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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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Tuesday was Election Day in the United States as voters across the country decided ballot initiatives and elected city and state leaders. In one of the most closely watched races, tea party favorite Matt Bevin won the governor’s race in Kentucky, becoming just the second Republican to hold the post in more than four decades.
In Houston, Texas, voters repealed a City Council measure barring discrimination over factors including sexual orientation and gender identity. In Ohio, voters rejected a measure that would have legalized marijuana for medical and recreational use. Many legalization advocates ended up opposing the effort because it called for giving wealthy investors who funded the campaign the exclusive rights to growing commercial marijuana in Ohio. In San Francisco, voters rejected a measure to limit short-term rentals, which would have restricted the website Airbnb. We’ll have more on local and state elections after headlines.
War-torn Yemen has been battered by a tropical cyclone, marking the first time in recorded history a tropical storm has ever made landfall there. Parts of Yemen saw as much rain in 24 hours as they usually see in several years. The port city of Mukalla, controlled by al-Qaeda militants, has been particularly hard hit by flooding. Scientists have warned of a link between stronger tropical storms and climate change.
Newly disclosed data shows China has been burning up to 17 percent more coal than the Chinese government previously reported. The news comes just weeks before international negotiators meet in Paris to try to reach an agreement on addressing climate change.
The leaders of China and Taiwan will hold a historic meeting in Singapore Saturday, marking the first such talks since the end of the Chinese civil war 66 years ago. Defeated by the Communists in 1949, the Chinese Nationalists fled to Taiwan and set up their own government. China still considers Taiwan a breakaway province.
The Obama administration says it will continue its review of the Keystone XL oil pipeline, despite a request from TransCanada, the company behind the pipeline, to suspend the process. On Monday, TransCanada told the State Department it wants to wait until Nebraska, a state along the pipeline’s route, gives its approval. But critics say TransCanada is trying to buy time until Obama leaves office, since he’s expected to reject the pipeline. State Department spokesperson Elizabeth Trudeau said the review will continue.
Elizabeth Trudeau: “TransCanada has not withdrawn their permit application. In a letter to Secretary Kerry, they requested a pause in the review process. We have received their letter to Secretary Kerry. We’re in the process of sending a response. Our review process is ongoing. So, at this stage, we’ve received the letter, we will issue a response, but we’re going to continue our review process.”
Reports have emerged rebel groups in Syria are placing detained soldiers and civilians in cages to use as shields against Syrian government attacks in Eastern Ghouta. Video footage appears to show a number of people in cages being transported by trucks. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights has accused the armed group Jaysh al-Islam of being behind the actions.
Doctors Without Borders has marked one month since the United States bombed its hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan, killing 30 people. The Pentagon has still not issued a long-delayed preliminary report on the attack. Hundreds of people gathered in Geneva Tuesday to pay tribute to the victims and continue the call for an independent probe. Doctors Without Borders President Joanne Liu said the bombing cannot be allowed to pass as a “non-event.”
Joanne Liu: “I think that we need to remember that. We need to tell the world that it’s completely abnormal. We need to not normalize such an event. If we allow this to be a non-event, then it is giving a blank check to all the countries at war in the world, to just say, 'Do whatever you want. And you know what? We don't think that a hospital is a protected space anymore.’ This is not what we want. The message today is, we do believe that the last, last patch of humanity that there is in the chaos of war is basically a hospital.”
The president of the Maldives has declared a state of emergency, giving sweeping powers to security forces ahead of an opposition rally planned by the party of jailed former President Mohamed Nasheed. Nasheed was the Maldives’ first democratically elected president, known internationally for his work on climate change. He was ousted in 2012 in what he called an armed coup by supporters of his predecessor, Maumoon Abdul Gayoom. Nasheed is now serving a 13-year sentence for ordering the arrest of a judge appointed by Gayoom. The current president, Abdulla Yameen, is Gayoom’s half-brother.
Volkswagen’s emissions cheating scandal is widening. The company has acknowledged it understated carbon dioxide emissions for about 800,000 vehicles sold in Europe. The announcement comes after U.S. regulators accused Volkswagen of installing devices in diesel-powered vehicles to increase nitrogen oxide emissions up to nine times the allowable levels. Volkswagen has already recalled millions of cars across Europe.
Meanwhile, Honda has cut ties with Japanese airbag maker Takata after U.S. regulators fined Takata $70 million on Tuesday. Takata airbag inflaters have been linked to at least eight deaths; the airbags have exploded, shooting out metal fragments.
Hundreds of refugees and migrants are now on hunger strike at the all-women T. Don Hutto detention center in Austin, Texas. The vast majority of the women are asylum seekers fleeing violence in Central America. They are demanding an end to abusive treatment—and their immediate release.
A new study finds the death rate for white, middle-aged Americans is rising, even as it declines among other groups. The spike appears to have particularly impacted people who lack a college education. Princeton economists Angus Deaton and Anne Case said the deaths appear to be the result of an epidemic of suicides, heroin and painkiller overdoses, and alcoholic liver disease.
Two police officers in St. Louis, Missouri, will not face criminal charges for killing an African-American man last year. Kajieme Powell was accused of stealing energy drinks and donuts from a convenience store. Cellphone video appears to show police shot him within 20 seconds of arriving at the scene. He appears to have a knife in his hand. The St. Louis prosecutor said officers Nicholas Shelton and Ellis Brown acted in self-defense. Powell was shot 10 days after the police killing of Michael Brown in nearby Ferguson.
Meanwhile, scrutiny is growing over the response by Colorado Springs police to a man who ended up fatally shooting three people on Saturday. That morning, Naomi Bettis called 911 to report seeing her neighbor with a rifle. But the dispatcher reportedly told Bettis about Colorado’s open carry law, which allows guns to be carried in public. A police official told Mother Jones the call was not given “the highest priority.” When Bettis called back, her neighbor, Noah Harpham, had opened fire. He killed three people before police killed him. Critics have drawn comparisons between the police response to Harpham, who is white, and the police killings of African Americans Tamir Rice and John Crawford in Ohio, which is also an open carry state. Crawford was shot for handling an unloaded BB gun in a Wal-Mart, where it was on sale; Tamir Rice, who was 12 years old, was playing with a toy gun in a park.