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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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At least 22 people, mostly children, have reportedly died in an airstrike on a school in the rebel-held Syrian province of Idlib. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the bombing was believed to be carried out by Russian planes. Anthony Lake of UNICEF said, “This is a tragedy. It is an outrage. And if deliberate, it is a war crime.” UNICEF says the attack may be the deadliest bombing of a school since the war in Syria began more than five years ago. Meanwhile at the United Nations, U.N. emergency relief coordinator Stephen O’Brien pushed the Security Council Wednesday to take action in Syria. He said soon there may be no Syrian people or Syria to save.
Stephen O’Brien: “Each month, I have come before you and presented an ever-worsening record of destruction and atrocity, grimly cataloguing the systematic destruction of a country and its people. While my job is to relay to you the facts, I cannot help but be incandescent with rage. Month after month, worse and worse, and nothing is actually happening to stop the war, stop the suffering.”
In what’s been described as the biggest military buildup on Russia’s borders since the Cold War, the United States is promising to send troops, tanks and artillery to Poland, while Britain is planning to send fighter jets to Romania and troops to Estonia next year. The pledges were made Wednesday during a NATO meeting in Brussels. In addition, Germany, Canada and other NATO allies have pledged to send forces to the region.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg: “Today we also discussed progress in strengthening NATO’s presence in the Black Sea region with a Romanian-led multinational framework brigade on land, and we are working on measures in the air and at sea. And I’m pleased to confirm that several nations indicated their willingness to contribute to our presence in the Black Sea region on land, at sea and in the air.”
In North Dakota, the Morton County Sheriff’s Department has concluded its investigation into the use of dogs to attack Native Americans trying to protect a sacred tribal burial site from being destroyed by the construction of the $3.8 billion Dakota Access pipeline on September 3. The investigation finds the guards lacked the proper licensing to do security work in North Dakota. It is a Class B misdemeanor to provide private security services without a license in North Dakota, meaning some of the guards could face charges and possible jail time. The Sheriff’s Department probe began after this video recorded by Democracy Now! on September 3 went viral.
Water protector: “These people are just threatening all of us with these dogs. And she, that woman over there, she was charging, and it bit somebody right in the face.”
Amy Goodman: “The dog has blood in its nose and its mouth.”
Water protector: “And she’s still standing here threatening us.
Amy Goodman: “Why are you letting their—her dog go after the protesters? It’s covered in blood!”
In New York City, resistance is growing in opposition to Spectra Energy’s AIM pipeline, which is slated to carry fracked gas only hundreds of feet from the aging Indian Point nuclear power plant and then under the Hudson River. On Tuesday morning, 15 people were arrested blocking the doors to New York Senator Chuck Schumer’s office in Manhattan to demand Schumer stop the pipeline’s construction. This comes two weeks after four activists blockaded pipeline construction for more than 15 hours by crawling inside the pipeline and locking themselves to each other.
In campaign news, hacked emails from the account of Hillary Clinton’s campaign chair, John Podesta, show several of her top aides were privately concerned about how the actions of the Clinton Foundation could impact her campaign. Campaign manager Robby Mook sent one email with the subject line of “Foundation vulnerability points.” In the email, he listed three points: “Money from foreign governments,” “Overseas events with foreign leaders or government officials” and “Potential conflicts from overseas-owned organizations (UK and Sweeden [sic]).” The Clinton Foundation raised $26 million from the Swedish government at the same time the government was lobbying Hillary Clinton’s State Department not to sanction Swedish businesses from working with Iran. The Swedish telecommunications giant Ericsson had sold Iran equipment that could be used to track its citizens. Meanwhile, another hacked email written by one of Bill Clinton’s closest aides shows how former President Clinton has personally profited from work tied to the foundation. The aide, Doug Band, writes that he helped secure $50 million in speaking fees and other ventures that went directly to Bill Clinton. In the email, Band described the for-profit activity of President Clinton as “Bill Clinton, Inc.” Meanwhile, in another hacked email, Chelsea Clinton accused her father’s aides of taking “significant sums of money from my parents personally.”
In other campaign news, Donald Trump took a break from the campaign trail to open a new luxury hotel in Washington, D.C., just blocks from the White House. This comes as more signs are emerging that the Republican’s presidential run may have done permanent damage to the Trump brand. In New York, more than 300 residents of the large apartment complex known as Trump Place have signed an online petition titled “Dump the Trump Name.” Meanwhile in Hollywood, someone has vandalized Donald Trump’s star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame by smashing it to pieces using a sledgehammer and a pickax.
In other campaign news, a former Republican congressmember has threatened to grab his musket if Trump loses in the election. Former Illinois Congressmember Joe Walsh tweeted, “On November 8th, I’m voting for Trump. On November 9th, if Trump loses, I’m grabbing my musket. You in?” The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence condemned Walsh’s tweet. The group’s president, Dan Gross, said, “Joe Walsh’s continued vile and violent rhetoric has no place in our political discussion.”
For the first time, the United States has abstained from a United Nations General Assembly vote on a resolution calling for an end to a U.S. economic embargo on Cuba. The resolution was passed 191 to zero, with the United States and Israel abstaining. The U.S. had opposed the measure for the past 24 years. In Havana, residents welcomed the U.N. vote.
Yudith Rodríguez: “We really think the United States’ abstention is a step in the right direction, that proves that in the future, sometime soon, there could be an end to the blockade, given the conditions and flagrant violations of human rights that it represents.”
A shocking new study by the World Wildlife Fund finds more than two-thirds of the world’s wildlife could be gone by 2020. According to WWF, there has already been a 58 percent overall decline in the numbers of fish, mammals, birds and reptiles worldwide. WWF conservation scientist Martin Taylor told CNN, “This is definitely human impact, we’re in the sixth mass extinction. There’s only been five before this, and we’re definitely in the sixth.”
Ten immigrant rights activists were arrested Tuesday morning after they chained themselves together and shut down traffic on the upper level of the George Washington Bridge during morning rush hour. The protest was organized by the Laundry Workers Center using the hashtag #SomosVisibles, or #WeAreVisible. Co-director of the Laundry Workers Center Mahoma López said, “We demand the right to vote and take part in the decisions in our communities.” The group is calling for a day of action on November 7—the day before the presidential elections. Meanwhile, another group of immigrant rights activists held a march outside an immigration office in downtown Manhattan to demand “deferred action” from deportation, including a five-year work visa, for all undocumented immigrants, regardless of age or parental status. The campaign is called Saving Our Souls, a reference to Martin Luther King’s motto for the civil rights movement. It included 37 people from Mexico, Honduras, Ghana, St. Vincent, Spain and other countries who submitted their applications for deferred action.
And in Maryland, a debate between the Democratic and Republican Senate candidates was disrupted Wednesday when the Green Party’s candidate, Dr. Margaret Flowers, jumped on stage to insist she be allowed to take part. After briefly speaking on the stage, Flowers was removed by security.
Dr. Margaret Flowers: “I think it’s important for voters to understand the differences between myself and Congressman Van Hollen and Delegate Szeliga; otherwise, they don’t really know. I mean, you say you’re a public university, and you want to educate the public, but without having a full public discussion, that doesn’t actually happen. So, how does this serve democracy or serve the public if I’m excluded from this discussion when I’m on the ballot?”
Police officer: “Ms. Flowers, you’re going to have to leave now.”
Dr. Margaret Flowers: “It’s Dr. Flowers. I’m a candidate for U.S. Senate in Maryland. And this is how you’re treating a candidate?”
After Margaret Flowers was removed from the stage, the debate went on between Democratic nominee Chris Van Hollen and Republican Kathy Szeliga.