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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 is continuing to refuse to acknowledge that President Obama was born in the United States. In an interview with The Washington Post on Wednesday, Trump refused to answer a reporter’s question about whether he accepts that Obama was born in Hawaii, instead saying, “I’ll answer that question at the right time. I just don’t want to answer it yet.” In contrast, Trump’s vice-presidential running mate, Indiana Governor Mike Pence, acknowledges President Obama was born in Hawaii. Trump’s campaign manager Kellyanne Conway has also contradicted Trump, claiming he now accepts Obama was born in the U.S. Trump has long been a leader of the so-called birther movement, which former Secretary of State Colin Powell has slammed in recently leaked emails as being a “racist” movement.
Meanwhile, Donald Trump’s son, Donald Trump Jr., has also sparked controversy by invoking the Holocaust while alleging media bias against his father, while speaking on a Philadelphia radio station.
Donald Trump Jr.: “The media has built her up. They’ve let her slide on every, you know, indiscrepancy, on every lie, on every DNC game trying to get Bernie Sanders out of the thing. I mean, if Republicans were doing that, they’d be warming up the gas chamber right now.”
Donald Trump Jr. later told NBC his comments were a reference to capital punishment in the U.S., not the Holocaust. Donald Trump himself also faced accusations of anti-Semitism in July, after he defended his decision to tweet an anti-Semitic image which showed Hillary Clinton, a pile of $100 bills and a six-pointed Star of David along with the words “Most Corrupt Candidate Ever!” The image originally appeared on a white supremacist message board.
Meanwhile, Hillary Clinton returned to the campaign trail Thursday with a rally in Greensboro, North Carolina, where she addressed her recent pneumonia, saying, “I’m not great at taking it easy.” Clinton spoke later in the day at the Congressional Hispanic Caucus in Washington, D.C.
Clinton’s return to the campaign trail comes as the latest New York Times/CBS News poll shows Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump in a tight race—with Clinton leading Trump by two points nationally in a two-way race. In a four-way race, Trump and Clinton are tied, each with 42 percent, while Libertarian Party nominee Gary Johnson has 8 percent of the vote and Green Party nominee Dr. Jill Stein has 4 percent of the vote.
In Columbus, Ohio, more than 100 people gathered for a vigil to mourn the death of 13-year-old African American Tyre King, who was shot and killed Thursday night by a white police officer after the officer allegedly mistook the child’s BB gun for a real gun. King was an eighth-grader who played football and was in the young scholar’s program at his school. Police say he was shot after officers chased him down as they were responding to a 911 call of a man who says he was robbed of $10. Police claim King pulled the BB gun from his waistband before he was shot. This is a witness to the shooting.
Witness: “We looked out the window to see what was going on, saw an officer running after somebody this way down to the left and heard gunshots about five, 10 seconds afterwards.”
Tyre King is the second-youngest person killed by police this year. His death recalls the police killing of 12-year-old Tamir Rice, who was gunned down by two officers in November of 2014 while he was playing with a toy pellet gun in Cleveland, Ohio. At Thursday night’s vigil, people mourned the ongoing killing of African Americans by police.
Amber Evans: “That’s what people are sick and tired of. They’re sick and tired of justice being reserved only for the few, not for communities of color. They’re sick and tired of not feeling safe.”
Tyre King is at least the 761st person killed by police in the United States this year, according to an ongoing Guardian investigation.
This comes as the family of Eric Garner, who was killed by a fatal police chokehold in Staten Island in 2014, has voiced outrage over new reports that the NYPD officer who killed Garner has received a 20 percent pay hike over the last two years. NYPD officer Daniel Pantaleo reportedly earned nearly $120,000 last year. He’s been on desk duty since placing Eric Garner in the fatal police chokehold, but he does not face criminal charges. Thursday would have been Eric Garner’s 46th birthday.
Meanwhile, the family of Sandra Bland has received $1.9 million in a wrongful death settlement with the Texas Department of Public Safety and the Waller County jail. Twenty-eight-year-old African American Sandra Bland died in a Texas jail cell in 2015, three days after she was arrested for allegedly failing to signal a lane change. Authorities have claimed Sandra Bland committed suicide while in jail by hanging herself with a garbage bag, but her family has rejected this claim.
The U.S. Embassy in Rome has confirmed the Obama administration has agreed to pay the family of an Italian aid worker killed in a CIA drone strike in Pakistan last year 1 million euros, which is over $1 million. President Obama has acknowledged and apologized for the operation, which killed Giovanni Lo Porto and a U.S. government contractor named Warren Weinstein. Despite hundreds of hours of surveillance, Obama said the United States had not known that the hostages were present.
