Free speech is democracy’s last line of defense. In these times of war, climate chaos, mass shootings, attacks on abortion rights, economic and racial injustice and threats to our democracy, we're committed to shining a spotlight on abuses of power and amplifying the voices of the movement leaders, organizers and everyday people who are working to change the world. But we can’t do it alone. We count on you to make all of our coverage possible. Can you donate $10 per month to support Democracy Now!’s independent journalism all year long? Right now, a generous donor will DOUBLE your gift, which means your $10 donation this month will be worth $20 to Democracy Now! Please do your part right now. Every dollar counts. Thank you so much.
We rely on contributions from you, our viewers and listeners to do our work. If you visit us daily or weekly or even just once a month, now is a great time to make your monthly contribution.
Please do your part today.
In Central America, at least 13 people have died after torrential downpours from Hurricane Michael hit Honduras, Nicaragua and El Salvador, causing major flooding and landslides.
The hurricane is expected to make landfall in the Florida Panhandle as a Category 3 storm on Wednesday, with Florida Governor Rick Scott declaring a state of emergency in 35 counties and Alabama Governor Kay Ivey declaring a state of emergency for the whole state. This is Governor Rick Scott.
Gov. Rick Scott: “Storm surge, rain, floods—we can see tornadoes. So, you’ve got to follow the weather. You’ve got to listen. When they say to evacuate, you have got to evacuate. And don’t wait 'til the last minute, because this is different from a lot of the storms that we've seen, since I’ve been governor, as it’s fast.”
The hurricane’s approach came as President Trump visited Florida ahead of the storm on Monday. Trump made no mention of climate change or a new landmark United Nations report saying humanity has only a dozen years to mitigate climate change or face global catastrophe. We’ll have more on the climate report later in the broadcast.
President Trump hosted a ceremonial swearing-in of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh on Monday evening, declaring victory in the contentious fight to confirm a man accused by multiple women of sexual misconduct. Trump’s apology came hours after he told reporters that accusations against Kavanaugh by Christine Blasey Ford, Deborah Ramirez and Julie Swetnick were “a hoax set up by the Democrats.”
President Donald Trump: “On behalf of our nation, I want to apologize to Brett and the entire Kavanaugh family for the terrible pain and suffering you have been forced to endure. Those who step forward to serve our country deserve a fair and dignified evaluation, not a campaign of political and personal destruction based on lies and deception.”
President Trump falsely claimed Kavanaugh had been “proven innocent” during his confirmation process. Monday evening’s unprecedented ceremony brought together all nine Supreme Court justices and Republican leaders in the East Room of the White House. The room burst into applause after Trump ordered a standing ovation for Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell for his role in speeding Kavanaugh’s confirmation through the Senate. Among those applauding was Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, who was confirmed in 1991 despite testimony by Anita Hill that Thomas repeatedly sexually harassed her when he was her supervisor.
Meanwhile, attorney Debra Katz said Dr. Christine Blasey Ford is still living in hiding after her Senate testimony last month, amid what Katz called “unending” death threats.
In China, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo met with his counterpart amid tense relations and an escalating trade war between the two countries. The talks were marked by a decidedly hostile tone, with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi saying, “We believe China and the U.S. should stick to the correct path of cooperation and win-win, rather than be mired in a wrong path full of conflicts and confrontations.” Both President Trump and Vice President Mike Pence have publicly accused China of interfering in U.S. elections.
The president of Interpol, Meng Hongwei, has stepped down from the international police cooperation agency after being accused of corruption and detained by Chinese authorities. Meng reportedly went missing after he recently flew from France, where Interpol is headquartered, to visit China, where he is a citizen.
Disgraced former Trump campaign official Rick Gates solicited proposals from an Israeli psychological-operations firm to manipulate social media in Trump’s favor and gather intelligence on Trump’s opponents during the 2016 election season. That’s according to The New York Times, which reports Gates contacted Psy-Group, a company staffed by former Israeli intelligence agents, seeking ways to undermine Hillary Clinton’s campaign. Psy-Group also proposed using thousands of phony social media accounts to target delegates to the Republican National Convention in order to prevent them from rebelling against Trump. The Times reports Psy-Group’s owner pitched the proposals at a 2016 Trump Tower meeting with Donald Trump Jr., United Arab Emirates adviser George Nader and Erik Prince, founder of the mercenary company Blackwater. The Times reports there’s no evidence Gates acted on Psy-Group’s proposals. Last year, Rick Gates and his boss, Paul Manafort, were indicted by special counsel Robert Mueller’s team on multiple counts of fraud and tax evasion. Gates pleaded guilty to many of the charges.
In Turkey, authorities are searching for a black van seen leaving the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul, as they investigate the case of disappeared Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi. On Monday, The Washington Post published a photo taken from a CCTV camera at the consulate that is believed to be the last known image of Khashoggi before his disappearance last Tuesday when he entered the consulate to obtain papers related to his upcoming marriage.
