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This week, Democracy Now! is celebrating our 22nd birthday. Since our first show in February 1996, our daily news hour has brought you fearless journalism and hard-hitting news you can trust--all without ads or corporate underwriting. How is this possible? Only with your support. In fact, if everyone reading this gave just $4, it would cover our operating expenses for the whole year. Right now, a generous donor will TRIPLE every donation, meaning your gift today will go three times as far. Pretty amazing, right? Please do your part. Take a moment to give right now for our 22nd birthday.
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Two boats bound for Greece have capsized off the coast of Turkey, killing at least 33 people, including a number of children. More than 400 people have been killed trying to reach Europe so far this year amid the greatest refugee crisis since World War II. This comes as up to 35,000 Syrians have massed along the Turkish border amid intensified airstrikes and fighting around the Syrian city of Aleppo. Turkey has kept the border closed for a fourth day today. The refugees are said to be sleeping in open fields in the cold.
Republican presidential contenders faced off Saturday night at Saint Anselm College in Manchester, New Hampshire. Taking part in the debate were New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, Dr. Ben Carson, Senator Ted Cruz of Texas, Donald Trump, Senator Marco Rubio of Florida, former Florida Governor Jeb Bush and Ohio Governor John Kasich. ABC News excluded former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina from the debate despite protests from many Republicans. Much of the debate coverage has focused on Marco Rubio for repeatedly reciting the same talking points about President Obama, even after he was called out by Chris Christie. Donald Trump defended his call to bring back the Bush-era torture tactic of waterboarding.
Donald Trump: “In the Middle East, we have people chopping the heads off Christians. We have people chopping the heads off many other people. We have things that we have never seen before—as a group, we have never seen before what’s happening right now. The medieval times—I mean, we studied medieval times. Not since medieval times have people seen what’s going on. I would bring back waterboarding, and I’d bring back a hell of a lot worse than waterboarding.”
We’ll have more on the debate after headlines. The New Hampshire primaries are Tuesday.
The U.N. Security Council has condemned North Korea’s launch of what North Korea claims was a satellite on Sunday. The launch is widely seen as a cover for testing ballistic missile technology, a violation of U.N. sanctions. Last month North Korea tested what it claimed was a hydrogen bomb. U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power vowed to back “serious consequences.”
Samantha Power: “Each of these illegal actions requires a robust response. Because of the DPRK’s decisions and actions, we will ensure that the Security Council imposes serious consequences. DPRK’s latest transgressions require our response to be even firmer.”
In Taiwan, rescuers have continued to pull people from the rubble of an apartment building more than 60 hours after it was toppled by an earthquake. At least 38 people were killed in the 6.4-magnitude quake, but officials have warned the toll is likely to top 100. Earlier today, an eight-year-old girl was among those pulled alive from the ruins.
Haitian President Michel Martelly has left office at the end of his five-year term without a successor in place, following mass protests demanding his ouster. The United States has been criticized for supporting Haiti’s disputed October elections, where the president’s handpicked successor, Jovenel Moïse, came in first out of more than 50 candidates, despite being virtually unknown. Last month, mass protests succeeded in postponing a scheduled runoff where Moïse was the only candidate—after his competitor, Jude Célestin, refused to take part. Martelly left office Sunday following a deal to have Parliament choose an interim president ahead of elections scheduled for April. His departure came on the 30th anniversary of the departure of Haitian dictator Jean-Claude “Baby Doc” Duvalier, who was flown into exile aboard a U.S. government jet after a popular uprising.
Feminist icon Gloria Steinem has apologized after suggesting young women only support Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders because “the boys are with Bernie.” Steinem made the comments on “Real Time with Bill Maher” Friday night.
Gloria Steinem: “When you’re young, you’re thinking, you know, 'Where are the boys? The boys are with Bernie,' or, you know.”
Bill Maher: “Ooh! Now, if I said that.”
Gloria Steinem: “No. No, no, you can say it.”
Bill Maher: “'Yeah, they're for Bernie because that’s where the boys are.’”
Gloria Steinem: “No, no. But—but it’s not…”
Bill Maher: “You’d swat me. Come on.”
Gloria Steinem: “No I wouldn’t.”
Bill Maher: “OK, good.”
Gloria Steinem: “I wouldn’t, because the boys are saying whether—no, I mean, hello? What are you—how well do you know me? OK, right.”
A recent poll found Democratic and independent women between the ages of 18 and 34 prefer Sanders by nearly 20 percentage points. After an outcry, Steinem apologized for her comments, writing, “In a case of talk-show Interruptus, I misspoke on the Bill Maher show recently, and apologize for what’s been misinterpreted as implying young women aren’t serious in their politics.” Meanwhile, another prominent supporter of Clinton, former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, has drawn attention for saying there is a “special place in hell for women who don’t help each other.” Critics have cited Albright’s past defense of sanctions in Iraq, when she said the deaths of 500,000 Iraqi children were “worth it.” Meanwhile, a new Reuters/Ipsos poll shows Sanders has erased Clinton’s national lead. The poll shows Clinton leading Sanders just 48 to 45 percent, putting the two in a dead heat.
