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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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Low-wage workers across the country walked off the job in more than 300 cities Thursday, marking the largest action to date in the growing nationwide fight for a $15-an-hour minimum wage. The Fight for 15 has brought together fast-food and childcare workers, adjunct professors, healthcare workers and many more. Thursday’s protests followed victories in California and New York, which have become the first states to enact a path toward establishing a $15-an-hour minimum wage in the coming years.
The Fight for 15 took center stage at Thursday night’s Democratic debate in Brooklyn, New York. In their most contentious debate of the campaign, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders faced off over Wall Street, saving Social Security, Israel, guns and more. CNN moderator Wolf Blitzer asked Clinton if, given her support for a $12-an-hour minimum wage, she would sign a bill raising it to $15 an hour.
Wolf Blitzer: “If a Democratic Congress put a $15 minimum wage bill on your desk, would you sign it?”
Hillary Clinton: “Oh, of course I would. And I have supported—I have supported the Fight for 15. I am proud to have the endorsement of most of the unions that have led the Fight for 15.”
Sen. Bernie Sanders: “I am sure a lot of people are very surprised to learn that you supported raising the minimum wage to 15 bucks an hour.”
In New York City, about 1,000 people rallied outside the Grand Hyatt Hotel Thursday to protest an appearance by Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump at a Republican gala. Wilhelmina Perry was among those condemning Trump’s racism.
Wilhelmina Perry: “I think that the direction in which Trump has taken the country and exploded the negativity and the racism and the classism that we know exists—but it is not all right to deal on those values—he’s made it appropriate to do it. And I think that that is terrible. I don’t want to live in that kind of country, and I don’t want to see young people behind me have to struggle with that kind of a country.”
Police arrested more than two dozen people, including Democracy Now!'s own videographers, Charina Nadura and Juan Carlos Dávila, who were taken into custody as they attempted to film the protest. We'll have more on the action and their arrest later in the broadcast.
Donald Trump’s campaign manager Corey Lewandowski will avoid prosecution for battery after video showed him grabbing Breitbart reporter Michelle Fields as she tried to question Trump. Fields said Lewandowski bruised her arm. But prosecutors in Florida, where the incident took place, said there is not enough evidence to pursue criminal charges.
Brazil’s Supreme Court has rejected a last-ditch effort by President Dilma Rousseff to avert a looming impeachment vote. Rousseff’s attorney general had sought to prevent lawmakers in Brazil’s lower house from voting this Sunday, amid reports her opponents have enough votes to advance the impeachment. The Senate would then vote on whether to put Rousseff on trial on accusations of breaking budget laws. Rousseff has accused her right-wing supporters of attempting a “coup.” Many of the lawmakers leading the impeachment charge face serious corruption and fraud charges of their own.
Republican Oklahoma Senator Jim Inhofe has recommended reopening the U.S. military base on Vieques Island in Puerto Rico as Congress considers legislation to address Puerto Rico’s debt crisis. For decades, the Navy used nearly three-quarters of Vieques for bombing practice, war games and dumping old munitions, leading to lasting environmental damage. The Navy ended training operations in 2003 following a massive civil disobedience campaign. But speaking this week, Senator Inhofe suggested reopening the base on Vieques would benefit the U.S. military and the Puerto Rican economy.
Sen. Jim Inhofe: “I would think that any kind of a deal that is made is going to have to include consideration for the training that is still available. I mean, there’s still no range like Vieques anywhere in the Western Hemisphere. What can be done in Vieques cannot be done on one location by a joint force.”
Senator Inhofe is best known for bringing a snowball to the floor of the Senate in an effort to debunk global warming.
Newly disclosed documents show the University of California at Davis spent at least $175,000 to try to scrub the Internet of criticism following the 2011 pepper-spraying of student protesters by campus police. The school made national headlines after video showed police spraying seated students directly in the face at close range. The Sacramento Bee reports UC Davis paid consultants to improve its online image, in part by scrubbing negative search results related to the pepper-spray incident. UC Davis is a public university supported by taxpayer money.
At University of Massachusetts, Amherst, about three dozen people have been arrested after launching a sit-in this week to demand the university divest from fossil fuels. Students launched their occupation of an administrative building on Tuesday. Hours later, UMass officials pledged to “advocate for a policy that would see the five-campus UMass system divest and prohibit direct investment in fossil fuel companies.”
Tech firm Microsoft is suing the Justice Department for the right to inform users when the government is spying on their emails. The lawsuit challenges the government’s frequent use of orders barring Microsoft from telling people about government requests for their emails and other documents. It focuses on data stored on remote servers in the so-called cloud.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has introduced legislation to legalize doctor-assisted suicides for people suffering from “serious and incurable” diseases. The measure applies only to Canadian citizens and residents. Assisted suicide is legal only in a handful of U.S. states.
In other news from Canada, activists have occupied government offices to demand Prime Minister Trudeau visit a First Nations community rocked by a spate of suicide attempts. The Attawapiskat First Nation in Ontario saw 28 suicide attempts last month within a population of 2,000 people, and 11 attempts on Saturday alone. Activists with the Black Lives Matter and Idle No More movements occupied the Toronto offices of a government indigenous affairs agency Wednesday, while another group of activists staged a sit-in in the agency’s Winnipeg office Thursday evening.
A Mexican woman has been reunited with her two U.S. citizen children after the three attempted to cross the U.S.-Mexico border together to call for authorities to end their separation. Mirna Lazcano has been unable to return to her husband and children in New York since returning to Mexico in 2013. When she attempted to re-enter the United States through the Arizona desert, she was captured and deported. This week, Lazcano’s children came to join her in Mexico as she traveled with the Caravan for Peace, Life and Justice, a group that has traveled through Central America and Mexico calling for an end to the war on drugs. Lazcano spoke out after reuniting with her daughters in Mexico.
Mirna Lazcano: “I thank God that I have my daughters here, that I can touch them now. And I thank all of you who have helped to bring my daughters here at this time. And I also want to announce that they are going to join the caravan starting today, and they are going to accompany me to El Paso tomorrow, until I turn myself in to immigration.”
On Thursday, with a daughter on each hand, Lazcano turned herself in to immigration authorities in Laredo, Texas. She was later released from custody and reunited with her daughters.
Meanwhile in Mexico, two soldiers face military charges following the release of a video showing them helping a federal police officer torture a civilian woman during an interrogation. The video shows officers pulling the woman’s hair, putting a rifle muzzle against her head and placing her head in a plastic bag as she thrashes and nearly passes out. The interrogation took place last February in Guerrero state, the same state where 43 students went missing after an encounter with local police in September 2014. Mexico’s National Human Rights Commission confirmed Thursday a witness has reported two federal police were present when some of the students were taken off a bus and disappeared. The account bolsters earlier journalists’ reports pointing to a role by federal police as well as the Mexican military in the disappearance of the 43 students.