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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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Donald Trump has chosen former Texas Governor Rick Perry to be energy secretary. Governor Perry famously attempted to propose to abolish the Energy Department—but then couldn’t even remember the agency during a live televised debate in 2011, when Perry was running for president.
Gov. Rick Perry: “And I will tell you: It’s three agencies of government, when I get there, that are gone: Commerce, Education and the—what’s the third one there? Let’s see.”
Ron Paul: “You need five.”
Gov. Rick Perry: “Oh, five, OK. So, Commerce, Education and the—ummm…”
John Harwood: ”EPA?”
Gov. Rick Perry: ”EPA, there you go. No.”
John Harwood: “Seriously? Is EPA the one you were talking about, or…?”
Gov. Rick Perry: “No sir. No, sir. We were talking about the, ummm, agencies of government. EPA needs to be rebuilt, there’s no doubt about that.”
John Harwood: “But you can’t name the third one?”
Gov. Rick Perry: “The third agency of government I would—”
John Harwood: “Yes.”
Gov. Rick Perry: “—I would do away with, the Education, the, uhhh, Commerce and, let’s see. I can’t. The third one, I can’t. Sorry. Oops.”
He later told reporters that the agency he had forgotten was the Energy Department. Perry has deep ties to the fossil fuel industry, including serving on the corporate boards of both Energy Transfer Partners and Sunoco Logistics, two companies behind the Dakota Access pipeline. Both companies are owned by Texas billionaire Kelcy Warren. Perry joined the board of Energy Transfer Partners in February 2015, only two weeks after he left office. That year, he received $365,000 from Warren’s companies. We’ll have more on Perry later in the broadcast.
The Energy Department is defying Donald Trump’s transition team, saying it will not provide the names of people working on the Obama administration’s climate policy. Last week, Trump’s team circulated a 74-part questionnaire at the Department of Energy requesting the names of employees working on specific climate-related projects and the names of employees who have attended climate talks over the last five years. Many have denounced the move as the creation of an “enemies list.”
Donald Trump has reportedly picked Montana Congressmember Ryan Zinke to be interior secretary. Zinke has denied scientists have proven the human impact on climate change. He’s also long promoted mining and logging on federally held lands. The transition team had previously floated Washington Congressmember Cathy McMorris Rodgers as Trump’s top pick for interior secretary, which Democracy Now! and other news outlets reported.
The Environmental Protection Agency has released its final report on the impacts of fracking, concluding after a six-year study that fracking does contaminate drinking water “under some circumstances.” The report found that all stages of the fracking process have the potential to contaminate drinking water. It’s the most comprehensive study on fracking to date, and it comes after years of residents reporting their water had been contaminated by the drilling process.
Heads of the nation’s top technology companies, including Apple, Facebook and Amazon, are meeting with President-elect Donald Trump today. An increasing number of technology workers and at least one major company have said they will not participate in the creation of a national registry for people from majority-Muslim countries—one of Trump’s campaign proposals. Hundreds of tech workers have signed on to a pledge titled “Never Again,” saying, “We refuse to participate in the creation of databases of identifying information for the United States government to target individuals based on race, religion, or national origin.” The company Twitter has also said it would not participate in the creation of such a database, after being contacted by The Intercept.
In Syria, a tentative ceasefire and evacuation plan for civilians and anti-government rebels in eastern Aleppo has reportedly collapsed this morning, as Syrian government troops have seized near full control over Aleppo. Anti-government activists from the Aleppo Media Center say Syrian government shelling continues in the few rebel-held areas, although Syrian state media says the fire is coming from the rebels. The U.N. said at least 82 civilians, including women and children, have been shot on sight by Syrian government troops in recent days. The Syrian government offensive comes after eastern Aleppo has been besieged and bombarded for months by government forces and Russian airstrikes. Anti-government activists, who first rose up against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in a democratic popular uprising in 2011, have called the fall of Aleppo “doomsday.” Russia has described it as victory against terrorists and jihadists. We’ll have more on Syria after headlines.
U.S. has reportedly halted the sale of some weapons to Saudi Arabia amid mounting concerns about the U.S.-backed, Saudi-led bombing campaign in Yemen. Since March 2015, more than 10,000 people have died in the ongoing conflict in Yemen—the vast majority killed by Saudi-led airstrikes. The U.S. has continued to sell warplanes and munitions to the Saudi-led coalition throughout the war, and U.S.-made munitions have been found at the scene of Saudi-led bombings where civilians have been killed. On Tuesday, an unnamed official told Reuters, “We’ve decided not to move forward with some foreign military sales cases for air-dropped munitions, PGMs [precision-guided munitions]. That’s obviously a direct reflection of the concerns that we have about Saudi strikes that have resulted in civilian casualties.” The ongoing war has also sparked a medical and hunger crisis. A new UNICEF report says a child dies every 10 minutes in Yemen because of malnutrition, diarrhea or respiratory-tract infection. The report also says Yemen’s most heavily bombed region, the Saada governorate, now has the world’s highest rate of stunting, a symptom of chronic malnourishment in children.
