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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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In California, federal officials have indicted 24-year-old Enrique Marquez for several terrorism-related charges, claiming Marquez purchased the firearms involved in the December 2 mass shooting at the Inland Regional Center in San Bernardino, California. Authorities say Marquez is the neighbor and friend of shooting suspect Syed Rizwan Farook and that the two allegedly talked about radical Islamist ideas together. United States Attorney Eileen Decker said in a statement: “While there currently is no evidence that Mr. Marquez participated in the Dec. 2 attack or had advance knowledge of it, his prior purchase of the firearms and ongoing failure to warn authorities about Farook’s intent to commit mass murder had fatal consequences.” The charges come one day after FBI Director James Comey said that there remains no evidence either of the suspects in the San Bernardino shooting had any direct contact with any terrorist organizations. Comey also said suspect Tashfeen Malik did not pledge allegiance to ISIS on social media, contrary to widespread previous reports citing unnamed government officials.
The arrest of Enrique Marquez comes as President Obama said there is no specific and credible threat of a terrorist attack in the United States. Obama spoke at the National Counterterrorism Center in Washington on Thursday.
President Obama: “Now, I want to repeat what my team just told me. At this moment our intelligence and counterterrorism professionals do not have any specific and credible information about an attack on the homeland. That said, we have to be vigilant.”
President Obama is planning to meet privately with the families of the victims in San Bernardino mass shooting later today.
New data shows hate crimes against Muslim Americans and U.S. mosques have tripled since the Paris attacks. The hate crimes include violent assaults on students wearing headscarves, vandalism and arsons at mosques, and shootings and death threats at Muslim-owned businesses. The study was performed by the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State Univeristy, San Bernardino. It shows there have been 38 Islamophobic attacks since the Paris attacks on November 13, a little over a month ago. The frequency of recent attacks is the highest level of Islamophobic hate crimes the United States has seen since the aftermath of September 11, 2001.
In news from the campaign trail, Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders has received two key endorsements ahead of Saturday’s Democratic presidential debate. On Thursday, the 700,000-member union Communication Workers of America and the 270,000-person progressive group Democracy for America both announced they are backing Sanders. This comes as Sanders’ campaign has received 2 million individual campaign contributions.
The Democratic National Committee said it has indefinitely cut off Sanders’ access to the Democratic Party’s master voter file, after a computer glitch made some confidential data from Clinton’s campaign briefly accessible to the Sanders campaign. The Sanders campaign says it has fired a staffer who breached Clinton’s data. Being locked out of the file means the Sanders campaign will not be able access the party’s master list of likely Democratic voters, effectively grounding the campaign’s voter outreach to a halt.
A U.K.-based media watchdog group is criticizing U.S. media outlets for the coverage of Donald Trump, saying the outlets have aided the rise of his presidential campaign and the acceptance of his xenophobic rhetoric. The Ethical Journalism Network says the three major U.S. cable news outlets devoted twice as much airtime to Donald Trump than to any other Republican candidate and that the majority of this coverage did not fact-check his false claims or push back against his “unapologetically xenophobic anti-immigration rhetoric.”
In China, Beijing has issued its second-ever “red alert” for air pollution today as officials warn that toxic smog will descend upon the city for four days. Last week, Beijing issued its first-ever “red alert,” leading to the shutdown of more than 3,000 schools and the closing of factories and construction sites.
Meanwhile, a new report by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration shows this year’s Arctic temperatures are the warmest on record. The report found some areas of the Arctic experienced temperatures more than 5 degrees warmer than average. It also found “extensive” melting across more than 50 percent of Greenland’s ice sheet. Speaking at a news conference on Tuesday, NOAA chief scientist Richard Spinrad warned: “The Arctic is warming twice as fast as other parts of the planet.”
The former hedge fund manager who sparked national outrage after he hiked the price of a life-saving drug by more than 5,000 percent has been arrested on securities fraud. Prosecutors say Martin Shkreli orchestrated a Ponzi-like scheme at his former hedge fund and his startup pharmaceutical company Turing Pharmaceuticals. Robert Capers, U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of New York, announced the charges Thursday.
Robert Capers: “Today this office and the FBI are announcing the arrests this morning of Martin Shkreli and Evan Greebel and the unsealing of a seven-count indictment charging Shkreli with securities fraud conspiracy, securities fraud, and wire fraud conspiracy, and Greebel with wire fraud conspiracy.”
Martin Shkreli was freed on $5 million bond Thursday afternoon. U.S. authorities said that during the arrest they did not seize a one-of-a-kind Wu-Tang Clan album that Martin Shkreli had reportedly purchased for $2 million and then boasted that he didn’t even plan to listen to it.
In Pennsylvania, imprisoned former Black Panther and journalist Mumia Abu-Jamal is set to testify in court today on the lack of adequate medical care he’s received in prison. Abu-Jamal has been ill with symptoms of the hepatitis C virus for more than eight months, but prison officials have refused to dispense an antiviral drug that could cure him, claiming his symptoms are not “severe enough.” A hearing set to begin this morning, in which Abu-Jamal will appear via video stream from prison, will address whether he should be treated immediately. His supporters say he nearly died from untreated diabetes in March and has been suffering from serious skin rashes and swelling linked to his untreated hepatitis C virus.
The New Orleans City Council has voted to remove four monuments to the Confederacy in a 6-1 vote Thursday. Officials will soon take down statutes of General Robert E. Lee, Confederate President Jefferson Davis and other monuments. It’s the latest in a series of Confederate symbols to be targeted for removal from public spaces since a white supremacist killed nine African-American worshipers in Charleston, South Carolina, on June 17. New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu described Thursday’s vote to remove the monuments as a “courageous decision to turn a page on our divisive past and chart the course for a more inclusive future.”
And the University of Chicago has announced it will build a Level 1 adult trauma center for the South Side on its Hyde Park Medical Center. The South Side has been without a Level 1 adult trauma center since 1991, forcing residents of communities with a disproportionate amount of gun violence to travel the furthest for life-saving care. Black youth from the South Side of Chicago have waged a more than five-year-long campaign demanding the University of Chicago build this trauma center, staging dozens of protests, lockdowns and other actions. The movement was sparked by the 2010 death of 18-year-old activist Damian Turner, who was shot only blocks from the University of Chicago, but who had to travel all the way to another hospital downtown, where he died. Organizer Veronica Morris-Moore explained the significance of Thursday’s announcement.
Veronica Morris-Moore: “It means that black lives matter. It’s not just a hashtag, and it’s not just a movement. It is a reputable source for political changes. It means that people who believe that racism exists within the institutions, within the policies of this country have to organize with folks who believe what they believe and find a common issue to fight for that addresses the day-to-day lives of black people. The university has conceded its power to the demands of young black people and the people that have supported them and the community that they represent.”