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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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In Somalia’s capital city of Mogadishu, two massive truck bombs exploded in quick succession Saturday night, killing at least 300 people and wounding more than 300 others. It was the deadliest attack in Somalia since the rise of the al-Shabab militant group a decade ago, and one of the worst bombings by a non-state actor in recent years. In the worst of the two bombings, a truck packed with hundreds of pounds of explosives detonated near the Safari Hotel, collapsing the building and igniting a nearby fuel tanker. The resulting fireball set cars on fire and flattened nearby businesses and homes, trapping people under rubble. On Sunday, hundreds of Somalis poured into the streets of Mogadishu to condemn the attacks. This is Rahma Abdi Ali, one of the protesters.
Rahma Abdi Ali: “It was a massacre that happened yesterday, and I never saw such a thing in the last 27 years. I witnessed a little boy’s head laying on the ground, and his mother and other children with their heads also cut in the explosion. People buried people’s body parts separately, because they collected them separately. It was a very shocking event.”
Somalia’s president declared three days of national mourning after the attacks. There’s been no claim of responsibility, but Somalia’s government was quick to blame al-Shabab militants, who have been behind past bombings in Mogadishu. The explosions came after the Trump administration stepped up a U.S. campaign against al-Shabab in Somalia. In March, President Trump declared Somalia a so-called zone of active hostilities, giving wide latitude to military leaders to launch airstrikes and ground assaults. In May, that led to the first U.S. combat death in Somalia since 1993, when Navy SEAL officer Kyle Milliken was killed in an assault on an al-Shabab radio station. In August, a raid by U.S. soldiers and Somali troops on a village outside Mogadishu left 10 civilians dead, including three children.
President Trump said Friday he would refuse to certify Iran’s compliance with an international nuclear deal, calling on Congress to toughen the United States’ stance toward Iran. Trump reportedly wanted to withdraw the U.S. completely from the seven-nation agreement, but was talked out of it by Defense Secretary James Mattis and other members of his Cabinet. This is U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley, speaking on NBC’s “Meet the Press” Sunday.
Nikki Haley: “Well, I think right now you’re going to see us stay in the deal, because what we hope is that we can improve the situation. And that’s the goal. So I think right now we’re in the deal to see how we can make it better, and that’s the goal. It’s not that we’re getting out of a deal. We’re just trying to make the situation better, so that the American people feel safer.”
Trump’s move to undermine the Iran nuclear deal drew fire from U.S. allies, who said it increased the threat of war and made it far more likely Iran could develop nuclear weapons. In Tehran, President Hassan Rouhani condemned President Trump’s decision.
President Hassan Rouhani: “Manners and attitude have great importance. President Trump’s speech was full of falsehoods, unfair insults, lies and fake accusations against the great Iranian nation. … Iran is not a nation that will yield to forceful talking and hateful speeches from a dictator. The Iranian nation will not surrender to any nation.”
In Washington, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Sunday he approved of President Trump’s foreign policy moves, shrugging off comments by Republican Senator Bob Corker that Trump had “castrated” his secretary of state. Speaking with CNN’s Jake Tapper, Tillerson said he was “fully intact.” Tillerson also repeatedly refused to confirm an NBC report that he called Trump a “moron” during a meeting with top military officials last July.
Jake Tapper: “Is it true? Did you call him a moron?”
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson: “Jake, as I indicated earlier when I was asked about that, I’m not going to deal with that kind of petty stuff. I mean, this is a town that seems to relish gossip, rumor, innuendo, and they feed on it. They feed on one another in a very destructive way. I don’t work that way. I don’t deal that way.”
In California, the death toll from unprecedented wildfires has risen to at least 40, with hundreds more missing, as firefighters continue to battle 15 major blazes across the state. The fires have destroyed thousands of homes and businesses and are now the deadliest in California since record keeping began. At least 100,000 people have been forced to evacuate, with about 75,000 people still displaced. Later in the broadcast, we’ll go to California for the latest on the wildfires.
In Ireland, the remnants of Hurricane Ophelia made landfall Monday as a post-tropical cyclone, bringing gusts of more than 100 miles per hour and knocking out power to tens of thousands of people. Ophelia made history by becoming a Category 3 hurricane farther east than any other storm in recorded history, fueled by much warmer than usual ocean surface temperatures. A 2013 study in Geophysical Research Letters predicts that human-fueled climate change will fuel more hurricanes that can survive long enough to make landfall in Europe.
President Trump has named former Texas environmental regulator and climate change denier Kathleen Hartnett White as his senior adviser on environmental policy. White served as chair of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality under then-Governor Rick Perry, who’s now Trump’s secretary of energy. White has argued that carbon dioxide is harmless and should not be regulated, has described solar and wind power as “unreliable and parasitic,” and has called climate change “a dogma that has little to do with science.” In a 2014 blog post titled “Energy and Freedom,” White wrote that coal “dissolved the economic justification for slavery.”
