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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 New York City, eight people were killed and 11 more injured when a driver intentionally drove a pickup truck down a bike path along Manhattan’s Hudson River Tuesday. Officials are calling it an act of terror. Police say the attacker was 29-year-old Sayfullo Saipov. He reportedly drove a rented Home Depot truck down the bicycle lane, killing multiple people, before crashing into a school bus. He then reportedly jumped out of the car, waving a pellet gun and a paintball gun. Police say he yelled “God is Great” in Arabic before being shot by police in the stomach. He survived the shooting. Authorities say they uncovered handwritten notes in Arabic near the truck that suggest Saipov had declared allegiance to ISIS. Authorities say Sayfullo Saipov came to the U.S. from Uzbekistan in 2010 and has lived in Florida, Ohio and most recently in Paterson, New Jersey. This is New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio.
Mayor Bill de Blasio: “It’s a very painful day in our city, horrible tragedy on the West Side. Let me be clear that, based on information we have at this moment, this was an act of terror, and a particularly cowardly act of terror, aimed at innocent civilians, aimed at people going about their lives, who had no idea what was about to hit them. We—at this moment, based on the information we have, we know of eight innocent people who have lost their lives.”
In response to the attack, President Trump tweeted, “In NYC, looks like another attack by a very sick and deranged person. Law enforcement is following this closely. NOT IN THE U.S.A.!”
Trump went on to tweet, “I have just ordered Homeland Security to step up our already Extreme Vetting Program. Being politically correct is fine, but not for this!” Among the victims of the attack were five Argentines who had gathered to celebrate the 30th anniversary of their high school graduation.
In Afghanistan, ISIS has claimed responsibility for a suicide bombing in the capital Kabul, which killed up to eight people and wounded many more. Reuters reports at least eight people appeared to have died from the blast and that all the victims were Afghan civilians. The attack occurred in the heavily fortified “Green Zone.” Afghan authorities say the attacker appeared to be as young as 12 or 13 years old.
In more news on Afghanistan, The New York Times is reporting that the U.S. military has begun redacting important information about the U.S.-backed Afghan security forces. The figures redacted from the most recent inspector general’s quarterly report include the size of the Afghan army and police force, and how many soldiers and police have been wounded or killed. This information used to be made public. Since 2001, the U.S. has funneled tens of billions of dollars to the Afghan security forces.
In Yemen, a U.S.-backed, Saudi-led airstrike has killed at least 26 people at a hotel and adjacent market in the northern Saada province on Wednesday. The ongoing U.S.-backed, Saudi-led bombing campaign has killed more than 10,000 civilians, sparked the cholera epidemic by destroying Yemen’s health, water and sanitation systems, and exacerbated a famine that’s left 7 million on the brink of starvation.
On Capitol Hill, executives from Facebook, Google and Twitter testified to a Senate Judiciary subcommittee Tuesday about how Russia spread propaganda ahead of the 2016 presidential election using the major social media websites. On Monday, Facebook disclosed that as many as 126 million users were exposed to the political advertisements bought by a Russian-linked company. This is Facebook’s general counsel Colin Stretch being questioned by Delaware Senator Christopher Coons about one of these ads.
Sen. Christopher Coons: “The ad claims that Hillary Clinton is, quote, 'only one politician except Barack Obama who is despised by the overwhelming majority of American veterans.' And it says, if Clinton were elected president, the, quote, 'Army should be withdrawn from her control, according to amendments to the Constitution.' This ad is nothing short of the Russian government directly interfering in our elections, lying to American citizens, duping folks who believe they are joining and supporting a group that is about veterans and based in Texas, when in fact it’s paid for in rubles by Russians. Should Facebook be allowed to be a platform that foreign adversaries can use to run political ads, sir?”
Colin Stretch: “Senator, that advertisement has no place on Facebook.”
That was Facebook’s general counsel Colin Stretch being questioned by Delaware Senator Christopher Coons during the Senate Judiciary subcommittee hearing on Tuesday. And this is Facebook’s Colin Stretch being questioned by Senator Al Franken.
Sen. Al Franken: “How did Facebook, which prides itself on being able to process billions of data points and instantly transform them into personal connections for its user, somehow not make the connection that electoral ads, paid for in rubles, were coming from Russia? Those are two data points: American political ads and Russian money, rubles. How could you not connect those two dots?”
Special counsel Robert Mueller is continuing to widen his investigation into whether President Trump’s campaign colluded with Russia to influence the 2016 election, with plans to interview Trump’s current communications director, Hope Hicks, and multiple other current White House officials. Hicks has already retained a personal lawyer. The expansion of the investigation comes after Mueller announced the first indictments in the investigation, charging Trump’s former campaign chair Paul Manafort and his former business associate Rick Gates with 12 counts, including money laundering and conspiracy against the United States.
