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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 Zimbabwe, longtime leader Robert Mugabe has stunned party leaders and opposition groups by refusing to resign as president. The announcement by the 93-year-old Mugabe came days after Zimbabwe’s military seized government buildings across the capital, Harare, placing Mugabe under house arrest. On Sunday evening, Mugabe gave a televised address acknowledging the country’s problems, but did not mention stepping down.
President Robert Mugabe: “Whatever the pros and cons of the way they went about registering those concerns, I, as the president of Zimbabwe and as their commander-in-chief, do acknowledge the issues they have drawn my attention to, and do believe that these were raised in the spirit of honesty and out of deep and patriotic concern for the stability of our nation.”
Mugabe’s announcement came after Zimbabwe’s ruling party, ZANU-PF, has stripped him of his office under threat of impeachment and removed him from the party. Other members of the party, including first lady Grace Mugabe, were also expelled. We’ll have more on the crisis in Zimbabwe after headlines.
In Washington, D.C., thousands of people rallied on the National Mall Sunday, calling for justice for Puerto Rico two months after Hurricane Maria made landfall. The protesters called on FEMA to act quickly to restore services and for the cancellation of Puerto Rico’s debt. They also demanded Congress permanently waive shipping restrictions under the Jones Act. Half of Puerto Rico remains without power, and hundreds of thousands of residents still have no access to clean drinking water.
Hollywood actor Jeffrey Tambor said Sunday he’s leaving the hit Amazon series “Transparent,” in which he stars as a trans woman, after two transgender women accused him of unwanted sexual contact. In one allegation, Tambor’s former assistant, trans actress Van Barnes, says Tambor sexually harassed and groped her; in another, Tambor’s co-star Trace Lysette says he pushed his body against her between takes on the set of “Transparent.” Tambor has denied the allegations.
Meanwhile, music mogul and activist Russell Simmons is denying allegations of rape and sexual assault, after model Keri Claussen Khalighi says Simmons coerced her to perform oral sex, before raping her in a shower in 1991, when she was just 17 years old. Khalighi says filmmaker Brett Ratner looked on during the assault and ignored her pleas for help. Ratner himself faces accusations from at least six women, including one account that he overpowered a woman and forced her to perform oral sex on him when she was only 19 years old.
At least five people say they were sexually harassed or groped at a TED Talks conference in Vancouver last April. Among those reporting abuse is TED Talks’ own general counsel, who said in an email she was touched inappropriately and that executives at the nonprofit speaker series weren’t doing enough to combat sexual harassment.
The U.S. Congress Office of Compliance says it has paid out more than $17 million to settle cases of sexual harassment, as well as discrimination based on race, religion and disability. The cases were paid out of a special fund operated by the Treasury Department—rather than by members of Congress or their staffers who were accused of discrimination or harassment. The disclosure comes as a number of female members of Congress have come forward to say they’ve been victims of sexual harassment.
Meanwhile, Minnesota Democratic Senator Al Franken says he will not resign, following accusations by radio broadcaster Leeann Tweeden that Franken groped her while she slept, and forced her to kiss him in 2006. Last week, Leeann Tweeden posted a photo showing Franken appearing to place his hands on her breasts over her Kevlar vest while she was sleeping on a plane, coming back from a USO tour that they both had participated in. Al Franken was a comedian at the time. He says he supports a full investigation by Congress.
President Trump said Sunday he should have allowed three college basketball players from UCLA to remain in a Chinese jail, after they were arrested on shoplifting charges. Trump’s comment came as he took credit for negotiating the release of the players, who are accused of stealing designer sunglasses from a high-end store. After the father of one of the players downplayed Trump’s role in securing the release of the players, Trump tweeted, “LaVar Ball, the father of LiAngelo, is unaccepting of what I did for his son and that shoplifting is no big deal. I should have left them in jail!”
In Iraq, U.S.-backed Iraqi forces say they have retaken the town of Rawa from ISIS, one of the last urban areas held by the group. Meanwhile, Syria’s Army says it took control of Abu Kamal over the weekend—the last town in Syria held by ISIS. The fight against ISIS has largely destroyed whole cities, including Raqqa and Mosul, leaving tens of thousands dead and displacing hundreds of thousands of people.
In Libya, human rights groups are accusing the government of looking the other way as migrants are sold at auction in a modern-day slave trade. New video obtained by CNN shows men at an unknown location in Libya auctioning off enslaved sub-Saharan African migrants. One grainy cellphone video shows two enslaved men sold for 1,200 Libyan dinars—or about $800—as a man off screen promises “big strong boys for farm work.” The CNN investigation comes after the United Nations warned the EU over its support for Libya’s coast guard, as it turns back migrants trying to cross the Mediterranean and forces them into migrant camps, where they face “appalling” conditions.
