This week, Democracy Now! is celebrating our 22nd birthday. Since our first ever show in February 1996, our daily news hour has brought you fearless journalism and hard-hitting news you can trust. Maybe you rely on our daily headlines. Maybe you come looking for the in-depth stories that expose government and corporate abuses of power. One thing you know you can count on is that Democracy Now! is always free—you'll never hit a paywall. 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.
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.
We rely on contributions from you, our viewers and listeners to do our work. If you visit us daily or weekly or even just once a month, now is a great time to make your monthly contribution.
Please do your part today.
We’re broadcasting live from Paris, France, where diplomats, heads of states and climate negotiators are beginning the second day of negotiations for the 21st United Nations climate change summit. On Monday, nearly 150 heads of state gathered here in Paris for what organizers called the largest-ever gathering of its kind. Outside the COP21 facilities, protests continued to be banned across France. French President François Hollande has condemned the protests over the weekend, calling it “scandalous” that they would protest at the Place de la République, even though Democracy Now! original video footage shows the police, not the protesters, were the ones to trample on the flowers and candles commemorating the November 13 attacks.
President François Hollande: “This is why these protests are not authorized. We knew there would be troublemakers, who, by the way, have nothing to do with climate activists or those who want the conference to succeed, and who are there only to create problems. That’s why they were put under house arrest. And it’s doubly unfortunate, I’d even say scandalous, Place de la République, where there are all these flowers and also candles placed in memory of those who were killed by the bullets of terrorists.”
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Manuel Valls has confirmed police have raided more than 2,000 homes since France declared a three-month state of emergency following the attacks on November 13.
In Baltimore, the trial has opened for the first of six officers charged in the death of Freddie Gray, an African-American man who died from injuries sustained in police custody on April 19. His family and attorney say his voice box was crushed and his spine was “80 percent severed at his neck.” A preliminary autopsy report showed Gray died of a spinal injury. Video shot by a bystander shows Gray screaming in apparent agony as police drag him to a van. On Monday, jury selection began for the trial of Officer William Porter. Porter, who is African-American, is charged with manslaughter, assault and reckless endangerment. Protesters gathered outside the courthouse chanting: “All night, all day, we’re going to fight for Freddie Gray.”
Meanwhile, in Chicago, a white police officer who is charged with murdering 17-year-old Laquan McDonald has been freed on bond. On Monday, Officer Jason Van Dyke posted $150,000 bond and was released from jail as he awaits trial on first-degree murder charges. He was indicted last week, hours before police finally released video footage of him shooting McDonald 16 times more than a year ago. Police had claimed Laquan McDonald lunged at Officer Van Dyke with a small knife, but the video shows the teenager posing no threat and walking away from the officers at a distance. There have been daily protests in Chicago since the release of the video. On Monday, NAACP President Cornell William Brooks was among those arrested while protesting the 13-month delay in releasing the video and charging of the officer for the shooting.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has accused Turkey of downing a Russian warplane last week because it wanted to protect the flow of oil from ISIL-controlled territories in Iraq and Syria. Turkey said it shot down the plane on November 24 after warning the Russian pilots they were in Turkish airspace. But Russia says the plane did not stray from Syrian airspace. Turkey has long been accused of permitting ISIL to export hundreds of millions of dollars of oil into Turkey, where it is sold on the black market. Speaking at the U.N. global climate conference in Paris Monday, Putin said Turkey’s motives were to protect this oil flow.
President Vladimir Putin: “We have just now received additional information, confirmed, unfortunately, that from the place of the oil production, which is controlled by ISIL and other terrorist organizations, that oil in huge quantities, on an industrial scale, is being supplied to the territory of Turkey. And we have every reason to believe that the decision on whether to shoot down our plane was dictated by the desire to ensure the safety of these oil supply routes to Turkish territory.”
British Prime Minister David Cameron has said there is “no military solution” to the threat of the self-proclaimed Islamic State, even as Cameron pushes Parliament to approve his plan to begin bombing ISIS in Syria. France, Australia, Canada, Turkey and other U.S. allies have all joined the U.S.-led bombing campaign against ISIS in Syria over the past year. British opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn is opposed to the plan, but said he would permit a “free vote,” meaning that he wouldn’t instruct lawmakers from his Labour Party how to vote. Over the weekend, thousands rallied across Britain over the weekend against the plan. Speaking Monday, Prime Minister David Cameron implored lawmakers to approve the bombing in Wednesday’s vote.
Prime Minister David Cameron: “Well, I believe there’s growing support across Parliament for the compelling case there is to answer the call from our allies, to act against ISIL in Syria and in Iraq. But let’s be clear: There is no military solution to this issue. The action we are taking is part of a broader strategy—a political strategy, a diplomatic strategy, a humanitarian strategy. And in the end, the answer to what is happening in Iraq and in Syria is the same.”
