The White House says it will back either of a pair of immigration bills heading toward a possible vote in the Congress next week, after House Speaker Paul Ryan said he’ll allow a debate on immigration. White House senior adviser Stephen Miller said President Trump supports the bills—which would provide a path to citizenship for young undocumented immigrants, while spending an additional $25 billion for a border wall with Mexico, ending the visa lottery system and sharply curtailing the number of visas given to documented immigrants. An even harsher bill would also crack down on sanctuary cities, while requiring employers to use the federal E-Verify program. Both measures have been condemned by immigrants’ rights groups. Christine Neumann-Ortiz, executive director of Voices of the Border said, “Speaker Ryan’s decision is another disgraceful sign that the Republican Party is the party of anti-immigrant hate, waging a war on families. Speaker Ryan cannot call himself a family man when he is willing to destroy other families in service to white nationalists.” Meanwhile, 10 members of Congress protested Wednesday by blocking the entrance to the headquarters of U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the agency tasked with carrying out the forced removal of children from their parents. After headlines, we’ll go to South Texas, to the epicenter of this “zero tolerance” crackdown.
Canada’s foreign minister appealed directly to U.S. lawmakers Wednesday to end a burgeoning trade war, after President Trump ordered steep tariffs on imports of metals from Canada and other U.S. trading partners. Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland spoke to reporters after meeting with members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee—including Arizona Republican Jeff Flake.
Sen. Jeff Flake: “Can you imagine being in Canada, our closest ally on the planet, and to be told that they are—they represent a national security threat, that the export of steel and aluminum is threatening our national security? That’s insulting. It really is.”
Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland: “Canada has, therefore, truly more in sorrow than in anger, announced a perfectly reciprocal, measured, dollar-for-dollar retaliation response. We have published our retaliatory list. Our tariffs will come into effect on July 1st.”
A federal judge ruled Wednesday that a lawsuit challenging the U.S. government’s secretive “kill list” can proceed. The suit was brought by U.S. freelance journalist Bilal Abdul Kareem, who says he narrowly escaped with his life on several occasions when the U.S. targeted him for airstrikes in Syria. Kareem says he was targeted for death because he frequently interviewed militants the U.S. has linked to al-Qaeda. In a decision handed down Wednesday, U.S. District Judge Rosemary Collyer ruled the government cannot deny Kareem his constitutional right to due process.
A new study finds global warming is accelerating the melting of Antarctica’s ice sheet, adding about 200 billion tons of water to the planet’s oceans each year and threatening to inundate coastal communities around the globe. The findings in the journal Nature reveal the rate of Antarctica’s ice melt has tripled over the past decade, as the continent surpassed Greenland as the largest contributor to sea level rise.
This comes as two Harvard social scientists argued the Trump administration’s rollback of environmental regulations could cause the deaths of an additional 80,000 people or more per decade. Writing in The Journal of the American Medical Association, the scientists say the EPA’s rollback of clean air rules alone will cause an additional 1 million Americans to contract respiratory illness.
In Yemen, U.S.-backed, Saudi-led coalition warplanes are bombing the port city of Hodeidah for a second straight day, as aid groups warned of a worsening humanitarian catastrophe. The U.N. says nearly 8.5 million Yemenis are on the verge of famine, with deaths set to rise if shipments of food and medicine through the port come to a halt. This is Khaled al-Radi, a resident of Sana’a and father of 10, speaking Wednesday.
Khaled al-Radi: “Because of the current circumstances, people are suffering. We cannot buy things for our kids and can’t financially sustain ourselves on normal days, so imagine what it’s like during Ramadan and Eid. I have a household of 11 people. Our situation is dire, and only God knows when we’ll get paid our salaries.”
The United Nations General Assembly voted overwhelmingly Wednesday to condemn Israel over its massacre of Palestinians protesting nonviolently against Israel’s occupation. The vote was 120 to 8, with only Israel, the U.S., Australia, Togo and four U.S.-dependent Pacific Island nations voting against the resolution. The Israeli military has killed at least 124 Palestinians and wounded 14,000 more since the Palestinians’ nonviolent Great March of Return protests began in Gaza on March 30. This is Riyad Mansour, Palestinian ambassador to the U.N., speaking at Wednesday’s General Assembly.
Riyad Mansour: “We cannot remain silent in the face of the most violent crimes and human rights violations being systematically perpetrated against our people. Nobody would remain silent. And not only that, we will continue to do everything possible in order to protect our people. This is a right to all people. And the Palestinian people should not be the exception.”
In the West Bank city of Ramallah, Palestinian forces used batons and tear gas Wednesday to clear hundreds of protesters calling on Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to end financial sanctions on the Gaza Strip. The sanctions are aimed at Abbas’s rival political party, Hamas. Protesters say the policy has exacerbated the already disastrous effects of Israel’s siege.
In Mexico, a congressional candidate who has promised to crack down on organized crime was shot in the head and killed just minutes after leaving a debate last Friday. Fernando Purón was the 112th politician murdered in Mexico since last September and the first federal candidate to be assassinated since then.
