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This week, Democracy Now! is celebrating our 22nd birthday. Since our first show in February 1996, our daily news hour has brought you fearless journalism and hard-hitting news you can trust--all without ads or corporate underwriting. How is this possible? Only with your support. In fact, if everyone reading this gave just $4, it would cover our operating expenses for the whole year. Right now, a generous donor will TRIPLE every donation, meaning your gift today will go three times as far. Pretty amazing, right? Please do your part. Take a moment to give right now for our 22nd birthday.
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The New York Times reports the Pentagon is quietly preparing for a potential war with North Korea, with the U.S. military launching a series of war games and exercises from Fort Bragg, North Carolina, to the skies above Nevada, to a planned deployment of even more special operations troops to the Korean Peninsula during the Winter Olympics in South Korea next month. The planning for a potential nuclear war comes as President Trump has repeatedly threatened to launch a nuclear strike against North Korea.
Meanwhile, The Wall Street Journal is reporting the Pentagon is also planning to develop two new sea-based nuclear weapons. The report is based on a new Defense Department nuclear strategy review, which says the proposed new nuclear weapons would be to counter Russia and China. Last week, The Guardian reported the Trump administration is planning to loosen the restrictions on the use of nuclear weapons and develop a nuclear warhead for U.S. Trident missiles. This all comes as Trump has proposed building up the United States’ nuclear arsenal and has reportedly asked, about nuclear weapons, “If we had them, why can’t we use them?”
Residents of Hawaii experienced panic on Saturday morning when an emergency management worker mistakenly sent out a false alarm warning residents about an incoming ballistic missile. The alert, which residents received to their cellphones, read, “Emergency Alert: Ballistic Missile Threat Inbound to Hawaii. Seek Immediate Shelter. This is Not a Drill.” It took 38 minutes for Hawaii to then inform residents that the alert was, in fact, a mistake. This is Hawaii Governor David Ige.
Gov. David Ige: “Today is a day that most of us will never forget, a day when many in our community thought that our worst nightmare might actually be happening, a day when many frantically tried to think about the things that they would do if a ballistic missile launch would happen.”
Meanwhile, on Tuesday, Japanese residents also received a false alert about an incoming ballistic missile. This alert was sent as a news alert by the national broadcaster NHK.
The U.S. ambassador to Panama has resigned amid international outrage over President Trump’s racist comment in which Trump reportedly called African nations, El Salvador and Haiti shithole countries. In his resignation letter, U.S. Ambassador to Panama John Feeley said he feels he can no longer serve the president. His resignation takes effect March 9. The news of the resignation comes after Trump sparked an international firestorm by reportedly saying during a meeting with lawmakers at the White House last week, “Why do we want all these people from Africa here? They’re shithole countries … We should have more people from Norway.” It’s now being claimed by some lawmakers who were present at the meeting that Trump used the words “shithouse,” not “shithole.” In response to the comments, the government of Botswana wrote in a statement, “The Botswana government has also enquired from the US government through the Ambassador, to clarify if Botswana is regarded as a 'shithole' country.”
This all comes as President Trump has denied being a racist, during an interview with reporters on Sunday.
President Donald Trump: “No, no, I’m not a racist. I am the least racist person you have ever interviewed. That I can tell you.”
Meanwhile, on Saturday night, activists projected onto the Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C., the words: “Need a place to stay? Try this shithole.” But they, too, like the president, used the full four-letter swear before “hole.”
The Wall Street Journal has reported President Trump’s lawyers reportedly paid $130,000 to a former porn star to keep her from going public about her sexual encounter with Donald Trump in 2006. The money was reportedly paid to Stephanie Clifford, known as Stormy Daniels, in October 2016, only a month before the general election. The sexual encounter allegedly occurred shortly after President Trump married his wife, Melania, and while she was pregnant with their son, Barron.
Meanwhile, a former Playboy model named Karen McDougal says she also had an affair with Donald Trump in 2006. She reportedly sold the exclusive rights to the story to the National Enquirer for $150,000 shortly before the presidential election. The Enquirer never ran the story. The CEO of the newspaper’s parent company is a close friend of President Trump.
