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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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This comes as the French National Assembly has voted to approve President François Hollande’s plan to extend the state of emergency by three months, and to grant Hollande a sweeping expansion of state powers. The measures would include easing police raids without a warrant and allowing the government to strip citizenship from dual passport holders convicted of terrorism. The French Senate is slated to vote Friday.
In central Marseille, a young Muslim woman wearing a headscarf was punched and stabbed by a man as she exited a metro station Wednesday. She said the attacker accused her of being a terrorist before stabbing her in her chest with a box cutter. A Jewish history professor wearing a yarmulke was also stabbed in Marseille yesterday.
Members of ISIL published a photo in their online magazine Wednesday which they say shows the bomb that brought down the Russian plane over the Sinai Peninsula in Egypt last month, killing all 224 people on board. This comes one day after Russian authorities confirmed a bomb brought down a plane. An accompanying article in the magazine said the bombing was punishment for Russia’s airstrikes in Syria.
Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush has proposed deploying U.S. ground troops to fight the Islamic State. Speaking at a military college in South Carolina, Bush called for a no-fly zone over Syria, arming Kurdish forces and increasing troop presence on the ground.
Jeb Bush: “The United States should not delay in leading a global coalition to take out ISIS with overwhelming force. As the words of French President Hollande have made clear, the United States will not be alone in galvanizing this global effort. Militarily, we need to intensify our efforts in the air and on the ground. While air power is essential, it cannot bring the results we seek. The United States, in conjunction with our NATO allies and more Arab partners, will need to increase our presence on the ground.”
The House is slated to vote on legislation introduced by Republican lawmakers to restrict Iraqi and Syrian refugees from resettling in the United States. The Republican measures would require individual sign-offs by top federal officials for every person from Iraq and Syria seeking refugee status. President Obama has vowed to veto the legislation if it reaches his desk. This comes as a family of Syrian refugees who spent three years living in a camp in Jordan as they awaited placement in the United States were rerouted from Indiana and were instead resettled in Connecticut Wednesday. Indiana is one of more than two dozen states where the governors have said they do not want Syrian refugees resettled.
Meanwhile, Mayor David Bowers of Roanoke, Virginia, has sparked outrage after he cited the widespread internment of Japanese Americans during World War II in order to justify suspending the resettlement of Syrian refugees to his city. Democratic Mayor David Bowers wrote in a statement, “I’m reminded that President Franklin D. Roosevelt felt compelled to sequester Japanese foreign nationals after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, and it appears that the threat of harm to America from Isis now is just as real and serious as that from our enemies then.” The U.S. government has issued a formal apology and paid reparations to some of the more than 120,000 Japanese Americans who were illegally interned, two-thirds of whom were U.S. citizens. In response, Japanese-American actor George Takei, best known for his role as Hikaru Sulu on the television series “Star Trek,” wrote: “My family and I spent 4 years in prison camps because we happened to look like the people who bombed Pearl Harbor. It is my life’s mission to never let such a thing happen again in America.”
Tens of thousands of students at dozens of universities across the United States protested Wednesday against racism on campus in a day of action called #StudentBlackOut. The campuses included Yale University, Harvard University, Dixie State University in Utah, the University of California-Berkeley, Tufts University and Stanford University, where students held black balloons, which organizers said symbolize the weight and burden of being voiceless. The day of action was called for by the Black Liberation Collective, which issued a series of demands ahead of the mobilizations, including reparations in the form of free tuition for black and indigenous students, and school divestment from for-profit prison companies. Each university also issued a local set of demands, which range from increased funding for health services for students of color to renaming campus buildings commemorating leading proponents of slavery, such as residential dorm Calhoun College at Yale University, named after Vice President John Calhoun, one of the most prominent pro-slavery figures in history. At Princeton University in New Jersey, students occupied the president’s office, demanding cultural competency training for all staff, that the university rename buildings named after Woodrow Wilson, and that there be a cultural space dedicated specifically for black students. Inside the president’s office, Princeton students recalled how profits from the slave trade helped build the university itself.
Student protester: “Who built this place? We built this place! Who built this place? We built this place! We’re here! We’ve been here! We ain’t leaving! We are loved!”
In Minneapolis, SWAT teams fired mace and marker rounds at protesters encamped outside the 4th Precinct Wednesday, only hours after officials named the two Minneapolis police officers involved in the fatal shooting of unarmed 24-year-old African-American man Jamar Clark. Authorities said Clark was shot in the head Sunday after a scuffle with officers who responded to a report of an assault. But multiple witnesses have said Clark was shot while handcuffed. Minneapolis police officers Mark Ringgenberg and Dustin Schwarze have been placed on administrative leave during the investigation. As of Thursday morning, protesters were still camped outside the north Minneapolis precinct, despite Wednesday’s police raid, in which multiple protesters reported being beaten by police with batons and attacked with mace.
Meanwhile, in Chicago, a trove of newly released data about the Chicago Police Department shows only a fraction of the tens of thousands of civilian complaints of police misconduct since 2011 have resulted in discipline against the officers. In one case, a white officer accumulated 68 complaints against him but received no disciplinary actions. In total, the data shows that in 97 percent of the cases of complaints filed over the last four years, officers received no punishment whatsoever. The documents were released after a decade-long legal battle by the nonprofit journalism organization the Invisible Institute and the legal aid clinic at the University of Chicago Law School.
In Nigeria, two suicide bomb attacks killed as many as 15 people in a market in the northern city of Kano Wednesday, less than 24 hours after another suicide bomb killed more than 30 people at a crowded market in the northeastern city of Yola. Authorities say the militant group Boko Haram is likely responsible. This comes as a new report released this week says Boko Haram was responsible for more attacks than any other non-state militant group, including ISIL.
In Detroit, nine activists headed to a jury trial Wednesday on charges of blocking trucks from shutting off residents’ water during the summer of 2014, when the city cut off running water from tens of thousands of families. The United Nations has condemned the ongoing water shutoffs as a violation of international human rights law. Defendant Marian Kramer of Michigan Welfare Rights Organization spoke out before the opening of the trial.
Marian Kramer: “How would you like for your children drink some water early in the morning and end up with lead poisoning? How would you like you turning your faucet on and don’t have the ability to be able to wash yourself up or anything like that? That’s our basic human right, and we’re here to defend that. And the prosecutor constantly gets up talking about how she represents the people. She doesn’t represent the people, she’s representing the interests of the corporations.”
In Gary, Indiana, the for-profit prison company GEO Group has dropped plans to build an 800-bed immigration detention facility after widespread resistance from the group the Northwest Indiana Federation and Black Lives Matter Northwest Indiana-Gary. On Tuesday, Gary City Council members applauded when they heard GEO Group had withdrawn its zoning request to build the facility.
And today is the 100th anniversary of the death of legendary labor activist and songwriter Joe Hill. Born in Sweden on October 7, 1879, Hill moved to the United States and worked as a miner. He became a union activist for the Industrial Workers of the World. His famous songs include “There is Power in a Union,” “Rebel Girl” and “Casey Jones-the Union Scab.” Hill was executed by a Utah firing squad on November 19, 1915, after being convicted of murder in a controversial trial. It is widely believed he was framed for the murders because of his labor activism. On Tuesday, legendary musician Joan Baez paid tribute to Joe Hill at a concert at the Troubadour in West Hollywood, California.
Joan Baez: “Oh, where working folks defend their rights, there you’ll find Joe Hill. There you’ll find Joe Hill.”