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You turn to Democracy Now! for ad-free news you can trust. Maybe you come for our daily headlines. Maybe you come for in-depth stories that expose government and corporate abuses of power. This month, Democracy Now! is celebrating our 23rd birthday. For over two decades, we've produced our daily news hour without ads, government funding or corporate underwriting. How is this possible? Only with your support. Right now, in honor of Democracy Now!'s birthday, every donation we receive will be doubled by a generous supporter. This means if you give $30 today, Democracy Now! will get $60 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. Thank you! -Amy Goodman
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Republican Arizona Senator John McCain has died at the age of 81. The senator and two-time presidential candidate has been battling a malignant brain tumor for over a year. On Friday, his family announced he was ending his treatment, and he died Saturday afternoon at his home. McCain served as a naval pilot in the Vietnam War, spending five years as a prisoner of war after his plane was shot down in 1967. He spent two years in solitary confinement and twice attempted suicide. He eventually signed a statement he would forever regret: a “confession” admitting to “crimes against the Vietnamese country and people.” This experience made McCain a lifelong opponent of torture. Yet, upon his release and return to the United States, he wrote an article expressing support for President Nixon and the U.S. bombing of Cambodia. After McCain’s election to U.S. Senate in 1987, he consistently promoted war and U.S. military intervention abroad, including in the first Gulf War, Afghanistan and Iraq. In 2008, he ran for president vowing to deploy a surge of U.S. troops to Iraq. McCain was also known for reaching across the aisle and working with Democrats on some key issues. In 1995, he worked with John Kerry, a Vietnam War veteran who had opposed the war, to provide political cover for President Clinton to normalize relations with Vietnam. Last year McCain famously voted “thumbs down” against the repeal of the Affordable Care Act. He also recently opposed CIA Director Gina Haspel’s nomination because of her role in post-9/11 torture. Former Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama will eulogize McCain at his funeral at the National Cathedral on Saturday. CNN has reported McCain did not want President Trump to attend. We’ll have more on McCain’s political legacy after headlines.
In Chicago, Democratic Party officials voted Saturday to vastly reduce the power of superdelegates in choosing the party’s presidential nominee. The new rules, voted on at the Democratic National Committee’s summer meeting, will prohibit superdelegates from voting on the first ballot of the presidential nominating process at the party’s convention. The change comes after the highly contentious role of superdelegates during the 2016 Democratic primary between former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders. We’ll have more on the Democratic Party and superdelegates later in the broadcast.
Pope Francis traveled to Ireland, where he met with survivors of sexual abuse by Catholic priests and acknowledged the “grave scandal” of church sexual abuse. It was the first papal visit to Ireland since 1979. This is Paul Redmond, one of the abuse survivors who met with Pope Francis.
Paul Redmond: “We’re looking for unqualified, wholehearted apologies. And certainly we got one today from the pope, but whether that will translate into a huge official apology from the church is another matter. But it’s whether that translates into actual actions. That’s what really matters to us. That’s what really matters to us and to survivors around the world and to 1.2 billion Catholics around the world who are desperate to see their own church actually finally just confess and atone for their sins. And it’s long overdue.”
Pope Francis himself is now facing calls to resign, after a former top-ranking Vatican official released a 7,000-word letter Sunday claiming the pope knew about allegations of sex abuse by high-ranking Cardinal Theodore McCarrick but failed to punish him. Pope Francis has refused to comment on the accusations. We’ll have more on the pope’s visit to Ireland later in the broadcast.
The Trump administration says it is cutting more than $200 million in aid to the West Bank and Gaza. Palestinian leaders are denouncing the move, accusing the Trump administration of “weaponizing” humanitarian aid. This is Wasel Abu Yousef of the Palestine Liberation Organization.
Wasel Abu Yousef: “The United States of America and President Trump’s administration is blackmailing and putting pressure on the Palestinian people. This decision cuts the aid, including the last $200 million. We were completely expecting it under the policy of blackmailing and threatening that the United States of America practices and in the context of passing what is called the deal of the century.”
