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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 car bomb has exploded outside a Shiite mosque in the Saudi city of Dammam, marking the second deadly mosque attack to hit Saudi Arabia in a week. Authorities say four people were killed. Last Friday, a suicide attack claimed by the self-described Islamic State killed 21 people at another Shiite mosque, marking one of the worst attacks to hit Saudi Arabia in years.
The United Nations has passed a nonbinding resolution aimed at curbing the cultural plundering of Iraq by the self-proclaimed Islamic State. The resolution, adopted unanimously by the 193-nation General Assembly, urges new steps to curb smuggling of antiquities which may be used to finance ISIL. It applies only to Iraq, not to Syria, where ISIL controls the ancient city of Palmyra. ISIL has posted video showing the destruction of Iraqi sites, including the ancient Assyrian city of Nimrud. U.N. Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson said the destruction is a loss for all humanity.
Jan Eliasson: “That this is taking place today in Iraq, the cradle of Mesopotamian civilization, represents a loss not only for the Iraqi people, but for all of humanity. The international community must do everything in its power, as the acting president just said, to halt the destruction of Iraq’s cultural heritage and to hold the perpetrators to account.”
The soccer governing body FIFA is moving ahead with plans to hold an election today to pick the next president of the organization, despite a wide-ranging corruption scandal. Earlier this week, nine high-ranking soccer officials, including two current FIFA vice presidents, were indicted along with five sports marketing executives on federal corruption charges by the U.S. Justice Department. FIFA President Sepp Blatter is not facing charges, and Attorney General Loretta Lynch has refused to say whether he is under investigation. At today’s elections in Zurich, Blatter is seeking re-election for the post he has held since 1998. Many commentators have predicted he will be re-elected, though some nations, including the United States, have vowed to vote against him. On Thursday, Alaphia Zoyab of the group Avaaz was among those who took to the streets of Zurich to call for Blatter to step down.
Alaphia Zoyab: “Our key message is that Sepp Blatter needs to step down. He has been the head honcho of this organization where corruption has been rampant. He has not taken responsibility for it. He needs to go. And we’ve also seen that FIFA is too corrupt to care about human rights. When they awarded the World Cup to Qatar, we’ve seen that there’s been massive slavery on all the construction sites. FIFA has not really done anything about it, and the FIFA spokesperson just told me that they’re not even asking Qatar to commit to a timeline to abolish this system.”
Flash floods have inundated swaths of Central Texas again today amid a series of severe storms which have killed at least 23 people in both Texas and Oklahoma. A number of people remain missing. Texas Governor Greg Abbott has declared nearly 40 counties disaster areas, and this month has officially become Texas’ wettest month on record. We’ll have more on the floods and the role of climate change later in the broadcast.
Representatives from countries around the world gathered in Thailand today to discuss the migrant crisis in Southeast Asia. In recent weeks, about 3,500 migrants have arrived in Thailand, Indonesia and Malaysia, while 2,600 more are believed to be adrift at sea. Most are Bangladeshis and persecuted Rohingya Muslims from Burma who are effectively stateless because they aren’t considered citizens in Burma. U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Anne Richard called for greater international cooperation to address the crisis.
Anne Richard: “We have to save lives urgently. We have to develop better ways of discussing and meeting on these issues and taking action when people are setting to sea in the boats. And then we need to go and look at the root causes of why people feel they have no alternative but to flee their own countries and take such a dangerous, dangerous trip.”
The ACLU has issued a new report documenting racial profiling and other abuses by U.S. Border Patrol agents operating inside the state of New Mexico. There are six permanent Border Patrol checkpoints in southern New Mexico, where agents stop millions of people annually. The report finds border agents have engaged in “racial profiling, unjustified detentions and searches, verbal abuse, intimidation, physical abuse and interfering with the delivery of emergency medical treatment,” all with little effective oversight or accountability. Ninety percent of abuses were reported by U.S. citizens, the vast majority Latino.
The ACLU of Southern California has released a video which shows Barstow, California, police wrestling an African-American woman who is eight months pregnant to the ground. Charlena Michelle Cooks was dropping off her daughter at her elementary school when she got into a dispute with another mother, who was white, over parking. Police body camera footage shows police questioning Cooks and asking her name. When she gave her name as “Michelle,” without providing her last name, the officers wrestled her down, while she pleaded with them, repeatedly saying she was pregnant.
Charlena Michelle Cooks: “This is ridiculous! What are you doing? What are you doing? I’m pregnant! Please! I’m pregnant! Please!”
Officer: “Why are you resisting, ma’am? Why are you resisting?”
Cooks was charged with resisting arrest, and Barstow police have continued to claim she resisted, even though a judge dismissed the charge. Speaking to CNN, Cooks said police treated her like an animal.
Charlena Michelle Cooks: “You just looked at me and said, 'Oh, she must be this way.' And I’m not that way. You make me feel that I’m a way that I’m not. And I work so hard to provide for my family. This is not an issue that I wanted.”
The arrest took place in January. Cooks delivered a healthy baby girl two months later.
A newly released photo shows two Chicago police officers posing with rifles beside an African-American man with antlers on his head. The photo was taken between 1999 and 2003. It was provided by federal prosecutors to police investigators in 2013 after one of the two officers in the photo, Jerome Finnigan, was sentenced to 12 years in prison for leading a group of officers who committed robberies and home invasions. The second officer, Timothy McDermott, was fired last year. But the Chicago Police Department successfully concealed the photo from public view until a judge rejected their bid to continue keeping it secret earlier this year. The police claimed they were trying to protect the privacy of the unidentified African-American man.
Former three-term New York Governor George Pataki has officially announced his candidacy for the Republican presidential nomination. In a speech announcing his bid, Pataki took aim at Hillary Clinton, claiming Democrats are the “party of privilege.”
George Pataki: “We are the party of the middle class, unless by middle class they mean someone who left the White House dead broke and 10 years later had $100 million, unless by middle class they mean someone who charges a poor country $500,000 for a half-hour speech. That’s their party’s candidate.”
And the former Republican speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, Dennis Hastert, has been indicted on federal charges of lying to the FBI and illegally paying $3.5 million to an unnamed person in order to conceal unspecified “misconduct.” Hastert is accused of withdrawing $1.7 million in cash using a method intended to dodge bank reporting regulations, then lying about the withdrawals. He served as speaker of the House from 1999 to 2007, making him the longest-serving Republican speaker in history.