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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 judge in Maryland has blocked parts of President Trump’s most recent travel ban, dealing a second blow to Trump’s effort to block citizens from eight countries from entering the United States. In Wednesday’s ruling, Maryland District Judge Theodore Chuang said President Trump’s own words convinced the judge that the latest ban is an “inextricable re-animation of the twice-enjoined Muslim ban.” This ruling comes only one day after a federal judge in Hawaii blocked most of the latest version of the travel ban just hours before it was set to take effect.
The two rulings temporarily halt the parts of the ban that would have blocked all citizens from Iran, Libya, Syria, Yemen, Somalia and Chad from entering the United States. Both the Maryland and Hawaii orders do allow the part of the ban blocking some North Koreans and Venezuelan government officials to go into effect.
This is Trump’s third proposed travel ban—and the first to include Chad, a small African nation that has been an ally to the United States. More details have now surfaced to show that it appears Chad was included in part because it had run out of special passport paper, and therefore failed to submit a recent sample of its passports to the U.S. Homeland Security Department. We’ll have more on the rulings blocking Trump’s latest travel ban later in the broadcast.
In Somalia, thousands of people poured into the streets of the capital Mogadishu Wednesday to protest the massive bombing on Saturday that killed more than 300 people and wounded 400 more. The protest was a response to a call by Mogadishu’s mayor to show unity in the face of the attack, which has been blamed on the militant group Al-Shabab. This is Mogadishu resident Fatina Nor.
Fatina Nor: “I feel for every Somali family that’s lost their loved one in the attack. That’s why we came out here, to protest against what happened on Saturday (October 14). We’re ready to defend our people against attack. Once again, I call for Somali people to be united in our country.”
On Wednesday, Pope Francis also prayed for the victims of the attack, which was the worst in Somalia in a decade.
Pope Francis: “I’d like to express my grief for the massacre that took place a few days ago in Mogadishu, Somalia, which killed more than 300 people, including some children. This terrorist act deserves the most severe condemnation, also because it targets an already strained population. I pray for the dead and wounded, for their families and for the entire population of Somalia. I beg for the conversion of those who commit violence, and encourage those who work with enormous difficulties.”
In Afghanistan, at least 43 Afghan soldiers have been killed in a Taliban attack on an army base in southern Kandahar province. A separate Taliban attack in the north of Afghanistan killed six police officers. This comes only one day after a wave of Taliban attacks against the Afghan military left at least 80 people dead on Tuesday.
U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Wednesday he holds the Burmese military responsible for a brutal ongoing ethnic cleansing campaign against Rohingya minorities, which has killed thousands and driven a half a million Rohingya into neighboring Bangladesh.
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson: “Well, we’re extraordinarily concerned by what’s happening with the Rohingya in Burma. I’ve been in contact with Aung San Suu Kyi, the leader of the civilian side of the government. As you know, this is a power-sharing government that is—that has emerged in Burma. We really hold the military leadership accountable for what’s happening with the Rohingya area.”
Human Rights Watch and other groups have called on the U.N. Security Council to impose an arms embargo against Burma over the ongoing violence. Israel remains one of the major weapons suppliers to the Burmese military.
In Washington, controversy continues to grow over how President Trump treats the families of U.S. soldiers killed in combat. The Washington Post reports President Trump called the father of a soldier who died in Afghanistan and promised him $25,000 from Trump’s personal account. But Chris Baldridge, the father of Army Sgt. Dillon Baldridge, says the White House instead sent him a condolence letter—with no check included. After questions from reporters, the White House now says the check has been sent. This comes as President Trump continues to face criticism for reportedly telling Myeshia Johnson, the widow of U.S. Army Sgt. La David Johnson, who died in Niger, “He knew what he signed up for … but when it happens, it hurts anyway.”
Attorney General Jeff Sessions testified to the Senate Judiciary Committee Wednesday as part of the ongoing investigation into whether the Trump campaign colluded with Russia to sway the 2016 presidential election. During his testimony, Sessions insisted that he has the right to jail journalists. This is Sessions being questioned by Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar.
Sen. Amy Klobuchar: “Will you commit to not putting reporters in jail for doing their jobs?”
Attorney General Jeff Sessions: “Well, I don’t know that I can make a blanket commitment to that effect. But I would say this: We have not taken any aggressive action against the media at this point. But we have matters that involve the most serious national security issues, that put our country at risk, and we will utilize the authorities that we have, legally and constitutionally, if we have to.”
NBC is reporting a shake-up inside the Democratic National Committee has ousted some longtime officials over their opposition to DNC Chair Tom Perez. The shake-up is part of an ongoing struggle between the insurgent progressive wing of the DNC, fueled by Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, and the DNC’s more centrist wing, which Perez represents. Among those ousted was James Zogby, head of the Arab American Institute and prominent Sanders supporter, and Barbra Casbar Siperstein, the first transgender member of the DNC.
In Florida, Governor Rick Scott has declared a state of emergency in Alachua County ahead of today’s scheduled speech by white supremacist Richard Spencer at the University of Florida in Gainesville. Thousands of people are expected to attend protests aimed at preventing Spencer from speaking this afternoon. Richard Spencer was one of the headline speakers during the white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, in August, where the white nationalists and neo-Nazis killed one anti-racist protester and injured dozens more.
In Britain, government figures show hate crimes have surged to record-high levels over the last year—with more than 80,000 hate crimes reported between March 2016 and March 2017. The researchers said the increase in hate crimes was fueled by the Brexit vote to leave the European Union, as well as the terrorist attacks in London and Manchester. About 80 percent of the attacks were racially motivated.
In the West African nation of Togo, soldiers shot dead at least four protesters Wednesday during the latest round of mass protests demanding an end to decades of rule by the Gnassingbé family dynasty. Wednesday’s protest was the latest in months of massive demonstrations demanding President Faure Gnassingbé’s ouster and the reinstatement of constitutional term limits in Togo.
In Mexico, the Zapatistas have nominated indigenous activist María de Jesús Patricio Martínez to run for president in the upcoming election in July 2018. Patricio Martínez is spokesperson for the National Indigenous Congress. She said the government’s poor response to a massive earthquake one month ago helped convince her to run for the presidency.
María de Jesús Patricio Martínez: “It became clear that for those in power, those of us from below don’t matter. So what do we have to do? We have to organize ourselves. That is our proposal. We have to organize ourselves and extend our hands to all and put an end to this capitalist system, this patriarchal system, this racist and classist system. We are experiencing this firsthand.”
Back in the United States, in California, nearly 150 women, including legislators and lobbyists, have come forward to denounce widespread and pervasive sexual harassment in California’s Capitol. In a letter, the women write, “As women leaders in politics, in a state that postures itself as a leader in justice and equality, you might assume our experience has been different. It has not. … Men have groped and touched us without our consent, made inappropriate comments about our bodies and our abilities. … They have leveraged their power and positions to treat us however they would like.”
In New York City, two NYPD police officers are being investigated for rape, after an 18-year-old girl said the two undercover officers handcuffed her during a traffic stop, put her in the back of an unmarked police car, and then—while she was still handcuffed—one of the cops raped her, and both forced her to perform oral sex on them, she claims. Testing shows the DNA of the two police officers, Richard Hall and Eddie Martins, was found on the teenager. The two cops are claiming the act was consensual.
And award-winning journalist Rita Henley Jensen has died at the age of 70. Jensen was a domestic violence survivor who in 2000 founded Women’s eNews, then the only independent daily news service focusing on women. She also founded the Jane Crow Project, an investigative news outlet focused on how racial and gender bias affects women’s health and reproductive rights. She died Wednesday morning after a long battle with cancer.