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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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A powerful 7.5-magnitude earthquake has struck northern Afghanistan with tremors felt as far away as Pakistan and northern India. Scores of people are reported dead with the toll expected to rise. Agence France-Presse reports at least 52 people have been killed in Pakistan alone. The Associated Press reports at least 12 students at a girls’ school in Afghanistan were killed in a stampede attempting to flee their shaking building. Aid groups are warning the damage could disproportionately impact people already displaced by violence in Afghanistan. In 2005, a 7.6-magnitude earthquake in the region killed more than 75,000 people.
Leaders from the European Union and the Balkans have agreed to a plan to address the wave of refugees attempting to reach Germany and other European countries before winter. The plan ramps up efforts to register the refugees and makes room for 100,000 people in reception centers in Greece and other countries. Nearly 250,000 refugees, many fleeing violence in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan, have crossed through the Balkans since mid-September.
Violence is continuing in Israel and the Occupied Territories. Earlier today, Israeli forces shot and killed a teenage Palestinian accused of stabbing an Israeli in Hebron. A day earlier, Israeli border police shot and killed a 17-year-old girl at a border checkpoint. Police said the girl approached officers with a knife, but a witness told CNN the accused assailant was a “terrified schoolgirl” who raised her arms, saying, “I don’t have a knife.” Close to 60 Palestinians have now been killed by Israeli security forces this month, about 30 of whom were accused of attacking Israelis. Ten Israelis have been killed in Palestinian attacks.
Meanwhile, video has gone viral of a masked Israeli settler armed with a knife attacking the co-founder of the group Rabbis for Human Rights, Rabbi Arik Ascherman. We’ll speak with Rabbi Ascherman later in the broadcast in Jerusalem.
Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair has issued a qualified apology for the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, saying he’s sorry for “mistakes” made during the war, but not for the ouster of Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein. Blair made the comments in response to questions from CNN’s Fareed Zakaria.
Fareed Zakaria: “When people look at the rise of ISIS, many people point to the invasion of Iraq as the principal cause. What do you say to that?”
Tony Blair: “I think there are elements of truth in that. But I think we’ve, again, got to be extremely careful; otherwise we’ll misunderstand what’s going on in Iraq and in Syria today. Of course, you can’t say that those of us who removed Saddam in 2003 bear no responsibility for the situation in 2015.”
The remnants of Hurricane Patricia have moved east after drenching parts of Texas with more than a foot of rain. The strongest hurricane ever recorded, Patricia made landfall Friday evening on Mexico’s Pacific Coast, uprooting trees and power lines and setting off mudslides with winds of 165 miles per hour. But the damage was blunted by mountainous terrain, and Patricia was quickly downgraded. Despite fears of mass casualties, there have been no confirmed fatalities from the storm in Mexico. Scientists have warned stronger hurricanes like Patricia will result from climate change.
The storm came as climate negotiators in Bonn, Germany, wrapped up preliminary climate talks ahead of an upcoming summit in Paris November 30. Despite an emotional appeal from Mexico’s envoy, negotiators failed to reach agreement on key issues. Friends of the Earth called their inaction “a calamity for people across the world.”
A leaked draft of a massive trade deal being negotiated between the United States and European Union appears to violate an EU pledge to uphold environmental protections. The Guardian reports the leaked text “contains only vaguely phrased and non-binding commitments to environmental safeguards,” despite EU promises to the contrary.
Indonesian President Joko Widodo is meeting with President Obama at the White House today. Indonesia is currently deciding whether to join the massive Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal, or TPP. Human rights groups are urging Obama to address human rights abuses in Indonesia, including reports of prisoner torture.
In Guatemala, Jimmy Morales, a right-leaning, former television comedian with no government experience has won the presidency after less than half of eligible voters cast ballots. Guatemala is reeling from a corruption scandal which landed former President Otto Pérez Molina in jail. Meanwhile, Argentina is headed for a presidential runoff next month. In Haiti, election results are not yet in. And in Poland, the right-wing Law and Justice party has retaken control for the first time in nearly a decade.
