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In Syria, government forces aided by Kurdish troops launched a major ground offensive and seized control of northeast Aleppo Monday from the rebels. The offensive appears to be a major turning point in the war, with the Syrian government now poised to retake control of all of Aleppo, which was once Syria’s largest city and its commercial center. U.N. humanitarian envoy Stephen O’Brien said as many as 16,000 people have fled eastern Aleppo in recent days amid the offensive and heavy bombing. Anti-government activist Zaher al-Zaher described the scene Monday as “doomsday.” If the Syrian government retakes all of Aleppo, the anti-government rebels will be left with little territory—only the northern province of Idlib and some areas in the provinces of Aleppo and Homs and around Damascus. The offensive came after eastern Aleppo has been besieged for weeks by Syrian government forces and under aerial attack by the Syrian air force and Russia.
Cuba has begun nine days of mourning following the death of revolutionary leader and former President Fidel Castro, who died Friday at the age of 90. In Havana, tens of thousands of people lined up to pay their respects to Castro, who launched the Cuban revolution to oust the U.S.-backed Cuban dictator, Fulgencio Batista, and went on to lead Cuba for nearly a half-century. This is one of the mourners, professor Maydelis Savon.
Maydelis Savon: “Before anything else, I am a revolutionary. I am compelled to be here because I am part of the people. Also, Fidel Castro fought so that all Cubans can have the same rights.”
Bolivia has declared a week of mourning for Castro, whose revolution inspired revolutionary efforts across Latin America and the globe and led Castro to become one of the archenemies of the United States. On Monday, President-elect Donald Trump threatened to undo President Obama’s re-establishment of formal diplomatic relations with Cuba and reimpose the crushing economic sanctions against Cuba. Trump tweeted, “If Cuba is unwilling to make a better deal for the Cuban people, the Cuban/American people and the U.S. as a whole, I will terminate deal.”
Donald Trump has picked Georgia Congressmember Tom Price to be secretary of health and human services. Price is the chair of the House Budget Committee, a member of the Tea Party Caucus and one of the leading opponents of President Obama’s Affordable Care Act. Price supports privatizing Medicare. He opposes abortion and has voted to cut all federal funding for Planned Parenthood. He’s also an opponent of marriage equality, with a track record of voting against measures to prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation.
Texas A&M University is under fire for allowing white nationalist Richard Spencer to speak at an upcoming campus event despite major opposition on campus to his vocal white supremacist views. Spencer was recently the lead speaker at a white supremacist gathering in Washington, D.C., where he recited Nazi propaganda in original German and spoke openly about white power. Multiple people performed the Nazi salute after his speech and chanted “Heil the people! Heil victory!” Spencer has said he and Donald Trump have a “psychic connection.” He’s one of the leaders of the so-called alt-right movement, which embraces white supremacy and espouses racist, xenophobic, homophobic and sexist views. On Monday, the Associated Press issued new guidelines for using the term “alt-right,” writing, “Avoid using the term generically and without definition, however, because it is not well known and the term may exist primarily as a public-relations device to make its supporters’ actual beliefs less clear and more acceptable to a broader audience.”
In Colombia, a charter plane carrying 22 players from a Brazilian soccer team and more than 20 journalists has crashed en route from Bolivia to the Medellín airport, killing at least 76 people on board. The majority of the players of the Chapecoense soccer team died in the crash. The team was headed to Medellín to play a finals match in the Copa Sudamericana tournament.
Tens of thousands of fast-food workers, home care and childcare workers in 340 cities are slated to protest today for a National Day of Disruption. The protest marks the fourth anniversary of the movement to raise wages known as the #FightFor15. In Chicago, hundreds of janitors, baggage handlers, cabin cleaners and wheelchair attendants at O’Hare Airport are slated to strike to demand a raise to $15 an hour. Hundreds of Uber drivers in cities across the country are also slated to join the protest. This is Michael Vazquez, a wheelchair attendant at New York City’s LaGuardia Airport.
Michael Vazquez: “$10.10 an hour is just not a livable living wage, especially if you have a family. After 40 hours a week, you barely make over $1,000, and you really can’t live in this city with that type of wage, honestly. So we’re here just trying to make a better living for everybody. You know, I’m here on my day off. You know, I’m not just doing this for me. It’s not just about me; it’s about all of us. So, as you can see, as you can hear behind me, we’re all here fighting, we’re all here sticking together, and we’re not going to give up.”
