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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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A stunning new study by researchers at Harvard has revealed the death toll from Hurricane Maria may be 70 times higher than the official count. The official death toll still stands at 64, but the new study estimates a death toll of at least 4,645, with some projections topping 5,700. Researchers counted not just deaths directly from storm injuries such as falling debris, but also those who died due to storm-related delays in medical treatment for injuries, infections and chronic illness. The findings contrast with President Trump’s boasts in the wake of the hurricane that Puerto Rico suffered a low death count. We’ll have more on deaths from Hurricane Maria after headlines.
In the Gaza Strip, Israeli warplanes launched scores of airstrikes overnight Tuesday, while Hamas fired dozens of rockets and mortars into southern Israel, in the most intense fighting in the besieged Palestinian territory since 2014. A tentative ceasefire appears to have taken hold after Hamas said it had agreed to a truce with Israel. The fighting followed a recent wave of nonviolent protests near Israel’s militarized border with Gaza, in which Israeli snipers killed 116 Palestinians and injured thousands of others. Meanwhile, the Israeli Navy intercepted a flotilla carrying about two dozen people—activists challenging Israel’s naval blockade of the Gaza Strip as well as patients seeking medical treatment abroad. The protest came as Israel is constructing a fortified maritime barrier. This is flotilla participant Mohammed Abu Eidah.
Mohammed Abu Eidah: “We demand to break the blockade. I hope to seek medical treatment in other Arab countries because of my injury. The attempt to sail today aims to help us break the blockade.”
Back in the United States, hundreds of people were arrested in cities across the country Tuesday in nonviolent protests calling for an end to economic inequality, militarism and racial injustice, organized by the new Poor People’s Campaign. In Missouri, dozens of people held a sit-in protest at the state Capitol building, calling for a minimum wage of $15 an hour. In Nashville, Tennessee, 20 people were arrested as they protested for gun control and against militarism ahead of a visit by President Trump. In Washington, D.C., dozens of protesters were arrested as they held a civil disobedience protest outside the office of Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.
The New York Times reports that days after Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself from the investigation into alleged ties between Russia and the Trump campaign, President Trump ordered Sessions to reverse the decision. The Times reports the potentially inappropriate request, made in March of 2017, is under investigation by special counsel Robert Mueller as another line of evidence that Trump sought to obstruct the inquiry. Sessions recused himself following reports he met twice with Russia’s ambassador to the U.S. while serving as a campaign surrogate for Donald Trump. The revelation directly contradicted Sessions’ sworn testimony to Congress that he did not meet with any Russian officials in the run-up to the 2016 election.
A top House Republican has defended the FBI against a series of attacks by President Trump, who’s claimed without evidence that the bureau planted a spy in his 2016 presidential campaign. Rep. Trey Gowdy, chair of the powerful House Oversight Committee, said Tuesday that the FBI was acting properly when it deployed a confidential informant to investigate Russian attempts to interfere in the election.
Missouri Republican Governor Eric Greitens said Tuesday he’s resigning from office, as lawmakers prepared for his possible impeachment over alleged sexual misconduct and corruption. Greitens continued to profess his innocence even as he said he’s stepping down.
Gov. Eric Greitens: “I know, and people of good faith know, that I am not perfect, but I have not broken any laws nor committed any offense worthy of this treatment. I will let the fairness of this process be judged by history.”
ABC has canceled its hit show “Roseanne,” after its star, Roseanne Barr, fired off a series of racist comments on Twitter. In one tweet, Roseanne wrote, “muslim brotherhood & planet of the apes had a baby=vj.” It was a reference to Valerie Jarrett, longtime adviser to President Obama, who’s African-American. Roseanne also accused billionaire George Soros, who’s Jewish, of being a Nazi collaborator, and attacked Chelsea Clinton. The decision to cancel “Roseanne” was made by Channing Dungey, the first African-American president of a major TV network. The reboot of the hit 1980s sitcom “Roseanne” last year drew huge audiences and praise from President Trump, who once called Roseanne Barr to congratulate her on the show’s success.
The Supreme Court has declined to hear a challenge to an Arkansas law that’s among the most restrictive anti-choice measures in the country. The law requires women’s health clinics that provide medication-induced abortions to contract with doctors who have hospital admitting privileges. Planned Parenthood says the restriction is almost impossible to meet and that it will be forced to stop providing abortion medication at its two Arkansas clinics—leaving just a single clinic in Little Rock as the state’s lone provider of medication abortions.
In France, police have begun evacuating hundreds of migrants from makeshift camps around Paris, forcing them onto buses bound for so-called temporary accommodation centers. The sweep came as France added new restrictions for migrants applying for asylum. Meanwhile, a 22-year-old migrant from Mali named Mamoudou Gassama became a national hero this week after he risked his life to scale the side of an apartment high-rise in order to rescue a 4-year-old boy who was dangling from a fourth-floor balcony. Video of the rescue went viral, earning Gassama the nickname “Spiderman.” He was welcomed at Élysée Palace by President Macron Monday and offered French citizenship and a job as a firefighter.
Hungary’s government has proposed new laws and a constitutional amendment that would crack down on anyone offering aid to migrants seeking asylum. Under the legislation, offering food, water or legal advice to migrants would be outlawed. Even printing leaflets with information for asylum seekers would become a criminal offense.
Russian journalist Arkady Babchenko showed up at a press conference today, just one day after he was reportedly killed. He revealed he had worked with security services to fake his own death in an effort to catch those who were trying to kill him. Babchenko is a veteran war correspondent who has been sharply critical of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s annexation of Crimea. Babchenko had been living in Ukraine since 2017 after calling Russia “a country I no longer feel safe in.”
The Justice Department has approved a takeover of the U.S. agribusiness giant Monsanto by the German pharmaceutical firm Bayer. The planned $66 billion takeover would make the combined company the largest supplier of seeds and agricultural chemicals in the world.
The Canadian government has announced plans to buy the Trans Mountain pipeline, guaranteeing that its expansion will move forward despite widespread concern about its environmental impact. First Nations and environmental activists say the project will expand highly polluting development in Alberta’s tar sands region, while endangering communities around an expanded export terminal near Vancouver.
And a transgender woman who was part of the caravan of Central American migrants who arrived at the U.S. border earlier this month seeking asylum has died in the custody of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. BuzzFeed News reports that Roxsana Hernandez died Friday after suffering a cardiac arrest at a hospital in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Hernandez was one of scores of asylum seekers who crossed into the United States earlier this month after taking part in a month-long caravan that began more than 2,000 miles away in the Mexican state of Chiapas. Hernandez’s supporters say she was detained by U.S. Customs and Border Protection after asking for asylum at the border. She was reportedly held in a freezing cell with the lights turned on 24 hours a day, and denied adequate food or medical care. Last month, Hernandez told BuzzFeed News that she fled Honduras after facing discrimination and violence.