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This week, Democracy Now!'s team has been on the ground reporting live from COP23, the UN Climate Summit. From the industry panelists in their corporate suites to the activists protesting in the streets, Democracy Now! has been there, shining a spotlight on corporate and government abuses of power. Democracy Now! is different because we don't accept government or advertising dollars—we count on you, our global audience, to fund our work.Will you donate $3 today to support Democracy Now!'s vital reporting? If you visit us daily or weekly or even just once a month, please do your part today.
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Outrage continues to grow over the killing of the unarmed African-American teenager Trayvon Martin in Florida last month. On Wednesday, Martin’s parents, Sybrina Fulton and Tracy Martin, joined thousands of people for a “million hoodie” march in New York City.
Tracy Martin: “Our son did not deserve to die. There’s nothing that we can say that will bring him back. But I’m here today to assure that justice is served and that no other parents have to go through this again.”
Sybrina Fulton: “Our son was not committing any crime. Our son is your son. I want you guys to stand up for justice and stand up for what’s right. This is not about a black-and-white thing. This is about a right-and-wrong thing. Justice for Trayvon.”
Meanwhile, city officials in Sanford, Florida, the city where Martin was killed, have passed a vote of no confidence in Police Chief Bill Lee over the failure to arrest or charge Martin’s confessed shooter, George Zimmerman.
A white teenager in Mississippi has been sentenced to life in prison for killing an African-American man by running him over with a pick-up truck. Deryl Dedmon was among a group of white teens who beat James Craig Anderson, a 49-year-old black auto plant worker, while yelling “white power!” and other racial epithets. Dedmon was caught on video driving a truck over Anderson, killing him instantly. Anderson was also a gay man with a same-sex partner, but it is unclear if his sexual orientation factored into the deadly attack. At his sentencing, Dedmon apologized for the murder, saying he was “young, dumb, and full of hatred.”
Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign is taking heat after a key aide suggested Romney will change his political stances if he wins the nomination. Speaking to CNN, senior Romney adviser Eric Fehrnstrom compared Romney’s platform to an Etch A Sketch, the erasable toy.
John Fugelsang: “Good morning, sir. It’s fair to say that John McCain was considerably a more moderate candidate than the ones that Governor Romney faces now. Is there a concern that the pressure from Santorum and Gingrich might force the Governor to tack so far to the right it would hurt him with moderate voters in the general election?”
Eric Fehrnstrom: “Well, I think you hit a reset button for the fall campaign. Everything changes. It’s almost like an Etch A Sketch. You can kind of shake it up, and we start all over again.”
Romney’s rivals have seized on the comments. The gaffe overshadowed news of an endorsement for Romney’s candidacy from former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush.
The U.N. Security Council has voted unanimously to support U.N.-Arab League special joint envoy Kofi Annan’s plan for stopping the government crackdown in Syria and ensuring aid to victims. Russia and China, which had previously disputed council proposals on Syria, both joined the vote after the statement’s language was softened. Annan’s plan calls for a Syrian-led political transition to democracy. Acting Security Council president Mark Lyall Grant of Britain read out the council’s statement.
Mark Lyall Grant: “The Security Council expresses its full support for the efforts of the envoy to bring an immediate end to all violence and human rights violations, secure humanitarian access, and facilitate a Syrian-led political transition to a democratic, plural political system, in which citizens are equal regardless of their affiliations or ethnicities or beliefs, including through commencing a comprehensive political dialogue between the Syrian government and the whole spectrum of the Syrian opposition.”
In Mali, renegade soldiers are claiming control of the country after an attack on the presidential palace in the capital Bamako. The soldiers say they have ousted Mali President Amadou Toumani Touré over his handling of a rebellion by a militia in the northern part of the country. The soldiers say they have suspended the constitution and imposed a military curfew. Touré was scheduled to step down after April elections. His whereabouts are unknown.
A man suspected of gunning down seven people in France has reportedly jumped from a balcony and died as security forces burst into his apartment following a standoff. Mohammed Merah had told police he wanted to avenge the deaths of Palestinian children and seek revenge for French involvement in Afghanistan. He also claimed ties to al-Qaeda. Merah was suspected of killing four people at a Jewish school, as well as three soldiers in separate attacks this month.
The United States says it is on track to complete a strategic partnership agreement with the Afghan government ahead of a key NATO summit in May. Talks between the two sides have been strained following a number of incidents including the massacre of 16 Afghan civilians by a U.S. soldier earlier this month. Following a meeting with Afghanistan’s foreign minister, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said a deal on governing the U.S. military’s night raids on Afghan homes is close at hand.
Hillary Clinton: “We are looking forward to finalizing the so-called night raids agreement. These are complicated issues. But we are resolving them. We’re clearing the way toward a strategic partnership agreement. We would very much like to be in a position to sign such an agreement at — either before or at the Chicago summit, and I think we are on track to do so.”
Brazilian prosecutors have filed charges against 17 executives from oil giant Chevron and the rig operator Transocean in connection with a recent deepwater oil spill. Some 110,000 gallons of oil leaked off the shore of Rio de Janeiro in November. Last week, Brazil announced more oil was leaking from cracks on the ocean floor near the offshore Chevron well. The executives are accused of a number of environmental crimes, as well as deceiving Brazilian officials after the spill.
At least 39 members of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia have reportedly been killed in an operation by Colombian troops. Colombian soldiers targeted the FARC after rebels killed 11 soldiers in an ambush over the weekend. The attack on FARC is one of the deadliest in the last five years. It comes just before the two sides are due to begin an agreement that will see FARC release hostages.
The U.S. Army has launched a system-wide review to ensure its healthcare providers are not considering treatment costs when they make diagnoses. The review comes after it was revealed therapists at Madigan Army Medical Center in Washington state reversed diagnoses of post-traumatic stress disorder for hundreds of soldiers. The center is located at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, the home base of Staff Sgt. Robert Bales, who is suspected of killing 16 Afghan villagers earlier this month. Data released by Washington Sen. Patty Murray shows a Madigan screening team reversed more than 40 percent of PTSD diagnoses for patients being considered for medical retirement since 2007.
Newly released documents show the U.S. Department of Homeland Security began tracking the Occupy Wall Street movement long before protesters claimed Zuccotti Park last fall. According to Business Insider, the department focused in particular on the hacker group Anonymous and its support of what turned out to be the inaugural protest of September 17. In a memo, analysts warned “those protests may be accompanied by malicious cyber activity conducted by Anonymous.”
In Texas, a suspect has been arrested in the firebombing of the office of a Democratic state senator known for backing Planned Parenthood and other progressive causes. Wendy Davis’ Fort Worth office was briefly set on fire earlier this week when Molotov cocktails were thrown inside. The attack came one week after Texas banned Planned Parenthood clinics from enrolling in a program extending Medicaid coverage for low-income women.
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