Human Rights Watch says satellite imagery shows the Burmese military intentionally razed Rohingya villages in the state of Rakhine. The United Nations has called on Burma leader Aung San Suu Kyi to intervene and halt the military campaign against the long-persecuted Muslim ethnic group. The recent military campaign has reportedly included the rape and killing of civilians, as well as the use of helicopter gunships to open fire against Rohingya below. The entire area has been sealed by a military order in order to keep out aid workers and journalists. At least 10,000 Rohingya have been forced to flee into Bangladesh to escape the violence, while others have fled to nearby refugee camps. These are two refugees speaking from a camp in the capital of the state of Rakhine.
Yawzi Rabiegun: “We have nothing to eat here. Our children are dying. We get support once in a month or two. How can we survive?”
Noro Salam: “We do not have good healthcare. We sleep in poor conditions. It is very hot. And there are no good roads. We have nothing to eat. All the food aid we had is gone now. Most of the families here cannot afford to cook rice now.”
In more news on Burma, the Committee to Protect Journalists is demanding authorities investigate the murder of crime reporter Soe Moe Tun. He was a journalist for the local newspaper Daily Eleven. He was in the process of investigating illegal logging and wood smuggling when his body was discovered Tuesday along the side of the road.
In Mexico City, activists are protesting the eviction of the autonomous community space Chanti Ollin, which was violently raided last month by hundreds of riot police with military equipment, including two helicopters and a tank. The space was one of the oldest squats in Mexico City and was located in the rapidly gentrifying downtown financial district. On Monday, activists protested outside the Attorney General’s Office to demand officials return the space to the community and close the cases against the 26 people who were arrested during the eviction on November 22.
In financial news, Wells Fargo has failed for the second time this year the “living will” regulatory test—a key evaluation established after the 2008 financial crisis. The test judges whether banks have plans in place to avoid crashing the global economy in the event of a bank failure. Wells Fargo also failed this test in April. Wells Fargo is already under increasing scrutiny over its financing of the Dakota Access pipeline, as well as the massive scandal over the creation of 2 million fake accounts, which Wells Fargo employees opened in order to meet grueling sales targets.
At Standing Rock in North Dakota, water protectors fighting the $3.8 billion Dakota Access pipeline are calling on Morton County to drop an arrest warrant issued for Brennon Nastacio, the Pueblo water protector who disarmed a Dakota Access security contractor attempting to infiltrate the resistance camps on October 27. A video shows Nastacio convincing pipeline security contractor Kyle Thompson to stop pointing his AR-15 rifle at the Native Americans and then hand over his 30-round clip. Thompson was later arrested by Bureau of Indian Affairs police. But Morton County went on to release Thompson without charges and instead issued an arrest warrant for water protector Nastacio on charges of “felony terrorizing.” Nastacio has also been placed on Morton County’s most wanted list. This is Pueblo water protector Brennon Nastacio.
Brennon Nastacio: “To be on Morton County’s most wanted list sends me a message that Morton County doesn’t care about the people at camp. They would have rather let Kyle Thompson come in and shoot everybody at camp than for me to disarm him. I hope that ain’t the case, Morton County. And I hope they realize that I saved lives that day, and drop this arrest warrant that they have out for me. You know, I approached Kyle Thompson to disarm him because I was concerned about the safety of the camp.”
In Ohio, Governor John Kasich has vetoed a piece of anti-abortion legislation that would have banned abortion from the moment a heartbeat can be detected, which is usually about six weeks into pregnancy. But he did sign into law Tuesday another extreme piece of anti-abortion legislation that bans the procedure after 20 weeks of pregnancy, even in the case of rape or incest. The ACLU has vowed to challenge the law, which it says is unconstitutional.
Meanwhile, in Oklahoma, lawmakers have approved new regulations that will require all facilities with public bathrooms licensed by the state Health Department to post anti-choice signs advertising pregnancy crisis centers and other anti-abortion websites and information. Starting in 2018, the signs would be required in all hospitals, restaurants and public schools under the Humanity of the Unborn Child Act. The regulations were pushed by the anti-choice group Oklahomans for Life with the goal of “achieving an abortion-free society.”
And in Bakersfield, California, more than 100 residents and family members gathered for a candlelight vigil Tuesday night for Francisco Serna, a 73-year-old man who was shot seven times by police just after midnight on Monday as he was taking a walk in his neighborhood. Serna’s family says he suffered from the early stages of dementia, and he would take walks at night when he was having trouble sleeping. Police say they were responding to a call about an armed man walking around the neighborhood. But the police later admitted Serna did not have a gun or any weapon. Instead, the police said Serna was carrying a crucifix. Police say all seven officers involved in Serna’s killing have been put on leave. Bakersfield is in Kern County. In 2015, Kern had the highest rate of police killings of civilians per capita of any county in the United States.