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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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Defense Secretary James Mattis has announced the U.S. is preparing to imprison immigrants, including children, on two military bases in Texas.
Defense Secretary James Mattis: “That is confirmed now that those will be the two bases: Goodfellow Air Force Base and Fort Bliss. But the—I cannot confirm the specifics on how they’ll be used. We’ll provide whatever support the Department of Homeland Security needs in order to house the people that they have under their custody. So, we will work that out week by week. The numbers obviously are dynamic, so we’ll have to stay flexible in our logistics support for Department of Homeland Security.”
This comes as the Customs and Border Protection commissioner has announced immigration authorities will temporarily stop prosecuting immigrant adults with children for crossing the border. CBP Commissioner Kevin McAleenan also said his agency and the Justice Department should reach a policy “where adults who bring their kids across the border—who violate our laws and risk their lives at the border—can be prosecuted without an extended separation from their children.” More than 2,000 children remain separated from their parents, jailed in detention centers across the country.
On Monday, the incident commander of the tent city in Tornillo, Texas, where migrant children are currently being imprisoned, said he is against the separation of children from their parents. He told a group of reporters, “It was an incredibly dumb, stupid decision by our leadership. … All it did was harm children, no question about it.”
On Monday, immigrant parents who have been separated from their children spoke out in El Paso, Texas. This is Iris, a mother from Honduras whose 6-year-old son was forcibly taken from her by immigration authorities.
Iris: “I think that’s what I most desire, to have my son in my arms. That’s the dream that comes to me. I fall asleep, and the first thing I dream is to dream of him.”
Reporter 1: “Do you plan on going to Arizona, where your son is?”
Iris: “I can’t go to Arizona. I think we’re not allowed to do that. If it weren’t for these good people who have supported us here, we wouldn’t have known what to do to find our children.”
Reporter 2: “If you knew your children would be taken away when you got here, would you have come?”
Iris: “No, at no time. I think none of us parents who are here would have done that. No one wants to endanger their children, who are the most sacred thing God has given us.”
We’ll have more on the long-term impact of the separation of migrant children from their parents later in the broadcast.
In more news on migration and deportation, the Associated Press reports Algeria has expelled more than 13,000 migrants into the Sahara Desert over the last 14 months. Survivors interviewed by the Associated Press say they were rounded up, crammed into trucks, driven into the desert and then dropped off and forced at gunpoint to walk into neighboring Niger. They say an unknown number of their fellow migrants died during the journey.
In the latest series of scandals for Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt, newly released internal emails show his office discussed hiring the family friend of a fossil fuel lobbyist whose wife was renting Pruitt a Washington, D.C., condo at only $50 a night—far below market price. The emails were released as part of a Freedom of Information Act request filed by the Sierra Club. In one of the emails, the lobbyist, J. Steven Hart, wrote to Pruitt’s chief of staff that his wife Vicki “has talked to Scott about this kid who is important to us. He told Vicki to talk to you about how to handle this.” Pruitt’s chief of staff replied, “On it.” In other emails, Hart also lobbied Pruitt’s office on behalf of Coca-Cola and the bank HSBC. Pruitt has falsely claimed J. Steven Hart did not lobby the EPA last year. Meanwhile, BuzzFeed also reports other internal emails show that a month after becoming EPA administrator, Scott Pruitt told top executives with the American Petroleum Institute that he was looking to fill regional director positions within the agency. The emails are the latest evidence Pruitt sought to recruit members of the fossil fuel industry to work at the EPA.
In the latest attack on the science of climate change, the Trump administration appears to be shifting the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration away from studying climate change. NOAA has been one of the key federal science agencies working on climate change. But the New York Times reports a recent presentation revealed the agency considered dropping the word “climate” from its mission.
In more climate change news, a federal judge has thrown out a lawsuit in which the cities of Oakland and San Francisco were suing fossil fuel companies for the costs of dealing with climate change. The cities had sued to force companies, including BP, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, ExxonMobil and Royal Dutch Shell, to pay for the cost of projects like protecting coastlines from flooding due to sea-level rise. But Judge William Alsup ruled, “The problem deserves a solution on a more vast scale than can be supplied by a district judge or jury in a public nuisance case.”
President Trump has attacked California Democratic Congressmember Maxine Waters on Twitter, calling her an “an extraordinarily low IQ person” and ending his tweet with a threat: “Be careful what you wish for Max!” Trump’s attack comes after Congressmember Waters encouraged people to continue protesting members of the Trump administration in public. A number of top Trump officials have faced public protests in recent days, including Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders and Vice President Mike Pence.
In Pennsylvania, hundreds of mourners attended the funeral of Antwon Rose, a 17-year-old unarmed African-American high school senior who was shot and killed last week by an East Pittsburgh police officer. Video of the shooting shows police officer Michael Rosfeld shot Antwon in the back while the teenager was trying to flee a traffic stop. Officer Rosfeld had been sworn in to the city’s police department just hours before the shooting. The woman who filmed Antwon’s killing said it looked like officer Rosfeld “was taking target practice on this young man’s back.” Antwon’s killing sparked days of protest last week in East Pittsburgh, with hundreds of protesters taking to the streets and shutting down a major highway. We’ll have more on police brutality after headlines with NFL three-time Pro Bowler and longtime activist Michael Bennett, who has been part of a movement, led by former 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, protesting police shootings of unarmed black men.
In Mexico, at least two more political candidates have been assassinated in the lead-up to Sunday’s presidential election. Over the last week, mayoral candidates Omar Gómez Lucatero and Fernando Ángeles Juárez were both assassinated in the state of Michoacán. Telesur reports at least 121 politicians have been murdered since September, making this election cycle the bloodiest in recent Mexican history.
In Argentina, labor unions launched a general strike Monday that paralyzed the capital Buenos Aires, shutting down schools, banks, hospitals, airports, highways and public transportation to protest Argentine President Mauricio Macri’s austerity measures. This is strike leader Alejandro Bodart.
Alejandro Bodart: “This has to be the beginning of a fight plan; it cannot end here. We must defeat Macri and drive out the IMF, which is the only way out for us, the workers, to be able to turn around a situation that is suffocating us.”
And the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved a cannabis-based drug for the first time. The drug, Epidiolex, has been approved to treat two types of epileptic syndromes. The drug’s approval comes as an increasing number of states have approved medicinal and recreational marijuana use.