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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 retired Marine General James Mattis to be defense secretary. Trump made the announcement during a victory rally in Cincinnati Thursday night. Donald Trump referred to retired General Mattis by his nickname “Mad Dog,” which he reportedly received after leading U.S. troops during the 2004 battle of Fallujah in Iraq. Mattis enlisted in the Marines at 19. He fought in the Persian Gulf War, in Afghanistan and then in Iraq, where he served as a major general. In May 2004, Mattis ordered an attack on a small Iraqi village that ended up killing about 42 people attending a wedding ceremony. Mattis went on to lead United States Central Command from 2010 to 2013, but the Obama administration cut short his tour over concerns Mattis was too hawkish on Iran, reportedly calling for a series of covert actions there. Mattis has drawn criticism over his apparent celebration of killing, including saying in 2005 about the Taliban, “It’s a hell of a lot of fun to shoot them.” Mattis only retired from the military in 2013, meaning he will need Congress to waive rules requiring defense secretaries to be civilians for seven or more years after leaving the military. The rules are in place to ensure civilian control over the U.S. armed forces. Already, New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand has said she’ll vote against the waiver for General Mattis, saying, “Civilian control of our military is a fundamental principle of American democracy, and I will not vote for an exception to this rule.”
Trump’s announcement came amid a speech in a half-filled hockey stadium in downtown Cincinnati, during which his supporters renewed campaign chants, including “Build the wall” and “Lock her up”—a reference to Trump’s former opponent, Hillary Clinton. Trump repeatedly attacked the media as being “dishonest.” He also claimed he won the election in a landslide—despite the fact that Hillary Clinton is now ahead in the popular vote by over 2.5 million.
The speech in Cincinnati came after Trump spoke in Indianapolis, where he celebrated his involvement in Carrier’s decision to keep hundreds of jobs at its Indianapolis air conditioner factory instead of moving them to Mexico. Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders has criticized the deal to keep the jobs in the United States as setting a dangerous precedent, since Trump used a $7 million corporate tax break to convince the company not to ship the jobs overseas. This is precisely the type of tax break Trump said he was against during his campaign. Meanwhile, local reporter Rafael Sánchez, who has spent nearly a year investigating the Carrier plant and the proposed job relocation, says Carrier denied him press credentials for Trump’s speech yesterday. This is Sánchez.
Rafael Sánchez: “So many stories to tell. Now, unlike my colleague Katie Heinz, I was unable to be at the conference today, watch the announcement by Donald Trump. And that’s because my press credential was denied, which meant that I could not be inside the Carrier plant. It appears that after 10 months of telling the workers’ story, going to Monterrey, Mexico, and asking tough questions of a company, that all came with a price today.”
Sánchez, who works for the Indianapolis station WRTV, also said that Trump did not save a full 1,000 jobs—and that at least 600 more Carrier jobs are still at risk of being shipped to Mexico.
Rafael Sánchez: “Here are the numbers: 720 of those jobs are production workers. Those are the folks that make the gas furnaces. About 300 of those jobs were the corporate jobs that were never going to leave anyway. So that’s where we get to the 1,100 or close to the 1,100. Here is the bad news in the short term: Unless something gets done, some 600 jobs are still scheduled to go to Monterrey, Mexico.”
Donald Trump has still not chosen his secretary of state, but new media reports say he is now considering two additional candidates: ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson and former ExxonMobil CEO Lee Raymond. ExxonMobil is the United States’s largest oil company. It’s currently being investigated by a handful of attorneys general, following revelations that for decades the company covered up its own scientific findings linking rising carbon emissions to dangerous climate change.
