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Afghan President Ashraf Ghani has announced an unconditional ceasefire with the Taliban to last until June 20. The ceasefire comes after Muslim clerics in Afghanistan issued a fatwa—or religious ruling—against suicide bombings, after an attack Monday, claimed by ISIS, killed 14 people who had gathered for a clerics’ peace summit in Kabul. This was President Ghani’s first unconditional offer of a ceasefire since his election in 2014.
The White House says President Donald Trump may hold a second day of talks with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un when the pair meet for an unprecedented summit at a 5-star hotel in Singapore next week. Trump will meet in Washington today with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to discuss North Korea, before both head to Canada for a G7 summit on Friday.
The G7 preparations come as Trump reportedly held a testy phone call Wednesday with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, telling him, “Didn’t you guys burn down the White House?” It was an apparent reference to the War of 1812, when British forces—not Canadians—torched the White House.
Meanwhile, a spokesperson for Dennis Rodman said Wednesday the former NBA basketball star may attend next week’s Trump-Kim summit in Singapore. Rodman twice appeared on Trump’s NBC reality TV show “Celebrity Apprentice” and has repeatedly traveled to North Korea, where he spent time with Kim Jong-un, whom he’s called his “friend for life.”
In San Diego, California, a federal judge has ruled that an ACLU lawsuit challenging the Trump administration’s policy of separating children from their undocumented immigrant parents may proceed. U.S. District Judge Dana Sabraw on Wednesday dismissed a Trump administration challenge to the suit, saying that, if true, the conduct alleged in the suit is “brutal” and “offensive.” The ruling came as Attorney General Jeff Sessions defended the Trump administration’s policy amid growing outrage over reports of Border Patrol and ICE agents ripping toddlers and even babies from the arms of their mothers. This is Sessions being questioned by the conservative talk radio host Hugh Hewitt on Tuesday.
Hugh Hewitt: “I understand the prosecution part. But is it necessary to separate the children? Could they not be detained in facilities where at least mothers and infants could remain together?”
Attorney General Jeff Sessions: “Well, most are not infants. Most are teenagers, although we do have a—a number of younger ones now, more than we’ve seen recently. And they are maintained in a very safe environment, not by the law enforcement team, the Department of, uh, Health—um, Homeland Security, but put with Health and Human Services.”
According to the Florence Immigrant and Refugee Rights Project, infants as young as 53 weeks old have been brought to court hearings alone after they were forcibly separated from their parents by U.S. authorities.
Meanwhile, in Mexico City, parents who’ve been separated from their children in the United States gathered Wednesday for a forum aimed at family reunifications. This is Ana Laura López, who’s unable to be with her children in the U.S.
Ana Laura López: “Deportations and deportees are more than just statistics and topics for current affairs. We are human beings who went to the U.S. to work. We fought to have a better life, and we are currently separated from our families. What we want the most is for us to be with our children, for there to be a bit more sensitivity and humanity from authorities, as well as the broader society.”
White House Budget Director Mick Mulvaney fired the entire advisory board of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau on Wednesday, in the latest move by the Trump administration to render the agency toothless. This comes after Mulvaney, who serves as acting director of the consumer watchdog, requested $0 in funding for the CFPB earlier this year. As a Republican congressmember from South Carolina, Mulvaney repeatedly voted in favor of bills that would have eliminated the bureau.
A federal judge has ruled that Environmental Protection Agency head Scott Pruitt must produce evidence to back his claims that humans are not the primary cause of climate change. The lawsuit stems from a Freedom of Information Act request filed by a watchdog group which sought to have the EPA cite any studies that might be used to corroborate Pruitt’s claims, which defy nearly all available climate science. The FOIA request came after Pruitt made this remark on CNBC in March of last year, not long after his confirmation as EPA administrator.
Scott Pruitt: “No, I think that measuring with precision human activity on the climate is something very challenging to do, and there’s tremendous disagreement about the degree of impact. So, no, I would not agree that it’s a primary contributor to the global warming that we see.”
Meanwhile, two top EPA officials have resigned over a mounting series of scandals involving Scott Pruitt, who faces more than a dozen ethics investigations. EPA scheduler Millan Hupp will step down amid reports she helped Pruitt go apartment hunting and helped him shop for a used mattress from the Trump International Hotel. Also resigning is Pruitt’s senior counsel Sarah Greenwalt, who traveled internationally and across the U.S. with Pruitt as he met with industry officials and foreign diplomats. On Wednesday, Elaina Plott, a journalist with The Atlantic, reported she was castigated by EPA spokesperson Jahan Wilcox when she asked for comment on the resignations. Wilcox reportedly told Plott, “You’re a piece of trash.” This all came as President Trump praised the EPA’s embattled leader Wednesday during a Cabinet meeting at FEMA’s headquarters in Washington.
President Donald Trump: “Administrator Scott Pruitt, thank you, Scott, very much. EPA is doing really, really well. And, you know, somebody has to say that about you a little bit. You know that, Scott.”
