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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 death toll from the devastating Camp Fire in Northern California has risen to at least 77, as the number of missing people jumped to nearly a thousand. The wildfire—by far the deadliest in California’s history—is now 65 percent contained after scorching close to 150,000 acres. In Southern California, the Woolsey Fire, which killed three people, is now almost 90 percent contained after burning close to 100,000 acres. As air quality monitors ranked parts of California as the dirtiest in the world, many low-wage workers, including farmworkers, along with poorer residents and homeless populations are unable to leave or remain indoors and have been forced to breathe in the toxic air with little means of protection. President Trump toured the devastation around the decimated town of Paradise Saturday with Governor Jerry Brown.
President Donald Trump: “You don’t really see the gravity of it. I mean, as big as they look on the tube, you don’t see what’s going on until you come here. And what we saw at Pleasure—what a name right now—but what we just saw, we just left Pleasure.”
FEMA Administrator Brock Long: “Paradise.”
President Donald Trump: “Or Paradise. And what we just saw at Paradise is just—you know, it’s just not acceptable.”
That was President Trump, mistakenly referring to the city of Paradise as “Pleasure.”
Trump, who initially threatened to cut funding to California, reiterated his attack on forest management after his visit to Paradise, though he did grant California’s requests for federal funds. Trump, who is a climate change denier, said California should follow the lead of Finland by “raking and cleaning” its forests.
President Donald Trump: “I was with the president of Finland, and he said, 'We have a much different—we're a forest nation.’ He called it a forest nation. And they spend a lot of time on raking and cleaning and doing things. And they don’t have any problem.”
Trump’s comments appeared to baffle Finland’s president, who told a Helsinki newspaper he didn’t remember discussing raking forests with Trump during a meeting earlier this month. Trump’s comment drew ridicule on social media, spawning the hashtag #MakeAmericaRakeAgain. This comes as the media monitoring nonprofit Media Matters for America found that national broadcast news networks mentioned “climate change” in less than 4 percent of their coverage of the deadly California wildfires.
In Florida, Democrats have conceded both the Senate and gubernatorial races after recounts maintained narrow Republican leads. Incumbent Democratic Senator Bill Nelson conceded to Republican opponent and outgoing Governor Rick Scott Sunday, becoming the fourth Democrat to lose a Senate seat in the midterm election. The Republicans now have 52 Senate seats, with Mississippi heading to a runoff next week. Democrat Andrew Gillum conceded Saturday to Republican Ron DeSantis in Florida’s race for governor.
In Georgia, Democrat Stacey Abrams ended her bid Friday to become the state’s next governor—and the first black woman governor in the United States. Abrams’s defeat by Republican Brian Kemp puts an end to one of the most closely watched—and contested—races of the midterms. The race was marred by widespread allegations of voter suppression carried out by Kemp, who was Georgia’s secretary of state until he resigned just after the midterm elections. Abrams has refused to call Kemp the “legitimate” winner during interviews. This is Abrams speaking Friday.
Stacey Abrams: “Pundits and hyper-partisans will hear my words as a rejection of the normal order. You see, I’m supposed to say nice things and accept my fate. They will complain that I should not use this moment to recap what was done wrong or to demand a remedy. You see, as a leader, I should be stoic in my outrage and silent in my rebuke. But stoicism is a luxury, and silence is a weapon for those who would quiet the voices of the people. And I will not concede, because the erosion of our democracy is not right.”
Abrams announced Friday she would be suing the state of Georgia for “gross mismanagement” during the elections. She also launched the initiative Fair Fight Georgia in an effort to continue her fight for election integrity and against voter suppression.
In California, Democrat Gil Cisneros has defeated Republican Young Kim, gaining a 37th congressional seat for the Democrats. Cisneros’s win means that the traditional Republican stronghold of Orange County is now entirely represented by Democrats, for the first time in almost 80 years.
The CIA has concluded that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman ordered the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who entered the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul, Turkey, on October 2 and was never seen again. CIA Director Gina Haspel was played the audiotape of Khashoggi’s murder while in Istanbul last month, but President Trump has said he doesn’t want to listen to the recording, “Because it’s a suffering tape.” President Trump responded to the CIA’s findings Saturday, calling them “very premature”—while conceding that it was possible that Crown Prince bin Salman was responsible for Khashoggi’s death. Trump has repeatedly echoed Saudi claims that the crown prince had no knowledge of Khashoggi’s murder. The State Department said in a statement the U.S. government has not yet reached a conclusion about the killing. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo—a strong Trump ally—is the former head of the CIA. This came as a top White House official involved in U.S. policy toward Saudi Arabia resigned Friday evening. Kirsten Fontenrose had pushed for tough sanctions against the Saudis in response to Khashoggi’s murder. Jamal Khashoggi was a Washington Post columnist.
In Yemen, a Houthi rebel leader said Sunday that Houthi fighters would support a ceasefire if Saudi coalition forces also halted attacks. Last month, the U.S. called for a ceasefire in Yemen as the diplomatic crisis deepened over the killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi. The United States is the largest supplier of arms to the Saudi-led coalition, which has killed at least 57,000 people since the beginning of 2016, according to a recent study, and has brought 14 million Yemenis to the brink of famine. Last week, House Republicans quashed debate on a resolution that aims to end U.S. military support for the Saudi-led war in Yemen.
