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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 dismissed North Korea’s threats Wednesday to walk away from a planned summit between President Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. This week, North Korean state media said the talks—scheduled to be held in Singapore on June 12—might be canceled if the U.S. continues to demand North Korea unilaterally abandon its nuclear arsenal. North Korea also objected after the U.S. refused to cancel joint war games with South Korea’s military. At the White House, Trump said, “We’ll have to see,” when asked if the talks were still on. This is White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders.
Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders: “This is something that we fully expected. The president is very used and ready for tough negotiations. And if they want to meet, we’ll be ready. And if they don’t, that’s OK, too.”
We’ll have more on North Korea and the prospects of a Trump-Kim summit later in the broadcast.
In the Gaza Strip, Israeli warplanes launched at least six airstrikes overnight, in what Israel’s military said were attacks on Hamas targets. The bombings came as the United Nations Human Rights Council said it will hold a special session Friday to discuss escalating violence in Gaza. On Monday, Israeli forces shot dead at least 61 unarmed Palestinian protesters taking part in the Great March of Return. More than 2,700 Palestinians were injured. After headlines, we’ll go to Gaza to speak with Dr. Tarek Loubani, a Palestinian emergency room doctor, who is Canadian. He was treating gunshot wound patients in Gaza when he was shot by an Israeli sniper himself earlier this week.
New data show the Trump administration has cut the number of refugees allowed into the United States to a near trickle—with an estimated 20,000 set to enter the U.S. by year’s end at the current pace. The number would be the lowest since the Federal Refugee Resettlement Program was created in 1980.
The news came as President Donald Trump lashed out again at undocumented immigrants on Wednesday, telling reporters, “These aren’t people. These are animals.”
President Donald Trump: “We have people coming into the country, or trying to come in—we’re stopping a lot of them—but we’re taking people out of the country. You wouldn’t believe how bad these people are. These aren’t people. These are animals. And we’re taking them out of the country at a level and at a rate that’s never happened before.”
Trump’s comment came as newly revealed documents showed his administration sought negative information about Haitian immigrants ahead of its decision to end temporary protected status for nearly 60,000 Haitians, including many who came to the United States after the devastating 2010 earthquake. In one email obtained by the National Lawyers Guild and the NYU Immigrant Rights Clinic, senior Homeland Security official Kathy Nuebel Kovarik asked her staff for data on the number of Haitian TPS holders who were on public assistance; how many had been convicted of crimes; their travel habits; and how much money they had remitted to Haiti. The revelation follows a Washington Post report that several senior officials at the Departments of State and Homeland Security resigned after the Trump administration ignored advice from its own diplomatic experts and canceled TPS for tens of thousands of Honduran immigrants.
The Senate voted narrowly Wednesday to reverse the FCC’s repeal of net neutrality rules, in a victory for advocates of the open internet. The Senate bill would reimpose rules barring internet service providers from stopping or slowing down the delivery of websites, and would bar companies from charging extra fees for high-quality streaming video. Wednesday’s 52-47 vote—mostly along party lines—sets up a battle in the Republican-controlled House. This is California Democratic Congressmember Anna Eshoo, whose district includes much of Silicon Valley.
Rep. Anna Eshoo: “Fundamentally, this is about ensuring that you, myself—all of us—we are the ones, we are the individuals, that decide what we want to hear, what we want to watch, what we want to play, what we want to read.”
In a financial disclosure report revealed Wednesday, President Trump acknowledged he made a six-figure payment to his attorney Michael Cohen as a reimbursement for a hush-money payment Cohen made to adult film star Stephanie Clifford—also known as Stormy Daniels. The disclosure came as part of a complaint against Trump filed by the government’s ethics office. Trump’s disclosure directly contradicts a sworn statement he filed a year ago; many legal observers say it appears Trump violated federal elections law by failing to disclose a loan to his campaign.
In the Democratic Republic of Congo, officials from the World Health Organization have distributed 4,000 doses of an experimental vaccine against Ebola, after a fresh outbreak of the deadly virus has killed at least 23 people. An Ebola outbreak in West Africa in 2014 claimed more than 11,000 lives. Critics say those lives could have been spared if researchers had poured more resources into finding a vaccine years ago.
