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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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New details have emerged about Sunday’s mass shooting at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, which killed 26 people, including children, elderly people and a pregnant woman.
The suspected shooter was a 26-year-old white man named Devin Patrick Kelley from New Braunfels, Texas. Kelley enlisted in the U.S. Air Force in 2010. In 2012, he was court-martialed on charges he repeatedly hit, kicked and choked his wife, pointed a loaded gun at her and attacked his 18-month-old stepson with such force that it broke the toddler’s skull.
Kelley was confined for a year and then thrown out of the Air Force with a bad conduct discharge in 2014. But on Monday, the Air Force admitted it had failed to report Kelley’s domestic violence court-martial to a federal database, meaning Kelley had no problem buying a Ruger AR-556 assault-style rifle at an Academy Sports + Outdoors store in San Antonio, Texas, in 2016.
He reportedly used this gun to massacre the 26 people on Sunday. On Monday, authorities also said Kelley appears to have carried out the massacre because of a domestic dispute he had with his mother-in-law, who was a member of the First Baptist Church but was not present on Sunday. This is a spokesperson for the Texas Department of Public Safety.
Freeman Martin: “One thing everybody wants to know is why did this happen. It’s a senseless crime, but we can tell you that there was a domestic situation going on within this family. The suspect’s mother-in-law attended this church. We know that he had made threatening—she had received threatening texts from him. And we can’t go into details about that domestic situation, that is continuing to be vetted and thoroughly investigated. But we want to get that out there, that this was not racially motivated. It wasn’t over religious beliefs. There was a domestic situation going on within the family.”
On Monday, seven activists from the group Gays Against Guns were arrested during a die-in protest on Capitol Hill to demand stricter gun control. We’ll have more on Sunday’s shooting massacre after headlines.
President Trump met with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in Tokyo on Monday, where Trump pressured Abe to buy billions of dollars of U.S.-manufactured weapons. This comes amid escalating tensions on the Korean Peninsula, which have been largely sparked and intensified by President Trump himself, who has threatened repeatedly to annihilate the entire nation of North Korea. Later on Monday, during a visit to Seoul, South Korea, Trump struck a slightly more diplomatic tone, talking of a potential deal with North Korea, although he did reiterate that the U.S. is prepared to use military action against North Korea. Hundreds of South Koreans protested President Trump’s visit on Monday.
The United Nations said Monday that 2017 will be among the hottest years on record. The announcement came as nearly 200 countries gathered in Bonn, Germany, for the beginning of this year’s U.N. climate talks. This is the secretary-general of the World Meteorological Organization, Petteri Taalas.
Petteri Taalas: “If we are successful in implementation of Paris Agreement around 2060s, we could see a phaseout of this. But if not, of course, this negative trend will continue even for thousands of years, so the lifetime of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is very long. So that’s why we have to turn this emission evolution during the coming couple of decades to be able to see this phaseout. So that’s why these COP meetings are so critical at the moment.”
Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross is attempting to defend himself after a trove of 13.4 million leaked documents, known as the Paradise Papers, revealed he continued to conduct business with Vladimir Putin’s son-in-law through a shipping company, even after Ross became Trump’s commerce secretary.
Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross: “The company that is our client, Sibur itself, was not then sanctioned, is not now sanctioned and never was sanctioned in between. So there’s nothing whatsoever improper about Navigator having a relationship with Sibur. I don’t know any of those individuals. I’ve never met them, certainly not had any commercial dealings with them.”
Apple is also under fire after the Paradise Papers revealed aggressive tax evasion by the corporation has allowed it to avoid paying taxes on billions of dollars. The Paradise Papers also implicate more than a dozen of President Trump’s Cabinet members, advisers and major donors, as well as the queen of England’s estate and the companies Nike, Facebook and Twitter.
Tensions are escalating sharply between Saudi Arabia and Iran after Houthi rebels in Yemen launched a ballistic missile toward the Saudi capital, Riyadh, over the weekend. On Monday, Saudi Arabia said the missile launch constituted an “act of war” by Iran. The Saudis accuse Iran of backing Yemen’s Houthi rebels. Saudi Arabia’s accusation escalates the possibility of a direct military confrontation between the two regional powers. This comes as at least 11 top Saudi elites and officials were arrested in a widening crackdown aimed at consolidating the power of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who has been presiding over the U.S.-backed, Saudi-led war in Yemen.
