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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 gathered in New York City on Sunday for the funeral of Wenjian Liu, one of the two police officers killed in a targeted ambush last month. Liu’s widow, Pei Xia Chen, paid tribute to her husband.
Pei Xia Chen: “The caring son, a loving husband and a loyal friend, you are an amazing man. Even though you left us early, I believe that he is still with us. His spirit will continue to look after us. He will keep an eye over us so as to protect us. Wenjian is my hero.”
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio spoke at the funeral of Wenjian Liu, one of the two police officers killed last month, saying the whole city is heartbroken over the police officers’ killings.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio: “All of our city is heartbroken today. We’ve seen it over these last two weeks. We’ve seen the pain that people feel, from all walks of life, a sense of appreciation for the sacrifices of this family and of the Ramos family, their understanding — the people who have never worn a uniform — of how many dangers our men and women in uniform face and what it means for their families. All of this city is feeling the pain right now, and all of this city wants to lift up the Liu family and the Ramos family.”
As de Blasio spoke, scores of police officers outside the service again turned their backs on him, as they had previously at the funeral of NYPD Officer Rafael Ramos and at the hospital where the two officers were taken after the shooting. The officers’ collective snub came despite orders from Police Commissioner Bill Bratton that they not turn their backs. It was the latest in the NYPD’s protests against de Blasio over his comments on police brutality and racial profiling. Late last month officers launched a “virtual work stoppage,” reducing or halting summonses, tickets and arrests.
As NYPD officers continue their protests of New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, actions against police brutality and racial profiling continue nationwide. In New York City, a group of demonstrators staged a “die-in” Friday outside the Manhattan studios of Fox News.
Allen Arthur: “We are protesting specifically the treatment of the cases of police brutality in New York and around the country by right-wing media organizations. But that extends to all major corporate media networks, which operate on a system of profit, not on issues of justice.”
Diane Leary: “We want accountability. We want fair news, which Fox does not provide at all, with the most recent incident being that they used audio soundbites over our protesting. They say that we were saying horrible things about NYPD, and that is not what we’re out here for. We’re not against all police. We just want accountability for the bad ones. So we are here demanding fair and justified news coverage.”
In Ohio, the death of a mentally ill African-American woman in police custody has been ruled a homicide. Tanisha Anderson’s family had called the police for help as she suffered from a mental health episode in November. A coroner found Tanisha Anderson died “as a result of being physically restrained in a prone position by Cleveland police.” Anderson suffered from heart disease, which was also listed as a factor in her death. Her family wants an independent prosecutor to investigate.
Israel has halted the transfer of tax revenues to the Palestinian Authority in retaliation for its bid to join the International Criminal Court. On Friday, Palestinian officials submitted documents to join the ICC in a move opposed by both Israel and the United States. Palestinian U.N. Ambassador Riyad Mansour said the PA will seek the prosecution of Israeli officials for war crimes in the Occupied Territories.
Riyad Mansour: “It is a peaceful option. It is a civilized option. It is an option that anyone who uphold the law should not be afraid of, and it is an option that we are seeking in order to seek justice for all the victims that have been killed by Israel, the occupying power, the last group of them the more than 500 children in Gaza last summer, more than 3,000 children injured and thousand more of civilians killed and injured.”
In response, the Israeli government is holding up tens of millions of dollars it has collected on the PA’s behalf as the occupier of the Palestinian territories. The money is needed to pay salaries and provide public services. The Palestinian Authority opted to join the ICC after the United States and Israel successfully lobbied against a U.N. Security Council measure calling for an end to the Israeli occupation and the establishment of a Palestinian state by 2017. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas says he is discussing plans to resubmit the statehood resolution despite the threat of a U.S. veto.
Around two dozen civilians were killed in Afghanistan last week after shelling struck a wedding party in Helmand province. The deaths came amidst reported fighting between Afghan forces and Taliban militants, just days after the Afghan military took over formal security control from the U.S.-led NATO occupation force. The Afghan military says it is investigating.
