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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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President-elect Donald Trump held meetings with finalists for high-level Cabinet positions at the Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, New Jersey, over the weekend. Among those who were paraded in front of reporters were retired Marine General James Mattis, who is considered a contender for defense secretary, and former New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani and former Massachusetts governor and 2012 Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, who are both considered to be finalists for the secretary of state position. Mattis is a former commander of United States Central Command. Giuliani was the architect of New York City’s stop-and-frisk program, which disproportionately targeted people of color and was later ruled unconstitutional. Giuliani has also called for measures to force Muslims on the government’s terrorism watch list to wear electronic tracking bracelets, and boasted about how he sent undercover NYPD officers to infiltrate mosques. He’s been a major supporter of Donald Trump. Romney, meanwhile, has been a critic of Trump. He, along with other Republican Party leaders, skipped the Republican National Convention this summer. This comes after Donald Trump announced he’d picked three far-right-wing white men for top-level positions on Friday. Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions was picked to be attorney general. Lt Gen. Michael Flynn is to be Trump’s national security adviser. And Kansas Congressmember Mike Pompeo is to be CIA director. We’ll have more on Trump’s Cabinet after headlines with The Intercept’s Jeremy Scahill.
Donald Trump and his vice president-elect, Mike Pence, faced criticism from celebrities and artists over the weekend, starting with the cast of the award-winning Broadway musical “Hamilton.” On Friday, Pence attended the Broadway hit in New York City. At the end of the show, actor Brandon Victor Dixon, who plays Aaron Burr in the rap musical about America’s Founding Fathers, had a message for Pence.
Brandon Victor Dixon: “Vice President-elect Pence, we welcome you, and we truly thank you for joining us here at 'Hamilton: An American Musical.' We really do. We, sir, we, are of the diverse America who are alarmed and anxious that your new administration will not protect us, our planet, our children, our parents, or defend us and uphold our inalienable rights, sir. But we truly hope that this show has inspired you to uphold our American values and to work on behalf of all of us. All of us.”
Donald Trump later took to Twitter to demand an apology from the cast of “Hamilton,” saying, “Our wonderful future V.P. Mike Pence was harassed last night at the theater by the cast of Hamilton, cameras blazing. This should not happen!”
Meanwhile, Trump was also criticized on Sunday night at the American Music Awards by the band Green Day, who chanted on stage “No Trump, No KKK, No Fascist USA.”
Green Day: “No Trump, No KKK, No Fascist USA! No Trump, No KKK, No Fascist USA!”
Trump was also skewered in a “Saturday Night Live” skit in which comedian Alec Baldwin portrayed Trump as overwhelmed by his campaign promises, which include mass deportations, building a wall across the entire length of the U.S.-Mexico border and creating a Muslim registry. In response, Trump again took to Twitter to complain, writing, “one-sided, biased show—nothing funny at all.”
In Washington, D.C., hundreds of people protested outside of a white nationalist conference in which white supremacists and other members of the “alt-right” movement gathered to celebrate Donald Trump’s victory. The gathering was held at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center. Inside, white supremacist Richard Spencer, a leader of the alt-right movement, recited Nazi propaganda in original German and said, “America was, until this last generation, a white country designed for ourselves and our posterity.” Multiple people performed the Nazi salute after his speech and chanted “Heil the people! Heil victory!” When asked by The New York Times about Donald Trump, Spencer said, “I do think we have a psychic connection, or you can say a deeper connection, with Donald Trump in a way that we simply do not have with most Republicans.”
On Friday, Donald Trump agreed to pay $25 million to settle a lawsuit alleging that he and his defunct for-profit Trump University had defrauded thousands of students. The settlement comes after Trump tried to postpone the lawsuit until after his inauguration and exclude as evidence everything he had said, including in speeches and in tweets. The deal reached Friday means Trump avoids having to testify in the case.
In North Dakota, more than 100 Native Americans and allies fighting the $3.8 billion Dakota Access pipeline have been injured by police, who attacked them with rubber bullets, tear gas, mace canisters and water cannons in freezing temperatures Sunday night. The attack was on a bridge near the main Oceti Sakowin resistance camp. It began after the water protectors attempted to clear access to the public bridge, which has been blocked by authorities using military equipment chained to concrete barriers. Medics on scene say multiple people were shot by rubber bullets.
