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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. This week Democracy Now! is celebrating our 23rd birthday. 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, in honor of Democracy Now!'s birthday, every donation we receive will be doubled by a generous supporter. This means if you give $30 today, Democracy Now! will get $60 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 New York Times is reporting high-level officials at the FBI and Justice Department were notified in late summer about the extramarital affair that prompted CIA Director David Petraeus to resign on Friday. The relationship between Petraeus and his biographer, Paula Broadwell, was uncovered during an FBI investigation into harassing emails allegedly sent by Broadwell to another woman. Members of Congress have complained they were not informed of the FBI’s findings until just after the election. As head of the CIA, Petraeus oversaw the agency’s use of drones for targeted killings abroad and had recently pushed the White House to approve a major expansion of the agency’s drone fleet. Petraeus also directed the so-called “surge” of troops in Iraq under President George W. Bush and later commanded U.S. and coalition forces in Afghanistan. In a letter to the CIA workforce Friday, Petraeus said of the extramarital affair: “Such behavior is unacceptable, both as a husband and as the leader of an organization such as ours.”
In news from Afghanistan, a British soldier has been shot dead in an apparent insider attack by an individual wearing an Afghan army uniform. International forces returned fire, killing a member of the Afghan army, though it was unclear whether the man they killed was the original shooter. The incident followed an attack by two Afghan soldiers on Saturday that injured a Spanish servicemember. More than 60 soldiers with the U.S.-led NATO coalition have been killed so far this year in a surge of attacks by Afghan colleagues.
At least 10 Afghan civilians died in three separate roadside bomb attacks over the weekend. The dead included a family returning home from a hospital with their newborn baby.
More than a dozen Afghan witnesses and victims testified over the weekend as part of a hearing to determine whether U.S. Staff Sergeant Robert Bales will face a court-martial for allegedly slaughtering 16 Afghan civilians in March. In harrowing video testimony transmitted to a courtroom at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, the witnesses, including several children, recalled being shot at and seeing their loved ones murdered. One young witness remembered shouting, “We are children! We are children!” before seeing his sister get shot.
President Obama marked Veterans Day Sunday at Arlington National Cemetery outside Washington, D.C. During his address, Obama touted the drawdown of troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.
President Obama: “This is the first Veterans Day in a decade in which there are no American troops fighting and dying in Iraq. Thirty-three thousand of our troops have now returned from Afghanistan, and the transition there is underway. After a decade of war, our heroes are coming home. And over the next few years, more than a million servicemembers will transition back to civilian life.”
Obama’s speech focused heavily on the need to provide services to recent veterans, almost a quarter of whom come home physically or emotionally disabled. But an investigation by ProPublica and the Seattle Times recently found the U.S. military has lost or destroyed records that are needed for veterans to claim benefits.
The group Veterans for Peace joined one of the country’s largest Veterans Day parades in Auburn, Washington, Saturday after the group was initially barred from participating by the city. The pro-peace group filed a discrimination lawsuit and was allowed to march after a judge issued a temporary restraining order.
The issue of tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans has taken center stage in the political battle over a looming “fiscal cliff” of tax increases and spending hikes that could tip the country into an economic recession at the start of next year. The New York Times reports President Obama is hoping to recruit corporate executives to pressure Republicans to accept higher taxes in exchange for assurances of Democratic votes to reduce so-called entitlements, like Medicare and Medicaid. On Saturday, President Obama defended tax hikes for the wealthy.
President Obama: “Now, I’m open to compromise and new ideas. But I refuse to accept any approach that isn’t balanced. I will not ask students or seniors or middle-class families to pay down the entire deficit while people making over $250,000 a year aren’t asked to pay a dime more in taxes.”
Republican House Speaker John Boehner, meanwhile, argued against any tax hikes as part of a deal to avoid the so-called “fiscal cliff.”
John Boehner: “Instead of raising tax rates on the American people and accepting the damage it will do to our economy, let’s start to actually solve the problem. Let’s focus on tax reform that closes special-interest loopholes and lowers tax rates. Instead of accepting arbitrary cuts that will endanger our national defense, let’s get serious about shoring up the entitlement programs that are the primary drivers of our country’s massive, growing debt.”
In Haiti, torrential rains and devastating floods have killed at least 11 people and left thousands homeless in recent days just two weeks after the country was devastated by Hurricane Sandy. Rivers have overflowed, crops have been destroyed, and aid workers say they are in dire need of supplies.
Head Scout Marie Jocelyne Jacques: “We have about 150 people here with only 12 sacks of bread. They gave us four cases of juice since this morning. Also, the World Food Program brought two packs of cookies for each and every one. We have handicapped people here, babies, even women that gave birth here last night. That means we don’t have anything for them.”
The New York region is continuing its slow recovery from Superstorm Sandy. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo plans to ask the federal government for at least $30 billion in disaster aid to help repair bridges, tunnels and public transit and meet other costs. Officials say the storm caused more than $50 billion in damage to the New York region, making it the country’s costliest storm apart from Hurricane Katrina. More than 125,000 customers remained without power in New York and New Jersey Sunday, the vast majority of them on Long Island and the Rockaways. On Saturday, hundreds of people protested outside the Long Island Power Authority, condemning the utility’s slow response to the outages.
