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The Nazis Next Door: Eric Lichtblau on How the CIA & FBI Secretly Sheltered Nazi War Criminals

Democracy Now - Fri 07 47 AM

Investigative reporter Eric Lichtblau’s new book unveils the secret history of how the United States became a safe haven for thousands of Nazi war criminals. Many of them were brought here after World War II by the CIA and got support from then FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover. Lichtblau first broke the story in 2010, based on newly declassified documents. Now, after interviews with dozens of agents for the first time, he has published his new book, "The Nazis Next Door: How America Became a Safe Haven for Hitler’s Men."

Click here to watch part 2 of this interview.

Gubernatorial Candidate Howie Hawkins Calls for a "Green New Deal for New York"

Democracy Now - Fri 07 28 AM

In New York state, the Green Party hopes to make major gains in the race for governor. Its candidate, Howie Hawkins, is taking on incumbent Democrat Andrew Cuomo, Republican Rob Astorino and Libertarian Michael McDermott. Hawkins is one of more than 200 Green candidates running for office across the country on Tuesday. Hawkins is calling for a "Green New Deal" that includes public jobs for the unemployed, single-payer healthcare, a ban on fracking and a 100 percent clean-energy future. Last week, he participated in four-way gubernatorial debate where Democracy Now! co-host Juan González questioned Cuomo about his record of dealing with corruption.

How to Buy a City: Chevron Spends $3 Million on Local California Election to Oust Refinery Critics

Democracy Now - Fri 07 18 AM

The oil giant Chevron is being accused of attempting to buy the city government of Richmond, California. The company has spent more than $3 million to back a slate of pro-Chevron candidates for mayor and city council ahead of Tuesday’s election. According to a report in the Los Angeles Times, Chevron has paid for TV attack ads, purchased space on virtually every billboard in town, funded a flood of mailers and financed a fake “news” website run by a Chevron employee. The move comes two years after a massive fire at Chevron’s oil refinery in Richmond sent 15,000 residents to the hospital. It was the third refinery fire since 1989 in the city. The city of Richmond responded to the latest fire by suing Chevron, accusing officials of placing profits and executive pay over public safety. We speak to one of the politicians being targeted, outgoing Mayor Gayle McLaughlin. She was elected mayor of Richmond in 2006, becoming the first Green Party official to represent a city of more than 100,000. Due to mayoral term limits, McLaughlin is now running for Richmond City Council.

Public Health vs. Civil Liberties: Debate over Ebola Quarantines Harkens Back to AIDS Panic in 1980s

Democracy Now - Fri 07 14 AM

Kaci Hickox, the nurse who was quarantined in New Jersey after returning from treating Ebola patients in Sierra Leone, openly defied the state of Maine by leaving her home and taking a bike ride with her boyfriend on Thursday. Maine Gov. Paul LePage vowed to use “the full extent of his authority allowable by law” to keep her in her home. Juan González talks about his most recent column in the New York Daily News and his interview with Norman Siegel, an attorney for Hickox.

Is Your Judge for Sale? Dark Money Groups Pour Millions into Judicial Races to Reshape Courts

Democracy Now - Thu 07 54 AM

With the 2014 midterm elections just days away, we look at how anonymous donors are reshaping judicial races by pouring millions of dollars in "dark money" into races. Some donors see giving to the campaigns of judicial candidates as a way to get more influence, for less money than bankrolling legislative campaigns. A new investigation by Mother Jones magazine is headlined "Is Your Judge for Sale?: Thanks to Karl Rove and Citizens United, judicial elections have been overtaken by secretive interest groups, nasty ads, and the constant hustle for campaign cash." We speak to Andy Kroll, senior reporter for Mother Jones.

"The Red Cross' Secret Disaster": Charity Prioritized PR over People After Superstorm Sandy

Democracy Now - Thu 07 34 AM

This week marks the second anniversary of Superstorm Sandy hitting the New York City region, becoming one of the most destructive storms in the nation’s history. A new joint investigation by ProPublica and NPR contends the American Red Cross bungled its response to Superstorm Sandy by caring more about its image and reputation than providing service to those in need. It alleges the organization diverted vehicles and resources to press conferences instead of using them to deliver services. And it estimates the Red Cross wasted an average of 30 percent of the meals it was producing in the early days of its Sandy response effort. We speak to ProPublica reporter Justin Elliott and Richard Rieckenberg, former disaster expert with the Red Cross — he oversaw aspects of the organization’s efforts to provide food, shelter and supplies after the 2012 storms. We also air an official Red Cross response to their investigation.

