As the partial government shutdown enters its 32nd day, lawmakers prepare to vote on several bills this week aimed at ending the impasse over President Trump’s demand for $5.7 billion in border wall funding. On Saturday, Trump proposed a new deal, promising to shield Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, protections for three years, as well as protections for those who have temporary protected status, or TPS, in exchange for funding his border wall. Democrats rejected the deal, which would not provide long-term protections or a path to citizenship for affected individuals. Despite this, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has said he will bring the proposal up for a vote this week. Meanwhile, House Democrats are moving forward with their own proposals aimed at ending the shutdown. Eight hundred thousand government workers now face the prospect of missing their second paycheck since the government shutdown started, as they continue to either be furloughed or work without pay.
Women took to the streets across the country and the world Saturday, two years after the historic 2017 Women’s March protesting President Trump’s inauguration. In New York City, Democracy Now! spoke to participants at the Women’s Unity Rally, one of two separate events held in the city for the Women’s March.
Michelle Foulkes: “My name is Michelle Foulkes. This is my daughter Sophia. She’s 17 months, and so I’m here to fight for women’s equality, and I think it’s really important that she sees her mother doing these things, so she can feel empowered and grow into an even more confident woman. I’m also a teacher, and so I want my students to be able to know that I am always actively fighting for women’s rights, so they can also feel empowered to do the same thing.”
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez: “My name is Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. I’m the congresswoman for New York’s 14th District. And I think that to be a woman is to be politicized in America today. And so, really what we need to focus on is the issues that we are here to advance, which is social, economic and racial justice for all people in the United States and abroad.”
In a rare move, the office of special counsel Robert Mueller issued a statement Friday denying the principal claim of a damning BuzzFeed article which said that the special counsel had evidence that Trump directed his former personal attorney Michael Cohen to lie to Congress about negotiations to build a Trump Tower in Moscow. BuzzFeed told CNN Sunday it remains “100 percent behind” their reporting.
Oregon Democratic Senator Jeff Merkley has called for an FBI perjury investigation into Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen for lying about the Trump administration’s family separation policy. Senator Merkley released a 2017 memo Thursday that showed a Trump administration policy option involving “separat[ing] family units.” Secretary Nielsen has stated multiple times that there is no policy to separate families, including during congressional testimony last month. A Department of Health and Human Services report last week found that thousands more children were removed from their parents at the U.S.-Mexico border than previously reported.
In Afghanistan, Taliban fighters killed dozens of security forces at a military intelligence base in Wardak province Monday. Some reports put the number of dead as high as 100. The attack came as the Taliban and the U.S. are holding peace talks in Qatar. Last month, President Trump announced the U.S. will withdraw about half of its troops in Afghanistan.
In Syria, a car bomb injured members of a joint American-Kurdish patrol on Monday, days after an ISIS-claimed attack in the city of Manbij killed 19 people, including four Americans. Meanwhile, Israel has confirmed it launched a series of airstrikes against Iranian targets in Syria Sunday night. Reports are emerging that the strikes killed at least 21 people, including 12 Iranian soldiers.
The U.N. has said two shipwrecks in the Mediterranean may have killed some 170 migrants who were crossing over to Europe. One ship reportedly sank off the coast of Libya with over 100 people on board. The U.N. says that over 2,200 migrants either died or were reported missing while crossing the Mediterranean in 2018.
In Serbia, over 10,000 people marched through Belgrade Saturday to protest President Aleksandar Vucic. Protesters are demanding press freedom and reforms to the country’s electoral system. This weekend was the eighth consecutive week of large-scale anti-government protests in Serbia.
In Venezuela, the government of President Nicolás Maduro said Monday it suppressed a military revolt, arresting a group of officers who stole weapons and kidnapped four officials. The attack at a National Guard outpost in the capital Caracas came shortly after a social media video circulated showing a sergeant calling for Venezuelans to support the removal of President Maduro. Maduro was inaugurated earlier this month to a second 6-year term. While some, including the United States, have called last year’s election “illegitimate,” Maduro has accused the U.S.—along with Canada and 12 Latin American allies—of plotting a coup against his socialist government. Click here to see our recent interview with Venezuelan Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza.
In Colombia, the National Liberation Army—known as the ELN—claimed responsibility for a bomb attack that killed at least 21 people, including the attacker, and left at least 68 injured in the capital Bogotá Thursday. In a statement, the group said the attack, which targeted cadets at a police academy, was in response to government forces bombing an ELN camp last month, in breach of a proposed ceasefire. Colombia’s right-wing President Iván Duque said he is issuing arrest warrants for ELN representatives who are currently in Cuba for peace talks.
In Mexico, the director of community radio station Radiokashana was found dead in Baja California Sunday—the first journalist to be killed in Mexico this year. Rafael Murúa Manríquez had reported receiving death threats and harassment after criticizing the mayor of Mulegé, Felipe Prado, and had been under federal protection. Journalism and free speech advocates are calling for an investigation into the killing.