Escalating clashes between Israeli forces and Palestinians in the Gaza Strip have led to some of the worst violence the area has seen in months. Human rights activists say seven Palestinians have been killed, including five civilians, while more than 50 others have been wounded. The group Palestinian Centre for Human Rights said four of the deaths occurred when the Israeli military fired an artillery shell on young people who were playing football. A number of Israelis have been wounded by Palestinian rockets and mortar. Tensions between the two sides escalated after a young Palestinian boy was shot dead last week during an exchange of fire with Israelis.
In news from Syria, groups opposed to the regime of President Bashar al-Assad have agreed to form a unity coalition and elected cleric Mouaz al-Khatib as its leader. The decision comes amidst mounting violence between Assad’s regime and rebel forces. Officials with the United Nations refugee agency say 11,000 Syrians fled to Turkey and other neighboring countries over a 24-hour period at the end of last week. More than 400,000 Syrian refugees are now registered with the United Nations. Meanwhile on Sunday, Israel fired a guided missile into Syria in what they said was a warning shot after mortar fire from Syrian fighting spilled over into the Golan Heights.
Greece has passed a new austerity budget for next year amidst mass protests over spending cuts and tax hikes. Ahead of the vote on Sunday, some 15,000 anti-austerity demonstrators gathered outside Parliament. Protesters condemned European leaders who have demanded Greek cuts in exchange for an international bailout.
Costas Boutas: “This is a budget that will bleed the Greek people dry. It is so they can pay for the capital of the banks and the markets. That’s why I’m here, so I can shout at this oligarchic government and the political elite, as well as the oligarchs of Europe, that enough is enough.”
The director general of the British Broadcasting Corporation has resigned amidst mounting questions over the BBC’s handling of two child sex-abuse reports. Earlier this month, one of the BBC’s flagship programs, Newsnight, broadcast a report that wrongly implicated a politician in child sex-abuse claims. After the report aired, the victim saw a photograph of the politician and said he was not the man who abused him. In his resignation speech Saturday, former BBC director general George Entwistle admitted the report reflected poor journalistic standards.
George Entwistle: “In the light of the fact that the director general is also the editor-in-chief and ultimately responsible for all content, and in light of the unacceptable journalistic standards of the Newsnight film broadcast on Friday, 2nd November, I have decided that the honorable thing to do is to step down from the post of director general.”
Newsnight is also under scrutiny for failing to broadcast a report on child sex-abuse allegations against the popular BBC personality Jimmy Savile, who is accused of abusing potentially hundreds of victims. There were reports the BBC’s news director and her deputy have also quit over the scandal.
A California woman has been fired from her job after using a racial slur against President Obama on Facebook and writing: “Maybe he will get assassinated this term.” Denise Helms, 22, later explained her comments in a news interview.
Denise Helms: “The assassination part is kind of harsh. And I don’t — like, I’m not saying like I would go do that or anything like that, by any means, but if it was to happen, I don’t think I would care one bit.”
The post by Helms was part of a barrage of racist references to President Obama on social media following his re-election last week.
Republican Congressmember and tea party favorite Allen West is refusing to concede his re-election fight against Democratic challenger Patrick Murphy even though the state of Florida says he lost by more than 2,000 votes, which is a larger margin than would trigger an automatic recount, but election officials in one county are reportedly recounting some early votes. On Friday, a Florida judge denied a request by Rep. West to impound ballots and voting machines. UPDATE: A partial recount of early ballots from St. Lucie County narrowed Patrick Murphy’s lead to 1,907 votes, still outside the margin needed to trigger a recount under state law.
The Supreme Court has announced it will hear a challenge to a key provision of the landmark Voting Rights Act of 1965. The case centers on a section of the law that requires many state and local governments with a history of voting-related discrimination to get federal approval before altering voting procedures. Recently the law has been used by courts to block voter identification requirements and attempts to curb early voting.
The money transfer company MoneyGram has agreed to establish a $100 million compensation fund as part of a government settlement over fraud allegations. The company is accused of processing transfers to MoneyGram agents who defrauded customers by posing as family members or offering cash prizes. The Justice Department said thousands of MoneyGram customers complained, but the company failed to fire the agents it knew were involved. MoneyGram also admitted it failed to maintain an effective anti-money-laundering program in violation of federal law.
Brandon Lacy Campos, the openly queer and HIV-positive activist, artist, writer and poet, has died at the age of 35. He wrote widely about race, sexuality and his experience living with HIV. In a speech earlier this year at the Civil Liberties and Public Policy Conference at Hampshire College, he called for HIV to be a central concern of the movement for reproductive freedom.
Brandon Lacy Campos: “Let me be clear: HIV isn’t over. It’s relevant to your work. It’s relevant to your lives. It is not just a disease that affects white gay men. It isn’t a disease that impacts only men of color on the down-low. In fact, it isn’t a disease that impacts only men. Women, and specifically women of color, and even more specifically African-American and Latina women, are the fastest-growing population of people living with HIV. And with 300,000 women living with HIV in the United States and women representing more than 50 percent of HIV cases around the world, you cannot in justice or in faith remove issues of HIV from reproductive justice.”
Lacy Campos was found dead in New York City on Friday. The cause of his death is still unknown.