Donald Trump has expressed his support for the completion of the $3.8 billion Dakota Access pipeline, which has faced months of resistance from the Standing Rock Sioux, representatives from more than 200 indigenous nations from across the Americas and thousands of non-Native allies. In a communications briefing, Trump’s transition team said his support for the pipeline “has nothing to do with his personal investments.” As of 2015, Trump had between $500,000 and $1 million invested in the pipeline company, Energy Transfer Partners, although Trump spokesperson Hope Hicks recently claimed Trump has sold off his shares in the company. This comes as North Dakota Governor Jack Dalrymple continues to back away from attempts to force water protectors to leave the main resistance camp, now saying authorities will not stop and fine people carrying supplies to the site. The governor says his recent executive order declaring the land an evacuation area sought only to warn people about the cold. In response, the Standing Rock Sioux said, “The Governor of North Dakota and Sheriff of Morton County are relative newcomers [here]. It is understandable they would be concerned about severe winter weather.” The first of a group of as many as 2,000 veterans have begun to arrive at Standing Rock in North Dakota, where they say they’ll serve to form a “human shield” around the water protectors to protect them from the increasingly violent police crackdown.
Meanwhile, protesters gathered in dozens of cities across the world Thursday in opposition to the Dakota Access pipeline, including in Tokyo, London, Vancouver, Calgary and cities across the U.S. In Minneapolis, six protesters locked themselves to each other inside a Wells Fargo office building, blocking the elevators for hours. They left only after receiving a letter saying Wells Fargo would meet with tribal elders before January 1 to hear their concerns about the bank’s investments in the pipeline.
Meanwhile, the Chippewas of the Thames First Nation have sued the Canadian government in Canada’s Supreme Court in order to challenge the permitting process for Enbridge’s Line 9 tar sands pipeline, saying their treaty rights to consultation were not met before the pipeline was approved. If the Supreme Court rules in favor of the Chippewas, it could set a precedent requiring formal nation-to-nation consultations between the Canadian government and First Nations for all future energy projects that would affect Native land.
Back in the United States, students at campuses across the country protested Thursday, demanding their university or college become a “sanctuary campus.” In the wake of Donald Trump’s promises to deport millions of people immediately upon taking office, students are demanding university 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. This is Thais Marques, a student at Rutgers University in Newark, New Jersey.
Thais Marques: “I’m undocumented, so this really matters to me because it directly affects my life. But also, like I’ve seen what deportations do to families. I’ve seen like the pain of my community is so deep. And this is just to show our community that it’s OK to come out as unafraid and unapologetic and really show our resilience that we’re going to fight. And this is only the first step.”
The Pentagon has acknowledged killing two dozen civilians in a U.S. airstrike in Syria in July—although some organizations say the death toll was considerably higher. The strike hit a village near Manbij in northern Syria. The group Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says as many as 200 civilians died in Manbij during a series of U.S. airstrikes in July.
French President François Hollande has said he will not seek another term in next year’s election. Hollande is extremely unpopular in France. His approval ratings plummeted in part due to his aggressive backing of a deeply unpopular labor law reform, which sparked months of massive nationwide protests and strikes. On Thursday, Hollande, of the Socialist Party, said he would not compete in the upcoming elections because he didn’t want the only choice for voters to be between the conservative right and the far right.
Human rights advocates are increasing their criticism of the Burma military’s ongoing violence against Muslim Rohingya in Burma’s north, which has sent more than 10,000 Rohingya fleeing into neighboring Bangladesh. The military has reportedly burned whole villages and used helicopter gunships to open fire against Rohingya civilians. The entire area has been sealed by a military order in order to keep out aid workers and journalists. The U.N.’s human rights agency has said the violence may amount to crimes against humanity.
The Obama administration has challenged a federal judge’s November ruling that blocked the implementation of legislation to extend overtime pay to as many as 4 million Americans. The judge’s ruling came after 21 states and industry lobbyists sued to block the legislation.
And Cuba continues its nine days of mourning following the death of revolutionary leader Fidel Castro. A caravan carrying Castro’s ashes has been traversing the country, where it’s been met by thousands of mourners. This is Ángel Santiesteban in Santa Clara—the town where Castro’s decisive revolutionary battle was won in December 1958. Within only hours of the city’s capture by Castro’s revolutionary forces, the U.S.-backed dictator General Fulgencio Batista fled Cuba, and Castro claimed victory.
Ángel Santiesteban: “Fidel is and will be the guiding example for all of the revolutions in the world. He will be the example, the guide and the beacon of light that shines a path for the restless in every country and every continent. Fidel will always be there, and we will follow his example.”