A jury in Brunswick, Georgia, is set to determine the fate of three white men charged with hunting down and murdering 25-year-old Black jogger Ahmaud Arbery. Lawyers for the defense made closing arguments Monday. A nearly all-white panel of 12 jurors and three alternates is set to hear a rebuttal from prosecutors today before beginning deliberations. Defense attorney Laura Hogue, who represents Greg McMichael, blamed Arbery’s own actions for his death, and she drew outrage over these comments:
Laura Hogue: “Turning Ahmaud Arbery into a victim after the choices that he made does not reflect the reality of what brought Ahmaud Arbery to Satilla Shores in his khaki shorts, with no socks to cover his long dirty toenails.”
Hogue’s comment drew audible gasps from the courtroom. Ahmaud Arbery’s mother, Wanda Cooper-Jones, was so upset she got up and briefly left the trial. She later condemned Hogue’s remarks.
Wanda Cooper-Jones: “She described Ahmaud as his long legs and his dirty long toenails. That was just beyond rude. Regardless of what kind of toenails he had, what sized legs he had, that was still my son. And my son was actually running for his life.”
Taken together, Gregory McMichael, Travis McMichael and William Bryan face nine counts that could see each of them sentenced to life in prison.
In Yemen, the Saudi-led military coalition has launched air raids on the capital, Sana’a, with reports of massive explosions in the city’s northern neighborhoods. Saudi officials said they targeted Houthi military sites in retaliation for the rebel group’s drone attacks Saturday on sites in Saudi Arabia, including a major oil hub in Jeddah.
The latest violence comes after thousands of people marched through the streets of Sana’a Monday protesting U.S. support for the Saudi-led military coalition.
Abu Mahran Al-Samawi: “We the Yemeni people took to the streets today to denounce the military escalation carried out by America, the economic blockade and the continuation of aggression. We had thought that when Joe Biden took office, he would keep his promises on stopping the war on Yemen and open the airport in Sana’a. It turned out that all that talk was a lie.”
In Washington, D.C., a bipartisan group of senators has introduced a bill that would block the Biden administration’s planned sale of $650 million worth of weapons to Saudi Arabia. Republicans Rand Paul and Mike Lee joined independent Senator Bernie Sanders as co-sponsors. In a statement, Senator Paul said, “By participating in this sale, we would not only be rewarding reprehensible behavior, but also exacerbating a humanitarian crisis in Yemen.” The United Nations warns the Saudi-led invasion of Yemen and naval blockade has led to the worst humanitarian disaster in half a century, with millions displaced and a step away from starvation.
U.S. coronavirus infections and hospitalizations are continuing to rise, even as COVID-19 continues to claim more than 1,000 lives per day. Cases among children are up 32% from two weeks ago, representing about a quarter of all U.S. infections.
On Monday, top infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci called on everyone 5 and older to get vaccinated, warning the Thanksgiving holiday could trigger a dangerous winter surge unless people take measures now to slow the spread of coronavirus.
Meanwhile, the White House said Monday 95% of federal employees have met a vaccine mandate covering 3.5 million U.S. government workers. And the CDC added Germany and Denmark to a list of high-risk destinations amid a massive surge of COVID cases across most of Europe.
In occupied East Jerusalem, Israeli soldiers shot dead a Palestinian man after he killed an Israeli settler and wounded three others Sunday. The confrontation took place in the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound — the site of recent attacks from Israeli police. In a statement, Hamas said the Palestinian man was politically affiliated with the armed resistance movement in the Gaza Strip. Israeli forces immediately raided the refugee camp where he lived, in retaliation, and arrested several of his family members, including his daughter.
In El Salvador, President Nayib Bukele has announced plans to build the world’s first “Bitcoin City” in the eastern, coastal region of La Unión. Bukele said the city would be financed by cryptocurrency bonds and would harness geothermal power from a volcano. Many opponents say a Bitcoin City would likely lead to further displacement and other catastrophic impacts on local communities. This is President Bukele speaking Sunday.
President Nayib Bukele: “It’s going to be right there in the Fonseca Gulf, and it’s going to include everything: residential areas, commercial areas, services, museums, entertainment, bars, restaurants, airport, port, rail, everything devoted to bitcoin.”
