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Headlines: May 23, 2017

Courtesy of Democracy Now 

Manchester, U.K.: 22 Killed in Concert Arena Attack Claimed by ISIS

In Manchester, England, at least 22 people were killed in a bombing at a concert arena at the end of a performance by American pop star Ariana Grande. Dozens more were wounded in the explosion, which appears to be a suicide attack. This is 19-year-old Sebastian Diaz, who survived the blast.


Sebastian Diaz: "Just as we were leaving after the last song, we heard the explosion when we got to the foyer doors, and we just looked behind us, and there was chaos. And in front of us, people were running past the doors screaming, looking behind them. And we were in two minds as to whether to stay in the arena and just seek shelter or run and try and get out, you know, which we decided to go out. And we ran, and people were screaming around us and pushing down the stairs to go outside. And people were falling down. Girls were crying. And we saw these women being treated by paramedics. They had like open wounds on their legs, no shoes. It was just chaos."


Police say they are investigating the explosion as a "terrorist incident" and that the alleged attacker died in the explosion. This morning on Twitter, ISIS claimed responsibility for the attack. British Prime Minister Theresa May says the police know the identity of the alleged attacker, but he or she has not been named. A second person, who has also not been named, has been arrested in connection to the bombing. Authorities have named the first of the 22 victims: 18-year-old Georgina Bethany Callander from Lancashire. While speaking in the town of Bethlehem in the Israeli-occupied West Bank today, President Trump condemned the Manchester bombing.


President Donald Trump: "I extend my deepest condolences to those so terribly injured in this terrorist attack and to the many killed and the families, so many families, of the victims. We stand in absolute solidarity with the people of the United Kingdom. So many young, beautiful, innocent people living and enjoying their lives, murdered by evil losers in life."

That’s President Trump, speaking after he met with Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas in the West Bank today as part of his two-day trip to Israel and Palestine.

Palestinians Launch General Strike to Protest Trump's Visit

Palestinians across the West Bank and Gaza launched a general strike Monday to protest President Trump’s visit and to show solidarity with Palestinian prisoners currently on hunger strike in Israeli jails. This is Rifa Abu Jazar in Gaza.

Rifa Abu Jazar: "This protest comes as a response to the head of terrorism, Trump, and a response to whoever protects the head of terrorism, who describes the resistance of our people to defend their land and resisting against the murderers of their children as terrorism."


On Monday, President Trump sat down with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. While speaking to reporters alongside Netanyahu, Trump denied naming Israel as the source of the highly classified intelligence that he gave to Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak earlier this month—even though no one has accused Trump of naming Israel directly as the source.


President Donald Trump: "Just so you understand, I never mentioned the word or the name 'Israel,' never mentioned it during that conversation. They were all saying I did. So you had another story wrong. Never mentioned the word 'Israel.'"

Trump also implied that Israel was not located in the Middle East, while speaking just before meeting with Israeli President Reuven Rivlin.

President Donald Trump: "As you know, Rex, our secretary of state, has done an incredible job. We just got back from the Middle East. We just got back, Saudi Arabia. And we were treated incredibly well."


As Trump made the comment, Israeli Ambassador to the United States Ron Dermer can be seen burying his face in his hand. Also on Monday, Trump became the first sitting U.S. president to visit the Western Wall in the Old City of Jerusalem, land that was seized from the Palestinians by the Israeli military during the Six-Day War in 1967. Tonight, Trump is flying to the Vatican, where he’s slated to meet with Pope Francis on Wednesday. We’ll have more on Trump’s visit to Israel and Palestine after headlines.

Flynn to Plead the Fifth; Lawmakers Accuse Flynn of Lying to Pentagon Investigators

Meanwhile, former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn says he’ll invoke his Fifth Amendment rights rather than comply with a subpoena compelling him to testify to the Senate Intelligence Committee as part of an investigation into whether Trump campaign officials colluded with Russia allegedly to influence the 2016 election. Top committee lawmakers say they may hold Flynn in contempt of Congress if he pleads the Fifth, which protects citizens from being forced to incriminate themselves. During the campaign trail, Donald Trump blasted people who plead the Fifth.


Donald Trump: "You see the mob takes the Fifth. If you’re innocent, why are you taking the Fifth Amendment?"


Meanwhile, top Democrats on the House Oversight Committee have accused Flynn of lying to Pentagon investigators last year when he applied for a renewal of his security clearances. In a letter released Monday, the lawmakers say Flynn told the Pentagon he had not received any money from foreign companies, when in fact only two months earlier he’d received more than $45,000 in speaking fees from the Russian television network RT. It’s a felony to lie to federal investigators. Flynn has also been accused of not properly registering as a lobbyist for the Turkish government last year, which is another felony.

