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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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In a major foreign policy victory for President Obama, Republicans in the Senate failed to secure enough votes Thursday to derail the Iran nuclear agreement. The Senate voted against clearing the way for a debate of the bill in a 58-42 vote, less than the 60 votes needed to advance a resolution of disapproval. Four Democrats voted against the deal: New York Senator Charles Schumer, Maryland Senator Benjamin Cardin, New Jersey Senator Robert Menendez and West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin. After the vote, Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell vowed to continue to fight against the deal, a move some say is a futile act of political posturing. We’ll have more on the Iran nuclear deal after headlines.
The Obama administration has agreed to accept at least 10,000 Syrian refugees over the next year, an increase that falls far short of figures called for by lawmakers and international aid organizations. The United States has resettled fewer than 1,500 Syrians since the conflict began. At least 4 million Syrians are displaced outside Syria’s borders. The International Rescue Committee has called on the United States to take in at least 65,000 refugees from Syria — a demand reiterated by Democratic presidential candidate Martin O’Malley and more than 100,000 Americans who have signed a handful of petitions in recent days.
The U.N. General Assembly voted overwhelming Thursday to approve the Palestinians’ bid to fly their national flag outside the United Nations headquarters. The resolution, which allows so-called observer states to fly their flags, was co-sponsored by more than 50 countries. Palestine became the second observer state in 2012, joining the Vatican. Only eight countries voted against Thursday’s resolution, including the United States, Israel, Canada and Australia. Riyad Mansour, Palestinian ambassador to the United Nations, spoke after the vote.
Riyad Mansour: “Today’s vote is a reaffirmation of the legitimacy of the national aspirations of the Palestinian people, of their existence among the nations of the world and their right to self-determination, to be a free people in control of their lives and destiny in their own independent state.”
In news from the campaign trail, a new national CNN poll shows Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders is within 10 points of his rival Hillary Clinton, as support for the former secretary of state continues to erode. The survey released Thursday shows 37 percent support for Clinton, compared to 27 percent for Sanders. Speaking to CNN after the poll, Sanders outlined the differences between himself and Hillary Clinton.
Sen. Bernie Sanders “I voted against the war in Iraq. I believe, over a period of years, we should raise the minimum wage to 15 bucks an hour. I believe we should re-establish Glass-Steagall to start breaking up these large financial institutions on Wall Street. I am very opposed to our current trade policies and helping to lead the effort against the Trans-Pacific Partnership. The secretary has not made a decision on that. I am strongly against the Keystone pipeline, because I think we need to radically transform our energy system. The secretary has not made a statement on that, as well.”
Meanwhile, a new Quinnipiac poll shows Bernie Sanders leading Hillary Clinton in Iowa for the first time. A new NBC poll released Sunday also shows Sanders with a nine-point lead on Clinton in New Hampshire.
Meanwhile, Vice President Joe Biden received 20 percent of the vote in the most recent CNN poll, despite having not formally announced he is running for president. Speaking on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert Thursday night, Biden discussed whether he will run.
Vice President Joe Biden: “I’d be lying if I said that I knew I was there. It’s a — I’m being completely honest. So, but nobody has a right, in my view, to seek that office unless they’re willing to give it 110 percent of who they are.”
Hillary Clinton faces another round of scrutiny after a former staffer who worked on her personal email server chose to plead the Fifth during a closed-door deposition to the House Select Committee on Benghazi Thursday. The committee has also been probing Clinton’s email use while she served as secretary of state. Bryan Pagliano was an IT staffer for the State Department whom Clinton paid to help maintain her private server.
Today, people are congregating for ceremonies in New York City, Pennsylvania and Washington, D.C., to mark the 14th anniversary of 9/11 terror attacks. The commemoration comes after last month’s death of Marcy Borders, the former Bank of America legal assistant who became known as the “Dust Lady” after a photographer snapped a picture of her engulfed in dust as the Twin Towers began to fall. Borders died of stomach cancer, which she believed was linked to the ash she inhaled on 9/11. She was 42 years old. Meanwhile, in Chile, people are marking the 42nd anniversary of its own 9/11. On September 11, 1973, democratically elected President Salvador Allende died in the palace in a U.S.-backed coup, ushering in 17 years of brutal dictatorship under Augusto Pinochet.
