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This week, Democracy Now! is celebrating our 22nd birthday. Since our first show in February 1996, our daily news hour has brought you fearless journalism and hard-hitting news you can trust--all without ads or corporate underwriting. How is this possible? Only with your support. In fact, if everyone reading this gave just $4, it would cover our operating expenses for the whole year. Right now, a generous donor will TRIPLE every donation, meaning your gift today will go three times as far. Pretty amazing, right? Please do your part. Take a moment to give right now for our 22nd birthday.
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Republican presidential candidates faced off at their third debate Wednesday night in Boulder, Colorado. This is the first debate since retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson pulled ahead of business mogul Donald Trump in the polls. The pair’s front-runner status prompted Ohio Governor John Kasich to warn that Republicans are on the verge of picking a nominee who “cannot do this job.” We’ll have more on the debate after headlines with Nation writer John Nichols, New Republic editor Jamil Smith, RH Reality Check writer Imani Gandy, and Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative reporter David Cay Johnston.
Wisconsin Republican Congressmember Paul Ryan is set to become the speaker of the House today. Ryan replaces Ohio Congressmember John Boehner, who announced his departure last month following a lengthy dispute with far-right members of his own party. Ryan spoke Wednesday after the Republican caucus backed his nomination.
Rep. Paul Ryan: “We believe that the country is on the wrong track. We think the country is headed in the wrong direction, and we have an obligation, here in the people’s House, to do the people’s business, to give this country a better way forward, to give this country an alternative. We are going to respect the people by representing the people.”
We’ll have more on Ryan later in the broadcast with Nation writer John Nichols.
In Columbia, South Carolina, the white sheriff’s deputy who was caught on camera slamming an African-American high school student to the ground in her classroom has been fired. Ben Fields was a school resource officer at Spring Valley High School. Viral video shows him grabbing the student around her neck, flipping both her and her desk to the ground and then dragging her across the floor. The student was arrested. Another student who filmed the assault was also arrested and held on a $1,000 bail. The incident reportedly began when the student refused to give her teacher her phone, which then prompted the teacher to call for outside help. Soon Deputy Sheriff Fields came into the classroom to remove her. Classmates say Fields had a reputation as being aggressive with students, who had nicknamed him “Officer Slam.” Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott announced Fields’ termination Wednesday.
Sheriff Leon Lott: “When I first saw that video—and continues to upset me when I see that video—is the fact that he picked the student up and he threw the student across the room. That is not a proper technique and should not be used in law enforcement. And based on that, that is a violation of our policy, and approximately 20 minutes ago school resource officer Ben Fields was terminated from the Richland County Sheriff’s Department.”
Officer Fields still does not face any criminal charges, though he is under federal investigation. The incident is the latest in a series of cases of police officers using excessive force against students in schools. In a recent exposé, Mother Jones documented many cases involving officers punching, tasing and even fatally shooting students. To see our full coverage of the issue nationwide, go to democracynow.org
Israeli soldiers have shot dead a Palestinian man who allegedly stabbed a soldier in the occupied West Bank city of Hebron. The soldier was lightly wounded. This comes one day after Israeli soldiers shot dead another Palestinian who allegedly attempted to stab them in Hebron. On Tuesday, Israeli forces shot dead another three Palestinians accused of attempted stabbings. At least 63 Palestinians and 11 Israelis have been killed this month. A new report by Amnesty International says Israeli forces have carried out a series of unlawful killings of Palestinians by using lethal force without justification.
In Brazil, housing activists are accusing the Rio de Janeiro city government of using the 2016 Olympics as a pretext to forcibly displace tens of thousands of residents and further segregate the city. Government data shows more than 22,000 families have been resettled since 2009 to make way for infrastructure projects related to the Games. The evictions have led to violent crackdowns by local police, particularly in the favelas. Resident Ocimar da Silva Miranda, who said he was hit by a rubber bullet shot during a protest earlier this summer, said: “We have the right to live here, but they want to take it by force. The mayor is using our lives, our homes, as a way to pay back the loans from the big construction companies that financed his campaign.”
In Japan, police have dragged away about a hundred elderly protesters blocking construction of a proposed new U.S. military base on the island of Okinawa. The rally was held as the central government resumed building despite a lack of permits. The governor of Okinawa revoked the construction permit at the site earlier this month, citing “legal flaws.” But Tokyo’s Transport Ministry overruled. The majority of Okinawa’s residents oppose the new base. Okinawa houses about 26,000 U.S. troops. Their presence has come under protest for decades.
China has ended its one-child policy, permitting all families to have two children for the first time in decades. The one-child policy was implemented in the 1970s amid China’s booming population. The new shift now comes amid an aging citizenry and a shrinking number of those at working age.
