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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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We’re broadcasting live from the 21st United Nations climate summit in Paris, France, where police have extended a ban on public demonstrations. The ban, established in the wake of the November 13 attacks, was scheduled to end Tuesday. But police extended it specifically for central Paris and for Le Bourget, where COP21 is being held, until December 13, two days after the end of the climate conference. Meanwhile, a protester arrested at Sunday’s protest at Place de la République has been sentenced to three months in jail for throwing a glass bottle which hit a police officer. A second protester has been fined more than $1,000 for refusing to have her fingerprints taken at Sunday’s protest.
In Washington, D.C., the House has voted to block federal rules to cut power plant emissions, only hours after President Obama delivered a speech at the climate summit pledging the United States would help lead the world in addressing climate change. The Environmental Protection Agency rules seek to cut carbon emissions from existing power plants and implement limits on emissions for new facilities. But the Republican-controlled House voted to block these measures Tuesday.
In India, one of the country’s oldest newspapers was not printed for the first time in 137 years due to massive rains and floods in the southern city of Chennai. On Wednesday, the daily newspaper The Hindu did not come out, because workers could not access the press. The publisher said it was the first time this has happened in the entire 137-year history of the paper. The government has deployed the army to rescue thousands of people stranded in the city as heavy flooding continues.
Pentagon officials have announced the United States is deploying more special operations troops to Iraq and Syria. Speaking to Congress Tuesday, Defense Secretary Ashton Carter said the U.S. special forces are authorized to conduct raids, gather intelligence, free hostages and capture members of ISIS. He also said the troops would conduct unilateral operations inside Syria. Facing questions from Virginia Republican Rep. Randy Forbes, Chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Joseph Dunford acknowledged the U.S. is not technically at war in Iraq or Syria, even as the military ramps up combat operations.
Rep. Randy Forbes: “You heard the secretary of defense today say both in writing and verbally that we are at war. Who declared that war?”
Gen. Joseph Dunford: “Chairman, or Representative Forbes, I think what the secretary is saying, because we discussed this, is we view the fight against ISIL as a threat to the United States, and we are mobilizing all of the military capabilities that are necessary”—
Rep. Randy Forbes: “Who would have actually made that declaration? Is that something you would make, the secretary would make, a lawyer would?”
Gen. Joseph Dunford: “If it was a technical declaration of war, it would be the Congress.”
Rep. Randy Forbes: “But has that declaration been made?”
Gen. Joseph Dunford: “No, it has not.”
Rep. Randy Forbes: “So, then, how does the secretary say we’re at war?”
Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter “Can the secretary say—say for himself?”
Rep. Randy Forbes: “I understand, but I only have five minutes.”
Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter “Well, I’m just going to tell you. I’m—by doing that, I’m not being technical.”
Rep. Randy Forbes: “Chairman, I would ask the secretary, if he wants to elaborate, he can do it in writing. He’s taking my five minutes. General Dunford, can you tell me if—as the chairman of the Joint Chiefs, if you know?”
Gen. Joseph Dunford: “We are technically not at war, Representative Forbes.”
Meanwhile, the British Parliament is debating on whether to join the U.S.-led bombing campaign in Syria against ISIS. Prime Minister David Cameron is urging lawmakers to approve the airstrikes. The opposition Labour Party has split on the issue. Opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn has long been opposed to the plan. On Tuesday, thousands rallied outside the British Parliament to voice opposition to the bombing campaign. Protester and student Hadi Nasrallah spoke out.
Hadi Nasrallah: “When they’re going to bomb ISIS, many civilians will die. Like tons of civilians will die. I’m speaking thousands, because the U.S. already killed a lot. The U.S. and allies, they already killed a lot. So if the U.K., it’s just going to make it worse.”
U.S. officials have admitted that a man who has been imprisoned for 13 years at Guantánamo Bay was captured in a case of mistaken identity. Pentagon officials conceded they wrongly believed 37-year-old Mustafa al-Aziz al-Shamiri had played a more significant role in al-Qaeda because they confused him with others who had similar names. Despite this acknowledgement, he is still imprisoned, and it is not clear if and when he may be freed. This comes as the White House has rejected the Pentagon’s draft plan for closing the Guantánamo military prison, saying it is too expensive. The Pentagon’s plan called for more than $600 million to close the prison and construct a new U.S.-based facility to hold remaining prisoners, at an annual operating cost of $300 million. The annual cost of operating the Guantánamo detention facility now is about $400 million.