Back in the United States, as part of the Trump administration’s immigration crackdown, the federal government has announced it’s ending the temporary protected status of thousands of Nicaraguan immigrants, many of whom have been living in the United States for decades. Their special immigration status will now expire on January 5, 2019. The Trump administration has delayed ruling on whether to eliminate also the temporary protected status of more than 57,000 Hondurans.
In New York City, two police officers have quit the New York Police Department after they were charged with rape, kidnapping and official misconduct. Prosecutors say former NYPD detectives Edward Martins and Richard Hall arrested an 18-year-old woman after stopping her car and finding a small amount of marijuana and a few anti-anxiety pills in her purse.
The plainclothes officers handcuffed her and put her in the back of the police van. Prosecutors say Officer Martins then sat down in the backseat next to her, tightened her handcuffs, forced the teenager to give him oral sex and then pulled her pants off and raped her while she cried and begged him to stop. Prosecutors say Detective Hall watched his partner rape the teenager, then switched places with him and also forced her to perform oral sex on him.
Prosecutors say the officers then drove the teenager back to Coney Island, forced her to take one of her anti-anxiety pills, instructed her to “keep her mouth shut” and left her on the side of the road near a police precinct. Testing shows the DNA of both officers was found on the teenager. The former police officers are claiming the acts were consensual as their defense.
Meanwhile, New York police officer Wayne Isaacs has been found not guilty on charges of murdering Delrawn Small in 2016.
Small, who is African-American, was driving with his girlfriend and two children on the 4th of July when the off-duty officer reportedly cut him off. Grainy, black-and-white surveillance video shows Small, who was unarmed, approaching Officer Isaacs’s car. Officer Isaacs then opens fire with his police gun within one second. As Small stumbles away and collapses on the street between two parked cars, Officer Isaacs then gets out of his car, appears to tuck his gun into his waistband and then walks away.
In response to the not guilty verdict, the family of Delrawn Small said they are devastated and outraged, saying, “What Wayne Isaacs did that night—immediately shooting and killing our brother as he approached his car and leaving him to bleed out and die, when he had so many other options—was murder, in cold blood.”
In New York City, more than 100 people protested against billionaire Joe Ricketts’s decision to shut down the news outlets Gothamist and DNAinfo, one week after the newsrooms voted to unionize.
Emma Whitford: “My name is Emma Whitford. I’ve been—I had been at Gothamist for two-and-a-half years. Yeah, we voted to unionize by an incredible margin. I mean, the unit was 27 reporters and a few editors, and we voted for the union 25 to two. I also think it’s really important to clarify that we had not issued a single demand, when this shutdown happened, and I think there was a lot of effort on behalf of management to be like, 'Oh, because you guys want to unionize, you want to like bankrupt the company.'”
Meanwhile, a new media outlet—Gothamist in Exile—has surfaced and begun covering local news stories, including today’s elections and the acquittal of NYPD Officer Wayne Isaacs on charges of murdering Delrawn Small.
And today is Election Day in the United States. People are heading to the polls to vote for mayors, ballot initiatives, special state senate elections and two governors’ races.
The two Republican gubernatorial candidates, Ed Gillespie of Virginia and Kim Guadagno in New Jersey, have both openly embraced President Trump and are running on anti-immigrant platforms. Their Democratic challengers, Ralph Northam in Virginia and Phil Murphy in New Jersey, are running on anti-Trump platforms.
In Seattle, a special state Senate election has broken state spending records, as millions of dollars have poured into the race between Democratic candidate Manka Dhingra and Republican candidate Jinyoung Englund. If the Democrats win, they will flip the state Senate and take control the entire Washington state government.
There are significant mayoral races in Atlanta, Boston, Charlotte, Minneapolis, New Orleans, Pittsburgh, Seattle and New York City, where Democratic Mayor Bill de Blasio is facing off against Republican candidate Nicole Malliotakis and Independent candidate Bo Dietl.
There are also a number of key ballot initiatives: In Maine, voters will decide whether to expand Medicaid over the opposition of Maine Governor Paul LePage; in Ohio, voters will decide whether to buck the pharmaceutical industry and force a reduction in the price of prescription drugs; and in New York, voters will decide whether to hold a constitutional convention to rewrite the state constitution.