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You turn to Democracy Now! for ad-free news you can trust. Maybe you come for our daily headlines, or for in-depth stories that expose government and corporate abuses of power. We produce our daily news hour at a fraction of the budget of a commercial news operation, all without ads, government funding or corporate underwriting? This is only possible with your support. Right now every donation to Democracy Now! 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 in the coming year. Thanks so much. -Amy Goodman
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The White House has set June 12 as the date for a meeting between President Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, to be held in Singapore. The unprecedented summit will come just months after Trump and Kim traded insults—”little rocket man” and “dotard”—and after Trump threatened to “totally destroy” North Korea, a nation of 25 million people.
In Yemen, at least 11 civilians were killed in a 24-hour period in separate airstrikes by the U.S.-backed, Saudi-led coalition. In the first attack, an airstrike hit a home in Yemen’s northern province of Saada late Wednesday, killing five people inside. This is eyewitness Abdallah al-Fasly.
Abdallah al-Fasly: “We heard the sound of missiles at 2 a.m., but we didn’t expect that it was a strike. We went outside to investigate and found it had hit this building here. We waited for a little bit and then entered the building. What we saw inside was painful, something that would make you hate yourself. We saw children underneath the rubble.”
In a second assault, bombs ripped through a residential area of the capital Sana’a early Thursday, killing a family of four and two other civilians. The killings come as the U.S. continues to support the Saudi-led coalition in its war on Yemen’s Houthi rebels, and after The New York Times reported that U.S. Army Green Berets secretly deployed to Yemen late last year. Saudi-led airstrikes have devastated Yemen’s health, water and sanitation systems, sparking a massive cholera outbreak—leading to more than a million cases—and pushing millions of Yemenis to the brink of starvation.
Former Vice President Dick Cheney said Thursday that the U.S. should restart torture interrogation tactics, telling a Fox Business Network anchor, “If it were my call, I’d do it again.”
Dick Cheney: “If it were my call, I would not discontinue those programs. I’d have them active and ready to go. And I’d go back and study them and learn.”
Cheney’s comment comes a day after President Trump’s nominee to head the CIA, Gina Haspel, repeatedly refused Wednesday to call the CIA’s post-9/11 treatment of prisoners “torture,” and declined to state whether she believes torture is immoral. Haspel’s prospects for confirmation remain in doubt, after Republican senators Rand Paul of Kentucky and John McCain of Arizona issued statements opposing her nomination. McCain, who is battling stage IV brain cancer from his home in Arizona, is a former prisoner of war who was tortured by his Vietnamese captors in the 1960s and '70s. On Twitter, he wrote, “[Haspel's] role in overseeing the use of torture is disturbing & her refusal to acknowledge torture’s immorality is disqualifying.” McCain’s opposition set off a backlash among Republicans. This is Fox News military analyst Thomas McInerney, speaking on Fox Business Network Thursday.
Thomas McInerney: “The fact is, is John McCain—it worked on John. That’s why they call him 'Songbird John.' The fact is, is you—those methods can work, and they’re effective, as former Vice President Cheney said.”
Fox News later apologized, saying McInerney—who’s known for his “birther” and anti-Islamic statements—will no longer comment on the network. His comments came as The Hill newspaper reported that Kelly Sadler, a member of the White House communications team, dismissed McCain’s criticism of Gina Haspel, saying, “It doesn’t matter, he’s dying anyway.” In 2015, then-candidate Donald Trump mocked John McCain, saying, “He’s not a war hero. He’s a war hero because he was captured. I like people that weren’t captured.”
The British government has formally apologized to a former Libyan rebel leader and his wife, who were kidnapped by CIA agents in 2004 with the help of the British intelligence service MI6 and rendered to Libya, where they faced severe torture in one of Muammar Gaddafi’s prisons. Britain’s attorney general read a formal statement of apology from the House of Commons Thursday, saying the government was “profoundly sorry” for the treatment of Abdelhakim Belhaj and Fatima Boudchar. The couple rejected an offer of a half-million-pound payout and instead spent years fighting for an apology. Belhaj said Thursday his case should serve as a warning to other torturers.
Abdelhakim Belhaj: “My message is to all governments who carry out torture and who do not recognize human rights and violate this legitimate right. We must all unite together and raise our voices and work toward achieving this humanitarian requirement, which is the implementation of human rights.”
Belhaj’s wife Fatima Boudchar was pregnant at the time of her kidnapping and rendition. In an op-ed in The New York Times on May 8 headlined “I Have a Few Questions for Gina Haspel,” she called on Trump’s nominee for CIA chief to account for her role in the agency’s torture and rendition program.
The Washington Post reports that President Trump’s personal lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen’s company won a $600,000 contract just days after Trump’s inauguration to advise the telecom giant AT&T over its planned merger with Time Warner. This follows reports that Cohen used the promise of White House access as he brought in a total of $4.4 million in payments to his shell company, Essential Consultants LLC—the same company that Cohen used to pay hush money to the adult film star Stormy Daniels—also known as Stephanie Clifford—who says she had an affair with Donald Trump in 2006.
