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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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Five Democratic presidential candidates will square off tonight in Las Vegas for the first of six debates in the 2016 campaign. The participants are former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, former Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley, former Virginia Senator Jim Webb and former Rhode Island Governor Lincoln Chafee. Hawaii Congressmember and Democratic National Committee Vice Chair Tulsi Gabbard will not be attending today’s debate. She says she was disinvited after publicly calling for more than six debates. We’ll bring you a preview of tonight’s debate after headlines.
Iran’s Parliament has overwhelmingly backed the landmark nuclear deal between Iran, the United States and five other world powers. The vote comes after Republicans in the U.S. Congress unsuccessfully tried to block the nuclear deal. Iran is expected to begin curbing its nuclear program in the coming days, in exchange for sanctions relief.
Turkey’s deputy prime minister says a “large number of people” have been detained as suspects in the bombings of the peace rally in Ankara Saturday that killed as many as 128 people. The Turkish government says the self-proclaimed Islamic State is the prime suspect. Protesters blame the government for not preventing the attack.
In news from Syria, members of the U.S.-backed rebel groups fighting Syrian President Bashar-al-Assad have reported receiving an influx of U.S.-made anti-tank missiles in what appears to be a response to Russian airstrikes against groups fighting President Assad. The New York Times reports, “the Syrian conflict is edging closer to an all-out proxy war between the United States and Russia.” The United States supplies the rebel groups with U.S.-made weapons through a covert CIA program run in coordination with Saudi Arabia.
Meanwhile, the United States has also begun airdropping pallets of weapons and ammunition to a Kurdish militia fighting against ISIL in northern Syria. This comes as Amnesty International has accused another U.S.-backed Kurdish militia operating in the region of committing war crimes by forcefully displacing thousands of Syrian civilians and demolishing their homes.
European Union officials are urging Russia to halt its military intervention in Syria, saying Russia threatens to undermine the political process to end the four-and-a-half-year conflict. Speaking Monday, EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini described the intervention as “dangerous” but said Russia has a role to play in the conflict’s resolution.
Federica Mogherini: “On the other side, I have to underline, because I’ve seen that especially this morning very few of you (journalists), if any at all, have noticed that reference, that the role that Russia can play in, let’s say, exercising a sort of pressure or involvement of the regime in the political process itself, that is going to be a very significant and important role that Russia can play.”
Violence is escalating in Israel and the Occupied Territories. Police say Palestinians killed three Israelis this morning in separate attacks in Jerusalem. This comes after Israeli forces shot dead three Palestinians Monday, accusing them of stabbing Israelis. In total, 27 Palestinians and seven Israelis have been killed in the last two weeks. Eight of the Palestinians were children.
The Dutch Safety Board has concluded Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 was downed by a Russian-made missile. The plane was shot down over Ukraine in 2014, killing all 298 on board. The long-awaited findings did not specify who launched the missile.
Two former CIA prisoners who say they were tortured at a black site in Afghanistan have filed a lawsuit against the architects of the CIA’s torture program, James Mitchell and Bruce Jessen. The lawsuit was also joined by the family of a third prisoner who froze to death at the black site. Mitchell and Jessen were psychologists who reaped more than $80 million presiding over untested torture techniques, including waterboarding. The lawsuit filed today accuses them of war crimes.
In news from Germany, the police union and human rights groups are warning of sexual abuse, violence and rape inside refugee shelters. The chief of the police union said authorities responsible for asylum seekers are not adequately addressing the issue of sexual assaults inside the shelters. This comes as thousands of people fleeing violence in Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq, Nigeria, Eritrea and other countries continue to make their way across Europe. A field commissioner from the United Nations said more than 5,000 people are crossing through the Balkans every day.
Seda Kuzucu: “Every day we have around 5,500 people coming, and we are trying to work with authorities for the registration. The weather conditions are getting really difficult. It was rainy for the last two days, but it’s not stopping. And we are getting information from Macedonia that they are traveling by train per day four times, so we are trying to get ready with when the numbers are here. So it’s still an ongoing process.”
The United States is facing accusations of outsourcing its crackdown on refugees who are fleeing violence in Central America by paying the Mexican government to stop people from reaching the United States. We’ll have more with Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter Sonia Nazario later in the broadcast.
In London, the police who have spent more than three years positioned outside the Ecuadorean Embassy to arrest WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange have been withdrawn. Assange has been unable to leave the embassy after seeking refuge in 2012 amid fears he could be arrested and extradited to Sweden on sex crimes allegations, and, he fears, to the United States, where a secret grand jury has been investigating WikiLeaks’ disclosures. Assange has never been charged with a crime. London’s Metropolitan Police kept officers poised to arrest Assange the moment he left the embassy, 24 hours a day, at a cost of about $19 million. While ending their 24-hour watch, the London police said they would still “deploy a number of overt and covert tactics to arrest [Assange].”
In Providence, Rhode Island, Black Lives Matter protesters gathered outside a Dunkin’ Donuts shop Monday to show support for a Dunkin’ Donuts worker who wrote the hashtag “#BlackLivesMatter” on the coffee cup of a police officer. The Providence Fraternal Order of Police union accused the Black Lives Matter movement of “creating a hostile environment,” and Dunkin’ Donuts said the franchise owner had apologized to the police officer for the employee’s act of protest. Former police officer Tony Lepore—known as the “dancing cop” in Providence for directing traffic while performing his signature dance moves—has led calls for Dunkin’ Donuts to fire the worker. Sam Muskelly was among those who gathered outside the Dunkin’ Donuts to show support for the worker.
Sam Muskelly: “We can knock down every wall that’s in front of us. Black lives do matter every day. All of our lives matter here today, because we are fighting for what’s going on in the streets, and trying to help our young people find a way to get through. So us standing here today is big. It shows a diversity of everyone. It shows everyone here holding up their signs and screaming out loud that black lives do matter, and we want people to know that every day, all day, and every time they wake up and they walk outside.”
A judge has ordered the state of Arkansas to disclose its suppliers of lethal injection drugs to attorneys for death row prisoners who are challenging the state’s execution secrecy law. The move comes amid disclosures the pentobarbital Texas uses in executions may be expired.
An autopsy, meanwhile, has revealed Oklahoma used the wrong drug during the January execution of Charles Warner, whose dying words were “My body is on fire.” On Monday, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals stayed the execution of Julius Murphy, after attorneys said prosecutors threatened key witnesses in his trial.
A new investigation has revealed more information about Exxon’s decades-long bid to conceal what it knew about global warming. The Los Angeles Times reports Exxon predicted in the late 1980s and early 1990s the Arctic would melt from climate change, reducing their operations costs by as much as 50 percent. A senior ice researcher for Exxon’s Canadian subsidiary told an audience of academics and government researchers in 1992, “potential global warming can only help lower exploration and development costs” in the Beaufort Sea.
And in the Atlanta suburb of Douglasville, Georgia, the district attorney has won indictments against 15 Confederate flag supporters on charges of making terroristic threats and participating in “criminal gang activity.” The unusual move comes after a group of African-American partygoers said members of the white group, which calls itself Respect the Flag, threatened them with a crowbar and other weapons and yelled racial slurs. Meanwhile, in Texas, all of the more than 170 bikers rounded up and detained following a mass gang shooting in May outside a Waco restaurant have been released. Five months after nine people were killed in the shooting, none of the bikers has been charged with the murders, and only 22 remain on ankle monitoring.