In Mexico, thousands of people marched in downtown Mexico City calling for the resignation of Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto on the eve of Mexico’s Independence Day over the violence and corruption across the country.
Alicia Mercado: “It is time to say long live Mexico, but also emphasize a Mexico for us. And it’s time to say that Peña has go to go. Peña out! That is why I’m here, because I’m fed up with our bad government. Mexico smells like death, because all of its territory is a common grave full of assassinated and disappeared people and the journalists who are killed for saying the truth.”
The protest comes as Peña Nieto also continues to face backlash after meeting with Donald Trump in Mexico City last month, only hours before Trump went on to give a fiery speech in Phoenix in which he promised to deport 2 million people within his first hour in office, if elected. Last week, Mexico’s finance minister, who orchestrated Trump’s visit, resigned.
In the Philippines, the death toll of President Rodrigo Duterte’s so-called war on drugs continues to rise. More than 3,000 people have been killed by police and vigilantes since Duterte took office in late June. On Thursday, a man testified to the Philippine Senate that he was paid by Duterte to carry out a string of extrajudicial killings, including one in which he fed a body to a crocodile, while Duterte was serving as the mayor of Davao. This is Edgar Matobato.
Edgar Matobato: “From my start, from 1988 to 2013, I have gunned down over 50 people when we were told to kill. I cannot remember their names, but I still remember being a hit man and what happened.”
In Brazil, former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva has been charged of being the “maximum commander” of a corruption scheme at the state-run oil company Petrobras. Lula was charged along with his wife and six others. He slammed the charges on Thursday, saying they were politically motivated. This comes after his successor, ousted President Dilma Rousseff, was impeached by the Brazilian Senate in a move she has denounced as a coup. Sixty percent of Brazilian lawmakers are currently under criminal investigation or have already been convicted of crimes ranging from corruption to election fraud.
In Washington, D.C., several people were arrested during a sit-in at the headquarters of the Department of the Interior, demanding the Obama administration stop leasing of federal land for oil and gas drilling. The sit-in came after activists delivered a petition signed by more than a million people demanding the end of the lease sales. This is one of the protesters at the sit-in. bq.
Protester: “We are mothers. We are daughters. We are sisters. We are here because our American public needs to know. BOEM don’t want you to know; we want you to know. We need your help. Help us. Help our family. Help our land. Help our community.”
And in Uruguay, former Guantánamo prisoner Abu Wa’el Dhiab has awoken from a coma amid an ongoing hunger strike demanding he be allowed to leave Uruguay and reunite with his family in Turkey or in another Arabic-speaking country. Dhiab was imprisoned in Guantánamo for 12 years without ever being charged with a crime. While in Guantánamo, Dhiab also launched a hunger strike to demand his freedom. He was among a group of prisoners subjected to forced feeding. The Obama administration is refusing to release video of the forced feeding to the public, but did give the redacted videotape to a court, which reportedly shows graphic images of guards restraining Dhiab and feeding him against his will. Human rights groups have long said the forced feeding of Guantánamo prisoners amounts to torture. On Thursday, only hours after Dhiab awoke from his coma, Amy Goodman spoke to him in an exclusive Democracy Now! interview. He was lying on his bed, very weak, in downtown Montevideo. Goodman began by asking him how he feels.
Jihad Abu Wa’el Dhiab: “I feel really very, very worse. All my body hurt me, and my kidney, my headache, my stomach, my right side really bad. Many things. But I feel all my body hurt me.”
Amy Goodman: “There’s a battle in court in the United States to release the videotape of your force-feeding in Guantánamo. Can you describe what that force-feeding was like for you?”
Jihad Abu Wa’el Dhiab: “Like the United States always say in the media, 'Human rights, human rights, human rights.' There’s never in Guantánamo, don’t have any human rights. Never, never, never. He took the video from first time go to me in my cell to move me to chair and give me the tube for give me forced feeding. But if you see this video and see the guard, how treatment with me, how beat me, how make with me, that’s not human.”
Amy Goodman: “President Obama says he wants to close Guantánamo. Do you believe that will happen?”
Jihad Abu Wa’el Dhiab: “If he wants to close Guantánamo, he can. He can now. Now. He can give order, close Guantánamo. He can close Guantánamo. But he coward. He can’t take this decision, because he scared. But Guantánamo supposed to close, should be closed, Guantánamo, because Guantánamo, that’s not good for the United States. Never.”
Abu Wa’el Dhiab’s daughter is getting married this weekend in Turkey—an event Dhiab had longed to be at. He continues his hunger fast in Uruguay.