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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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As the partial government shutdown enters its 33rd day, the Senate is set to vote on two separate bills Thursday: a Democratic proposal that would reopen the government temporarily, with no funding for a border wall, and a Republican bill which includes President Trump’s demand for $5.7 billion to build his wall on the U.S.-Mexico border. The ACLU condemned Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s funding proposal Tuesday, saying it is “substantially worse than what the president described in his speech” and contains provisions that would severely curtail the asylum system and put immigrant children at increased risk. Democratic leaders in both the House and Senate have already rejected such a proposal. This is House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi: ”DACA recipients had their protections—the temporary protected status, TPS—had their protection. The president took it away, and now he’s saying, 'Well, I'll give you this back temporarily if you give me a wall permanently.”
As the political impasse drags on, affected federal workers and agencies continue to call for an end to the shutdown. The Transportation Security Administration said a record 10 percent of workers did not come to work Sunday due to the shutdown, as travelers face extended wait times and reduced service at a number of airports around the country. There are over 800,000 federal workers who are working without pay or on furlough, and 4 million federal contractors who will never be paid, perhaps, because they’re not working directly for the government though are affected by the shutdown.
A group representing the FBI released a report Tuesday laying out the effects of the shutdown on the agency, including hampering ongoing criminal investigations and cases involving sex trafficking and crimes against children.
Federal workers affected by the shutdown are continuing to hold events and rallies across the country. This is Lorie McCann, an employee at the Internal Revenue Service in Chicago who recently filed for unemployment.
Lorie McCann: “So, I’m going through physical therapy, and the co-pays are $90 a week, and so I’m having to pay that out of pocket. So now it’s at the point—well, I did get to the point where: Should I go to physical therapy or pay a bill or purchase food?”
Food banks have been set up around the country to help federal workers who can’t afford food.
The Supreme Court has green-lighted President Donald Trump’s plan to ban transgender people from serving in the U.S. military. The decision came Tuesday in a 5-4 ruling, with the liberal justices dissenting. Trump first announced the ban in 2017, but two lower court injunctions blocked it. The rule, which affects most transgender people, will be permitted to go into effect as the ongoing lawsuits make their way up to the Supreme Court. We’ll have more on this later in the broadcast with Chase Strangio, staff attorney at the ACLU, who is challenging the Trump administration’s ban.
In more news from the Supreme Court, justices decided not to take up the Trump administration’s attempted repeal of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, program. This leaves the program in place for now, as several lower court judges already ruled against Trump’s challenge to the Obama-era policy. DACA currently benefits around 700,000 formerly undocumented people who were brought to the U.S. as children.
Meanwhile, the Trump administration is asking the Supreme Court to take on the 2020 census citizenship question, after a New York judge barred the move last week. Voting rights activists say the citizenship question is aimed at deterring immigrants from participating in the census, leading to a vast undercount in states with large immigrant communities, impacting everything from the redrawing of congressional maps to the allocation of federal funding.
Senate Republicans say they are considering the so-called nuclear option in order to speed up the confirmation of Trump-appointed judges. If employed, the nuclear option would allow Republican senators to confirm nominees with a simple majority rather than the usual 60 votes. Republicans now hold 53 seats in the Senate. Senator Mitch McConnell used the strategy in 2017 to confirm Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court. Shortly after Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation to the Supreme Court last year, McConnell declared it was the biggest achievement of his career.
In Los Angeles, public school teachers are returning to classrooms today after approving an agreement to end a historic 6-day strike. United Teachers Los Angeles and Los Angeles city officials announced Tuesday morning that they had reached a deal on a new contract. The agreement includes pay increases for teachers, additional support staff in schools, smaller class sizes and the regulation of charter schools. Meanwhile, teachers in Denver have overwhelmingly voted to strike. The decision came after failing to come to an agreement with the Denver school system over contract and pay issues. This will be the first such strike for Denver teachers in a quarter of a century. We’ll have more on the teachers’ strike after headlines.
In Zimbabwe, growing unrest has been met with escalating violence, including deaths and multiple accounts of torture. Some reports put the number of Zimbabweans killed at over 12. Nationwide protests started last week, following the government’s move to more than double the cost of fuel. In response, the government of President Emmerson Mnangagwa ordered an internet blackout and deployed military forces to counter the uprising. This is Sheila Matindike of the Zimbabwe’s Human Rights Commission describing recent attacks by the military.
