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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 Switzerland, thousands of protesters took to the streets of Zurich Tuesday to protest against the World Economic Forum in Davos and President Trump’s planned visit. Switzerland has deployed at least 5,000 soldiers and police to Davos. It’s also imposed a no-fly zone over the area. The protests came as U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin is slated to lead the Davos summit today. Trump is slated to arrive tomorrow, becoming the first U.S. president to attend Davos in two decades. This is protester Paolo Gilardi.
Paolo Gilardi: “While the Swiss Federal Council is about to welcome and unroll the red carpet for Mr. Trump, well, we think that the people have something to say and that this policy is unacceptable, because the goal of this policy is to reduce the planet to fire and blood and to assure the powerful people’s domination over the rest of the world.”
In news from Capitol Hill, the Justice Department has confirmed that Attorney General Jeff Sessions underwent several hours of questioning last week as part of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation. Mueller’s probe is increasingly investigating not only the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia, but also President Trump’s time in office, including whether he tried to obstruct the Russia investigation. The questioning of Jeff Sessions marks the first time a member of Trump’s Cabinet faced questioning.
The Senate has confirmed multimillionaire banker Jerome Powell to replace Federal Reserve Chairwoman Janet Yellen. Powell is a former partner at the massive investment firm Carlyle Group, which is a major investor in military contractors, as well as telecommunications, fossil fuel companies, financial services and other industries. His confirmation marks the first time in 40 years that someone who is not an economist is leading the Federal Reserve.
Immigration rights activists held protests at the offices of several senators on Tuesday to protest against lawmakers’ passage of a short-term spending bill that did not include any protections for DREAMers. Protesters also gathered outside the home of Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York, who capitulated to the Republican lawmakers and voted for the spending bill, after having vowed to oppose any bill that did not include a resolution on DACA—the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program—that President Trump rescinded last year. Senator Schumer now says he will no longer back plans to fund President Trump’s proposed billion-dollar border wall in exchange for a resolution on DACA.
In Kentucky, two high school students were killed and 18 more were wounded after a 15-year-old boy walked into Marshall County High School with a handgun just before 8 a.m. local time on Tuesday morning and began shooting his fellow students in the common area. The victims are Bailey Nicole Holt and Preston Ryan Cope, both 15 years old. Five other students are still hospitalized in critical condition. This is Kentucky State Police Commissioner Rick Sanders.
Commissioner Rick Sanders: “In speaking of the human toll that something like this takes, I can’t tell you a whole lot about what happened there today, because I don’t want to do anything to hurt the investigation, but I will address the human toll it takes. In addition to those family members that have lost loved ones, that have had loved ones injured or hurt or traumatized, we pray for those people.”
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has announced the city is suing major pharmaceutical manufacturers and distributors over the opioid crisis. Among the companies being sued are Purdue Pharma, which is the maker of OxyContin, and Johnson & Johnson. The opioid crisis killed 64,000 Americans in 2016. Meanwhile, photographer Nan Goldin, who is a recovered opioid addict, and a group of her fellow artists and activists have launched a campaign shaming the secretive Sackler family, which owns Purdue Pharma, over their profiting off the opioid crisis. “I don’t know how they live with themselves,” she said recently.
In Libya, a double car bombing in the city of Benghazi has killed at least 33 people. The first explosion hit a mosque as worshipers were leaving evening prayers. The second bomb exploded only minutes later as health and security officials were arriving at the site of the first blast.
In news on Syria, the U.S.-led coalition fighting ISIS claims it killed more than 150 ISIS fighters in airstrikes on Saturday in Syria’s southeastern province of Deir ez-Zor. Meanwhile, in the northern Syrian city of Afrin, Turkey is continuing its bombing and ground offensive against the U.S.-backed Kurdish forces who control the region. The United Nations says the Turkish offensive has killed at least 24 civilians and displaced more than 5,000 people since the offensive began on Saturday. The Turkish offensive against Afrin has sparked protests in cities across the world. This is protester Abdul Darwish, who is originally from Afrin, speaking at a protest in Athens.
Abdul Darwish: “Right now there is chaos in Afrin, a battle. He, Tayyip Erdogan, strikes everywhere with airstrikes. He doesn’t spare children. He doesn’t spare schools. He doesn’t spare anything. He strikes everywhere.”
