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You turn to Democracy Now! for ad-free news you can trust. Maybe you come for our daily headlines. Maybe you come for in-depth stories that expose government and corporate abuses of power. This week Democracy Now! is celebrating our 23rd birthday. For over two decades, we've produced our daily news hour without ads, government funding or corporate underwriting. How is this possible? Only with your support. Right now, in honor of Democracy Now!'s birthday, every donation we receive will be doubled by a generous supporter. This means if you give $30 today, Democracy Now! will get $60 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. Thank you! -Amy Goodman
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The Trump administration has unveiled its new nuclear weapons strategy, which involves spending at least $1.2 trillion to upgrade the United States’ nuclear arsenal, including developing a new nuclear-armed, sea-launched cruise missile. The Nuclear Posture Review calls for developing low-yield warheads, which critics say blur the lines between nuclear and non-nuclear weapons, meaning they are more likely to be used. It also reportedly seeks to expand the number of scenarios under which the United States might consider the use of nuclear weapons, including in response to a major cyberattack. Trump’s nuclear policy has alarmed arms control experts around the globe and been openly criticized by Iran, Russia and China.
House Republicans are facing some backlash after releasing a controversial memo that purports to show the FBI and Justice Department abused their authority by placing Trump campaign adviser Carter Page under surveillance in 2016 over his ties to Russia. On Saturday, President Trump tweeted the memo “totally vindicates” him, but the memo actually raises new questions about the actions of the Trump campaign.
Supporters of Trump had claimed the FBI used a partisan research document—the Steele dossier—to obtain a surveillance warrant for Page. But the memo actually reveals that the FBI’s probe of the Trump campaign was triggered not by the Steele dossier, but by the actions of another Trump adviser, George Papadopoulos, who reportedly bragged to an Australian diplomat in May 2016 that the Russians had political dirt on Hillary Clinton. According to the Times, Papadopoulos had been told weeks earlier that Moscow had thousands of emails that would embarrass Clinton. Papadopoulos pleaded guilty last October to lying to federal agents.
Tension is growing between the United States and Venezuela. During a five-nation trip to South America, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said the U.S. is considering imposing sanctions and possibly an oil embargo against the oil-rich state. Late last week Tillerson suggested the U.S. would support the Venezuelan military toppling the elected government of Nicolás Maduro.
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson: “I think there will be a change. We want it to be a peaceful change. … In the history of Venezuela, and, in fact, the history in other Latin American and South American countries, oftentimes it’s the military that handles that, that when things are so bad, that the military leadership realizes they just can’t serve the citizens anymore, they will manage a peaceful transition.”
Venezuelan Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino criticized Tillerson for hinting at a possible military coup in Venezuela.
Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino López : “When you invite the armed forces to overthrow a government, you are disrespecting an institution that uses its principles, its republican morality, its historical traditions. We are deeply proud of being the heirs of our liberator.”
The New York Times has revealed Israeli drones, helicopters and jets have secretly carried out 100 airstrikes inside Egypt over the past two years targeting militants in the northern Sinai. The covert attacks were done with the approval of Egyptian President General Abdel Fattah el-Sisi despite decades of strained relations between the two nations that fought three wars against each other.
New Pentagon data show the number of U.S. airstrikes in Yemen increased sixfold last year following the election of Donald Trump. U.S. drones, AC-130 gunships and fighter-bombers carried out 131 airstrikes in Yemen in 2017, up from 21 airstrikes a year earlier. Late last year, U.S. Central Command also confirmed U.S. troops had conducted “multiple ground operations” in Yemen in 2017. This all came as Yemen was facing a humanitarian crisis and the largest cholera outbreak on record.
In South Carolina, two people died and 116 were injured when an Amtrak passenger train traveling on the wrong track slammed into a stationary freight train. Rail experts said the accident could have been prevented if technology known as “positive train control” had been installed on the tracks. The accident marks the third high-profile fatal Amtrak train accident in the last two months.
There is a major new development in the scandal around USA Gymnastics team doctor Larry Nassar, who has been accused by 265 women and girls of sexual abuse. According to The New York Times, at least 40 of the victims were abused after the FBI began its investigation of Nassar in July 2015. While FBI was conducting probes in three cities, no effort was apparently made by USA Gymnastics officials to warn other potential victims of Nassar.
Meanwhile, on Friday, chaos broke out inside the courtroom during a sentencing hearing for Larry Nassar. Randall Margraves, a father of three daughters who were molested by Nassar, attempted to lunge at the doctor in the courtroom.
Randall Margraves: “I would ask you to, as part of the sentencing, to grant me five minutes in a locked room with this demon.”
Judge Janice Cunningham: I have a feeling”—
Margraves: “Would you do that?”
Judge Cunningham: “That is not how our”—
Margraves: “Yes or no?”
Judge Cunningham: “No, sir, I can’t do that.”
Margraves: “Would you give me one minute?”
Judge Cunningham: “You know that I can’t do that. That’s not how our legal system”—
Margraves: “Well, I’m going to have to do something.”
Randall Margraves then lunged at the doctor, was handcuffed and removed from the courtroom. But he was later released without charge.
In news from Hollywood, Uma Thurman has accused Harvey Weinstein of sexually assaulting her in a London hotel room after they worked together on the 1994 hit film “Pulp Fiction.” More than 70 women have now accused the former film producer of sexual misconduct, including rape. In an interview with The New York Times, Thurman said, “The complicated feeling I have about Harvey is how bad I feel about all the women that were attacked after I was. I am one of the reasons that a young girl would walk into his room alone, the way I did.”
In France, Oxford professor and renowned Islamic scholar Tariq Ramadan has been charged with rape, after he was accused by two women of rape and sexual assault last year. Ramadan, who has been taken into custody, has denied the accusations.
It has been another deadly weekend for migrants trying to reach the shores of Europe. On Saturday, the bodies of at least 20 African migrants were recovered off of Melilla, a Spanish enclave in northern Africa. Meanwhile, on Friday, 90 migrants are feared to have died when their boat capsized off the coast of Libya. Leonard Doyle is a spokesperson at the International Organization for Migration.
Leonard Doyle: “It’s an absolutely shocking tragedy that seems to have occurred off of Libya, when we think as many as 90 Pakistani migrants, trying to reach a better life, ended up, through the criminal act of smugglers, drowning.”
Meanwhile, in Italy, a suspected neo-Nazi shot six African migrants on Saturday in a series of drive-by shootings in the city of Macerata. The gunman has been identified as Luca Traini, an Italian man who has a neo-Nazi tattoo above his eye. Last year he ran for office as a member of the far-right League Party, which has been projected to make major gains in next month’s Italian election.
And in Minneapolis, 17 people were arrested Sunday before the Super Bowl as they attempted to block a light-rail line carrying Super Bowl ticket holders to the stadium. The activists, which included members of Black Lives Matter, said in a statement that they were “using this moment to stand with athletes who have protested throughout the past two football seasons” and “calling attention to the murder of Black people by police.”