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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 Tijuana, Mexico, U.S. Border Patrol officers fired tear gas Sunday into a crowd of desperate Central American asylum seekers as they tried to push their way through the heavily militarized border with the United States. Among those attacked were mothers and small children, who were left gagging and screaming as tear gas spread. Mexican Federal Police officers in riot gear moved in and arrested dozens of the migrants; Mexico’s government says they’ll be deported to Central America. The group had broken away from a peaceful protest of thousands of migrants demanding entry to the U.S., where they hoped to win asylum. The migrants are from Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador, and are fleeing widespread violence, poverty and mass unemployment. This is 37-year-old Honduran asylum seeker Saúl Hernández.
Saúl Hernández: “My message to the United States president is not to scare people, because he’s showing Mexico that he has the military power. He’s also frightening Mexico. Please remove your troops.”
In response, the Trump administration temporarily closed the San Ysidro border crossing, one of the busiest ports of entry in the world, with more than 90,000 people crossing each day. Meanwhile, the administration of Mexican President-elect Andrés Manuel López Obrador denied it had made any deal with the Trump administration to force asylum seekers to remain in Mexico while their U.S. asylum claims are processed. The denial contradicts tweets by President Trump and a report in The Washington Post on Saturday.
In Tucson, Arizona, a jury has found Border Patrol agent Lonnie Swartz not guilty of involuntary manslaughter for shooting and killing 16-year-old José Elena Rodríguez through the U.S.-Mexico border fence in 2012. The jury hung on whether to bring a charge of voluntary manslaughter, leaving it unclear whether prosecutors would seek to try Swartz a third time. A previous jury acquitted Swartz on murder charges but deadlocked on lesser manslaughter charges. Authorities claimed José Elena Rodríguez was throwing rocks at agents over the border fence before Swartz opened fire. But medical examiners say José was shot as many as 11 times, with all but one of the bullets striking from behind, leading them to conclude the teen was shot in the back as he lay on the ground. This is José’s mother, Araceli Rodríguez, and his grandmother, Taide Elena, speaking just after the verdict last Wednesday.
Araceli Rodríguez: “They are giving him back a certification to keep killing, because if they declared him not guilty after having killed a teenager with 10 bullets in his body, they are giving the him a green light and permission to continue killing.”
Taide Elena: “What happened here was an injustice—an injustice—because this is a crime more clear than water. And I still cannot understand how they can say the man is not guilty, when the evidence is so clear. Right now, one is left with anger, feeling helpless, disillusioned with the laws of the United States.”
Wednesday’s verdict came after President Trump said soldiers deployed to the border could use deadly force, and after he suggested soldiers could respond to migrants throwing rocks with gunfire.
In North Carolina, ICE agents arrested a Mexican immigrant Friday after he emerged from a Durham church where he’d been living in sanctuary for nearly a year. Forty-seven-year-old Samuel Oliver-Bruno had gone to the ICE office in Raleigh to have his fingerprints taken so he could apply to remain with his wife and son in the U.S. After Oliver-Bruno was taken into custody and placed in an ICE van, his supporters surrounded the vehicle, singing and praying for two hours before police moved in to remove them. Among those arrested was Oliver-Bruno’s son, Daniel Oliver-Perez, who was charged with assault on a government officer.
The White House quietly released a major new climate change report Friday that seems to directly contradict its own environmental policies. The congressionally mandated study by 300 scientists across 13 federal agencies warns that human-driven climate change threatens to shrink the U.S. economy by as much as 10 percent by the end of the century. It details how the consequences of climate change are hitting on several fronts: increasing wildfires, crumbling infrastructure, worsening air quality, failing crops and more frequent disease outbreaks. The more than 1,600-page National Climate Assessment was made public by the White House on Black Friday, causing many to question the timing of its release. Later in the broadcast, we’ll speak with the report’s lead author, Kristie Ebi, along with environmental leader Bill McKibben of 350.org.
In California, the death toll in the state’s deadliest-ever wildfire has risen to 85, with nearly 300 people still reported missing, as firefighters said they’ve finally contained the 150,000-acre Camp Fire. Their efforts were helped by much-needed rain, but the storms have slowed the work of recovery workers looking for human remains.
In Ukraine, Russia’s Navy captured three Ukrainian ships Sunday as they tried to enter a narrow waterway separating the Russian-annexed Crimean peninsula from the rest of Russia. Ukraine says six of its sailors were injured when the ships were fired on and then boarded near the Kerch Strait, which separates the Black Sea from the Sea of Azov. It’s the biggest escalation in tensions between the two countries since Russia invaded and illegally annexed Crimea in 2014. Ukraine’s President Petro Poroshenko called a meeting of his war council Sunday and asked parliament to impose martial law. The decision could delay March’s presidential election, when the highly unpopular Poroshenko is seeking re-election.
President Trump is continuing to deny the CIA’s findings on the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi. The CIA reportedly found with “high confidence” that Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman was directly involved in ordering Khashoggi’s killing. This is Trump being questioned by Washington Post reporter Josh Dawsey on Thanksgiving Day.
Josh Dawsey: “But the CIA, Mr. President, concluded with confidence that MBS was responsible.”
President Donald Trump: “They didn’t conclude. No, no, Josh, they didn’t conclude. I’m sorry.”
