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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 California, the death toll from the wildfires in Northern and Southern California has reached at least 50, with scores still missing. The Northern California Camp Fire razed the town of Paradise to the ground, blazing through 130,000 acres. Authorities report the fire is 35 percent contained. In Southern California, firefighters are still battling flames from the Woolsey Fire, which killed two people and ripped through homes in Malibu, scorching almost 100,000 acres. Authorities are investigating reports from utilities companies of power line issues that came in just minutes before both the deadly Camp and Woolsey fires started.
On Capitol Hill, police arrested 51 youth climate activists Tuesday as they held a nonviolent sit-in protest inside the office of House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi, demanding a “Green New Deal” and urgent action on climate change. Philadelphia activist Sophia Zaia of the Sunrise Movement said she was compelled to act because of the historic wildfires raging in Pelosi’s home state of California.
Sophia Zaia: “Back in Nancy Pelosi’s home state, 42 people were just burned alive by wildfires, that are described as fire tsunamis, that we literally do not know how to fight. And she’s come to that crisis with a water gun, saying that she’s going to revive a committee to talk about evidence of climate change? That maybe would have been helpful back in 1968, when Exxon first learned about climate change. But that, today, is so, so far from what we need.”
Congressmember-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a Democratic Socialist from New York who last week became the youngest woman ever elected to Congress, joined the protest inside Pelosi’s office, telling the activists she’d push for the U.S. to get to 100 percent renewable energy. Ocasio-Cortez was on Capitol Hill for a freshman congressional orientation.
Tuesday’s protest came as the fate of a landmark lawsuit brought by young climate activists remains in doubt. Earlier this month, the Supreme Court allowed the case to proceed, but ruled that lower courts could continue to weigh in on its fate. On Thursday, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals put a temporary stay on the case while it hears a challenge from the Trump administration. The 21 young activists launched their lawsuit under President Obama, arguing the federal government has failed to take necessary action to curtail fossil fuel emissions, violating their constitutional rights.
Defense Secretary Jim Mattis is scheduled to arrive in McAllen, Texas, today to visit some of the thousands of troops deployed there by President Trump last month. Nearly 6,000 active-duty troops are currently stationed in Texas, California and Arizona, following Trump’s escalating attacks against the Central American caravans heading toward the U.S.-Mexico border in the run-up to the midterms. According to some reports, the border deployments could cost $220 million, despite the fact the Pentagon does not see the caravans as a risk. Mattis’s visit follows the Trump administration’s announcement of new immigration rules to deny asylum to anyone who enters the country outside of a port of entry.
A few hundred migrants from the Central American caravans have arrived in the border town of Tijuana Tuesday as the vast majority are still at least 1,000 miles away from the U.S.-Mexico border. We’ll have more on the latest news from the border later in the broadcast.
Members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus held their first news conference since the midterm elections on Monday, with the caucus expected to grow to nearly 100 members when the new Congress is seated in January. Democrats took a cooler tone when asked about plans to abolish ICE—an idea many progressive congressmembers pushed earlier in the year, at the height of public outcry over the Trump administration’s family separation policy. Caucus co-chair Mark Pocan, who introduced a bill over the summer to do away with the agency, said that abolishing ICE was still on the agenda but that higher priorities for the caucus were healthcare, jobs and “dealing with the culture of corruption.”
More than one week after the midterm elections, results from a handful of races are trickling in while others remain undecided. California Republican incumbent Congressmember Jeff Denham was unseated by Democrat Josh Harder as Democrats continue to increase their gains in the House. Two congressional races in Orange County, California, are still too close to call, with less than 1,000 votes separating the candidates.
In Maine, Republican Congressmember Bruce Poliquin has filed a federal lawsuit hoping to block the first ranked-choice voting tabulation in a federal race. Maine voted to implement ranked-choice voting in a 2016 ballot measure. Unofficial tallies have Poliquin with a narrow lead over Democratic challenger Jared Golden.
In Georgia, Democrat Carolyn Bourdeaux has said she will ask for a recount as provisional ballots are still being counted in the congressional race where she is trailing Republican incumbent Rob Woodall by less than 1,000 votes.
In more news from Georgia, state Senator Nikema Williams was among 15 peaceful protesters arrested Tuesday at the state Capitol as they called for all votes to be counted in the Georgia gubernatorial race. This is state Senator Nikema Williams speaking after her release.
Sen. Nikema Williams: “I was singled out as a black female senator standing in the rotunda with constituents in the Capitol, a body that I serve in, and I was singled out and arrested today for standing with so many Georgians who are demanding that every vote be counted. And I am incredibly proud and will continue to stand with the citizens of Georgia.”
On Monday, a federal judge blocked Georgia interim Secretary of State Robyn Crittenden from certifying the governor’s race before Friday and ordered the review of thousands of provisional ballots. Until last week, the secretary of state was Brian Kemp—who’s the Republican candidate. Kemp stepped down from the post last week, after the election. During the campaign, Kemp was accused of overseeing a widespread voter suppression effort targeting African Americans. Unofficial voting numbers put Kemp in the lead at 50.3 percent of the vote over Stacey Abrams, a progressive Democrat who’s seeking to become the nation’s first black woman elected governor. If Kemp’s vote share shrinks to 50 percent or less, the race will go to a runoff.
