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HeadlinesMay 15, 2019

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Alabama Legislature Passes Near-Complete Abortion Ban

May 15, 2019

Alabama’s Legislature has just passed the most restrictive abortion ban in the country. The law effectively bans all abortions. Doctors could face life in prison for performing the procedure. The law does not make exceptions for rape or incest—the only exception lawmakers voted for is cases in which the pregnant person’s health is at serious risk.

The bill, which was already approved in the House last month, now heads to the desk of Republican anti-choice Governor Kay Ivey. She has not yet indicated if she would support such drastic legislation. The bill is expected to face multiple legal challenges if signed into law. Supporters of the bill say they hope it will end up at the Supreme Court and lead to the eventual reversal of Roe v. Wade. Democratic state Senator Vivian Figures, one of four women serving in the chamber, introduced an amendment that would criminalize vasectomies, arguing there are no laws regulating men’s bodies. It was defeated.

We’ll have more on the ongoing attack on reproductive rights around the country later in the broadcast.

U.S. Evacuates Non-Emergency State Dept. Personnel from Iraq

May 15, 2019

The State Department has ordered all non-emergency personnel to evacuate the U.S. Embassy and Consulate in Iraq. The order is in response to what the White House says is a threat linked to Iran, though no further details were given. Iraqi officials expressed skepticism about any purported threats—as did a senior British official who is the deputy commander of the American-led coalition fighting the Islamic State.

Tensions between the U.S. and Iran have continued to mount over recent days, despite both parties saying they are not seeking war. The U.S. recently deployed a carrier strike group and a bomber task force to the region, claiming a “credible threat by Iranian regime forces.”


Houthis Launch Drone Attack on Saudi Oil Facilities

May 15, 2019

On Tuesday, rebel Houthi forces from Yemen claimed responsibility for launching an armed drone attack against a Saudi oil facility near the Saudi capital Riyadh. Some experts have said this was not the first such attack by Houthis against Saudi targets, and no evidence has been revealed to tie Iran—which backs the Houthis—to the attack. The attack came two days after four oil tankers, including two Saudi tankers, were damaged off the coast of the United Arab Emirates in what Saudi Arabia described as a sabotage attack.

Pompeo Meets with Lavrov & Putin over Iran, Venezuela, 2020 Elections

May 15, 2019

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo met with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in Sochi, Russia, Tuesday, where the two discussed issues including Iran, Venezuela and the 2020 elections. Russia criticized the U.S. decision to withdraw last year from the landmark 2015 Iran nuclear deal as tensions between the U.S. and Iran are at their highest since Trump took office.

On Venezuela, Lavrov again warned the U.S. against any attempts to overthrow President Nicolás Maduro.

Sergey Lavrov: “We remember back in 2003, in May, I suppose, then-President of the United States George Bush Jr., from aboard an aircraft carrier, declared that democracy was established in Iraq. We remember back in 2011 it was declared that Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi had been brought down and that democracy was established in Libya. I believe I do not need to dwell at length upon today’s state of democracy in Iraq, Libya and a number of other places where such attempts of overthrowing the regimes were made and nothing good came out of it.”

Pompeo also warned Russia not to interfere in the 2020 U.S. elections, while Lavrov denied that Russia was involved in any 2016 election meddling. Pompeo also met with Russian President Vladimir Putin, who hailed the Mueller report, saying it “confirmed the absence of any collusion between the U.S. administration and Russia.”

CNN: Migrant Children Sleeping Outside on the Ground at Texas Border Patrol

May 15, 2019

CNN has obtained photos showing the dire conditions migrants are being held in at the McAllen, Texas, Border Patrol station. The photos show adults and children sleeping outside on the ground—in some cases on rocks—as well as packed into tents and covered with Mylar blankets. The photos were supplied by a source who said they were disturbed when they witnessed the conditions at the station over the weekend.

Responding to the report, an official from the Department of Homeland Security said, “The border security and humanitarian crisis continues to worsen. Current facilities and funding are inadequate for migrant flows.”

In related news, CNN is reporting this morning that the Transportation Security Administration is planning on sending hundreds of officials to the southern border to address increased migrant arrivals.

Pennsylvania Sues Purdue Pharma over Oxycontin

May 15, 2019

Pennsylvania has become the latest state to go after Purdue Pharma for its role in producing and marketing the highly addictive opioid Oxycontin. Purdue allegedly targeted senior citizens and the military when pushing the drug. The lawsuits states, “Even when Purdue knew people were addicted and dying, Purdue treated patients and their doctors as 'targets' to sell more drugs. Tragically, each part of Purdue’s campaign of deception earned the company more money, and caused more addiction and death.”