Josh Dawsey: “So you’re saying they did not?”
President Donald Trump: “Josh. No, they didn’t conclude. They did not come to a conclusion. They have feelings certain ways, but they didn’t have the report.”
Democratic and Republican lawmakers have since rebutted the president’s claims. This is Congressmember Adam Schiff, the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, speaking with CNN on Sunday.
Rep. Adam Schiff: “I have been briefed by the CIA. And while I cannot discuss the contents of the briefing in any way, I can say that I think the president is being dishonest with the American people.”
Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi entered the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul on October 2, where he was murdered by Saudi agents. Saudi Arabia has acknowledged the murder but continues to deny involvement of the Saudi royal family.
In Yemen, a United Nations envoy has arrived in the port city of Hodeidah, hoping to restart peace talks aimed at ending a war between Houthi rebels and the U.S.-backed, Saudi-led coalition, which has sparked the world’s worst humanitarian catastrophe in half a century. The U.N. is urging warring parties to meet for peace talks in Sweden next month.
In the United Arab Emirates, British academic Matthew Hedges has been pardoned. Hedges, a Ph.D. candidate at Durham University in the United Kingdom, was imprisoned for months without charge, denied sufficient medical and legal assistance and held for prolonged periods in solitary confinement. Last month, the UAE charged him with spying. Hedges has denied the charges.
The European Union has approved a Brexit agreement outlining the terms for the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the European Union in March 2019. This is European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, speaking with the BBC.
Jean-Claude Juncker: “This is the deal. This is the deal. I’m never changing my mind day after day. This is the best deal possible for Britain. And this is the only deal possible. So, if the House would say no, we would have no deal.”
British Prime Minister Theresa May still has to get the deal approved in Parliament, where members of both her Conservative Party and the opposition Labour Party have publicly condemned the agreement.
In France, over 100,000 people took to the streets across the country Saturday in ongoing protests against mounting fuel prices and calling for French President Emmanuel Macron to resign. Some 8,000 protesters gathered in the capital Paris, where 5,000 police officers were deployed. Protesters and police clashed on the Champs-Élysées, where police used tear gas and water cannons on protesters. Nineteen people were reported as injured, and 40 people were arrested.
People marched in cities across the world over the weekend to mark the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women. Marches took place in countries including Greece, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Italy, Spain and France, with some bringing out tens of thousands of people demanding an end to sexual violence, domestic violence and the suppression of reproductive rights.
In Pakistan, authorities arrested Muslim cleric Khadim Hussain Rizvi and over 1,000 of his supporters in a crackdown on protests over the recent acquittal of a Christian woman previously sentenced to death for blasphemy. Aasia Bibi was released last month after originally being convicted in 2010. Massive protests followed the release, led by Rizvi’s Tehreek-e-Labbaik party, disrupting major cities and thoroughfares around the country.
In more news from Pakistan, three militants attacked the Chinese Consulate in the southern port city of Karachi Friday, killing two police officers and two civilians before the attackers were shot and killed by security. The Baloch Liberation Army claimed responsibility for the attack. The group has been fighting Pakistan for independence for the province of Balochistan in the southwest of Pakistan. China is building a major corridor through the Balochistan region as part of its multibillion-dollar investments in the region.
In Afghanistan, the Islamic State claimed responsibility for a suicide bombing at a mosque on an army base in the eastern Khost province that killed at least 27 soldiers Friday. The attack came just three days after a suicide bomber targeted a religious gathering in Kabul, killing at least 50 and wounding more than 80 others.
Back in the United States, in Alabama, protesters marched at a mall where Emantic Fitzgerald Bradford Jr., a 21-year-old African-American man, was shot and killed by police Thursday. Police officers responding to a shooting at Riverchase Galleria mall in suburban Birmingham fired on Bradford after falsely believing him to be responsible for the shooting, which left two injured, including a 12-year-old girl. The gunman is still at large. Bradford’s family say they were not notified of their son’s death and found out through social media reports. Bradford was carrying a licensed gun at the time of the shooting, which is permitted by Alabama law.
In Charlottesville, Virginia, jury selection begins today for James Fields, the self-described neo-Nazi charged with killing 32-year-old Heather Heyer and injuring 35 others. Twenty-one-year-old Fields is charged with first-degree murder for plowing his car into a crowd of anti-fascist protesters at last year’s deadly “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville.
And Ray Hill, a co-founder of Pacifica radio station KPFT in Houston, Texas, died Saturday from heart failure. He was 78. After his release from prison in 1975, Ray helped organize Houston’s first gay rights groups and the first National March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights in 1979. As general manager of KFPT in 1980, he created “The Prison Show.”
Ray Hill: “Radio station KPFT in Houston proudly presents 'The Prison Show' on Friday nights between 9 and 11 o’clock. It talks about the biggest industry that eats up your tax dollars: Texas prisons.”
Ray hosted “The Prison Show” for 20 years, combining news with on-air phone calls from families and friends so they could speak to their loved ones behind bars. Ray Hill’s tombstone will reference his proudest achievement: a U.S. Supreme Court ruling in 1987 that he was unconstitutionally arrested for interrupting police officers performing their duties, after he yelled at them to stop beating a man in his front yard.