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It's Giving Tuesday. In these times of COVID-19, climate chaos and elections, independent news is more important than ever. You turn to Democracy Now! because you trust that when we're reporting on the pandemic or the uprisings against police brutality—or the climate crisis—our coverage is not brought to you by the fossil fuel, insurance or weapons industries or Big Pharma. We count on YOU to make our work possible. If everyone who visits our website gave just $8, we could cover our operating costs for 2021. Really—that’s all it would take. And today a generous supporter will TRIPLE your donation to Democracy Now!, meaning your gift will go three times as far. This is a challenging time for us all, but if you're able to make a donation, please do so today. Stay safe, wear a mask and thank you so much.
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European nations are scrambling to save the landmark nuclear agreement with Iran, one day after President Trump announced he will pull the United States out of the deal and reimpose sanctions on Iran.
President Donald Trump: “The Iran deal is defective at its core. If we do nothing, we know exactly what will happen. In just a short period of time, the world’s leading state sponsor of terror will be on the cusp of acquiring the world’s most dangerous weapons. Therefore, I am announcing today that the United States will withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal.”
The 2015 agreement was worked out by the United States, five other world powers and Iran. According to the International Atomic Energy Agency, Iran has continued to meet its obligations under the agreement. We’ll have more on Trump’s decision to pull out of the 2015 Iran nuclear deal after headlines.
The New York Times is reporting that President Trump’s longtime personal lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen paid adult film star Stormy Daniels $130,000 in hush money using a shell company that was funded, in part, by a billionaire Russian oligarch. The hush money, paid days before the 2016 election, was intended to keep Stormy Daniels, also known as Stephanie Clifford, from speaking out about her alleged affair with Donald Trump back in 2006. Newly reviewed financial documents show Cohen paid Daniels through a shell company named Essential Consultants LLC. This shell company later received half a million dollars from a New York investment firm named Columbus Nova, whose biggest client is a company controlled by Russian billionaire Viktor Vekselberg, who was stopped and questioned at an airport earlier this year by investigators for special counsel Robert Mueller. Federal prosecutors are investigating Cohen for possible election law violations and bank fraud. Trump has admitted he reimbursed Cohen for the $130,000 hush money payment to Daniels. The New York Times also reports Cohen used the shell company, Essential Consultants, to collect a quarter of a million dollars after Cohen brokered a separate hush money payment for major Republican donor Elliott Broidy, who paid off a former Playboy model to keep quiet about their affair, which resulted in her having an abortion. Other companies that contributed to Essential Consultants are Korea Aerospace Industries, which is competing for a multibillion-dollar contract to provide trainer jets for the U.S. Air Force, and AT&T, whose proposed merger with Time Warner is currently pending before the Justice Department. The drugmaker Novartis also paid into the shell company.
Deputy CIA Director Gina Haspel is testifying in front of the Senate Intelligence Committee for her confirmation hearing as CIA director today. Haspel was responsible for running a secret CIA black site in Thailand in 2002, where one prisoner was waterboarded 83 times and tortured in other ways. The former acting director of the CIA has also confirmed that in 2005 Haspel personally oversaw the destruction of videotapes showing torture at the black site. Today’s hearing will mark the first time Haspel will be forced to speak publicly about her role in the U.S. torture program. Among those seeking to testify about Haspel’s role is Guantánamo prisoner Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the accused architect of the 9/11 attacks. He was held at secret CIA prisons in Afghanistan and Poland. It is not yet known whether Haspel was involved directly or indirectly in Khalid Sheikh Mohammed’s torture.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has appointed a special prosecutor to investigate accusations that resigned New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman physically assaulted at least four women. Two of the women, Michelle Manning Barish and Tanya Selvaratnam, told The New Yorker magazine that Schneiderman repeatedly hit them, slapping them across the face and choking them to the point they each sought medical attention. They both also accuse Schneiderman of threatening to kill them if they broke up with him. New York Solicitor General Barbara Underwood will now serve as New York’s acting attorney general. Meanwhile, five more executives have stepped down at Nike, where a sweeping investigation into workplace harassment and misconduct toward women employees is underway. A total of 11 senior managers have left Nike so far.
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is visiting North Korea today to finalize plans for the proposed meeting between President Trump and North Korea’s leader Kim Jong-un. President Trump says Pompeo will also return to the U.S. with three Americans who have been imprisoned in North Korea: Kim Dong-chul, Kim Hak-song and Tony Kim.
