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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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A federal appeals court has struck down voting restrictions in North Carolina, saying they “disproportionately affected African Americans.” In the ruling, the three-judge panel from the Fourth Circuit Court wrote, “The new provisions target African Americans with almost surgical precision.” The law had been challenged by the Justice Department, the North Carolina NAACP and other civil rights groups after its passage in 2013 limited the forms of ID acceptable at polling places and restricted how people could register. As a result, about 5 percent of the state’s registered voters, primarily African Americans, would have been excluded from being able to cast a ballot. This is Bob Hall, executive director of Democracy North Carolina, speaking on Democracy Now! about how the rules affected North Carolina’s presidential primaries earlier this year.
Bob Hall: “You could see that with same-day registration we had over 8,000 voters able to vote, able to use same-day registration. That is, they were not registered, but they showed up during early voting, and they were able to use that provision to vote. It’s disproportionately African-American, disproportionately young people. They want to get rid of that.”
Meanwhile, in Wisconsin, a federal judge has overturned similar election laws there, finding they disenfranchised voters of color and were tailored to benefit the Republican politicians who enacted them. U.S. District Judge James Peterson wrote in his opinion, “The Wisconsin experience demonstrates that a preoccupation with mostly phantom election fraud leads to real incidents of disenfranchisement, which undermine rather than enhance confidence in elections, particularly in minority communities.” Peterson did not overturn a photo ID provision for voters in the state, but called the current system for issuing IDs a “wretched failure” that predominantly affected African-American and Latino citizens. On Friday, a court also ruled against Republican voting laws in Kansas, where a county judge said the state must count votes cast by people who registered without providing citizenship documents. Those decisions all come a week after a similar ruling against a voter ID law in Texas. We’ll have more on the rulings after headlines.
In election news, Khizr and Ghazala Khan, the parents of a U.S. soldier who died serving in Iraq, are denouncing Donald Trump, who attacked them following Khizr’s speech at the Democratic National Convention. This is Khizr Khan speaking Thursday night in Philadelphia.
Khizr Khan: “Donald Trump, you’re asking Americans to trust you with their future. Let me ask you: Have you even read the United States Constitution? I will gladly lend you my copy.”
That was Khizr Khan speaking onstage beside his wife, Ghazala Khan. Their son, U.S. Army Captain Humayun Khan, was posthumously awarded the Bronze Star and Purple Heart after he was killed in 2004 serving in Iraq. In response to Khan’s speech, Donald Trump made fun of his wife, Ghazala Khan, while speaking Sunday on ABC:
Donald Trump: “I saw him. He was, you know, very emotional and probably looked like a nice guy to me. His wife, if you look at his wife, she was standing there. She had nothing to say. She probably—maybe she wasn’t allowed to have anything to say. You tell me. But plenty of people have written that.”
That was Donald Trump speaking Sunday. Later, Khizr Khan responded to Trump.
Khizr Khan: “He is a black soul, and this is totally unfit for the leadership of this beautiful country. The love and affection that we have received affirms that our beliefs—our experience in this country had been correct and positive. The world is receiving us like we have never seen. They have seen the blackness of his character, of his soul.”
Meanwhile, Donald Trump has continued to argue that NATO has become obsolete. Speaking to ABC’s George Stephanopoulos on Sunday, Trump said NATO had been unable to stop Russia’s annexation of Crimea last year. Trump also said that, if elected, he might formally recognize Russia’s takeover of Crimea.
Donald Trump: “I’m going to take a look at it. But, you know, the people of Crimea, from what I’ve heard, would rather be with Russia than where they were. And you have to look at that also. Now, that was under—just so you understand, that was done under Obama’s administration. And as far as the Ukraine is concerned, it’s a mess. And that’s under the Obama administration, with his strong ties to NATO.”
Some Democratic Party officials have suggested Russia is behind the release of Democratic Party emails in an effort to help sway the election to Trump, but no evidence to back the claim has been provided.
In Flint, Michigan, six more state employees are facing criminal charges in connection to the lead poisoning of Flint’s water. The six work for the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services and the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality. They are accused of having tried to cover up the problem of lead contamination in Flint’s water once state officials became aware of it. This is Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette.
Attorney General Bill Schuette: “Some people failed to act. Others minimized harm done and arrogantly chose to ignore data. Some intentionally altered figures and covered up, and covered up significant health risks. Two companies—two companies committed fraud and were negligent and made a bad situation worse.”
