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You turn to Democracy Now! for ad-free news you can trust. Maybe you come for our daily headlines, or for in-depth stories that expose government and corporate abuses of power. We produce our daily news hour at a fraction of the budget of a commercial news operation, all without ads, government funding or corporate underwriting? This is only possible with your support. Right now every donation to Democracy Now! will be doubled by a generous supporter. This means if you give $25 today, Democracy Now! will get $50 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 in the coming year. Thanks so much. -Amy Goodman
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Egypt’s political crisis is growing after the country’s deadliest violence since the Egyptian revolution broke out in 2011. At least 525 people were killed and more than 3,500 people wounded on Wednesday in government raids on protest encampments filled with supporters of ousted President Mohamed Morsi in Cairo. Police and troops used bulldozers, tear gas and live ammunition to clear out the two sit-ins. Makeshift clinics were overrun with the dead and wounded. Members of the Muslim Brotherhood responded by storming and torching police stations. Forty-three police officers were reportedly killed. Three journalists also died in Wednesday’s violence. Egypt’s army-installed government has declared a month-long state of emergency and imposed a dusk-to-dawn curfew on the capital of Cairo and 10 other provinces. The move came shortly after it installed 25 provincial governors, including 19 military generals and two loyalists of ousted dictator Hosni Mubarak. Interim Vice President Mohamed ElBaradei, a Nobel Peace laureate, resigned hours after Wednesday’s crackdown began, saying the conflict could have been resolved by peaceful means. The Muslim Brotherhood has called for new rallies in Cairo today. Mohamed el-Beltagy, a senior Muslim Brotherhood leader who lost his daughter in Wednesday’s violence, urged supporters to protest Egypt’s military.
Mohamed el-Beltagy: “I swear to God that if people don’t keep protesting, Abdel Fattah al-Sisi will just drag this country into more troubles. He will drag this nation into a civil war, so he can escape the death penalty. Be aware, Egyptian people, and go onto the streets now to announce the end of the armed forces’ political life.”
In Washington, Secretary of State John Kerry condemned the violence, but the Obama administration announced no moves to cut aid to the Egyptian military.
Secretary of State John Kerry: “Today’s events are deplorable, and they run counter to Egyptian aspirations for peace, inclusion and genuine democracy. Egyptians inside and outside of the government need to take a step back. They need to calm the situation and avoid further loss of life. We also strongly oppose a return to a state of emergency law, and we call on the government to respect basic human rights including freedom of peaceful assembly and due process under the law.”
Defense attorneys for Army Private Bradley Manning have rested their case at the convicted whistleblower’s sentencing hearing. On Wednesday, Manning spoke publicly for the first time in months in a statement apologizing for leaking classified documents to WikiLeaks. Manning said: “I am sorry for the unintended consequences of my actions. When I made these decisions I believed I was going to help people, not hurt people.” An Army psychologist who analyzed Manning while he served in Iraq also testified Wednesday, along with a clinical psychologist who spent 21 hours examining Manning after his arrest. Manning’s sister and aunt also both took the stand to deliver emotional testimony about his childhood. Manning faces up to 90 years in prison after being convicted last month on 20 counts for leaking troves of secret documents to WikiLeaks. We’ll have more on Bradley Manning’s sentencing hearing with journalist Alexa O’Brien later in the broadcast.
In Iraq at least 33 people were killed today when a series of car bombs exploded in Baghdad. More than 100 were wounded.
State forces in Bahrain have cracked down on pro-democracy rallies challenging the U.S.-backed monarchy. On Wednesday, Bahrani police fired tear gas and birdshot at a number of protests in Shiite villages around the capital, Manama. Bahraini opposition activists say more than 60 rallies were organized across the country. The U.S. embassy closed down for the day after activists planned to rally outside. The Bahraini monarchy is a key U.S. government ally, hosting the Navy’s Fifth Fleet.
The United Nations is warning an unstable political environment and a growing humanitarian crisis are pushing the Central African Republic to the brink of collapse. Conditions have worsened in the C.A.R. since Seleka rebels ousted President François Bozizé four months ago. In a briefing to the Security Council, top U.N. officials warned that international support is direly needed.
Lt. Gen. Babacar Gaye: “As there is no proper chain of command, the country runs the risk of descending into anarchy and chaos. Some police officers are reporting to work, but are not equipped to work safely and effectively.”
