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You turn to Democracy Now! for ad-free news you can trust. This weekend, we're broadcasting live from D.C. as students and people of all ages converge on the capital to demand action on gun control. Our coverage is produced at a fraction of the cost of a commercial news operation, without ads, paywalls, government funds or corporate sponsors. How is this possible? Only with your support. If you and everyone visiting this website gave just $4, it would cover our operating costs for 2018. Pretty exciting, right? Please do your part. It takes just a few minutes to make sure that Democracy Now! is there for you and everybody else.
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Republicans in Congress say they have reached a deal on final tax legislation that will overhaul the U.S. tax code, dramatically impacting not only household income, but also healthcare and domestic spending. The plan would slash taxes by nearly $1.5 trillion, with the vast majority of the cuts benefiting major corporations and the richest Americans, including President Trump’s own family. The legislation would slash the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 21 percent. It also decreases taxes for wealthy business owners. Protests took place throughout Capitol Hill on Wednesday. The move clears the way for a final vote next week. We’ll have more on the tax plan later in the broadcast.
In Alabama, Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore has refused to concede in the special election, despite the fact that Democrat Doug Jones beat Moore on Tuesday. This is Moore, speaking Wednesday night.
Roy Moore: “We are indeed in a struggle to preserve our republic, our civilization and our religion, and to set free a suffering humanity. And the battle rages on. In this race, we have not received the final count to include military and provisional ballots. This has been a very close race, and we are awaiting certification by the secretary of state.”
During his speech Wednesday, Moore expressed his support for President Trump and painted an apocalyptic picture of American society.
Roy Moore: “Abortion, sodomy and materialism have taken the place of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. … We have murdered over 60 million of our unborn children. We have redefined marriage and destroyed the basis of family, which is the building block of our country. … We have even begun to recognize the right of a man to claim to be a woman, and vice versa. … Immorality sweeps over our land.”
Even President Trump, who supported the accused child molester, has acknowledged Roy Moore lost the Senate race.
Three women have accused music industry mogul Russell Simmons of rape. Simmons is the co-founder of the hugely influential label Def Jam Recordings and a major figure in the music, entertainment, media and fashion industries. Drew Dixon, a former executive for Def Jam Recordings, told The New York Times Simmons repeatedly sexually harassed her and then raped her in 1995. A singer, Tina Baker, said Simmons raped her in the early ’90s, derailing her career. Music journalist Toni Sallie also says Simmons raped her in the late 1980s. Simmons denies the accusations.
PBS has suspended award-winning journalist and talk show host Tavis Smiley amid accusations Smiley had sexual relationships with multiple subordinates and that he created a workplace that was verbally abusive and threatening. Multiple women said they were concerned their job security was linked to the status of a sexual relationship with Smiley. Smiley has denied the accusations.
Award-winning Mexican-American actress Salma Hayek has written a searing op-ed for The New York Times in which she details how she suffered years of sexual harassment and abuse by Harvey Weinstein. In the piece, entitled “Harvey Weinstein Is My Monster Too,” Hayek details how Weinstein relentlessly pursued her sexually, bullied her and verbally abused her when she rejected his advances, retaliated against her professionally and even threatened to kill her. She writes, “In his eyes, I was not an artist. I wasn’t even a person. I was a thing: not a nobody, but a body.”
In Kentucky, Republican state Representative Dan Johnson was found dead from an apparent suicide, only two days after the Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting published an exposé about him molesting a 17-year-old girl who was a member of his church. According to the exposé, in 2013 Johnson woke up his daughter’s friend while the girls were having a sleepover and then sexually assaulted the teenager, touching her breasts and forcing his fingers into her vagina. The girl wrote to Johnson in a Facebook message after the attack, “What you did was beyond mean, it was evil.” Kentucky state Representative Dan Johnson’s body was found Wednesday with a single gunshot wound to his head.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has unveiled new legislation aimed at making it illegal for people convicted of domestic violence to own a gun in New York state. In announcing the legislation, Cuomo called 2017 “the year of reckoning, when both the tragedy of mass shootings and cultural and institutional harassment of women became impossible to ignore.”
The chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley, said President Trump’s judicial nominee Jeff Mateer will not be confirmed for a federal lifetime judgeship. Mateer is a lawyer for the state of Texas and a right-wing religious extremist who has called transgender children evidence of “Satan’s plan.” Senator Grassley also said a second Trump judicial nominee, Brett Talley, will not be confirmed. Talley is a blogger who has never argued a case in federal court in his life. He was rated “unanimously unqualified” for the post by the American Bar Association.
In Washington, D.C., a Superior Court judge has thrown out the felony charge of inciting a riot for six people who were arrested during protests at President Trump’s inauguration. The six still face other serious charges, including conspiracy charges and charges of destruction of property. The six are the first of more than 150 people slated to go on trial over the Inauguration Day protests. They have each faced up to 60 years in prison.
In Greece, a nationwide 24-hour general strike has crippled key industries, including transportation, education, healthcare and shipping. The workers are protesting against a new government proposal to limit people’s ability to strike, as well as against years of austerity measures. This is Christina Skaloubati, president of the Federation of Women of Greece.
Christina Skaloubati: “These measures have dramatically affected the lives of women, because they make part-time work, flexible labor relations and lower and minimum wages a permanent thing, which means women cannot support their families with such wages.”
In Yemen, the U.S.-backed, Saudi-led coalition has bombed a Houthi military police camp, killing at least 30 people, most of whom were imprisoned inside the camp. One official said at least 35 bodies had been recovered from the blast site so far. We’ll have more on the ongoing U.S.-backed, Saudi-led war in Yemen later in the broadcast.
Back in the United States, Disney is buying a major part of 21st Century Fox for $52.4 billion. The massive deal would consolidate two of the biggest players in Hollywood and would reshape the media and entertainment industries.
In Texas, immigration officials have detained award-winning Mexican journalist Emilio Gutiérrez Soto and his son in Texas. Gutiérrez first sought asylum in the United States in 2008 after receiving death threats for reporting on alleged corruption in the Mexican military. He was detained last week after his asylum appeal was denied. He now faces deportation back to Mexico, one of the most dangerous countries in the world for journalists. This is Gutiérrez speaking by phone through a translator from the for-profit West Texas Detention Center in Sierra Blanca during an event Monday night at the National Press Club.
Emilio Gutiérrez Soto: “Please, please, do not forget us. Do not forget to publish the pain, terrifying situation that I’m in and the terrifying manner in which journalists have to work in Mexico.”
That’s Mexican journalist Emilio Gutiérrez Soto, speaking from detention.
In London, survivors of the deadly Grenfell Tower fire in June gathered at St. Paul’s Cathedral for a memorial service, along with British Prime Minister Theresa May, Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn and the royal family. The fire killed 71 people when it swept through a poorly built public housing tower. It was the worst fire in Britain since World War II.
And Haiti’s beloved folk singer and troubadour Emmanuel “Manno” Charlemagne has died in a Miami Beach hospital at the age of 69. Through his music, Charlemagne helped inspire a generation of Haitians to rebel against longtime dictator François Duvalier. He was often called the Haitian Bob Marley. He briefly served as mayor of Port-au-Prince in the 1990s.