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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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The Federal Communications Commission has voted in favor of historic rules to preserve a free and open Internet. After a record four million public comments, the FCC approved rules to prevent corporate Internet service providers from blocking access to websites, slowing down content or providing paid fast lanes for Internet service. This is FCC Chair Tom Wheeler.
Tom Wheeler: “This is no more a plan to regulate the Internet than the First Amendment is a plan to regulate free speech. They both stand for the same concept: openness, expression and an absence of gatekeepers telling people what they can do, where they can go and what they can think. The action that we take today is about the protection of Internet openness.”
We will have more on net neutrality after headlines.
Congress appears set to avert a partial shutdown of the Department of Homeland Security just hours before the agency runs out of money. Republicans have repeatedly sought to tie the funding to a reversal of Obama’s executive actions on immigration. But House Republicans appear poised to back a clean stopgap measure to fund the agency for another three weeks, postponing the battle.
More information has emerged about the British man nicknamed “Jihadi John” who has appeared in Islamic State beheading videos. Mohammed Emwazi is a 26-year-old born in Kuwait who moved to Britain as a child and studied computer science at the University of Westminster. The British group CAGE said he faced at least four years of harassment, detention, deportations, threats and attempts to recruit him by security agencies, which prevented him from leading a normal life. Emwazi approached CAGE in 2009 after he was detained and interrogated by the British intelligence agency MI5 on what he called a safari vacation in Tanzania. In 2010, after Emwazi was barred from returning to Kuwait, he wrote, “I had a job waiting for me and marriage to get started. But know [sic] I feel like a prisoner, only not in a cage, in London.” In 2013, a week after he was barred from Kuwait for a third time, Emwazi left home and ended up in Syria. At a news conference, CAGE research director Asim Qureshi spoke about his recollections of Emwazi and compared his case to another British man, Michael Adebolajo, who hacked a soldier to death in London in 2013.
Asim Qureshi: “Sorry, it’s quite hard, because, you know, he’s such a — I’m really sorry, but he was such a beautiful young man, really. You know, it’s hard to imagine the trajectory, but it’s not a trajectory that’s unfamiliar with us, for us. We’ve seen Michael Adebolajo, once again, somebody that I met, you know, who came to me for help, looking to change his situation within the system. When are we going to finally learn that when we treat people as if they’re outsiders, they will inevitably feel like outsiders, and they will look for belonging elsewhere?”
The United Nations has reported “credible and reliable” accounts of torture at U.S. military facilities in Afghanistan which took place in 2013. The torture was reported by prisoners at two U.S. facilities north and west of the capital Kabul. The United Nations also detailed the ongoing torture of prisoners by the U.S.-backed Afghan government.
There is a new development in the case of a U.S. soldier who went AWOL in 2007 and sought asylum in Germany because he opposed the war in Iraq. The Luxembourg-based European Court of Justice ruled that to obtain asylum, André Shepherd would need to show that he would have been involved in war crimes if he had followed orders to deploy to Iraq. Shepherd spoke Thursday in Munich.
André Shepherd: “What happens when you have a soldier, such as myself, who isn’t a conscientious objector from the perspective that I want to reject every single war, because of course defensive wars I find to be okay? You have to defend yourself, of course. But Iraq wasn’t one of those. They didn’t help the Iraqi people at all. They certainly didn’t help the American people at all. And all we have is senseless death and destruction, and, of course, the rise of ISIS. So, why would I want to take part in that?”
The final decision in Shepherd’s case will be made by a German court.
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker has compared militants from the self-proclaimed Islamic State to pro-union labor protesters in Wisconsin. Thousands of protesters have flooded the Capitol over an anti-union right-to-work bill passed by the state Senate this week. We will have more on Wisconsin later in the broadcast.
In Argentina, a judge has rejected a late prosecutor’s allegations Argentine President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner helped cover up Iran’s role in the 1994 bombing of a Jewish center that killed 85 people. The prosecutor, Alberto Nisman, was found dead a day before he was due to testify on his findings. But Judge Daniel Rafecas ruled there was no evidence to support Nisman’s claims.
The Obama administration is sending two top diplomats to the annual gathering of the powerful pro-Israel group AIPAC. The conference opens Sunday just two days before Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is set to address Congress in a bid to undermine the Obama administration’s attempts at a nuclear deal with Iran. White House National Security Adviser Susan Rice, who has called Netanyahu’s visit “destructive,” will address the AIPAC summit, along with U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power.
Thirty aid agencies have condemned the lack of progress rebuilding Gaza, six months after the end of a devastating Israeli assault. The groups say reconstruction of tens of thousands of destroyed homes, schools and hospitals has been “woefully slow,” with 100,000 Palestinians still displaced. The agencies called on Israel to lift its naval blockade, which has barred needed construction materials from entering. Oxfam says it will take more than 100 years to rebuild Gaza if the Israeli blockade remains.