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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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The FBI has completed its limited, supplemental investigation into sexual misconduct claims about Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, with U.S. senators set to review the FBI’s summaries of interviews with witnesses today. The report will not be made public. Instead, senators from each party will take 1-hour turns to review a single copy of the FBI document in a secure room in the basement of the Capitol. FBI agents did not interview Dr. Blasey Ford or Kavanaugh for their investigation, nor did they interview a third Kavanaugh accuser, Julie Swetnick. Democrats have blasted the FBI’s limited scope and short timetable for the investigation. They’re also questioning the impartiality of FBI Director Christopher Wray, who was two years behind Kavanaugh at Yale—as an undergraduate and at Yale Law School. Wray and Kavanaugh worked together on the Ken Starr investigation that led to President Clinton’s impeachment trial. On Wednesday evening, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell ordered a procedural vote for Friday to end debate on Kavanaugh’s nomination; a vote by the full Senate to confirm Kavanaugh as a Supreme Court justice could come as early as Saturday.
Meanwhile, a handful of key Republicans have blasted President Trump for mocking Dr. Blasey Ford. This is Trump speaking at a campaign rally in Mississippi on Tuesday.
President Donald Trump: “Thirty-six years ago, this happened. I had one beer, right? I had one beer. Well, do you think it was—no, it was one beer. Oh, good. How did you get home? I don’t remember. How’d you get there? I don’t remember. Where is the place? I don’t remember. How many years ago was it? I don’t know. I don’t know. I don’t know! I don’t know!”
Alaska Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski called Trump’s comments “wholly inappropriate and in my view unacceptable.” This is Maine Republican Senator Susan Collins.
Sen. Susan Collins: “The president’s comments were just plain wrong.”
Arizona Republican Senator Jeff Flake called Trump’s mockery “appalling.” At the White House, Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders defended Trump’s comments.
Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders: “The president was stating the facts, and, frankly, facts that were included in special prosecutor Rachel Mitchell’s report. He was stating facts that were given during Dr. Ford’s testimony. And the Senate has to make a decision based on those facts.”
In Yemen, the World Health Organization warns the world’s worst humanitarian crisis is growing more severe, with about 10,000 new cases of cholera appearing each week. The WHO says the water-borne disease is spreading rapidly since much of Yemen’s sanitation and medical infrastructure has been destroyed by a U.S.-backed, Saudi-led bombing campaign. In August, U.N. human rights experts accused the Saudi-led coalition of committing possible war crimes, including the bombing and shelling of schools, hospitals and markets.
This comes as President Trump praised Saudi Arabia and its ruler, King Salman, but said the monarchy would quickly collapse without U.S. support. Trump was speaking Tuesday at a campaign rally in Mississippi.
President Donald Trump: “We protect Saudi Arabia. Would you say they’re rich? And I love the king, King Salman. But I said, 'King, we're protecting you. You might not be there for two weeks without us. You have to pay for your military. You have to pay.’”
Meanwhile, the whereabouts of prominent Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi remain unknown after he visited the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul, Turkey, on Tuesday seeking a document he needs to get married, and has not been seen since. His fiancée, who accompanied Khashoggi to the consulate, waited for him outside past midnight, returning on Wednesday morning. Khashoggi, who is a columnist for The Washington Post and lives in the United States, is a fierce critic of Saudi leadership. His loved ones believe he may have been detained by Saudi authorities.
In the Gaza Strip, Israeli forces killed a Palestinian teenager on Wednesday as he joined a protest near the separation barrier with Israel. Gaza health officials say the teenager died after he was struck in the head by a tear gas canister fired by an Israeli soldier. This is Palestinian medic Basheer Hussein.
Basheer Hussein: “A canister this size, around 12 centimeters, 15 centimeters, entered his head. He was bleeding, and we could not control it. He was bleeding so much from his brain.”
Israeli soldiers have killed at least 193 Palestinians since the March 30 Great March of Return protests began in the besieged Gaza Strip. Another 18,000 Palestinians have been injured, according to health officials in Gaza.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is withdrawing the U.S. from a 1955 treaty with Iran, after the U.N.'s highest court ordered the U.S. to lift some of the sanctions it has imposed on Iran since May. The treaty gives jurisdiction to the U.N.'s International Court of Justice on issues between the two nations. National Security Adviser John Bolton called the ICJ “politicized and ineffective” and said that the Trump administration will review agreements that could be subject to binding decisions by the court.
A California judge has temporarily blocked the Trump administration’s move to end temporary protected status for 300,000 immigrants from Sudan, Haiti, El Salvador and Nicaragua. U.S. District Judge Edward Chen said there was no justification for the move, and raised President Trump’s previous racist and xenophobic comments, saying there were “serious questions as to whether a discriminatory purpose was a motivating factor.” In January, Trump reportedly told lawmakers that Haiti, El Salvador and unspecified African nations were “shithole countries,” and in 2017 he said that recent immigrants from Haiti “all have AIDS.”
A new report by the Department of Homeland Security’s inspector general finds the Trump administration was woefully unprepared to enforce the president’s “zero tolerance” border policy, with migrant children held in detention centers far longer than legally allowed. The investigation also found border agents gave inconsistent information to immigrant parents arriving in the U.S., often failing to explain that they were about to be separated from their children. The report also found DHS’s computer systems were unable to track separated family members, delaying and in some cases preventing officials from meeting a court order to reunite families. The finding directly contradicts this testimony by Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar to Congress last June.
