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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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House Republicans have quashed debate on a resolution that aims to end U.S. military support for the Saudi-led war in Yemen. Congressmembers voted 201 to 187 on the bill Wednesday, approving a provision that blocks the Democrats from forcing a vote on the U.S. role in Yemen under the War Powers Act.
The House vote came just one day after an airstrike by the U.S.-backed, Saudi-led coalition killed at least seven people in the port city of Hodeidah. The airstrike targeted a bus of civilians who were fleeing violence. The U.N. is warning 14 million Yemenis are on the brink of famine as the U.S.-backed, Saudi-led invasion rages on. One new study is estimating the war has killed at least 57,000 people since the beginning of 2016. We’ll have more on this story after headlines with Ro Khanna, Democratic congressmember from California.
In Saudi Arabia, the public prosecutor has announced 11 indictments and will seek the death penalty for five of the accused men in the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who entered the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul, Turkey, on October 2 and was never seen again. The Saudi prosecutor affirmed Turkey’s account that Khashoggi was given a lethal injection before his body was dismembered and smuggled out of the building. The prosecutor—who answers directly to the Saudi royal family—blamed the operation on a senior intelligence officer—not Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. Earlier this week, new details emerged about a Turkish audiotape that reportedly captured the last moments of Khashoggi’s life. A member of the Saudi kill team responsible for the assassination is reportedly heard saying on the phone to a top aide to the crown prince, “tell your boss” and “the deed was done.”
In California, at least eight more deaths have been reported from the Northern California Camp Fire—already the deadliest wildfire in the state’s history—with close to 300 still missing. Another death was reported in the Los Angeles-area Woolsey Fire, bringing the statewide total to at least 59 people killed. The Camp Fire forced more than 50,000 people to evacuate the town of Paradise and surrounding communities; many of them are now sleeping in cars or donated tents in a Walmart parking lot in the nearby city of Chico. As Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke toured the devastation Wednesday, he attempted to strike a more cooperative tone, after President Trump blamed California forest management last week and threatened to cut off aid. This is California Governor Jerry Brown speaking Wednesday.
Gov. Jerry Brown: “Yeah, this is so devastating that I don’t really have the words to describe it. It looks like a war zone. It is. It’s the devastation that only fires of this kind could bring about. Nobody’s really expecting it, but it happens.”
Cal Fire says five firefighters were injured during the Camp Fire’s first 24 hours, including two prisoner firefighters who suffered burns. California’s incarcerated firefighters make just a dollar an hour battling on the front lines but are rarely eligible to get jobs as firefighters after their release. Click here to see our special report on prison firefighters from Northern California.
A new report in the journal Nature finds that climate change intensified rainfall in Hurricanes Katrina, Irma and Maria by up to 9 percent, making the storms deadlier and more destructive. Scientists predict that increasing temperatures could further intensify future rainfall in hurricanes by up to 30 percent in the most extreme cases.
In Florida, recounts of the tight Senate and gubernatorial races are scheduled to end today, as multiple counties have reported a range of issues during the machine recount process. Palm Beach County has asked for an extension for providing the final recount tally after machines overheated, causing discrepancies in the results. In heavily Republican Bay County, votes submitted by fax or email were reportedly counted, even though such ballots are not legally allowed. Democratic incumbent Senator Bill Nelson has filed several lawsuits, including a motion to extend the the deadline for the machine recount. Meanwhile, Florida’s governor and Republican Senate candidate Rick Scott traveled to Washington, D.C., to attend freshman senator orientation Wednesday, even though the race has not yet been called.
In New Jersey, former Obama aide, Democrat Andy Kim has flipped another congressional seat, beating incumbent Republican Congressmember Tom MacArthur. Kim is the first Asian-American congressmember to be elected in New Jersey and the first Korean-American Democrat elected to the U.S. House of Representatives.
In Georgia, police arrested 12 Black Lives Matter protesters Wednesday for holding balloons in front of the Capitol building that spell out “340,134”—which is the number of voters believed to have been wrongly purged from Georgia voter rolls by then-Secretary of State Brian Kemp, who’s also the Republican candidate for governor. Their protest came as a federal judge ordered Georgia election officials to review every provisional ballot cast during last week’s midterm election, while barring the state from certifying election results before Friday. Kemp has repeatedly said the “election is over” even though his challenger, progressive Democrat Stacey Abrams, is about 0.2 points away from forcing a runoff election in December.
The Florida and Georgia vote counts continued as President Trump blamed Republican losses in the midterm elections on voter fraud. In an interview with conservative website The Daily Caller Wednesday, Trump said of Democratic voters, “Sometimes they go to their car, put on a different hat, put on a different shirt, come in and vote again.” Trump also repeated an earlier false claim that people are required to show ID to purchase groceries, saying, “If you buy a box of cereal — you have a voter ID.”
During the same interview, President Trump issued a warning to the anti-fascist movement, known as antifa. Trump said, “These people, like the Antifa — they better hope that the opposition to Antifa decides not to mobilize… Because if you look, the other side, it’s the military. It’s the police. It’s a lot of very strong, a lot of very tough people. Tougher than them. And smarter than them… Potentially much more violent. And Antifa’s going to be in big trouble.”
