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This week, Democracy Now! is celebrating our 22nd birthday. Since our first show in February 1996, our daily news hour has brought you fearless journalism and hard-hitting news you can trust--all without ads or corporate underwriting. How is this possible? Only with your support. In fact, if everyone reading this gave just $4, it would cover our operating expenses for the whole year. Right now, a generous donor will TRIPLE every donation, meaning your gift today will go three times as far. Pretty amazing, right? Please do your part. Take a moment to give right now for our 22nd birthday.
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In news from Ohio, former University of Cincinnati police officer Ray Tensing has been released on a $1 million bail after pleading not guilty to the murder of Sam DuBose. Tensing, who is white, fatally shot the 43-year-old African-American man on July 19 after stopping him for not having a front license plate. Two additional officers, Phillip Kidd and David Lindenschmidt, have been placed on administrative leave. Meanwhile, new information shows that officer Phillip Kidd and another officer on scene during the DuBose shooting were involved in the death of an unarmed African-American man five years earlier. According to documents revealed by The Guardian, Phillip Kidd and officer Eric Weibel were part of a seven-officer team that tased and shackled a mentally ill man who was having a psychotic episode. The man died three days later. We’ll have more from Cincinnati after headlines.
In news from Portland, Oregon, law enforcement officers have removed Greenpeace activists who spent 40 hours suspended from a bridge in order to block an icebreaking ship commissioned by oil giant Shell from leaving for the Arctic. Hundreds of activists have been gathering on the bridge and in kayaks since Tuesday night in efforts to stop Shell’s plans to drill in the remote Chukchi Sea. Early Thursday morning, the suspended Greenpeace activists successfully forced Shell’s ship to turn back to port in a showdown that grabbed international headlines. Greenpeace activist Kristina Flores discussed watching the ship turn around as she stood on top of the bridge Thursday.
Kristina Flores: “This morning was quite the adventure. It felt really, really great to watch the Fennica turn around and go back to port. That was just a really great, great sign that we are winning, that we are strong, and when the people come together, we can win. And we will win.”
An Alaska judge ruled Greenpeace had to begin paying fines of $2,500 for every hour that activists remained suspended. If the protest continued into Friday, the judge ruled the fines would escalate to $5,000 an hour, then $10,000 an hour Saturday. After Portland police and federal law enforcement officers removed enough suspended protesters for the ship to pass, Shell’s ship navigated its way under the St. Johns Bridge around 6 p.m. Thursday and headed to the Columbia River en route to the Arctic. The Department of the Interior has said that there is a 75 percent chance of “one or more large spills” once Shell begins drilling.
The world’s largest group of psychologists is reportedly poised to ban future involvement with U.S. military interrogations, ending the association’s long-running complicity in post-9/11 torture. According to James Risen of The New York Times, the board of the American Psychological Association is expected to recommend the new ethics rules at its annual meeting next week. The new rules come after top APA officials lost their jobs earlier this month following an independent investigation documenting how the association covered up its close collaboration with officials at the Pentagon and CIA. The new rules would prohibit psychologists from participating in any interrogations that also involve military or intelligence personnel.
In news from the West Bank, a Palestinian baby has died after Israeli settlers reportedly threw firebombs into the family’s home early this morning. Graffiti scrawled on walls near the homes read “Revenge” in Hebrew. The child’s parents and four-year-old brother were also severely injured. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called the firebombing “an act of terrorism in every respect.”
Meanwhile, in Jerusalem, an ultra-Orthodox man stabbed six people during a gay pride parade Thursday. Netanyahu denounced the attack, saying everyone in Israel had the right to live in peace.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu: “In Israel everyone, including the gay community, has the right to live in peace, and we will defend that right.”
In news from Pakistan, the Taliban has reportedly named Akhtar Mohammad Mansour to be the group’s de facto leader after confirming reports of former leader Mullah Omar’s death. The leadership shake-up has led to a delay in the peace talks between the Taliban and the Afghan government.
In eastern Afghanistan, two U.S. drone strikes have reportedly killed 20 suspected militants from the self-proclaimed Islamic State. The strikes come as the United States steps up its aerial attacks in Afghanistan, despite President Obama’s declaration of an official end to the U.S. combat mission in the country.
