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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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States of emergency have been declared in Florida, Georgia and the Carolinas as Hurricane Matthew barrels toward the Southeast coastline. More than 2 million people have been urged to evacuate their homes. The record-breaking storm has already killed at least 26 people in Haiti and four in the Dominican Republic. The storm is soon expected to hit the Bahamas and then strengthen to a Category 4 as it moves toward Florida. Meteorologists are predicting Matthew could be the strongest hurricane to hit the United States since Wilma in 2005. Hurricane Matthew was the first Category 4 hurricane to hit Haiti in 52 years. The storm displaced thousands across a country still recovering from the devastating 2010 earthquake. Haiti’s presidential election scheduled for Sunday has been postponed indefinitely. Many meteorologists are saying climate change has intensified Hurricane Matthew because warmer ocean waters help create stronger hurricanes. We’ll have more on Hurricane Matthew after headlines.
The FBI says the agency secretly arrested a former NSA contractor from the company Booz Allen Hamilton in August, after he allegedly stole highly classified NSA computer codes. The contractor, Harold Martin, has been charged with theft and unauthorized removal or retention of classified documents. He worked for the same company, Booz Allen Hamilton, as NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden. The U.S. government claims he had thousands of pages of classified documents, as well as hardware and multiple computers at his home. The U.S. government does not know whether Martin has leaked the information or given it to other governments or entities.
Meanwhile, multiple anonymous government officials have confirmed Yahoo secretly scanned the contents of hundreds of millions of email accounts and turned the information over to the NSA or FBI. The Justice Department obtained a secret FISA, or Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, court order for the information last year. To comply, Yahoo redesigned a software program, allowing it to search every user’s emails for a computer “signature” provided by the U.S. government.
In news from the campaign trail, CNN has uncovered at least two more softcore pornographic videos that Donald Trump appeared in, in addition to the 2000 Playboy softcore porn video revealed last week. In the two newly discovered videos from 1994 and 2001, Trump appears, fully clothed, interviewing a potential Playboy model and photographing other clothed models.
Meanwhile, Greenpeace has revealed that Donald Trump has multiple financial ties to the $3.8 billion Dakota Access pipeline, which has faced months of resistance from the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe in North Dakota and members of hundreds of other tribes from across the U.S., Canada and Latin America. One of Trump’s financial disclosure forms shows he has between $500,000 and $1 million invested in Energy Transfer Partners, the main company behind the Dakota Access pipeline. Trump also has $50,000 to $100,000 invested in Phillips 66, which is slated to own 25 percent of the pipeline, if it is completed.
This revelation comes as three federal appeals court judges in Washington, D.C., heard oral arguments on Wednesday in a lawsuit seeking an emergency injunction to stop construction of the Dakota Access pipeline over concerns it could destroy sacred sites and burial grounds. The court is not expected to issue a ruling for months. Meanwhile, in more news on the struggle to stop the Dakota Access pipeline, the Lee County Attorney’s Office in southeast Iowa is threatening to evict land defenders from a permanent encampment established to stop the Dakota Access pipeline company from boring under the Mississippi River. The threatened eviction is slated for today. It’s been the site of a series of protests in which dozens of people have been arrested blocking pipeline construction over the past two months.
Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos has announced the ceasefire between the government and the FARC will end at the end of October, following the shocking results of Sunday’s nationwide referendum in which voters narrowly rejected the peace deal. The outcome now threatens to prolong the nation’s 52-year-old civil war. This comes as thousands of students gathered in Bogotá for a silent peace march. This is Carlos Fillippo.
Carlos Fillippo: “We are asking that the peace process be sped up. What’s been accomplished has been fragile, as we saw with the news yesterday that the bilateral ceasefire is already not definite. We want peace that’s not politicized, a peace for the citizens of Colombia, not for the political parties, not for the president, not for the ex-president, but for all Colombians, because we students are another political force.”