Both men surrendered themselves to the FBI Monday, and they are now under house arrest. New revelations show that Manafort had three different U.S. passports, each with different numbers. Rick Gates had 55 different bank accounts with 13 different banks, including some based in Cyprus and Britain. President Trump is also trying to discredit and diminish the significance of a third former Trump adviser, George Papadopoulos, who pleaded guilty in early October to lying to the FBI and is cooperating with investigators in exchange for a more lenient sentence. On Tuesday, Trump tweeted, “Few people knew the young, low level volunteer named George, who has already proven to be a liar.”
White House Chief of Staff John Kelly is facing widespread criticism for his comments about the Civil War during a Fox News interview on Monday.
John Kelly: “Robert E. Lee was an honorable man. … The lack of an ability to compromise led to the Civil War, and men and women of good faith on both sides made their stand where their conscience had them make their stand.”
Historians have denounced Kelly’s comments as “dangerous.” In response, award-winning author Ta-Nehisi Coates tweeted an extended history lesson about the Civil War and criticism of John Kelly, which included Coates writing, “When the 'adult in the room' believes a war for slavery was honorable, believes that the torturer of humans, vendor of people, who led that war was honorable… You really do see the effect of white supremacy.”
Amnesty International is slamming the Israeli government for refusing to allow Raed Jarrar, advocacy director for the Middle East and North Africa, to enter the Israeli-occupied West Bank. He was stopped at a crossing between Jordan and the Israeli-occupied West Bank while on a personal trip to visit family after the death of his father. Amnesty said, “The fact that Raed Jarrar was barred from entry after being interrogated about his work with Amnesty International appears to suggest that this move was taken in retaliation for the organization’s work on human rights violations in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.”
In Iraq, Kurdish journalist Arkan Sharif has been assassinated. Eight men broke into his home in a village outside Kirkuk and stabbed him to death in the early hours of Monday morning. His killing comes only hours after armed men attacked a television crew in Erbil. Iraq is one of the world’s deadliest countries for journalists.
Meanwhile, Danish inventor Peter Madsen has admitted he dismembered the body of Swedish journalist Kim Wall and dumped her cut-up body parts into the sea. Wall was last seen alive on August 10, when she boarded Madsen’s submarine. Denmark’s largest daily newspaper has called her death “the most spectacular murder case in Danish history.”
In Peru, women competing in the Miss Peru beauty pageant protested violence against women by refusing to disclose their waist, hip and breast measurements, and instead presented statistics on the murder, rape and harassment of women.
Karen Cueto: “My name is Karen Cueto, and I represent Lima. And my figures are: 82 femicides and 156 attempted femicides so far this year.”
Samantha Batallanos: “My name is Samantha Batallanos. I represent Lima. And my figures are: A girl dies every 10 minutes as a result of sexual exploitation.”
Juana Acevedo: “My name is Juana Acevedo. And my figures are: More than 70 percent of women in our country are victims of street harassment.”
Kelin Rivera: “My name is Kelin Rivera, and I represent Arequipa. My measurements are: 6,573 cases of violence against women have been registered in my region.”
Back in the United States, accounts of sexual harassment continue to rock the U.S. journalism industry. Top political journalist Mark Halperin has been fired from NBC, after several women accused him of sexual harassment when he was at ABC. Meanwhile, the head of NPR’s top news department, Michael Oreskes, has been placed on leave as NPR investigates accusations that Oreskes kissed two women, without their consent, while he was Washington bureau chief of The New York Times. Both women say they were meeting with Oreskes to discuss working at the newspaper when he kissed them and stuck his tongue in their mouths.
In Utah, nurse Alex Wubbels has won a $500,000 settlement after being violently arrested by police at the hospital for refusing a police officer’s demand that she draw a blood sample from an unconscious car crash patient. Police body cam video shows the police attacked Wubbels, arrested her and forced her out of the hospital and into an unmarked car on July 26. After the footage surfaced, the hospital said police would no longer be permitted in patient care areas, such as the burn unit where Wubbels was working that day.
And New Jersey’s attorney general has sued Purdue Pharma, the maker of OxyContin, accusing the drug company of deceptive marketing that has fueled New Jersey’s opioid crisis. New Jersey is one of 11 states that have now sued the pharmaceutical giant over the opioids. Click here to see our interview about the Sacklers, the secretive family that owns Purdue and has made billions off the opioid crisis.