In Charlotte, North Carolina, people took to the streets Wednesday night to protest the announcement that police officer Brentley Vinson, who is black, will not face charges for fatally shooting African-American father Keith Lamont Scott. At least four people were arrested as protesters marched with signs reading “How to get away with murder: Become a cop.” Keith Lamont Scott’s killing by police in September sparked massive protests in Charlotte and nationwide. Scott’s family says he was reading a book in his car in a parking lot waiting to pick up his son after school, when he was approached by police officers. The dashboard camera video of the interaction, which was released after the protests, shows Scott exiting his vehicle and taking steps backward with his arms at his sides. In the video, police fire four shots at Scott as he falls to the ground. In October, an independent autopsy ruled the shooting was a homicide. But on Wednesday, Mecklenburg County District Attorney Andrew Murray announced Officer Vinson will not face charges and that the shooting was justified. Murray said the investigation found that Scott had a gun at the scene of the shooting, although he admitted there was no evidence that Scott actually raised the gun at officers. North Carolina is an open-carry state, which means it is legal to carry a gun. In a statement, Scott’s family members said they are “profoundly disappointed” by the decision not to charge Officer Vinson, who has been on paid leave during the investigation. Meanwhile, in Charleston, South Carolina, prosecutors made closing arguments Wednesday in the murder trial of white police officer Michael Slager, who was captured on video fatally shooting African American Walter Scott in the back as Scott ran away.
Protests against Donald Trump and his Cabinet are continuing nationwide. Today, students at colleges and universities across the country are holding a second day of action to demand their campuses become “sanctuary campuses,” where administrators refuse to share information with immigration authorities, refuse to allow ICE agents on campus, and support equal access to in-state tuition and financial aid and scholarships for undocumented students. President-elect Donald Trump has vowed to immediately deport up to 3 million people upon taking office. More than 100 campuses participated in the first national walkout on November 17, prompting a series of university administrators to agree to designate the schools as sanctuary campuses—including Trump’s alma mater, the University of Pennsylvania.
Meanwhile, Jewish activists with the group If Not Now held a “Day of Jewish Resistance” in more than 30 cities to protest Trump’s pick of Stephen Bannon as his chief strategist. Bannon, who was the former head of Breitbart Media, has been called a “champion of white supremacists” by Nevada Senator Harry Reid and has been accused of domestic abuse and making anti-Semitic comments. A series of companies have begun to pull their advertising from Bannon’s former news site, Breitbart Media, amid increasing scrutiny of the site’s openly racist, sexist, homophobic and xenophobic views. On Tuesday, Kellogg Company pulled its advertising, saying the site didn’t align with the company’s values. Other companies, including Target, car insurance provider Allstate and internet service provider EarthLink, have also pulled advertising from the site. In response to Kellogg’s announcement, Breitbart claimed the company was being “un-American,” and demanded a boycott of Kellogg’s products.
President-elect Donald Trump and Vice President-elect Mike Pence are heading to Indiana to appear with workers at Carrier’s Indianapolis factory, where Trump claims he has saved 1,000 jobs from being shipped to Mexico. The parent company of the air conditioner company is United Technologies—a multibillion-dollar company whose single largest customer is the Pentagon. Although few details have come out about the deal to keep the jobs in the state, sources say it likely had more to do with Trump threatening to cut United Technologies’ military contracts. According to the Boston Herald, Carrier is, ironically, represented by Teneo Strategies, part of a global private consulting firm co-founded by Douglas Band, a top aide to former President Bill Clinton who worked at the Clinton Foundation.
On Capitol Hill, House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi beat back a challenge to her position by Ohio Rep. Tim Ryan. Pelosi has been the House Democratic Leader for seven terms already. During Wednesday’s closed-door meeting, Ryan won 63 votes, a level of support many say points to growing discord and divisions within the Democratic Party in the wake of Donald Trump’s election.
Amnesty International is calling on the U.S. Justice Department to investigate the violent police crackdown against Native American water protectors and their allies fighting the $3.8 billion Dakota Access pipeline at Standing Rock in North Dakota. The call comes after Amnesty sent a delegation of human rights observers to witness the police crackdown, which has included police using rubber bullets, tear gas, concussion grenades, sound cannons, water cannons in subfreezing temperatures and other military-style weapons that have injured hundreds of people.
