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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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A human rights group in Berlin, Germany, has filed a criminal complaint against the architects of the George W. Bush administration’s torture program. The European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights has accused former Bush administration officials, including CIA Director George Tenet and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, of war crimes, and called for an immediate investigation by a German prosecutor. The move follows the release of a Senate report on CIA torture which includes the case of a German citizen, Khalid El-Masri, who was captured by CIA agents in 2004 due to mistaken identity and tortured at a secret prison in Afghanistan. So far no one involved in the CIA torture program has been charged with a crime except the whistleblower John Kiriakou, who exposed it. In a statement today, Wolfgang Kaleck, general secretary of the group which filed the complaint, said, “By investigating members of the Bush administration, Germany can help to ensure that those responsible for abduction, abuse and illegal detention do not go unpunished.”
The death toll from a Taliban attack on a school in Peshawar, Pakistan, has risen to 145, making it the deadliest single attack in the group’s history. Over an eight-hour period, a group of Taliban gunmen killed 132 schoolchildren, 10 staff and three soldiers. The Taliban has said it carried out the killings in retaliation for Pakistani military attacks on Taliban families in North Waziristan. Secretary of State John Kerry condemned the school massacre.
John Kerry: “The images are absolutely gut-wrenching—young children carried away in ambulances, a teacher burned alive in front of the students, a house of learning turned into a house of unspeakable horror. And Prime Minister (Nawaz) Sharif said, 'These are my children, and it is my loss.' Well, this morning, wherever you live, wherever you are, those are our children, and this is the world’s loss.”
We’ll have more on the attack after headlines.
As the school massacre was underway in Pakistan, a U.S. drone strike killed 11 people in eastern Afghanistan. A local official said the dead were militants, including four members of the Pakistani Taliban.
The Obama administration has confirmed that it will seek limited testimony from New York Times investigative reporter James Risen in one of the most significant press freedom cases in decades. On Tuesday, Risen was ordered to participate in a hearing early next month in advance of the trial of former CIA officer Jeffrey Sterling. Sterling is accused of giving Risen classified information that revealed a botched CIA plot to disrupt Iran’s nuclear program. If Risen refuses to testify, he could be jailed. We’ll have more on the case later in the broadcast.
Hundreds of attorneys have joined the nationwide protests over unpunished police killings of African Americans. The attorneys, many of them in business attire, staged a die-in outside a Los Angeles courthouse, lying on the ground in the rain for four-and-a-half minutes — one minute for each hour that Michael Brown’s body lay in the street after he was shot dead. Attorney Carmina Ocampo said lawyers have a particular obligation to speak out about the failure to indict officers who killed Michael Brown and Eric Garner.
Carmina Ocampo: “Lawyers have felt anger and grief about what’s been happening, and as legal actors, we feel particular responsibility to call out and condemn the injustices in the criminal system and the racism. So, as people who are sworn to uphold the law — we study the law, we enforce the law, we take oaths to uphold the law — we want to speak out against these practices in the criminal system that are racist and result in the failure to indict police who kill unarmed people.”
In New York City, lawyers plan to stage a die-in at the Brooklyn Criminal Courthouse today, marking five months since the police killing of Garner.
In Ohio, the family of John Crawford, a 22-year-old African American shot dead by police as he held an unloaded BB gun inside a Wal-Mart, have filed a federal lawsuit against the retailer and the police department. The lawsuit accuses Wal-Mart of negligently leaving the gun unpackaged on a shelf and faults police for shooting Crawford within a second of their initial contact. Surveillance footage shows Crawford was on the phone with the gun swinging loosely toward the ground. But a grand jury found the shooting was justified.
Video published by The Guardian shows that after the shooting of John Crawford in Ohio, police aggressively questioned Crawford’s girlfriend, who was in the store with him. As Tasha Thomas sobbed, police accused her of lying and threatened to jail her.
Police officer: “I want to be very clear, OK? That man had a weapon at some point, I understand, OK? That man produced that weapon. That man had the weapon when you picked him up. He had it in your car or something. You understand that we’re investigating a serious incident, you lied to me, and you might be on your way to jail.”
Police questioned Thomas for more than an hour and a half before telling her that her boyfriend was dead.
Former Florida Republican Governor Jeb Bush has announced he will “actively explore” a run for president in 2016. Jeb Bush is the brother of former President George W. Bush and the son of former President George H. W. Bush. In 2000, as governor of Florida, his administration wrongfully purged at least 12,000 eligible voters from the rolls. His brother was ultimately declared the winner of the state, and the presidential race, by the U.S. Supreme Court, with a margin of about 500 votes. Jeb Bush has expressed skepticism about human-caused climate change and once said during a failed bid for governor in 1994 that women on welfare “should be able to get their life together and find a husband.” In a departure from right-wing Republicans, he has supported comprehensive immigration reform.