Both Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton have taken up the water crisis in Flint, Michigan. During a visit to Flint over the weekend, Clinton called the poisoning of Flint’s water “immoral.” Sanders called it a “humanitarian crisis.” The state of Michigan meanwhile has fired the head of the Department of Environmental Quality’s drinking water unit over the contamination. Liane Shekter Smith is the only state employee fired over the crisis to date. The lead poisoning in Flint’s water began after an unelected emergency manager appointed by Governor Rick Snyder switched Flint’s water supply to the corrosive Flint River. Governor Snyder has faced increasing calls to resign.
The Pentagon has released nearly 200 photos relating to the abuse of prisoners by U.S. military personnel in Iraq and Afghanistan. The American Civil Liberties Union has been fighting for nearly 12 years to win release of photos related to the Bush administration’s torture program. The released images include close-ups of bruised and lacerated body parts and bound, blindfolded prisoners. The Pentagon is still withholding 1,800 images which are believed to be far worse.
The Washington Post and BuzzFeed have identified a second member of the British cohort within the self-proclaimed Islamic State who oversaw the detention, abuse and beheading of Western hostages in Syria. Alexanda Kotey, who grew up in West London, is one of the four guards hostages dubbed the “Beatles” because of their British accents. Another member of the group, Mohammed Emwazi, known as “Jihadi John,” was killed in a drone strike in November.
A federal judge has blocked the anti-choice Center for Medical Progress from releasing videos they secretly recorded at meetings of abortion providers. Judge William Orrick also dismissed as baseless the group’s claims abortion providers are selling fetal tissue. The ruling comes after a jury charged with investigating Planned Parenthood over the false claims about fetal tissue instead decided to indict the group’s leader, David Daleiden, and another anti-choice activist, Sandra Merritt.
A Salvadoran woman who suffered seven seizures while in immigration custody has been released from a for-profit detention center in Texas after a public outcry. Susana Arévalo was detained last month in one of the Obama administration’s raids targeting Central American families seeking asylum. She told Democracy Now! officials had prevented her from attending her medical appointments for epilepsy. To hear an excerpt of our interview with Arévalo from detention you can go to democracynow.org.
Meanwhile, authorities in El Salvador have arrested four former soldiers wanted in Spain for the murders of six Jesuit priests in 1989. Prosecutors say soldiers killed the priests, their housekeeper and the housekeeper’s daughter to silence the priests’ criticism of abuses committed by the U.S.-backed military. Five of the priests were Spanish. The arrests came after a U.S. judge paved the way for a former Salvadoran colonel to face charges in Spain for helping orchestrate the priests’ killings.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has announced “alarming levels” of radiation after water contaminated with radioactive tritium leaked from the Indian Point nuclear power plant. At one monitoring well, the radiation had spiked 65,000 percent. The plant’s owner, Entergy Corporation, has said the groundwater contamination at the plant does not pose a threat to the public. Environmentalists have long called for the closure of Indian Point, citing aging infrastructure and a history of operational issues.
The Chicago police officer who fatally shot a college student and an unarmed grandmother in December has filed a lawsuit against the estate of the teenager he killed, saying he—the officer—suffered “extreme emotional trauma.” Officer Robert Rialmo claims Quintonio LeGrier swung at him with a baseball bat, causing him to open fire, killing both LeGrier and an unarmed bystander, 55-year-old Bettie Jones. Recently released audio shows Quintonio LeGrier called 911 seeking help three times in the minutes before he was shot but was treated dismissively by dispatchers, one of whom hung up on him. Police were finally dispatched after a fourth call from LeGrier’s father saying his son was wielding a bat.
In other news from Illinois, a political science professor who wore a hijab in solidarity with Muslims has left her post at Wheaton College. The private Christian school suspended her after she said Christians and Muslims worship the same God. Larycia Hawkins said she was standing in “religious solidarity” with Muslims who faced harassment after mass shootings in Paris and San Bernardino, California. The school said it reached a mutual agreement to “part ways” with Hawkins.
And pop legend Beyoncé paid tribute to the Black Panthers, Malcolm X and the Black Lives Matter movement during her halftime show at the Super Bowl on Sunday. Her backup dancers wore Black Panther-style berets and posed with their fists in the air, recalling the black power salute by Tommie Smith and John Carlos at the 1968 Olympics. Her music video for “Formation” released the day before evoked Hurricane Katrina and police brutality. By the way, the Denver Broncos beat the Carolina Panthers at the Super Bowl, 24 to 10. We’ll have more on the Super Bowl with Dave Zirin later in the broadcast.