Meanwhile, in more news on Syria, the United States has accused the Syrian government of carrying out a chemical weapons attack during its ongoing offensive against the rebel-held enclave of Eastern Ghouta outside the capital Damascus. This is U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson: “Only yesterday, more than 20 civilians, most of them children, were victims of an apparent chlorine gas attack. The recent attacks in East Ghouta raise serious concerns that Bashar al-Assad’s Syrian regime may be continuing its use of chemical weapons against its own people.”
The Syrian government has denied using chemical weapons in the ongoing conflict.
In Afghanistan, ISIS has claimed responsibility for an attack on the offices of the Save the Children charity in the eastern city of Jalalabad. At least two people were killed in the attack, and a dozen more were wounded. The group Save the Children says it’s suspending its program operations in Afghanistan.
In the Philippines, more than 50,000 people have been forced to flee their homes as Mount Mayon began erupting on Monday, spewing lava and debris for miles. The volcanic eruption has caused earthquakes, and the volcanic ash has filled the sky, blanketing whole villages in darkness.
Amnesty International is accusing the Mexican government of breaking Mexican and international asylum law in deporting Central Americans back to their home countries, despite threats to their lives. The report cited the case of a Honduran bus driver who was killed three weeks after Mexican authorities deported him back to Honduras. This is Amnesty International researcher Madeleine Penman.
Madeleine Penman: “This return is a violation of Mexican law and international law, that consists of returning a person to a territory where their life or safety is in danger. Day after day, despite being afraid of dying, having threats against them, having attacks against them, there are people from Central America who are being returned to face a possible death.”
Back in the United States, in Michigan, authorities arrested a 19-year-old white man named Brandon Griesemer after he reportedly called CNN’s headquarters nearly two dozen times threatening to murder workers and using slurs to insult African Americans and Jews. His threats reportedly included saying, “Fake news. I’m coming to gun you all down. I am on my way right now to gun the f—ing CNN cast down.” He was arrested and charged on Friday. But as journalist Shaun King notes, he was released only hours later on bail, despite the fact that Griesemer has admitted to also making threatening and insulting calls to a Michigan Islamic Center only a few months ago. As Shaun King writes in The Intercept, “Griesemer, you see, is a dangerous bigot, but he is also white. And because of his whiteness, he is already free on just $10,000 bond.”
In California, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors has voted to end the celebration of Christopher Columbus Day. This makes San Francisco the latest of more than 50 cities across the U.S. to stop honoring the Italian explorer who massacred and enslaved Arawak indigenous people and opened the door to the European colonization of the Americas. Instead, San Francisco, like other cities, will now celebrate Indigenous Peoples’ Day on the second Monday in October.
In Virginia, civil rights leader Rev. Wyatt Tee Walker has died at the age of 88. The reverend was Martin Luther King Jr.’s chief of staff and the first full-time executive director of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. He was also a major anti-apartheid activist. He died Tuesday in his home in Chester, Virginia.
And celebrated fantasy novelist Ursula Le Guin has also died at the age of 88. The feminist writer was the author of more than 20 novels, more than a dozen collections of poetry and another dozen children’s books. Among her most famous works was her 1969 novel “The Left Hand of Darkness.” It’s set on a planet where people are “ambisexual”—neither male nor female—and contains one of the most famous sentences ever written in a fantasy novel: “The King was pregnant.” Ursula Le Guin’s 1974 novel “The Dispossessed” is also one of the most celebrated explorations of utopia, dystopia, capitalism, anarchism and oppression. This is Ursula Le Guin accepting the National Book Foundation’s Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters in 2014.
Ursula Le Guin: “I think hard times are coming, when we will be wanting the voices of writers who can see alternatives to how we live now, and can see through our fear-stricken society and its obsessive technologies to other ways of being, and even imagine some real grounds for hope. We will need writers who can remember freedom: poets, visionaries—the realists of a larger reality. We live in capitalism. Its power seems inescapable. So did the divine right of kings. Any human power can be resisted and changed by human beings. Resistance and change often begin in art, and very often in our art, the art of words.”
Ursula Le Guin died on Monday at her home in Portland, Oregon, at the age of 88.