Free speech is democracy’s last line of defense. In these times of war, climate chaos, mass shootings, attacks on abortion rights, economic and racial injustice and threats to our democracy, we're committed to shining a spotlight on abuses of power and amplifying the voices of the movement leaders, organizers and everyday people who are working to change the world. But we can’t do it alone. We count on you to make all of our coverage possible. Can you donate $10 per month to support Democracy Now!’s independent journalism all year long? Right now, a generous donor will TRIPLE your gift, which means your $10 donation this month will be worth $30 to Democracy Now! Please do your part right now. Every dollar counts. Thank you so much.
We rely on contributions from you, our viewers and listeners to do our work. If you visit us daily or weekly or even just once a month, now is a great time to make your monthly contribution.
Please do your part today.
France is reeling today after a massive fire tore through Paris’s beloved Notre-Dame cathedral, a medieval church built 800 years ago and a celebrated landmark around the world. Parisians looked on in shock Monday as around 400 firefighters attempted to get the blaze under control—some onlookers engaging in prayers and religious songs. The fire claimed the cathedral’s spire and ravaged parts of the interior, but the iconic twin medieval towers remain standing, as does the rest of the stone structure. French President Emmanuel Macron vowed to rebuild the cathedral.
President Emmanuel Macron: “Well beyond our borders, we will appeal to the greatest talents, and many people will come to contribute to it. And we will rebuild. We will rebuild Notre-Dame, because that’s what the French expect and because it is what our history deserves, because it’s our underlying destiny.”
Two of France’s wealthiest men have already pledged over $330 million to the reconstruction effort. The European Union has also vowed to help rebuild the church. Authorities have launched an investigation into how the fire started, but ruled out arson, saying they believed it was started by accident, likely related to the ongoing $180 million renovation of the building. We’ll have more on this story after headlines with Johns Hopkins professor Anne Lester.
In Jerusalem, another fire at a major holy site broke out Monday. The blaze at Al-Aqsa Mosque broke out in the Marwani Prayer Room, but Palestinian authorities say the blaze was contained and they are now assessing the damage. Al-Aqsa is located in the Old City of occupied East Jerusalem.
House Democrats issued subpoenas to Deutsche Bank and other banks Monday as part of several congressional probes into the finances of President Trump and the Trump Organization. The New York Attorney General’s Office is also investigating Trump’s ties to Deutsche Bank. Last month, The New York Times reported Deutsche Bank loaned over $2 billion to Trump for real estate deals over nearly two decades, even when other banks refused to do so. Trump still had over $300 million in outstanding loans from Deutsche Bank when he took office in 2016.
The Justice Department announced Monday the redacted version of special counsel Robert Mueller’s report will be released Thursday. Democrats have been calling for the full report—authorizing a subpoena to compel its release—but Attorney General William Barr told lawmakers last week he would not share the unredacted report with the public or members of Congress. Special counsel Mueller handed over the long-anticipated report to the attorney general last month and concluded the Trump campaign did not collude with Russia to win the 2016 election, but did not come to a definitive conclusion on possible obstruction of justice.
The U.N. is warning the spread of measles is on the rise around the world. The number of cases reported in the first three months of 2019 is three times higher than the same time last year. The highly contagious infection kills 100,000 people every year, mostly children. All regions around the world have been hit by the recent outbreak, with Africa reporting the greatest spike, up 700% since 2018. The U.N. says the most affected countries are Ukraine, Madagascar and India. Although the disease is preventable, lack of access to vaccinations in poorer countries has helped contribute to the recent surge in cases.
Last week, New York City declared a public health emergency, mandating the vaccination in some parts of Brooklyn, where Orthodox Jewish communities, which have particularly low vaccination rates, have been hit hard by the outbreak.
A man accused of setting fire to three historically black churches in Louisiana was charged with hate crimes Monday. Holden Matthews, the 21-year-old son of a deputy sheriff, was also charged with three counts of arson after being arrested last week. The first blaze occurred at the end of last month, and the two others in early April. All three churches were in St. Landry Parish, about 30 minutes north of Lafayette.
Bernie Sanders released 10 years of tax returns Monday, revealing he has achieved millionaire status since his 2016 presidential bid. Senator Sanders responded to a question Monday about whether his income would negatively impact his political message.
Sen. Bernie Sanders: “My view has always been that we need a progressive tax system, which demands that the wealthiest people in this country finally start paying their fair share of taxes. If I make a lot of money, you make a lot of money, that is what I believe.”
Senator Sanders attributed his increase in wealth to sales from his book “Our Revolution”; he told The New York Times last week, “I wrote a best-selling book. If you write a best-selling book, you can be a millionaire, too.”
Other 2020 hopefuls have also released their tax returns, including former Texas Congressmember Beto O’Rourke and Senators Kamala Harris, Elizabeth Warren, Amy Klobuchar and Kirsten Gillibrand.
President Trump continues to refuse to release his tax records. Trump has claimed for years he is under audit—a claim disputed by his former personal attorney, Michael Cohen, in congressional testimony earlier this year.
