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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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Thousands of protesters have swarmed the streets of New York City for a second night to protest a grand jury’s decision not to indict the white police officer who killed Eric Garner. Garner, an African-American father of six, died after police placed him in a banned chokehold, piled on top of him and pinned him to the ground while he pleaded with them, saying at least 11 times, “I can’t breathe.” That phrase has become the rallying cry of protesters who shut down traffic on the Manhattan and Brooklyn bridges, the West Side Highway and the Holland Tunnel. Police said they arrested more than 200 people, many near Times Square. The decision came on the heels of another grand jury’s decision in Ferguson, Missouri, not to indict the white police officer who killed the African-American teenager Michael Brown. Rev. Al Sharpton has called for a march on Washington next Saturday to demand action from the federal government.
Al Sharpton: “We need to first centralize and be focused that the federal government must do in the 21st century what it did in the mid-20th century. Federal intervention had to come into the South to protect people’s civil rights and voting rights. Federal intervention must come now and protect people from state grand juries that keep exonerating any seeking of redress on police matters. And that’s what the 13th is about.”
Amidst the nationwide uproar over the Eric Garner decision, another case has come to light in Phoenix, Arizona, where a white police officer killed an unarmed black man. Phoenix police say the officer — who has not been named — feared that Rumain Brisbon had a gun because he felt something in his pocket, which turned out to be a pill bottle. The police say they suspected Brisbon of involvement in a drug deal and shot him after he fled into an apartment. But protesters say Brisbon was delivering dinner to his children. He is a father of four. Marci Kratter is an attorney for Brisbon’s family.
Marci Kratter: We need to take a deeper dive into why police officers are feeling compelled to shoot and kill as opposed to apprehend and detain, arrest and jail.”
A Justice Department investigation has found a pattern of “unreasonable and unnecessary” force by police officers in Cleveland, Ohio. The report details a history of abuse across hundreds of cases, characterizing police behavior as “chaotic and dangerous.” In some cases, Cleveland police opened fire on people who were running away and posed no threat. In one case, the Justice Department said a Cleveland police officer punched a handcuffed 13-year-old boy in the face repeatedly; in another, police used a Taser on a man who was strapped to a gurney and experiencing seizures, because he was making verbal threats. The investigation was launched last year but comes on the heels of the fatal police shooting of 12-year-old African American Tamir Rice, who was killed while holding a toy gun. We will go to Ohio to speak with Democratic Ohio state Senator Nina Turner about the case later in the broadcast.
Fast-food and other low-wage workers have walked off the job in nearly 200 cities across the country. The wave of actions Thursday may be the largest in the history of the fast-food industry. The workers were joined by other low-wage employees across other industries, including healthcare aides and airline employees. Federal contractors who work in sites like the U.S. Capitol and the Pentagon were also expected to take part in the strike for a $15-an-hour wage and a union.
Secretary of State John Kerry has pledged to continue U.S. investment in Afghanistan. Speaking in London, Kerry praised the government of Afghan President Ashraf Ghani.
John Kerry: “My friends, we have a government in Kabul that merits our confidence and our support. And never before has the prospect of a more fully independent and sustainable Afghanistan been more clear than it is at this moment, as we assemble here in London. The Afghan people should be very proud of this progress. And as they continue to move forward, they can be confident of the support of the international community.”
Kerry’s remarks come as a new report in Rolling Stone reveals how Afghanistan has descended into a narco state, producing 90 percent of the world’s opium supply this year.
A gunbattle between authorities and Islamist militants has gripped the capital of Chechnya. At least 20 people were killed in Grozny after militants attacked police. The assailants are believed to be rebels who want independence from Russia.
The European Union has announced an agreement that would allow member states to ban cultivation of genetically modified crops. The legislation would let the 28 EU countries ban the crops even if EU regulators approve them. Environmentalists who are seeking to curb GMOs over potential health and ecological harms have voiced concern the measure could leave countries that ban GMOs vulnerable to legal retaliation from multinationals like Monsanto.
The latest disclosures from National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden have revealed the National Security Agency has spied on communications among employees of major cellphone network operators in order to identify vulnerabilities in the phone networks. According to The Intercept, documents from Snowden reveal a covert operation called AURORAGOLD which involved monitoring more than 1,200 email accounts associated with the firms. In one case, just before the U.S. intervention in Libya, the NSA helped a U.S. military intelligence unit hack into Libya’s cellphone networks using information obtained by spying on company employees.
Israel has experienced one of its worst environmental disasters after a ruptured oil pipeline sent millions of gallons of crude gushing into a key nature preserve. The spill heavily damaged the Evrona reserve near the Jordanian border. More than 80 people in Jordan were hospitalized with breathing problems.
In Nigeria, the Niger Delta has suffered one of its worst oil spills in years after nearly 4,000 barrels of crude poured from a Shell pipeline. Shell has blamed the spill on oil thieves. Environmentalists say the devastation stretches for miles with dead fish and crabs washing up on the shoreline.
Germany has unveiled a plan to reduce carbon emissions that are warming the planet. The plan aims to help Germany meet a goal of reducing emissions by 40 percent by the year 2020, but environmentalists say the proposed steps don’t go far enough to reduce the country’s use of coal-fired power plants. U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon touted commitments by Germany and other countries before traveling to participate in the U.N. climate summit in Lima, Peru, next week.
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon: “We are determined to sustain the momentum generated by the recent important announcements by the United States, China, European Union and, yesterday, Germany on emission reductions. Next year is an opportunity to take big steps, transformative steps, in the right direction. We must do all it takes to provide hope for people and the planet.”
State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki has been caught on a hot mic criticizing the U.S. talking points on an Egyptian court’s decision to drop all charges against ousted President Hosni Mubarak. Psaki spoke at a news conference after Mubarak was cleared of ordering the killings of hundreds of protesters during the uprising against his regime in 2011.
Jen Psaki: “Well, generally, we continue to believe that upholding impartial standards of accountability will advance the political consensus on which Egypt’s long-term stability and economic growth depends. But beyond that, I would refer you to the Egyptian government for any further comment.”
At the end of the news conference, a mic captured Psaki telling a reporter, “That Egypt line is ridiculous.” Psaki later said in an email to ABC News, “It’s just the latest scientific evidence of global warming: now we have to worry about hot mics. But as Secretary Kerry reminded me, I’m in good company in this administration.”
Herman Badillo, a trailblazing politician who became the first Puerto Rican-born member of Congress, has died at the age of 85. Badillo served as a powerful voice in New York City politics for decades. He started out as a civil rights attorney and went on to hold a range of city posts and serve four terms in Congress. Throughout his career, he championed the rights of Latinos and the poor.