Voters in West Virginia, Ohio, Indiana and North Carolina headed to the polls Tuesday to decide a number of key primaries. In West Virginia, the state’s Republican Attorney General Patrick Morrisey won a closely watched U.S. Senate primary, defeating U.S. Rep. Evan Jenkins and former coal baron Don Blankenship, who served a year in prison after 29 miners died in a 2010 explosion at his Upper Big Branch Mine. Patrick Morrisey will now face the conservative Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin in November. In Ohio, Richard Cordray defeated former Congressmember Dennis Kucinich in the state’s Democratic primary for governor. Cordray served as the first director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. He will now face Mike DeWine in November to determine who will replace outgoing Ohio Governor John Kasich. In Indiana, Vice President Mike Pence’s brother, Greg Pence, won the Republican primary for a congressional seat in eastern Indiana. Female candidates were also big winners on Tuesday. Politico reports there were 20 open Democratic House primaries with women on the ballot Tuesday night, and voters selected a female nominee in 17 of them. We’ll have more on the primaries later in the broadcast.
In Armenia, thousands of people took to the streets Tuesday to celebrate after opposition leader Nikol Pashinyan was elected prime minister by Armenia’s Parliament. The election followed weeks of anti-corruption and anti-government protests which toppled longtime President Serzh Sargsyan only days after he assumed the office of prime minister in an effort to circumvent presidential term limits and hold onto power. Armenia’s new prime minister is a former journalist and publisher. Meanwhile, in Hungary, thousands of people demonstrated outside Parliament Tuesday as far-right-wing Prime Minister Viktor Orbán was formally sworn in for a third term. Orbán led a xenophobic, anti-immigrant campaign and won two-thirds of the seats in Parliament in April, giving him even more power to reshape Hungary’s constitution.
The Israeli government has ordered the deportation of Human Rights Watch’s Israel and Palestine director, Omar Shakir. Israel has accused Shakir, who is a U.S. citizen, of promoting the nonviolent Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, which targets Israel over its treatment of Palestinians. He now has 14 days to leave Israel. This comes less than two weeks after two U.S. human rights lawyers—Columbia University’s Katherine Franke and Center for Constitutional Rights executive director Vincent Warren—were detained for 14 hours at Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion International Airport before being deported back to the United States.
Back in the United States, Arizona Republican Senator John McCain, who is battling brain cancer, has indicated he does not want President Trump to attend his funeral. He also says he wants former presidents Barack Obama and George W. Bush to give the eulogies.
In New York City, dozens of journalists rallied outside the headquarters of Alden Global Capital Tuesday to protest censorship and layoffs imposed by the nation’s second-largest newspaper chain, Digital First Media, which is owned by the New York-based hedge fund.
George Kelly: “My name is George Kelly. I’m a breaking news reporter for the East Bay Times in Oakland, California. We won a Pulitzer Prize last year covering the Ghost Ship fire in Oakland, through which 36 people lost their lives in a warehouse. Our investigative reporters, our breaking news reporters, our photographers and editors worked to hold institutions accountable. We need to know that nothing like this can ever happen again. We won the Pulitzer Prize, and we had layoffs a week later. I flew 3,000 miles today to give Alden Global Capital a message: Invest or sell.”
A Louisiana judge has ruled one of the permits for part of the Bayou Bridge pipeline is illegal. The proposed 163-mile pipeline has faced mounting resistance from residents and environmental activists. It’s being built by Energy Transfer Partners, the same company behind the Dakota Access pipeline.
In California, the granddaughter of Bob Marley is vowing to sue the Rialto Police Department, after she and two other friends were surrounded by a swarm of police cars and a police helicopter as they were checking out of an Airbnb rental. The three women are all black. The police were dispatched after a white neighbor saw the three women carrying suitcases out of the rental home, and called the police to report a possible burglary. It’s the latest in a series of high-profile incidents of racial profiling and racial discrimination, including two black men being arrested at a Philadelphia Starbucks for being inside the coffee shop while they were waiting for a third man to arrive for a business meeting.
And activists around the country have begun bailing black women out of jail as part of the second annual “Black Mama’s Bail Out,” a nationwide effort to free black mothers and reunite them with their loved ones ahead of Mother’s Day, on Sunday. This is Southerners on New Ground’s executive director Mary Hooks, speaking on Democracy Now! last year, during the first Black Mama’s Bail Out.
Mary Hooks: “We know that about 80 percent of black women that are sitting in cages right now are single parents and caretakers. We know that one out of three black trans women who have spent time in the cage have experienced sexual violence in the cage. One out of nine black children have parents who are incarcerated. And so, our goal is to be able to free our people from these cages, using the traditions from our ancestors that bought each other’s collective freedom, to get our folks back home and to highlight the crisis around the cash bail system, put pressure on all of these institutions who are making money off of our people’s suffering, but, most importantly, restore the life that this cash bail system have taken from our people.”