In 2013, the British Parliament rejected Cameron’s proposal to begin bombing Syria in efforts to oust Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Amnesty International is warning that in Saudi Arabia 50 people, including pro-democracy activists and a prominent Palestinian poet, are facing an imminent mass execution. Among those facing execution is Ali Mohammed al-Nimr, who was arrested at the age of 17 and convicted of encouraging protests during the Arab Spring. Al-Nimr is the nephew of a prominent cleric who has also received a death sentence following pro-democracy protests. In October, Ali al-Nimr’s mother, Nusra al-Ahmed, condemned her son’s sentence in an interview with The Guardian.
Nusra al-Ahmed: “No sane human being would rule against a child of 17 years old using such a sentence. And why? He didn’t shed any blood. He didn’t steal any property. No one could accept a ruling that is so savage. It’s savage, disgusting. A judge should be in the position of a father. He should be more merciful than the attorney general.”
Also facing execution in Saudi Arabia is Palestinian poet Ashraf Fayadh, a member of the arts collective Edge of Arabia. He has been sentenced to death on charges of “apostasy” for making allegedly blasphemous statements during a discussion group and in a book of his poetry.
In the Philippines, a court has found a U.S. marine guilty of killing a transgender woman and has sentenced him to six to 12 years in jail. U.S. marine Joseph Scott Pemberton was convicted for the 2014 murder of 26-year-old Jennifer Laude, who was found dead in a hotel room near a former U.S. naval base that still frequently hosts U.S. ships. Pemberton had been charged with murder, but he was convicted of the lesser offense of homicide. The case has strained relations between the U.S. and the Philippines, with some Filipino lawmakers calling for changes to the rules permitting U.S. military forces in the country, which is a former U.S. colony. Pemberton will be temporarily held in a Filipino prison until the Philippines and U.S. government agree on where he should serve his sentence.
In Burkina Faso, former Prime Minister Roch Marc Kaboré has won the presidential election, becoming the West African nation’s first new leader in decades. Kaboré served as prime minister under longtime former President Blaise Compaoré, who was ousted in a popular uprising in 2014 after 27 years in power. Kaboré split with the longtime president early last year and formed an opposition party. Kaboré’s election comes after a brief coup attempt in September by the presidential guard, which was loyal to the former president.
In the occupied West Bank, Israeli soldiers have shot and killed two Palestinians who Israeli authorities have said were attempting to carrying out stabbing attacks. Israeli authorities say soldiers shot and killed a Palestinian man who was allegedly attempting to stab people at an intersection in the Jewish-only Etzion settlement in the West Bank. Hours later, authorities say soldiers shot dead a Palestinian woman who was allegedly attempting to stab military members outside an Israeli checkpoint near the West Bank city of Tulkarem. Since October, Israeli forces have killed nearly 100 Palestinians, while Palestinian attacks have killed 19 Israelis in the same time period.
In New York, former New York State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver has been convicted of fraud, extortion, money laundering and other charges of corruption. A Democrat, Silver had been New York Assembly speaker for over two decades, and he was one of the state’s most powerful politicians. On Monday, a federal jury convicted him of abusing his office to rake in more than $4 million in illegal bribes and kickbacks. The charges carry a maximum sentence of 130 years in prison, although he is expected to face significantly less time. Silver remains released on bond.
Hunger strikes are spreading across U.S. detention centers. On November 26, more than 100 asylum seekers at three separate facilities launched a hunger strike to demand their immediate release and an end to all deportations and detentions. This week, more than two dozen more asylum seekers joined the growing hunger strike, which is now active at detention centers in Aurora, Colorado; Pearsall, Texas; Gadsden, Alabama; and three California detention centers in Adelanto, Orange and San Diego. Hunger strikers report retaliation by authorities, including being placed in solitary confinement and being transferred to other facilities. One reported being painfully catheterized. To see our interviews with Amalia Leal and Francisca Morales Macías, two women who say they were transferred to a mostly male detention center in retaliation for going on hunger strike, you can go to democracynow.org.
The Council on American-Islamic Relations is calling on the Justice Department to investigate the shooting of a Muslim taxi driver in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, as a possible hate crime. According to the driver, who has not released his name, on November 26 he picked up a passenger outside a casino, who asked him if he was a “Pakistani guy.” The driver responded saying, “No, I’m from Morocco. But I’m an American guy.” The driver says the passenger then began to rant about ISIS, to which the driver responded that he was against ISIS. The man also satirized the Prophet Muhammad. When the driver arrived at the man’s destination, the passenger asked for him to wait, saying he’d forgotten his wallet inside. He returned with a rifle and allegedly shot the man in the back through the cab window. Alia Schindler of the Council on American-Islamic Relations in Pittsburgh called on the Justice Department to investigate.
Alia Schindler: “There’s a growing number of attacks that are taking place against the American Muslim community, and the federal officials need to make a clear statement. They need to send a clear message that these types of attacks are not acceptable and will not be tolerated, whether they’re against the American Muslim community or any minority group.”
And at Ithaca College in upstate New York, students voted overwhelmingly to cast a vote of no confidence against college president Tom Rochon, who has faced increasing calls to resign amid protests against racism on campus. The protesters accuse Rochon of responding inadequately to racist incidents, including one where an African-American alum was repeatedly called a “savage” by two white male fellow alumni.