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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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San Francisco Police Chief Gregory Suhr has been ousted following weeks of protest and hunger strikes demanding his resignation over police killings in the city. Mayor Edwin Lee announced he was asking for Suhr’s resignation Thursday, hours after a police officer shot and killed an unarmed African-American woman in a car in the Bayview district—the same neighborhood where officers shot and killed Mario Woods in December.
Mayor Edwin Lee: “These officer-involved shootings, justified or not, have forced our city to open its eyes to questions of when and how police use lethal force. That’s why I have asked Chief Suhr for his resignation. And in the best interests of the city that he loves so much, he tendered his resignation early today. Despite the political rhetoric of the past few weeks, I have nothing but profound admiration for Greg. He’s a true public servant, and he’ll always have respect.”
Chief Suhr’s ouster comes after activists known as the “Frisco 5” held a more than two-week hunger strike demanding the police chief’s departure. On Thursday, the Frisco 5 issued a statement, which was read aloud at a gathering outside City Hall.
Protester: “The people made this happen. We have won this battle, but the war is not over. It is sad that 22 people had to lose their lives at the hands of the SFPD. We want the officers involved in these shootings charged with murder. We demand an immediate meeting with the interim chief to discuss real reform created by the community.”
Gregory Suhr is the third police chief of a major U.S. city to be ousted within the last year amid nationwide protests demanding racial justice and an end to police brutality. Baltimore Police Commissioner Anthony Batts was fired last July following the death of Freddie Gray due to injuries sustained in police custody, while Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy was ousted in December following the release of the video showing the police killing of Laquan McDonald, who was shot 16 times by Chicago police officer Jason Van Dyke.
The Egyptian military says it has found debris from EgyptAir Flight 804, which crashed Thursday en route from Paris to Cairo. Authorities are still investigating the cause of the crash. The Egyptian civil aviation minister has said terrorism was a more likely cause than technical failure.
The French Parliament has voted to extend the country’s state of emergency for another two months. The emergency measures were approved following the November 13 attacks in Paris, giving President François Hollande a sweeping expansion of state powers, including measures that permit police raids without a warrant. Parliament member André Chassaigne spoke out against the extension of the emergency measures.
André Chassaigne: “People have been called into question about things that have nothing to do with the fight against terrorism. The executive power lets itself continue dangerously enforcing the state of emergency for measures that are destroying freedom, what’s more of a means to an end, other than a fight against terrorism.”
In Japan, a U.S. military contractor and former marine has confessed to dumping the body of a 20-year-old Japanese woman in a forest on the island of Okinawa, which is home to U.S. military bases. Thirty-two-year-old Kenneth Shinzato was arrested Thursday. He has not confessed to killing the woman, who disappeared last month. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe spoke out.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe: “I feel a strong anger. I believe it’s a regrettable situation. I am at a loss of words when I think of her family.”
Okinawa residents have long protested the presence of 50,000 U.S. troops on the island, saying they bring crime and pollution.
The Israeli defense minister, Moshe Ya’alon, has resigned, saying, “I fought with all my might against manifestations of extremism, violence and racism in Israeli society.” His resignation comes only days after Ya’alon’s deputy chief of staff, Major General Yair Golan, compared modern-day Israel to “nauseating trends” in Nazi-era Germany. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has now offered the position of defense minister to the right-wing, ultranationalist politician Avigdor Lieberman. Lieberman is considered to be one of the most hawkish politicians in Israel.
Meanwhile, a Palestinian journalist has returned home to the West Bank after holding a 94-day hunger strike to protest his indefinite detention by Israel. Journalist Mohammad al-Qiq is a reporter for the Saudi News Agency Almajd TV Network. He was accused of being involved with Hamas. His wife Faihaa Shalash spoke upon his release.
Faihaa Shalash: “It is a feeling of happiness that cannot be described on this historic day. We thought that Mohammad might die during the hunger strike, but now, all that is just a memory.”
Here in Canada, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau continues to apologize for elbowing MP Ruth Ellen Brosseau while on the floor of Canada’s Parliament. The elbowing came as Trudeau was attempting to pull another Conservative lawmaker toward his seat so the Parliament could begin a vote on assisted dying. In the process, Trudeau elbowed the female lawmaker, sparking outrage from Conservatives.
