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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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North Korea said today it successfully tested a nuclear weapon in what’s believed to be the country’s most powerful nuclear blast to date. In a statement, North Korea claimed today’s underground test proved it had a weapon standardized to fit on a ballistic missile. A news reader with state-run television KRT made the announcement.
KRT news reader: “Our scientists and technicians of the Nuclear Weapons Institute carried out a nuclear explosion test at the northern nuclear test ground to check the power of a nuclear warhead which is newly studied and manufactured. It was confirmed that there was not a leak of radioactive substances during the test, therefore, it did not have negative effects on the ecological environment of the surroundings.”
The U.S. Geological Survey says it monitored an earthquake of magnitude 5.3 at North Korea’s nuclear test site. South Korean officials says the blast appeared to be twice as powerful as a test in January, but much too small to be a hydrogen bomb. Japan’s prime minister called the nuclear test a “grave threat” and promised action at the U.N. Security Council. And South Korea’s military issued a warning to North Korea. This is Leem Ho-young of South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff.
Leem Ho-young: “Our military will not tolerate North Korea conducting a nuclear test again. As we warned it before, we will take all available measures to make North Korea abandon its nuclear program.”
The White House says President Barack Obama spoke with his counterparts in Japan and South Korea about the nuclear test. Spokesperson Josh Earnest said “provocative actions” by North Korea would be met with “serious consequences.”
In North Dakota, Governor Jack Dalrymple has activated the National Guard ahead of Friday’s ruling on the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe’s lawsuit against the U.S. government over the $3.8 billion Dakota Access pipeline. The move comes as U.S. District Judge James Boasberg is set to rule today on an injunction in the lawsuit, which is challenging the Army Corps of Engineers’ decision to issue permits for the pipeline, arguing it violates the National Historic Preservation Act. Thousands of people representing more than 100 Native American tribes have traveled to the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation to resist the pipeline’s construction. On Saturday, September 3, the Dakota Access pipeline company unleashed dogs and pepper spray on Native Americans as they attempted to stop the company from destroying a sacred tribal burial site. The bulldozers and company security guards were forced to retreat. On Thursday, Governor Jack Dalrymple said the National Guard will be deployed Friday to a checkpoint along Highway 1806.
Gov. Jack Dalrymple: “I have also placed additional guardsmen on standby alert, in the event they are needed to assist with response efforts. The Guard members will provide valuable personnel, resources and equipment necessary to support local, tribal and state officials. Public safety has always been and continues to be paramount.”
Protests against the Dakota Access pipeline continue to grow nationwide. In Denver, hundreds marched Thursday evening in a protest in solidarity with the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe. The rally was led by Native American activists who converged onto the steps of the State Capitol building from four directions. This is Shawnee and White Mountain Apache activist Sky Roosevelt-Morris.
Sky Roosevelt-Morris: “There were a lot of people in the last week, week and a half, that wanted to do something in support of Standing Rock, because tomorrow there’s going to be court decisions, and depending how those go, we could see a continuation of what we’ve already seen going on up in Standing Rock—with private security, the use of dogs, pepper spray—or, hopefully, their permits will be revoked, and we will win this battle.”
In San Francisco, meanwhile, scores of demonstrators marched on the offices of Citibank to protest the bank’s role in financing the Dakota Access pipeline. At least two activists were arrested after they used PVC pipe to lock their arms together to block an intersection. Large demonstrations were also held in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and Omaha, Nebraska. And more celebrities are calling for a halt to the pipeline, including actor and comedian Chris Rock, who posted an Instagram message in support of the Standing Rock protests with the message, “This is no joke.”
Officials in Florida say hundreds of prisoners took part in an uprising that saw damage to virtually every part of the Holmes Correctional Institution overnight Wednesday. The Miami Herald reports that 400 of the facility’s 1,100 prisoners took part in the uprising, stuffing blankets and sheets over windows and smashing surveillance cameras. Prison officials said riot squads and guards from five other prisons used canisters of gas to quell the uprising. Prisoners at Holmes say they’ve been confined to their dorms in recent weeks, denied recreation and allowed out only for meals, because the prison is woefully understaffed.
The prison strike comes on the 45th anniversary of the uprising at Attica state prison near Buffalo, New York. It was September 9, 1971, when state police raided the Attica prison, ending a protest against inhumane conditions at the facility. For four days, the unarmed prisoners held 39 prison guards hostage. On September 13, then-New York Governor Nelson Rockefeller ordered armed state troopers to raid the prison. Troopers then shot indiscriminately more than 2,000 rounds of ammunition. In the end, 39 men would die, including 29 prisoners and 10 guards.
On Thursday, dozens of activists held a protest outside the Manhattan office of New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, calling for the closure of Attica prison. Scott Paltrowitz of the Correctional Association of New York said conditions at Attica haven’t improved in more than four decades.