An Egyptian court has ordered a retrial of three Al Jazeera journalists jailed for over one year. Peter Greste, Mohamed Fahmy and Baher Mohamed were convicted on terrorism charges including “spreading false news” in support of the Muslim Brotherhood, deemed by the government a “terrorist group.” On Thursday, Egypt’s Court of Cassation overruled the original conviction,
citing procedural flaws. But the three will remain behind bars until their case is reheard. After the ruling, family members of Greste and Fahmy called on the Egyptian government to release and deport them to their home countries.
Andrew Greste: “Now that Peter is essentially an innocent man, he’s not a convict anymore, it does allow for some room to move and for steps to be taken for [Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi] to step in and enact his presidential powers and deport him.”
Marwa Omara: “I can’t even imagine that he will stay for a year in prison. His lawyer, Amal Clooney, just applied to the Egyptian presidency and the Egyptian prosecutor for Mohamed to be deported to Canada and be treated as a Canadian citizen and to continue the trial there. I’m still waiting for a miracle to happen.”
The United States has expanded sanctions against North Korea following the recent hack of the media giant Sony Pictures. On Friday, President Obama signed an executive order targeting North Korean entities and individuals in what the White House called a first step in its retaliation. North Korea has denied responsibility for the hack, which released tens of thousands of Sony emails and files. The new sanctions come as private experts are raising doubts about North Korea’s responsibility. The security firm Norse says the attack could have been the work of a former Sony employee working with pro-piracy “hacktivists.” Norse reportedly briefed the FBI last week. But the FBI says it stands by its assessment North Korea was behind the hack.
The FBI has reportedly begun helping Mexican authorities with an investigation into the disappearance of 43 students in the southern state of Guerrero. So far the remains of only one student have been identified after authorities say police turned the students over to members of a local gang, who killed them and burned their bodies. NBC News reports U.S. scientists are helping to analyze forensic evidence. Meanwhile, Mexican authorities have arrested 10 more local police officers, bringing the total number of people arrested to about 90, most of them police. Last week, parents and colleagues of the missing students were honored in Mexico’s southernmost state of Chiapas by Zapatistas, who were marking the 21st anniversary of their uprising against the Mexican government.
A Libyan al-Qaeda suspect snatched from the streets of Tripoli by U.S. forces has died in New York just over a week before he was due to stand trial. Abu Anas al-Libi was accused of helping plan the 1998 bombings of U.S. embassies in Africa. He was captured in Tripoli in 2013 and interrogated on a naval ship at sea, before being brought to New York where he was due to face trial next week. He died on Friday of complications from liver surgery. Libi was ill with hepatitis C at the time of his capture. His arrest sparked protests in Libya and pressure on the beleaguered Libyan government.
Jury selection begins today in the trial of Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. Three people were killed and 264 were wounded when a pair of homemade bombs exploded near the race’s finish line. Tsarnaev faces 30 federal counts, including the bombing of a public place, malicious destruction of public property, and use of a weapon of mass destruction resulting in death. He is accused of plotting the attacks with his older brother, Tamerlan, who died in a firefight with police. Federal prosecutors are seeking the death penalty, a rarity for a federal case.
Thousands of undocumented immigrants lined up across California on Friday to obtain driver’s licenses for the first time. A law approved in late 2013 makes California the most populous state to provide driver’s licenses to undocumented immigrants. The measure drew wide support from police officials and insurance companies as well as immigrants’ rights groups. A Department of Motor Vehicles spokesperson welcomed the law’s implementation.
Armando Botello: “This is a very, very important day for DMV and for California in general, because this is the first day that people who are undocumented residents of California are able to obtain their license in a legal manner because of the implementation of AB60, the law that allows them to obtain a license.”
A judge in New York is expected to decide today whether to release documents considered by the Staten Island grand jury that chose not to indict NYPD officer Daniel Pantaleo for the chokehold death of unarmed African American Eric Garner. Garner’s family has sued to have witness testimony, the full medical examiner’s report and other records released. Garner died after Pantaleo wrestled him to the ground and officers piled on top of him while he repeatedly said, “I can’t breathe.” The prosecutor who failed to secure a grand jury indictment in the case, Daniel Donovan, has said he is considering running for the House seat being vacated today by Congressmember Michael Grimm.
Former New York Governor Mario Cuomo has died at the age of 82. Cuomo served three terms as Democratic governor between 1983 and 1995. He died just hours after his son, current New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, was sworn in for a second term.