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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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Fox News has chosen the top 10 Republican candidates to participate Thursday in the first debate of the 2016 presidential election. The candidates include front-runner Donald Trump, Jeb Bush, Scott Walker, Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, Ben Carson, Mike Huckabee, Chris Christie and John Kasich, who eked out a spot as the 10th-highest polling candidate. The remaining seven Republican candidates who will participate in a forum earlier in the afternoon are Carly Fiorina, Rick Perry, Bobby Jindal, Lindsey Graham, Rick Santorum, George Pataki and Jim Gilmore. Fox News said it calculated its top 10 list by averaging five national polls, a process which came under fire from polling agencies earlier this week. The Marist Institute for Public Opinion temporarily suspended its polling, saying Fox’s debate criteria ignores the margin of error. Another top pollster, Monmouth University, said, “Based on current polling, there’s no good rationale for arbitrarily selecting a top ten.”
In more news from the campaign trail, Republican candidate Jeb Bush has sparked outrage with his statement that women’s healthcare is overfunded. Bush made the comments when responding to an interviewer’s question about the Planned Parenthood sting videos, which are edited to appear to suggest that the organization sells fetal tissue, an allegation Planned Parenthood vehemently denies.
Interviewer: “Shouldn’t we make that an issue and say not one more red cent to Planned Parenthood?”
Jeb Bush: “We should, and the next president should defund Planned Parenthood. I have the benefit of having been governor, and we did defund Planned Parenthood when I was governor. We tried to create a culture of life across the board. The argument against this is, well, women’s health issues are going to be — you’re attacking — it’s a war on women, and you’re attacking women’s health issues. You could take dollar for dollar, although I’m not sure we need a half a billion dollars for women’s health issues.”
Jeb Bush later partially walked back the statement, saying he was not speaking about community health centers but only about Planned Parenthood’s “hard-to-fathom $500 million in federal funding.” He had a Twitter war with Hillary Clinton, who was questioning his saying he did not support women’s healthcare in America.
The Washington Post is reporting the FBI has opened a preliminary probe into the security of the private email setup Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton used while she served as secretary of state. The probe is looking into whether any classified material that may have moved through the private server was handled improperly. The FBI inquiry was confirmed by Clinton’s lawyer, who said they are cooperating with the probe. This comes 10 days after The New York Times incorrectly reported that two inspectors general had asked the Justice Department to open a formal investigation into the private email account, a story that the Times later retracted.
In news from Ohio, the mother of Sandra Bland has filed a lawsuit over the death of her daughter, who was found dead in a Waller County, Texas, jail cell last month. Bland was arrested on July 10 by Texas State Trooper Brian Encinia, who alleged that Bland failed to signal a lane change. Dash cam video of her arrest shows Encinia forcibly removing Bland from her car and threatening to “light [her] up” after she refused to put out her cigarette. She can later be heard accusing police of slamming her head into the ground. Authorities have said Bland committed suicide in jail, a claim her family has disputed. The wrongful death suit filed Tuesday argues Encinia used an inappropriate level of force during the arrest and that Bland should not have been arrested in the first place. The suit also contends Bland was placed in a cell containing a large garbage can, garbage bags and exposed beams, even after Bland told authorities she had attempted suicide in the past. The suit names State Trooper Encinia, two Waller County Jail guards, the Texas Department of Public Safety and Waller County.
Meanwhile, in news from North Carolina, the trial has begun for a white police officer who fatally shot an unarmed African-American man who was seeking help after a car crash in 2013. Randall Kerrick, a white police officer, is facing charges of voluntary manslaughter for allegedly shooting 24-year-old Jonathan Ferrell. According to prosecutors, Ferrell had sought help from a nearby homeowner after a car crash, but the woman had believed she was being robbed and called the police. When the officers arrived, one pointed the laser of his taser at Ferrell’s chest. Ferrell fled in fear and attempted to hide between the two police cars. This brought Ferrell close to Kerrick, who then opened fire, striking Ferrell 12 times. If convicted, Kerrick could face up to 11 years in prison.
In news on Puerto Rico, the White House has said that it is not considering a bailout for the U.S. territory, which did not make a $58 million debt payment Monday. White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said that Puerto Rico needs to “restructure its liabilities,” but that a bailout was off the table.
