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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. 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 every donation we receive will be doubled by a generous supporter. This means if you give $25 today, Democracy Now! will get $50 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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The Trump administration has imposed tariffs of 25 percent on over $200 billion of Chinese goods, even as trade talks between the U.S. and China continue in Washington, D.C. The new, tougher tariffs went into effect just after midnight Eastern Time today, prompting Chinese trade officials to promise immediate countermeasures against U.S. exports. At the White House, President Trump claimed China undermined recent trade talks by seeking a renegotiation.
President Donald Trump: “I did get last night a very beautiful letter from President Xi. Let’s work together. Let’s see if we can get something done. But, they re-negotiated the deal. I mean they took, whether it’s intellectual property theft. They took many, many parts of their deal and they renegotiated. You can’t do that.”
Trump says he’s preparing to order tariffs on virtually all Chinese imports — some $540 billion worth of products brought into the US each year. Talks between the U.S. trade officials and their Chinese counterparts are set to continue today in Washington.
President Trump has nominated Patrick Shanahan to become the next Secretary of Defense. Shanahan has been acting Pentagon chief since Trump fired James Mattis at the start of the year. Last month, an internal Pentagon ethics investigation cleared Shanahan following accusations that he unfairly favored the weapons contractor Boeing, where he spent over three decades as an executive.
A former U.S. intelligence analyst was arrested Thursday and charged with violating the Espionage Act for allegedly leaking documents about the secretive U.S. drone program. 31-year-old Daniel Hale was arrested in Nashville. He faces up to 50 years in prison. Hale was enlisted in the Air Force from 2009 to 2013 during which he worked with the National Security Agency and the Joint Special Operations Task Force at the Bagram Air base in Afghanistan where he helped identify targets for assassination. He later worked as a contractor for the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency. Hale is accused of disclosing 11 top secret or secret documents to a reporter. The indictment does not name the reporter but unnamed government sources have told media outlets that the reporter is investigative journalist Jeremy Scahill of the Intercept. After headlines, we’ll go to Maryland to speak with The Intercept’s Senior National Security Correspondent, James Risen.
In northern Virginia, famed U.S. army whistleblower Chelsea Manning was released from a federal prison Thursday after spending 62 days behind bars for refusing to testify to a grand jury. Manning had been subpoenaed to answer questions about her leak of hundreds of thousands of secret State Department and Pentagon documents to WikiLeaks — including evidence of U.S. war crimes. The grand jury ultimately disbanded. Manning’s freedom could be short-lived; her lawyers said in a statement that she will again refuse to testify in response to a separate subpoena.
In northwestern Syria, dozens of people have been reported killed amid heavy airstrikes by Russian and Syrian warplanes. Among the dead are the parents and siblings of two-year-old Khadija al-Hamdan, who was the sole survivor of an airstrike that flattened out her home in Idlib province. The U.K.-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says Syrian forces have dropped over a dozen barrel bombs in recent days on Idlib, backed by scores of Russian airstrikes which have hit schools and hospitals. The United Nations has called for an urgent de-escalation of fighting.
In Iraq, the Islamic State claimed responsibility for a bombing in Baghdad’s Sadr City district Thursday that it says killed eight people and wounded more than 10 others. The attack came just two days after Secretary of State Mike Pompeo made a surprise visit to Baghdad to discuss Iran’s presence in Iraq.
In northern France, human rights activists are attempting to block authorities from loading French weapons onto a Saudi vessel, saying the shipment would be used to kill civilians in Yemen in violation of an international arms treaty. About 100 protesters turned out Thursday at the port of Le Havre ahead of the arrival of the Saudi ship, as lawyers for two separate human rights groups sued to prevent the shipment. The protest came after a French news site reported that French-made tanks and laser-guided missile systems were being used by the Saudi-led coalition against civilians in Yemen’s war. This is Jean-Paul Lecoq, a member of the French National Assembly who joined Thursday’s protest.
Jean-Paul Lecoq: “The war in Yemen is a difficult war. We are turned into supporters of Saudi Arabia and if we, the French citizens, do not act, if we don’t try to stop arms sales, we will end up as accessories to this business. We don’t want this. We don’t want to be in this situation. The French president shouldn’t be allowed to decide on his own if France can sell or not weapons. This decision should belong to Europeans democracies and Parliament.”
