In Charleston, South Carolina, seven candidates for the Democratic presidential nomination squared off for a raucous debate Tuesday night, focusing a barrage of criticism on front-runner Bernie Sanders as he seeks to consolidate his lead in Saturday’s primary. Two of the candidates were billionaires: Michael Bloomberg and Tom Steyer, who were at either end of the stage. They were joined by former Vice President Joe Biden, Senators Elizabeth Warren and Amy Klobuchar and former South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg. Audience members at times booed Sanders and cheered Buttigieg and Bloomberg. South Carolina TV station WCSC reported the Charleston County Democratic Party offered tickets to people who sponsored the debate at a cost of $1,750 to $3,200 per sponsorship, calling it the “only guaranteed way to get a ticket.” After headlines, we’ll play highlights of last night’s debate and go to South Carolina for reaction.
In India, the death toll from religiously-motivated violence in Delhi has risen to 24, with police accused of turning a blind eye to assaults on Muslims committed by Hindu nationalist mobs. On Tuesday, assailants set fire to a mosque, while attackers used iron bars, rocks and pickaxes to attack Muslims protesting against Hindu nationalist Prime Minsiter Narendra Modi’s new citizenship law, which widely restricts Muslim immigration to India. This comes as Modi himself has been accused of sanctioning the massacre of more than 2,000 Muslims in 2002, when he was chief minister of the state of Gujarat.
President Trump wrapped up his visit to India, where he joined Modi for a massive rally in Gujarat before praising a U.S.-India weapons deal.
President Donald Trump: “Earlier today, we expanded our defense cooperation with agreements for India to purchase more than $3 billion of advanced American military equipment, including Apache and MH-60 Romeo helicopters, the finest in the world.”
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said Tuesday a Syrian government offensive on the last major rebel-held province of Idlib left 20 civilians dead — including at least nine children — after Russian-backed Syrian forces targeted schools and hospitals for attack. The deaths were reported as Turkish-backed opposition fighters said they’ve captured a strategic northwestern town near a junction of two major highways. The violence in Idlib has forced hundreds of thousands — and by some accounts over 1 million — people to flee to squalid camps near the Turkish border. A spokesperson for the International Committee of the Red Cross on Tuesday warned against further attacks on hospitals and schools and demanded safe passage for civilians.
Ruth Hetherington: “The International Committee of the Red Cross is deeply alarmed by the rapidly deteriorating security and living conditions of the hundreds of thousands of newly displaced civilians in the Idlib area who are running out of options to find basic safety for themselves and their families. This is the worst wave of displacement we’ve seen during the Syrian conflict. Now with the harsh winter conditions in Idlib, we see people trapped, isolated and running out of ways to cope.”
The U.S. military has vastly underreported the number of civilians killed in U.S.-supported airstrikes in Somalia, with the number of civilian deaths as much as 69 times greater than acknowledged by U.S. Africa Command. That’s according to data released Tuesday by the watchdog monitoring group Airwars, which found between 71 and 139 civilians have been killed in U.S.-backed strikes in Somalia since 2007. That figure far exceeds AFRICOM’s official count of just two civilian deaths.
The Supreme Court ruled in a sharply divided 5-4 decision Tuesday that the family of a 15-year-old Mexican teen killed by a U.S. Border Patrol agent a decade ago cannot sue the officer in federal court without the approval of the U.S. Congress. In 2010, the teenager, Sergio Adrián Hernández Güereca, was shot across the El Paso-Juárez border by U.S. Border Patrol agent Jesus Mesa Jr. It’s the latest example of impunity for U.S. Border Patrol officers who commit homicide across the Mexican border. In 2018, a federal jury in Tucson, Arizona, found Border Patrol agent Lonnie Swartz not guilty of manslaughter for shooting and killing 16-year-old José Rodríguez through the U.S.-Mexico border fence in 2012. Click here to see Democracy Now!'s coverage of Rodríguez's case and our interview with his family in Nogales, Mexico.
A British pharmaceutical company has reached a tentative deal to settle hundreds of U.S. lawsuits over its role in fueling the opioid crisis. The generic drug manufacturer Mallinckrodt says the $1.6 billion deal has the support of attorneys general from 47 U.S. states and territories. Federal data show the company was a top producer of highly addictive prescription pain medication at the peak of the opioid crisis, shipping some 2.3 billion pills over an eight-year period beginning in 2006.
In Los Angeles, a group of women who have accused Harvey Weinstein of sexual misconduct said Tuesday they’re encouraged by the Hollywood movie mogul’s conviction on charges of rape and sexual assault in a Manhattan court. New York authorities have said they’re prepared to release Weinstein into the custody of their counterparts in Los Angeles, where he faces charges he raped one woman and sexually assaulted another on back-to-back nights in 2013 during Oscars week. The charges could bring Weinstein an additional 28 years in prison. This is Sarah Ann Masse, one of more than 90 women who have accused Harvey Weinstein of sex crimes.
Sarah Ann Masse: “As we turn our efforts and attention to the looming criminal trial in Los Angeles, I have a message for Harvey, for all abusers, rape myth perpetuators, victim blamers and those who have retaliated against us: This one’s for you. Your time is up. The time for survivors to rise up and thrive has come.”
Opera superstar Plácido Domingo has apologized to more than two dozen women who have accused him of sexual misconduct in the workplace spanning decades, writing, “I respect that these women finally felt comfortable enough to speak out, and I want them to know that I am truly sorry for the hurt that I caused them.” On Tuesday, soprano singer Luz del Alba Rubio stepped forward with her own story of abuse, saying Domingo had her blackballed from working at the Washington National Opera and from other roles after she refused his repeated and unwelcome sexual advances. Rubio told reporters, “Before, he was a denier. Then, he was a victim. Now, he is looking for redemption. If he means it, if he is really sorry, I would ask him to apologize to us, face to face. There have been women suffering for 20 years. He should ask for our forgiveness.”
Police in Orlando, Florida, have released video of an officer handcuffing and arresting a 6-year-old African-American girl as she cries and begs to be let go. After the incident in September 2019 drew national outrage, one of the arresting officers, Dennis Turner, was fired. The newly released video shows a second officer, who has not been identified, but whose last name appears as “Ramos” in the bodycam video, binding the hands of 6-year-old Kaia Rolle in plastic restraints before leading her out of her elementary school and placing her in a squad car.
Kaia Rolle: “I don’t want to go in the police car.”
Ramos: “You don’t want to?”
Kaia Rolle: “No, please!”
Ramos: “You have to.”
Kaia Rolle: “No! Please, give me a second chance!”
Kaia was then fingerprinted, photographed for a mug shot and sent to a juvenile detention center. Criminal charges against the 6-year-old girl were dropped the next day. School officials called police after she had a temper tantrum. Kaia’s grandmother is pushing for a Florida bill that would prohibit police from arresting anyone under age 12 except in extreme circumstances.