In Germany, Angela Merkel’s position as chancellor is uncertain, after talks aimed at forming a coalition government collapsed Monday. Merkel had been trying to form a new government after inconclusive elections in September. Observers say the turmoil could benefit the far-right Alternative for Germany party, which made record gains in this year’s elections.
In Mexico City, trade delegates from the U.S., Mexico and Canada have opened formal talks aimed at renegotiating NAFTA, the North American Free Trade Agreement. President Trump is pressing Canada and Mexico for concessions, claiming NAFTA is tilted against the United States. As talks opened Friday, Mexican farmers and workers protested outside. This is activist Hector Cruz.
Hector Cruz: “We are demanding that the voice of society, civil society, farmers and citizens be heard in these negotiations, because, for us, it is clear that after 23 years, the North American Free Trade Agreement has only been a great economic and social disaster for our country. Now we are threatened that what is being negotiated inside will be even worse.”
Back in the United States, immigrants’ rights protesters in Tucson, Arizona, targeted Breitbart News editor and President Trump’s former chief strategist Steve Bannon as he gave a keynote address Saturday to a U.S. Border Patrol-affiliated group. Outside, scores of protesters were confined by police to an area blocks from the Brian Terry Foundation’s awards banquet—but one person was able to slip inside to personally confront Bannon. This is cellphone video shot by protester Bryan Sanders.
Bryan Sanders: “I’m from Tucson.”
Stephen Bannon: “Hey, how you doing, brother?”
Bryan Sanders: “I’m Bryan.”
Stephen Bannon: “Hey, Bryan. How you doing, man?”
Bryan Sanders: “And I just want you to know, because I couldn’t have you come to Tucson and not hear this.”
Stephen Bannon: “Yeah.”
Bryan Sanders: “What you’re proposing out there is driving the country apart.”
Stephen Bannon: “Yeah.”
Bryan Sanders: “And I know that you know this. I know that you know that you’re a white supremacist. You’re about to have an orange jumpsuit.”
Stephen Bannon: “That’s not that true, but thanks.
Bryan Sanders: “You’re going to have an orange jumpsuit.”
Stephen Bannon: “Thanks, brother. I appreciate it.”
Bryan Sanders: “How about we do this? One, two, three, 'Treason!' Say 'treason' for me.”
Stephen Bannon: “Thanks, brother. I appreciate it.”
Unidentified: “You’re getting out of here. Move.”
Bryan Sanders: “All right, I’m leaving.”
A new study finds black men continue to be sentenced to far longer prison terms than white men committing similar crimes. The study by the U.S. Sentencing Commission found African-American men receive sentences about 20 percent longer and that the sentencing disparity has increased over the last two decades.
In Jacksonville, Florida, students and anti-fascist activists are planning a counterprotest at the University of North Florida today, as neo-Nazis plan to rally on behalf of a student who was suspended after posting a threatening photo on social media. The photograph shows political science student Ken Parker shirtless, posing with a semiautomatic assault rifle and with a swastika tattooed on his chest. Parker posted it to a Black Lives Matter-aligned student group’s Facebook page, along with a threat against the group Students for a Democratic Society.
President Trump said Sunday he’s reversing his administration’s plan to allow trophy hunters to import the bodies of elephants they kill in Zambia and Zimbabwe. In a tweet, Trump wrote, “Big-game trophy decision will be announced next week but will be very hard pressed to change my mind that this horror show in any way helps conservation of Elephants or any other animal.” President Trump’s two adult sons, Eric and Donald Jr., are longtime trophy hunters. A 2012 picture of Donald Trump Jr. in Zimbabwe shows him standing in front of the corpse of an African elephant, holding a knife in one hand and a severed tail in the other.
In Nebraska, about 100 protesters rallied at the Capitol in Lincoln Sunday, calling on their state to deny a permit allowing the company TransCanada to build the Keystone XL pipeline. The protest came ahead of a crucial meeting today at Nebraska’s Public Utilities Commission on whether to allow construction of the expanded Keystone pipeline, which opponents say threatens to pollute Nebraska’s Ogallala Aquifer while driving greenhouse gas emissions from oil extracted in Canada’s tar sands region.
And youth activists around the country have buried 50-year time capsules containing their hopes and fears for the planet’s future, after President Trump moved to withdraw the U.S. from the Paris climate accord. Members of the Climate Legacy Time Capsule Project say they’re working to kick out politicians at all levels of government who are putting fossil fuel billionaires ahead of future generations. In New York City, dozens of youth placed handwritten letters and artwork in a metal cylinder and buried it in Washington Square Park. This is 16-year-old activist Shaza Hussein.
Shaza Hussein: “For the next 50 years, I hope to see that elected officials are changing the tide and we’re shifting towards protecting the Earth and making sure that we do things like protecting Native American communities and measuring the cultural impacts, moving towards renewable energy, just moving towards clean energy and formulating a better future and a future worth meeting for future generations.”