On Wednesday, the North Dakota Emergency Commission approved an additional $7 million of funding to police the ongoing resistance movement—bringing the total price tag of the policing to $17 million. This comes one day after North Dakota officials moved to block new supplies from reaching the water protectors by announcing police will begin stopping people they believe are headed to the camps and fine them $1,000 if they are found with supplies. Morton County Sheriff Kyle Kirchmeier has said, however, that police will not be arresting people in the coming days as the Army Corps of Engineers closes access to the main resistance camps on December 5. Meanwhile, Deia Schlosberg, a filmmaker who faced 45 years in prison for filming a separate pipeline protest in North Dakota, has announced on social media that the prosecution against her has been suspended.
A new investigation by Marketplace and APM Reports has revealed the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency made last-minute changes to a significant 2015 study about fracking in order to downplay the drilling practice’s threat to U.S. water supplies. Documents obtained by the news outlets show that less than two months before the five-year study’s release, EPA officials added text into the executive summary saying the researchers had not found evidence fracking has “widespread systemic impacts” on drinking water—even though earlier drafts of the report had, in fact, highlighted directly how fracking had contaminated the drinking water in more than two dozen places. EPA officials went on to use that key phrase, claiming a lack of “widespread, systemic impacts” as the top finding in conference calls with reporters as well as in the press release accompanying the study’s publication. Food & Water Watch said the investigation confirms “political meddling” by the Obama administration.
The Colombian Congress has voted overwhelmingly to approve a revised version of the peace deal with FARC rebels aimed at ending the nation’s 52-year civil war. Colombians narrowly rejected an earlier version of the peace deal in a nationwide referendum in October. The congressional approval means the deal will not have to be approved by voters. Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos, who won the Nobel Peace Prize earlier this year for his work on the peace accords, is slated to speak today about the deal’s ratification.
In Yemen, the number of suspected cholera cases is growing amid the ongoing war between Houthi rebels and the ousted Yemeni government backed by U.S.-supported, Saudi-led airstrikes. This is U.N. official George Khoury.
George Khoury: “So far we have 7,700 suspected cases of cholera in 12 governorates of Yemen. We have an increase of 27 percent in the number of suspected cases as compared to last week, although the case fatality rate is declining, and that’s thanks to the response by the humanitarian partners.”
In Australia, protesters have disrupted Parliament for the second straight day to demand the closure of refugee camps on the Pacific island nations of Nauru and Papua New Guinea. Australia has threatened to never resettle refugees who arrive by boat, and has instead shipped the refugees off to these camps, where they are imprisoned indefinitely. On Thursday, activists unveiled a banner in front of Australia’s Parliament House reading “Close the Bloody Camps Now. Justice for Refugees.”
Planned Parenthood, the American Civil Liberties Union and the Center for Reproductive Rights have launched three lawsuits to challenge anti-abortion laws in Alaska, Missouri and North Carolina. The anti-abortion laws include restrictions that have shuttered all but one abortion clinic in Missouri, as well as North Carolina’s ban on abortions after 20 weeks.
This comes as Texas is facing backlash after approving new rules that will require fetal remains to be buried or cremated, instead of disposed of in a sanitary landfill, as is the practice with all other forms of biological medical waste. The measures are slated to go into effect in less than three weeks. Similar legislation was passed this year in both Louisiana and Indiana, where it was signed by Indiana Governor and Vice President-elect Mike Pence.
In Nicaragua, activists say federal police attacked a campesino caravan heading to the capital Managua Wednesday, opening fire with both live and rubber bullets and throwing tear gas. The caravan was heading to the capital to protest the construction of a $50 billion canal linking the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. Campesinos say the project could displace up to 120,000 people.
In Bolivia, thousands of people poured into the streets to protest water shortages amid Bolivia’s worst drought in more than a quarter-century. The protesters said the water shortages, fueled by climate change, are being worsened by government mismanagement and industrial mining projects. Protesters are demanding the resignation of the minister of environment and water. Scientists say the drought is fueled by the retreat of Bolivian glaciers as a result of global warming. Some Bolivians have already fled the country in search of water.
Lisbeth Vogensen: “I didn’t want to leave La Paz. I lived there for the last four years. My family and I were very happy there, but leaving was a decision we had to make for the well-being and health of our family. It was against our will, but we were lucky to come to Peru, where there is still water.”
And today is World AIDS Day. Around the world, groups are holding protests and demonstrations to call attention to the disease, including in Washington, D.C., where activists plan to gather at the U.S. Capitol lawn at noon to protest House Speaker Paul Ryan’s proposed budget cuts, which they say will slash funding for programs like global HIV research and prevention. The World Health Organization says AIDS-related illnesses killed more than 1 million people worldwide last year.