Sheila Matindike: “They would arrive at people’s houses at night or in the early hours of the day and ask all men to go outside and lie on the ground. They would then beat up all the men, including boys as young as 11 years, and then ask them to run, or arrest them.”
The United States is continuing to ratchet up pressure on Venezuela in what appears to be part of a coordinated effort to remove Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro from office. On Tuesday, Vice President Mike Pence posted a video message online telling Venezuelan opposition leaders and protesters that the U.S. supports their efforts to oust Maduro.
Vice President Mike Pence: “I’m Mike Pence, the vice president of the United States. And on behalf of President Donald Trump and all the American people, let me express the unwavering support of the United States as you, the people of Venezuela, raise your voices in a call for freedom. Nicolás Maduro is a dictator with no legitimate claim to power.”
Venezuelan President Maduro responded by saying he would revise diplomatic relations with the United States, saying, “Never before has a high-level official said that the opposition should overthrow the government.” Venezuelan Vice President Delcy Rodríguez also responded to the video.
Vice President Delcy Rodríguez: “Because Mr. Pence doesn’t have a job, now he wants to come and run Venezuela, handing out instructions on what should happen in Venezuela tomorrow, openly calling for a coup d’état in Venezuela. I will say it like the Venezuelan people would say it to you: 'Yankee, go home.'”
On Monday, the government of President Maduro said it suppressed a military revolt in the capital Caracas. Maduro has accused the U.S.—along with Canada and 12 Latin American allies—of plotting a coup against his socialist government. Meanwhile, opposition groups are planning to hold major anti-Maduro protests today across Venezuela.
In Davos, Switzerland, global elites are gathering at the World Economic Forum this week. While some of the world’s wealthiest people discussed economic and business issues, other speakers, including renowned British natural historian Sir David Attenborough, sounded the alarm on the dangers of climate change.
David Attenborough: “It’s difficult to overstate it. We are now so numerous, so powerful, so all-pervasive, the mechanisms that we have for destruction are so wholesale and so frightening, that we can actually just exterminate whole ecosystems without even noticing it.”
That was David Attenborough speaking with Prince William on Tuesday.
Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro also spoke at the World Economic Forum, calling on business leaders to invest in Brazil, citing the country’s biodiversity and “abundant mineral riches.” Environmentalists say Bolsonaro will speed catastrophic climate change through deregulation and by opening up vast swaths of the Amazon to agribusiness giants.
A new study published this week finds that the melting of Greenland’s ice sheet may have reached a “tipping point” and could severely increase sea level rise over the next 20 years. The report confirms other recent studies which warned that the Arctic is warming at twice the rate of the rest of the planet due to climate change.
A study by the Universities of Michigan and Utah found that federal aid to Puerto Rico was slower and less “generous” after Hurricane Maria than federal aid received by Texas and Florida after hurricanes Harvey and Irma. Hurricane Maria, which slammed into the island of Puerto Rico in September 2017, was in fact a higher category hurricane than those which struck the mainland United States just weeks earlier. Local residents have decried FEMA’s response to the disaster. Last year, a Harvard study said the death toll from Maria may top 4,600.
In the New York town of Greece, police arrested three men and one minor on suspicion of plotting an attack on a local Muslim community. The suspects were said to be in possession of multiple improvised explosive devices and firearms, and were charged with criminal possession of a weapon and conspiracy. The suspects were allegedly planning to attack the small community of Islamberg in upstate New York. Police discovered the plot after the unidentified 16-year-old suspect made a comment to a fellow student about a school shooter. The other suspects are 19-year-old Vincent Vetromile, 20-year-old Brian Colaneri and 18-year-old Andrew Crysel. Police say the attack was planned on the gaming chat platform Discord.
And in New York City, the ACLU and the New York Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit Tuesday against the NYPD for arresting a transgender woman and charging her with “false personation.” Linda Dominguez told NYPD officers that she changed her name to align with her gender identity. “False personation” would involve someone intentionally misrepresenting their name in order to conceal their identity. Officers also allegedly harassed and mocked Dominguez on the basis of her gender identity. This is Linda Dominguez, speaking about the case.
Linda Dominguez: “I decided to do this with a lawsuit so they don’t keep doing this. I am the realization of my ancestors’ dreams, and I cannot allow the police to abuse us.”