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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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President Obama has apologized after the White House revealed a U.S. drone strike in Pakistan killed an American government contractor and an Italian aid worker held hostage by al-Qaeda in January. Despite hundreds of hours of surveillance and near-constant visibility of the al-Qaeda site, officials said they did not know the hostages were there. Officials said the strike also killed an American linked to al-Qaeda, Ahmed Farouq, while another American, al-Qaeda member Adam Gadahn, was killed in a separate strike. Obama apologized to the families of hostages Warren Weinstein and Giovanni Lo Porto.
President Obama: “As president and as commander-in-chief, I take full responsibility for all our counterterrorism operations, including the one that inadvertently took the lives of Warren and Giovanni. I profoundly regret what happened. On behalf of the United States government, I offer our deepest apologies to the families.”
We’ll have more on the drone strike later in the broadcast.
European leaders have vowed to triple spending on border protection as part of a plan to address a migrant crisis, after up to 900 people died when their ship capsized in the Mediterranean. Amnesty International called the plan “woefully inadequate and shameful,” noting the border program “patrol[s] within 30 miles of Italian and Maltese coasts, far from where most deaths occur.”
The U.S. Senate has confirmed Loretta Lynch as the first African-American woman attorney general. Democratic Senator Patrick Leahy praised her confirmation but rued how long it took.
Sen. Patrick Leahy: “She becomes the first out of 82 attorneys general in our nation’s history to face a filibuster, has had to wait longer than any other. She is an historic nominee. On one hand, she is a historic nominee for the right reasons — first African-American woman, highly, highly qualified — everybody agrees with that. But what a shame that we add this second part of history to have her be the first out of 82 filibustered, to be held to this very disturbing double standard.”
Loretta Lynch presided over controversial terrorism cases as the top federal prosecutor in Brooklyn, New York. She supports bulk NSA surveillance and disagrees with President Obama’s stance marijuana may not be more dangerous than alcohol.
Comcast has reportedly dropped its bid to acquire Time Warner Cable in a deal that would have merged the country’s two largest cable providers. The move follows reports of opposition from the Justice Departement and Federal Communications Commission over the merger, which would have left a single company in control of 57 percent of the broadband Internet market.
In Maryland, Governor Larry Hogan has deployed state troopers to Baltimore amid days of protests over the death of Freddie Gray. Gray died Sunday of spinal injuries a week after an arrest during which a witness said police bent him like a pretzel. Police have now confirmed Gray was not wearing a seat belt in a police van, where he was handcuffed and in leg irons. Baltimore resident Randy Wellington attended Thursday’s protest.
Randy Wellington: “I’m here to fight for the justice of Freddie Gray and all those that’s been persecuted by the Baltimore City Police Department, as well as police departments all around this world. We’re getting sick and tired of being persecuted for no apparent reason, and I think it should stop.”
The family of Michael Brown has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the city of Ferguson, Missouri, over the fatal shooting of their 18-year-old son by police officer Darren Wilson. While Wilson avoided both criminal and federal civil rights charges over the shooting, Brown family attorney Anthony Gray said the lawsuit could present new evidence.
Anthony Gray: “The evidence has not changed, but the presentation of that evidence will. We expect to put on evidence that you’ve never heard about before and never seen.”
Former CIA director and retired U.S. Army General David Petraeus has been sentenced to two years’ probation and a $100,000 fine after pleading guilty to leaking highly classified information to his biographer and lover Paula Broadwell. Petraeus will avoid jail time, unlike fellow leakers like Chelsea Manning and John Kiriakou. The fine is reportedly less than he gets for a single speaking appearance.
Deutsche Bank has become the latest financial firm to settle accusations it rigged a key global interest rate used to set the value of trillions of dollars in investments. The bank agreed to pay $2.5 billion under the settlement with U.S. and British regulators, and accept a criminal guilty plea for a British subsidiary. No one at the bank has been charged with a crime.
In India, a funeral has been held for a farmer who hanged himself from a tree at a protest in the capital New Delhi. Gajendra Singh left a note saying he had suffered crop losses as a result of heavy rains. His death came in the midst of a political rally opposing Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s bill to ease corporate land takeovers. More than 300,000 Indian farmers have killed themselves amid debts and crop failures since 1995.
In Peru, a farmer has been shot dead after police opened fire on protesters taking part in a month-long campaign against a Mexican-owned copper mine project supported by the Peruvian government. Protesters say the Tia Maria mine in the southern region of Arequipa would contaminate water and hurt farming. President Ollanta Humala has sent thousands of police to quell the protests.
In the United States, three more women have publicly accused comedian Bill Cosby of drugging and sexually assaulting them. In total, about 40 women have come forward with allegations against Cosby dating back decades.
Students at Columbia University in New York City are launching a sit-in today to call for the university to divest its shares from private prisons. The students plan to sit in outside the office of President Lee Bollinger to call for divestment from the firms Corrections Corporation of America and G4S.
Supporters of imprisoned journalist and Black Panther Mumia Abu-Jamal marked his 61st birthday Thursday. They have continued to call for prison authorities in Pennsylvania to let Abu-Jamal access outside medical care as he remains seriously ill from eczema and diabetes.