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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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Federal prosecutors have agreed to settle a criminal investigation into General Motors for concealing an ignition switch defect linked to at least 124 deaths. Under the deal, General Motors agreed to pay $900 million as part of a deferred prosecution agreement, but no GM executives will be prosecuted for covering up the deadly defect. We’ll speak with Ralph Nader and the mother of a crash victim caused by the faulty ignition switch after headlines.
In news from Europe, Croatia has closed the majority of its border crossings with Serbia following the influx of more than 13,000 refugees this week. This comes after Hungary’s violent crackdown at its border. European Union Commissioner for Migration Dimitris Avramopoulos condemned the continent’s borders crackdown Thursday.
Dimitris Avramopoulos: “There is no wall you would not climb, no sea you wouldn’t cross, if you’re fleeing violence and terror. I believe we have a moral duty: offer them protection. It is a duty inscribed in international and European laws.”
Donald Trump is facing criticism after a town hall in New Hampshire when during a Q&A one of his supporters stood up and said President Obama is a Muslim and not even an American, and asked when the United States could get rid of Muslims.
Donald Trump: “OK, this man. I like this guy.”
Man: I’m from White Plains. Amen, OK? We have a problem in this country. It’s called Muslims. We know our current president is one.”
Donald Trump: “Right.”
Man: “You know he’s not even an American. Birth certificate, man.”
Donald Trump: “We need this question; this is the first question.”
Man: “But anyway, we have training camps brewing where they want to kill us.”
Donald Trump: “Mm-hmm.”
Man: “That’s my question: When can we get rid of them?”
Donald Trump: “We’re going to be looking at a lot of different things. And, you know, a lot of people are saying that, and a lot of people are saying that bad things are happening out there. We’re going to be looking at that and plenty of other things.”
After the event, Hillary Clinton tweeted, “Donald Trump not denouncing false statements about POTUS & hateful rhetoric about Muslims is disturbing, & just plain wrong. Cut it out.” Later, Trump’s campaign issued a statement to The Washington Post saying, “The media wants to make this issue about Obama. The bigger issue is that Obama is waging a war against Christians.”
About 100 people gathered in front of MacArthur High School in Irving, Texas, Thursday night for a rally in support of Ahmed Mohamed, the 14-year-old Muslim student who was arrested after bringing a homemade clock to school to show his teacher. After the teacher said the device looked like a bomb, police interrogated, handcuffed and arrested Mohamed and took him to a juvenile detention center. Speaking on MSNBC, Ahmed said the incident reminded him of the times he was bullied in middle school.
Ahmed Mohamed: “I felt like I was a criminal. I felt like I was a terrorist. I felt like all the names I was called.”
Chris Hayes: “What do mean all the names you were called?”
Ahmed Mohamed: “I’m always called — in middle school I was called a terrorist, called a bomb maker, just because of my race and religion.”
Ahmed’s story has since gone viral. He’s been invited to visit the White House, with President Obama tweeting, “Cool clock, Ahmed.” He’s also been offered internships at Twitter and Reddit, and invited to visit MIT. He says he will be transferring schools.
Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders has introduced new legislation aimed at banning government contracts with private prisons. Sanders said Thursday that banning for-profit incarceration is the first step to ending the system of mass incarceration.
Sen. Bernie Sanders: “As a first step, we need to start treating prisoners like human beings. Private companies, private corporations, should not be profiteering from their incarceration.”
House Republicans are voting for legislation today to end government funding for Planned Parenthood, setting up a budgetary showdown that could force a government shutdown by the end of the month. Senate Republicans are also proposing anti-choice legislation that would outlaw all abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy. This comes after Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell failed to secure enough votes to defund Planned Parenthood last month. A recent Reuters poll shows the majority of Americans support federal funding for Planned Parenthood.
Pope Francis will arrive in Cuba Saturday for a visit he says he hopes will help end the U.S. trade embargo on Cuba. New regulations to lessen the U.S. trade embargo on Cuba are expected to be released today. Pope Francis will spend four days in Cuba, where he may meet with Fidel Castro, depending on the former president’s health.
In Burkina Faso, at least three people have been killed during protests as the military authorities sealed the borders, canceled flights and imposed a night curfew following an apparent military coup. On Wednesday, the presidential guard, which is loyal to Burkina Faso’s former longtime President Blaise Compaoré, detained interim President Michel Kafando and dissolved the transitional government.
In South Sudan, at least 182 have died in an oil tank explosion in the western town of Maridi. Officials are warning the death toll could continue to rise given the lack of nearby facilities equipped to treat the burns.
Pakistani officials say at least seven people have been killed in a U.S. drone strike in Pakistan today. The strike hit a vehicle in South Waziristan. Meanwhile, also in Pakistan, military officials say at least 16 people have died after Taliban members attacked a mosque near an air force base Friday.
Voters in Greece are headed to the polls for a snap general election Sunday. Syriza party leader Alexis Tsipras and conservative New Democracy party leader Vangelis Meimarakis are nearly tied in the polls. Meanwhile, dozens of former Syriza lawmakers are now running with the new anti-bailout party Popular Unity. Former Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras forced the snap elections after he resigned last month.
The second-highest-ranking official at FIFA has been placed on immediate leave and is facing an investigation over the alleged black market sale of World Cup tickets. Jérôme Valcke had served as the secretary general of FIFA for eight years. He is the latest official to be investigated in the growing corruption scandal that has thrown the world soccer governing body into turmoil.
In Mexico, authorities have arrested a gang leader known as “El Gil,” who they say was involved in the disappearance of the 43 students from the southern state of Guerrero nearly one year ago. The families of the missing students and an international group of experts have rejected the government’s accounts of events. The experts’ report earlier this month said the Mexican government’s investigation was deeply flawed, and pointed to the role the federal police and military played in the students’ disappearance.
In Iceland, the City Council of the capital Reykjavik has voted in favor of a motion to boycott Israeli-made goods for “as long as the occupation of Palestinian territories continues.” A local elected official said in a local radio interview that the goal of the boycott is to pressure Israel to stop the occupation, which is illegal under international law.
Betty Blake, the mother of retired tennis star James Blake, has written about her son being tackled by NYPD officer James Frascatore. Video footage shows Blake, who is biracial, standing outside Manhattan’s Grand Hyatt hotel when Officer James Frascatore approaches him, wraps an arm around his neck, tackles him down, digs his knee into his back and handcuffs him. Police say they mistakenly identified Blake as a suspect in a credit card fraud probe. In an editorial for the New York Daily News, Betty, who is white and grew up in England, wrote, “It seems there’s no end to racism in this country. In fact it seems to get worse.”
And the legendary media activist Everett Parker died Thursday at the age of 102. In the 1960s he led an effort to have the license of a Jackson, Miss., TV station revoked for attempting to squelch the voices of the civil rights movement. At the time, Parker was director of communications of the United Church of Christ. Parker filed a “petition to deny renewal” with the FCC, initiating a process that eventually got the station’s license revoked by a federal court and had far-reaching consequences in American broadcasting. Click here to see our interview with Everett Parker.