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HeadlinesMay 15, 2018

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Death Toll in Gaza Rises to 61, After Israeli Military Massacres Protesters

May 15, 2018

The Israeli military killed at least 61 Palestinians in Gaza and wounded 2,700 more for protesting Monday’s opening of the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem and the Israeli occupation. Among the victims shot dead by an Israeli sniper was 30-year-old Fadi Abu Salmi, who used a wheelchair and had both his legs amputated. Another victim was 8-month-old Laila al-Ghandour, who died early this morning after inhaling tear gas fired by the Israeli military, including being dropped by drones. Palestinian leaders are accusing the Israeli military of carrying out war crimes during Monday’s crackdown. This is Palestinian chief negotiator Saeb Erekat.

Saeb Erekat: “We witnessed today the killing and slaughtering of dozens of our people in the Gaza Strip at the hands of the Israeli army, an act that’s tantamount to a war crime, which we condemn with the strongest possible terms, and urge the international community to move to provide international protection for our people. At the same time, we witnessed the movement of the American Embassy to Jerusalem, which is an act that’s tantamount to putting the cornerstone of a new settlement outpost in the occupied Palestinian land. Moving the embassy, now we have a new settlement outpost called 'American Embassy.'”

Palestinians across the West Bank and Gaza have launched a general strike today to protest the killings. This is Bethlehem resident Maher Kanawati.

Maher Kanawati: “Today is a total strike here in Bethlehem for the 70 years Nakba in Palestine. Also, we have a strike today due to the fact that yesterday in Gaza over 52 martyrs and over 2,400 injured in a peaceful demonstration against the move of the American Embassy to Jerusalem.”

Today’s general strike comes on the 70th anniversary of the Nakba, or the Day of Catastrophe, when more than 700,000 Palestinians were forced to flee or were expelled from their homes.

South Africa & Turkey Recall Ambassadors to Israel over Murder of Palestinians

May 15, 2018

The Israeli military’s massacre of Palestinians Monday sparked widespread international condemnation. South Africa has also recalled its ambassador to Israel. Turkey has recalled both its ambassadors to Israel and the United States and has declared three days of mourning starting on Friday.

Meanwhile, the United States blocked a U.N. Security Council statement calling for an independent investigation into the killings. This is Ravina Shamdasani, a spokesperson for the U.N. high commissioner for human rights.

Ravina Shamdasani: “We’ve been seeing the shocking killing of dozens of protesters and the injury of hundreds of others in Gaza today by Israeli live fire. These outrageous human rights violations must be brought to account. Those who are responsible must be brought to account. And there must be justice for the victims. The high commissioner for human rights is calling on the international community to ensure that the victims of these human rights violations receive justice.”

Jewish Activists March in D.C. to Protest Opening of U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem

May 15, 2018

In the United States, young Jewish demonstrators marched through the streets of Washington, D.C., to protest against the opening of the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem and the Israeli military’s massacre Monday. This is protester Sara Sandmel.
bq. Sara Sandmel: “We’re here building an embassy of freedom, to show that we, as young American Jews, do not stand with the embassy move from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. We believe that that’s an embassy that represents endless occupation. And we want to stand together for freedom and dignity for all Israelis and Palestinians.”

Hundreds Arrested in Nationwide Day of Action for New Poor People’s Campaign

May 15, 2018

As many as 1,000 people were arrested in civil disobedience protests in cities across the United States Monday during a national day of action for the new Poor People’s Campaign. On Monday, thousands of low-wage workers, clergy and community activists participated in sit-ins, marches and rallies in 40 states, including in Raleigh, North Carolina, where people joined hands and sang as they blocked traffic in front of the North Carolina Legislative Building.

Woman: “It ain’t no harm in havin’ your mind…”

Crowd: “Stayed on freedom.”

Hundreds also gathered for a rally and civil disobedience protest in Washington, D.C., where Women’s March organizer Linda Sarsour spoke out.

