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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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Palestinian officials say the Israeli military shot dead two more Palestinians in Gaza on Tuesday, only one day after the Israeli military massacred at least 61 unarmed Palestinians and wounded 2,700 more for protesting against the Israeli occupation and the opening of the new U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem. The United States is refusing to criticize Israel after the massacre. At the United Nations, U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley has blocked a call for an international investigation into Israel’s actions. On Tuesday, she repeatedly blamed the violence on Hamas while praising Israel for “showing restraint.”
Nikki Haley: “I ask my colleagues here in the Security Council: Who among us would accept this type of activity on your border? No one would. No country in this chamber would act with more restraint than Israel has.”
That was U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley. She later walked out of the Security Council chamber when the Palestinian ambassador to the U.N., Riyad Mansour, addressed the council. Meanwhile, hospitals in Gaza are continuing to struggle to deal with the thousands of patients who were wounded by the Israeli military on Monday and Tuesday. This is Ayman al-Sahbani, the director of the emergency room at Shifa Hospital.
Dr. Ayman al-Sahbani: “The emergency department at Shifa medical center received the biggest number of these injuries. We received almost 500 injuries, while the capacity of the emergency department is 20 beds, or 20 injuries. We are talking about 25 times as much of the capacity of the emergency department, with all the big challenges and the shortage in medicine and the medical supplies that reached critical levels.”
We’ll have more on Israel, Gaza and the U.S. response after headlines.
President Trump’s nominee for CIA director, Gina Haspel, appears to have won enough backing to be confirmed by the full Senate, after Haspel came out saying the CIA should never have undertaken its post-9/11 torture program. The Senate Intelligence Committee voted today to recommend her confirmation to the full Senate. Among the Democrats who have come out backing Haspel is Virginia Senator Mark Warner, the top ranking Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee. At her confirmation hearing last week, Haspel repeatedly refused to call the CIA’s post-9/11 treatment of prisoners “torture,” and declined to state whether she believes torture is immoral.
But in a letter to Virginia Senator Mark Warner, she admitted that the CIA torture program never should have existed in the first place, writing, “While I won’t condemn those that made these hard calls, and I have noted the valuable intelligence collected, the program ultimately did damage to our officers and our standing in the world. With the benefit of hindsight and my experience as a senior agency leader, the enhanced interrogation program is not one the C.I.A. should have undertaken.” Haspel is a 33-year CIA veteran who was responsible for running a secret CIA black site in Thailand in 2002 where at least one prisoner was waterboarded and tortured in other ways during her tenure. She also oversaw the destruction of videotapes showing torture at the black site. We’ll have more on Gina Haspel later in the broadcast.
North Korea has canceled high-level talks with South Korea today in protest of joint U.S.-South Korea military drills currently being staged on the peninsula. The cancellation of today’s talks also casts doubt on the proposed summit between President Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in less than a month. The North Korean state news agency called the U.S.-South Korea air force drills “deliberate military provocation.”
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un also directly criticized Trump’s national security adviser, John Bolton, for saying North Korea could follow the so-called Libyan model for nuclear abandonment. In a statement issued through the state news agency, Kim called Bolton’s idea an “awfully sinister move to impose on our dignified state the destiny of Libya or Iraq which had been collapsed due to yielding the whole of their countries to big powers.”
The joint U.S.-South Korea two-week military drills, known as Max Thunder, involve fighter jets and aircraft from the U.S. Air Force, Army, Navy and Marine Corps. North Korea has long claimed the drills are rehearsals for a military invasion. On Tuesday, the White House attempted to downplay the threat that North Korea would cancel the proposed summit between Trump and Kim Jong-un. This is State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert.
Heather Nauert: “We are operating under the idea and the notion that the president’s meeting is going forward with Chairman—with Chairman Kim next month.”
Kylie Atwood: “And if this meeting doesn’t happen, will you still go forward?”
Heather Nauert: “That’s a hypothetical. That’s a hypothetical. You know, look, this news just came out. I can’t verify it just yet. It’s very early on in the process. But we’re planning ahead for our meetings.”
The Trump administration is considering plans to hold immigrant children on military bases after they are apprehended crossing the U.S.-Mexico border. The Pentagon says staffers are looking at three potential military sites in Texas and one in Arkansas. The proposal is the latest signal the Trump administration plans to separate immigrant parents from their children if they are apprehended crossing the border without authorization.
In Pakistan, an investigation by Amnesty International has revealed how human rights workers are being targeted by digital attacks aimed at infiltrating their phones and computers, infecting them with malware, stealing their data and subjecting the human rights workers to intensive surveillance. Amnesty has not determined who is behind the digital attacks against human rights activists in Pakistan.
In Mexico, radio journalist Juan Carlos Huerta was shot dead Tuesday morning in the southern state of Tabasco. Mexican authorities say Huerta’s killing Tuesday appeared to be related to his work as a journalist. He’s the fourth Mexican journalist killed so far this year, and his assassination came on the first anniversary of the killing of acclaimed Mexican journalist Javier Valdez last year.
The parent company of Fox News has reached a $10 million settlement over a series of racial and gender discrimination lawsuits involving current and former employees of the network. The settlement includes a lawsuit, filed by Fox anchor Kelly Wright and other employees, alleging “abhorrent, intolerable, unlawful and hostile racial discrimination.” On Tuesday, Wright announced he was leaving the network, and the settlement included a buyout of Wright’s contract. The $10 million settlement also resolves multiple gender discrimination lawsuits, including one in which a former reporter for Fox 5 accused former Fox News chair Roger Ailes of sexual harassment and of turning her down for a job because he didn’t think she would have sex with him.
Uber and Lyft have announced they will no longer require people who are sexually harassed or assaulted by drivers into forced arbitration, meaning passengers, drivers and employees of Uber and Lyft can now pursue lawsuits over sexual harassment or sexual assault. This new policy also ends the practice of forcing victims into signing confidentiality agreements as part of arbitration to settle claims. The shift comes after dozens of Uber and Lyft drivers have been accused of sexually harassing, assaulting or raping passengers.
Former Texas Republican Congressmember Blake Farenthold says he will not pay taxpayers back after he used $84,000 of public money to settle a 2014 sexual harassment lawsuit with his former communications director, Lauren Greene. Greene says Farenthold “blackballed” her from politics when she accused him of sexual harassment, gender discrimination and creating a hostile work environment.
Teachers in North Carolina are walking out of class today and marching on the state Capitol in Raleigh, as the nationwide teachers’ revolt spreads to a sixth state. Hundreds of schools in North Carolina will be closed today, as teachers participate in the “March for Students and Rally for Respect.” Teachers are demanding more funding for education; an increase in the number of school nurses, counselors and social workers; and a statewide plan to reduce large class sizes and improve crumbling school infrastructure.
And Planned Parenthood and the American Civil Liberties Union of Iowa have sued to block Iowa from implementing the harshest anti-abortion law in the nation. The law outlaws abortions once a fetal heartbeat can be detected—something that typically happens just six weeks into a pregnancy, and before many women even realize they’re pregnant. The law is slated to take effect July 1. This is former Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards, speaking on Democracy Now!
Cecile Richards: “Well, Iowa, of course, as you just reported, I mean, this is one of the most extreme abortion bans in the country. It’s clearly unconstitutional. … I think the important thing, too, to put it in context, Amy, is that not only are they trying to now ban all abortions, they actually are trying to end sex education for young people in Iowa. They’ve shut down Planned Parenthood health centers, that served about 12,000 women in the state of Iowa. So this isn’t only an attack on abortion rights. It’s an attack on affordable reproductive healthcare for people everywhere.”