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Headlines: April 3, 2017

Senate Intelligence Committee Rejects Flynn's Request for Immunity

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NBC News is reporting the Senate Intelligence Committee has rejected former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn’s request for immunity in exchange for testimony in the ongoing investigation into whether the Trump campaign colluded with Russia to influence the 2016 election. On Friday, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said the White House wants Flynn to testify.

Reporter: "So does the president think that Mike Flynn is guilty of a crime?"

Press Secreary Sean Spicer: "I think Mike—he believes that—that Mike Flynn should go testify. He thinks that he should go up there and do what he has to do to get the story out."

Reporter: "With or without immunity?"

Press Secretary Sean Spicer: "Well, I mean, that’s up to him and his lawyer to decide. I’m not going to give Mike—Mike Flynn or anyone else legal advice from the podium. But I will tell you that the president’s view is, he should go up there, he
should testify."

A similar investigation by the House Intelligence Committee remains stalled, as the ranking Democrat on the committee, California Congressmember Adam Schiff, accused committee Chair Devin Nunes of attempting to distract the public from the ongoing investigation. On Friday, Schiff viewed the classified intelligence documents that were secretly shown to Nunes on the grounds of the White House by two White House officials in March, only one day before Nunes traveled back to the White House to supposedly brief the president about the documents the president’s own staff had given him. Nunes, who was a member of Trump’s transition team, say the documents indicated Trump or his associates might have been "incidentally" swept up in surveillance carried out by American spy agencies as they conducted foreign surveillance.

After viewing the documents a full 10 days after Nunes viewed them, Schiff criticized Nunes for refusing to share them with the full committee. Nunes is facing increasing calls to recuse himself from the investigation or step down as chair entirely. On Friday, hundreds of protesters confronted him outside a speaking event in his home district of Fresno, California. Meanwhile, The New York Times reports Flynn failed to disclose payments from Russian-linked companies on one of two financial disclosure forms released Saturday by the White House.

Facing Questions About Flynn, Trump Flees Oval Office Before Signing Ex. Orders

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President Trump dodged questions from a reporter about Michael Flynn by fleeing the Oval Office Friday afternoon during what was supposed to be a signing ceremony of two executive orders on trade. As Trump departed, Vice President Mike Pence gathered up the unsigned papers. Trump later signed the orders in private, away from reporters. The two orders establish a commission to study the causes of U.S. trade deficits, and tighten laws that restrict foreign manufacturers from undercutting the prices of U.S. goods.

Documents: Kushner and Ivanka Continue to Be Beneficiaries of Empire

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More financial disclosure forms released by the White House on Friday night show that President Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser, Jared Kushner, and Trump’s daughter, Ivanka, will continue to receive the financial benefits of a vast real estate empire worth up to $740 million, despite the two now holding official roles in the administration.

Trump Meeting with Egyptian Leader General el-Sisi at White House

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President Trump is to meet with Egyptian President General Abdel Fattah el-Sisi at the White House today, even as Sisi faces widespread criticism for human rights abuses in Egypt. Human rights organizations say Sisi and his security forces have arrested tens of thousands of Egyptians and have committed torture, forced disappearances and extrajudicial killings. The Trump administration has indicated it will not bring up the human rights abuses during today’s meeting. We’ll go to Cairo for more on Egypt with Democracy Now! correspondent Sharif Abdel Kouddous later in the broadcast.

Trump Says He Would Act Unilaterally Against North Korea

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President Trump will be meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping on Thursday at his Florida resort Mar-a-Lago—even though the meeting is unlikely to include any tee time on Trump’s Mar-a-Lago golf course. Xi has closed over 100 golf courses across China, where the Communist Party officially bans its members from playing the game. The Trump administration is currently not required to publish the visitor logs for meetings at private resorts, including Mar-a-Lago, although Democratic lawmakers have introduced a new piece of legislation, the MAR-A-LAGO Act, that would force him to do so.

In an interview with the Financial Times published Sunday, Trump warned he would be willing to take unilateral action against North Korea over its nuclear weapons program. Trump said, "If China is not going to solve North Korea, we will." President Trump will host Jordan’s King Abdullah on Wednesday, the day before meeting with Chinese President Xi.

China Calls on U.S. Not to Break Paris Climate Change Pledge

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Trump’s upcoming meeting with Chinese President Xi comes as China is calling on the U.S. not to break its 2015 Paris Agreement pledges. China is now surging ahead of the U.S. in terms of tackling climate change and promoting renewable energy, after Trump signed an executive order dismantling a slew of climate rules last week.

EPA Head Says U.S. Should Not Prioritize Renewables Over Fossil Fuels

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Speaking Sunday on Fox News, Environmental Protection Agency head Scott Pruitt said the government shouldn’t promote renewables over fossil fuels.

 

Scott Pruitt: "We shouldn’t have this commitment by the U.S. government to say that fossil fuels are bad, renewables are good. The U.S. EPA and the U.S. government should not pick winners and losers, Chris. And that’s what happened in the last several years."

 

Last week, EPA head Scott Pruitt also rejected an effort to ban a farming insecticide, even though scientists have concluded the Dow Chemical product leads to a range of learning and memory impairments in farm workers and their children.

