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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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In North Dakota, water protectors resisting the $3.8 billion Dakota Access pipeline have scored an historic victory. On Sunday, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers denied Energy Transfer Partners, the company behind the pipeline, a permit to drill underneath Lake Oahe on the Missouri River—officially halting construction. The pipeline is slated to carry crude oil from the Bakken oilfields of North Dakota through South Dakota, Iowa and into Illinois, where it’s slated to link up to another pipeline to carry the oil down to refineries in the Gulf. The project has faced months of resistance from the Standing Rock Sioux in North Dakota, members of more than 200 indigenous nations from across the Americas and thousands of their non-Native allies—all concerned the pipeline’s construction will destroy sacred Sioux sites and that a pipeline leak could contaminate the Missouri River, which serves as a water supply for millions. Standing Rock protester Maurine Archambault celebrated the news.
Maurine Archambault: “We’re slowly getting there, like winning this thing, but there’s going to be a few battles that we’re going to have to go through, whenever we’re going to win this thing, too.”
The Washington Post is reporting Donald Trump’s protocol-breaking telephone conversation with Taiwan’s leader on Friday was an intentionally provocative move that had been planned weeks in advance. Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen’s call to Trump marked the first communication between leaders of the United States and Taiwan since 1979. China lodged a diplomatic protest with the United States, saying the “one China” policy was the bedrock of relations with the United States. China considers Taiwan to be part of its territory and not an independent nation.
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi: “The Taiwan side’s engagement in a petty action cannot change the 'one China' structure by the international community. I believe that it won’t change the long-standing 'one China' policy of the United States government.”
Trump’s call with the president of Taiwan has also raised new questions about his business dealings. There have been multiple reports that representatives of the Trump Organization have traveled to Taiwan in recent months to explore possible deals, including building luxury hotels near Taiwan’s main airport.
Donald Trump has nominated former presidential candidate Dr. Ben Carson to serve as secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development. Carson has been a vocal critic of HUD’s fair housing rule, which requires local communities to assess patterns of income and racial discrimination in housing. Carson has described the rule as a “mandated social-engineering scheme.” He said, “This is just an example of what happens when we allow the government to infiltrate every part of our lives. This is what you see in communist countries.”
Trump is reportedly broadening his search for a secretary of state. New candidates being considered include former Utah Governor Jon Huntsman, former U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. John Bolton, retired Admiral James Stavridis and Democratic Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia. Other finalists are said to include ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson, former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, and Senator Bob Corker of Tennessee.
Michigan has become the second state to conduct a recount of the presidential election. Early this morning a federal judge ordered officials to begin recounting ballots today at noon. The order was made following a request by Green Party presidential candidate Dr. Jill Stein. Donald Trump won Michigan by under 10,000 votes out of 5.5 million cast. A recount is already underway in Wisconsin. Meanwhile, Stein’s efforts to force a recount in Pennsylvania were dealt a setback when a judge ordered petitioners to post a $1 million bond. Stein is holding a press conference outside Trump Tower today at 10 a.m. to discuss next steps on the recount.
In Oakland, at least 33 people have died after a fire ripped through a converted warehouse hosting an electronic music concert. The death toll is expected to continue to rise. It is already the deadliest fire in the city’s history. The fire broke out in what was known as the Ghost Ship, an artist collective that housed many young artists and musicians. Mourners have been gathering to remember those lost in the fire.
Genevieve Griesau: “They were amazing, you know? They were amazing. And I’m sorry for everyone’s loss. It’s the people I didn’t know. It’s just—I can’t even—it’s mind-blowing, heartbreaking.”
Cuba has concluded nine days of mourning after the death of Fidel Castro. On Sunday, his ashes were entombed near the remains of Cuba’s independence hero José Martí in a cemetery in Santiago de Cuba. Cuban President Raúl Castro spoke about his brother’s legacy.
President Raúl Castro: “He demonstrated, yes, it was possible. It was possible to overcome any obstacle, any threat to or challenge to our firm undertaking of building a socialism in Cuba or, likewise, guaranteeing the independence and sovereignty of the fatherland.”
Attendees at Fidel Castro’s funeral included former Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva.
Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva: “I see here right now much sadness. I know what Fidel represented here in Santiago for the Cuban nation, throughout the whole world, for those who struggle for social equality, for those who struggle for dignity.”