The Trump administration said Thursday it seized a North Korean cargo vessel that was being used to transport coal in violation of U.S. and United Nations sanctions. The ship was first seized by Indonesia over a year ago; it’s now being moved to U.S. territory in American Samoa. The announced seizure of the ship came just after North Korea test-fired a pair of short-range missiles, amid a breakdown in denucelarization talks with the U.S.
In Washington, D.C., authorities have cut off water and electricity to Venezuela’s embassy, as activists with CodePink and other organizations continue a round-the-clock occupation in order to prevent a takeover of the building by Venezuela’s U.S.-backed opposition. The activists entered the embassy in late April at the invitation of Venezuela’s government; opposition groups led by Juan Guaidó and backed by the Trump administration have pledged to take over the building. So far police and Secret Service agents have arrested nine activists — including Gerry Condone, a 72 year-old Vietnam War vet and the president of Veterans For Peace, who was violently tackled and pressed to the pavement Wednesday by five officers, after he tried to bring food to protesters occupying the embassy. Condone was left bleeding from the head and needed medical treatment; he’s been charged with throwing a missile, resisting arrest, and assaulting a police officer.
Alabama’s state senate delayed a vote Thursday on a law that would ban virtually all abortions, after a rancorous floor debate that saw lawmakers repeatedly shout in protest. The bill would make providing an abortion a Class A felony punishable by up to 99 years in prison. Alabama senate minority leader Bobby Singleton objected after Republican leaders sought to remove amendments from the abortion ban that would have allowed exemptions in cases of rape or incest.
State Sen. Bobby Singleton: “He didn’t even make a motion, Mr. President!”
Lt. Gov. Will Ainsworth: “Hold on sir…”
State Sen. Bobby Singleton: “He did not make a motion!”
Lt. Gov. Will Ainsworth: “He made a motion to table.”
State Sen. Bobby Singleton: “He did not make a motion! There was no motion from the other side.”
Lt. Gov. Will Ainsworth: “He made a motion to table.”
Singleton and other Democrats also protested when Republican leaders attempted to pass amendments on a voice vote. They demanded a roll call so that lawmakers’ votes would be put on the record. This is Andrea Miller, President of the National Institute of Reproductive Health.
Andrea Miller: “I mean the reality is what happened in the Alabama Senate just shows how high the stakes are right now. When a state is planning to ban all abortions outright and not only eliminate access to abortion care for the people in their state, but in an effort to eliminate it for everyone all across the country, because they hope they’ll be the ones to bring the case to the Supreme Court that will overturn or severely eviscerate Roe vs. Wade.”
In Colorado, the mother of a student at STEM School Highlands Ranch says she tried to warn school officials last year about the potential for violence at the Denver-area high school, but was ignored. The school was the site of a mass shooting Tuesday, when a pair of students armed with handguns went on a shooting spree, killing 18-year-old student Kendrick Castillo and injuring eight others. CNN reports the mother, who’s remaining anonymous, called the school board in December warning of a crushing academic workload leading to violence, sexual assault and bullying on campus. She said, “those are the elements that we need for the perfect storm, for something like a Columbine, or some kind of imminent threat to our children’s safety in the school, whether it be a bomb or an active shooter, or a suicide.” STEM school officials disputed the claim and even filed a lawsuit against the unnamed mother in January over what they called “defamatory statements.”
And Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes is calling on the federal government to break up the social media giant. Writing in a lengthy New York Times opinion piece published Thursday, Hughes cited past antitrust actions that broke up Standard Oil and AT&T. He wrote, “I’m disappointed in myself and the early Facebook team for not thinking more about how the News Feed algorithm could change our culture, influence elections and empower nationalist leaders. And I’m worried that Mark [Zuckerberg] has surrounded himself with a team that reinforces his beliefs instead of challenging them.” Hughes’ op-ed comes just weeks after Massachusetts senator and 2020 hopeful Elizabeth Warren unveiled a plan to break up tech giants including Facebook, Google and Amazon.