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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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Canadian voters have unseated right-wing Prime Minister Stephen Harper after nearly a decade in office. In a surprise result following the closest election campaign in recent history, the centrist Liberals jumped from third place to a parliamentary majority. Liberal leader Justin Trudeau becomes Canada’s next prime minister.
Prime Minister-elect Justin Trudeau: “Canadians have spoken. You want a government with a vision and with an agenda for this country that is positive and ambitious and hopeful. Well, my friends, I promise you tonight that I will lead that government. I will make that vision a reality. I will be that prime minister.”
The son of late Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, Justin Trudeau will be Canada’s second-youngest prime minister. We’ll go to Canada for more after headlines.
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is visiting Israel and the Occupied Territories today amid a spate of Palestinian stabbing attacks and an intensified Israeli crackdown. In the latest violence, Israeli forces killed a Palestinian man near Hebron in the occupied West Bank after they say he tried to stab an Israeli soldier. In a separate incident near Hebron today, an Israeli man was run over and killed by a Palestinian truck driver, who later turned himself in and said it was an accident. Overnight, Israeli security forces arrested more than 30 Palestinians in the West Bank, including top Hamas official Hassan Yousef, whom the Israeli government accuses of inciting the recent violence.
The Pentagon has acknowledged U.S. and Afghan troops drove a military vehicle through a locked gate at a Doctors Without Borders hospital in Kunduz. The incident came nearly two weeks after the United States bombed the hospital, killing at least 24 people. Doctors Without Borders had said a U.S. tank rammed through a gate and “damaged property, destroyed potential evidence and caused stress and fear.” A Pentagon spokesperson says the troops were trying to inspect the site and broke through the gate “in the interests of safety and in the belief that [Doctors Without Borders] personnel were not on site.”
In Syria, the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says Russian airstrikes have killed at least 45 people, including a top commander from a U.S.-backed rebel group. Russia said it was targeting ISIL militants in the area. The news comes as NATO and its allies have launched their largest military exercise in more than a decade. NATO Deputy Secretary General Alexander Vershbow voiced concern over Russia’s actions in Ukraine and Syria.
Alexander Vershbow: “The last time NATO regularly held exercises of this magnitude, we were in the midst of the Cold War facing the Soviet threat. Now we have a far more unstable and potentially more dangerous situation. In the east, Russia has illegally annexed Crimea, it continues to support the separatists in eastern Ukraine, and it now appears to have entered the war in Syria firmly on the side of (Syrian President) Assad. And to our south, from Syria to Libya, failed and failing states have opened the door to extremists and terrorist groups eager to fill the vacuum.”
In Germany, tens of thousands of demonstrators and counterdemonstrators gathered in the eastern city of Dresden as the right-wing, anti-Islam Pegida party marked its first anniversary. The regional chairman of the Green Party, Jürgen Kasek, was among those to protest Pegida.
Jürgen Kasek: “We have experienced a year in which divisions have become more deeply entrenched in society, a year in which the situation has become ever more radical and when anybody expressing a different opinion—media representatives, for example—are no longer safe on the streets on Mondays. Therefore, I believe it is extremely important and necessary to send a clear message today and then not to break off, but to continually make it clear that there must be opposition to attitudes that are hostile toward human beings.”
The rallies in Germany came as thousands of refugees seeking to reach Germany and other countries have been stranded in the rain and cold at borders in the Balkans as nations restrict entry.
In France, Marine Le Pen, leader of the far-right National Front, is going on trial today on charges of hate speech. At a rally in 2010, Le Pen compared Muslim public prayers to the Nazi occupation.
In South Africa, Olympic and Paralympic runner Oscar Pistorius has been released under house arrest after serving less than a year in jail for fatally shooting his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, through a locked bathroom door. He claimed he mistook her for an intruder. Pistorius was found guilty of culpable homicide, but prosecutors are appealing, saying he should be convicted of murder.