The cuts to humanitarian aid comes after the Trump administration already withheld $65 million in funding for UNRWA, the U.N. agency that provides humanitarian aid to Palestinians, earlier this year.
The United Nations has issued a new report calling for Burma’s top military generals to be investigated for genocide against Rohingya Muslims. This is Christopher Sidoti, a member of the independent fact-finding mission.
Christopher Sidoti: “The fact-finding mission has concluded, on reasonable grounds, that the patterns of gross human rights violations and serious violations of international humanitarian law that it has found amount to the gravest crimes under international law. These have principally been committed by the military, the Tatmadaw. The mission has concluded that criminal investigation and prosecution is warranted, focusing on the top Tatmadaw generals, in relation to the three categories of crimes under international law—genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes.”
Meanwhile, a Burmese court has postponed the verdicts against two Reuters journalists charged with violating Burma’s Official Secrets Act. At the time of their arrest, Kyaw Soe Oo and Wa Lone were investigating a massacre committed by the Burmese military targeting Rohingya Muslims in the village of Inn Din nearly one year ago. They are facing up to 14 years in prison. Their verdict will now be announced on September 3.
In Afghanistan, authorities say the head of ISIS in Afghanistan was killed in an airstrike in Nangarhar province Saturday night. Abu Saad Erhabi and 10 other members of ISIS were reportedly killed in the airstrikes carried out by the Afghan military and U.S.-led coalition forces. In more news from Afghanistan, a suicide bombing outside an election commission office in the eastern city of Jalalabad killed at least seven people Saturday.
In Argentina, a corruption scandal has engulfed the country, as prosecutors investigate an alleged kickback scheme involving government contracts under former President Néstor Kirchner and his widow and successor, Cristina Fernández de Kirchner. Authorities have already arrested more than two dozen people and raided the home of Cristina Fernández de Kirchner. She says the investigation is a political ploy by the right-wing administration of Argentine President Mauricio Macri, and she has compared her situation to the prosecution of Brazil’s former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva.
Back in the United States, in Jacksonville, Florida, authorities say a man opened fire at a restaurant hosting a Madden 19 video game tournament Sunday, killing three people, including himself, and wounded 11 more. A warning: this video is disturbing.
Gamer 1: “It’s going to be hard to get him on stream. It’s a lot.”
Gamer 2: “It’s not a tough out today—excuse me, not an easy out.”
Gamer 2: “Oh!
Gamer 3: “Oh, [bleep]! What did he shoot me with?”
Authorities say the shooter was a 24-year-old man named David Katz. Sunday’s shooting occurred only two days after another shooting in Jacksonville, Florida, at a high school football game. One person was killed and two more were wounded in that shooting.
Across the United States, a prison strike continues nationwide as prisoners demand better food, fair pay for work and an end to what they are calling “modern day slavery.” On Saturday, protesters gathered outside Lee Correctional Institution in South Carolina to demand better living conditions for prisoners detained inside. Seven prisoners died during a riot at this prison in April. Meanwhile, at least six people are continuing a hunger strike inside the Northwest Detention Center in Tacoma, Washington.
Murat Azaniev: “My name is Murat Azaniev. I’m on a hunger strike four days, on a dry hunger strike. I don’t drink; I don’t eat. Because of my medical issue. I’m eight months here in Tacoma, a little bit more in U.S.A.”
On Saturday, about 100 students and protesters gathered at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill for competing rallies near the site where students toppled the “Silent Sam” Confederate statue one week ago. During Saturday’s protests, a handful of white supremacists marched with Confederate flags, while a much larger group of anti-racist protesters celebrated the removal of the Confederate statue and shouted “Nazis go home.” Seven people were arrested. This is University of North Carolina doctoral student Maya Little speaking on Democracy Now! last week. She helped spark the movement to topple the Confederate statue when she poured red ink and her own blood on the monument during an earlier protest in April.
Maya Little: “What is actually unlawful and disrespectful is forcing black students to study on a campus with buildings named after slave owners, to study on a campus in which the forefront was a memorial to the people who enslaved their ancestors, who continued to disenfranchise, murder and commit violence towards them in the 1920s and during Jim Crow.”