Valerie Amos, emergency relief coordinator: “Much more international support is required to meet growing needs. Critical sectors, such as water, sanitation and hygiene, have received less than 10 percent of the funding required.”
The African Union’s peacekeeping force for the Central African Republic has asked the United Nations for greater assistance to fulfill its mandate.
The group Doctors Without Borders has announced dangerous conditions are forcing it to cease operations in Somalia after 22 years. In a statement, the group cited “extreme attacks on our staff” and an environment that condones “the killing, assaulting and abducting of humanitarian aid workers.” The move will mean the loss of healthcare services for hundreds of thousands of people.
The Pentagon has announced it will start providing benefits to same-sex military families beginning next month. The move comes in response to the Supreme Court decision in June that struck down the Defense of Marriage Act, which barred federal recognition of same-sex marriages. Married same-sex couples in the military and civilian Pentagon employees will be entitled to benefits including healthcare, housing costs and survivor pay. Couples stationed in states that still bar same-sex weddings will be granted leave to get married in states where such unions are legal.
The California Supreme Court has rejected a new effort to halt same-sex marriages in the state. On Wednesday, the court dismissed a bid from supporters of Proposition 8 to ignore the initial federal court order that struck down the ban. The Supreme Court ruled in June that Prop 8 supporters do not have legal standing to appeal.
New York prosecutors have unveiled charges against two former employees of the banking giant JPMorgan Chase for the so-called “London Whale” trades that cost the bank more than $6 billion and derailed financial markets worldwide. A Senate probe earlier this year accused JPMorgan Chase of misleading the public, manipulating documents and ignoring warnings from within its own ranks as the losses piled up. On Wednesday, U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara announced the first charges to stem from the case.
U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara: “The defendants deliberately and repeatedly lied about the fair value of billions of dollars in assets on JPMorgan’s books in order to cover up massive losses that mounted month after month at the beginning of 2012. Those lies misled investors, regulators and the public, and they constituted federal crimes. As has already been conceded, this was not a tempest in a teapot, but rather a perfect storm of individual misconduct and inadequate internal controls.”
The two defendants reside in Europe, and it is unclear if they will face extradition.
The White House is backing off initial reports that Director of National Intelligence James Clapper will head a government review of National Security Agency spying. President Obama announced an independent review of the NSA’s operations on Friday, but then suggested Clapper would be in charge. Clapper’s name immediately sparked outrage following accusations he lied to Congress about NSA surveillance earlier this year. A National Security Council spokesperson now says the White House, not Clapper, will choose the review panel’s members.
The military contractor CACI International is seeking legal costs from four Iraqi prisoners who unsuccessfully sued the company for their torture at Abu Ghraib. One of the plaintiffs, an Iraqi farmer, alleges he was caged, beaten, threatened with dogs and given electric shocks during more than four years in U.S. detention. But a federal judge dismissed the case in June, citing the recent U.S. Supreme Court decision to restrict lawsuits under the Alien Tort Statute against corporations for abuses on foreign soil. Based on that ruling, the website CommonDreams.org reports that CACI has now filed a lawsuit demanding that the four Iraqis hand over $15,000 to cover the firm’s legal fees.
The top prosecutor in Orlando, Florida, says he plans to review the FBI’s fatal shooting of an unarmed Chechen man questioned for his ties to the Boston Marathon bombers in May. Agents were questioning Ibragim Todashev at his Orlando apartment when he allegedly tried to attack them. After multiple anonymous claims that Todashev was armed, it later emerged the circumstances were unclear. State Attorney Jeff Ashton says he has now received a preliminary Justice Department report on the shooting. Speaking during a visit to Florida, Todashev’s father said he wants justice for his son.
Abdulbaki Todashev: “I hope and pray that no mother and no father will ever have to endure and go through what I’m going through right now. My son was a very good boy, and he is innocent, and he was simply killed.”
The Todashev family is considering a civil action against the FBI. A recent exposé by The New York Times found that the FBI has cleared its agents in every single shooting incident dating back two decades.
Former Democratic Congressmember Jesse Jackson Jr. of Illinois has been sentenced to 30 months in prison after pleading guilty to corruption charges earlier this year. Jackson Jr. spent more than $750,000 in campaign funds on personal items, including music memorabilia and items for his home. He resigned last year after a several-month leave to seek treatment for bipolar disorder. His wife, Sandi, was also sentenced to 12 months for tax fraud.