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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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Protests are set to begin for a third day in a row in Ferguson, Missouri, over a grand jury’s decision not to indict Officer Darren Wilson for killing unarmed black teenager Michael Brown. Missouri Governor Jay Nixon deployed more than 2,000 National Guard troops to patrol the St. Louis area. Police said more than 40 people were arrested. Some property damage was reported, but far less than Monday night when buildings were broken into and set on fire.
Protests against police brutality have erupted in more than 170 cities across the United States. In Los Angeles, more than 100 people were arrested. From Oakland, California, to Providence, Rhode Island, protesters walked onto major highways and shut them down. In New York, protesters blocked traffic across the city, including at the Lincoln Tunnel, West Side Highway, the Manhattan Bridge, Williamsburg Bridge and the Queens Midtown Tunnel. More than 1,000 protesters marched on the FDR Drive, at one point shutting down traffic in both directions. Protester Henoc Montes was among thousands who rallied in Times Square.
Henoc Montes: “We’re kind of voicing our opinions a little harder today, and we’re making sure that we’re a little louder. And they’re feeling some type of way, which is why they decided to push us and get out their shields and throw pepper spray and all of this nonsense and arrest people. I’m happy to see everybody at least attempting to be part of this. It’s different. It’s good. Something new is happening over here in the city, and I just hope we can keep it up. I hope this is a lifetime thing and not just this week.”
The protests in New York came on the heels of actions Monday, when demonstrators shut down three bridges and threw fake blood onto New York City Police Commissioner William Bratton.
President Obama responded to the unrest in Ferguson Tuesday by calling for calm in remarks that drew a strict contrast to his more impassioned speech last year on the killing of Trayvon Martin. Obama condemned the destruction of property by some protesters in Ferguson.
President Obama: “I have no sympathy at all for — for destroying your own communities. But for the overwhelming majority of people who just feel frustrated and pained because they get a sense that maybe some communities aren’t treated fairly or some individuals aren’t seen as worthy as others, I understand that, and I want to work with you, and I want to move forward with you. Your president will be right there with you.”
Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson has spoken publicly for the first time since he fatally shot Michael Brown. In an interview broadcast on ABC News, Wilson described how he shot Brown repeatedly because he feared for his life. He was interviewed by George Stephanopoulos.
George Stephanopoulos: “Is there anything you could have done differently that would have prevented that killing from taking place?”
Darren Wilson: “No.”
George Stephanopoulos: “Nothing?”
Darren Wilson: “No.”
George Stephanopoulos: “And you’re absolutely convinced, when you look through your heart and your mind, that if Michael Brown were white, this would have gone down in exactly the same way?”
Darren Wilson: “Yes.”
George Stephanopoulos: “No question?”
Darren Wilson: “No question.”
Stephanopoulos also asked Wilson whether the killing of Michael Brown would always haunt him.
Darren Wilson: “I don’t think it’s a haunting. It’s always going to be something that happened.”
George Stephanopoulos: “You are — you have a very clean conscience.”
Darren Wilson: “The reason I have a clean conscience is because I know I did my job right.”
In his testimony, released after the grand jury decision, Wilson compares Michael Brown to a “demon,” and says, “When I grabbed him, the only way I can describe it is I felt like a five-year-old holding onto Hulk Hogan.”
Protests spurred by the grand jury’s decision not to indict Wilson are set to continue with a national day of action planned for Black Friday, the biggest consumer holiday of the year. Activists are organizing a national boycott of retail venues and protests against police brutality. The actions coincide with a wave of protests by Wal-Mart workers at more than 1,600 stores across the country who are demanding a $15-an-hour wage and the right to form a union. This year marks the third time in a row Wal-Mart workers have gone on strike on Black Friday. Organizers say it will be their biggest action to date.
In news from Syria, the regime of President Bashar al-Assad has bombarded the northeastern city of Raqqa, the stronghold of Islamic State militants, killing at least 95 people. According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, more than half of those killed were civilians. It’s one of the deadliest attacks to hit Raqqa in years.
In southwestern Pakistan, gunmen have killed three female polio workers and their driver. Militants have targeted health workers in such attacks after it was revealed the CIA used a fake vaccination program to help locate Osama bin Laden.
In the Pakistani region of North Waziristan, a U.S. drone strike has killed seven people. Officials said the dead were suspected militants and the target was a compound.
