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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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Violence in Israel and the Occupied Territories is escalating as Israel bombs dozens of targets in the Gaza Strip and threatens a new full-scale assault. Gaza-based journalist Mohammed Omer reports four people were killed earlier today in an Israeli airstrike on a microbus. On Monday, the Israeli military mobilized 1,500 additional troops along the Gaza border and announced “Operation Protective Edge,” which it says aims to stop Palestinian rocket fire into southern Israel. Tensions have erupted in the region following the murders of three Israeli teenagers as well as a Palestinian teenager. We’ll have more on the situation, including a report from journalist Mohammed Omer in Gaza, after headlines.
Afghanistan is facing a crisis over its disputed presidential election. Preliminary results Monday showed former World Bank official Ashraf Ghani beating opponent Abdullah Abdullah by about a million votes. The results will not be finalized until later this month. Abdullah’s supporters have protested, calling the results a “coup” and claiming widespread fraud. In Washington, D.C., U.S. State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki called for a full review.
Jen Psaki: “There are serious allegations of fraud, which I think you referenced there, and they’ve been raised, and in our view they haven’t been sufficiently investigated. So, right now, our focus is on encouraging a full and thorough review of all reasonable allegations of irregularities. We think that’s essential to ensuring that the Afghan people have confidence in the integrity of the electoral process.”
Earlier today in Afghanistan, at least 16 people — including four Czech soldiers and 10 Afghan civilians — were killed in a suicide bomb attack in the eastern province of Parwan.
In Nigeria, more than 60 girls and women have reportedly escaped from the Islamist group Boko Haram after they were kidnapped two weeks ago in the northeastern state of Borno. More than 200 schoolgirls previously kidnapped by Boko Haram in April still remain missing.
In Japan, at least one person has died and half a million have been urged to evacuate amidst a powerful typhoon. Typhoon Neoguri brought wind gusts of more than 150 miles per hour and cut off power to tens of thousands of households in Okinawa.
In Mexico and Guatemala, at least three people are dead after a powerful 6.9-magnitude earthquake. The quake was centered in southern Mexico, where it sparked landslides and building collapses, killing at least two people in the state of Chiapas. A baby was killed in the hard-hit Guatemalan state of San Marcos when a piece of a hospital ceiling collapsed on him.
In the United States, immigrant advocates gathered at the White House to criticize the Obama administration’s treatment of immigrant children fleeing violence and poverty in Central America. More than 52,000 unaccompanied children from Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras have been seized at the U.S. border since October, about double the amount over the same period last year. Protesters say many of the children are trying to rejoin their families.
Cindy Monge, CASA in Action: “We’re going to take action on this. We want these kids to reunite with their parents, because that’s what they came here for. It’s not their fault. Some of them don’t even know what’s happening. They don’t know what they’re doing. They’re just told, 'Go with so and so and get here.' Like, that’s what happened to me. They were just like, 'You go with these people, and we're going to see you back here.’”
The Obama administration is poised to ask Congress for $2 billion to pay for more detention centers and immigration judges to handle the influx. The White House said Monday most of the children are unlikely to qualify for humanitarian relief and would be deported. According to the U.N. high commissioner for refugees, 58 percent of unaccompanied children detained by the United States could be entitled to refugee protections under international law.
In a victory for young immigrants in Arizona, a federal appeals court has ordered the state to stop denying driver’s licenses to young people who came to the United States as children and are eligible to remain here. A panel of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled unanimously Arizona had violated the Constitution by denying the licenses to immigrants who qualify for the Obama administration’s deferred action program.
Unnamed U.S. officials have confirmed the CIA was involved in a spying operation that led to the arrest of a German intelligence official accused of being a double agent. German politicians say the agent has admitted to providing a U.S. contact with details about a German parliamentary probe into U.S. spying efforts revealed by National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden. Reuters cites two unnamed officials who confirmed the CIA’s role. White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest refused to comment on the case.
Josh Earnest: “The reason I can’t comment on this particular matter is it involves two things. The first is a pending German law enforcement investigation. I would not want to get ahead of that or interfere in that investigation. In addition, it obviously goes to a purportedly direct intelligence matter as it relates to the United States. And that’s not something that I frequently comment from the podium here.”
President Obama has signed legislation authorizing more than $560 million in spending on U.S. intelligence efforts over the next five years. That figure does not include the vast array of U.S. spy programs that are kept secret. The law also expands whistleblower protections for employees who report concerns through authorized channels, but it does not extend protections to intelligence agency contractors, like Edward Snowden, who has said there were no adequate channels for him to raise concerns about National Security Agency spying.
The Gulf nation of Bahrain has ordered a U.S. diplomat to leave the country after he met with a Shiite opposition group. Bahrain is a key U.S. ally that hosts the Navy’s Fifth Fleet. The Sunni monarchy there has staged a brutal crackdown against pro-democracy protests. Tom Malinowski, U.S. assistant secretary of state for democracy, human rights and labor — and former Washington director for Human Rights Watch — had planned to meet with both Bahraini officials and human rights activists, including Nabeel Rajab, but Bahrain objected to his meeting with the opposition group Al Wifaq. State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki said the United States is “deeply concerned” about Bahrain’s decision to expel him.
In North Carolina, organizers say more than 1,000 people rallied in the latest “Moral Monday” action to denounce a voter ID law they say is the harshest since the Jim Crow era. The rally came as lawyers for the Justice Department and civil rights groups asked a federal court to block the law, which requires voters to show photo ID, curbs early voting and eliminates same-day voter registration. The North Carolina NAACP says the law is part of a long history of voter suppression aimed at people of color who disproportionately lack photo ID.
In California, local prosecutors say they will not bring criminal charges against a sheriff’s deputy who shot and killed an eighth grader after mistaking his pellet gun for an assault rifle. The deputy, Erick Gelhaus, shot 13-year-old Andy Lopez seven times last year in Santa Rosa. The killing sparked mass protests. But the Sonoma County district attorney concluded Gelhaus believed he was in imminent danger. In a statement, an attorney representing the family in a civil suit said the decision “leaves the family feeling as though Andy had been killed again today. … No reasonable officer in such circumstances could believe he was encountering anything but a teenager with a toy gun on a sunny afternoon in a residential area.” The FBI is still reviewing the shooting.