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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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A member of Donald Trump’s transition team, Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, says the team is moving ahead with plans to build a wall across the entire length of the U.S.-Mexico border and to reinstate a registry for immigrants from majority-Muslim countries. Kobach is an architect of anti-immigrant and voter suppression laws. Following 9/11, he helped design the registry for immigrants from majority-Muslim countries, known as the National Security Entry-Exit Registration System, while working in the Justice Department under George W. Bush. The system was dropped in 2011 after years of criticism from civil rights groups.
On Wednesday, Carl Higbie, a spokesperson for the pro-Trump Great America PAC, defended the proposed registry of Muslims by citing World War II Japanese-American internment camps while speaking with Fox News’s Megyn Kelly.
Carl Higbie: “We did it during World War II with Japanese, which, you know, call it what you will—”
Megyn Kelly: “Come on. You’re not—”
Carl Higbie: “Maybe wrong, but—”
Megyn Kelly: “You’re not proposing we go back to the days of internment camps, I hope.”
Carl Higbie: “No, no, no. I’m not proposing that at all, Megyn.”
Megyn Kelly: “You know better than to suggest that.”
Carl Higbie: “But what I am saying is that we need to protect America first.”
Megyn Kelly: “I mean, that’s the kind of stuff that gets people scared, Carl.”
Carl Higbie: “Right, but it’s—I’m just saying, there is precedent for it. And I’m not saying I agree with it. But in this case, I absolutely believe that a regional-based—”
Megyn Kelly: “You can’t be citing Japanese internment camps as precedent for anything the president-elect is going to do.”
Carl Higbie: “Look, the president needs to protect America first. And if that means having people that are not protected under our Constitution have some sort of registry, so we can understand—until we can identify the true threat and where it’s coming from, I support it.”
The Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post have also reported that Frank Gaffney has joined Trump’s transition team. Gaffney is a well-known anti-Muslim extremist whose group, the Center for Security Policy, has been labeled a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center. On Wednesday, Gaffney said he hasn’t been in touch with Trump’s transition team, but did tell Politico, “I look forward to helping the President-elect and the national security-minded team he is assembling in whatever way I can.”
Students at as many as 100 colleges and universities across the United States Wednesday held protests demanding their schools become “sanctuary campuses” that refuse to cooperate with immigration authorities carrying out Trump’s plan to deport millions of undocumented people. Speaking on “60 Minutes” Sunday, Trump vowed to immediately deport up to 3 million people. During his campaign, Trump also said he’d reverse President Obama’s executive orders, which include the program DACA—Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals—which has shielded 750,000 young people from deportation. This is María Maes of Columbia University.
María Muratalla Maes: “I’m here to demand that President Bollinger of Columbia University make my school, our school, a sanctuary campus and also protect the financial aid of undocumented students on this campus and their ability to work on campus.”
In Arizona, the Tohono O’odham Nation has said it will fight Trump’s plan to build a wall across the entire length of the U.S.-Mexico border. The Native American reservation spans 75 miles of the border, and the Tohono O’odham’s ancestral lands extend across both Arizona and Sonora, Mexico. This is Tohono O’odham Nation Vice Chairman Verlon Jose.
Verlon Jose: “Over my dead body will a wall be built. I don’t wish to die, but I wish to work together with people so we can truly protect the homeland of this place they call the United States of America, not only for my people, not only for our Tohono O’odham Nation members, but for the American people.”
Journalists are also fighting back against Trump after he ditched his press pool for the second time in less than a week Tuesday night. It’s a long-standing tradition in U.S. politics that presidents and presidents-elect travel with a “pool” of reporters. In response, 15 journalism groups, from the National Press Club to the Society of Professional Journalists, wrote an open letter to Trump saying, “The role of the press pool is critically important to our country … This isn’t about access for the press itself, it’s about access for Americans in diverse communities across the country.” Trump also bucked press traditions during his campaign, when he banned journalists from nearly two dozen media outlets, including The Washington Post, from covering his events.
The leaders of the Black Lives Matter Network have issued their first statement on Trump’s election. In the statement, they called Trump a white supremacist and said, “Today, like every day before it, we demand reparations, economic justice, a commitment to black futures and an end to the war on black people, in the United States and around the world. The work will be harder, but the work is the same.”
Here at the 22nd annual U.N. climate change summit, known as the Conference of Parties, or COP 22, China’s Vice Foreign Minister Liu Zhenmin has rejected Donald Trump’s claim that global warming is a Chinese hoax. Instead, Liu Zhenmin said, “If you look at the history of climate change negotiations, actually it was initiated by the IPCC with the support of the Republicans during the Reagan and senior Bush administration during the late 1980s.”
Opponents of Donald Trump have expanded their boycott of Trump casinos, resorts and hotels to include retailers selling products featuring the Trump brand. Using the hashtag #GrabYourWallet, organizers are targeting 32 companies including Macy’s, Amazon, and Bed Bath & Beyond. The boycott comes as the Trump family is accused of cashing in on Donald Trump’s election victory. Trump’s daughter Ivanka appeared alongside her father on “60 Minutes” wearing a gold-and-diamond bracelet from her Ivanka Trump Fine Jewelry collection. The company later circulated an advertisement for the nearly $11,000 bracelet featuring a photograph of Ivanka Trump’s appearance on the program.