In a major turnaround on education, President Obama has called for steps to curb reliance on standardized testing, including ensuring students spend no more than 2 percent of classroom instructional time on standardized tests. The Obama administration also acknowledged its own role in advancing the overemphasis on testing. This comes after boycotts of standardized tests across the country, from Seattle to New York.
A New York Times investigation has found police in Greensboro, North Carolina, pull over African-American drivers for traffic violations at a disproportionate rate and search black drivers or their cars more than twice as often as white drivers. Across four states that track searches made with a driver’s consent, officers were more likely to search African-American drivers, but less likely to find contraband than if the driver was white.
New Jersey governor and Republican presidential candidate Chris Christie has accused President Obama of advocating “lawlessness” for voicing support for the Black Lives Matter movement. Christie made the comments in an interview on CBS’s Face the Nation.
Gov. Chris Christie: “The problem is this: There’s lawlessness in this country. The president encourages this lawlessness. He encourages it.”
John Dickerson: “Encourages it how?”
Gov. Chris Christie: “Oh, by his own rhetoric. He does not support the police. He doesn’t back up the police. He justifies Black Lives Matter. I mean—”
John Dickerson: “But Black Lives Matter shouldn’t be justified at all?”
Gov. Chris Christie: “Listen, I don’t believe that that movement should be justified when they’re calling for the murder of police officers, no.”
Governor Christie’s remarks came after FBI Director James Comey said added scrutiny and criticism of police officers amid protests over police brutality may have fueled an increase in violent crime because officers are less aggressive. On Saturday, as thousands rallied in New York City against police brutality as part of Rise Up October, I asked Professor Cornel West to respond to Comey’s remarks.
Cornel West: “He has no empirical data whatsoever. I think he’s lying, and it’s part of the backlash of our resistance. Thank God the spirit of Ferguson is still strong. And in the name of all of those, the Tourés and the Tef Poes and others, we’re going to keep this movement strong and intense, and you can see it among our wonderful folk here.”
The leader of the New York Police Department’s union has called for a boycott of director Quentin Tarantino’s films after Tarantino participated in the Rise Up October protests Saturday. Meanwhile, civil rights leader Al Sharpton and his National Action Network rallied Saturday to honor the African-American police officer shot and killed last week in East Harlem. The New York Daily News reports Sharpton will speak at Officer Randolph Holder’s funeral next week in a call for unity.
The Black Lives Matter network has rejected the Democratic National Committee’s offer of a town hall meeting with presidential candidates, saying they want a formal debate. About 25,000 people have signed a petition calling on the DNC to allow more debates ahead of the election, including one dedicated to the theme of Black Lives Matter.
Republican presidential candidate Dr. Ben Carson has said abortion should be illegal in all cases, including rape and incest. Carson, who is now leading in the key caucus state of Iowa over front-runner Donald Trump, made the remarks on NBC’s Meet the Press in response to a question from Chuck Todd.
Chuck Todd: “What if somebody has an unwanted pregnancy? Should they have the right to terminate?”
Ben Carson: “No. Think about this. During slavery—and I know that’s one of those words you’re not supposed to say, but I’m saying it. During slavery, a lot of the slaveowners thought that they had the right to do whatever they wanted to that slave—anything that they chose to do. And, you know, what if the abolitionists had said, 'You know, I don't believe in slavery. I think it’s wrong. But you guys do whatever you want to do’? Where would we be?”
In other news from the campaign trail, Democratic candidate and former Rhode Island Governor Lincoln Chafee has dropped out of the race. Chafee was polling at less than 1 percent.
And here in New York City, protesters gathered outside the Dominican Consulate Friday to show support for Pulitzer Prize-winning, Dominican-born author Junot Díaz. Last week the Dominican consul in New York called Díaz “anti-Dominican” and stripped him of his 2009 Order of Merit Award for protesting the Dominican government’s moves to deport hundreds of thousands of people of Haitian descent. Díaz lobbied against the deportations in Washington, D.C., last week alongside Haitian-American writer Edwidge Danticat.