A British journalist has been found dead in Turkey under mysterious circumstances, and her colleagues are calling for an international investigation. Jacqueline Sutton, a former BBC journalist and Iraq country director for the Institute for War and Peace Reporting, was reportedly found dead in the bathroom at Atatürk Airport in Istanbul over the weekend, where she was supposed to board a flight to Iraq. Turkish media reported her death as a suicide, but her colleagues are questioning that account. Her predecessor at the Institute for War and Peace Reporting was killed in a car bomb attack in Iraq in May.
Texas has become the latest state to announce it is cutting off Medicaid funding to Planned Parenthood in the wake of heavily edited videos that show Planned Parenthood officials discussing the donation of fetal tissue to medical researchers. Multiple state and congressional investigations have found no wrongdoing by Planned Parenthood. In a statement, Planned Parenthood said: “It is completely outrageous that Texas officials are using thoroughly discredited, fraudulent videos to cut women off from preventive health care, including cancer screenings, HIV testing, and birth control.” The move by Texas came just hours after a federal court blocked Louisiana from cutting off Medicaid funds to Planned Parenthood.
The European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights has filed a criminal complaint against Alfreda Frances Bikowsky, a top CIA official accused of participating in the torture of Khalid El-Masri. El-Masri is a German citizen who was seized in Macedonia in 2003 as part of the CIA’s rendition program. He was beaten, sodomized and held in a secret prison in Afghanistan for months before being abandoned by the CIA on a hillside in Albania.
U.S. officials are investigating claims high school students hacked CIA Director John Brennan’s personal email account. The hackers released a spreadsheet showing the names, contact information and Social Security numbers of more than 20 alleged CIA employees. The hackers said Brennan was storing sensitive information in his personal AOL account. A teenager identifying himself as the hacker told the New York Post he was motivated by opposition to U.S. foreign policy and support for Palestine.
Ohio is delaying all executions until at least 2017 as it struggles to renew its supply of lethal injection drugs. Ohio has been unable to replenish supplies after European pharmaceutical firms began blocking the use of their drugs in U.S. executions.
The student government at the University of Mississippi will vote today on whether to seek removal of the Mississippi state flag from campus grounds. The flag features the Confederate battle symbol in its upper left corner, making it the only state flag in the country that continues to use the Confederate battle flag in its design. It’s the latest public Confederate symbol to face possible removal since a white supremacist who embraced the flag killed nine African-American worshipers in Charleston, South Carolina, four months ago. Meanwhile, commissioners in Greene County, Tennessee, have voted against a proposal to fly the Confederate flag over their courthouse for the first time. Greene County never flew the Confederate flag during the Civil War because of its close ties with the Union. We’ll have more with students at the University of Mississippi seeking to take down the state flag later in the broadcast.
In Missouri, officials are investigating a spate of arson attacks on predominantly black churches in the St. Louis area. Over the course of less than two weeks, six churches have been damaged after their front doors were set alight.
In Maryland, an African-American transgender woman has been murdered in what police say may be a hate crime. Twenty-one-year-old Zella Ziona was shot in the head in Montgomery Village Thursday night. Her friend, Jasmine Black, spoke to the local NBC station.
Jasmine Black: “She just wanted to embrace her life. She wanted to show the world how to be transgender. She helped people. She inspired somebody else named Chris to come out and be himself, because it’s hard for people to be theirselves.”
Zella Ziona is the 22nd transgender or gender nonconforming person murdered this year, the highest number ever recorded.
And in Pawtucket, Rhode Island, city and state police say they will investigate a school resource officer’s tackling of a 14-year-old high school student. Eight teenagers and two adults were arrested Thursday after gathering to protest the tackling. Cellphone video shows one student lying face-down on the floor as an officer grabs a second student around the neck and slams him down.
Meanwhile in nearby Providence, protesters continue to show solidarity with a Dunkin’ Donuts worker who faced calls for her firing when she wrote “#BlackLivesMatter” on a police officer’s cup. On Friday, activists gathered outside the police station and offered free coffee in cups marked “#BlackLivesMatter” to about 30 officers—only one officer accepted the coffee.