President Trump is expected to announce today that the U.S. will recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and initiate a process of moving the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
The move would upend decades of international peace efforts. The announcement has already sparked a massive international backlash, with leaders of Britain, France, Iran, Jordan, Egypt, Turkey, the Arab League and other nations all criticizing the move. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas warned of “the dangerous consequences such a decision would have to the peace process and to the peace, security and stability of the region and of the world.” Palestinians have called for “three days of rage”— protests across the Israeli-occupied territories.
Control of Jerusalem is one of the most contested issues between Israelis and Palestinians. The Israeli military seized control of East Jerusalem in 1967 and has occupied the territory ever since. Palestinians, however, have long seen Jerusalem as the capital of their future country. Since 1967, the U.N. Security Council and U.N. General Assembly have passed dozens of resolutions calling for Israel to end its occupation of East Jerusalem.
Currently 86 nations have their embassies in Tel Aviv. No country has an embassy in Jerusalem. This is Pope Francis, speaking Tuesday.
Pope Francis: “My thoughts go out to Jerusalem. In this respect, I cannot hide my deep concern about the situation that has developed in the last days. And in the meantime, I make an urgent appeal to everybody to respect the status quo of the city, in accordance with the relevant resolutions of the United Nations. I pray that wisdom and prudence can prevail to avoid adding new elements of tension in a world scenario already convulsive and scarred by so many cruel conflicts.”
Michigan Democratic Congressmember John Conyers has announced his resignation in the face of multiple accusations of sexual harassment.
Rep. John Conyers: “I am retiring today. And I want everyone to know how much I appreciate the support, the incredible, undiminished suport I’ve received across the years from my supporters, not only in my district, but across the country, as well.”
Congressmember Conyers has been the longest-serving current member of the House of Representatives and the longest-serving African-American lawmaker in congressional history.
Multiple women have accused Conyers of sexually harassing or groping them, including his former deputy chief of staff, Marion Brown, who settled a sexual misconduct case against Conyers for $27,000. Brown said Conyers invited her to a Chicago hotel room in 2005, where he appeared in his underwear and demanded she touch him sexually. She says she was fired when she refused. This is Brown, speaking on NBC’s “Today Show.”
Marion Brown: “I am taking a risk. And the reason why I’m taking a risk, it is important. I want to be a voice. You know, my ancestors, my grandmother, my mother, my daughters, my granddaughter—you know, I want her, when she enters the workforce, long [after] when I’m gone, I want her to not have to endure sexism and gender inequality. And I want to stand up, and I felt it was worth the risk to stand up, for all the women in the workforce that are voiceless, you know, that ordinary women like myself, with extraordinary challenges, working in the workforce that are dominated by men.”
Congressmember John Conyers has endorsed his son, John Conyers III, to replace him. Ian Conyers, the grandson of Conyers’s brother, is a state senator and will also run for John Conyers’ seat in the House of Representatives.
President Trump is standing by his endorsement of Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore, who has been accused by at least nine women of sexually harassing or assaulting them when they were teenagers. One of the women says Moore removed her shirt and pants, then touched her over her bra and underwear, when she was only 14 years old. She says she recalls thinking, “I wanted it over with—I wanted out. Please just get this over with. Whatever this is, just get it over.” This is Trump, speaking Tuesday.
President Donald Trump: “I think he’s going to do very well. We don’t want to have a liberal Democrat in Alabama, believe me. We want strong borders. We want stopping crime. We want to have the things that we represent. And we certainly don’t want to have a liberal Democrat that’s controlled by Nancy Pelosi and controlled by Chuck Schumer. We don’t want to have that for Alabama. Thank you all very much. Thank you.”
The Republican National Committee has recommitted money and resources to Alabama’s special election on December 12, after President Trump tweeted his support for Roy Moore on Monday. Former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon campaigned for Moore in Alabama Tuesday. Meanwhile, “Late Night” show host Stephen Colbert lashed out at Trump Tuesday night for supporting Roy Moore.
Stephen Colbert: “Yes we want stopping crime. We just not want stopping sexual assault. … Moore is grateful for Trump’s support, tweeting, 'I look forward to fighting alongside the president to #MAGA!' Of course, that’s the sound teenage girls make when they see Roy Moore at the mall. 'Maga!'”
The New York Times has published a massive exposé on how disgraced Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein built an industry-wide “complicity machine” to allow him to perpetrate rape, sexual assault and sexual harassment for decades. Weinstein is now facing criminal investigation in multiple cities, after more than 100 women came forward to accuse him. The exposé chronicles how he was able to get away with the violence by building a web of lawyers, agents, journalists, editors and publishers to help him cover his tracks and intimidate potential accusers. The piece says Hollywood agents and managers repeatedly sent actresses to private meetings with Weinstein, even though they knew about previous assaults. The article also says Weinstein used his political connections to protect himself, often saying during the Obama presidency, “I know the president of the United States. Who do you know?”
A major new investigation by The Intercept says the Trump administration is weighing plans to create a global network of private spies who would report directly to the White House and CIA Director Mike Pompeo.
According to the investigation, the proposal was developed by Erik Prince, founder of the now-defunct private mercenary firm Blackwater, and Oliver North, a Marine lieutenant colonel who oversaw the Reagan administration’s covert operation to divert money from secret arms sales to Iran to right-wing death squads in Nicaragua, a scheme now known as the Iran-Contra scandal.
The Intercept reports Prince and North have pitched the private network of spies as a way for the White House to counter members of the intelligence community, or the so-called deep state, who Trump claims are subverting his presidency. The Intercept also reports the White House is considering another proposal to create a new global kidnapping and rendition program.