In Washington, D.C., first lady Melania Trump called for the firing of deputy national security adviser Mira Ricardel Tuesday, in a rare move, as she released a statement saying that Ricardel “no longer deserves the honor of serving in this White House.” The conflict between Melania Trump and Ricardel reportedly stems from the first lady’s recent trip to Africa, including a disagreement with her staff about seating on the airplane. The highly unusual move by the first lady came as a surprise to President Trump and senior White House staff, according to one source. Another official said that Melania Trump and Ricardel never actually met in person. Ricardel, a key ally to national security adviser John Bolton, has reportedly also clashed repeatedly with Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and Chief of Staff John Kelly.
This comes as reports from White House sources say Chief of Staff John Kelly may also be on his way out. Kelly reportedly came into conflict with the first lady over staffing issues, including his refusal to promote some of her senior aides.
President Trump has been meeting with his lawyers this week to go over questions from special counsel Robert Mueller as part of his probe into possible collusion of the Trump campaign with Russian agents during the 2016 presidential election. Lawmakers raised alarm recently about the fate of the Mueller probe after Trump fired Attorney General Jeff Sessions the day after the midterm elections. Special counsel Mueller is reportedly writing his final report.
CNN has filed a lawsuit against President Trump and several of his staff, including Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, alleging that White House correspondent Jim Acosta’s First and Fifth Amendment rights were violated when the White House banned him last week after he clashed with Trump during a news conference. At the time, Huckabee Sanders said the ban was because Acosta “laid his hands” on an intern. As evidence, she retweeted a doctored video produced by the far-right conspiracy website InfoWars. The White House is now saying the ban was because Acosta refused to yield to his fellow reporters. CNN said that the White House’s actions could have a “dangerous chilling effect” for other reporters.
In the Chicago suburb of Midlothian, a black security officer was shot and killed by a white police officer Sunday as he was restraining a shooting suspect while on duty at a bar. Twenty-six-year-old Jemel Roberson reportedly grabbed and held a bar patron to the ground after the patron opened fire early Sunday morning. When police officers arrived on the scene, witnesses say Roberson was immediately shot, despite people at the bar screaming that he was a security guard. At the time, Roberson was armed and held a valid gun owner’s license. One patron who witnessed the killing said the cops “saw a black man with a gun, and basically killed him.” An autopsy Monday concluded that Roberson’s death was a homicide. Roberson was father of a 9-month-old son named Tristan; his partner, Avontea Boose, is pregnant with their second child. His family filed a lawsuit against the local police department Monday.
A new report by the FBI finds that reported hate crimes in the U.S. were up in 2017—the third year in a row a rise in bias-motivated incidents has been recorded. The numbers are partially a reflection of an increase in police reporting of hate crimes.
Iowa Republican Congressmember Steve King is coming under fire after the conservative media outlet The Weekly Standard released audio of him referring to immigrants as “dirt.” King was speaking at a campaign stop one day before the midterm elections.
Rep. Steve King: “So, I guess I’m going to have to go get some dirt from Mexico to grow the next batch.”
Unidentified: “Trust me, it’s on its way.”
Rep. Steve King: “Well, yeah, there’s plenty of dirt. It’s coming from the West Coast, too, that and a lot of other places besides. This is the most dirt we’ve ever seen.”
After The Weekly Standard reported King’s comments in print last week, King’s campaign insisted the remarks were fabricated, challenging The Weekly Standard to release the audiotape. Steve King narrowly beat Democratic challenger J.D. Scholten last week to retain his congressional seat despite his frequent racist remarks, his ties to white nationalists and his support for far-right candidates overseas.
The United Nations has joined human right groups in raising alarm over the planned repatriation of Rohingya refugees from Bangladesh to Burma. U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet called on Bangladesh Tuesday to halt the plans. Over 10,000 Rohingya were killed, while more than 700,000 fled Burma from August 2017 to August 2018, according to U.N. numbers.
In Gaza, a ceasefire brokered by Egypt was agreed to by Israel and Hamas-led factions Tuesday. Israeli airstrikes killed at least seven Palestinians since Monday as violence flared in the besieged Gaza Strip. Israel says one 40-year-old man was killed by Gaza rocket fire and 70 others were wounded, marking the worst violence since Israel’s 2014 assault on Gaza.
And German Chancellor Angela Merkel called Tuesday for the future development of a European Union military.
Chancellor Angela Merkel: “We have made a lot of progress in the area of structural military cooperation. That’s good and is mostly supported here. But we should—and I’m saying this also because of developments in recent years—we should work on a vision of one day establishing a real European army.”
Her statements echoed a vision recently expressed by French President Emmanuel Macron. President Trump attacked Macron during a tweetstorm Tuesday following his tense visit to Paris for Armistice commemoration events over the weekend. Trump wrote, “Emmanuel Macron suggests building its own army to protect Europe against the U.S., China and Russia. But it was Germany in World Wars One & Two–How did that work out for France? They were starting to learn German in Paris before the U.S. came along. Pay for NATO or not!”