—responsible for extrajudicial killings carried out by the Bolivian military in 2003. The massacre left at least 64 civilians dead and more than 400 wounded. The victims were killed as the military cracked down on protests that sparked an uprising against then-President de Lozada. In La Paz, Bolivia, on Tuesday, family members of the victims gathered for a press conference to welcome the ruling, calling it a victory against impunity. This is Juan Patricio Quispe, who lost his brother in the massacre.
Juan Patricio Quispe: “Well, it’s a great satisfaction for us, and we hope this sentence is ratified. For us, it’s something unexpected, that will not change, that will be written into the history of our country: that Gonzalo Sánchez de Lozada has been found guilty for the events of October and September 2003.”
The Florida jury awarded $10 million in compensation to family members of victims of the 2003 massacre. The Center for Constitutional Rights, which spent 10 years pursuing the case, said it was the first time in U.S. history a former head of state has sat before his or her accusers in a U.S. human rights trial.