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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 United Nations says some 25,000 people have fled the Iraqi city of Ramadi since its capture by the self-proclaimed Islamic State on Sunday. Thousands of Iraqi forces and Iranian-aligned Shiite fighters are massing around Ramadi in preparation for an offensive to retake it from ISIL. The U.S. has also launched airstrikes and is reportedly considering speeding arms deliveries to Iraqi militias in Anbar province.
The U.N. says it needs more time to bring aid to areas of Yemen following the end of a five-day truce. A U.N. spokesperson said only half of the proposed supplies were delivered before Saudi strikes resumed on Sunday.
Elisabeth Byrs: “The humanitarian pause in Yemen was not long enough to reach all those in need of food, and WFP is appealing for a series of predictable breaks in the conflict to deliver desperately needed aid.”
The U.N. says Yemen has only been able to import one-tenth of the fuel it needs each month. More than 1,800 people have died in Yemen’s conflict so far.
Israel has cancelled an order to bar West Bank Palestinians from riding on the same buses as Israelis. The segregation would have applied to the hundreds of Palestinians who cross into Israel each day for work and then return home. The Defense Ministry had introduced it as a three-month pilot project to address the demands of Israeli settlers. But Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu abruptly cancelled it following an outcry.
Los Angeles has become the nation’s largest city to approve a significant increase to the minimum wage. The Los Angeles City Council voted Tuesday to raise the minimum from $9 to $15 an hour by 2020. The move will impact as many as 800,000 workers, or almost 50 percent of the workforce. It’s expected to spark wage hikes across Southern California and boost similar efforts nationwide.
The Japanese airbag manufacturer Takata has doubled its recall to nearly 34 million vehicles, the largest in U.S. history. The airbags can explode when activated, spraying occupants with sharp metal fragments. The defect has been linked to six deaths and dozens of injuries. Ten automakers have recalled vehicles in the U.S. so far.
An oil spill off the coast of Santa Barbara, California, has leaked some 21,000 gallons into the Pacific Ocean. The Coast Guard has enacted an emergency cleanup after the spill left an oil slick on close to four miles of beach and 50 yards into the water. The company behind the spill, Plains All American Pipeline, has shut down the ruptured pipeline. Meanwhile in Louisiana, a state of emergency has been declared near Baton Rouge after a cargo train with oil tankers derailed.
A former top CIA official and intelligence briefer to President George W. Bush before the Iraq War has acknowledged Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney falsely presented information to the public. In an interview with MSNBC’s Chris Matthews, Michael Morell was asked about Cheney’s claim that Saddam Hussein was seeking nuclear weapons.
Chris Matthews: “Was that true?”
Michael Morell: “We were saying—”
Chris Matthews: “Can you answer that question? Was that true?”
Michael Morell: “No. That’s not true.”
Chris Matthews: “Well, why did you let him get away with it?”
Michael Morell: “Look, my job—my job, Chris, is to—”
Chris Matthews: “You’re the briefer of the president on intelligence. You’re the top person to go in and tell him what’s going on. You see Cheney make this charge he’s got a nuclear bomb, and then they make subsequent charges he knew how to deliver it, he had the capability to deliver it, and nobody raised their hand and said, 'No, that's not what we told him.’”
Michael Morell: “Chris, Chris, Chris, Chris, wasn’t my job. Right? My job—”
Chris Matthews: “To tell the truth.”
Michael Morell: “My job—no, as the briefer? As the briefer?”
Chris Matthews: “OK, go ahead.”
Michael Morell: “As the briefer, my job is to carry CIA’s best information and best analysis to the president of the United States, make sure he understands it. Right? My job is to not watch what they’re saying on TV and say, 'Yesterday—'”
Chris Matthews: “You think TV’s a joke?”
Michael Morell: “What?”
Chris Matthews: “You think it’s a joke that Cheney said it on TV?”
Michael Morell: “That’s not my job. That’s not my job.”
Chris Matthews: “Did you know he did that?”
Michael Morell: “No, I wasn’t paying attention. I was studying what was on my desk every morning.”
Chris Matthews: “So you’re briefing the president on the reasons for war. They’re selling the war using your stuff, saying that you made that case when you didn’t. So they’re using your credibility to make the case for war dishonestly, as you just admitted.”
Michael Morell: “Look, I’m just telling you what—”
Chris Matthews: “Well, you just admitted it.”
Michael Morell: “I’m just telling you what we said, Chris.”
Chris Matthews: “They gave a false presentation of what you said to them.”
Michael Morell: “On some aspects.”
The Iraq invasion has emerged as a major campaign issue after Republican hopeful Jeb Bush walked back his claim he would have authorized the Iraq War. On Tuesday, Democratic hopeful Hillary Clinton was asked about her Senate vote in support of the Iraq invasion.
Hillary Clinton: “Look, I know that there have been a lot of questions about Iraq posed to candidates over the last weeks. I’ve made it very clear that I made a mistake, plain and simple. And I have written about it in my book. I’ve talked about it in the past. And, you know, what we now see is a very different and very dangerous situation. The United States is doing what it can, but ultimately this has to be a struggle that the Iraqi government and the Iraqi people are determined to win for themselves.”
Four U.S. cancer charities are being accused of massive fraud. The Federal Trade Commission says the groups funneled some $187 million into top officials’ pockets. The charities are the Cancer Fund of America, Cancer Support Services, Children’s Cancer Fund of America and the Breast Cancer Society. It could be one of the largest charity fraud cases of all time.
Police in Texas are urging a truce between rival gangs in the aftermath of Sunday’s shootout that left nine people dead. More than 170 people have been charged with engaging in organized crime so far. Waco Police Sergeant Patrick Swanton urged all sides to avoid retaliation.
Sgt. Patrick Swanton: “I will tell you that in the gang world and in the biker world, that violence usually condones more violence. Is this over? Most likely not. We would like it to be. We would ask there to be some type of truce between whatever motorcycle gangs are involved. We would encourage them to try and be a little peaceful and let the bloodshed stop.”
And a Columbia University senior who lugged a dorm room mattress around campus to protest the university’s handling of sexual assault has carried it across the graduation stage. Emma Sulkowicz carried the mattress all year in a call for a student she accuses of raping her to be expelled. A group of friends helped Sulkowicz carry it across the stage at their graduation ceremony on Tuesday.