A flotilla bound for Gaza carrying food, medicine and other humanitarian aid was intercepted and seized by the Israeli Navy Wednesday. The Women’s Boat to Gaza had set sail from the Spanish port city of Barcelona in mid-September in efforts to break the ongoing Israeli blockade. Organizers say the Israeli military seized the boat and detained the 13 human rights activists aboard in international waters about 40 miles away from Gaza’s port. Organizers are now calling for the release of both the activists and the boat, and an end to the ongoing blockade. Within hours of the boat’s seizure, Israel also launched airstrikes into the Gaza Strip, which Israel says was in retaliation for a rocket launched from Gaza.
This comes as Israel has approved the construction of 300 new settlement homes far into the Israeli-occupied West Bank. The White House criticized Israel over the plan, saying it was a betrayal of trust. The approval comes only weeks after the U.S. approved a new military aid package to Israel of $38 billion over 10 years—the largest military funding package the U.S. has ever offered to any nation.
In Poland, lawmakers have abruptly reversed their position on a proposed total abortion ban, after as many as 6 million Polish women poured into the streets across the country in a mass protest Monday. The proposed legislation would make all abortions illegal and punishable by up to five years in prison for patients who obtain them. Doctors could also be jailed for providing abortions.
The United Nations International Court of Justice has rejected the Marshall Islands’ bid to sue the United States and other nuclear powers for violating the 1968 Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. The Marshall Islands chain, which includes Bikini Atoll, was the subject of dozens of U.S. nuclear tests in the 1940s and 1950s, which have left lasting health and environmental impacts. The Pacific Island nation filed the suit in 2014, but it was rejected Wednesday after the court said it did not have jurisdiction over the case.
The United Nations is calling for an independent investigation into a U.S. drone strike in Afghanistan in September, which the U.N. says killed at least 15 civilians and wounded 13 more. U.S. officials say the strike was targeting ISIS militants, but the U.N. Assistance Mission in Afghanistan says it killed a teacher, students and members of a family that supports the U.S.-backed Afghan government.
Disturbing new video footage shows multiple guards at a for-profit jail on the border between Texas and Arkansas pinning down an African-American father and pepper-spraying him as he cried repeatedly, “I can’t breathe.” Thirty-five-year-old Michael Sabbie died in a jail cell only hours after the attack, which took place in July 2015. This is video surveillance footage of the attack. Listen carefully. A note for our TV audience: The video is disturbing.
Michael Sabbie: “I can’t breathe.”
Officer 1: “What exactly occurred?”
Michael Sabbie: “I can’t breathe. I can’t breathe. I can’t breathe.”
Officer 2: “Put your hands behind your back. Get your hands behind your back! If you don’t put your hands behind your back, you’ll be gassed. Chemical agents will be administered.”
Michael Sabbie: “Man, I can’t breathe.”
Officer 2: “Put your hands behind your back. You’re resisting.”
Michael Sabbie: “Ow! Ow!”
Despite the attack, a medical examiner ruled that Sabbie died of “natural” causes. He’d been arrested three days earlier after a domestic dispute with his wife. The Bi State Jail in which he died is run by the for-profit company LaSalle Corrections. Sabbie was one of more than 800 people who died in jail across the United States in 2015.
Civil rights groups and the Asian American Journalists Association are criticizing Fox News for a racist segment on “The O’Reilly Factor,” in which Fox correspondent Jesse Watters went to New York City’s Chinatown and asked residents everything from whom they’d be voting for in the presidential election, to whether they knew karate. Here’s a clip of the video.
Jesse Watters: “Is everything made in China now?”
Interviewee 1: “Not everything.”
Jesse Watters: “Tell me what’s not made in China.”
Interviewee 1: “I can’t think of it right now.”
Jesse Watters: “Me neither.”
Peter Falk (clip): “I’m explaining to you because you look nervous.”
Jesse Watters: “Is China America’s friend or enemy?”
Interviewee 2: “China, America, of course, are friends.”
Jesse Watters: “Can you guys take care of North Korea for us?”
Interviewee 2: “Wow. That is too much.”
And the United Nations Security Council has announced it’s chosen António Guterres to succeed Ban Ki-moon as U.N. secretary-general. António Guterres is from Portugal. He led the U.N. refugee agency for a decade. The Security Council will formally vote on his election today, and then he’ll face a full General Assembly election as early as next week.