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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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Tens of thousands of refugees traversed Europe over the weekend amid an increasingly violent crackdown from right-wing governments and mounting grassroots efforts to show that refugees are welcome. By Monday, as many as 20,000 people had arrived in Germany, where many were greeted by crowds expressing support and distributing food, tea and clothing. Germany says it can accept half a million refugees each year, with German Chancellor Angela Merkel calling on other countries to act.
Following massive pressure, some other Western European governments have agreed to accept additional refugees, although the figures remain only a fraction of the number who have entered Europe this year alone. France has said it will take in 24,000 people over two years. England says it will accept 20,000 people over five years. In Finland, which will accept 1,000 people this year, Prime Minister Juha Sipila announced he would open his guest house to refugee families.
Meanwhile, in Hungary, tensions continue to rise as authorities have blocked people from boarding trains and attempted to herd them into holding camps, forcing thousands to set off by foot on the side of the highway. On Monday, Hungary’s defense minister resigned. He had been one of the key officials responsible for the ongoing construction of a massive fence on Hungary’s border with Serbia. In Israel, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also has rejected calls to take in more Syrian refugees, instead saying it is continuing plans to construct a fence along its border with Jordan.
Authorities in the Czech Republic, meanwhile, came under fire for writing numbers on the arms of people whom they had pulled off trains, which for many brought back memories of Nazi concentration camps.
On Sunday, Pope Francis called on the world to offer sanctuary to those forced to flee their homelands.
Pope Francis: “Faced with the tragedy of tens of thousands of refugees who are fleeing death from war and from hunger and who are on the road in the hope of a better life, the gospel calls us and asks us to show solidarity to the smallest and the abandoned and to give them a real hope. … I appeal to the parishes, the religious communities, the monasteries and sanctuaries of all Europe to show the true meaning of the gospel and take in one family of refugees.”
The United States is also facing increasing criticism for not accepting more refugees. A WhiteHouse.gov petition demanding that the United States take in at least 65,000 Syrian refugees by 2016 has garnered nearly 50,000 signatures, while thousands more have pledged to host Syrian families through a new campaign called #OpenHomesOpenHeartsUS.
In news from Mexico, an independent report has dismissed the Mexican government’s official account of the disappearance of 43 students following a police attack in the southern state of Guerrero last September. The team of international experts commissioned by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights said they found no evidence to support the Mexican government’s claim that the students from Ayotzinapa teachers’ college were incinerated in a trash dump in the town of Cocula. Mexican Attorney General Arely Gómez has said she will order a new investigation. Parents of the disappeared students have long disputed the government’s claims about what happened to their sons. We’ll go to Mexico for more later in the broadcast.
In Guatemala, a television comedian has won the first round of the nation’s presidential elections just days after Guatemala’s President Otto Pérez Molina resigned and was jailed on corruption charges. Sunday’s previously scheduled election went ahead despite calls for its postponement. The comic actor Jimmy Morales received about 24 percent of the vote, far short of the 50 percent needed for an outright victory. Sandra Torres, the ex-wife of former President Álvaro Colom, and conservative businessman Manuel Baldizón were virtually tied for second place. A runoff has been set for October 25. We’ll get more from Allan Nairn in Guatemala later in the broadcast.
In Turkey, conflict between the government and Kurdish militants has intensified. On Monday, Turkey launched a wave of airstrikes against Kurdish insurgents in the mountainous region on the border with Iraq. The strikes come after the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, known as the PKK, killed at least 16 Turkish soldiers on Sunday in what is being described as the militants’ deadliest attack since the collapse of the two-year-old ceasefire. Meanwhile, 10 Turkish police officers have died in a bomb attack on a police bus in eastern Turkey this morning. No one has taken responsibility for the attack, but Turkish officials have blamed the attack on the PKK.
British Prime Minister David Cameron says England has launched its first drone strike into Syria, killing two British citizens accused of fighting for ISIL. England does not have a parliamentary mandate to take military action in Syria. Cameron said the strikes were conducted in self-defense to prevent attacks planned by ISIL in Britain. The announcement comes on the heels of news that a U.S. drone strike killed another British citizen in August, after approval from the British government. Meanwhile, the Pentagon has announced plans to redesign the $500 million program to train and arm so-called moderate rebels in Syria, after Syrian militants linked to al-Qaeda attacked the U.S.-backed rebels in July.
In news from Afghanistan, the U.S. military is denying reports by Afghan officials that an airstrike by U.S.-led coalition forces has killed 11 Afghan police in a so-called friendly fire incident in the southern Helmand province. Meanwhile, unnamed military officials have told The New York Times that Germany and Sweden have been working with the United States to decide who is targeted by U.S. drone strikes in Afghanistan. Both countries have denied that they are involved in the so-called kill decisions. One official told The New York Times that at the coalition headquarters in Kabul, officials from the three countries would watch video screen monitors of targets and decide whether to strike by “giving thumbs up or down, like gladiators in a stadium.”
