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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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Hungary has declared a state of emergency in two regions along its southern border with Serbia as Hungarian authorities arrest more than 60 people under new laws criminalizing border crossing. A group of refugees has declared a hunger strike at the border demanding passage. The rising tensions come as European Union officials meeting in Brussels Monday failed to agree on a plan to resettle 120,000 asylum seekers. Outside the meeting, the aunt of the three-year-old Syrian toddler Aylan Kurdi, whose lifeless body was photographed on a Turkish shore after his boat sank in the Mediterranean, demanded the EU take action to help refugees.
Fatima Kurdi: “Please, save those refugees. Do something. Let’s put hand together, find a solution, make it happen. People should open their heart and help those refugees.”
In California, major wildfires are continuing to burn out of control despite the efforts of nearly 9,000 firefighters. Three massive fires have already burned more than 250,000 acres across Central and Northern California. Seventy-two-year-old retired teacher Barbara McWilliams died over the weekend after the flames engulfed her home in Middletown. Authorities say several other people are unaccounted for. More than 20,000 people have evacuated the region, and 500 homes have burned.
The fires come as a new report concludes burning all of the world’s coal, oil and natural gas deposits would cause the entire ice sheet covering Antarctica to melt. Scientists found half the melting could happen in as few as 1,000 years. Warming oceans and the melting of the rest of the world’s land ice would cause the sea to rise a total of more than 200 feet. That’s enough to consume all of Florida and the entire U.S. East Coast and to drown Miami, New Orleans, Houston, Washington, New York, London, Paris and Tokyo. Researcher Ricarda Winkelmann told The New York Times, “To be blunt: If we burn it all, we melt it all.”
Meanwhile, the world’s largest public relations company has vowed to work no longer for coal producers and climate change deniers. The Guardian reports Edelman made the decision because such clients pose a threat to the firm’s legitimacy and bottom line.
Mexico’s foreign minister is flying to Cairo after Egyptian security forces mistakenly killed 12 people when they attacked a group of Mexican tourists. Egypt’s Interior Ministry said the crew of an Apache helicopter opened fire on the tourists after mistaking them for Islamist militants. Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto demanded an explanation Monday.
President Enrique Peña Nieto: “Yesterday’s events have saddened us as a nation. There hasn’t been a precedent in years of an event like this against our citizens. Mexico has demanded from the Egyptian government an exhaustive, thorough and prompt investigation which establishes responsibility.”
President Peña Nieto’s remarks come as families of 43 students missing in Mexico demand answers of their own, nearly a year after their loved ones disappeared in the state of Guerrero after coming under attack by local police the night of September 26. An independent report has rejected the Mexican government’s claim the students were killed by members of a local drug gang and incinerated at a garbage dump. Peña Nieto has agreed to meet with representatives of the missing students’ families ahead of the anniversary next week.
In Australia, Malcolm Turnbull has been sworn in as the new prime minister after former Prime Minister Tony Abbott was ousted in snap elections called for by his own Liberal Party. Public opinion of Tony Abbott had reached a record low amid controversial decisions to roll back climate change legislation, oppose same-sex marriage and turn back boats carrying refugees. Turnbull spoke to reporters after Monday’s vote.
Malcolm Turnbull: “This will be a thoroughly liberal government. It will be a thoroughly liberal government committed to freedom, the individual and the market. It will be focused on insuring that in the years ahead, as the world becomes more and more competitive and greater opportunities arise, we are able to take advantage of that.”
In Mississippi, a man accused of killing his partner and a colleague has died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound. Authorities say they were pursuing Shannon Lamb when he pulled over, ran away and shot himself. Delta State University was locked down Monday after Lamb allegedly shot and killed professor Ethan Schmidt. Police say hours earlier he murdered his domestic partner, Amy Prentiss, at their home, 300 miles away.
Tens of thousands of people gathered in Tokyo Monday to protest the government’s plan to rewrite Japan’s pacifist constitution to allow Japanese troops to fight abroad for the first time since World War II. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s administration is aiming to enact the legislation this month.
