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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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Al-Qaeda has confirmed the death of its second most powerful leader in a U.S. drone strike in Yemen. Nasser al-Wuhayshi was the leader of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, the group’s Yemeni affiliate, and a former personal secretary of Osama bin Laden. The confirmation of his death comes as uncertainty remains over a U.S. attempt to kill militant leader Mokhtar Belmokhtar in Libya. Al-Qaeda released a list of people they say were killed in the U.S. airstrike over the weekend, but Belmokhtar is not on it.
A delegation of Houthi rebels have arrived in Geneva for the second day of U.N.-backed peace talks on the conflict in Yemen. Seif al-Washli, an adviser to the delegation, said expectations for the talks are low.
Seif al-Washli: “Expectations for these meetings are not great. To this point, Saudi Arabia seems determined to continue this war and their desire to continue their aggression on Yemen, and there are no signs that it has any intentions to stop this aggression.”
We’ll have more on Yemen with Sharif Abdel Kouddous on the ground in the Yemeni capital Sana’a after headlines.
Bahrain has sentenced a leading Shiite opposition leader to four years in prison on charges of inciting unrest. Sheikh Ali Salman’s arrest in December sparked protests and international condemnation. Bahrain is a close U.S. ally in the Gulf, home to the Navy’s Fifth Fleet.
In the Central African nation of Chad, attacks by suicide bombers have killed at least 27 people, including four suspected fighters from the Nigerian Islamist group Boko Haram. It’s believed the attacks were retaliation for Chad’s leading role in the offensive against Boko Haram. It’s the first attack of its kind to hit the Chadian capital.
The oil giant Shell is on its way to the Arctic, but not before a final showdown with environmental activists in kayaks. On Tuesday, dozens of “kayaktivists” were arrested after paddling up to a Shell drilling rig and preventing it from leaving the Port of Seattle. We’ll have more on the protest with a Greenpeace member who participated later in the broadcast.
In central Nicaragua, thousands of people gathered over the weekend for the latest protest against a Chinese firm’s construction of a canal linking the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. The $50 billion project will be larger than the Panama Canal and could displace up to 120,000 people.
Same-sex couples are tying the knot in Mexico, where the Mexican Supreme Court has quietly legalized marriage equality. The New York Times reports a series of decisions made with little fanfare have effectively voided state same-sex marriage bans across Mexico.
In the Dominican Republic, people of Haitian descent have been scrambling to meet today’s deadline to register their status and avoid a possible mass deportation to Haiti. The Dominican Republic has stripped more than 100,000 Dominican-born descendants of Haitian sugar plantation workers of their citizenship. It remains unclear if deportations will proceed this week, but authorities have reportedly prepared dozens of buses for the trips.
Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush has launched his candidacy for the Republican presidential nomination. During his kickoff in Miami, Florida, he joked about how he’s related to two former presidents.
Jeb Bush: “And in this country of ours, the most improbable things can happen, as well. Take that from a guy who met his first president on the day he was born and his second on the day he was brought home from the hospital.”
As Jeb Bush asked the crowd to welcome his mother, Barbara Bush, he was interrupted by 27 immigrant rights activists who stood up, removed their shirts and revealed neon green T-shirts spelling, “Legal Status Is Not Enough.” While the protesters’ chants demanding equality for undocumented people were drowned out by chants of “Jeb” and “U.S.A.,” they forced Bush to go off script and mention immigration.
Jeb Bush: “Just so that our friends know, the next president of the United States will pass meaningful immigration reform so that that will be solved, not by executive order!”
Another dozen immigrant rights supporters, including seven children, were kicked out of the event before it started, apparently over fears they would protest. Meanwhile, Human Rights Watch reports deportations for drug possession have soared under the Obama administration, rising 43 percent from 2007 to 2012.
In Arizona, more than 200 immigrants inside the privately run Eloy Detention Center have launched a hunger strike. They’re protesting inhumane conditions and demanding an independent probe after they say two prisoners died following abuse by guards. The migrant justice group Puente says the hunger strikers faced immediate retaliation Saturday, when they were locked out in the 100-degree yard without shade or water for six hours.
In a victory for abortion rights, the Supreme Court has declined to hear a bid by North Carolina to reinstate its law requiring medical providers to perform an ultrasound at least four hours before an abortion. The law required the provider to display the image of the fetus and describe it in detail, even if the patient objected or covered her eyes or ears.
The Colorado Supreme Court has ruled employers can fire workers for using medical marijuana — even if they do so outside of work hours, and even though it is legal. The case concerned a quadriplegic man who had a doctor’s authorization to use medical marijuana but was fired by Dish Network for failing a drug test.
A federal judge has ordered the U.S. Army to stop banning a Sikh student from entering a reserve training program because of his beard and turban. The ruling allows Iknoor Singh to join the ROTC program at Hofstra University without having to cut his hair or his beard.
The former head of insurance giant AIG has won a legal victory against the U.S. government over its 2008 taxpayer bailout. Hank Greenberg claimed the bailout shortchanged investors and violated their Fifth Amendment Rights. In what The New York Times called a “stunning” ruling, a federal judge sided with Greenberg but did not grant him any financial damages. He had sought $40 billion. Greenberg has been criticized for running AIG when it helped create many of the complex financial instruments which caused the economic collapse.
And Rachel Dolezal has resigned as head of the NAACP in Spokane, Washington, after her parents said she is white and has been faking an African-American identity for years. In a statement posted to Facebook, Dolezal said: “In the eye of this current storm, I can see that a separation of family and organizational outcomes is in the best interest of the NAACP.” Earlier today, Dolezal appeared on the Today Show, where she said she has identified as black since a young age, drawing herself with a brown crayon. But host Matt Lauer asked Dolezal about how she sued the historically black Howard University when she was a student there, accusing them of discriminating against her because she was white.
Matt: Lauer: “Your lawsuit against Howard University in 2002, where you claimed you were discriminated against because you were a pregnant white woman — do you understand how people could hear that and say, ’Here’s another example. She says she identified herself as being African-American or black from a young age, but here’s a case where she identified herself as a white woman because it worked for her under the circumstances’?”
Rachel Dolezal: “The reasons for my full-tuition scholarship being removed and my teaching position, as well, my TA position, were that other people needed opportunities, and you probably have white relatives, and that, you know, they can afford to help you with your tuition. And I thought that that was an injustice.”
Rachel Dolezal’s case against Howard was dismissed. In a statement Monday, the NAACP said they are “not concerned with the racial identity of our leadership but the institutional integrity of our advocacy. Our focus must be on issues not individuals.”