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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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Thousands protested in Catalonia on Thursday after eight regional ministers were jailed and accused of rebellion, sedition and misuse of public funds—as the constitutional crisis in Spain continues. The regional ministers had already been fired by Spain’s central government over Catalonia’s independence referendum, and they now face up to 50 years in prison. This is Maria Carrera and Jaume Solana at a protest in Barcelona.
Maria Carrera: “This is shameful, because they have committed a coup d’état. They are Francists and Nazis. I want to go to the prison, where our comrades are being held.”
Jaume Solana: “It is unjust because there is no democracy like this. It is unjust because many politicians that have stolen are free, and today they are in prison, and that is unjust.”
Spanish prosecutors are also seeking a European arrest warrant for Catalonia’s leader Carles Puigdemont, who is in exile in Belgium, along with other members of the Catalan government. This is Puigdemont.
Carles Puigdemont: “The Spanish government decision to imprison the vice president and the Cabinet members of the legitimate government of Catalonia, elected in the polls of September 27, is a very grave mistake. It is a grave attack on democracy. Imprisoning political leaders with ample citizen support is an act that violates the basic principle of democracy.”
In late October, Spain’s government seized control of Catalonia using Article 155 of the Spanish Constitution—which had never been used before in modern Spain’s democratic history. The move stripped the northeastern region of its autonomy in efforts to crush Catalonia’s growing independence movement.
President Trump and Republicans in the House have unveiled a long-promised proposal to reform America’s tax code that experts say is really more of a tax cut for the rich. The bill introduced Thursday would permanently lower the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 20 percent and also repeals the inheritance tax on multimillion-dollar estates. An analysis by the Joint Committee on Taxation said the bill is heavily weighted toward business, which would receive about two-thirds of an estimated $1.5 trillion in cuts.
ISIS has claimed, without evidence, that Tuesday’s attack in New York City was carried out by a “soldier of the caliphate.” The attack left eight people dead, after suspect Sayfullo Saipov, an Uzbek native, reportedly drove a rented Home Depot truck down a bike path along Manhattan’s Hudson River, killing multiple people before crashing into a school bus. He was then shot and wounded by police. Authorities claim Sayfullo Saipov has said, at his hospital bedside, that ISIS videos inspired him to carry out the attack.
In the wake of the New York City attack, Attorney General Jeff Sessions is escalating pressure on technology companies to turn over encrypted communications to law enforcement. Sessions claimed, without evidence, that refusing to turn over the encrypted communications could have “deadly consequences.”
Attorney General Jeff Sessions: “This failure to get encrypted information in a timely manner causes law enforcement to waste even more valuable time and resources than it should have. And it could have potentially deadly consequences.”
Pope Francis gave an emotional mass on Thursday in Nettuno, Italy, in which he warned the world is heading “forcefully into war.” He was speaking at the cemetery where thousands of U.S. soldiers who died liberating southern Italy during World War II are buried.
Pope Francis: “Please, Lord, stop. No more. No more war. No more of these useless massacres. Today that the world once more is at war and is preparing to go even more forcefully into war: No more, Lord. Let us pray for those who are dying in wars today, even innocent children. Death is the fruit of war. And may the lord give us the grace to be able to cry.”
Former Democratic National Committee interim chair Donna Brazile says the DNC made an unethical agreement with Hillary Clinton’s campaign during the lead-up to the 2016 election—skewing the primary in her favor in exchange for money to keep the indebted party afloat. In excerpts of her new book, Brazile writes that Clinton campaign manager Robby Mook struck a joint fundraising agreement with the DNC back in August 2015—nearly a year before Hillary Clinton officially had the party’s nomination. Under the agreement, the Clinton campaign would raise money for the party, and in exchange, Clinton would control the party’s finances and strategy, including making all final decisions about party staff members and the party’s communications director. Brazile writes, “If the fight had been fair, one campaign would not have control of the party before the voters had decided which one they wanted to lead. This was not a criminal act, but as I saw it, it compromised the party’s integrity.”
A Twitter employee on their last day on the job briefly deactivated President Trump’s Twitter account Thursday. The account vanished for 11 full minutes. Trump has used Twitter to bully and insult women, people of color and lawmakers. He’s also used it to threaten to annihilate the entire nation of North Korea.
In news on sexual harassment, The New Republic’s publisher, Hamilton Fish, has been placed on leave, after a slew of allegations of sexual harassment when he was the president of The Nation Institute. This comes after one of The New Republic’s most prominent longtime editors, Leon Wieseltier, was also fired over sexual harassment allegations. He was fired from his job with the Emerson Collective, where he was slated to unveil a new magazine.
Meanwhile, two top staff members at SEIU, the Service Employees International Union, have been ousted over sexual harassment allegations. One of the national leaders, Kendall Fells, has resigned, and Detroit leader Mark Raleigh has been fired.
Billionaire investor and Trump donor Robert Mercer is stepping down as head of his company, Renaissance Technologies, after a BuzzFeed exposé revealed the connections between the Mercer-funded news outlet Breitbart Media and white nationalists and neo-Nazis. The BuzzFeed report revealed how Breitbart’s former tech editor, Milo Yiannopoulos, had collaborated closely with white nationalists to generate story ideas, and even to edit the website’s articles. In his letter, Mercer tried to distance himself from Yiannopoulos, as well as from Steve Bannon, Breitbart’s longtime head who also served as Trump’s former chief strategist.
The United Nations is warning of an “unfolding humanitarian emergency” at an Australian refugee detention center on Manus Island, in Papua New Guinea. The Australian government officially closed the detention center on Tuesday, cutting off water and electricity. But hundreds of asylum seekers are still at the center, where food, water and medicine are growing scarce. The asylum seekers are refusing to leave, saying they fear for their lives if they go along with the government’s plans to relocate them to a nearby city where refugees have been attacked by men armed with knives and screwdrivers.
The University of Notre Dame has announced it will stop covering birth control for faculty, staff and students. The move comes less than one month after the Trump administration sharply limited contraceptive coverage under the Affordable Care Act.
And in New York City, the billionaire owner of the online news outlets Gothamist and DNAinfo has shut down the websites, one week after the newsrooms voted to unionize. Billionaire Joe Ricketts, who is also the owner of the Chicago Cubs, fired all 115 workers at Gothamist and DNAinfo. He’s long been an opponent of unions, even posting on his personal blog a commentary entitled “Why I’m Against Unions at Businesses I Create.” Both Gothamist and DNAinfo have been important local news sites in New York for years. Among the final articles to be published at Gothamist were an investigation into prison labor in New York and an article about rise of anti-Semitic attacks in New York City.