In Chile, thousands of students marched through the capital Santiago Wednesday, protesting against widespread sexual harassment and assault at schools and universities, and over the failure of school administrators to respond to complaints by female students. This is Paz Gajardo, spokesperson for the Confederation of Chilean Students.
Paz Gajardo: “This movement is historic. This march sets a precedent. It is the kickstart that we, the women of Chile, have initiated in response to the sexual allegation claims established across different universities throughout Chile. There are at least 20 to 25 universities undergoing takeovers and stoppages, in response to sexual abuses or rapes by teachers and fellow students.”
Police later used tear gas and water cannons to disperse marchers. The protest was part of a wider student movement calling for free, quality public higher education in Chile.
Back in the United States, Michigan State University has reached a half-billion-dollar deal to settle a case brought by 332 women who were sexually assaulted by former USA Gymnastics team doctor Larry Nassar—many of them as children. It’s believed to be the largest-ever settlement of its kind. Earlier this year, Nassar was sentenced to multiple prison terms of up to 175 years for sexually abusing athletes over decades. In January, ESPN reported that Michigan State administrators failed to turn over documents to federal Title IX investigators that outlined sexual assault charges by Larry Nassar.
Politico reports that Scott Pruitt’s Environmental Protection Agency and the White House tried to block publication of a federal health study on a national water contamination crisis, after one Trump administration aide said it would cause a “public relations nightmare.” The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services study would show that the chemicals PFOA and PFOS, which are used in Teflon and firefighting foam, endanger human health at a far lower level than EPA has previously called safe. The study remains unpublished.
On Capitol Hill, Cambridge Analytica whistleblower Chris Wylie told the Senate Judiciary Committee Wednesday that the voter-profiling company sought to suppress turnout among African-American voters and preyed on racial biases. Wylie testified that Cambridge Analytica harvested the data of up to 87 million Facebook users, without their permission, and used the data to “fight a culture war.” Cambridge Analytica was founded by billionaire Robert Mercer. Trump’s former adviser Steve Bannon of Breitbart News was one of the company’s key strategists. Wylie said he left the company due to efforts to disengage voters and target African Americans.
Chris Wylie: “Cambridge Analytica sought to identify mental vulnerabilities in voters and worked to exploit them by targeting information designed to activate some of the worst characteristics in people, such as neuroticism, paranoia and racial biases. To be clear, the work of Cambridge Analytica is not equivalent to traditional marketing. Cambridge Analytica specialized in disinformation, spreading rumors, kompromat and propaganda.”
U.S. officials have identified a former CIA software engineer as the primary suspect in a massive leak of the spy agency’s documents last year. Joshua Adam Schulte, who designed computer code to spy on foreign adversaries for the CIA, is believed to have leaked thousands of documents last year revealing CIA programs and tools that are capable of hacking into both Apple and Android cellphones. WikiLeaks published the documents last March under the name “Vault 7,” calling it the largest leak of secret CIA documents in history. Prosecutors have not brought charges against Schulte for the leak despite months of investigation. However, in August, prosecutors indicted Schulte on child pornography charges that are unrelated to the leaks. He denies the charges.
In North Carolina, thousands of teachers dressed in red flooded the streets of Raleigh around the state Capitol Wednesday, calling for more funding for public education and a statewide plan to reduce large class sizes. The protest follows similar actions by teachers in West Virginia, Oklahoma, Kentucky, Arizona and Colorado.
And in New York City, a Brooklyn man who spent 17 years behind bars for a murder he did not commit burst into tears Wednesday as a judge vacated his conviction on murder charges. John Bunn, who’s now 41 years old, was just 14 when he was arrested and charged with killing an off-duty prison guard. John Bunn addressed the court after his exoneration Wednesday.
John Bunn: “Y’all convicted and had a wrong man in prison. And now y’all still have somebody that’s on the loose right now that killed someone in that family, out there running free. And I didn’t deserve any of that stuff that y’all did to me. … They won’t admit or say that I’m an innocent man. But I’m an innocent man, Your Honor. And I have always been an innocent man.”
John Bunn is one of nearly a dozen people—most of them black men—who’ve been exonerated based on false-identification evidence brought by disgraced former NYPD detective Louis Scarcella. Dozens more convictions based on Scarcella’s evidence are under review.