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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 North Dakota, hundreds of heavily armed police with military hardware raided a resistance camp established by Native American water protectors in the path of the proposed $3.8 billion Dakota Access pipeline. On Thursday afternoon, over 100 officers in riot gear with automatic rifles lined up across North Dakota’s Highway 1806, flanked by armored personnel carriers, a sound cannon, Humvees driven by National Guardsmen, an armored police truck and a bulldozer. Water protectors say police deployed tear gas, pepper spray, Tasers, concussion grenades and bean bag rounds against the Native Americans, and shot rubber bullets at their horses.
Tara Houska: “The police are protecting and serving a pipeline, and protecting fossil fuel profits over human beings. They’re macing people. They’re [bleep] tasing them in the face.”
Water Protector: “Lock arms! Lock arms! Lock up!”
Water protectors used cars to blockade a highway, and set fire to hay bales and tires. Police arrested two people they accused of firing gunshots. Four people locked themselves to a truck parked in the middle of the highway in efforts to stop the police advance. At least 141 people were arrested. Dakota Access pipeline company cranes and bulldozers were active just behind the police line, on the site of the tribal burial ground where Dakota Access security guards unleashed dogs on Native Americans on September 3. After headlines, we’ll go to North Dakota for the latest on the standoff at Standing Rock.
Thursday’s mass arrests came as Native American youth flooded the Hillary Clinton campaign headquarters in Brooklyn to demand Clinton oppose the Dakota Access pipeline. After Clinton campaign staffers declined to meet with the delegation, they attempted to present a letter to security guards.
Protester 1: “We humbly ask you to take this letter from us.”
Protester 2: “Please, take the letter.”
Protesters: “Take the letter! Take the letter! Take the letter!”
The protesters were later ordered by police to leave or face arrest. While Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders has come out against the pipeline, Clinton has so far refused to take a stance on Dakota Access. In the Clinton campaign’s first statement on the pipeline, spokesperson Tyrone Gayle wrote, in part, “Now, all of the parties involved … need to find a path forward that serves the broadest public interest. As that happens, it’s important that on the ground in North Dakota, everyone respects demonstrators’ rights to protest peacefully, and workers’ rights to do their jobs safely.” Climate activist and 350.org founder Bill McKibben responded on Twitter, writing, “Hillary Clinton managed to make a statement about the Dakota Pipeline that literally says nothing. Literally.”
In Oregon, a federal jury on Thursday acquitted anti-government militia leaders Ammon and Ryan Bundy and five of their followers of conspiracy and weapons charges related to their armed takeover of a federal wildlife refuge earlier this year. The stunning verdict shocked federal prosecutors, who called the 41-day occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge a lawless scheme to seize federal property by force. The occupation forced federal employees onto administrative leave, cost the federal government over $4 million and alarmed local residents. It also angered the Paiute Tribe, which has treaty rights to the land the militia occupied. The tribe says militia members mishandled tribal artifacts and bulldozed sacred sites. Militia leaders Ammon and Ryan Bundy still face federal charges related to an armed standoff in Nevada in 2014.
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is demanding an investigation into a strike on a school in Idlib, Syria, that killed 26 civilians, mostly children. Ban’s spokesperson said the attack could amount to a war crime.
Stéphane Dujarric: “The secretary-general calls for an immediate and impartial investigation of this and other similar attacks against civilians in Syria. If such horrific acts persist despite global outrage, it is largely because their authors, whether in corridors of power or in insurgent redoubts, do not fear justice. They must be proved wrong.”
Russia’s Defense Ministry denied that its warplanes were responsible for the attack. It released drone footage that it claimed showed the school was not struck from the air, and accused the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights and the Civil Defense Network, or “White Helmets,” of spreading propaganda. In Washington, a White House spokesperson said either Syrian or Russian warplanes were to blame.
Iraq faces what could become the largest humanitarian crisis in its history, with hundreds of thousands set to be displaced during a U.S.-backed offensive aimed at retaking the city of Mosul from ISIS. The latest data from the U.N. shows more than 10,000 civilians have fled their homes since the launch of the offensive, with another 200,000 expected to flee in the next few weeks. The U.N. says it plans to build six camps capable of accommodating an estimated 80,000 civilians and can’t rule out as many as 1 million displaced civilians as the fight continues.
In Calais, France, aid workers say dozens of children were left without shelter for a second consecutive night, after authorities lured them from the ruins of their refugee camp, known as “The Jungle,” with false promises of help. French authorities told the unaccompanied minors to line up for buses that would carry them to new refugee centers, where they could apply for asylum or reunification with families in the U.K. But the teenagers were literally left out in the cold when the buses failed to materialize and riot police prevented them from re-entering the camp. This is Dorothy Sang of the charity Save the Children.