Leland Brenholt: “My name is Leland Brenholt. I’m a medic here at Oceti Sakowin. And we have seen at least four gunshot wounds, three of them I know of to the face and head. Rubber bullets. Right now we’re trying to keep people warm. We’re trying to get them decontaminated, and treating all kinds of different wounds. People have been hit with canisters in the chest or the leg and that sort of thing.”
Water protectors say the police also fired rubber bullets at journalists, shot down drones being used to document the attack and fired flares which ignited grass fires. Legal observers with the National Lawyers Guild said multiple people temporarily lost consciousness after being shot. Witnesses say one elder also went into cardiac arrest and was revived on scene by medics. Both the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe sent medical first responders. This is Angela Bibens, a lawyer with the Red Owl Legal Collective, speaking in a telephone interview recorded by Dallas Goldtooth Sunday.
Angela Bibens: “Right now we’ve seen people who have been maced. They deployed 20 mace canisters in a small area in less than five minutes, to the point where people have lost bowel function. At least one seizure has been witnessed at the front lines by our legal observation team. There have been people vomiting from the exposure to the mace. The water cannon has been mixed with the mace, and so even our legal observers have been exposed and are trying to deal with that while they’re doing up their notes. And canisters were shot at the medic area at the front line. There is at least one woman who has a broken kneecap. At least one elder went into cardiac arrest and was revived through CPR at the front line by medics.”
In New York state, four people were arrested Saturday protesting the construction of Spectra Energy’s AIM pipeline. The pipeline is slated to carry fracked gas only hundreds of feet from the aging Indian Point nuclear power plant and then under the Hudson River. The arrests came as more than 100 activists rallied at a construction site in Verplanck, New York. The pipeline has faced years of resistance from residents in New York state and Rhode Island.
In Afghanistan, at least 27 people have died in a suicide bomb attack today inside a Shia mosque in Kabul. Dozens more were injured. No one has claimed responsibility for the attack so far, and Taliban leaders have said they were not behind the attack.
The World Health Organization says the Syrian government’s intense bombing campaign against eastern Aleppo has damaged and shut down the area’s only remaining hospitals, leaving 250,000 people trapped without access to medical care. Humanitarian aid organizations say the strikes against the hospitals were deliberate, which is a war crime. Doctors warn the damaged hospitals may not be able to reopen. This comes as Syrian government forces have surrounded eastern Aleppo, which is rapidly running out of food, fuel and water.
In India, as many as 142 people have died after a train derailed Sunday in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh. Two hundred more people were injured. It’s the deadliest train accident in India in six years.
In Yemen, residents say a 48-hour ceasefire declared Saturday by the U.S.-backed, Saudi-led coalition has been broken by airstrikes on villages east of the capital Sana’a, as well as by fighting between the Saudi-backed government forces and Houthi rebels in the city of Taiz. This is Waleed Ahmed in Sana’a.
Waleed Ahmed: “We hope for a ceasefire and calm and that Saudis will commit to the truce and stop their airstrikes. How was it that a ceasefire was announced on Thursday, November 17, but the airstrikes are still ongoing?”
German Chancellor Angela Merkel announced Sunday she’ll seek a fourth term in elections next fall. Merkel has already served 11 years as Germany’s chancellor. She faces increasing pressure from both the left and the right wing in Germany, which has been emboldened by the anti-European Union Brexit vote in Britain, the rise of far-right-wing politician Marine Le Pen in France and Donald Trump’s presidential victory in the United States.
In Haiti, residents are awaiting the results of the presidential elections, which were held Sunday after being delayed in October amid Haiti’s efforts to recover from the devastating Category 4 Hurricane Matthew. The hurricane killed 1,000 people and destroyed key infrastructure. This is a voter in Port-au-Prince.
Port-au-Prince resident: “I left my house this morning at 4:00. I came here walking, because there were no cars. I came here because I really wanted to vote.”
And in La Paz, Bolivia, government officials have declared the system of water rationing is now permanent, amid a worsening drought. Scientists say the drought is caused by the rapid retreat of glaciers due to global warming. Over the last three decades, Bolivian glaciers have shrunk more than 40 percent, affecting 2 million people in the region who rely on glacier melt as their water supply.