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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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More than 100 people have been killed in Pakistan after Taliban gunmen attacked a military-run school in Peshawar. The death toll has reached 126 with at least 84 believed to be children. The Taliban has said it targeted the children of military families in retaliation for Pakistan’s anti-Taliban campaign in North Waziristan. Since June, at the urging of the United States, Pakistan has waged a massive offensive in the region, which coincided with the resumption of U.S. drone strikes.
In Sydney, Australia, two hostages and a gunman have been killed after police stormed a downtown café and chocolate shop to end a standoff that lasted over 16 hours. The gunman has been identified as an Iranian refugee named Man Haron Monis, who was out on bail on charges including sexual assault and being an accessory to the murder of his ex-wife. Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott said he had a long criminal record.
Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott: “What we do know is that the perpetrator was well known to state and commonwealth authorities. He had a long history of violent crime, infatuation with extremism, and mental instability.”
Man Haron Monis opposed Australia’s role in the U.S.-led war in Afghanistan and had been charged with sending harassing letters to the families of dead Australian soldiers.
The Obama administration faces a deadline today to decide whether it will attempt to force New York Times investigative reporter James Risen to reveal his source. In one of the most significant press freedom cases in decades, Risen has vowed not to testify at the trial of Jeffrey Sterling, who is accused of giving him classified information that revealed a botched CIA plot to disrupt Iran’s nuclear program. The Justice Department has signaled it may stop trying to compel Risen to reveal his source, but still subpoena him to testify at Sterling’s trial. If he refuses, Risen could face jail time. Meanwhile, the Obama administration may try to force another journalist to testify in a trial over bombings by al-Qaeda. Preet Bharara, the U.S. attorney in Manhattan, has asked Attorney General Eric Holder to approve a subpoena of 60 Minutes producer Richard Bonin over his interactions with al-Qaeda’s press office during a bid to interview Osama bin Laden in 1998.
The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled police officers can conduct illegal traffic stops based on wrongful interpretations of the law. The case involved a man who was pulled over in North Carolina for having a broken tail light, even though a single broken tail light is not a violation in North Carolina. Police searched the man’s car and found cocaine, resulting in a cocaine-trafficking conviction. In an 8-to-1 decision, the Supreme Court upheld the conviction, saying the officer’s mistake was “reasonable.” In a lone dissent, Justice Sonia Sotomayor wrote, “One wonders how a citizen seeking to be law-abiding and to structure his or her behavior to avoid these invasive, frightening, and humiliating encounters could do so.”
The ruling comes amid mass protests over unpunished police killings of unarmed African Americans. On Monday in Oakland, California, at least 25 people were arrested as protesters shut down entrances to the Oakland Police Department by chaining themselves to the doors and locking their arms together at a nearby intersection. One activist climbed a flagpole and raised a banner showing the images of African Americans killed by police.
More professional athletes have joined the growing movement against police violence. During warm-ups Sunday, Cleveland Browns football player Andrew Hawkins wore a shirt which read “Justice for Tamir Rice and John Crawford.” Both Crawford and 12-year-old Tamir Rice were killed by police in Ohio while holding toy guns. Cleveland’s police union demanded an apology, calling Hawkins’ protest “pathetic” and saying he should “stick to playing football.” But the Cleveland Browns team has refused to apologize. Hawkins defended his actions Monday, saying he was thinking of his two-year-old son.
Andrew Hawkins: “The number one reason for me wearing the T-shirt was the thought of what happened to Tamir Rice happening to my little Austin scares the living hell out of me. And my heart was broken for the parents of Tamir and John Crawford, knowing they had to live that nightmare of a reality.”
Congress has quietly passed legislation requiring states to report the number of people killed by police. The move follows a Wall Street Journal report that found police killings are virtually impossible to track, with hundreds missing from the FBI’s tally. The reporting requirement was previously passed in 2000, but expired in 2006.
Relatives of victims killed in the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School have filed a lawsuit against the maker of the gun used to carry out the shootings. The lawsuit accuses Bushmaster of wrongfully selling its AR-15 rifle to civilians when it is designed for military uses, like penetrating steel helmets. The lawsuit came two years and one day after the shooting, which killed 26 people on December 14, 2012. Since then, according to Mother Jones, school shootings have occurred every five weeks on average in the United States.
In Pennsylvania, police are searching for an Iraq War veteran suspected of killing six people in a shooting spree that spanned three towns. Bradley William Stone remains at large after police say he killed his ex-wife and five of her relatives.
The Senate has overcome opposition from the gun lobby to confirm President Obama’s pick for surgeon general. Vivek Murthy was tapped by Obama over a year ago, but the National Rifle Association held up his confirmation because he had called guns a “healthcare issue.” At age 37, Vivek Murthy is the youngest surgeon general and the first of Indian-American descent.
In a victory for reproductive rights, the U.S. Supreme Court has let stand a lower court decision blocking an Arizona law which restricted the use of the pill form of abortion. The law required the use of an outdated and cumbersome protocol for the medication mifepristone. The lower court found the law imposed an “undue restriction” on abortion.
In the Philippines, prosecutors have charged a U.S. marine with murdering a transgender woman in a case that has renewed anger over the presence of U.S. troops. Joseph Scott Pemberton is accused of strangling and drowning Jennifer Laude in a hotel toilet after discovering she was transgender. Under the terms of a U.S.-Philippines deal called the Visiting Forces Agreement, Pemberton will remain in U.S. custody in the Philippines.
In Mexico, the federal government is facing new questions about its role in the disappearance of 43 students in the state of Guerrero. A report by the Mexican news magazine Proceso has found federal police participated in the attack, which the government has blamed on local police and a drug gang. The report coincided with a crackdown by federal police who reportedly attacked students and families of the disappeared as they organized a concert in Chilpancingo, the capital of Guerrero state. More than 20 people were injured in the clashes Sunday including a journalist with the Associated Press. Pedro López, a colleague of the missing students, said the attack was arbitrary.
Pedro López: “What took place was simply arbitrary compared to other events that have taken place; there wasn’t any disturbance or social demonstration going on, but rather a completely cultural activity in which we were protecting the area, guarding the fencing that had been put in place for the event.”
A new immigrant detention center due to be the largest in the country has opened in Dilley, Texas. The facility will imprison mostly women and children from Central America. It is operated by the private company Corrections Corporation of America, which has previously been sued for its treatment of immigrant children. Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson has touted the new facility as a deterrent to immigrants fleeing violence and poverty at home.