Reports: Donald Trump Jr. Agrees to Conditional Senate Hearing

May 15, 2019

According to reports Tuesday, Donald Trump Jr. has agreed to answer questions from the Senate Intelligence Committee after the Republican-led panel subpoenaed him last week to return to Capitol Hill to testify about his role in matters related to the Russia investigation. He will reportedly sit for two to four hours of questioning on a number of agreed-upon topics next month.

San Francisco Bans Facial Recognition Technology

May 15, 2019

San Francisco has become the first major U.S. city to ban the use of facial recognition technology by police and other city agencies. Under the new rules, city agencies would need to obtain permission from the city’s Board of Supervisors before implementing any new surveillance technologies. The biometric technology can still be employed at San Francisco’s airport since it’s controlled by the federal government. Matt Cagle, an attorney with the ACLU of Northern California, hailed the decision and said that such technology “provides government with unprecedented power to track people going about their daily lives. That’s incompatible with a healthy democracy.” Experts have also warned about racial and other kinds of bias.

Pilots’ Union Confronted Boeing over Faulty 737 MAX Jets After First Fatal Crash

May 15, 2019

CBS News is reporting that members of the American Airlines pilots’ union confronted Boeing in late 2018 about features on the 737 MAX aircraft that have been implicated in two fatal crashes. Audio has been released of an exchange between pilots and Boeing executives, recorded in November 2018—less than a month after the Indonesia Lion Air Flight 610, which killed all 189 people on board, and just four months before Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302, which killed 157 people.

Pilot: “We flat-out deserve to know what is on our airplanes.”

Boeing official: “I don’t disagree.”

Pilots expressed anger that a faulty sensor system on the 737 MAX was not communicated to them until after the first deadly accident, and pushed Boeing to work urgently on fixing the issue. The 737 MAX is still grounded, and multiple lawsuits and investigations into the crashes are underway.

NYC Activists Stage Hunger Strike to Call for Halt to Williams Oil Pipeline

May 15, 2019

In New York City, a group of climate activists are on the second day of a three-day hunger strike in front of Governor Andrew Cuomo’s office ahead of this Thursday’s permitting deadline for the proposed Williams pipeline project, which would carry fracked gas from Pennsylvania’s shale fields under New York Harbor. Activists are urging Cuomo, who has called for New York’s own Green New Deal, to halt the project, which they say will harm New York waters, public health, safety, democracy and the climate.

Video Shows Texas Officer Tasing, Then Shooting Black Woman After She Yelled “I’m Pregnant”

May 15, 2019

A police officer in Baytown, Texas, has been put on paid leave after a cellphone video of him fatally shooting a black woman went viral on Tuesday. In the video, 44-year-old Pamela Turner can be seen in a verbal altercation with the unidentified officer in an apartment complex parking lot. She is heard telling him, “You’re actually harassing me,” before he tases her and she falls to the ground. Moments later she yells out “I’m pregnant,” which is followed by five gunshots, killing Turner.

Police say the officer opened fire after Turner grabbed the Taser and used it against him. Police also say post-mortem examinations showed Pamela Turner was not pregnant. Family members have since told local media she suffered from mental health issues. The ACLU is calling for an independent investigation.

“Black Mama’s Bail Out Day” Frees Over 100 Women for Mother’s Day

May 15, 2019

The National Bail Out Collective announced Tuesday that the third annual Black Mama’s Bail Out Day freed over 100 black mothers in over 35 cities—and counting—for Mother’s Day. They also raised over $1 million. The nationwide campaign aims to call attention to the injustice of cash bail, while freeing as many black women from jail as possible. Click here to see our recent interview about the Black Mama’s Bail Out Day campaign.

New Yorkers Protest Gala Honoring Brazilian Pres. Bolsonaro and Mike Pompeo

May 15, 2019

And in New York City, protesters rallied outside the Marriott Marquis hotel in Times Square Tuesday, as the Brazilian-American Chamber of Commerce held a black-tie gala dinner honoring Brazil’s far-right President Jair Bolsonaro and U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. Bolsonaro was initially scheduled to attend the gala, but canceled those plans earlier this month after he came under heavy protest over his long history of homophobic, racist and misogynistic comments. The awards gala was moved from the American Museum of Natural History after a campaign by environmentalists pointed to Bolsonaro’s efforts to open the Amazon to deforestation and mining, while violating the rights of indigenous peoples. This is Natalia de Campos of the Defend Democracy in Brazil Committee.

Natalia de Campos: “We’re here in front of the Marriott Marquis hotel in Times Square, where an event tonight will be held for the Brazilian-American Chamber of Commerce Person of the Year award, honoring Jair Bolsonaro, president of Brazil, and Mike Pompeo, secretary of state of the U.S. … The Brazilian-American Chamber of Commerce has clear deals with corporations that are buying off the assets of Brazil and also supporting intervention in Latin America, such as against Venezuela, or in Brazil itself, setting up bases, military bases of the U.S. there now. So, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is very much in favor of these policies.”

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