In Yemen, local officials say a U.S. drone strike has killed four people after it hit a vehicle in southeastern Yemen on Wednesday night. Officials are describing the victims as suspected al-Qaeda members.
A Venezuelan court has ordered opposition leader Leopoldo López be jailed for almost 14 years. López was found guilty of inciting violence during last year’s anti-government protests, which left more than 40 people dead.
Scientists have discovered a new species of human ancestors in a cave in South Africa. The species name is “Homo naledi.” Naledi means “star” in the local Sesotho language. Scientists say it appears that the species buried its dead. The bones were discovered inside an underground cave in a UNESCO World Heritage Site called the Cradle of Humankind.
The nonprofit National Geographic Society has sold its flagship magazine and other media assets to Rupert Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox for $725 million. The deal will turn the nonprofit magazine into a commercial operation. Rupert Murdoch has long come under fire for denying the impact of human activity on climate change. A study published in 2014 by the Union of Concerned Scientists argued more than 70 percent of Fox’s climate change coverage was “misleading.”
In New York, a new federal lawsuit claims more than a dozen corrections officers are responsible for the death of Samuel Harrell, a 30-year-old African-American man who died in April after as many as 20 corrections officers kicked, punched and threw him down a flight of stairs while he was incarcerated at the Fishkill Correctional Facility in Beacon, New York. Harrell was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. The group of officers who assaulted Harrell are known as the “Beat Up Squad.” Samuel Harrell’s father, Samuel Harrell Sr., spoke about his son’s death on Wednesday.
Samuel Harrell Sr.: “This was a crime, a criminal act, a homicide that took the life of my son. Instead of getting help for him at that time, the COs, they lost control. And in turn, I lost a son.”
The lawsuit comes as a former Fishkill Correctional Facility inmate has spoken out to The New York Times about seeing Harrell’s body falling down a flight of stairs after the beating. Lucas Renfrow says he was later harassed by guards and placed in solitary confinement.
Twenty-eight people have been arrested after forming a human barricade at a natural gas storage facility in upstate New York to protest plans by Crestwood Midstream to expand gas storage in abandoned salt caverns at Seneca Lake, a drinking water source for 100,000 people. Four hundred people have been arrested in the ongoing campaign. The crowd held a seven-foot-tall replica of Pope Francis’ recent encyclical letter on climate change and signs reading “Pope Francis, We Hear You.”
And African-American tennis star James Blake has spoken out about being slammed to the ground by five undercover police officers as he stood outside his Manhattan hotel on Wednesday afternoon. Blake describes being tackled by a plainclothes police officer whom he initially thought was an old high school friend he didn’t recognize. He says he was cuffed on the ground for at least 15 minutes until one of the officers recognized him. The police say they had mistakenly identified Blake as a suspect in a case of credit card fraud. Following the arrest, one of the officers appears to have attempted to cover up the incident by failing to record the stop in the NYPD logs. NYPD Police Commissioner Bill Bratton said Thursday the arrest “should not have happened.”
Commissioner Bill Bratton: “We are very interested in speaking with Mr. Blake and hope to hear back from him to extend an apology for the experience he encountered. It should not have happened. … Concerns I have about what I witnessed on the video, as well as briefings I’ve received by Chief Reznick, the inappropriateness of the amount of force that was used during the arrest.”
At least one officer has been placed on administrative desk duty after the incident. Speaking on Good Morning America Thursday, Blake said he believes the police need to be held accountable.
James Blake: “When you police with reckless abandon, you need to be held accountable. And I think I’m hopefully going to let people know that some of them need to be held accountable. And these that are doing police work the wrong way need to pay for those actions and be shown either the door or whatever they need to do to punish them.”