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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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U.S. airstrikes in Libya have targeted an al-Qaeda leader accused of orchestrating the deadly seizure of an Algerian gas plant, which left 38 foreign hostages dead in 2013. The Libyan government said U.S. airstrikes killed Mokhtar Belmokhtar and an unspecified number of other militants. But Belmokhtar has been reported killed in the past, and U.S. officials say they are awaiting forensic confirmation of his death.
U.N.-backed talks aimed at resolving the crisis in Yemen have opened in Geneva. Representatives for Shiite Houthi rebels have not yet arrived, after reportedly declining to board their flight on schedule. The Houthis claimed the provincial capital of Hazm over the weekend in their latest advance.
The Pentagon is set to store heavy weaponry including tanks in Eastern Europe for the first time since the end of the Cold War. The New York Times reports the plan would see enough weaponry for as many as 5,000 soldiers stored across several countries, from Estonia to Bulgaria and Poland. It’s seen as a deterrent to potential Russian aggression amid the conflict in Ukraine. The plan still requires approval from the White House and Defense Secretary Ashton Carter.
In a major blow to President Obama’s trade agenda, House Democrats have derailed attempts to speed through approval of the secretive Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade deal. Protesters from across the political spectrum have raised concerns it would undermine health and environmental regulations and hurt U.S. workers. On Friday, Democrats rejected a measure to give financial aid to displaced workers in a strategic move to block another bill giving Obama fast-track authority to ram the TPP through Congress on a yes-or-no vote. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi sided with fellow Democrats against fast track.
Nancy Pelosi: “For these and other reasons, I will be voting today to slow down the fast track to get a better deal for the American people — bigger paychecks, better infrastructure, help the American people fulfill the American dream.”
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton broke her relative silence over the TPP Sunday, urging President Obama to listen to Democratic critics, including Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi.
Hillary Clinton: “In order to get a deal that meets these high standards, the president should listen to and work with his allies in Congress, starting with Nancy Pelosi, who have expressed their concerns about the impact that a weak agreement would have on our workers, to make make sure we get the best, strongest deal possible. And if we don’t get it, there should be no deal.”
Clinton’s remarks came after she failed to address the TPP in her first major address kicking off her presidential campaign. We’ll have more on Clinton’s speech and her stance on the TPP after headlines.
The Israeli government has issued a report concluding its actions during the military assault on Gaza last year were “lawful” and “legitimate.” The report comes ahead of the imminent publication of a United Nations investigation into possible war crimes during the conflict, which killed more than 2,200 Palestinians, the vast majority civilians. The Israeli military has also closed its probe into the killings of four Palestinian children on a Gaza beach. Mohamed Bakr, the father of one of the children, condemned the move.
Mohamed Bakr: “Israel decides for itself what is true or not true. Our children are the same as other children around the world. Children of the Bakr family are the same as children around the world, like children in Britain, France, Germany and America. All the free nations are supporting us. We have the right, and we will achieve victory because we have the right. Our children were playing at the beach. What have they done to be killed in cold blood?”
An Israeli army jeep has struck and killed a Palestinian in the occupied West Bank. The military said the jeep accidentally hit the man after he threw a petrol bomb at it, but witnesses said the man was walking to work when the jeep ran him down. Meanwhile, Israel has approved a bill to allow the force-feeding of Palestinian prisoners on hunger strike. We’ll have more on Israel and its report on Gaza later in the broadcast.
Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir has left South Africa despite attempts to keep him there as he faces an international arrest warrant for alleged war crimes in Darfur. His departure defied a court order to remain in South Africa as the International Criminal Court seeks to try him for crimes including genocide.
In Hong Kong, thousands of pro-democracy protesters have returned to the streets to demand free elections. Sunday’s protest came three days before a vote by lawmakers on a reform package which would let Hong Kong residents choose their city leader from a pool of candidates approved by a Beijing-friendly panel.
In Japan, thousands of people rallied to protest Japan’s participation in the TPP free trade deal and to condemn Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s push to expand Japan’s military role. Despite Japan’s pacifist constitution, enacted after World War II, Abe is backing legislation to let Japanese troops fight overseas. Amid protests, his approval ratings have dropped to their lowest level since he took office.
A federal appeals court has ordered former Black Panther Albert Woodfox, the longest-serving prisoner in solitary confinement, to remain behind bars while Louisiana officials appeal a judge’s order for his immediate release. Woodfox has spent 43 years in solitary for the murder of a prison guard, a crime for which he and late, fellow Angola 3 member Herman Wallace say they were framed for their political activism. Woodfox’s two previous convictions for the crime have both been overturned, but Louisiana officials are now seeking a third trial. On Friday, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals extended a stay on the judge’s order for his release, meaning it could be weeks or months until Woodfox is potentially freed. His attorney, Carine Williams, expressed her disappointment.
Carine Williams: “We are deeply disappointed that after 40 years of incarceration under the harshest conditions possible, Mr. Woodfox will not be released today. The district court decision, we believe, is the correct one. It is sound, well-reasoned, relies on clearly established law. The facts of this case are extraordinary. At this stage, the only outcome that could serve the interests of law and justice would be Mr. Woodfox’s immediate release.”
Six Yememi prisoners have been transferred from Guatánamo to Oman, marking the first release from the prison in five months. The six men have been held without trial for more than 13 years. One of the prisoners, Emad Abdullah Hassan, has staged hunger strikes for years over his imprisonment without charge. Despite Obama’s 2009 vow to close Guantánamo within a year, 116 prisoners now remain.
The largest professors’ group in the United States has censured the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign over its ouster of professor Steven Salaita. The university withdrew a job offer to Salaita last year after he posted tweets harshly critical of the Israeli assault on Gaza. On Saturday, the American Association of University Professors voted overwhelmingly to censure the university, saying it has “not adhered to generally recognized principles of academic freedom and tenure.”
In Spain, leftist women have been sworn in as mayors in the country’s two largest cities. Ada Colau, a former anti-evictions activist who has been arrested for protesting banks, has become the first woman mayor of Barcelona. In the capital Madrid, Manuela Carmena, a retired judge and former member of Spain’s underground Communist Party, has become the city’s second woman mayor. Both have vowed sweeping reforms, including slashing their own salaries and stopping evictions. To see our interview with Barcelona Mayor Ada Colau, click here.
Los Angeles has become the largest city in the United States to enact a $15-an-hour minimum wage. The measure signed by Mayor Eric Garcetti requires employers with 26 or more workers to pay at least $10.50 an hour beginning next July, then raises the wage each year until it hits $15 in 2020.
In Dallas, Texas, police shot and killed a man they say planted pipe bombs outside police headquarters and opened fire on officers. James Boulware reportedly had a history of domestic violence and blamed police for taking away custody of his child.
And the head of the NAACP chapter in Spokane, Washington, has continued to insist she is black, despite reports by her parents she is actually white and has been faking an African-American identity for years. After Rachel Dolezal’s actions sparked an national outcry, she told Sky News she considers herself black.
Reporter: “Would you identify yourself as an African American?”
Rachel Dolezal: “I actually don’t like the term African American. I prefer black. And I would say that if I was asked, I would definitely say that, yes, I do consider myself to be black.”
The Spokane NAACP chapter has postponed a meeting scheduled for tonight where Rachel Dolezal was due to address the controversy.