In Louisiana, an oil rig exploded on Lake Pontchartrain north of New Orleans Sunday, injuring seven workers—five of them critically—and leaving one person missing. Authorities say the rig burst into flames when cleaning chemicals ignited on the surface of the platform. It’s not yet known whether the explosion caused any oil to spill.
In Puerto Rico, the official death toll from Hurricane Maria rose to 48 on Saturday, but authorities warned the true toll could be far higher, since power outages across the island have forced medical officials to rely on handwritten records rather than electronic data. This comes as residents desperate for drinking water have begun pumping the Dorado Groundwater Contamination Site—a hazardous waste Superfund site. The EPA warns the water contains chemicals that cause liver damage and an increased risk of cancer. About a third of Puerto Rico still lacks clean drinking water, and a majority of the island’s 3.4 million residents still lack electricity. Governor Ricardo Rosselló says he’s pushing a plan to restore power to 95 percent of the grid by the end of December.
Attorneys general from 19 U.S. states are suing the federal government, after President Trump said he would cut off billions of dollars in federal subsidies to insurance companies to help cover low-income people’s healthcare plans. Experts say ending the subsidies will dramatically increase insurance premiums and could unravel the healthcare market. This is New York state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman.
Attorney General Eric Schneiderman: “His effort to gut these subsidies with no warning—or even a plan to contain the fallout—is breathtakingly reckless. He has failed twice in efforts to legislatively repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. This is an effort simply to blow up the system. We will not allow President Trump to use New York families as political pawns in his dangerous, partisan campaign to sabotage our healthcare system.”
The Iraqi Army has begun an offensive aimed at seizing the northern city of Kirkuk from Kurdish Peshmerga fighters, after voters in Iraq’s Kurdish regions voted overwhelmingly for independence. A Kurdish commander said Monday his forces had retreated to positions outside the city of 1 million people as Iraqi forces moved in and also seized an oil company south of Kirkuk, adding that there were “lots of casualties” due to fighting.
In Yemen, the World Health Organization is warning a cholera epidemic brought on by the U.S.-backed, Saudi-led war and naval blockade has become the largest and fastest-spreading outbreak of the disease in modern world history. The WHO says there are expected to be a million cases of cholera in Yemen by the end of the year, with at least 600,000 children likely to be affected. After headlines, we’ll speak with Ro Khanna, Democratic congressmember from California, who recently co-authored a New York Times op-ed headlined “Stop the Unconstitutional War in Yemen.”
In Guatemala, a court opened a new trial Friday for former U.S.-backed dictator Efraín Ríos Montt on charges of genocide for a massacre in 1982 that killed 273 indigenous people, nearly half of them children. Ríos Montt was found guilty of genocide in 2013, but a court annulled his 80-year sentence less than two weeks later.
In Hollywood, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences voted Saturday to expel Harvey Weinstein, following investigations by The New Yorker and The New York Times which revealed a slew of rape and sexual assault allegations against the movie mogul. In a statement, the academy said, “The era of willful ignorance and shameful complicity in sexually predatory behavior and workplace harassment in our industry is over.” The statement came as four more women stepped forward to accuse Weinstein of rape. They are British soap star Lysette Anthony, Italian fashion model Samantha Panagrosso, British actor Alice Evans and a Miramax employee using the pseudonym of Sarah Smith. Meanwhile, musician Courtney Love said over the weekend she was punished after she publicly warned women about Harvey Weinstein in 2005. This is Love being questioned that year at a red carpet event by the comedian Natasha Leggero.
Natasha Leggero: “Do you have any advice for a young girl moving to Hollywood?”
Courtney Love: “Umm, I’ll get libeled if I say it. If Harvey Weinstein invites you to a private party in the Four Seasons, don’t go.”
On Twitter, Courtney Love said that comment got her blacklisted by the powerful Hollywood talent agency Creative Artists Agency, writing, “Although I wasn’t one of his victims, I was eternally banned by CAA for speaking out against #HarveyWeinstein #rape.”
Meanwhile, Amazon Studios says it has placed chief Roy Price on an indefinite leave of absence, following allegations of sexual harassment. Isa Hackett, a producer with the Amazon TV series “Man in the High Castle,” said Price sexually harassed her at a the Comic-Con convention in 2015.
A lawyer for a former contestant on Donald Trump’s reality television show “The Apprentice” has subpoenaed Trump’s presidential campaign for all documents relating to her and any other women who have accused Trump of unwanted sexual contact. Summer Zervos accused Trump of repeatedly sexually assaulting her during a meeting in 2007, saying Trump kissed her on the lips, pressed his body against hers and groped her breasts, all without her consent. She was among a series of women who accused Trump of sexual assault during the 2016 campaign. Trump, in return, called Zervos and the other women liars.
And former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick is suing the owners of NFL teams, charging they unlawfully colluded to keep him out of the league for taking a knee during the national anthem to protest police brutality and racial injustice. The lawsuit charges the owners secretly conspired to deprive Kaepernick of a job in violation of the NFL players’ union agreement. Kaepernick has remained unsigned since the 2016 season, even though he led the San Francisco 49ers to the Super Bowl in 2013 and is considered one of the league’s best quarterbacks.