Linda Sarsour: “I come here as a Muslim because my faith teaches me that I must stand with the most vulnerable people in my society. My god doesn’t just tell me to go pray in the mosque. This act that we’re doing today is an act of worship, because my god is a practical god. My god tells me, 'Feed the hungry. Feed the homeless.' My god tells me, 'Welcome the refugees.' My god tells me to open my home to my neighbors. That is my god, the god of Abraham. Sisters and brothers, our dear brother Malcolm X said, 'Freedom—if you're not willing to die for it, take that word out of your mouth.’”

That was Women’s March organizer Linda Sarsour, speaking in Washington, D.C. Shortly afterward, she was arrested for blocking traffic. Monday’s actions come 50 years after Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. launched the first Poor People’s Campaign to protest economic inequality, militarism and racial injustice. Click here to see our full interview with the new Poor People’s Campaign organizers Rev. William Barber and Rev. Liz Theoharis, who were also arrested in Washington, D.C., on Monday.

NYT: DeVos’s Education Dept. Stalls Probes into For-Profit Schools

May 15, 2018

The New York Times is reporting that a special team within the Education Department tasked with investigating fraud at for-profit colleges has been virtually eliminated, ending probes into for-profit schools where members of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos’s team previously worked. Among the investigations that has ground to a halt is one into DeVry Education Group. Last year, DeVos named a former dean of DeVry as the supervisor of the team tasked with investigating this company and other for-profit college operators, including Bridgepoint Education and Career Education Corporation. Former employees of both those institutions also now work for DeVos at the Education Department. Betsy DeVos has previously invested in firms that own for-profit colleges.


Catalan Parliament Elects Pro-Independence Candidate as President

May 15, 2018

The Catalan Parliament has elected a pro-independence MP as president, seven months after Spain took direct control of Catalonia following its independence referendum.

Roger Torrent: “Sixty-six votes yes, 65 votes no, and four abstentions. Mr. Quim Torra has had 66 votes, which means he has achieved a simple majority and, according to Article 4.4, is elected president of Catalonia’s Generalitat.”

Quim Torra will now succeed former Catalonia President Carles Puigdemont, who is in exile in Berlin, where he awaits a German court’s decision on whether to extradite him to Spain on charges of rebellion. Other members of Puigdemont’s administration have been imprisoned on charges of rebellion and misuse of public funds for having organized the independence referendum, which sparked the biggest constitutional crisis in Spain since the end of the Franco dictatorship in the 1970s.


Report: Colombian Army Executed Up to 10,000 Civilians, Claiming They Were Rebels

May 15, 2018

In Colombia, a new study accuses the Colombian military of executing up to 10,000 civilians and then claiming they were rebels between 2002 and 2010. The practice, known as “false positives,” was used to boost the army’s kill statistics in the war against FARC rebels and to justify U.S. military funding for the Colombian army. One of the study’s authors said boys with disabilities were specifically targeted. Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos formerly served as defense minister from 2006 to 2009, at the height of “false positive” killings program.


NYT: Two Dozen People Killed by Carbon Monoxide After Leaving on Keyless Cars

May 15, 2018

The New York Times is reporting more than two dozen people have been killed by carbon monoxide poisoning nationwide since 2006, after their keyless ignition cars were inadvertently left running in garages. More than half of the new cars sold in the United States now power on and off with a button rather than a key. But this technology can deceive drivers into thinking that the car is off, when actually it is still running. Consumer advocates have called on car manufacturers to implement new safety features to prevent drivers from leaving keyless ignition cars running for hours by mistake, which can lead to the fatal carbon monoxide poisoning.


Supreme Court Rules in Favor of Death Row Prisoner Robert McCoy

May 15, 2018

And the Supreme Court has ruled in favor of death row prisoner Robert McCoy, who was sentenced to death in Louisiana after his lawyer told the jury his client had committed a triple murder, even though McCoy had always maintained his innocence. McCoy was accused of killing the mother, stepfather and son of his estranged wife in 2008. He repeatedly told his lawyer, Larry English, that he was innocent of the crimes and wanted to clear his name. But instead, his lawyer decided to pursue a different strategy, telling the jury repeatedly that McCoy was guilty. In a 6-3 ruling, the Supreme Court decided McCoy now has the right to a new trial.

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