Meanwhile in Ghana, gunmen shot and killed journalist and documentary filmmaker Ahmed Hussein-Suale in a suburb of the capital Accra Wednesday. The undercover reporter, who helped expose corruption in soccer, was recently targeted by a Ghanaian lawmaker and member of the ruling New Patriotic Party who revealed the journalist’s identity on television and told viewers to attack him.
In Arizona, a judge rendered guilty verdicts for four activists from the humanitarian group No More Deaths. The volunteers were accused of crimes related to their efforts to leave water and food in the harsh Sonoran Desert to help refugees and migrants survive the deadly journey across the U.S. border. They now face up to six months in prison. In a statement, No More Deaths volunteer Catherine Gaffney said, “This verdict challenges not only No More Deaths volunteers, but people of conscience throughout the country. If giving water to someone dying of thirst is illegal, what humanity is left in the law of this country?” Five more volunteers with the group are still scheduled to face trial. Click here to see our recent interview about this case.
In New York City, thousands gathered at the Riverside Church in Harlem Monday to honor Martin Luther King Jr. The church is where King delivered his seminal “Beyond Vietnam” speech in 1967. Democracy Now! spoke to journalist Jemele Hill.
Jemele Hill: “My fear today is that white supremacy has become mainstream. The fact that you have a lawmaker, a congressman, who openly asked what’s wrong with white supremacy or where did that term come from, I think that speaks to everything that we’re seeing in this climate right now. Somehow it’s become more distasteful to be known as a white supremacist than the actual practice of white supremacy, where it’s more offensive to be labeled a racist as opposed to the actual practice of racism.”
Meanwhile, Vice President Mike Pence came under fire after he compared Dr. King to President Trump over the weekend on CBS’s “Face the Nation,” saying, “You think of how he changed America. He inspired us to change through the legislative process to become a more perfect union. That’s exactly what President Trump is calling on the Congress to do.” On Monday, Trump and Pence paid an unannounced visit to the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial in Washington, where they stayed for approximately two minutes.
California Democratic Senator Kamala Harris has announced she will run for president in 2020. Harris, who shared the announcement Monday on “Good Morning America,” was previously the district attorney for San Francisco and the attorney general for California.
Sen. Kamala Harris: “I feel a sense of responsibility to stand up and fight for the best of who we are. And that fight will always include, as one of the highest priorities, our national security.”
Harris is the child of immigrants—an Indian mother and Jamaican father. She chose to make her announcement on Martin Luther King Day and reportedly chose a red-and-yellow color scheme for her official logo as a nod to Shirley Chisholm, who in 1972 became the first black woman to run for president in the U.S. Senator Harris is now the fourth woman to enter the 2020 Democratic race for president.
In more news from the 2020 presidential election, Hawaii Congressmember Tulsi Gabbard, who announced her run earlier this month, released an online apology for past statements against the LGBTQ community.
Rep. Tulsi Gabbard: “In my past, I said and believed things that were wrong. And worse, they were very hurtful to people in the LGBTQ community and to their loved ones. I’m deeply sorry for having said them. My views have changed significantly since then, and my record in Congress over the last six years reflects what is in my heart.”
Gabbard has supported progressive legislation during her time in Congress, including backing Medicare for all and a Green New Deal. In 2016, the Iraq War veteran quit as Democratic National Committee vice chair and threw her support behind Senator Bernie Sanders’s run for president. Gabbard has said her candidacy will center around “war and peace” and will focus on the U.S.'s foreign wars, though some on the left have criticized some of her foreign policy views, including her relationship with India's ruling far-right BJP party and Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
In Chicago, former police officer Jason Van Dyke was sentenced to six years and nine months in prison for the 2014 murder of African-American teenager Laquan McDonald. Van Dyke fired 16 bullets into McDonald, even as dash cam video showed the teenager posed no threat. The day before Van Dyke’s sentencing, a judge acquitted three officers accused of covering up the murder. A protest is planned in Chicago today over the acquittals.
Sony-owned RCA Records has dropped musician R. Kelly from its label amid the fallout from the damning docuseries “Surviving R. Kelly.” Last week, activists protested outside of the Sony headquarters in New York City to demand they stop working with R. Kelly. R. Kelly has been accused of sexual assault, predatory behavior and pedophilia for two decades but has never been criminally convicted.
And a new Oxfam report finds that billionaires’ wealth increased by 12 percent in the past year, with the 26 richest owning the same amount of money as the world’s poorest 50 percent, or 3.8 billion people. Economic inequality hits women and girls the hardest, according to the report, which is being released ahead of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. This is Winnie Byanyima, executive director of Oxfam.
Winnie Byanyima “So, last year alone, we saw billionaire wealth increase by $2.5 billion every day, while the wealth of the bottom half of humanity—3.8 billion—was dropping by $500 million a day. I’m here in Davos to call on governments to wake up and take up their responsibility and tax fairly, tax wealth and put money in the public services that people need.”