In media news, Facebook is coming under fire from critics who say the social media giant helped swing the election for Donald Trump by failing to crack down on an epidemic of fake news articles targeting Hillary Clinton. Such articles drew millions of clicks and featured such phony headlines as ”FBI agent suspected in Hillary Clinton email leaks found dead in apparent murder-suicide.” Facebook said this week it will stop allowing advertisements to fake news sites, but CEO Mark Zuckerberg has denied the practice played a role in Trump’s victory, and Facebook has not targeted fake news stories posted to users’ news feeds. One member of Facebook’s board of directors, Peter Thiel, supported Trump’s campaign with a $1.25 million donation. Speaking via videostream at a conference in Oakland this week, NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden warned that Silicon Valley companies like Facebook have become too powerful.
Edward Snowden: “To have one company that has enough power to reshape the way we think, well, I don’t think I have to describe how dangerous that is.”
Meanwhile, Twitter has suspended several accounts of prominent members of the “alt-right” movement, criticized for being a haven for white nationalists. But Twitter has not suspended the account of Stephen Bannon, Donald Trump’s chief strategist and a leader of the alt-right movement. Feminists and people of color have for years called on Twitter to crack down on online harassment and abuse. This year, best-selling author and feminist writer Jessica Valenti quit using social media after she received a rape threat aimed at her child.
White House officials have quietly admitted that President Obama will no longer push for the Trans-Pacific Partnership, known as the TPP, meaning the massive proposed trade deal is effectively dead. It would have encompassed 12 Pacific Rim nations, including the U.S., and 40 percent of the global economy. In recent days, Malaysia, Vietnam and Japan have all backed away from the deal, following the U.S. decision to abandon it after Donald Trump’s election. The TPP has faced years of global public resistance by those who say free trade deals benefit corporations at the expense of health and environmental regulations. The trade deal was also lambasted by Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders on the U.S. campaign trail this year. Lori Wallach, director of Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch program, said, “The unremitting push by the Obama administration for the TPP right through this election helped to elect Donald Trump, but Trump has not derailed the TPP—people power united across borders did that.”
President Barack Obama is on his final presidential trip overseas this week, visiting Greece, Germany and then Peru. On Tuesday, Obama spoke in Athens about Trump’s election.
President Barack Obama: “I do believe, separate and apart from any particular election or movement, that we are going to have to guard against a rise in a crude sort of nationalism or ethnic identity or tribalism that is built around an 'us' and a 'them.'”
Meanwhile, The Guardian is reporting that President Obama will not tighten rules governing the U.S. drone assassination program before Donald Trump’s inauguration. The decision will leave Trump with the world’s most lethal program of targeted killings. The Obama administration said this year that between 64 to 116 civilians have been killed in drone attacks since Obama took office. However, monitoring groups estimate the death toll from drone-related killings is as much as 10 times higher than that estimate.
In Syria, activists say the government’s renewed bombing campaign against eastern Aleppo has killed at least 32 people and has destroyed a children’s hospital, a blood bank and multiple ambulances over the last two days. This comes after Syrian or Russian bombing destroyed four more hospitals across Syria since Sunday.
Russia has pulled out of the International Criminal Court, only one day after the court called the Russian annexation of Crimea an “occupation” in a report. Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte said Wednesday he might also withdraw from the court. The United States is not a member of the International Criminal Court, although U.S. officials are currently facing the possibility of being prosecuted by the court for war crimes in Afghanistan.
Back in the United States, the Federal Bureau of Prisons has extended one of its contracts with the for-profit prison company CoreCivic, formerly known as Corrections Corporation of America. This comes despite the fact the Justice Department announced in August the bureau would phase out its contracts with private prison companies, after finding higher rates of violence, abuse and neglect in these facilities.
In Minnesota, police officer Jeronimo Yanez has been charged with second-degree manslaughter for killing African American Philando Castile during a traffic stop. Castile’s death was live-streamed on Facebook by his girlfriend, Diamond “Lavish” Reynolds, in an extraordinary video in which she narrated the aftermath of the shooting while she was still in the car, with a police officer pointing a gun at her and her four-year-old daughter as her boyfriend lay dying next to her. Yanez has also been charged with felony charges of endangering the safety of Reynolds and her daughter. It’s the first time in at least 30 years that a police officer in Minnesota has faced charges for killing someone while on duty, and comes after nationwide demonstrations protesting Castile’s killing.
And President Obama has awarded Blackfeet Nation tribal leader Elouise Cobell the Presidential Medal of Freedom. She was the lead plaintiff in a landmark 1996 lawsuit claiming the U.S. Department of Interior had misspent, lost or stolen hundreds of billions of dollars meant for Native American land trust account holders dating back to the 1880s. After a nearly 15-year legal battle, the U.S. government settled for $3.4 billion, the largest government class action settlement in U.S. history. This is Elouise Cobell speaking on Democracy Now! in 2008.
Elouise Cobell: “In our communities, in our Indian communities, people are living in dire poverty. People that have oil wells pumping in their backyards are not receiving their money. And they don’t have homes. They can’t send their children to school. And it’s a very sad condition. It doesn’t take you very long to drive through an Indian community and see all these wonderful resources, but seeing our communities living in dire poverty. And then, after you find out—and what we found out through this lawsuit is the fact that, well, the government was just using our money to reduce the national debt.”
That was Elouise Cobell. She died in 2011. Other recipients of the Presidential Medal of Freedom award this year include artist Maya Lin, actor and environmentalist Robert Redford, singer and songwriter Bruce Springsteen, and basketball legends Michael Jordan and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.