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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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The World Health Organization says the number of reported Ebola cases has jumped to more than 13,700 — a rise of more than 30 percent over a four-day period. The rise has been attributed to underreporting. But the World Health Organization also says Liberia, the country worst hit by the epidemic, may be seeing a decline in Ebola. Assistant Director-General Bruce Aylward said he is cautiously optimistic.
Dr. Bruce Aylward: “The actual number of newly reported cases is beginning to decline in Liberia, and the government is really driving a multipronged investigation looking at multiple strands of evidence to try and understand is this real, is this a reporting phenomena, or is it even a care-seeking phenomena that’s changing. And so far, based on the information received today, and again, most of you are somewhat aware of this, it appears that the trend is real in Liberia.”
A nurse who was quarantined in New Jersey after returning from Sierra Leone despite showing no signs of Ebola has said she will defy quarantine restrictions in her home state of Maine. State officials are seeking a court order to force Kaci Hickox to remain in her home, even though she has tested negative for Ebola. Speaking to NBC’s Today show, Hickox said she would go to court to fight for her freedom.
Kaci Hickox: “I remain appalled by these home quarantine policies that have been forced upon me, even though I am in perfectly good health and feeling strong and have been this entire time completely symptom-free. I’m thankful to be out of the tent in Newark, but I find myself in yet another prison, just in a different environment.”
In Sri Lanka, 190 people remain missing after torrential rains caused a massive landslide that hit a village in a tea-growing area. At least 10 bodies have been recovered. An official told Reuters there are likely no survivors.
In the West African nation of Burkina Faso, protesters have set fire to parliament to protest a possible extension of the president’s rule. Parliament was set to consider changing the constitution to let President Blaise Compaoré run for re-election. He first seized power in a coup in 1987.
Israel has shut down the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in the Old City of Jerusalem for the first time in 14 years following the shooting of an Israeli far-right activist. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas condemned the closure as a “declaration of war on the Palestinian people.” The site, known by Jews as the Temple Mount, houses both the mosque and the Dome of the Rock. Jamal Tawfiq, a resident of Jerusalem, said he was turned away after arriving for his morning prayers.
Jamal Tawfiq: “This is a collective punishment [for something] we had nothing to do with. This is injustice. There’s no fair government here. Justice should be the basis for governance. But there is no justice here. A problem happens with a person over there, they close the mosque here. Why is it OK to allow Jews to go pray at the Wailing Wall without any harassment, while a Palestinian is killed every day? Every day, a Palestinian is killed. Every day, holy olive trees are burned and pulled out because they belong to Arab Palestinians. Why are we the ones being punished?”
On Wednesday night, U.S.-born activist Yehuda Glick was shot and wounded outside a conference on promoting Jewish access to the Al-Aqsa site, where he and others want to build a Jewish temple. Hours later, Israeli police shot and killed a Palestinian suspect in the shooting, who they said resisted arrest.
The latest tensions came as the United Nations held an emergency meeting on Israel’s plans to build 1,000 new settlements in occupied East Jerusalem. The settlements in an area which Palestinians seek as part of any future state are considered illegal under international law. Earlier this week, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed to press ahead with construction.
Sweden has officially recognized the state of Palestine, becoming the first member of the European Union to do so. In a newspaper op-ed, Swedish Minister of Foreign Affairs Margot Wallstrom called the move “an important step that confirms the Palestinians’ right to self-determination,” adding, “Some will say today’s decision comes too soon. I’m afraid, rather, that it is too late.”
Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai has promised to donate $50,000 to rebuild schools in Gaza that were damaged by this summer’s Israeli offensive. After receiving the World Children’s Prize in Sweden, Yousafzai said she would donate all the prize money to the U.N. agency for Palestinian refugees.
Malala Yousafzai: “This money will totally go to the rebuilding of schools for children in Gaza. So I think it will definitely help those children to continue their education, to get quality education, and it will help them to continue their life and to know that people are supporting them and they’re not alone. And I’m really happy that this funding will help in the rebuilding of 65 schools in Gaza.”
The company SodaStream has announced plans to move its factory out of an Israeli settlement in the occupied West Bank following an international boycott. SodaStream said its move was “purely commercial.” But supporters of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement have claimed the move as a victory, saying their efforts caused SodaStream’s share prices to drop as retailers were pressured to abandon their products.
The United Nations General Assembly has voted nearly unanimously to condemn the U.S. embargo on Cuba for the 23rd year in a row. Just like last year, the vote was 188 to 2 with only Israel joining the United States. Three countries abstained: Palau, Micronesia and the Marshall Islands.
Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto has met with the parents of 43 students who have been missing from the state of Guerrero for more than a month after a police ambush. Authorities suspect police turned the students over to a local drug gang with close ties to the fugitive mayor of Iguala and his wife, who are accused of ordering the attack. Another mass grave has been found in the area, but the remains have not yet been identified. Human rights activists are highlighting the U.S. role in supporting corrupt police and military forces after it has poured an estimated $3 billion into the so-called war on drugs in Mexico. Maria Luisa Aguilar called for the United States to hold the forces that receive the funds accountable.
Maria Luisa Aguilar, advocacy coordinator for Tlachinollan: “The problem is the lack of accountability. What’s happened with all that money that was invested in the police, at the federal level, at the state level, at the municipal level? After the training, after the substantial investment in these security forces, who is making sure that there will be accountability? That their work is lawful, within a framework that respects human rights?”
In northern Mexico, four bodies have been found near the border city of Matamoros. The remains could belong to three American siblings from Texas who went missing from the area two weeks ago. They were reportedly captured by armed men identified as members of a Matamoros police unit.
The Federal Reserve is ending the economic stimulus program known as quantitative easing. Since 2008, the Fed has spent trillions of dollars on mortgage and Treasury bonds in a bid to boost the economy. The Fed now says the program is no longer necessary due to economic improvements.
The number of billionaires worldwide has more than doubled since the financial crisis. A new report by Oxfam International finds the richest 85 people saw their collective wealth increase at a rate of nearly half a million dollars a minute from 2013 to this year. Hundreds of millions of people, meanwhile, live without access to clean drinking water and sufficient food.
College students around the world carried mattresses on Wednesday in a global day of action against sexual assault and in solidarity with Columbia University student Emma Sulkowicz. Earlier this year, Sulkowicz vowed to carry her mattress everywhere on campus until the student who she says raped her in her dorm room is either expelled or leaves of his own accord. To see our interview with her go to democracynow.org.
In Denmark, the founder of the video file-sharing website the Pirate Bay has been found guilty in the biggest hacking case in the country’s history. Gottfrid Svartholm Warg, known as Anakata, and his Danish co-defendant were found guilty of hacking computer mainframes run by the U.S. IT firm CSC. Warg has already been imprisoned for 11 months after being extradited from Sweden.
In a follow-up to our story from yesterday, a jury in Texas has found Antonio Buehler not guilty in a case that centered on the right to film police officers. Buehler used his phone to take photos of a woman crying out for help as police arrested her on New Year’s Day in 2012. Police then arrested him, and he was ultimately charged with failing to obey their order to put his hands down as he took photos. After more than five hours of deliberation, a jury acquitted Buehler on Wednesday evening.