Former U.S. Army whistleblower Chelsea Manning is running for U.S. Senate in Maryland. This is a clip of her new campaign ad, which features images of the deadly white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, last year.
Chelsea Manning: “We live in trying times, times of fear, of suppression, of hate. We need to stop expecting that our systems will somehow fix themselves. We need to actually take the reins of power from them. You’re damn right we got this.”
That’s Chelsea Manning, speaking in her new campaign ad announcing her run for U.S. Senate in Maryland. She’ll face Democratic incumbent Senator Benjamin Cardin in the Democratic primary later this year.
The Pentagon is planning to escalate the U.S. war in Afghanistan by sending an additional 1,000 new so-called combat advisers, as well as sending additional armed and surveillance drones. The U.S. war in Afghanistan is the longest war in U.S. history.
Its escalation comes as the Pentagon has also indicated it plans to recruit and train thousands of U.S.-backed Kurdish fighters in Syria to form a border security force in northern Syria along the border with Turkey. U.S.-backed Syrian Kurdish fighters already control large swaths of northern Syria. On Monday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan slammed the United States for the proposal and accused the Syrian Kurds of being terrorists.
In Iraq, at least 27 people were killed in a double suicide bombing in the center of the capital Baghdad during rush hour on Monday morning. The majority of the attack’s victims were street vendors and day laborers who had gathered in the market looking for work. No group has claimed responsibility so far. Monday’s bombing was the first major attack in Baghdad since the Iraqi government declared victory over ISIS.
In Libya, at least 20 people were killed amid clashes in the capital Tripoli. The fighting shut down the main airport. The government says the clashes began when a militant group tried to free imprisoned members from a nearby prison.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas slammed President Trump and the United States in a speech Sunday, saying Trump’s decision to move the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem was a slap in the face.
President Mahmoud Abbas: “The political negotiations should be under international mediation and not solely an American mediation. Should I make it clear? We do not accept America as a mediator between us and Israel. Now, we said no to Trump and others. No, we will not accept his project. We told them the 'deal of the century' is the slap of the century. And we will retaliate.”
On Monday, Palestinian leaders voted to call on the Palestine Liberation Organization to suspend its recognition of Israel until Israel recognizes the state of Palestine and stops the construction of Jewish-only settlements in the Israeli-occupied territories. Meanwhile, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu faced protests when he arrived in New Delhi on Sunday as part of a six-day visit to India. Protesters demanded India cut ties with Israel over its treatment of Palestinians.
In Mexico, longtime journalist Carlos Domínguez Rodríguez was murdered in the border town of Nuevo Laredo on Saturday, in the first murder of a media worker in Mexico this year. He was an independent journalist who, in one of his final columns for the online outlet Noreste Digital, wrote about the growing political violence ahead of Mexico’s presidential elections in July. Reporters Without Borders says Domínguez was dragged from his car by masked men and stabbed to death in broad daylight. Last year Mexico was among the deadliest countries in the world for journalists.
In Honduras, protests continue against the re-election of incumbent, U.S.-backed President Juan Orlando Hernández. On Friday, protesters took to the streets to denounce alleged widespread election fraud and what many are calling an electoral coup. The military attacked the protesters with tear gas and rubber-coated steel bullets. Among those attacked was opposition candidate Salvador Nasralla and former President Manuel Zelaya, who was ousted in a U.S.-backed coup in 2009. This is one of the protesters, Mario Trejo.
Mario Trejo: “We have come out to accompany President-elect Salvador Nasralla. We have come out as a united people before the world to tell them that the government robbed the election. In Honduras, there is a serious problem. Juan Orlando Hernández wants to stay, and he has all the media, all the weapons, to show that he won. But, to the world, we say that he’s lying, he needs to go, he needs to give up power.”
In Greece, teachers, judges, doctors, nurses and transportation workers launched a strike on Monday to protest the Greek Parliament’s passage of a new round of austerity measures imposed by international banks. Monday’s strike came on the heels of a massive national strike on Friday also protesting austerity measures and the government’s efforts to restrict workers’ ability to go on strike. This is one protester, speaking during the walkouts on Monday.