In a victory for environmentalists in Minnesota, the Minnesota Court of Appeals has dealt a blow to the proposed Sandpiper oil pipeline, which would carry crude oil from North Dakota through Minnesota to Wisconsin, running near pristine water resources. The court ruled a full-scale environmental review of the project must be conducted before the project can move ahead. The ruling invalidates an earlier decision by the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission to allow the Canadian company Enbridge to move forward with the project.
In one of the more unusual stops of the 2016 campaign trail, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders brought his message of economic justice to the evangelical Christian college Liberty University in Virginia. Sanders defended his pro-choice stance in front of a crowd of nearly 12,000 people. While acknowledging differences, he sought common ground on the issues of poverty and economic inequality.
Sen. Bernie Sanders: “I understand that the issues of abortion and gay marriage are issues that you feel very strongly about. We disagree on those issues. I get that. But let me respectfully suggest that there are other issues out there that are of enormous consequence to our country and, in fact, to the entire world, that maybe, just maybe, we do not disagree on. And maybe, just maybe, we can try to work together to resolve them.”
A federal court has ordered the FBI to lift a gag order on Nicholas Merrill. In early 2004, Merrill was running an Internet service provider called Calyx when he received a national security letter ordering him to hand over detailed private records about some of his customers. Democracy Now! was among Merrill’s clients. Recipients of the letters are barred from telling anyone about their encounter with the FBI. Merrill challenged the national security letter statute and won a settlement in 2010 allowing him to discuss some details. Now, a court has removed the gag order in what reportedly marks the first time a national security letter gag order has been lifted in full since the PATRIOT Act expanded the FBI’s authority around national security letters in 2001. Merrill remains gagged for 90 days to allow the Obama administration time to consider an appeal.
After a lengthy legal battle, the Obama administration has given a court redacted versions of eight videotapes showing force-feedings of prisoners at Guantánamo Bay. The Guardian reports the Justice Department’s disclosure came nearly a year after a federal judge first ordered the disclosure of the eight tapes. An attorney for Abu Wa’el Dhiab, one of the prisoners whose force-feeding is shown on the tapes, called them a “national scandal.” Dhiab’s attorneys and news outlets will now fight for the public to see the tapes.
In South Carolina, a former North Charleston police officer charged with murder for shooting Walter Scott, an unarmed African-American man, will remain in jail after being denied bond. Circuit Judge Clifton Newman concluded releasing Officer Michael Slager would “constitute an unreasonable danger to the community.” Video footage captured by a bystander shows Officer Slager shooting Walter Scott in the back as he ran away.
In news from Ferguson, Missouri, a panel formed in the aftermath of the police shooting of Michael Brown has called for reforms to address racial injustice in the St. Louis region. The report calls for merging police departments and courts, and curbing police use of force through new policies, training and a statewide database of use-of-force incidents. It concludes, “The regular use of force has led many citizens to view the police as an occupying force.”
In Kentucky, Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis did not prevent her deputies from issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples Monday on her first day back at work after she was jailed for refusing to provide the licenses herself. Davis said she herself would not authorize same-sex marriage licenses.
Kim Davis: “Any unauthorized license that they issue will not have my name, my title or my authority on it. Instead, the license will state that they are issued pursuant to a federal court order. Judge Benning indicated last week that he was willing to accept altered marriage license, even though he was not certain of their validity.”
In Kerala, India, thousands of women tea plantation workers have ended an unprecedented nine-day strike after their managers agreed to their demands to increase bonuses. The women blockaded roads in the hill town of Munnar. The strike was unusual because of the women’s decision to reject the involvement of male-dominated trade unions and almost all politicians.
And the civil rights attorney Solomon Seay Jr. has died at the age of 81. Among many other cases, Seay fought desegregation and helped represent now-Congressmember John Lewis and the recently deceased civil rights leader Amelia Boynton in a successful battle to allow the Selma to Montgomery voting rights march to proceed peacefully after the marchers were attacked by Alabama state troopers on Bloody Sunday in 1965. Sherrilyn Ifill, president of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, called Seay “the true hero of Alabama’s civil rights movement.”