In Chicago, Police Chief Garry McCarthy has been fired as protests continue over the police killing of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald, who was shot 16 times by white police officer Jason Van Dyke more than a year ago. Chicago authorities withheld the police dash cam video of the fatal shooting for more than a year and only released it last week under a court order. The footage clearly contradicts the police claim McDonald lunged at Officer Van Dyke with a small knife. Instead, the video shows the teenager posing no threat and walking away from the officers at a distance as Officer Van Dyke jumps out of his police car and fires 16 bullets into McDonald’s body. Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced Tuesday he had asked for, and received, Police Chief Garry McCarthy’s resignation. Mayor Emanuel himself is facing increasing calls to resign over what many are describing as a cover-up. In April, during the mayor’s re-election campaign, the city agreed to a preemptive $5 million settlement with Laquan McDonald’s family after they obtained video footage of the killing. The terms of the settlement, which was offered before the family even brought a lawsuit, required the video remain confidential. The settlement itself was not made public until after Emanuel’s re-election. Meanwhile, Officer Jason Van Dyke, who killed teenager Laquan McDonald, is free on bond.
Puerto Rico has made a $355 million debt payment Tuesday, even as the governor of the U.S. territory warns Puerto Rico is facing impending default. There had been speculation that Puerto Rico would default on at least some of the December 1 repayment. Puerto Rican Governor Alejandro García Padilla has long warned the U.S. territory is in a “death spiral” and that the staggering $72 billion in debt is “unpayable.”
The once-imprisoned U.S. activist Lori Berenson is returning home from Peru, where she was imprisoned for nearly two decades. She was released on parole in 2010 but was barred from leaving Peru for good until her sentence expired on Sunday. Berenson was convicted in 1996 of helping the Túpac Amaru Revolutionary Movement plan an assault on the Peruvian Congress. Berenson was tried by a hooded military judge, and prosecutors used secret evidence against her. Democracy Now! was the first to interview Berenson and broadcast her voice to the public after she was sentenced, and has long covered her case. Here’s an excerpt of our exclusive 1999 interview with Berenson in the Socabaya prison in the Andes Mountains.
Amy Goodman: “Did they present any evidence at the trial?”
Lori Berenson: “No. In the actual trial? No, absolutely nothing.”
Amy Goodman: “Are you innocent of the charges?”
Lori Berenson: “Yes, of the charges. Yes, I’m innocent of all the charges they’ve made against me.”
Amy Goodman: “Which brings us to the U.S. and what the U.S. is doing here around your case, the U.S. government. What is the U.S. doing? Are they helping?”
Lori Berenson: “There has been some pressure at certain times, but not heavy pressure. Not heavy enough pressure, at least, because I’m still here.”
Amy Goodman: “Do you think if they did put pressure, you wouldn’t be here? I mean, the U.S. administration?”
Lori Berenson: “I mean, I think, in the sense of more than the Congress in itself. I mean, all the military aid they give them and that kind of support and the patting on the back of Fujimori every time that he does anything. I think he feels like he’s fine.”
In Montgomery, Alabama, city officials have unveiled a historical marker in honor of the 60th anniversary of Rosa Parks’ arrest on a public bus on December 1, 1955, which kicked off the historic bus boycotts protesting segregation. At Tuesday’s ceremony commemorating Rosa Parks, acclaimed actress and professor Tommie Tonea Stewart spoke out.
Tommie Tonea Stewart: “Remember, it wasn’t just riding the bus. It was the water fountains. It was the right to vote. It was equal education. It was equal job opportunity. It was judging you not by the color of your skin, but the content of your character. It was not about individual persons, it was about all people. Justice started right here in Montgomery, Alabama.”
The new marker dedicated to Rosa Parks replaces a dual-sided sign which was dedicated to Rosa Parks on one side and country music star Hank Williams on the other.
And the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has released the shortlist for best documentary. Nominees include four documentaries featured on Democracy Now!: “The Look of Silence,” directed by Joshua Oppenheimer; “3 1/2 Minutes, 10 Bullets,” directed by Marc Silver; “We Come as Friends,” directed by Hubert Sauper; and “What Happened, Miss Simone?,” directed by Liz Garbus. Other nominees include Michael Moore’s upcoming documentary, “Where to Invade Next.” See our website for interviews with the directors.