Bukele’s announcement comes despite massive opposition to bitcoin in El Salvador, which is also the first country in the world to declare the cryptocurrency as legal tender. Meanwhile, several civil society organizations critical of Bukele’s government were raided by the Salvadoran National Police Monday. The widespread raids targeted feminist, humanitarian aid and other social justice groups.
In Wisconsin, police say the man charged with plowing his SUV into a parade of Christmas revelers was involved in a domestic disturbance just minutes before Sunday’s attack, which killed five people and injured 48 others. Waukesha Police Chief Daniel Thompson on Monday identified the driver as 39-year-old Darrell Brooks of Milwaukee.
Daniel Thompson: “The suspect was taken into custody a short distance from the scene, and we are confident he acted alone. There’s no evidence that this is a terrorist incident.”
Brooks has a criminal record that includes arrests for sexual abuse, battery and domestic abuse. He was arrested earlier this month, accused of running over the mother of his child with a vehicle in a gas station parking lot on November 2, and released on a $1,000 cash bond just five days before Sunday’s deadly assault.
The House panel investigating the January 6 Capitol insurrection has subpoenaed five more allies of former President Trump, including longtime Republican operative Roger Stone. At least six people who were part of the mob that entered the Capitol reportedly worked as security for Stone and were linked to the far-right Oath Keepers militia group.
Also subpoenaed was Alex Jones, the far-right conspiracy theorist and InfoWars host. This month Jones was found liable for damages in lawsuits brought by families of the 20 children killed in the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre. For years Jones spread false reports that the shooting was a government hoax and the victims’ families were paid actors, resulting in online harassment and death threats for Sandy Hook families.
For the first time ever, the U.S. has been added to a list of “backsliding democracies.” This year’s annual report from the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance cites voter suppression in many U.S. states, runaway political polarization and former President Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election.
Meanwhile, a United Nations human rights expert has denounced Republican voter suppression efforts, saying partisan gerrymandering and new restrictions on voting are undermining democracy by denying communities of color an equal right to vote. This is Fernand de Varennes, the U.N. special rapporteur on minority issues, speaking Monday.
Fernand de Varennes: “It is almost a tyranny of the majority, where minorities’ right to vote is being denied in many areas, in many parts of the country, and that this cannot be a positive development. This cannot be consistent with the fundamental values of democracy. And certainly it does not seem to consistent with the United States international human rights obligations.”
President Joe Biden on Monday renominated Jerome Powell to serve as chair of the Federal Reserve. Powell was first appointed to the post by former President Trump in 2018.
President Joe Biden: “When our country was hemorrhaging jobs last year, and there was panic in our financial markets, Jay’s steady and decisive leadership helped to stabilize markets and put our economy on track to a robust recovery.”
During his tenure, Powell has refused to acknowledge the climate crisis and has a record of weakening Wall Street regulations. Massachusetts Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren has vowed not to confirm Powell, calling him “a dangerous man to head up the Fed.”
The New York State Assembly has found “overwhelming evidence” that former Governor Andrew Cuomo engaged in sexual harassment while in office. The investigation, which took eight months to complete, largely corroborated a damning report by New York Attorney General Letitia James finding Cuomo sexually harassed at least 11 women. Cuomo resigned in August even as he continued to deny the allegations.
The state of Florida has officially exonerated four African American men falsely accused of raping a white woman near Groveland, Florida, in 1949. Two of the so-called Groveland Four were brutally murdered as a result of the false accusations. The case is now seen as a racially charged miscarriage of justice emblematic of the Jim Crow South.
Carol Greenlee is the daughter of Charles Greenlee, who was sentenced to life in prison over the false accusations. She spoke to Democracy Now! in January 2019, just after Florida Republican Governor Ron DeSantis granted posthumous pardons.
Carol Greenlee: “My nieces, my nephews, my brothers, my son all carried this cloud over them. It has lifted that cloud from being carried by innocent children, innocent family members. And I feel that a chain has been broken. It felt like the door of justice swung open and the nightmare ended, of torture, waking up at night to the pain of what had happened to my father.”