In Yemen, U.S. commandos have conducted a raid alongside Yemeni troops to rescue eight hostages held in a cave by an al-Qaeda affiliate. The United States reportedly intervened at the behest of Yemen’s president to rescue the hostages, who included Yemeni citizens, a Saudi and an Ethiopian. Seven militants were reportedly killed in the raid.
In Nigeria, a double suicide bombing has killed more than 40 people in the northeastern city of Maiduguri. The bombers were two teenage girls who entered a bustling marketplace before blowing themselves up. Suspicion has centered on the militant group Boko Haram.
In Sierra Leone, striking burial workers in the eastern town of Kenema have dumped the bodies of Ebola victims at the entrance to a hospital in an act of protest over pay. The workers say they have not received their weekly hazard payments in nearly two months despite the dangers of their work. Officials said the workers would be fired for mistreating the bodies. The protest comes as Dr. Aiah Solomon Konoyeima has become the eighth Sierra Leonean doctor to contract Ebola. All seven others have died.
In the United States, Michèle Flournoy, who was considered the top contender to replace outgoing Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, has taken herself out of the running for the post. Citing family concerns, Flournoy said she would keep her position as head of the Center for a New American Security, a think tank with close Pentagon ties which receives key financial backing from military contractors. The move comes after another possible contender, Rhode Island Democratic Senator Jack Reed, also removed his name from consideration. Obama announced Hagel’s departure Monday after pressuring him to resign, but he will stay on until a replacement is confirmed.
The United States is reportedly poised to increase the number of U.S. troops it is keeping in Afghanistan next year. In May, Obama vowed to reduce U.S. troop levels to 9,800 by the end of this year, with further reductions to come. But according to Reuters, the administration will instead add up to 1,000 extra troops in order to bridge a gap left by other members of the NATO coalition. The move came after Obama signed a secret order to broaden and extend the U.S. role in Afghanistan, contradicting his earlier promise the U.S. military would have no combat role in Afghanistan next year.
A United Nations panel has adopted a resolution expressing concern about mass surveillance. The proposal was drafted by Germany and Brazil, which, according to revelations by Edward Snowden, have both been subjected to extensive U.S. spying. But the measure was toned down following pressure from the United States, Britain and other allies. A reference to the intrusive nature of collecting metadata — details like which phone numbers are involved in a call and how long the call lasts — was spiked. Brazil’s deputy ambassador to the U.N. said the measure should have been stronger.
Guilherme de Aguiar Patriota: “We are pleased that consensus was reached, but it is important to recall the compromises that were made to achieve such an outcome. References to the principles of necessity and proportionality were not as strong as they should have been. Surveillance programs, as any activity that pose a threat to human rights, should be necessary and proportionate to the pursuance of legitimate aims. As some members were not in a position to acknowledge these basic principles of international law, we could not affirm them in the strongest of terms.”
The Obama administration is releasing new limits on ozone, the most widespread form of air pollution and the main ingredient in smog. Ozone, which is formed through a reaction of pollutants from power plants, factories and cars, has been linked to asthma, heart disease and premature death. U.S. restrictions imposed under President George W. Bush remain far looser than those in the European Union and Canada. Environmental groups have sued the Obama administration for tighter standards, prompting a court order to issue new draft regulations by December 1. According to The New York Times, the new rules would reduce the current threshold for ozone pollution from 75 parts per billion to between 65 and 70 parts per billion.
The news comes as environmental groups have sued the Obama administration over its program of leasing federal land to coal companies. The lawsuit demands the Bureau of Land Management conduct an analysis of the environmental impact of the program, which it says accounts for 14 percent of U.S. carbon dioxide emissions. The BLM has never studied the program’s impact on climate change.
President Obama has vowed to veto a proposed $440 billion tax deal which the White House says favors corporations and neglects working families. The bulk of the deal between House Republicans and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid would serve to enrich businesses, while the deal excludes measures to enshrine two key breaks for working-class families — an earned income tax credit and a child tax credit. The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities estimates more than 16 million people would fall into poverty — or deeper into poverty — if the provisions are not made permanent.
And about half of all people with HIV in the United States are not receiving treatment. According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, less than a third of people in the United States currently living with HIV have been able to get their infections under control. Most patients have already been diagnosed, but factors including poverty and homelessness may prevent them from accessing drugs.