Ilias Katziotis: “We, the older generation, spilled blood to acquire the right to strike, for us, the workers, the people, to have a voice. We will not sit on the couch with our arms crossed. There is no way. We will ruin the government’s plans.”
Back in the United States, in California, thousands of people gathered on Sunday night to commemorate the 20 people who have died in the deadly mudslides in Montecito near Santa Barbara. At least three people remain missing, including a 2-year-old girl. The deadly mudslides come after Southern California was ravaged by historic and deadly winter wildfires. Both wildfires and torrential downpours, which triggered the mudslides, have been linked to climate change.
In Tennessee, a member of the white supremacist gang the Aryan Nations was arrested for the alleged shooting and wounding of a police officer last Thursday. Meanwhile, the FBI has charged a white supremacist with terrorism after he allegedly attempted to derail an Amtrak train. The man, Taylor Wilson, had traveled with other neo-Nazis to Charlottesville, Virginia, for the deadly white supremacist rally last year.
And the former Klansman Edgar Ray Killen, who was convicted for orchestrating the murders of three civil rights workers in Mississippi in 1964, died in prison on Thursday night. Click here to see our full coverage of Edgar Ray Killen.
In a Democracy Now! exclusive, in Washington state, undocumented activist Maru Mora Villalpando says Immigrations and Customs Enforcement has placed her in deportation proceedings, in a move she calls retaliation for her political activism. Maru is a nationally known immigrant rights activist who leads the organization Northwest Detention Center Resistance. She has engaged in multiple acts of civil disobedience to protest deportations and immigrant detentions. She says, only days before Christmas, she received a “Notice to Appear.” She writes, “With the letter delivered to my house, ICE has officially made the leap from a law enforcement agency to a political repression agency, crossing a line that should concern us all.” We’ll have more on her case later in the week.
Here in New York City, hundreds gathered to oppose the detention and possible deportation of prominent immigrant rights activists Ravi Ragbir and Jean Montrevil. Ravi Ragbir was detained Thursday at a scheduled check-in with immigration agents. He is executive director of the New Sanctuary Coalition of NYC. Just a week prior, Jean Montrevil, another leader with the organization, was detained outside of his home and could be deported as early as today to Haiti. On Monday, hundreds circled Washington Square Park in a Jericho walk and then gathered at Judson Memorial Church. This is Ravi’s friend Rhiya Trivedi, a member of his defense committee who visited Ravi in detention in Florida over the weekend. She’s reading from a letter written by Ravi entitled “Letter from an Immigrant Jail.”
Rhiya Trivedi: “It was a wild and crazy ride. Every moment was uncertain except the certainty that they wanted me gone. I’m still here because of all of you. Thank you. I miss everyone. I feel very heartbroken to see how many of you are suffering for me, how many people were abused during this process. I feel heartbroken that care for someone evokes violence. I want everyone to stand strong. At this moment, we need to speak about changing the system so that no one has to face this type of harm, not just for me but for all the families who face being torn apart. Until we get reform, we need to repeal the act that criminalizes immigrants, that makes us less than human because of a document.”
That was Rhiya Trivedi, a member of Ravi’s defense committee, reading a letter written by Ravi Ragbir while in detention in Florida. We’ll have more on Ravi and Jean’s cases tomorrow on Democracy Now!
And communities and congregations across the country marked Martin Luther King Day on Monday. Many pastors and civil rights leaders denounced President Trump on Monday, including Martin Luther King Jr.’s daughter, Rev. Bernice King.
Rev. Bernice King: “Our collective voice in this hour must always be louder than the voice of one who may speak sometimes representing these United States, whose words sometimes do not reflect that legacy of my father. We cannot allow the nations of the world to embrace the words that come from our president as a reflection of the true spirit of America.”
That was Martin Luther King Jr.’s youngest child, Rev. Bernice King, speaking at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta on Monday.