Jailed Saudi blogger Raif Badawi has been awarded the European Parliament’s Sakharov human rights prize. Badawi was arrested in 2012 after setting up a website for political and social debate. He was sentenced in January to 1,000 lashes and 10 years in prison. European Parliament President Martin Schulz urged Saudi King Salman “to free him, so he can accept the prize.”
New details have emerged about the 2011 raid that killed Osama bin Laden. The New York Times reports four Obama administration lawyers worked in secret for weeks ahead of the raid to devise a legal justification for it. According to the Times, the four lawyers were CIA general counsel Stephen Preston, National Security Council legal adviser Mary DeRosa, Joint Chiefs of Staff legal adviser James Crawford and Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson, who was at the time the Pentagon’s general counsel. The framework they created reportedly allowed the Obama administration to send U.S. ground forces into Pakistan without Pakistani consent, to explicitly authorize a lethal mission, to delay telling Congress until the raid was completed and to bury a wartime enemy at sea. Stephen Preston reportedly said in the days leading up to the raid, “We should memorialize our rationales because we may be called upon to explain our legal conclusions, particularly if the operation goes terribly badly.” Investigative reporter Seymour Hersh has raised significant questions about the Obama administration’s account of the raid, reporting that top Pakistani military leaders knew about the operation and provided key assistance.
Financial giant Goldman Sachs has been fined $50 million after an employee stole secret information from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York in a case that highlights the revolving door between the government and Wall Street. Rohit Bansal had formerly worked for the New York Federal Reserve for seven years. When he was hired by Goldman in 2014, he was told by the Fed’s ethics board he could not help advise a client that he had been overseeing while at the Fed. Although Goldman knew about this restriction, the company assigned him to this case anyway. He then “schemed to steal confidential regulatory and government documents” to help advise the client, regulators say. The revolving door between regulatory agencies and the banking industry is a particular occurrence at Goldman Sachs. The current head of the New York Fed, William Dudley, is a former Goldman executive.
U.S. military officials scrambled Wednesday to capture a billion-dollar unmanned surveillance blimp that broke free of its moorings in Maryland and drifted across Pennsylvania, downing power lines and knocking out electricity for tens of thousands of residents. The blimp has the capacity to surveil a region the size of Texas. Built by military contractor Raytheon, there are only two of these blimps in the world. Each effectively costs $1.4 billion. The U.S. military has another surveillance blimp, of a different model, that floats over Kabul at all times.
An African-American man has applied for asylum in Canada, saying he fears he will be killed by police in the United States because he is black. Thirty-year-old Kyle Lydell Canty argued at his immigration hearing in Vancouver that black people are “being exterminated at an alarming rate.” He cited the deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner as evidence. He also said that he’s lived in six U.S. states throughout his life and that in every one he has been harassed by police.
Kyle Lydell Canty: “I came to Canada to claim asylum under Refugee Act, because the United States of America is corrupt. They’re consistently killing black people. It’s documented. The United Nations has condemned America for their racial disparities, for their police brutality. And honestly, I kept on getting harassed by cops for no reason, false charges, a false arrest. I’m not just the only one going through it. All black people in America are going through the same thing.”
And in Alberta, Canada, oil giant Shell has abandoned its plans for a massive tar sands mine, citing concerns that there aren’t enough pipelines to transport the crude oil. This comes after Shell also canceled its plans to drill in the Arctic. The construction of major pipelines such as Enbridge’s Northern Gateway pipeline and TransCanada’s Energy East pipeline, that would help move Alberta tar sands, have been delayed by massive resistance, especially by First Nations. In Ontario, Anishinaabe women disrupted one of TransCanada’s town hall meetings over the proposed pipeline in 2014.
Protester 1: “You guys are not welcome on Anishinaabe territory.”
Protester 2: “That’s coming from the women.”
Protester 3: “You’re not welcome here.”
TransCanada representative: “OK, thank you. Listen, if we’re not going to be able to
present information in a—”
Protester 4: “Your information is lies.”
TransCanada representative: “OK.”
Protester 4: “Your information is lies. You’re raping Mother Earth. You’re poisoning our water. You’re not listening to the women. We’re talking about our grandchildren and future generations. What are you going to tell your grandchildren? And what are your grandchildren going to tell their children when there’s no water?”
Today, Shell reported a loss of $7.4 billion for the third quarter of this year. That’s compared with a profit of $4.5 billion in the same quarter a year earlier. Shell’s losses are caused by declining revenue from low oil prices and the company having wasted billions on the now-canceled tar sands and Arctic projects.