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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 Afghanistan, at least 40 people have been killed and dozens more wounded in a suicide bomb attack in the capital Kabul. ISIS has claimed responsibility for the attack, which targeted a Shia cultural center and the Afghan Voice news agency. Afghan Journalists Safety Committee says at least one journalist was killed in the attack and another four were wounded. The blast struck as students were attending a discussion forum at the cultural center marking the 38th anniversary of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. This is an eyewitness to the attack, Ali Reza.
Ali Reza: “I saw many dead in the area, I was looking for my cousin, but I could not find his body. I’m not sure what happened to him. The number of dead people has increased.”
This comes only days after ISIS claimed responsibility for another suicide bombing in Kabul, which killed 10 people.
President Trump has lied about signing more pieces of legislation than any president in U.S. history, when in fact he’s signed fewer pieces of legislation so far than any president since Dwight Eisenhower, who took office in 1953. This is Trump, speaking to firefighters in West Palm Beach, Florida, on Wednesday.
President Donald Trump: “We have more legislation passed, including—the record was Harry Truman. That’s a long time ago. And we broke that record. So we have a lot done.”
That’s Trump falsely claiming he has broken previous presidents’ legislative records. In fact, so far he’s signed the fewest number of bills into law in more than 60 years.
Republican Roy Moore has filed a lawsuit seeking to stop the state of Alabama from certifying his rival, Democrat Doug Jones, as the winner of the special U.S. Senate race two weeks ago. Moore lost the highly controversial race to Jones by about 20,000 votes, after at least nine women accused Moore of harassing or assaulting them when they were teenagers—one as young as 14 years old. African-American voters were critical in defeating Moore, who has a long history of racism, sexism, homophobia and Islamophobia. On Wednesday, Moore’s lawyers filed the lawsuit claiming fraud and demanding a new election. The state canvassing board had been slated to officially declare Jones the winner at its meeting today.
The Trump administration has rolled back regulations at nursing homes nationwide, meaning nursing homes that injure residents or place them at grave risk will face fewer and less costly fines. The nursing home industry lobbied for the deregulation. Advocates for nursing home residents say the deregulation threatens to roll back years of hard-fought progress in improving care and deterring neglect and mistreatment of elderly residents.
In Honduras, the opposition party, the Alliance Against the Dictatorship, has filed an appeal with election officials demanding incumbent President Juan Orlando Hernández’s re-election be annulled because of fraud in the November 26 election. The Organization of American States has also called for a re-election amid reports of widespread fraud and vote rigging. But the United States—which backs Hernández—has endorsed his re-election. The contested vote sparked weeks of protests in which at least 22 people have been killed in the ensuing military crackdown against protesters.
In West Africa, Liberia is slated to announce the results today of the runoff presidential election between Vice President Joseph Boakai and the ex-footballer George Weah. Liberia’s current president, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, was the first woman elected head of state in Africa. She’s been president since 2006. This year’s election will mark the first peaceful transfer of power in Liberia since 1944.
In Bolivia, protests by health workers are escalating, amid a month-long strike in the capital La Paz. The strike and protests are part of a rising wave of dissent in Bolivia over President Evo Morales’s controversial decision to seek a fourth term in 2019, despite the Bolivian constitution permitting presidents to serve only two consecutive terms. This is protester Julia Maceda Aliaga.
Julia Maceda Aliaga: “It’s a dictatorship! Not in the worst moments of the dictatorial governments has this occurred! I say to the gentleman, Evo [Bolivian President Evo Morales], if he is a gentleman, 'Evo, don't provoke us. The people are angry!’”
In France, hundreds of residents of a small French Alpine town marched silently in the pouring rain Wednesday to demand answers in the case of the disappearance of a 9-year-old girl. Maëlys de Araujo went missing while attending a family wedding in late August. A fellow guest at the wedding, a 34-year-old former military dog trainer, is being investigated for kidnapping and murder. The girl’s DNA was found in the man’s car, but he denies involvement in the crime. This is Nadine, one of the hundreds who marched on Wednesday.
Nadine: “I also have three children and two grandchildren, so it’s true that it’s quite earth-shattering. In a small village like this, we think it will never happen to us. But it does, actually. It happens everywhere, unfortunately. It’s not easy. It’s especially hard for the parents, so I think if people come to support them, it’s always a help for the family.”
Back in the United States, in Texas, the immigration lawyer for detained Mexican journalist Emilio Gutiérrez Soto says the Board of Immigration Appeals has reopened Gutiérrez’s asylum case and vacated his deportation order. This means Gutiérrez cannot be deported at the moment and that the Board of Immigration Appeals will now issue a new ruling over whether to grant the journalist asylum. Gutiérrez first sought asylum in the United States in 2008 after receiving death threats for reporting on alleged corruption in the Mexican military. He and his son are currently imprisoned in a U.S. detention center in El Paso, Texas. This is Gutiérrez, speaking in an exclusive jailhouse interview with Democracy Now!
Emilio Gutiérrez Soto: “Well, if we are deported, that obviously implies death. Why? Because ICE, under the Department of Homeland Security of the United States, by law, must give a report to the immigration authorities of Mexico and the consulate. And the immigration officials in Mexico have no credibility. It’s impossible to trust in them. To the contrary, many of those officials, many personnel at the consulate or immigration service, are caught up with organized crime. And organized crime is precisely the Mexican government.”
That’s Mexican journalist Emilio Gutiérrez Soto, speaking by telephone from detention in Texas. His lawyer and press freedom advocates are demanding his and his son’s immediate release. Click here to see our full jailhouse interview with Gutiérrez.
A record-smashing cold spell continues to freeze parts of the Northeast and Midwest United States. In Minnesota, the temperature plunged to 37 degrees below zero in International Falls, breaking the previous record set in 1924. Wind chill advisories have been issued for swaths of the country, with forecasters warning of hypothermia and frostbite from the arctic air.
And pioneering Argentinian filmmaker Fernando Birri has died. He’s considered the father of the New Latin American Cinema, which challenged Hollywood and focused on the lives of the oppressed in Latin America. Along with Gabriel García Márquez and others, Birri founded the International School of Film and Television in Cuba and served as the school’s first director. This is the Argentinian filmmaker, reading a poem in a short film by Michael Chanan entitled “Portrait of Fernando Birri.”
Fernando Birri: “'Poem in the Form of a Film Poster.' I see, I see a green parrot in the zoo in Berlin. And I think: the New Latin American Cinema is today a reality. But, but, but 25 years ago it was a Utopia. Which is the new Utopia? And the parrot, the green, green, green parrot, whose name in Latin is very difficult, but who is surely called Juancito or Nemesio, is a parrot from the Alto Paraná. That’s to say my brother or my cousin. I saw him, I saw him. And I think: National identity. Did the parrot need its national (and critical) identity? But us, we do. We needed it. For a national cinema, realist and critical. Later we added: popular.”
Argentinian filmmaker Fernando Birri has died at the age of 92 in Rome.