In New York City, family and friends of Fausto Luna held a vigil on Sunday to mourn the death of the longtime Uber driver, who died by suicide as he struggled to make ends meet. Luna began driving with Uber in 2013, and his family said he was suffering from depression as his debts mounted. Luna is the seventh New York City driver—and the first from an app-based ride-hailing service—to die by suicide within the last year. The New York Taxi Workers Alliance issued a statement in solidarity with Luna and his family, writing, “Every city needs to take a deeper look at what happens when you let Wall Street-backed corporations use billions of dollars in capital to lock workers into a prison of poverty.”
New York state officials say a limousine involved in a deadly crash in the town of Schoharie on Saturday had failed an inspection last month and was not licensed to be on the road. The crash, which killed 20 people, was the deadliest U.S. transportation disaster since 2009.
New York state officials are investigating the owner of the Prestige Limousine Chauffeur Service company, a Pakistani immigrant named “Malik” Shahed Hussain. In 2001, Hussain was arrested for helping people cheat on driver’s license tests. In exchange for avoiding deportation, he took a job as an FBI confidential informant, posing as a radical arms dealer in FBI sting operations. Hussain was a key figure in the FBI’s case against the so-called Newburgh Four—four Muslim men sentenced to 25-year prison terms after they were convicted for placing what they thought were bombs in a New York synagogue in 2010. Defense attorneys say the men were entrapped by government agents. Hussain’s backstory emerged as New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said he may face criminal charges for the crash.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo: “We inspected the vehicle just last month. It failed the inspection. The driver did not have the appropriate license. So I think the owner of this company, the owner of Prestige, has a lot of questions to answer. There’s an ongoing investigation. But is there a possibility liability, civil and criminal? Certainly.”
Governor Cuomo spoke as he marched in New York City’s Columbus Day Parade, honoring the 15th century Italian mercenary and explorer Christopher Columbus, who massacred and enslaved Arawak indigenous people while opening the door to the European colonization of the Americas.. On Monday, Cuomo nominated a statue of Christopher Columbus near Manhattan’s Central Park to the National Register of Historic Places. President Donald Trump also marked Monday’s holiday, tweeting, “Christopher Columbus’s spirit of determination & adventure has provided inspiration to generations of Americans. On #ColumbusDay, we honor his remarkable accomplishments as a navigator, & celebrate his voyage into the unknown expanse of the Atlantic Ocean.”
Trump’s tweet came as an increasing number of cities have rejected the Columbus Day holiday. Columbus, Ohio—the state’s capital city named for Christopher Columbus—remained open for business on Monday, opting instead to close for Veterans Day this year. In Los Angeles, officials marked “Indigenous Peoples’ Day” for the first time this year as Native American tribal leaders held a ceremony marking the occasion. This is Chief Red Blood of the Gabrielino-Tongva Tribe in California.
Chief Red Blood: “It’s something that has been instilled in us since in school, that in 1492 Columbus was this great guy who was an explorer, who was an adventurer, that was going to be a good person to us. But as we got older, we learned otherwise, that it wasn’t true. And now, I guess you could say, the truth is out.”
In Minnesota, water protectors opposing the Enbridge Line 3 pipeline say they’ve erected a traditional Ojibwe structure directly in the path of the proposed line, which would carry tar sands oil from Alberta, Canada, to a terminal in Superior, Wisconsin. In a statement, the group Anti-Colonial Land Defense said its Indigenous Peoples’ Day action was aimed at stopping “serious threats to our water, land and air, in conjunction with trespassing on Indigenous land.”
Elsewhere in Minnesota, a trial began Monday for three activists who face felony charges for their civil disobedience action in 2016, when they manually turned off a pair of Enbridge tar sands pipelines. The so-called valve turners—Annette Klapstein and Emily Nesbitt Johnston, along with a support person, Benjamin Joldersma—are mounting a “necessity defense,” saying their civil disobedience was justified by the urgent need to stop climate change. But on Monday, a Minnesota district court judge ruled that expert witnesses, including 350.org founder Bill McKibben and former top NASA climate scientist James Hansen, will not be allowed to testify on their behalf.
The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences has awarded this year’s Nobel Memorial Prize in Economics to Yale University’s William Nordhaus and New York University’s Paul Romer for their work on adapting environmental models to fit models of economic growth. Speaking from Yale’s campus Monday, Professor Nordhaus said the U.S. would come to accept the science of climate change—after President Trump leaves office.
William Nordhaus: “This administration won’t last forever. I think it’s really anomalous among—in the United States, this degree of hostility to environmental policy and climate change policy. So, all I can do is hope that we’ll get through this without too much damage.”
And in Baltimore, Johns Hopkins University announced plans to name a new research building after Henrietta Lacks, a former patient of the university hospital who has become known for her “immortal cells.” Lacks, an African-American woman, was a patient at Johns Hopkins University Hospital in 1951. While receiving treatment for cancer, researchers collected her cells and eventually used them to create HeLa cells—a strain of self-replicating cells that have led to numerous advances in medicine, including the development of the polio vaccine. She died later that year. In recent years, her family has spoken out about the university’s use of Lacks’s cells, which were taken without her consent or knowledge, raising questions about privacy and patients’ rights, as well as whether the family should receive compensation for their use.