White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest: “We believe Puerto Rico needs an orderly process to restructure its unsustainable liabilities. … But as I’ve said before, there’s no — the administration does not envision a bailout for Puerto Rico. But where available federal assistance can be leveraged to assist the leaders of Puerto Rico in meeting some of their financial obligations, we stand ready to help.”
This comes as The New York Times is reporting that Puerto Rico has also temporarily stopped its monthly payments to a fund that is used to pay back investors who hold general obligation bonds. Puerto Rico has a $370 million payment to this fund due January 1. A bill before Congress would allow Puerto Rico to declare a limited bankruptcy, a move currently permitted only for cities and municipalities inside U.S. states. We’ll have more on Puerto Rico after headlines.
In science news, a new report shows significantly more methane gas could be leaking into the atmosphere than previously thought. The study found that a device used to measure methane escaping from natural gas facilities was consistently underreporting the emissions as a result of a technical glitch. Methane is a greenhouse gas that fuels climate change. The study’s findings could mean that natural gas fracking, which emits methane, is more detrimental to the climate than previously thought, and that climate change could be happening at an even faster rate than current estimates.
In news from Afghanistan, the United Nations is reporting civilian casualties are at “record-high levels.” The U.N. says nearly 1,600 civilians have died since January, the highest number of any similar time period since 2009. The majority of the deaths are reportedly from Taliban forces. However, the report notes a 60 percent increase in deaths caused by U.S.-backed government forces. Danielle Bell, the director of the United Nations Human Rights Unit in Afghanistan, spoke earlier today.
Danielle Bell: “The vast majority, or 90 percent, of all civilian casualties resulted from ground engagements, improvised explosive devices, or IEDs, complex and suicide attacks, and targeted killings. This destruction and damage to Afghan lives must be met by a new commitment by all parties to the conflict to protect civilians from harm.”
Mexican authorities have released footage of three suspects leaving the apartment of photographer Rubén Espinosa, who was murdered alongside human rights activist Nadia Vera and three other women in the capital city Friday. According to human rights advocates, Epinosa’s death signals a new level of violence against journalists in Mexico, who had previously considered Mexico City a safe zone. Mexico City Attorney General Rodolfo Ríos said the office is pursuing an investigation. The office has come under fire this week for appearing to focus on robbery as a potential motive of the killings, despite the fact that Espinosa had been repeatedly threatened for his reporting in the southern state of Veracruz. To see our full coverage of Rubén Espinosa’s murder, go to democracynow.org.
Israel has arrested and jailed a Jewish settler for six months without charges or trial. The detention comes as Israel attempts to crack down on Jewish extremism following a firebombing of a Palestinian home in the West Bank last week, which killed an 18-month-old baby. The government has expanded the use of detention without trial to include Jewish Israeli citizens suspected of attacks against Palestinians. It also said authorities can use harsh interrogation methods against jailed Jewish extremists.
Israel authorities have also arrested Meir Ettinger, the grandson of Meir Kahane, for his “involvement and activities in extremist Jewish organizations.” Meir Kahane is considered the father of right-wing Jewish extremism. He founded Israel’s anti-Arab Kach political party, which called for the forced removal of all Palestinians. He was murdered in 1990.
A Palestinian soccer team in the West Bank will face off against its rival team in Gaza for the first time in 15 years. Israel approved the travel plans for the West Bank team after Palestine threatened to call for Israel’s suspension from FIFA over the government’s attempts to restrict soccer players’ and coaches’ movement in and out of Palestinian territories. Islam Batran from the West Bank team Al-Ahly spoke about his excitement over the visit.
Islam Batran: “I cannot describe this feeling. This is a historic visit. This is the first time that we visit Gaza, and we are surprised how much the Gazans are amazing people. We also thank the people of Gaza for the hosting, and the audience of the Shejaiya club for their festive welcoming, and the journalists and everybody. It is a truly amazing thing.”
Two undocumented immigrants have been appointed to serve as commissioners in the Southern California city of Huntington Park. It is reportedly the first time undocumented commissioners have been appointed in the state. Huntington Park Mayor Karina Macias lauded the appointments, saying, “They have every right to be at that table, because they are part of our community.”