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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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A white South Carolina police officer has been charged with murder after a video showed him shooting an apparently unarmed African-American man who was running away. The shooting happened Saturday morning after North Charleston police officer Michael Slager stopped Walter Scott for a broken brake light. Slager is seen shooting at Scott eight times as he runs away. Scott’s brother, Anthony Scott, said his family is grateful for the witness who came forward with the shooting video.
Anthony Scott: “And from the beginning, when it happened the first day, all we wanted was the truth. And I think, through the process, we’ve received the truth. And we can’t get my brother back, and my family is in deep mourning for that, but through the process of justice has been served. And I don’t think that all police officers are bad cops, but there are some bad ones out there, and I don’t want to see anyone get shot down the way that my brother got shot down.”
The North Charleston Police Department had initially defended Slager after he said he feared for his life and claimed Scott had taken his Taser weapon. But video showed Slager shot Scott in the back at a distance of about 15 feet. The video also appears to capture Slager planting an object next to Scott. The video does not appear to show Scott in possession of the officer’s stun gun at any time. Scott was a father of four who served for two years in the U.S. Coast Guard.
The United States is expediting weapons shipments to aid Saudi Arabia’s military campaign in Yemen. Deputy Secretary of State Tony Blinken made the announcement during a visit to the Saudi capital of Riyadh.
Deputy Secretary of State Tony Blinken: “Saudi Arabia is sending a strong message to the Houthis and their allies that they cannot overrun Yemen by force. In support of that effort, we have expedited weapons deliveries, we have increased our intelligence sharing, and we have established a joint coordination planning cell in the Saudi operation center.”
The Pentagon is warning al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula has “seized the opportunity” and made “direct gains on the ground” as a result of Yemen’s internal violence. AQAP fighters reportedly seized a border post near Saudi Arabia on Tuesday. Meanwhile, the United Nations has warned that more than 100,000 people have been displaced since Saudi airstrikes began last month.
President Obama has rejected Israel’s demand that a final nuclear agreement include Iran’s recognition of Israel’s self-declared “right to exist” as a Jewish state. Speaking to NPR, Obama said the Iran deal is not a sweeping political accord.
President Obama: “The notion that we would condition Iran not getting nuclear weapons in a verifiable deal on Iran recognizing Israel is really akin to saying that we won’t sign a deal unless the nature of the Iranian regime completely transforms. And that is, I think, a fundamental misjudgment.”
The White House is backing off its move deeming Venezuela a national security threat to the United States. An executive order signed by President Obama last month used the designation to sanction top Venezuelan officials. But speaking to reporters on Tuesday, White House adviser Benjamin Rhodes said: “The United States does not believe that Venezuela poses some threat to our national security.” The statement comes as President Obama prepares for a regional trip that includes a summit of the Organization of American States in Panama. Venezuelan officials say they will present Obama with a petition of millions of signatures calling on him to rescind the order.
The upcoming Panama summit will include Cuba for the first time. The State Department said Tuesday it expects to remove Cuba from the terror list. In Washington, State Department spokesperson Marie Harf said the summit could see high-level meetings, including between President Obama and Cuban President Raúl Castro.
Marie Harf: “We expect there may be (a meeting) at the upcoming Summit of the Americas. The schedule is not quite confirmed yet, but we will let you folks know as we are able to do so. But nothing to confirm at this point, but there’s a chance that there will be.”
A new report shows the federal government secretly tracked billions of U.S. phone calls years before the 9/11 attacks. According to USA Today, the Justice Department and Drug Enforcement Administration collected bulk data for phone calls to dozens of countries deemed to have a connection with drug trafficking. The program served as a blueprint for mass surveillance by the National Security Agency.
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel has won re-election in a hard-fought runoff against challenger Jesús “Chuy” García. Emanuel defeated García with a margin of around 55 percent to García’s 44 percent. Emanuel celebrated his victory Tuesday night.
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel: “I have had the good fortune to serve two presidents. I’ve had the fortune of being elected to Congress. Being mayor of the city of Chicago is the greatest job I’ve ever had and the greatest job in the world. I am humbled. I am humbled at the opportunity to continue to serve you, the greatest city, with the greatest people, for the next four years.”
Emanuel raised $23 million for the campaign, more than three times García’s $6 million. (Click here to watch the Democracy Now! interview with Chuy García.)
Kansas has become the first state in the country to ban a common procedure used during second-trimester abortions. On Tuesday, Republican Gov. Sam Brownback signed the law, based on model legislation from the anti-choice National Right to Life Committee, which bans doctors from using instruments to remove a fetus in pieces. It allows exceptions only to save a woman’s life or prevent irreversible damage to a major bodily function. Julie Burkhart, founder and CEO of Trust Women and the South Wind Women’s Center, the former clinic of slain doctor George Tiller in Wichita, Kansas, said the law is unconstitutional and dangerous, because it bans physicians from “using their sound medical judgment to decide what is best for their patients.” Similar measures have already been introduced in Missouri, Oklahoma and South Carolina.
Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky has launched his bid for the Republican presidential nomination in 2016. Paul declared his candidacy at an event in Lexington.
Sen. Rand Paul: “We have come to take our country back from the special interests that use Washington as their personal piggy bank, the special interests that are more concerned with their personal welfare than the general welfare. The Washington machine that gobbles up our freedoms and invades every nook and cranny of our lives must be stopped.”
Former Senator Hillary Clinton could be the next 2016 candidate to declare. Last week, Clinton’s campaign leased an office in Brooklyn, New York, as its headquarters.
Supporters of Mumia Abu-Jamal have released new photos of the imprisoned journalist and former Black Panther, saying he has lost some 50 pounds and is covered with “a hard, leathery layer of jet-black skin, that is bloody, painful and itchy.” Abu-Jamal is in a prison infirmary in Pennsylvania after he was temporarily hospitalized for diabetic shock. His supporters have demanded he be allowed to see an independent team of specialists chosen by his family.