In more news about the 2020 elections, former Massachusetts Governor William Weld announced Monday he will run against Trump for the Republican presidential nomination. Weld is the first Republican to declare a challenge to Trump in 2020. Before becoming governor of Massachusetts, Weld served as a U.S. attorney, appointed by President Reagan. He was the running mate for Libertarian Party candidate Gary Johnson in the 2016 elections. Weld boasts a record of cutting taxes and pushing for spending cuts, but has more centrist views on social and environmental issues, supporting reproductive rights, LGBT issues and rejoining the Paris climate agreement. Weld is set to hit the campaign trail today in New Hampshire.
The American Medical Association is blasting the Trump administration for banning transgender soldiers from serving in the U.S. military, calling the prohibition “medically deficient.” The trans ban, which was first announced by President Trump in a July 2017 tweet, formally went into effect on Friday. In a statement, the AMA wrote, “Sexual orientation and gender identity are not psychological or medical disorders. The estimated 14,700 transgender military personnel are qualified and willing to serve. Rather than stigmatizing and banning these patriots, DoD should let them serve.”
In Chicago, police arrested seven graduate workers from Loyola University Monday during a protest in front of one of the school’s offices. The Loyola student workers and their supporters were protesting the administration’s refusal to recognize their union and negotiate a fair contract for their work as teachers and researchers. The graduate workers say their compensation does not provide a living wage, especially considering the soaring cost of tuition, and that they should be treated more as permanent staff and faculty. Members of the union, which is part of the SEIU Graduate Workers Forward, are calling for a walkout later this month unless the university agrees to a fair contract.
The new secretary of the interior, David Bernhardt, is being investigated for potential conflicts of interest—just four days after the Senate confirmed him to the position. The Interior Department’s Office of Inspector General said it received multiple complaints against former oil lobbyist Bernhardt when he was deputy secretary of the interior. CNN reported last month Bernhardt made at least 15 policy decisions that directly benefited former clients since joining the agency in 2017. Bernhardt’s predecessor, Ryan Zinke, stepped down in December amid multiple scandals and ethics investigations, two of which are still ongoing.
In environmental news, Democratic presidential candidate Senator Elizabeth Warren announced she would ban any new fossil fuel drilling on public lands or waters—on day one of her presidency. In a post on Medium, Warren also vowed to increase the production of renewable energy, restore protections to national monuments targeted by the Trump administration, bring in local and tribal leaders to help manage public lands, and create thousands of jobs via a youth and veteran “Conservation Corps.” Senator Warren wrote, “We must not allow corporations to pillage our public lands. America’s public lands belong to all of us. We should start acting like it.”
In climate news, activists across Europe held sit-ins, marches and direct action protests Monday as part of a week-long campaign demanding urgent action on climate change. In London, police arrested over 100 people as protesters shut down Waterloo Bridge and Oxford Circus, with others supergluing themselves to the British headquarters of Shell Oil Company. This is Theresa Sanders of the direct action group Extinction Rebellion.
Theresa Sanders: “It’s vital. It’s the most important thing. Sod Brexit. I’m sorry, I know we’ve got other things going on now, but if we haven’t got a future, what’s the point in anything?”
Sixteen-year-old Swedish activist Greta Thunberg, who’s led an international campaign of weekly school strikes for the climate, spoke about the protests from Strasbourg, France, as she prepared to appear at the EU Parliament. She’s due to meet Pope Francis on Wednesday.
Greta Thunberg: “I feel like the debate is shifting. More people are talking about this more and are taking this more seriously and are becoming more aware. But, of course, the only thing we need to look at is the emission curb, if the emissions are actually increasing or if they’re reducing. And right now they’re increasing, so that is the only thing we should look at.”
New York City’s American Museum of Natural History said Monday it has canceled plans to host Brazil’s far-right President Jair Bolsonaro at a black-tie gala dinner in May. The Brazilian-American Chamber of Commerce had rented the museum for the event. Bolsonaro’s planned appearance set off intense protests from environmental and human rights groups, who noted his administration has worked to open Brazil’s Amazon rainforest to logging, mining and agribusiness companies while violating the rights of indigenous peoples to their ancestral lands.
And this year’s Pulitzer Prize recipients were announced Monday in New York City. Reporting on gun violence figured prominently with the South Florida Sun-Sentinel winning an award for its coverage of last year’s massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, and the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette for its breaking news coverage of the mass shooting at the Tree of Life synagogue. Reporters from the The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal were recognized for their reporting on President Trump. Click here to see our interview with David Barstow of The New York Times on how Trump built his fortune through tax dodging and fraud. Jailed Reuters reporters Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo were also honored for “expertly exposing the military units and Buddhist villagers responsible for the systematic expulsion and murder of Rohingya Muslims from Myanmar.” Reporters Aaron Glantz and Emmanuel Martinez were finalists for their exposé of racial discrimination in mortgage lending. Click here to see our interview with Aaron Glantz.