In Oregon, a federal jury on Thursday acquitted anti-government militia leaders Ammon and Ryan Bundy and five of their followers of conspiracy and weapons charges related to their armed takeover of a federal wildlife refuge earlier this year. The stunning verdict shocked federal prosecutors, who called the 41-day occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge a lawless scheme to seize federal property by force. The occupation forced federal employees onto administrative leave, cost the federal government over $4 million and alarmed local residents. It also angered the Paiute Tribe, which has treaty rights to the land the militia occupied. The tribe says militia members mishandled tribal artifacts and bulldozed sacred sites. Militia leaders Ammon and Ryan Bundy still face federal charges related to an armed standoff in Nevada in 2014.
Labor unions will stage a thousands-strong rally on Tuesday against the Tsai Ing-wen’s administration and Democratic Progressive Party’s (DPP) “unrelenting determination” to pass a controversial workweek bill.
In news from Iraq, at least 16 people have died after ISIS militants attacked a power station in the oil-rich city of Kirkuk. This came as U.S.-backed forces continued their assault on Mosul, which fell to the Islamic State two years ago. The United Nations has warned the attack on Mosul could force up to a million people being displaced. On Thursday, the Pentagon announced the first U.S. soldier had died in the attempt to retake Mosul.
In Honduras, two campesino leaders have been assassinated. José Ángel Flores was the president of MUCA, that’s the Aguán Unified Campesino Movement. Silmer Dionisio George was one of the group’s lead organizers. Both were killed by gunmen Tuesday night after leaving the MUCA office in the community of La Confianza in northern Honduras in the valley of Aguán. Flores had repeatedly reported facing death threats as a result of his land defense work, and the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights had ordered the Honduran government to provide both him and Silmer protection. MUCA members have cooperative land holdings, and the group is under pressure to sell off their land so private corporations can build massive palm oil plantations. Tuesday’s assassinations were in a region of Honduras where a special development zone, also known as a model city, is currently being developed, which would create a special free trade zone operating outside the law of the Honduran government. Many of the companies pushing for special development zones in Honduras are supported by the World Bank.
Iraqi, Kurdish and U.S. forces have launched a massive operation to retake Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city, which was seized by the self-proclaimed Islamic State in June 2014. The United Nations is warning as many as 1 million people may be forced to flee their homes due to the offensive, which has been described as one of the biggest military operations in Iraq since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion.
In Minneapolis and St. Paul, 600 janitors have won union recognition after a more than seven-year campaign that saw a series of short-term strikes. The janitors work for mega box stores, including Target, Macy’s and Best Buy. The campaign was supported by the Minneapolis-based United Workers Center in Struggle. The workers are now joining the Local 26 of the Service Employees International Union and will start collective bargaining in efforts to win healthcare and higher wages.
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Columbia University’s Rashid Khalidi speaks to Democracy Now! during our “Expanding the Debate” special on Sunday night after the second Donald Trump-Hillary Clinton debate.