Three other state and city officials also face felony charges in the case. Flint’s lead poisoning began last year when an unelected emergency manager appointed by Michigan Governor Rick Snyder switched the source of the city’s drinking water to the corrosive Flint River. Today, the water in Flint is still poisoned and unsafe to drink.
The former head of booking at Fox News says former CEO Roger Ailes sexually harassed her for two decades. Ailes resigned last week amid multiple claims of sexual harassment. Laurie Luhn told New York Magazine that Fox News knew about the harassment and helped cover it up. Luhn said the harassment amounted to psychological torture and “ruined her life.” Luhn called Ailes a “predator” and said her duties included luring young female Fox employees into one-on-one situations with Ailes that she knew could result in harassment.
In international news, hundreds of residents of the Syrian city of Aleppo demonstrated and burned tires Sunday to protest the ongoing siege by Syrian government forces and their allies. The demonstration took place shortly before rebels fighting the Syrian government began a new offensive to break the siege. The U.N. says about a quarter-million civilians are trapped in the rebel-held portion of Aleppo and facing a worsening humanitarian situation. Rebel-held areas of the city have been surrounded by government forces since last month and subjected to heavy aerial bombardment, including the destruction of a number of hospitals.
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange says the group has more information about Hillary Clinton’s campaign that has not yet been released. This comes after WikiLeaks released 20,000 DNC emails revealing how the Democratic Party favored Hillary Clinton and worked behind the scenes to discredit and defeat Bernie Sanders. DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz resigned as a result of the leaks.
Two Canadians were rearrested on Friday just hours after the Supreme Court of British Columbia cleared them of terrorism charges. Civil liberties groups hailed the ruling that freed John Nuttall and Amanda Korody after a judge declared federal police had entrapped them. It was the first time entrapment has been successfully used as a defense in a terrorism prosecution in North America. Civil rights groups accuse the FBI of similarly entrapping terrorism suspects in the U.S. But on Friday, Nuttal and Korody were rearrested on a peace bond, a Canadian law that allows authorities to monitor or detain people who it thinks may commit a crime.
The Baltimore City Council will decide next month whether to increase the city’s minimum wage to $15 an hour. The council’s labor committee voted 4-0 last week to send the bill to the 15-member council. Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake has said she would sign the bill if it reaches her desk. The city is the latest jurisdiction nationwide to consider an increase. Washington, D.C., Seattle and San Francisco have approved increases to $15 an hour. California and New York have approved statewide increases to $15. Baltimore workers are presently subject to the state minimum wage, which is $8.75.
A judge publicly reprimanded jail officials in Louisville, Kentucky, Friday, after they sent a woman into her courtroom with no pants last week. The woman said she was arrested in a county 80 miles away on a bench warrant for not completing a shoplifting intervention course in 2014. The woman said she had been in jail since Sunday—five days before she appeared in the courtroom of Judge Amber Wolf.
Lawyer: “The jail would also refuse to give her pants and any kind of hygiene products that she needed.”
Judge Amber Wolf: “No Pants? What?”
Woman: “I’ve been wearing this since I came in with this on Sunday.”
Judge Amber Wolf: “Excuse me?”
Lawyer: “And not other hygiene products that she greatly needed and requested.”
Judge Amber Wolf: “Excuse me? This is outrageous. Is this for real?”
Wolf then called officials at the Jefferson County Jail directly from the courtroom and reprimanded them. The woman also told Wolf other women in the jail had received similar treatment.
And Sunday was the first anniversary of the murder of Mexican journalist Rubén Espinosa. On July 31, 2015, Espinosa was killed by gunmen in an apartment in Mexico City, alongside human rights activist Nadia Vera and three other women. No one has been charged in their murders. It’s widely believed Espinosa and Vera were targeted as a result of their work in the southern state of Veracruz. This is Rubén’s sister, Alma Espinosa, speaking Sunday.
Alma Espinosa: “My brother Rubén was a photojournalist who loved his work, and he was a very humane person. We aren’t insisting their assassination was planned from Veracruz, but we do want this line of investigation to be pursued related to Rubén’s work and Nadia’s activism, since they both had suffered harassment in Xalapa. And we also want them to investigate this, since, apart from him, they have killed many journalists in the state of Veracruz. There are so many who have died, and no one pays attention. They are killing them, and no one does anything.”