Trump Unveils $4 Trillion Budget Calling for Massive Cuts to Health & Food Programs

President Trump is unveiling a $4.1 trillion budget today. The plan includes massive cuts to social programs, while calling for historic increases in military spending. The budget proposes to slash $800 billion from Medicaid, nearly $200 billion from nutritional assistance programs, such as food stamps and Meals on Wheels, and more than $72 billion from disability benefits. The plan would also completely eliminate some student loan programs.

It would ban undocumented immigrants from receiving support through some programs for families with children, including the child care tax credit. In a rare proposed benefit for families, the budget allocates $19 billion for six weeks of paid parental leave for new families—a project that has been spearheaded by his daughter and senior White House adviser, Ivanka Trump.

The budget also calls for a historic 10 percent increase in military spending and another $2.6 billion to further militarize the U.S.-Mexico border, including $1.6 billion to build Trump’s border wall. The budget projects 3 percent economic growth—which economists say is widely unrealistic. Unlike previous presidents, Trump is unveiling his proposed budget while he is abroad, currently spending the day in Israel and Palestine before he heads to the Vatican tonight. David Stockman, former budget director for President Ronald Reagan, said, "This budget is dead before arrival, so he might as well be out of town."

DHS Extends Haitians' Temporary Protected Status

In a partial victory for the Haitian-American community, the Department of Homeland Security announced Monday it has extended Haitians’ temporary protected status, or TPS. Tens of thousands of Haitians were given TPS after an earthquake devastated their country in 2010, and the new extension will allow them to continue to legally reside and work in the U.S. for the time being. Immigrant rights advocates cautiously welcomed the decision, but voiced concern the Department of Homeland Security failed to extend TPS for the usual 18-month increment, leading some to wonder if this is a precursor to mass deportations. We’ll have more on Haitians’ temporary protected status later in the broadcast.

Indian Military Officer Awarded After Ordering Kashmiri Civilian Be Tied to Army Truck

In Kashmir, protests erupted today amid news that an Indian military officer has received an award from the Indian Army, after the officer reportedly ordered his soldiers to tie a Kashmiri civilian to an Army jeep and parade his body through the streets the last month. Viral video of the incident shows Farooq Ahmad Dar strapped to the front of the moving military jeep. Army officials says the military officer decided to use the civilian’s body as a human shield against Kashmiris who were throwing stones. The video has sparked widespread protests against the Indian military and demands for independence.

Colombia: Major Protests Continue in Buenaventura, Despite Crackdown

In Colombia, major protests and strikes continue for a seventh straight day in the port city of Buenaventura, as residents demonstrate against widespread violence in the region and a lack of basic services. The government has launched an increasingly violent crackdown against protesters, killing at least one demonstrator and injuring dozens more, including children. Despite the crackdown, tens of thousands of people took to the the streets of Buenaventura over the weekend. The National Afro-Colombian Peace Council says residents of the region are living through a humanitarian crisis, with assassinations, kidnappings, threats, torture, the targeted killing of community leaders and mass displacement by extraction projects in the territory.

Mexican Journalists Demand Authorities Investigate Kidnapping of Colleague

In Mexico, journalists protested Monday in the state of Michoacán to demand authorities do more to investigate the disappearance of one of their colleagues, Salvador Adame Pardo, who was kidnapped by gunmen five days ago. He’s been a journalist for more than two decades and is currently the director of the television station 6TV. His kidnapping comes amid a wave of murders of Mexican journalists.


Supreme Court Rules North Carolina Lawmakers Gerrymandered 2 Districts

Back in the United States, the Supreme Court has ruled North Carolina lawmakers unconstitutionally gerrymandered two congressional districts in order to strip voting power from the African-American community. It’s the latest ruling by the Supreme Court finding that Southern states, including Alabama and Virginia, have engaged in racial gerrymandering in order to concentrate black voters into fewer districts to weaken their voting power.

Denver: Undocumented Mother Wins Stay of Deportation After Seeking Refuge in Church

And in Denver, Colorado, 33-year-old Ingrid Encalada Latorre has won a temporary stay of deportation, after she sought refuge in a Quaker meeting house to avoid being deported to Peru. She is a mother of two U.S.-born children. She has been living in the Quaker meeting house since last December. This is Ingrid Encalada, speaking after leaving the church Saturday.


Ingrid Encalada Latorre: "I’m so full of emotion, because now, finally, I’ll get to be with my family again. The next two months I’m going to be really focused on my court case, but also I’m engaging congresspeople on these issues and raising more of a national conversation about the immigration policies that we have."


Among those who came out to support Encalada on Saturday were Jeanette Vizguerra and Arturo Hernández García, two other undocumented Denver residents who both sought refuge in churches in recent years. They both won stays of deportation earlier this month.




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