This comes as German airliner Lufthansa has canceled 1,700 flights for today and Wednesday amid an ongoing pilots’ strike, which has seen a series of walkouts and strikes since last Wednesday.
In North Dakota, a group of lawyers from the National Lawyers Guild has filed a class action lawsuit against Morton County Sheriff Kyle Kirchmeier, Morton County and other law enforcement agencies, arguing they are using excessive force against Native American water protectors fighting the $3.8 billion Dakota Access pipeline. In recent weeks, police have attacked the protectors with rubber bullets, bean bag rounds, water cannons in subfreezing temperatures, sound cannons, explosive tear gas grenades and concussion grenades, injuring hundreds of people. One water protector, Sophia Wilansky, was critically injured during one police attack, after her father says a police concussion grenade exploded and nearly blew her arm off. Click here to see our full interview with Sophia’s father, Wayne Wilansky.
This comes as North Dakota Governor Jack Dalrymple has issued an executive order declaring the land where the main resistance camps are located is now an evacuation area. The North Dakota Department of Emergency Services has confirmed the police and National Guard will not move to forcibly evict the water protectors from this land, but the order does mean the state will not provide emergency services to that area. The land is unceded Sioux treaty land that is owned by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which has said they’ll close public access to that area by December 5. More than 2,000 U.S. military veterans are planning to arrive at Standing Rock on December 4, one day before the Army Corps’ scheduled closure, including Hawaii congresswoman and combat veteran Tulsi Gabbard.
Meanwhile, opposition is also growing across Canada to Kinder Morgan’s proposed $5 billion Trans Mountain pipeline expansion, which would carry oil from the Alberta tar sands region to ports in Vancouver. This is Rueben George of the Tsleil-Waututh First Nation.
Rueben George: “This has been consistently voted the last 20 years as the most livable place in the world, and it’s because of places like this. It’s because of the mountains. It’s because of the waters. It’s because people get something when they come to the water. They get something when they’re up in the mountains. And I know they will want to protect it, too, because it doesn’t service Canadians. It doesn’t service jobs, or it doesn’t help our economy. It’s to service a greedy 1 percent. And our plan, of what we do, using our own resources, is for everybody.”
South Korean President Park Geun-hye has offered to resign amid an ongoing corruption scandal. Earlier this month, as many as 1 million people took to the streets of Seoul to demand her resignation over claims she helped a close friend embezzle up to $70 million. She said she’d let the National Assembly decide if and when she should leave office.
In India, thousands of people protested Monday against Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s recent decision to pull 500- and 1,000-rupee notes out of circulation overnight, causing havoc for hundreds of millions of people whose savings are entirely in cash. The move affected more 80 percent of the country’s money supply and led to massive lines at ATMs and widespread economic hardship. This is Arun Gupta, leader of a regional party.
Arun Gupta: “We have blocked the rail tracks here and burned an effigy of Narendra Modi in protest against his move to withdraw 1,000- and 500-rupee bills which has caused great inconvenience to the poor, including farmers, and those who have weddings lined up. If they don’t roll back their decision, then we will continue our agitation.”
In Columbus, Ohio, a university police officer shot and killed a student on the campus of Ohio State University, after the student drove a car into a group of people and then began attacking them with a knife. Eleven people were injured in the attack, one critically. Police identified the student as Abdul Artan, a legal permanent resident of the United States who was originally born in Somalia. Police say they do not know the motive of the attack, which is being investigated by the FBI. On Monday, the university’s Emergency Management agency tweeted, “Buckeye Alert: Active Shooter on campus,” although, in fact, the only shots fired were by the university police officer shooting and killing Artan.
And former U.S. President Jimmy Carter is calling on President Obama to join 137 other nations in granting Palestine diplomatic recognition before he leaves office. The move would help Palestine win full United Nations membership. In a New York Times op-ed published Monday, Carter writes, “The combined weight of United States recognition, United Nations membership and a Security Council resolution solidly grounded in international law would lay the foundation for future diplomacy. … This is the best—now, perhaps, the only—means of countering the one-state reality that Israel is imposing on itself and the Palestinian people.”