Pentagon Chief Jim Mattis is defending President Trump’s decision to send thousands of troops to the U.S.-Mexico border, saying it’s providing the soldiers with good training for war. Mattis toured a newly constructed military base near the border in McAllen, Texas, Wednesday alongside Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen. When asked by a soldier what the objectives of the deployment were, Mattis responded, “Long term, it is somewhat to be determined.” The visit came as some migrants arriving at the U.S.-Mexico border in California attempted to enter the U.S. Wednesday. At least nine people were arrested by Border Patrol.
In New York, the immigrant rights group the New Sanctuary Coalition has launched a “Sanctuary Caravan” to assist migrants arriving at the U.S.-Mexico border as part of the Central American caravans. The Sanctuary Caravan will bring volunteers to the border, where some are planning to camp out for 40 days and 40 nights as they offer assistance on both sides of the border.
President Trump is backing a criminal sentencing reform bill in what many are praising as a bipartisan effort to overhaul the way certain crimes are sentenced in the courts. The proposed reforms include rehabilitation programs for former prisoners and a reduction in mandatory minimum sentences for certain crimes. The First Step Act has been endorsed by the Fraternal Order of Police and is supported by many conservatives, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and the Koch brothers. A number of progressive groups, including the ACLU—which had previously opposed an earlier House version of the bill—have also come out in support. Some Democratic lawmakers, including Cory Booker of New Jersey, are seeking improvements to the bill before endorsing it.
In more news from D.C., deputy national security adviser Mira Ricardel has been reassigned within the administration following first lady Melania Trump’s statement Tuesday calling for her dismissal.
In Los Angeles, police officers arrested lawyer Michael Avenatti Wednesday on suspicion of domestic violence. Avenatti emerged as a public foe to Trump over the past year, representing Stormy Daniels in her defamation lawsuit against Trump over hush payments Trump allegedly made to silence her over a 2006 affair. Avenatti also represented Julie Swetnick, who accused Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh of attending student parties where gang rapes regularly took place. In July, Avenatti announced that he was exploring a presidential run for 2020. Avenatti has denied the charges against him.
In New York, a taxi driver took his own life earlier this month, becoming the eighth driver-for-hire in the city to die by suicide over the past year. Fifty-eight-year-old Roy Kim of Queens acquired his New York City taxi medallion just last year and was reportedly struggling with a debt of over half a million dollars. New York Taxi Workers Alliance Executive Director Bhairavi Desai said, “Owner-drivers have suffered a deep and vicious slide from the middle class into crushing poverty, in a just a few short years. … Banks and lenders need to work with the city and philanthropy to write off 20 percent of outstanding debts, lower interest rates, and restructure contracts.”
A new report by The New York Times reveals that Facebook executives, including Mark Zuckerberg and Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg, were aware of a Russian misinformation campaign on Facebook and took a series of private actions to preserve the company’s reputation. Facebook reportedly hired the Republican opposition-research firm Definers to discredit critics of Facebook, linking them to the billionaire liberal donor George Soros. Facebook also allegedly lobbied a Jewish civil rights group to condemn criticism of the company as anti-Semitic.
In Washington, D.C., the Republican-controlled Senate on Wednesday blocked legislation aimed at protecting special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia probe. The bill, brought by Republican Senator Jeff Flake of Arizona with support from Democratic Senator Chris Coons of Delaware and other Democratic senators, was blocked by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who argued the investigation was not under threat. Flake vowed to withhold his vote on judicial nominees if Republican leadership continued to block a vote protecting Robert Mueller.
In Britain, Prime Minister Theresa May received the backing of her Cabinet Wednesday on the draft Brexit deal arrived at earlier this week after talks with the European Union. In spite of May’s announcement, two members of the prime minister’s Cabinet resigned today in opposition to the deal, including Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab.
Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman resigned Wednesday in response to the Egypt-brokered ceasefire between Israel and Hamas-led factions in Gaza. Lieberman will retain his position as foreign minister, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will take over the position of defense minister temporarily. Lieberman’s resignation may imperil Netanyahu’s leadership by weakening the right-wing coalition he leads in parliament. Lieberman also called for early elections in Israel.
And a newly declassified report reveals the CIA considered using a so-called truth serum drug to interrogate terror suspects in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks. The report, released Tuesday, details a research program known as Project Medication, in which the CIA worked with medical professionals who ultimately decided against asking the Justice Department to approve the use of any such drugs. Attorney Dror Ladin of the American Civil Liberties Union says the program led doctors to violate their Hippocratic Oath to “do no harm.” And he said the CIA has a history of experimenting with drugs on detainees.
Dror Ladin: “So the CIA would apply LSD to people without them knowing about it. They would inject people with barbiturates without them knowing about it. And the same sort of thing was happening in the Soviet Bloc. And when the public found out about this in Senate hearings in the '70s, there was a tremendous blowback against the CIA, and the CIA vowed to never do it again, and all these prohibitions were placed. You know, just 30 years later, the CIA was considering it again. And in a very twisted way, some of the medical professionals convinced themselves that if they found a truth serum, then maybe they could stop torturing people; so, instead, they'd just be injecting them with drugs against their will.”