KY Judge Rules Suit Accusing Trump of Inciting Violence Can Proceed

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A federal judge in Kentucky ruled a lawsuit can proceed that accuses President Trump of inciting violence against protesters at a campaign rally in March 2016 in Louisville. Three anti-Trump activists say they were shoved and punched by Trump supporters after Trump repeatedly said, "Get ’em out of here."

Bill O'Reilly & Fox Paid 5 Women $13M in Sexual Harassment Settlements

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The New York Times is reporting Fox News and its talk show star Bill O’Reilly have combined paid five women up to $13 million to settle sexual harassment claims against O’Reilly. The women accuse O’Reilly of making unwanted sexual comments, kissing or touching them without their consent, and retaliating against them professionally when they rejected his advances. The revelations come after the former chair of Fox, Roger Ailes, was ousted after more than 20 women accused him of sexual harassment.

Demonstrators Protest Against Supreme Court Nominee Neil Gorsuch

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Demonstrators gathered in cities nationwide Saturday to protest against Trump’s Supreme Court justice nominee Neil Gorsuch. This is Candace Bond-Theriault of the National LGBTQ Task Force, speaking at a protest outside the Supreme Court building in Washington, D.C.

 

Candace Bond-Theriault: "And we are here to show that we object and we resist. We know that Judge Gorsuch has ruled terribly for women’s reproductive rights and the rights of all people who can become pregnant, including trans folks and gender-nonconforming folks who can also become pregnant."

 

The Senate Judiciary Committee is set to vote today on Gorsuch’s nomination, which is expected to be taken up by the full Senate on Friday. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer has vowed Democrats will filibuster the vote.

Kushner Visits Iraq, as U.S. Continues Airstrikes on Mosul

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President Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner visited Iraq over the weekend amid the ongoing U.S. and Iraqi militaries’ campaign to retake Mosul from ISIS. The monitoring group Airwars says dozens of civilians were reportedly killed or wounded by airstrikes and shelling on Friday. The group also reports the U.S. launched six more airstrikes on Mosul over the weekend. U.S.-led coalition airstrikes in Mosul have killed hundreds of civilians in recent months, including a single strike on March 17 that may have killed up to 200 civilians. This is Aly Ibrahim, a resident of west Mosul.

Aly Ibrahim: "We went away after the airstrikes. The airstrikes struck every building on the block, destroying it. There were no Islamic State fighters. A whole block destroyed from top to bottom by coalition planes."

White House Says Assad is "Political Reality," as 5M Syrians Now Made Refugees by War

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The United Nations says at least 5 million Syrians have now fled Syria amid the ongoing six-year conflict, which began as a democratic uprising against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in 2011. Another 13.5 million Syrians have been displaced inside the country. On Friday, the White House said the U.S. is abandoning efforts to pressure Assad to relinquish power.

Press Secretary Sean Spicer: "Well, I think, with respect to Assad, I mean, there is a political reality that—that we have to accept in terms of where we are right now. We lost a lot of opportunity the last—the last administration with respect to Assad."

Monitoring groups say Assad’s government is responsible for the vast majority of civilian deaths in the ongoing war. Physicians for Human Rights says at least two hospitals have been bombed in the last week near the northwest city of Hama amid fighting between anti-government rebels and Assad’s forces, backed by Russian airstrikes. Syrian opposition chief negotiator Nasr al-Hariri slammed Assad’s government at peace talks in Geneva.

Nasr Al-Hariri: "The regime is still refusing to discuss political transition. And they are discussing their empty rhetoric about countering terrorism, although they are attracting terrorism to the region. They used chemical weapons against the people."

Paraguay: Police Kill Activist Amid Protests Against Vote to Remove Term Limit

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In Paraguay, 25-year-old activist Rodrigo Quintana was shot and killed by police on Friday night amid widespread protests in the capital against a secret Senate vote to remove presidential term limits. Quintana was killed when riot police stormed the headquarters of the liberal opposition party and opened fire with rubber bullets. His killing sparked protests over the weekend and the ouster of two top officials.

Ecuador: Ruling Party's Moreno Edges Out Right-Wing Rival in Presidential Runoff

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In Ecuador, ruling party candidate Lenín Moreno appears to have narrowly beaten the right-wing former banker Guillermo Lasso in Sunday’s presidential runoff vote. With 94 percent of the votes counted, Moreno, who served as vice president to outgoing President Rafael Correa, is leading with 51 percent of the vote. Lasso had said he would throw WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange out of the Ecuadorean Embassy in London, if elected.

Colombia President Santos Points to Climate Change as 230 Die in Mudslides

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In Colombia, more than 230 people have died in mudslides and an avalanche after the city Mocoa received as much rainfall in one night as it usually receives in half the month of March. Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos pinned the disaster on climate change. Meanwhile, nearly a dozen people are feared to be dead on the Indonesian island of Java after torrential rain triggered a landslide there. And in Australia, three people have been killed, and tens of thousands displaced, by floodwaters after a cyclone swept across the island’s east coast.

El Salvador Bans Metal Mining Nationwide

El Salvador has become the first country in the world to ban metal mining nationwide, after lawmakers voted overwhelmingly to pass the measure last week. The ban comes after more than a decade of organizing against a proposed Canadian gold mine called "El Dorado." Several anti-mining activists were killed during this struggle, which grew into a nationwide movement to prohibit metal mining across El Salvador.

 

 


Courtesy of Democracy Now (www.democracynow.org).  The original content is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License