President Trump made that remark after he toured FEMA headquarters alongside his wife Melania Trump. It was the first public appearance by the pair in nearly a month, after the first lady vanished from public view following what the White House said was kidney surgery, prompting speculation about her well-being and whereabouts.
During Trump’s tour of FEMA, the president did not mention a new study that found Hurricane Maria killed more than 4,600 people in Puerto Rico, 70 times the official toll. Trump did make the claim that the U.S. Coast Guard saved 16,000 people who sailed into the Gulf of Mexico to watch Hurricane Harvey as it struck Texas last year. The Coast Guard says there’s no evidence to back Trump’s claim, as did Texas’s governor.
Ukraine’s prime minister is insisting radiation levels in the capital Kiev and around the Chernobyl nuclear power plant remain safe, after a wildfire tore through a forest that remains heavily contaminated by a reactor meltdown in 1986. Scientists say smoke from the fires has the potential to contaminate crops up to 100 miles away with enough radioactive isotopes to make food unsafe to eat.
In Guatemala, the death toll from a volcanic eruption near Guatemala City has risen to 99, as hope fades for the nearly 200 people who remain missing. Guatemala’s government says some 4,000 people are living in shelters after lava and ash destroyed homes and engulfed whole villages. This is survivor Amilcar Ajacabon.
Amilcar Ajacabon: “This is just going to be a cemetery, because San Miguel de Los Lotes is gone. So, those souls, those victims, they’re right there. They’re buried.”
Spain’s newly appointed Socialist Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez has unveiled his new Cabinet, with women making up 11 of his 17 Cabinet posts. The move makes Spain the country with the highest proportion of women heading government ministries; it contrasts with the male-dominated Cabinet of recently ousted Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, whose cabinets had at most 36 percent women.
President Trump has commuted the life sentence of a woman who was imprisoned for a first-time nonviolent drug offense, after her cause was taken up by reality television star Kim Kardashian West. Alice Marie Johnson, a 63-year-old grandmother from Memphis, was released Wednesday from federal prison in Aliceville, Alabama, where she had been serving her sentence for nearly 22 years.
Alice Marie Johnson: “This is a miracle day. This has been one—the greatest day of my life, the most unexpected thing to happen to me in my life. … I’m just so thankful. I feel like my life is starting over again.”
We’ll have more on Trump’s commutation of Alice Marie Johnson’s life sentence after headlines.
In Mesa, Arizona, four police officers have been placed on paid administrative leave, after surveillance video showed them repeatedly punching an unarmed man and slamming his head into a wall. The video, which was recorded without sound, appears to show 33-year-old Robert Johnson posed no threat to officers as he leaned against a wall of a hallway in an apartment complex, when the officers surrounded him and began pummeling him with their fists while knocking him to the ground. This isn’t the first time Mesa police have faced charges of excessive force. Last December, a jury found former Mesa officer Philip Brailsford not guilty of murdering 26-year-old Daniel Shaver, an unarmed man gunned down in a hotel hallway in 2016 as he begged repeatedly for his life. Body cam video of that incident shows Brailsford ordering Shaver to crawl on his hands and knees, before opening fire repeatedly, killing him.
A new Washington Post study finds that more than half of all murders in U.S. cities go unsolved, with a homicide arrest rate of just 49 percent. The finding is based on data from more than 50,000 homicides in 50 of the largest cities in the U.S. over the past decade. The Post also found that police investigations of murders involving white victims were significantly more likely to result in arrests than those involving black or Latino victims.
Members of the Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles are speaking out, after they were disinvited by President Trump from a planned team celebration at the White House earlier this week. On Wednesday, Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins silently held up a series of signs to reporters in a team locker room in response to their questions about the cancellation. Among the signs Jenkins displayed: “More than 60% of people in prison are people of color,” “Colin Kaepernick gave $1 million to charity,” and “In 2018, 439 people shot and killed by police (thus far).”
A new study by the environmental group Greenpeace found plastic waste and toxic chemicals in remote parts of Antarctica, adding to evidence that pollution from human activity is impacting every corner of the planet. Greenpeace activist and biologist Grant Oakes said a major culprit is single-use plastic.
Grant Oakes: “Single-use plastic is—you know, they believe, now is accounting for up to 70, 80 percent of the plastic that’s entering the oceans. And for a few moments of convenience, it has sometimes up to hundreds of years of lifetime in the ocean.”
This month, the European Commission unveiled draft rules that would ban an array of single-use plastic items, including plastic plates, cutlery and straws.
And Ira Berlin, the extraordinary historian who chronicled the history of U.S. slavery, has died at the age of 77. Berlin studied millions of documents in his lifetime to tell the stories of African Americans fighting for emancipation. His books included “Generations of Captivity,” “Slaves Without Masters” and “Many Thousands Gone: The First Two Centuries of Slavery in North America.” He once said of his work, “One does not get over history, one just has to come to terms with it.”