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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 Wisconsin, protesters took to the state Capitol on Monday evening to oppose an effort by Republican state lawmakers to push through a series of bills to strip power from incoming Democratic Governor Tony Evers before he takes office. Protesters flooded the Capitol building chanting “Respect our votes!” and “Shame!” The bills aim to limit the power of the Democratic governor and attorney general-elect and would restrict early voting periods. The Republicans drafted the legislation after Republican Governor Scott Walker lost a close race to Evers in November.
In North Carolina, election officials are investigating possible fraud in a tight congressional election that remains uncalled nearly one month after the midterm elections. Unofficial results have Republican Mark Harris leading Democrat Dan McCready by just over 900 votes. The investigation centers on a number of absentee ballots which appear to have been signed by witnesses who have ties to Leslie McCrae Dowless, a Republican operative who worked for Harris. Dowless pleaded guilty to insurance fraud in the 1990s after he took out a $163,000 policy on a dead man, according to court records. Additionally, a disproportionately high number of requested absentee ballots were not returned in a county that favored Harris in both the primary and general elections. The North Carolina elections board may decide to hold a new election if they are unable to declare a winner.
President Trump lashed out at special counsel Robert Mueller and his own former personal lawyer Michael Cohen on Twitter Monday. Trump responded to Cohen’s lawyers’ request for prison “time served” by tweeting that Cohen deserves “a full and complete sentence.” Last week, Cohen pleaded guilty to lying to Congress to help cover for Trump. Trump also praised his longtime adviser Roger Stone for having the “guts” for agreeing not to testify against him. Some experts, including George Conway, litigator and husband of White House counselor Kellyanne Conway, have said the tweet amounts to witness tampering, which is considered an obstruction of justice.
Special counsel Mueller is expected to file a sentencing memo today for Michael Flynn and sentencing memos for Michael Cohen and Paul Manafort in the coming days.
CIA Director Gina Haspel is set to brief senators on the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi today. She will reportedly meet with top members of the Armed Services Committee, Foreign Relations Committee and the Intelligence Committee. Last week, Haspel was reportedly blocked from a congressional briefing, prompting outrage from senators, who instead had a closed-door meeting with Defense Secretary James Mattis and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. Haspel is the only known high-level U.S. official to have heard the tape of Khashoggi’s murder, after other members of the administration, including Trump himself, refused to listen to it.
In Spain, the far-right Vox party won multiple seats in a regional parliamentary election in Andalusia Sunday—the first successful election for the far right in Spain since the country returned to democracy in the 1970s after the death of military dictator Francisco Franco. Former Trump adviser Steve Bannon threw his support behind Vox earlier this year and has apparently been advising the far-right party. Vox campaigned on an anti-immigrant, anti-abortion platform and has many worried about the rise of far-right political populism in Spain.
In France, Prime Minister Édouard Philippe has suspended fuel tax hikes in an attempt to quell the growing tension between President Macron’s government and protesters. An 80-year-old woman reportedly died over the weekend after a tear gas canister flew into her home, hitting her in the face. More than 400 protesters were arrested across the country over the weekend. In Paris, cars and several buildings were set on fire, and windows were smashed. Police fired tear gas, stun grenades and water cannons at protesters. Multiple journalists have reported being attacked by protesters since the demonstrations started, both in person and online.
Qatar announced plans to withdraw from the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries—known as OPEC—after over 50 years of membership. Several OPEC members, including Saudi Arabia, have cut off trade with Qatar since 2017, accusing the country of supporting terrorists after it re-established diplomatic ties with Iran.
Newly inaugurated Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador is following up on a campaign promise to create a truth and justice commission to investigate the 2014 disappearance of 43 students from a teachers’ college in the town of Ayotzinapa in Guerrero. The students were attacked by local police as they headed to a protest and are presumed dead. International experts say the Mexican military and federal police also played a role in their disappearance.
In news from the Philippines, the founder of the independent news site Rappler has returned to the country despite facing an arrest warrant on tax evasion charges. Maria Ressa was in the United States, where she received multiple press freedom awards when she and her organization were indicted in what is widely viewed as an attack against the press by Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte. On Monday, Ressa posted bail and vowed to continue reporting.
Maria Ressa: “I am not a criminal. I have been a journalist my entire life. I will continue to hold the government accountable.”
Maria Ressa is due to appear in court later this week. Click here to see our recent interviews with Maria Ressa.
Back in the United States, calls are growing for Texas to halt its executions after BuzzFeed revealed the state buys its lethal injection drugs from a Houston pharmacy whose license has been on probation since 2016. As they were dying, five of the 11 prisoners Texas executed this year said their bodies felt like they were burning after they were injected. The process is supposed to be painless. Two more executions are scheduled this month, including one tonight. Gloria Rubac of the Texas Death Penalty Abolition Movement protested Monday outside Greenpark Compounding Pharmacy and Gifts.
Gloria Rubac: “Let us know now that you will stop making, compounding lethal injection drugs. If you do not, you will face an international campaign to boycott your business, and we will shut you down.”
In St. Louis, three police officers were indicted last week in the assault of an undercover police officer at a 2017 protest. The undercover officer—who is black—was at a demonstration protesting the fatal police shooting of 24-year-old Anthony Lamar Smith when officers Dustin Boone, Randy Hays and Christopher Myers violently attacked the veteran police officer, kicking and beating him with a baton and causing serious injuries. A fourth officer, Bailey Colletta, was indicted for her role in helping to cover up the attack. Before the attack, the officers exchanged messages suggesting they “whoop some ass” and “grab” and “toss [protesters] around.”
In Alabama, an autopsy of the man shot dead by police on Thanksgiving Day after reportedly being mistaken for a gunman revealed that he was shot three times in the back. Twenty-one-year-old Emantic Fitzgerald Bradford Jr. was killed by police after they responded to a shooting at a mall in suburban Birmingham, where two teenagers were injured. A lawyer for Bradford’s family says the autopsy confirms that the victim was not a threat and that he was moving away from the police.
Nexstar Media Group has announced it will acquire Tribune Media for over $4 billion, making it the largest provider of local television stations in the U.S. In August, Tribune Media pulled out of a proposed merger with right-wing Sinclair Broadcast Group. The FCC had expressed concerns about the merger with Sinclair, despite rolling back rules that prevented consolidation in local media markets in 2017.
And in Canada, indigenous activists have been physically blocking the construction of the largest fracking project in the country’s history. Members of the Unist’ot’en Clan stopped TransCanada Corporation workers from entering their territory on November 20. The land, on the western coast of Canada is in the path of the planned $4.7 billion Coastal GasLink pipeline. Last week, TransCanada applied for an injunction against the indigenous community in an attempt to gain access to the land. This is Freda Huson, a spokesperson for the camp.
Freda Huson: “The project is going to impact our waters, our salmon, our berries, our medicines. And everything that is our critical infrastructure is at risk. … If the court grants them that injunction, that gives the police the right to try and come in and do a raid and take us down, which would—they would try to take us out of our own home, which we haven’t committed no crime. We’re just living on our land. … We’ve never ceded or surrendered our land. We’ve never lost it through treaty or any other means. And we’ve never given up our decision-making power to any outside entities.”