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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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Afghanistan has declared a national day of mourning after over 100 people were killed in a suicide attack in the capital Kabul Saturday. The Taliban has claimed responsibility for the attack, in which militants detonated an ambulance packed with explosives in the middle of a crowded street. More than 235 people were also wounded. This is Samim and Mohammad, who each own small shops near the site of the attack.
Samim: “Every day there is fear of attacks here, and living has become very dangerous to everyone. It’s not safe to live in Afghanistan anymore.”
Mohammad Hanif “It was a really dangerous blast, and people were running everywhere. Some had received injuries on their head, and some on their hand, and everyone was shocked. Most of them were wounded by broken glass.”
Meanwhile, in a separate attack, 11 Afghan soldiers were killed this morning after ISIS militants stormed an Afghan army base in Kabul. After headlines, we’ll go to Afghanistan for the latest on the attacks and the national day of mourning.
The entire board of directors of USA Gymnastics is resigning, after team doctor Larry Nassar was sentenced to up to 175 years in prison for sexually assaulting and abusing more than 160 young female athletes, including Olympic gold medalists, under the guise of providing medical treatment. Michigan State University athletic director Mark Hollis has also announced he’s retiring, only days after the president of Michigan State University, Lou Anna Simon, resigned amid mounting questions about whether the university ignored reports of Dr. Nassar’s abuse. Dr. Nassar worked at Michigan State University from 1997 until 2016. We’ll have have more on Dr. Larry Nassar’s abuse—which is being described as the worst sexual abuse scandal in U.S. sports history—later in the broadcast.
President Trump is expected to ask for $716 billion for military spending in the 2019 budget—a major increase over recent years. The proposed increase in military spending comes after Defense Secretary James Mattis unveiled a new military strategy that focuses on countering, and potentially fighting, China and Russia.
Meanwhile, the fitness tracking company Strava has inadvertently revealed highly sensitive U.S. information about secret military bases, when it published maps of the running and exercise routes of its users. The global heatmaps show the running routes of soldiers in and around military bases, including in Afghanistan, Syria, Iraq and Djibouti. While some of the bases were already known, others, such as a small compound to the southwest of the U.S. military base Camp Lemonnier in Djibouti, appear to be undisclosed black sites.
Demonstrators rallied outside the White House on Saturday to protest against President Trump’s repeated efforts to ban refugees and citizens from some majority-Muslim nations from entering the United States. The protesters also decried President Trump’s efforts to roll back protections for immigrants, women, people of color and LGBT people throughout his first year in office.
In more news from Washington, D.C., lawmakers are battling over whether to declassify a four-page document written by California Congressmember Devin Nunes in which he claims that, under the Obama administration, the FBI surveilled the Trump campaign. The House Intelligence Committee, which Nunes chairs, may vote to declassify the memo as early as today. Democratic lawmakers are accusing Nunes of trying to derail and undermine special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into the Trump campaign in trying to release the document.
In Honduras, U.S.-backed President Juan Orlando Hernández was inaugurated for a second term on Saturday amid massive protests denouncing widespread alleged voter fraud in the November 26 election. This is Mario Almendarez, one of the protesters.
Mario Almendarez: “Facing the army and Juan Orlando’s murderous police, facing the narco-dictatorship that is being installed in our country, also protesting for the 39 dead comrades who were murdered for the simple act of protesting, for demanding the right to vote—which we went and cast our vote, and we worked and defeated the narco-dictator, who had all the state’s money, yet we defeated him, and he is taking power by relying on the armed forces and the police.”
The Honduran military has killed dozens of protesters since the contested election on November 26.
In Albania, 10,000 protesters poured into the streets Saturday to demand the resignation of Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama over accusations of corruption and links to organized crime. Meanwhile, in Russia, opponents of Russian President Vladimir Putin held protests in cities across Russia demanding a boycott of the upcoming presidential election, which they say is rigged. At least 180 protesters were arrested, including Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny.
In Germany, more than 10,000 people took to the streets of Cologne on Saturday to protest the Turkish military bombing and ground offensive against the Kurdish city of Afrin in northwestern Syria. Protesters also rallied in Paris over the weekend to denounce the Turkish military offensive in Afrin. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says the offensive has killed at least 51 civilians, including five children from the same family.
Back in the United States, in New Jersey, Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents, known as ICE, have detained two fathers as they were dropping their children off at school. On Thursday, Roby Sanger was detained by ICE after dropping his two daughters off at school, while Gunawan Liem was detained after he dropped his daughter off at the school bus stop. A third man, Harry Pangemanan, has taken sanctuary at the Reformed Church of Highland Park in New Jersey, after he says he saw undercover ICE agents waiting outside his home as he was preparing to drive his daughter to school. All three immigrants are originally from Indonesia.
Meanwhile, a number of immigrant rights activists will be attending President Trump’s State of the Union Tuesday, at the invitation of progressive lawmakers. Among those who will be attending are Cesar Espinosa, an immigrant rights activist in Houston, Texas, and Amy Gottlieb, an immigration lawyer and the wife of detained New York City immigrant rights leader Ravi Ragbir. And Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has announced she will not be attending the State of the Union. She’s been a vocal critic of President Trump.
The Justice Department is seeking to add a question about whether people are U.S. citizens to the 2020 census. Immigrant rights advocates have slammed the move, saying it will cause millions of people to not participate in the census, and therefore further limit government services and political representation in majority-immigrant communities.
The longtime investigative journalist Robert Parry has died at the age of 68. As a reporter at the Associated Press in the 1980s, he helped expose how the Reagan administration was secretly sending arms to Iran in what became known as the Iran-Contra scandal. Parry also revealed the role of the U.S.-backed Nicaraguan Contras in drug trafficking here in the United States.
Robert Parry: “The Contras became involved in drug trafficking in the 1980s. It was done partly to help raise money for themselves. They were in a very unique position, working with the United States government on one side, and then also becoming a way for South American drug dealers to move their supplies, their material, their contraband, up into the United States. So, because the Contras became an intermediary for that, they also had some protection, because they were working for the U.S. government, and the U.S. government was very hesitant to blow the whistle on them.”
Thats Robert Parry speaking on Democracy Now! in 2006. Since 1996, Parry ran the news website ConsortiumNews.com. In 2015, he received the I.F. Stone Medal for Journalistic Independence from the Nieman Foundation.
And the Time’s Up and #MeToo movements took center stage at Sunday night’s Grammy Awards. Among the inspiring speakers was Cuban-Mexican singer Camila Cabello, who spoke about growing up as an immigrant and demanded justice for DREAMers.
Camila Cabello: “Tonight, in this room full of music’s dreamers, we remember that this country was built by dreamers, for dreamers, chasing the American dream.”
Another one of the most powerful speeches came from singer Janelle Monáe.
Janelle Monáe: “Tonight, I am proud to stand in solidarity, as not just an artist, but a young woman, with my fellow sisters in this room who make up the music industry—artists, writers, assistants, publicists, CEOs, producers, engineers and women from all sectors of the business. We are also daughters, wives, mothers, sisters and human beings. We come in peace, but we mean business. And to those who would dare try and silence us, we offer you two words: Time’s up.”
That’s singer Janelle Monáe, speaking at Sunday Night’s Grammy Awards.