In La Paz, Bolivia, police fired tear gas and water cannons Wednesday at university students and professors who are calling for more funding for public education. Wednesday’s protest was the latest in a series of demonstrations that followed the death of a student killed by police last month during a similar protest.
In Argentina, lawmakers are set to vote today on a bill that would decriminalize abortion during the first 14 weeks of pregnancy. As members of Argentina’s lower house debated the measure in Buenos Aires Wednesday, protesters squared off in competing rallies outside the Palace of the Argentine National Congress. This is abortion rights campaigner Fernanda González.
Fernanda González: “Seventy percent of society today is in favor of the legalization of abortion, and there’s also a social mobilization supporting it. That doesn’t necessarily correlate with our representatives in the House of Deputies, but, well, we believe that it’s precisely in moments like this that the deputies must look to the public and not look inwardly nor religiously.”
If the bill passes Argentina’s lower house today, it will move to the more conservative Senate, where it faces an uncertain fate. Argentina currently allows abortion only with the permission of a judge in cases of rape or a risk to a pregnant woman’s life.
In South Korea, President Moon Jae-in’s ruling party swept local elections across the country Wednesday, as voters showed their approval for Moon’s rapprochement with North Korea. The elections came as President Trump declared that North Korea no longer poses a nuclear threat to the U.S., following his unprecedented summit with leader Kim Jong-un earlier this week. Trump was also questioned over North Korea’s abysmal human rights record in an interview with Fox News’ Bret Baier that aired Wednesday.
President Donald Trump: “He’s a very smart guy. He’s a great negotiator. But I think we understand each other.”
Bret Baier: “But he’s still done some really bad things.”
President Donald Trump: “Yeah, but so have a lot of other people done some really bad things. I mean, I could go through a lot of nations where a lot of bad things were done.”
Trump’s comments came as leading Democrats blasted the president’s decision to suspend U.S. war games in the Korean Peninsula while the North takes steps toward denuclearization. This is Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer speaking from the Senate floor Wednesday.
Sen. Chuck Schumer: “President Trump agreed to freeze joint military exercises with South Korea. And he called them ’provocations’—right out of the North Korean propaganda playbook—without the knowledge of South Korea or our own military. I guarantee you, our military men and women were squirming when President Trump called our joint military exercises 'provocations.'”
Massachusetts has filed a lawsuit against 16 top executives of Purdue Pharma, the maker of the popular drug OxyContin, claiming they misled doctors, patients and the public about the dangers posed by the opioid-based painkiller. This is Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey.
Attorney General Maura Healey: “Their strategy was simple: The more drugs they sold, the more money they made—and the more people died. We found that Purdue engaged in a multibillion-dollar enterprise to mislead us about their drugs. Purdue pushed prescribers to give higher doses to keep patients on drugs for longer periods of time, without regard to the very real increased risk of addiction, overdose and death.”
Drug overdoses are now the leading cause of death for Americans under the age of 50, with opioids as the number-one driver. Click here to see our interview with the Pulitzer Prize-winning former New York Times journalist Barry Meier on his book “Pain Killer” about OxyContin, about Purdue Pharma and the Sackler family.
In Los Angeles, prosecutors are reviewing a sexual assault allegation against actor Sylvester Stallone. Stallone’s attorney said in December that a woman had filed a police report against the actor alleging that he raped her in the 1990s. Stallone denies the claims.
In Texas, a black woman sentenced to five years in prison for voter fraud has lost her bid for a new trial. Crystal Mason was convicted of illegal voting in March, after she cast a provisional ballot in the 2016 presidential election despite having a past felony conviction for tax fraud that prevented her from voting. Mason says she did not know that she wasn’t allowed to vote in Texas due to her criminal record. According to a 2016 report by The Sentencing Project, policies restricting the voting rights of convicted felons disenfranchise more than 6 million people. Crystal Mason’s supporters are demanding charges be dropped, arguing that her conviction was racially biased. This follows a voter fraud conviction in Iowa, where Terri Lynn Rote—a white woman—was convicted of the same crime, after she tried to vote for President Trump twice. Rote was sentenced to two years’ probation and fined $750.
And in media news, the associate editor of The Indypendent newspaper was arrested Wednesday in Jersey City after interrupting a City Council meeting to protest Mayor Steven Fulop’s decision to remove newspaper boxes from the city’s streets. Three other staff members of the monthly progressive newspaper were also removed by police from the City Council chambers for protesting. At least 240 news boxes were removed from their Jersey City locations with no advance notice earlier this month, according to The Indypendent, including 90 boxes used by Spanish-language weekly El Especialito. This is Associate Editor Peter Rugh being led away from the City Council meeting in handcuffs.
Peter Rugh: “Freedom of speech! Freedom of speech! Freedom of speech! Freedom of speech! Freedom of speech! Freedom of speech! Freedom of speech! Freedom of speech! Freedom of speech! Freedom of speech!”