Scott Paltrowitz: “The brutality, the racism, the torture, the abuse that’s happening in Attica continues to this day. I’ve interviewed people at Attica this year. We get correspondence at the Correctional Association all the time from people incarcerated, and the atrocities are still occurring. So this prison needs to be closed down, and not only to end the abuses at Attica, but also to send a clear message that this kind of abuse will not be tolerated at any of New York state’s prisons.”
In Argentina, a court has convicted the former head of the country’s Air Force on charges of kidnapping and torture committed during the U.S.-backed dirty wars. Ninety-year-old Omar Graffigna received a 25-year prison sentence for the disappearance of activists José Manuel Pérez Rojo and Patricia Roisinblit. Two other officials were sentenced, including Francisco Gómez, who raised the couple’s infant son after abducting and torturing the boy’s parents. Patricia Roisinblit’s mother, Rosa, is vice president of the group Grandmothers of the Plaza de Mayo. She said the ruling provides a measure of justice.
Rosa Tarlovsky de Roisinblit: “You already know that I am quite old, but I never thought I’d live to see this moment come. I can’t say it’s a triumph, but it gives me satisfaction. That is all.”
An estimated 30,000 activists were tortured and “disappeared” in the late 1970s and early 1980s by Argentina’s right-wing dictatorship.
In Syria, fighting raged around Aleppo as government forces recaptured part of the besieged city. The Syrian military says the victory restores key supply lines linking government-held parts of Aleppo. Doctors in the city said this week more than 120 were sickened when government forces deployed chlorine gas.
In the U.S. presidential race, Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson stumbled on national television when asked about the war in Syria. The gaffe came as Johnson appeared on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” on Thursday. Johnson was questioned by host Mike Barnicle.
Mike Barnicle: “What would you do, if you were elected, about Aleppo?”
Gary Johnson: “About?”
Johnson: “And what is Aleppo?”
Barnicle: “You’re kidding.”
Barnicle: “Aleppo is in Syria. It’s the—it’s the epicenter of the refugee crisis.”
Johnson: “OK, got it. Got it.”
Johnson: “Well, with regard to Syria, I do think that it’s a mess. I think that the only way that we deal with Syria is to join hands with Russia to diplomatically bring that at an end.”
Johnson isn’t the only public figure to show confusion over Aleppo. Christopher Hill, a former United States ambassador to Iraq, called Aleppo “the capital of ISIS.” There is no significant presence of ISIS in the city.
Donald Trump’s campaign has doubled down on the Republican presidential candidate’s support for Vladimir Putin. On Thursday, Trump’s running mate, Governor Mike Pence, echoed Trump’s comment that the Russian president was doing a better job than his U.S. counterpart, Barack Obama. Pence was speaking with CNN’s Dana Bash.
Gov. Mike Pence: “I think it’s inarguable that Vladimir Putin has been a stronger leader in his country than Barack Obama has been in this country. And that’s going to change the day that Donald Trump becomes president of the United State of America.”
Pence’s comments follow similar remarks made by Trump at a national security forum Wednesday night. Speaking from North Carolina, Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton called those remarks “scary.”
Meanwhile, in Geneva, Secretary of State John Kerry is discussing a proposed ceasefire agreement in Syria with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.
Wells Fargo will pay $185 million in fines after it was caught illegally manipulating customers’ bank accounts in order to rack up fees and other charges. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau found Wells Fargo employees secretly opened phony bank accounts and issued credit cards to customers who did not want them. These practices led to overdraft charges, late fees and other penalties. The bank has fired at least 5,300 employees involved in the illegal activity.
Police in St. Louis say they’re investigating the death of Ferguson, Missouri, protest leader Darren Seals as a homicide. Seals’s charred body was found in the wreckage of his car on Tuesday, and investigators say he had been shot at least once. There’s no known motive in the killing. Seals led protests against the killing of unarmed African-American teenager Michael Brown after Brown was fatally shot by white police officer Darren Wilson in 2014.
And more pro football players are joining a protest against racial injustice and police brutality. The protest began in August, when San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick refused to stand for the anthem ahead of a preseason game, saying, “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color.” On Thursday, Denver Broncos linebacker Brandon Marshall became the latest to join, when he took a knee during the singing of the national anthem ahead of a victory over the Carolina Panthers. He told Denver station CBS4 he immediately received hateful comments on social media.
Brandon Marshall: “I’m against social injustice. You know, I’m not against the military, the police or America at all. You know, I’m against social injustice. And I feel like this was the right thing to do. I feel like this is the right platform. This is our only platform, you know, to really be heard. And I feel like a lot of times people want us to just shut up and entertain them, you know, shut up and play football. But we have voices, as well. We’re actually educated individuals that went to college. So, when we have an opinion and we speak it, I feel like a lot of people bash us for what we have to say.”
Other athletes, including women’s soccer star Megan Rapinoe, have joined the protest. And members of the Seattle Seahawks say the entire team may join in a protest ahead of their game against Miami on Sunday.