In Turkey, 14 academics and activists were detained Friday over the 2013 anti-government protests in Istanbul’s Gezi Park. They included the board members of a cultural organization founded by philanthropist Osman Kavala. Kavala has been held in prison for over a year after he was arrested in connection with a failed coup against Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s government in 2016. Istanbul has asserted that U.S.-based cleric Fethullah Gülen is responsible for orchestrating the attempted overthrow. Twelve of the detainees were released since Friday, while one academic has been jailed and another is still being questioned, according to local reports.
President Trump said Friday he plans to nominate acting EPA chief Andrew Wheeler as the agency’s next administrator. Wheeler is a former coal lobbyist and has been the acting head of the EPA since Scott Pruitt resigned in July amid an onslaught of financial and ethics scandals. Wheeler has regularly engaged with right-wing conspiracy accounts on social media and “liked” a racist post featuring the Obamas in 2013.
President Trump is coming under fire after he attacked former Navy SEAL William McRaven, who oversaw the U.S. operation that killed Osama bin Laden, calling him a “Hillary Clinton fan” and an “Obama backer” during an interview with Fox News Sunday. In addition, Trump wondered why it took so long for the U.S. to find bin Laden, telling host Chris Wallace, “Wouldn’t it have been nice if we got Osama bin Laden a lot sooner than that?” Admiral McRaven has condemned Trump’s attacks on the media, saying last year that they present “the greatest threat to democracy in my lifetime.”
The White House has vowed to reimpose a ban on CNN reporter Jim Acosta after a judge’s temporary order to restore his press credentials expires in two weeks. The judge, who ruled on the case Friday, called out the Trump administration for its decision to ban Acosta earlier this month as being “shrouded in mystery.” Hours after Acosta clashed with the president at a news conference the day after the midterm elections, the White House announced the ban. The White House later said the reason for the ban was because he refused to yield to his fellow reporters. In response to the ruling Friday, President Trump said he is drafting new “rules and regulations” for reporters at the White House, saying, “People have to behave.” He also told reporters, “We have to practice decorum.” The judge who ruled against the Trump administration is a Trump appointee.
President Trump attacked California Democratic Congressmember Adam Schiff Sunday, misspelling his last name. Trump tweeted, “So funny to see little Adam Schitt (D-CA) talking about the fact that Acting Attorney General Matt Whitaker was not approved by the Senate, but not mentioning the fact that Bob Mueller (who is highly conflicted) was not approved by the Senate!” Schiff is poised to head the House Intelligence Committee after Democrats retake control of the House in January. He vowed to take action against acting Attorney General Matt Whitaker if he intervenes to halt special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe. Schiff also called Whitaker’s appointment after the forced resignation of Jeff Sessions unconstitutional. In response to Trump’s attack, Schiff tweeted, “Wow, Mr. President, that’s a good one. Was that like your answers to Mr. Mueller’s questions, or did you write this one yourself?”
The Education Department proposed new rules Friday that would further roll back the provisions of Title IX, the federal law that prohibits sex-based discrimination at schools. The new rules would severely narrow the definition of sexual harassment, diminish the liability of schools and provide additional protections for those accused of sexual assault or misconduct—potentially allowing them to cross-examine their accusers through an intermediary. A group of so-called mens’ rights groups reportedly lobbied Education Secretary Betsy DeVos to pass the new rules.
In Libya, a group of nearly 80 refugees is refusing to leave a docked ship in the Libyan port of Misurata, saying they fear torture and imprisonment. The refugees were headed to Europe by boat earlier this month, before being returned to Libya on November 10, starting a 9-day standoff with Libyan authorities. Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa director said of the situation, “The protest on board the ship now docked in Misrata gives a clear indication of the horrifying conditions refugees and migrants face in Libya’s detention centres where they are routinely exposed to torture, rape, beatings, extortion and other abuse. Under international law, no-one should be sent to a place where their life is at risk.”
This comes as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government survived a leadership challenge by a right-wing party that broke away from his ruling coalition after it said Netanyahu wasn’t doing enough to punish Gaza. Netanyahu will maintain a one-seat majority in Israel’s Knesset, or parliament.
In Haiti, six people were killed Sunday as thousands of protesters marched against government corruption in the capital Port-au-Prince and other parts of the country. Demonstrators are demanding a probe into whether officials embezzled funds from the nearly $4 billion Haiti received from a Venezuelan oil subsidy program. Many are calling for the resignation of President Jovenel Moïse.
A U.N.-backed court ruled Friday that the Khmer Rouge committed genocide during their rule in Cambodia in the 1970s. Two surviving leaders of the Khmer Rouge were found guilty of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes directed against Cambodia’s Vietnamese and Cham Muslim minorities. From 1975 to 1979, the Khmer Rouge, led by Pol Pot, exterminated up to 25 percent of the population of Cambodia.
And in London, thousands of climate activists took to the streets Saturday in the latest action organized by the group Extinction Rebellion. Eighty-five people were arrested at Saturday’s demonstrations, which shut down traffic on five major bridges in central London. Over 60 people have been arrested during protests over the past two weeks, with more public actions planned. This is one of the demonstrators speaking Saturday.
Hamin: “With having someone like Donald Trump come into power and pretty much denying climate change, we’re in a very dire state of affairs. So, something needs to happen soon. The demands of Extinction Rebellion are achievable. We’re looking for zero net carbon emissions by 2025 and a citizen assembly so we can have a say on the way we respond to climate change. And I think that’s very reasonable demands. It’s something we can actually achieve.”