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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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Doctors Without Borders is demanding an independent inquiry into a suspected U.S. airstrike on an Afghan hospital that killed 22 people in the city of Kunduz, saying it may be a war crime. The attack Saturday killed 12 staff members and 10 patients, including three children. At least three dozen people were injured. The strikes reportedly continued for 30 minutes after the United States and Afghan militaries were informed by telephone that the hospital was being bombed. Kunduz has been the scene of fierce fighting since the Taliban seized the city last week. On Sunday, Doctors Without Borders announced it would have to withdraw from Kunduz, where it operated the only free trauma care hospital in northern Afghanistan. We’ll have more on the story after headlines.
In northern Syria, airstrikes have killed a family of five and a rescue worker who was searching for victims of the attack on Saturday. It is unclear who carried out the airstrike. The region has been regularly bombed by the Syrian government and now by Russia, which began bombing Syria last week.
In other news from Syria, the self-proclaimed Islamic State has destroyed another key monument in the ancient city of Palmyra. The reported destruction of the Arch of Triumph comes after ISIL already destroyed two temples at Palmyra, described by UNESCO as one of the most important cultural centers of the ancient world.
In South Carolina, at least eight people have been killed amid “once in a millennium” floods. Roads and buildings have buckled, a swath of a major highway has been shut down, and hundreds of people have had to be rescued from the rising waters. More than a foot of rain fell overnight in the capital Columbia, where all residents have been told to boil their water before drinking it. South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley said the rain is a “thousand-year level.”
Gov. Nikki Haley: “When you think about what we’re sitting in right now, we are at a thousand-year level of rain in parts of the Lowcountry. What does that mean? We haven’t seen this level of rain in the Lowcountry in a thousand years. That’s how big this is. That’s what South Carolina is dealing with right now. The Congaree River is at its highest level since 1936.”
Meanwhile, the search continues for the missing cargo ship El Faro, which disappeared during Hurricane Joaquin with 33 people on board. Scientists have warned intensified hurricanes and flooding are being fueled by climate change. We’ll have more on climate change later in the broadcast.
In Guatemala, at least 130 have died and more than 300 more are still missing after a landslide buried parts of El Cambray, a village about 10 miles east of Guatemala City. The landslide was caused by heavy rain and flooding in the region.
The United States and 11 other Pacific Rim countries have reached an agreement on the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a trade pact encompassing about 40 percent of the global economy. The deal could be announced as early as today after negotiators meeting behind closed doors in Atlanta, Georgia, reportedly reached a deal on the so-called death sentence clause, extending drug company monopolies on medicines. The United States and drug companies had pressed for longer monopolies on new biotech drugs, while multiple countries opposed the push, saying it could deny life-saving medicines to patients who cannot afford high prices. The compromise reportedly includes monopolies of between five and eight years. At least four people have been arrested protesting the secret negotiations over the TPP, which they say will aid corporations at the expense of health, environmental and labor protections. If a deal is reached, Congress will have at least 90 days to review the TPP before President Obama can sign it.
Tensions are escalating between Turkey and Russia after Turkey reportedly intercepted a Russian warplane flying in its airspace over the weekend. This comes as Turkey has issued a sharp condemnation of Russia’s airstrikes in Syria.
Meanwhile, Turkey’s interior minister has launched an investigation into possible human rights abuses by Turkish security forces after an image surfaced on social media appearing to show a government security truck dragging a corpse through the streets of the southeastern town of Sirnak. The town has seen intense fighting in recent days between Turkish forces and Kurdish militants.
Israel has barred Palestinians from entering Jerusalem’s Old City unless they live in the neighborhood, amid escalating clashes in Jerusalem and across the occupied West Bank. This comes after two Israeli men were stabbed to death in Jerusalem on Saturday by a Palestinian man who was later killed by police. Israeli troops also shot and killed a Palestinian teenager in the West Bank on Sunday. The Red Crescent says more than 90 Palestinians have been shot and wounded by Israeli security forces or Jewish settlers with either live ammunition or rubber-coated steel bullets since Saturday. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is vowing a “fight to the death against Palestinian terror.”
In the United States, the father of the gunman who killed nine people last week at Umpqua Community College in Oregon has criticized U.S. gun policies, which allowed his son to amass an arsenal of weapons. Ian Mercer, father of Chris Harper-Mercer, made the comments in an interview with CNN.
Ian Mercer: “The question that I would like to ask is: How on Earth could he compile 13 guns? How can that happen? You know, they talk about gun laws, they talk about gun control. Every time something like this happens, they talk about it, and nothing is done. I’m not trying to say that that’s to blame for what happened, but if Chris had not been able to get a hold of 13 guns, it wouldn’t have happened.”
An autopsy has confirmed Chris Harper-Mercer killed himself, after killing eight of his classmates and a professor. Meanwhile, in Northern California four high school students have been arrested as part of what authorities are calling a highly detailed mass shooting plot at their high school. No weapons have been found.
Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush has come under criticism for his response to the massacre in Oregon. Speaking Friday afternoon, Bush said “stuff happens.”
Jeb Bush: “We’re in a difficult time in our country, and I don’t think more government is necessarily the answer to this. I think we need to reconnect ourselves with everybody else. It’s just — it’s very sad to see. But I resist the notion, and I did — I had this challenge as governor, because we had — look, stuff happens. There’s always a crisis, and the impulse is always to do something, and it’s not necessarily the right thing to do.”
Fellow Republican presidential contender Donald Trump also argued against gun control in the wake of the Oregon shooting, saying on NBC’s Meet the Press mass shooters are “geniuses in a certain way. They are going to be able to break the system.”
In more news from the campaign trail, Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders drew a massive crowd of 20,000 people in Boston Saturday as he continues to lead Hillary Clinton in polls in New Hampshire and Iowa. The rally was the largest for a presidential primary candidate in Massachusetts in recent history.
Members of the Boston chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine say they were approached by police at Saturday’s Bernie Sanders rally in Boston and told the Sanders campaign was asking them to take down their signs, which read “Will Ya #FeelTheBern 4 Palestine?” The activists say that after they began filming the interaction, they were told they had to leave or face arrest for “verbal trespassing.”
Education Secretary Arne Duncan has announced he is stepping down in December. President Obama has named Deputy Education Secretary John B. King Jr. as acting education secretary, avoiding a Senate battle to confirm a replacement for Duncan. King previously served as New York state’s education commissioner, where he came under criticism for advocating high-stakes standardized testing linked to teacher evaluations, policies which have sparked a historic statewide testing boycott by students and parents. Arne Duncan has faced criticism for advocating similar policies at the national level.
Utah Congressmember Jason Chaffetz is making a bid to replace John Boehner as speaker of the House, challenging Boehner’s presumed successor, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy. Chaffetz has been a leading critic of Planned Parenthood during recent House hearings targeting the organization.
Alabama has announced plans to shutter 31 driver’s license offices in areas which are disproportionately African-American. The move comes after the state approved a voter ID law requiring a government-issued ID to vote. Birmingham News columnist John Archibald wrote: “Every single county in which blacks make up more than 75 percent of registered voters will see their driver license office closed. Every one.”
The Vatican has fired a high-ranking Polish priest after he came out as gay on the eve of a key meeting of world bishops to discuss topics including homosexuality. Monsignor Krzysztof Charamsa said coming out was a difficult decision within the Catholic Church, which opposes homosexuality.
Monsignor Krzysztof Charamsa: “My decision to 'come out' is a very personal decision in the homophobic world of the Catholic Church. It has been very difficult and very hard. I ask that you keep in mind this reality that is difficult to understand for anyone who has not lived through an identical passage in their own life.”
The Vatican’s decision to fire Charamsa comes after Pope Francis’ visit to the United States, where he drew criticism for meeting with Kim Davis, the county clerk in Kentucky who has refused to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. But the Vatican now says Davis was among “several dozen invited by the Nunciature” to greet Pope Francis as he arrived and that the meeting “should not be considered a form of support of her position in all of its particular and complex aspects.” The Vatican said the only “real audience” granted by Francis was with a former student, whom CNN identified as Yayo Grassi, an openly gay man who brought his partner to the meeting with the pope.
A 15-year-old boy who is believed to be the youngest person convicted of terrorism charges in Britain has been sentenced to at least five years in prison for sending thousands of online messages to extremists in Australia. In the messages, he allegedly plotted to behead police officers during an upcoming Australian military parade. The boy was not accused of taking any actions beyond sending messages online. At his sentencing, the judge said: “Had the authorities not intervened [the teenager] would have continued to play his part hoping and intending that the outcome would be the deaths of a number of people.”
Three scientists have won the Nobel Prize for medical breakthroughs in treatments for parasitic diseases that afflict more than a third of the world’s population. Irish scientist William Campbell and Japanese scientist Satoshi Omura developed a new drug that has lowered the incidence of fatal diseases caused by parasitic worms. They shared the award with Chinese scientist Youyou Tu, who developed a drug that has significantly reduced death rates from malaria.
And Australia has deported American anti-choice extremist Troy Newman, head of the militant anti-abortion group Operation Rescue. The group is known for its targeted harassment of abortion clinic workers, including murdered abortion provider Dr. George Tiller. Newman had planned to travel to Australia for an anti-choice speaking tour, but Australian authorities cancelled his visa amid fears his rhetoric could lead to violence against women and medical professionals. Newman attempted to enter Australia illegally without the visa, but was detained and deported. Australian Parliament member Terri Butler said Newman had flouted Australian law.
Terri Butler: “The guy got on a plane knowing he didn’t have a visa and tried to get in past immigration and customs. I mean, you can’t get more contemptuous of Australian law than that.”
Troy Newman says he plans to attempt to enter Australia again.