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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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Donald Trump accepted the Republican Party’s nomination for president last night at the Quicken Loans Arena here in Cleveland. His hour-and-15-minute speech portrayed the U.S. as a nation humiliated abroad and under threat at home.
Donald Trump: “Our convention occurs at a moment of crisis for our nation. The attacks on our police and the terrorism of our cities threaten our very way of life. … I have a message for all of you: The crime and violence that today afflicts our nation will soon—and I mean very soon—come to an end. Beginning on January 20th of 2017, safety will be restored.”
During his speech, Trump reiterated both his calls for banning immigration from countries that have had recent terrorist attacks and for building a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border.
Donald Trump: “We must immediately suspend immigration from any nation that has been compromised by terrorism until such time as proven vetting mechanisms have been put in place. We don’t want them in our country. … We are going to build a great border wall to stop illegal immigration, to stop the gangs and the violence, and to stop the drugs from pouring into our communities.”
The speech included multiple factual inaccuracies. According to The Washington Post, the speech was “a compendium of doomsday stats that fall apart upon close scrutiny. Numbers are taken out of context, data is manipulated, and sometimes the facts are wrong.”
Many criticized Trump’s speech, saying it had undertones of fearmongering and demagoguery. In a piece headlined “Donald Trump: The Candidate of the Apocalypse,” The Washington Post Editorial Board said Trump’s speech embodied a “wishful, demagogic brand,” writing: “Mr. Trump took real challenges and recast them in terms that were not only exaggerated but also apocalyptic.” Alicia Garza, co-founder of Black Lives Matter, tweeted: “I don’t know what I’m watching right now but I imagine this is the kind of speech Hitler would make #FreedomNow.” But Trump’s speech did receive praise from former head of the Ku Klux Klan David Duke, who tweeted: “Great Trump Speech, America First! Stop Wars! Defeat the Corrupt elites! Protect our Borders! Fair Trade! Couldn’t have said it better!” In February, Trump refused to disavow David Duke’s support, or the support of other white supremacists, during an interview with CNN’s Jake Tapper. Trump later disavowed Duke’s support.
Texas Senator Ted Cruz stood by his refusal to endorse Donald Trump, while speaking at a public breakfast for Texas delegates Thursday.
Sen. Ted Cruz: “When I addressed the convention, I addressed the convention because Donald Trump asked me to. And when Donald asked me to, he didn’t ask me to endorse. And indeed, three days ago, I talked on the phone with him and told him I’m not going to endorse you. … I’ll just give you this response: I am not in the habit of supporting people who attack my wife and attack my father.”
Instead of endorsing Trump in his speech Wednesday night, Cruz said, “vote your conscience,” which prompted boos from the crowd.
Ohio Governor John Kasich has also spoken about why he has not set foot inside the Quicken Loans Arena this week, even though he’s been all over Cleveland. Kasich said, “I can tell you when you stand on principles, sometimes you stand alone.” This comes after The New York Times reported Donald Trump actually wanted Kasich to be his running mate, and that Kasich declined. According to The New York Times, Donald Trump’s son, Donald Trump Jr., called Kasich’s adviser asking if the governor wanted to be “the most powerful vice president in history,” promising Kasich would be in charge of both domestic and foreign policy. Donald Trump Jr. reportedly said that his father’s role, as president, would be simply “making America great again.” Trump’s campaign disputes this account and denies it wanted to pick Kasich over Indiana Governor Mike Pence.
Meanwhile, old video footage of Mike Pence resurfaced Thursday of Pence testifying on the floor of the House of Representatives in 2004 that weapons of mass destruction had been found in Iraq.
Rep. Mike Pence: “Despite the national media’s best efforts to minimize the news, I am here to report, as the United States military confirmed in Iraq on Monday, weapons of mass destruction have been found in Iraq. … 'Where are the WMDs?' we’ve been asked again and again. Mr. Speaker, they’re there—they’re where they’ve always been—hidden in Iraq, within the reach of terrorists, a threat to the Iraqi people, U.S. soldiers and the world.”
Those are the words of then-Indiana Congressmember Mike Pence. He is now Indiana governor and Donald Trump’s running mate. The story was first reported by Salon on Thursday.
Fox News Chair Roger Ailes has resigned amid multiple accusations of sexual harassment. Ailes is the most powerful person in conservative media. Fox has announced Rupert Murdoch will take over as chairperson. Many outlets are reporting Ailes will receive a $40 million severance package. This comes after former Fox News anchor Gretchen Carlson sued Ailes for sexual harassment. Fox anchor Megyn Kelly and a half-dozen other women have also accused him of harassment. Ailes has also been a major force in the Republican establishment for decades. The New York Times has compared him to J. Edgar Hoover, writing he was “unelected but mighty … ruling by force and fear.” On Thursday, Gretchen Carlson’s lawyer Nancy Erika Smith said in a statement that Carlson’s “extraordinary courage has caused a seismic shift in the media world.”