Erik Prince advised President Trump’s transition team. He is also the brother of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos. After Trump took office, Prince publicly pitched a plan to privatize the U.S. war in Afghanistan. Another member of Trump’s transition team, CIA veteran John Maguire, is also reportedly working with Prince on the private spies and global rendition plan.
The Intercept reports Prince may have foreshadowed his new proposal in a 2016 interview on former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon’s radio program, in which Prince proposed reviving a version of the CIA’s Vietnam War assassination scheme, known as the Phoenix Program.
Erik Prince: “Two: a Phoenix-like program. OK, remember the Phoenix Program was a root canal done to the Viet Cong during the Vietnam War. It was a kill—”
Stephen Bannon: “You mean, this is the Phoenix Program—this is the Phoenix—hang on. This is the Phoenix Program in Vietnam.”
Erik Prince: “It was a vicious, but very effective, kill-capture program in Vietnam that destroyed the Viet Cong as a military force. That’s what needs to be done to the funders of Islamic terror, and that would even the wealthy radical Islamist billionaires funding it from the Middle East, and any of the other illicit activities therein.”
That was Erik Prince, speaking on Steve Bannon’s radio program last year. The White House, the CIA and Erik Prince have all rejected The Intercept’s exposé. This is White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders responding to questions Tuesday.
Reporter: “Sarah, one issue that you may have seen this morning: Is the White House or the president, at any level, considering creating a global or regional spy network that would circumvent the U.S. intelligence apparatus to serve the president outside of the normal and legally defined intelligence-gathering mechanisms?”
Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders: “I’m not aware of any plans for something of that definition or anything similar to that at this time. … I’m not going to answer every hypothetical for every single member. Did some random person off the street come in and say something? I don’t know what you’re—”
Reporter: “So is it possible this is something the president might consider?”
Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders: “Sorry?”
Reporter: “Is it something the president might consider?”
Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders: “Again, I haven’t asked him, but it’s not something that’s currently in the works.”
In Honduras, the political crisis continues as the government is still refusing to release the results of the November 26 presidential election between incumbent President Juan Orlando Hernández and opposition candidate Salvador Nasralla. The opposition is calling for either a runoff election or a full recount of the vote. Massive protests erupted over the weekend, after the government-controlled electoral commission stopped tallying votes when the count showed Nasralla ahead by more than 5 percentage points. After the delay, the electoral commission then claimed Hernández was ahead, sparking protests in which at least three people were killed. Earlier this week, the Honduran police mutinied against the government, saying it would no longer enforce a curfew and crackdown against protesters. On Tuesday, a spokesperson for the national police said their strike continues.
Clase Carrosco: “The national police affirms its commitment before Honduran society, and we are firm that we will not repress the Honduran people, given that we are in debt to them. And that is why we are demanding a quick resolution to the political crisis the country is confronting. Second, we outline that we are not pursuing this for a salary increase, as was previously mentioned.”
In Yemen, the U.S.-backed, Saudi-led coalition has intensified its bombing campaign following the killing of former President Ali Abdullah Saleh. He was killed earlier this week by Houthi rebels after he switched sides in the ongoing war and threw his support to the Saudi-led coalition. The Saudi-led coalition has launched dozens of airstrikes against the Houthis in the capital Sana’a today.
In Washington, D.C., President Trump’s eldest son, Donald Trump Jr., is set to testify to the House Intelligence Committee as part of the special investigation into alleged collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia during the 2016 election. This comes as special counsel Robert Mueller has revoked a bail agreement for Trump’s former campaign chair, Paul Manafort. Mueller’s investigators say that while Manafort was out on bail, he worked with a Russian colleague to ghostwrite an editorial promoting Manafort’s political work with Ukraine—thereby compromising the fairness of Manafort’s upcoming trial.
Russia has been banned from the 2018 Winter Games after the International Olympic Committee found its athletes were guilty of systematic doping. The IOC says individual Russian athletes can still apply to compete in February’s games in South Korea, but they will have to participate wearing a neutral uniform.
In California, a wildfire in Ventura County north of Los Angeles exploded in size Tuesday, burning 55,000 acres, destroying over 150 buildings, forcing 27,000 people to evacuate and knocking out power for over a quarter-million residents. Meanwhile, new fires have erupted across Southern California, fanned by gusty Santa Ana winds. The fires are so bad, they appear in a NASA satellite photograph.
In Washington, D.C., dozens of indigenous leaders from Alaska and other parts of North America will hold a protest at the Capitol building today, demanding Congress drop Arctic drilling from their massive rewrite of the U.S. tax code. A little-known provision tucked into the Senate’s version of the tax bill would open one of the world’s last pristine wildernesses—the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska—to oil and fracked gas drilling. The Arctic Refuge is rich in biodiversity and home to caribou, polar bears and musk oxen. It has also been home to indigenous people for thousands of years.
And football player Colin Kaepernick accepted Sports Illustrated’s Muhammad Ali Legacy Award on Tuesday night. Kaepernick helped spark a movement against racism and police brutality across the National Football League after he refused to stand last year for the national anthem before an NFL game. This is Kaepernick, speaking after accepting the award from Beyoncé on Tuesday night.
Colin Kaepernick: “I accept this award, knowing that the legacy of Muhammad Ali is that of a champion of the people and one who was affectionately known as the people’s champ. I accept this award, not for myself, but on behalf of the people, because if it were not for my love for the people, I would not have protested. And if it was not for the support from the people, I would not be on this stage today. With or without the NFL’s platform, I will continue to work for the people, because my platform is the people.”
After winning Sports Illustrated’s Muhammad Ali Legacy Award Tuesday night, Colin Kaepernick also spoke at The Nation magazine gala, where he was honored.