Meanwhile, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency has approved a genetically modified salmon for sale as food. It’s the first genetically modified animal approved in the country. AquAdvantage salmon was developed by Massachusetts-based AquaBounty Technologies. They grow twice as fast as natural salmon.
In India, a severe heat wave has shattered the national benchmark for the hottest day on record, as the temperature in the city of Phalodi topped a staggering 123 degrees Fahrenheit. Several hundred people have died so far from the extreme temperatures across India. Increasingly deadly heat waves have been linked to climate change.
A new report by Human Rights Watch has found thousands of U.S. servicemembers were unfairly discharged from the military after reporting a rape or sexual assault. Many of the survivors received “other than honorable” discharges that prevented them receiving benefits. Others were discharged with diagnoses of “personality disorders.” One sexual assault survivor spoke out.
Liz Luras: “I was 18 years old, went into military intelligence and went to the Marine Corps ball, where I was sexually assaulted. After reporting the rape, my entire career in the military went from excelling and on an extremely promising path to ultimately being discharged with a personality disorder.”
Immigration lawyers are once again suing the Obama administration over its practice of immigrant family detention, arguing the government is violating a federal judge’s ruling prohibiting children from being detained for extended periods of time in jail-like facilities. This comes as ICE is reportedly preparing to launch a month-long campaign of raids aimed at rounding up and deporting undocumented Central American mothers and children. On Wednesday, dozens of mothers detained in the South Texas Family Residential Center wrote a letter to the director of ICE, saying: “We did not leave our countries to live a picture-perfect life in the United States; we fled so that we would not be killed. We came seeking asylum, as is our right, and instead have been subjected to a new hell of detention.”
Imprisoned Army whistleblower Chelsea Manning has formally appealed her conviction and imprisonment, arguing her 35-year prison sentence is “grossly unfair and unprecedented.” Her appeal argues, “No whistleblower in American history has been sentenced this harshly.” In 2013, Manning was convicted of passing hundreds of thousands of documents to WikiLeaks.
The Canadian government is pledging to examine its own practice of detaining asylum seekers, after a string of deaths inside detention centers. One refugee died on Saturday at the Edmonton Remand Centre, while two other refugees died while in the custody of the Canada Border Services Agency this spring in Ontario.
The Oklahoma Senate has passed a bill that makes performing an abortion a felony punishable by up to three years in prison. Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin has not said whether she will sign the bill. Pro-choice groups say the bill is unconstitutional and will not stand up to a legal challenge.
In Oregon, residents of Hood River County have voted to block Nestlé Waters from building a $50 million bottling plant that would have sucked 100 million gallons of water out of Oxbow Springs each year. The ballot initiative, which was passed Tuesday, bans all large water bottling operations in the county.
In Mexico, parents of the 43 students who disappeared in September 2014 protested outside the Foreign Ministry Thursday, demanding experts from the Inter-American Human Rights Commission return to Mexico and reopen their investigation. The experts have accused the Mexican government of stonewalling their probe. Meanwhile, in New York City, Antonio Tizapa, father of one of the missing students, met with the U.N. special rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples, Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, and urged her to investigate his son’s disappearance. Antonio Tizapa spoke out after the meeting.
Antonio Tizapa: “I asked the rapporteur about the invitation we proposed last year, and she said she wrote to the Mexican government asking to be invited to investigate, but she didn’t receive an answer. Now she’s going to ask again, and we hope that she will get an answer. We hope the Mexican government will open its doors to her. And we especially hope she goes to Ayotzinapa to see what the Mexican government has done to us.”
In Florida, a 32-year-old African-American transgender woman was murdered on Sunday in a parking lot. Mercedes Successful was an active member of the LGBT community in Haines City. She represented Jamaica, where she was born, in the 2014 Gay Caribbean USA Pageant.
And CBS News legend Morley Safer has died at the age of 84. Safer was the longest-serving correspondent in “60 Minutes” history, filing a total 919 stories over his 46 years. As a young reporter, he filed one of the most significant stories of the Vietnam War, when he reported on U.S. marines torching the village of Cam Ne. The story changed the way the Vietnam War was reported. He received death threats after it was aired. Morley Safer died on Thursday at his home in Manhattan. He was born here in Toronto.