The powerful law firm Greenberg Traurig said Thursday that former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani no longer works there. Giuliani says he took a leave of absence from the law firm last month to join President Trump’s legal team in Robert Mueller’s special counsel investigation. Partners at Greenberg Traurig were reportedly rankled by Giuliani’s recent comments on Fox News, in which he admitted that a $130,000 hush money payment to Stormy Daniels was “funneled” through Michael Cohen’s law firm before Trump personally repaid the funds. In a statement, the law firm’s communications chief Jill Perry said, “Speaking for ourselves, we would not condone payments of the nature alleged to have been made.”
The United States has apologized to Canadian Cabinet minister Navdeep Bains, after transportation security agents ordered him to remove his turban during a screening at Detroit’s international airport. A travel policy issued in 2007 allows members of the Sikh faith—like Bains—to keep their turbans on as they pass through metal detectors or other airport scanners.
In immigration news, The New York Times reports that Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen prepared a letter of resignation after she was berated by President Trump during a Cabinet meeting for allegedly not doing enough to secure the United States border.
In California, a viral video shows the moment that heavily armed Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers raided the San Diego home of an immigrant family, mocking residents for demanding to see a warrant, as an officer pried the door open with a crowbar. The raid was captured in a dramatic cellphone video filmed by an 11-year-old girl—one of seven children inside the home.
Girl: “I want to see the warrant!”
Brianna Alonso: “[inaudible] see how they’re going to come in.”
Girl: “They don’t want to show us the warrant!”
Brianna Alonso: “They don’t want to show us the warrant.”
ICE officer: “Give me another ram, please.”
Girl: “We have to—we have to see the warrant!”
ICE officer: “Ma’am, that—you’re watching too much movies. We’ll show you the warrant when we’re done.”
The ICE officers then forced their way through the door and entered the home with guns drawn and a riot shield raised.
ICE officer: “Let me see your hands! Let me see your hands! Let me see your hands! Drop the phone! Turn around! Turn around! Turn around! Turn around! Don’t move!”
The ICE officers arrested 31-year-old Alberto Alonso Hernandez, an undocumented immigrant who had returned to San Diego to rejoin his family after being deported. Under Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure, officers are required to show an arrest warrant to anyone they take into custody at the time of their arrest.
Hawaii’s governor has readied plans for a mass evacuation of the state’s Big Island, as an eruption at Kilauea volcano strengthened Thursday. Officials say levels of toxic sulfur dioxide are rising, as is the threat of an explosion that could send lava, rocks and even large boulders into residential areas.
In Beaumont, Texas, a bomb exploded on the front steps of St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church overnight, shattering windows and sending shrapnel flying into office walls. No one was hurt in the explosion, which came as police were heading to the church to investigate reports of a suspicious package. The explosion came two weeks after police say they found another suspicious package in a Beaumont Starbucks store with a threatening note inside.
In Sudan, a court has issued a death sentence to a 19-year-old Sudanese former child bride who killed her husband as he tried to rape her. Noura Hussein was forced into marriage at age 16 by her family. She escaped the marriage and fled to live with her aunt, where she remained for three years before she was tricked by her family into returning home. She was then forced to return to her husband, who recruited his family members to hold Hussein down while he raped her. When he attempted to rape her again the following day, Hussein fended the man off with a knife, stabbing him to death. Noura Hussein’s case has drawn international attention, with the hashtag #JusticeForNoura trending on social media.
Back in the United States, a new survey finds sexual harassment is rampant in the airline industry. The Association of Flight Attendants survey found more than a third of flight attendants experienced verbal sexual harassment within the last year; 18 percent said they’d been subjected to physical harassment or assault.
Novelist Junot Díaz is stepping down as chair of the board of the Pulitzer Prize just weeks into his term, as the board said Thursday it has opened an independent review of sexual misconduct allegations against Díaz. The author was publicly accused of sexual misconduct during the Sydney Writers’ Festival, when Díaz was confronted by the writer Zinzi Clemmons, who said Díaz had forcibly kissed her when she was a graduate student.
Meanwhile, the streaming music service Spotify has announced that it will stop promoting or recommending R. Kelly’s music, after a growing number of women of color demanded the music and entertainment industries cut all ties with the musician. A number of women of color accused him of rape and sexual assault in cases that stretch back decades.
The Federal Election Commission ruled Thursday that candidates can now use campaign funds for childcare expenses. The ruling came after New York congressional candidate Liuba Grechen Shirley requested that the FEC allow her to use campaign donations to pay for childcare. Shirley said the unanimous decision in her favor was “a game changer for women and parents considering a run for office.”
And in Mexico City, hundreds marched in the streets for Mother’s Day on Thursday, demanding justice for tens of thousands of Mexicans who have gone missing since the nation declared its war on drug traffickers in 2006. Mothers of the Disappeared, an organization of mothers whose children are missing, asked the government to act to stop the crisis. This is Lucrecia Galicia Rodríguez, one of the marchers.
Lucrecia Galicia Rodríguez: “I am Lucrecia Galicia Rodríguez, and I am searching for my daughter, Jaqueline Galicia Galicia, who left home and never came back. She has four children and is 35 years old. … I wanted to come to this march so they would help me find my daughter. She has been disappeared for a year and a half, and her children are waiting for their mother to come back. That’s why I came to the protest. They invited me, and I came to the march.”