In news from Austria, a Green Party politician has been elected president, defeating the head of the anti-immigration Freedom Party. The Freedom Party’s Norbert Hofer was attempting to become the first freely elected far-right head of state in Europe since World War II. The party was founded by former Nazi Party members. Green leader Alexander Van der Bellen celebrated his victory after winning 53 percent of the vote.
President-elect Alexander Van der Bellen: “I will try to be an open-minded, liberal-minded and, first of all, a pro-European federal president of the republic of Austria.”
In other news from Europe, Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi has announced he will resign after his plan to reform the constitution was rejected by voters. This leaves Italy in a state of political turmoil. The rejection of the referendum was hailed as a victory by several anti-establishment and anti-immigrant groups in Italy.
In news from Louisiana, the NAACP and other groups have staged a series of protests after authorities released a man suspected of shooting and killing former NFL player Joe McKnight in a possible case of road rage. The suspect, 54-year-old Ronald Gasser, who is white, was released without being formally charged, even though he admitted shooting McKnight, who is African-American, multiple times. Police said they are still investigating the incident.
Jurors in South Carolina are scheduled to resume deliberations in the case of Michael Slager, the white police officer who was caught on video shooting 50-year-old African American Walter Scott in the back as he ran away. On Friday, the jurors twice informed the judge that they were unable to reach a unanimous verdict.
Over the weekend, federal authorities in Texas reportedly released nearly 500 women and children from the nation’s two largest family detention centers. Legal advocates say most families were released without travel plans, and volunteers worked with a local church to open shelter space early Saturday morning. The move followed a ruling Friday by a Texas judge that bars the state’s Department of Family and Protective Services from issuing child care licenses to family detention centers. Advocates say conditions at the facilities are equivalent to prisons. The judgment effectively invalidates the licenses now used to operate the facilities, which are owned by GEO and CoreCivic, formerly known as Corrections Corporation of America. Human rights groups have called on the Obama administration to end the practice of detaining families before the end of his administration.
An American priest assassinated in Guatemala in 1981 has moved a step closer to sainthood. On Friday, the Vatican declared Rev. Stanley Rother to be a martyr. Rother was killed by a right-wing death squad in his church rectory. He died on the same day U.S.-backed Guatemalan troops killed 13 people and wounded 24 others in the same town where he was shot. Stanley Rother is the first American to ever be declared a martyr by the Catholic Church.
In Washington, D.C., an armed North Carolina man was arrested Sunday after walking into the popular pizza restaurant Comet Ping Pong and then firing at least one shot. For weeks, right-wing websites have been spreading conspiracy theories about the restaurant, claiming Hillary Clinton and other prominent Democrats were running a child sex ring from the restaurant’s back rooms. The fake news story became known as “Pizzagate.” The North Carolina man, Edgar Maddison Welch, told police he traveled to D.C. to “self-investigate” the story. He has been charged with assault with a dangerous weapon.
In other news, President-elect Donald Trump took to Twitter early on Sunday to slam the latest episode of “Saturday Night Live.” He wrote, “Just tried watching Saturday Night Live–unwatchable! Totally biased, not funny and the [Alec] Baldwin impersonation just can’t get any worse. Sad.” Trump wrote the message shortly after Baldwin poked fun of Trump’s use of Twitter on the show.
Alec Baldwin (Impersonating Trump): “Kellyanne, I just retweeted the best tweet. I mean, wow, what a great, smart tweet.”
Security Adviser: “Mr Trump, we’re in a security briefing.”
Baldwin: “I know, but this could not wait. It was from a young man named Seth. He’s 16. He’s in high school. And I really did retweet him. Seriously, this is real.”
On Sunday, Alec Baldwin responded to Trump on Twitter. Baldwin wrote: “@realDonaldTrump. Release your tax returns and I’ll stop. Ha.”
And some residents of the Chevy Chase neighborhood in Washington, D.C., are welcoming their newest neighbor, Vice President-elect Mike Pence, by hanging rainbow-colored flags from their homes. Pence is living in the neighborhood until Inauguration Day.
Allison Fenn: “Given the governor’s stance on gay rights issues, it seemed like a really crucial message to make that everyone needs to be supported rather than feel threatened. And I think we have a fundamental disagreement with his stand on this and just want to not only bring it to his attention, but to make others feel supported who might otherwise feel threatened.”