Dorothy Sang: “What is really concerning is it’s getting dark. It’s really cold. And these children have had enough. Like they’ve been waiting months to be put in protective shelter, and now, once again, we’ve sat them there. We were asked to encourage them to get on these buses that never materialized.”
On the campaign trail, Donald Trump repeated a campaign pledge to end all immigration by Syrian refugees and others from what he called “terror-prone nations.” Trump was speaking Thursday in Springfield, Ohio.
Donald Trump: “We’re not going to take the risk when it comes to the safety of the American people, no longer. So let me state this as clearly as I can: If I’m elected president, I am going to keep radical Islamic terrorists the hell out of our country.”
Meanwhile, another woman has come forward to accuse Donald Trump of sexual assault. Ninni Laaksonen, a former Miss Finland in the Miss Universe beauty pageant that Trump once owned, says Trump grabbed her buttocks during a photoshoot in 2006. Laaksonen is the 12th woman to accuse Trump of unwanted sexual contact since the release of a 2005 “Access Hollywood” tape in which Trump boasted of sexually assaulting women.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has weighed in on claims that he’s meddling in the U.S. election. Putin made the remarks Thursday in southern Russia.
President Vladimir Putin: “Does anyone seriously think that Russia can in some way influence the choice of the American people? Is America some kind of banana republic? America is a great country, correct me if I am wrong.”
Hillary Clinton has accused rival Donald Trump of being a “puppet” of Putin. She also says Russia is behind the theft of campaign emails made public through WikiLeaks.
President Obama on Thursday granted clemency to 98 federal prisoners, bringing the total number of inmates whose sentences he’s commuted to nearly 900. That’s more than the previous 11 presidents combined. Many of the prisoners received harsh sentences under mandatory minimum drug laws that critics say targeted communities of color. Obama has also rejected a record number of commutations—a result of a surge in applications since a clemency initiative announced in 2014.
In the Venezuelan capital of Caracas, clashes broke out Thursday as the country’s increasingly militant opposition stepped up efforts to oust President Nicolás Maduro. Opposition leaders have called for a national strike today and a march to the presidential palace in Caracas, unless the election board allows for a stalled referendum on whether to recall President Maduro. Each side has accused the other of attempting a coup. Venezuela’s political unrest comes as the country is grappling with a massive economic crisis, which has led to shortages of food, medicine and other necessary goods. We’ll have more on the crisis in Venezuela later in the broadcast.
The United Nations on Thursday voted overwhelmingly to start talks aimed at abolishing all nuclear weapons. The landmark resolution will see the U.N. convene a conference next year to negotiate a legally binding instrument for worldwide nuclear prohibition. The vote was 123-38, with 16 countries abstaining. [Not supporting the measure] were all nine known nuclear states: China, Russia, France, the U.K., India, Pakistan, Israel, North Korea and the United States.
Broadband internet providers will need to ask for permission if they want to sell customers’ private data to third parties, under new rules adopted Thursday by the Federal Communications Commission. Watchdog groups are hailing the move as a major step forward on internet privacy. The media reform group Free Press said, “The companies that carry all of our speech online have no business profiting from all the information they gather without our consent.” The rules do not require internet providers to get clear permission before using private customer data themselves.
The world’s whaling watchdog agency moved Thursday to restrict Japan’s annual whale hunt, rejecting claims by Japanese whalers that they kill the marine mammals for scientific research. Advocate Nicolas Entrup of the group OceanCare applauded the move by the International Whaling Commission, but said the organization lacked the teeth needed to enforce its decision.
Nicolas Entrup: “Our concern, of course, remains, because so far, even with the ruling of the International Court of Justice, Japan has not stuck to that ruling and has ignored it. It continued scientific whaling under a new name, but very little has changed.”
And a United Nations agency has concluded a deal to create the world’s largest marine reserve. Today’s agreement sets aside an area in Antarctica’s Ross Sea that’s nearly as big as the state of Alaska. This is U.S. State Department official Evan Bloom.
Evan Bloom: “We’ve had a real achievement today. We’ve created the world’s largest marine protected area, and that’s a major step forward for marine conservation globally. So, it’s a wonderful moment.”
The marine sanctuary is home to whales, seals, penguins and other animals. The agreement on the Ross Sea sanctuary came as the World Wildlife Fund released a shocking new study that finds more than two-thirds of the world’s wildlife could be gone by 2020.