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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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French President François Hollande and Greek officials have said the EgyptAir passenger jet that disappeared this morning en route from Paris to Cairo has crashed at sea. Egyptian and Greek authorities are searching for the jet, which had 66 people aboard. There is no information yet about what caused the crash. Last November, a Russian airliner was brought down over Egypt, killing all 224 people on board. The self-proclaimed Islamic State claimed responsibility for taking down the plane. Meanwhile, an Azerbaijani plane has crashed in southern Afghanistan, killing seven of the nine people on board. The Pentagon says the plane crashed during takeoff when one of the plane’s wings clipped the runway.
Ecuador, Venezuela and El Salvador have announced they are recalling their ambassadors from Brazil over the suspension of democratically elected President Dilma Rousseff. Rousseff faces impeachment proceedings over accusations of tampering with government accounts to hide a budget deficit. But she has accused her right-wing opponents of fomenting a coup. Salvadoran President Sánchez Cerén said he would not recognize the government of interim President Michel Temer, who himself faces corruption charges. Cerén said, “We respect democracy and the people’s will. In Brazil an act was done that was once done through military coups.” Meanwhile, President Dilma Rousseff has criticized Michel Temer’s decision to install an all-white male Cabinet, during an interview with journalist Glenn Greenwald.
Glenn Greenwald: “How did you react when you saw his team?”
Dilma Rousseff: “Look, I think that—it seems to me that this interim and illegitimate government will be very conservative in every aspect, one of which is the fact that it is a government of white men, without blacks, in a country that in the last census in 2010—and I think this is very important—more than 50 percent of the population self-identified as being of African origin. So I think that not having any women or black people in the government shows certain lack of care for the country you are governing.”
In Washington, D.C., Senate Democrats held a mock confirmation hearing Wednesday for Judge Merrick Garland, President Obama’s nominee to replace Justice Antonin Scalia on the Supreme Court. No Republican senators showed up to the mock hearing.
Meanwhile, presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has unveiled a list of 11 candidates he would consider to fill Scalia’s seat on the Supreme Court, if he is elected president. The 11 judges are overwhelmingly conservative, and the majority are white men. The list includes Judge William Pryor, who has argued for the criminalization of consensual sex between gay and lesbian partners, and who opposes abortions, including in cases of rape and incest. During law school, Pryor said his inspiration for becoming a lawyer was “because I wanted to fight the ACLU.” The list also includes Judge Thomas Hardiman, who has supported strengthening mandatory minimum sentences, and Judge Raymond Gruender, who ruled a 1978 pregnancy law does not give female employees the right to contraceptive coverage. Curiously, the list also includes Judge Don Willett, who is known for his extensive commentary on Twitter, where he has mocked Donald Trump multiple times, including in a “Donald Trump haiku” that read: “Who would the Donald / Name to #SCOTUS? The mind reels. / weeps—can’t finish tweet.”
Meanwhile, Donald Trump met with former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger in New York to discuss foreign policy on Wednesday. During his time in office, Henry Kissinger oversaw a massive expansion of the war in Vietnam and the secret bombings of Laos and Cambodia. He also orchestrated secret U.S. military interventions across Latin America, from Bolivia to Uruguay to Chile to Argentina.
In Nigeria, family members say one of 219 schoolgirls abducted by Boko Haram from their dormitory in Chibok two years ago has returned home. Nineteen-year-old Amina Ali Darsha Nkeki is the first of the group to be rescued. Fifty-seven other girls managed to escape soon after the 2014 attack. Her return sparked renewed hope for the family members of other girls who are still missing. This is Nkeki Mutah.
Nkeki Mutah: “You can imagine, since this abduction, we have been here every day. Unless if I am not in Abuja, every day I’ve been here, because of the hope. And our hope now has been rekindled because of the rescue of this very one that I got the news today.”
The Parliament of the Seychelles has voted to decriminalize sex between consensual gay and lesbian partners. Before Wednesday’s vote, homosexuality was a crime punishable by up to 14 years in prison in the Seychelles.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has formally apologized for the 1914 Komagata Maru incident in which Canada turned away a Japanese steamship in order to prevent more than 300 Sikhs from immigrating to the country. The move was widely acknowledged to be aimed at keeping Sikhs out of Canada. Then premier of British Columbia, Sir Richard McBride, said at the time, “We always have in mind the necessity of keeping this a white man’s country.” On Wednesday, more than 100 years after the boat was turned away, Prime Minister Trudeau apologized.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau: “No words can erase the pain and suffering they experienced. Regrettably, the passage of time means that none are alive to hear our apology today. Still, we offer it fully and sincerely, for our indifference to your plight, for our failure to recognize all that you had to offer, for the laws that discriminated against you so senselessly, and for not apologizing sooner. For all these things, we are truly sorry.”
Kentucky has elected the first African American woman to the state Legislature in 20 years. On Tuesday, Attica Scott won the Democratic primary for state representative of the 41st District. She has no Republican challenger for the fall’s general election. During the primary, Scott overwhelmingly defeated longtime incumbent Tom Riner, best known for his support of Kentucky County Clerk Kim Davis, who was briefly jailed for refusing to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples following the Supreme Court decision legalizing marriage equality nationwide. Attica Scott, in contrast, has been a longtime social justice activist and a vocal supporter of the Black Lives Matter movement.
In South Carolina, the Legislature has passed a bill banning abortion after 20 weeks, even in the case of rape and incest. Governor Nikki Haley has said she will sign the bill.
The highest court in Massachusetts has dealt a victory to four teenage plaintiffs in a lawsuit over climate change. In a case brought by the teenagers and environmental groups, the state Supreme Court found Massachusetts failed to fulfill its legal obligations to reduce greenhouse gas emissions that are warming the planet. In a statement, 17-year-old plaintiff Shamus Miller called the ruling a “historic victory for young generations advocating for changes to be made by the government. The global climate change crisis is a threat to the well being of humanity, and to my generation, that has been ignored for too long.”
Here in Madison, the graduate student union at the University of Wisconsin-Madison has voted to join the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement. The 9,000-member union is the oldest graduate student union in the United States. It becomes the third student union in about a month to vote to divest from Israeli state institutions and corporations who do business in the Israeli-occupied Palestinian territories.
And today would have been the 95th birthday of civil rights activist Yuri Kochiyama. Until her death in 2014, Kochiyama championed civil rights, protested racial inequality and fought for causes of social justice. Her activism began after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, when she and her family were held in a Japanese-American internment camp. She was with Malcolm X the day he was gunned down in Harlem’s Audubon Ballroom, cradling his head as he lay dying on the stage. Today, Google marked her birthday with an illustration of the civil rights activist on its homepage.