In an escalation of the ongoing crisis in Yemen, Qatar is deploying ground forces for the first time, amid increasing airstrikes by the U.S.-backed, Saudi-led coalition. Overnight on Monday, airstrikes killed at least nine people in the capital Sana’a. Meanwhile, the United Arab Emirates launched strikes across Yemen over the weekend after an attack by Houthi rebels killed dozens of Emirati soldiers on Friday. The ongoing conflict between Houthi rebels and Saudi-backed forces loyal to Yemen’s ousted president has killed at least 4,000 people and sparked a humanitarian crisis.
In the West Bank, thousands of Palestinians marched in a funeral procession Monday to mourn the death of 27-year-old Riham Dawabsheh, the mother of the 18-month-old Palestinian child who was killed when the family’s home was firebombed, allegedly by Jewish settlers, in July. Riham is the third member of the family to die following the attack. Her husband died on August 9.
The former French secret service agent responsible for bombing the Greenpeace flagship Rainbow Warrior has broken his silence and apologized to his victims, 30 years after the attack. On July 10, 1985, Jen-Luc Kister led the dive team that planted the bombs on the Rainbow Warrior, sinking the ship in a harbor in Auckland, New Zealand, as the vessel was preparing to head to sea to protest against French nuclear bomb tests in the South Pacific. Greenpeace photographer Fernando Pereira was killed in the bombing. Kister apologized in an interview with TV New Zealand.
Jen-Luc Kister: “I would like to take this opportunity given to me by the TV of New Zealand to express my deepest regrets and apologies.”
We’ll air more of the interview with Jean-Luc Kister later in the broadcast.
In Kentucky, the county clerk jailed for refusing to issue same-sex marriage licenses has appealed a judge’s decision to hold her in contempt of court. Davis says she opposes same-sex marriage for religious reasons. She stopped issuing all marriage licenses rather than comply with a landmark Supreme Court ruling in June legalizing same-sex marriage nationwide. On Friday, after Davis was jailed, her deputy clerks in Rowan County began issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Today Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee is expected to visit Kim Davis in jail and lead a rally to support her.
President Obama has announced a new executive order that will require federal contractors to offer up to seven days of paid sick leave. Obama made the announcement in Boston on Labor Day.
President Obama: “Let’s face it: Nobody wants a waiter who feels like they have to come to work when they’re coughing, they’re contagious. But if they don’t have sick leave, what are they going to do? They’ve got to pay the rent. That’s not good for anybody. Unfortunately, only Congress has the power to give this security to all Americans, but where I can act, I will. And by the way, I just did. As we were flying over here, I signed a new executive order requiring federal contractors to allow employees who work on our contracts to earn up to seven paid sick days a year.”
A second review of emails Hillary Clinton received on her private email server as secretary of state has backed an earlier finding the emails contained highly classified information when she received them. The New York Times reports the second analysis, conducted by intelligence agencies, affirms earlier findings by an inspector general, which Clinton’s campaign and the State Department have disputed. On Monday, Clinton told the Associated Press, “What I did was allowed.”
Meanwhile. National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden has criticized Clinton’s exclusive reliance on a private email server during her tenure as secretary of state, saying the idea her server was more secure than government channels is “completely ridiculous.”
Edward Snowden: “If an ordinary worker at the State Department or the Central Intelligence Agency, or anything like that, were sending details about the security of embassies, which is alleged to be in her emails, meetings with private government officials, foreign government officials, and the statements that were made to them in confidence over unclassified email systems, they would not only lose their job and lose their clearance, they would very likely face prosecution. … When the unclassified systems of the United States government, which has a full-time information security staff, regularly get hacked, the idea that someone keeping a private server in the renovated bathroom of a server farm in Colorado is more secure is completely ridiculous.”
Edward Snowden speaking in an interview with Al Jazeera. On Saturday, Snowden was awarded the Bjornson Prize for freedom of speech by the Norwegian Academy of Literature and Freedom of Expression.
The latest polls on the Democratic presidential race show Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders is leading Hillary Clinton by nine points in New Hampshire. The NBC/Marist polls show Sanders with 41 percent of Democratic voters in the key primary state, while Clinton has 32 percent and Vice President Joe Biden has 16 percent, even though he hasn’t announced if he is running. Without Biden, Sanders’ lead over Clinton increases to 11 points. In Iowa, Clinton remains ahead, but her lead over Sanders has decreased from 24 points in July to 11 points in the most recent survey.
Harvard Law School professor Lawrence Lessig is officially running for president. After exceeding his goal of raising $1 million by Labor Day, Lessig has formally announced his bid. He says if he wins the presidency, he will serve only as long as it takes to pass sweeping campaign finance reform. Then, he says, he will resign. Click here to see our interview with Lawrence Lessig.
And Rebekah Brooks has returned to the helm of Rupert Murdoch’s newspaper unit in Britain. Brooks resigned in 2011 amid a phone-hacking scandal that shuttered Murdoch’s tabloid News of the World and rocked his media empire. Brooks was acquitted last year of phone hacking and bribery.