Health and Human Service Secretary Alex Azar: “There is no reason why any parent would not know where their child is located. I could, at the stroke of—at keystrokes—I’ve sat on the ORR portal—with just basic keystrokes, within seconds, could find any child in our care for any parent.”
In fact, the report found there was no shared database between the Department of Homeland Security and the Health Department’s Office of Refugee Resettlement.
In Texas, immigrant rights groups say that immigrant fathers and some of their children have ended their hunger strike at the Karnes County detention center, a for-profit immigration jail under contract with ICE. The fathers had been previously separated from their children at the U.S.-Mexico border under the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” crackdown. Advocates say the fathers were threatened with once again being separated from their children for striking. Demonstrators rallied over the weekend to show support for the families inside Karnes. This is one of the hunger strikers, speaking by phone with the Texas Refugee and Immigrant Network during the strike.
Unnamed father: “I have been jailed for six months. I can’t handle it anymore. The children can’t, either. We thank you so much, because we feel demoralized. We have been punished for too long. We heard rumors of the rally. GEO [Group] raised the volume of the music so that we could not hear you chanting.”
Meanwhile, in Washington state, one immigrant detainee at the Northwest Detention Center had been on hunger strike for 43 days as of Wednesday.
The Trump administration has asked the U.S. Supreme Court to block Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross from being deposed in relation to his involvement in the addition of a citizenship question to the 2020 census. Last month, it was reported that Ross lied under oath about the controversial citizenship question in the census. Ross claimed that the Justice Department requested the addition of the question, but surfaced emails contradict that statement, showing that he was the one who approached the DOJ about including the question after consulting with senior White House officials. The request to the Supreme Court from the DOJ argued that Ross’s “mental state” could be probed if deposed.
At the Vatican, Pope Francis opened a month-long international gathering of bishops on Wednesday to discuss the ongoing sexual abuse crisis in the Catholic Church. Pope Francis condemned clericalism—which refers to the extreme deference to members of the clergy—in his remarks.
Pope Francis: “Clericalism is a perversion and is the root of many evils in the church. We must humbly ask forgiveness for this and, above all, create the conditions so that it is not repeated.”
Meanwhile, a small group of clerical abuse survivors demonstrated near the staged official meeting, demanding their voices be heard and accusing church officials of hosting delegates who were involved in covering up abuse.
A Peruvian judge has overturned a pardon of Alberto Fujimori, ordering the former dictator to return to prison for crimes including kidnapping, bribery and ordering massacres by death squads in the 1990s. Amnesty International hailed the decision, saying it “sends a clear message that crimes against humanity cannot go unpunished.” This is Gisela Ortiz Perea, whose sister was murdered by a Fujimori-backed death squad in 1992.
Gisela Ortiz Perea: “I’m a close relative of a victim. I saw with my own eyes these criminals. I experienced this story, this horrible death that occurred in my family, this suffering that is engraved in my memory, year after year. It is awful to constantly have in my mind the face of the criminals. And the most horrible thing is that there are people who continue to call us terrorists.”
In Louisiana, police arrested three women protesters Wednesday after one demonstrator scaled a crane at a construction site for the 163-mile Bayou Bridge pipeline and two others locked themselves to its base, temporarily halting construction. The pipeline is being built by Energy Transfer Partners, the same company behind the controversial Dakota Access pipeline. Those arrested face felony charges under a harsh new anti-protest law signed by Louisiana’s governor earlier this year.
In Chicago, a jury will begin deliberating the fate today of officer Jason Van Dyke, who faces a first-degree murder charge for killing African-American teenager Laquan McDonald in October of 2014. The killing was captured on a police dash cam video released under court order, which clearly contradicted police claims about the shooting. The video shows the teenager posing no threat and walking away from the officers before Van Dyke opened fire 16 times, shooting McDonald in the neck, chest, back, both arms, right leg and head. This is Officer Van Dyke being cross-examined by prosecutor Jody Gleason on Tuesday.
Jody Gleason: “Did you ever make a decision to stop shooting that night?
Jason Van Dyke: “Yes, I did.”
Jody Gleason: “And when was that?”
Jason Van Dyke: “Once I recognized that he hit the ground.”
Jody Gleason: “Well, he hit the ground, and you continued to shoot, correct?”
Jason Van Dyke: “On my approach, yes.”
Former Maldives President Mohamed Nasheed has announced plans to return to the island nation on November 1 after over two years in exile. Nasheed came to power as the first democratically elected leader of the Maldives in 2008 and became recognized internationally for his leadership on climate change. His presidency ended in 2012 in what many believe was a coup d’état orchestrated by the opposition and supported by the military. He was charged under the Maldives “anti-terrorism” law in 2015—a charge that Amnesty International described as “politically motivated”—before seeking exile in Britain. Last week, the Maldives voted out strongman leader Abdulla Yameen, who has been plagued by accusations of corruption, in favor of Ibrahim Mohamed Solih of the Maldivian Democratic Party, the party that Nasheed co-founded. This is Nasheed appearing on Democracy Now! in 2016.
Mohamed Nasheed: “We must get all the opposition groups in the Maldives together and to see how we may be able to get the country back on—back on a democratic path. For that, we have been able to come out with a united opposition, where most of its—most of its shadow leaders are behind bars, in jail. But we have a shadow cabinet that would push for reforms, that would also, hopefully, look to see how we may be able to have a transitional arrangement that would take us to free and fair elections.”