CodePink’s Medea Benjamin disrupted Trump’s speech last night, holding a banner reading “Build bridges, not walls!” Her protest diverted cameras away from Trump’s speech. Benjamin was removed by security after the disruption. Medea says she was later questioned by the Secret Service. Democracy Now! spoke to Medea on the street afterwards.
Medea Benjamin: “I had read the speech beforehand, so I knew exactly when I wanted to interrupt: when he said, 'I am your voice.' And I wanted to get up then and say, 'You are not my voice. Your voice is one of hatred and anti-immigrant sentiment and Islamophobia and misogyny. And we need someone who will build bridges, not walls.'”
Activists are disputing the police’s account of the arrests Wednesday outside the RNC after a protester attempted to burn an American flag. The police say they broke up the protest and arrested 18 people after the man holding the flag caught on fire. But activists say no one caught on fire, and this was only an excuse to make arrests. One of those arrested Wednesday at the protest was Gregory Lee “Joey” Johnson. He also burned a flag during a protest at the 1984 Republican National Convention in Dallas, Texas. That flag burning led to a 1989 Supreme Court case that set the precedent that flag burning is protected speech.
Black Lives Matter groups held demonstrations in a number of cities Thursday protesting police brutality. In Oakland, hundreds rallied in front of City Hall. In Durham, North Carolina, demonstrators chained themselves to the railing outside the Durham Police Department, demanding a reversal of the city’s plan to build a new $70 million police headquarters. In Pittsburgh, demonstrators blocked a busy street at rush hour and demanded an end to the use of police dogs in arrests. Pennsylvania State Representative Ed Gainey voiced support for the protests.
Rep. Ed Gainey: “In our communities, we have great people. We have great people that every day get up and go to work, come home, and should have the ability to feel safe in their neighborhood. There should be that type of union.”
In France, police raided the refugee camp known as “The Jungle” in the northern city of Calais this week, making arrests and destroying shops. Earlier this year, the camp housed over 6,000 refugees, many of whom were seeking entry into Britain through the nearby Channel Tunnel, known as the Chunnel. Between March and May, police destroyed buildings in the camp and evicted about half of the residents. The Calais city government says it will soon announce plans to evict the rest of the camp. This comes as the International Organization for Migration is warning 2016 may become the deadliest year yet for people fleeing into Europe from Africa. The organization says that 2,800 people have drowned attempting the crossing so far this year—1,000 more than at this time last year.
The government of Kuwait has said it will no longer host peace talks between factions in Yemen’s war unless the two sides come to some kind of agreement in the next 15 days. The United Nations-sponsored peace talks have so far failed to produce a lasting ceasefire. The conflict in Yemen has left thousands dead since rebels took over the country’s capital in January 2015, kicking out a government backed by Saudi Arabia. With U.S. backing, Saudi Arabia responded with an aerial bombing campaign that U.N. officials say is responsible for the majority of the conflict’s civilian casualties.
The National Basketball Association has announced it will not play its annual All-Star Game in North Carolina next year. The city of Charlotte was slated to host the event in February. But NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said yesterday the game would be played elsewhere after North Carolina lawmakers failed to change the state law known as HB 2. HB 2 nullifies ordinances protecting LGBT people from discrimination and forces transgender people to use the bathroom that matches what they were assigned on their birth certificate.
And NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden has helped design a mobile phone case he says will alert a user when their phone is potentially being surveilled. Speaking via video link to an event at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Snowden and his co-designer, Andrew “Bunnie” Huang, showed how the external device could automatically shut a phone down if electronic eavesdropping is detected. Snowden also said that while most people assume it is impossible for phones to be listened to while in “airplane mode,” governments possess the technology to eavesdrop even when people think they are safe.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has announced Rikers Island will move to stop housing adolescent inmates. The announcement comes three years after an investigation by the U.S. Attorney General’s Office deemed the jail unfit for adolescents due to a “systemic culture of violence.” It could be years, however, before the move takes place. The mayor’s plan calls for the refurbishment of a facility for adolescents in the Bronx, a process that is just beginning and still needs approval from the city’s Planning Commission. New York is one of two states in the U.S. that charges 16- and 17-year-olds as adults. There are currently about 200 juvenile prisoners on Rikers Island.
And this final news from Florida. In North Miami, the police officer who shot an unarmed African-American therapist trying to calm an autistic patient said he shot the therapist by accident—and that he actually meant to shoot the autistic man, who was cradling a toy truck. Police shot social worker Charles Kinsey in the leg on Monday as he was attempting to help the autistic man, who had wandered away from a group home. In video, Kinsey is seen lying on the ground with his hands in the air, telling the police that he and his patients were unarmed and that they should not shoot them. Police have said they were responding to a 911 call about a man with a gun. But in cellphone video, Kinsey can be heard telling police, “All he has is a toy truck. A toy truck. I am a behavioral therapist at a group home.” John Rivera, president of the Police Benevolent Association in Dade County, said, “It appeared to the officers that the white male was trying to do harm to Mr. Kinsey. In fearing for Mr. Kinsey’s life, the officer discharged his firearm trying to save Mr. Kinsey’s life and he missed.”