President Obama has vowed to sign a new round of sanctions against Russia over its role in Ukraine. The move comes as Russia’s currency, the ruble, has plunged. Jason Furman, chair of the White House Council of Economic Advisers, said U.S. sanctions are having an impact.
Jason Furman: “I mean, if I was chairman of President Putin’s Council of Economic Advisers, I would be extremely concerned. They are between a rock and a hard place in economic policy. The combination of our sanctions, the uncertainty they’ve created for themselves with their international actions and the falling price of oil has put their economy on the brink of crisis.”
Thousands of people gathered in the occupied West Bank for the funeral of a Palestinian man shot dead by Israeli soldiers during a raid on the Qalandiya refugee camp. The Israeli military says the man threw an explosive device, but witnesses told Reuters he was watching from the roof of his home. The shooting comes as Palestinians plan to submit a draft resolution to the U.N. Security Council today calling for Israel to end its 47-year occupation. The United States is expected to veto the measure.
In Haiti, mass protests are continuing over delayed local and legislative elections which were due to take place in 2011. The protests forced Haitian Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe to announce his resignation over the weekend. Protesters are now calling for President Michel Martelly to resign, as well.
One of the leading musicians in Cuba has told the U.S. Agency for International Development to “go to hell” for ensnaring his son and other hip-hop artists in a botched plot to foment anti-government unrest. Silvio Rodríguez made the comments on his blog following revelations by the Associated Press that USAID tried to recruit Cuban rappers under the guise of civic causes like HIV prevention. As part of the program, USAID hired Creative Associates International, a firm that also played a key role in the “Cuban Twitter” program — a fake social media program launched in another bid to undermine the Cuban government. In the hip-hop case, Creative Associates was directed to recruit young rap artists looking to make “social change.” But the program ended up endangering some of the artists, spiking their careers and forcing some, like Rodríguez’s son, to move to Florida.
The Vatican has praised the role of nuns in the United States following a controversial years-long probe into their adherence to Catholic doctrine. The report marks a shift in tone from a 2012 Vatican reprimand which resulted in an all-male takeover of the largest group of U.S. nuns. The nuns were accused of promoting “radical feminist” ideas and challenging teachings on homosexuality and the all-male priesthood. At a news conference Tuesday, Sister Sharon Holland, president of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, praised the latest Vatican findings.
Sister Sharon Holland: “As the report itself acknowledges, the visitation was met by some religious with apprehension and suspicion. The expressed purpose — to look into the quality of life of religious women in the United States — was troubling. Some congregations reported that their elder sisters felt that their whole lives had been judged and found wanting. Despite the apprehension, however, today we are looking at an affirmative and realistic report which we know is based on the study of written responses and on countless hours of attentive listening.”
In a statement, the Nun Justice Project called the investigation into Catholic women “both demeaning and a huge waste of time and energy.”
The Vatican report on U.S. nuns came as another denomination, the Church of England, appointed its first-ever woman bishop. Rev. Libby Lane will serve as the bishop of Stockport in northern England.
A leading brain injury program designed to treat veterans of war has expanded its mission to include professional football players. The Eisenhower Center in Ann Arbor, Michigan, has announced it will become the primary facility for treating National Football League players who suffer brain injuries. The NFL estimates nearly a third of its players will develop crippling brain conditions, including Alzheimer’s.
In upstate New York, 41 people have been arrested for blocking the gates of a gas storage facility as part of a campaign against the Texas-based company Crestwood Midstream. The group, We Are Seneca Lake, has seen more than 130 arrests in a series of actions against the company’s plans to expand methane gas storage at a lake which provides drinking water to 100,000 people. Biologist and activist Sandra Steingraber said Tuesday’s action was led by teachers.
Sandra Steingraber: “Today we had 40 people blockading this gate, among them many teachers. We had special education teachers. We had elementary school art teachers. We had my son’s fifth grade science teacher. We had my daughter’s high school English teacher. My husband, the art teacher, was among them. We had professors who teach constitutional law. I’ve never been so proud of educators. This is the kind of education that the whole world needs right now.”
A new report finds the number of imprisoned journalists has increased, with 220 currently held around the world. The Committee to Protect Journalists says the total is the second highest since its tally began in 1990. China and Iran are together holding one-third of all jailed journalists.
In the United States, the jailed journalist and activist Barrett Brown has had his sentencing postponed until January 22 following a hearing Tuesday. Brown faces up to eight-and-a-half years in prison on charges related to the hacking of the private intelligence firm Stratfor, which exposed how the firm spied on activists on behalf of corporations. Brown originally faced 100 years in prison before pleading guilty to lesser charges.
U.S. Army whistleblower Chelsea Manning turns 27 years old in prison today. Manning is serving a 35-year sentence for giving secret documents on the Iraq War and other U.S. policies to WikiLeaks. Among those who have sent her birthday messages is NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, who wrote, “I thank you now and forever for your extraordinary act of service … You have inspired an angry public to demand a government that is accountable for its perpetration of torture and other war crimes.”