In related news, a federal judge has rejected a Guantánamo prisoner’s lawsuit arguing that his imprisonment is no longer legal now that President Obama has declared an end to the U.S. combat mission in Afghanistan. The prisoner, Muktar Yahya Najee al-Warafi, is a Yemeni citizen who has been held in Guantánamo since his capture in Afghanistan in 2002. His legal challenge hinged on a 2004 Supreme Court opinion saying imprisonment under the Authorization for Use of Military Force is only permitted as long as “active hostilities” continue. But Thursday, a federal judge ruled al-Warafi’s continued detention legal because there is “convincing evidence that US involvement in the fighting in Afghanistan, against al-Qaida and Taliban forces alike, has not stopped.”
In Hawaii, negotiators from 12 countries are attempting to reach an agreement over the terms of the Trans-Pacific Partnership by the end of the day. The sweeping trade deal, known as the TPP, would encompass 40 percent of the world’s global trade. This week, disagreements over farm exports and intellectual property rights for new drugs have kept the more than 600 negotiators from reaching a final deal. Meanwhile, outside the talks, hundreds of demonstrators gathered on the beach in Maui Wednesday to protest the ongoing talks. Marti Townsend, the director for the Sierra Club of Hawaii, spoke out against the trade pact as protesters blew shell horns in the background.
Marti Townsend: “I guess I don’t like bullying, and I feel that corporations right now are using their power to bully people around. The corporations are not elected, and they are not decision makers. People are elected, and people are the decision makers. And people need to feel their own power and recognize that they can stand up to this kind of bullying.”
In India, authorities has executed Yakub Memon for his role in 1993 bombings in Mumbai, which killed 257 people and wounded hundreds more. The bombings were some of the deadliest in India’s history. Memon became the fourth person to be executed in India in 15 years. Before his hanging Thursday, hundreds protested against the death penalty, many arguing that Muslims are unfairly punished in the majority Hindu nation.
Leaders of island nations gathered for a high-level United Nations Security Council meeting Thursday to discuss the accelerating impact of climate change. The meeting comes two weeks after James Hansen, one of the world’s leading climate scientists, published a report saying that sea levels could rise as much as 10 feet by the end of the century. Samoa’s prime minister spoke about the threat of climate change.
Prime Minister Tuilaepa Aiono Sailele Malielegaoi: “The SAMOA Pathway again recognized that sea level rise and other adverse impacts of climate change continue to pose significant risks to small island developing states and, for many, represent the gravest threat to their survival and viability, including through the loss of territory.”
An anti-choice group has released another highly edited video alleging that Planned Parenthood is selling fetal tissue, a claim that the organization has repeatedly denied. This is the fourth video released by the anti-choice group the Center for Medical Progress. This comes as Republican lawmakers are vowing to push ahead with efforts to defund the organization. We’ll have more on Planned Parenthood later in the broadcast.
Puerto Rico is facing a $58 million debt repayment deadline Saturday as lawmakers are backing a federal bill to allow Puerto Rico to declare bankruptcy. Earlier this week, a hedge fund-backed report called on the island to raise taxes and cut educational funding in order to repay its debt. On Thursday, protesters gathered outside the offices of BlueMountain Capital, a hedge fund that protesters say has bought Puerto Rico’s debt at a discount and has funded lobbyists to oppose proposed legislation to allow Puerto Rico to declare bankruptcy. Renata Pumarol of New York Communities for Change spoke out.
Renata Pumarol: “They have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars ensuring that the Puerto Ricans have no right to restructure their debt, and have no right to file for bankruptcy, and they are now pushing for austerity measures. Their latest ask was that the Puerto Rican government close schools and fire teachers. If the austerity measures are implemented, it would be devastating for Puerto Rico. Former employees of the IMF are suggesting that Puerto Rico cuts its minimum wage by a third. This is, you know, to a country that already has 41 percent poverty. And no one can survive on a $2.13 minimum wage, so it’s absolutely devastating.”
And the International Olympic Committee has chosen Beijing as the host city for the 2022 Winter Games. Beijing beat out the only other candidate city, Almaty, Kazakhstan, in a vote Friday. The four other possible cities — Oslo, Norway; Stockholm, Sweden; Krakow, Poland; and Lviv, Ukraine — had all pulled out of the running. Beijing hosted the Summer Olympics in 2008 amid a flurry of allegations over human rights abuses tied directly to the events, including forced evictions and labor abuses of migrant construction workers.