Showdown over Ebola: Will Quarantines of Healthcare Workers Harm the Fight Against Epidemic?

Democracy Now - Thu 07 12 AM

A debate is intensifying in the United States over quarantining healthcare workers who return from West Africa but do not show signs of Ebola. On Wednesday, Maine’s governor said that he would seek legal authority to enforce a 21-day home quarantine on Kaci Hickox, a nurse who has tested negative for Ebola after treating patients in Sierra Leone. Hickox made national headlines when she publicly criticized New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie for quarantining her in a tent outside the hospital. Hickox said she would challenge Maine’s restrictions just as she did in New Jersey. "I completely understand that the state’s purpose is to protect the state of Maine,” Hickox said last night. “I have worked in public health for many years, and that has always been my purpose, as well, but we have to make decisions on science, and I am completely healthy.” To discuss the debate, we speak to Lawrence Gostin, professor and faculty director at the O’Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law at Georgetown University. He is also the director of the World Health Organization Collaborating Center on Public Health Law.

Is Filming a Police Officer a "Domestic Threat"? Austin Activist on Trial for Videotaping an Arrest

Democracy Now - Wed 07 49 AM

A jury in Austin, Texas, is set to issue its decision today in a case that centers on a person’s right to film police officers. Antonio Buehler says he was at a gas station in the early morning hours of New Year’s Day in 2012 when he used his phone to take pictures of a woman being arrested and crying out for help. Ultimately, Buehler’s attempt to document what he felt was apparent police abuse ended with his own arrest when the officer said he felt Buehler spit on him. He faced a felony charge of "harassment of a public servant," and two to 10 years in prison. Last year, a grand jury cleared Buehler of the felony, but in an usual twist, it came back with a charge of "failure to obey a lawful order," a Class C misdemeanor punishable by a $500 fine. The order was for Buehler to put his hands behind his back as he tried to take pictures. Since then Buehler has co-founded the group Peaceful Streets Project, whose members record police and post the videos online, and train others to do the same. He has been arrested several more times while videotaping officers and has filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against the Austin Police Department. Buehler is an an Iraq War veteran and graduate of West Point and Stanford University with no prior arrests. Just moments before a jury is set to issue a verdict, he joins us from Austin.

UPDATE: After four days of proceedings and more than five hours of jury deliberation, Antonio Buehler was found not guilty the evening of Oct. 29, 2014. Buehler sent us this this statement in response to the verdict:

“I don’t feel vindicated, nor do I think I ‘won.’ The cops who committed crimes that night were never tried, arrested, fired, disciplined, or even reprimanded. Instead, Norma and I were charged with a total of six crimes we did not commit, and it took nearly three years to make them disappear. And I still have three more trials coming up for the ‘crime’ of filming the police. The city had eight prosecutors in the courtroom trying this case, and about a dozen police officers were in there to intimidate the jury. When cops and prosecutors are willing to expend such tremendous resources to prosecute a Class C Misdemeanor for political purposes, all Americans should fear their government.”

Arming the Warrior Cop: From Guns to Drones, Inside the Booming Business of Police Militarization

Democracy Now - Wed 07 30 AM

In a new cover story for Mother Jones magazine, "The Making of the Warrior Cop," senior reporter Shane Bauer goes inside the corporations and government departments involved in enabling police departments to acquire anything from bayonets to semi-automatic rifles and drones. Reporting from the exposition called "Urban Shield" — which organizers call the largest first-responder training in the world — Bauer says that the equipment police departments have received from the military pales in comparison to the amount of gear purchased from private companies. The Department of Homeland Security has provided some $41 billion in funding to local police departments to buy the equipment from various corporations, on top of more than $5 billion from the Pentagon since 1997.

Will Mike Brown's Killer Avoid Charges in Ferguson? Cops Stockpile Riot Gear Amid "Troubling" Leaks

Democracy Now - Wed 07 14 AM

There are conflicting reports out of Ferguson, Missouri, over the fate of embattled police chief Thomas Jackson. Unnamed government officials told CNN that Jackson is expected to step down as part of efforts to reform the police department following an officer’s killing of unarmed black teen Michael Brown in August. But Chief Jackson and the city’s mayor say the reports are false. This comes as a grand jury weighs whether the officer, Darren Wilson, should face charges in the killing of Brown. The investigation has sprung a number of leaks, with unidentified sources divulging information that seems to corroborate Wilson’s account of what happened that day. The Justice Department has condemned the leaks as "irresponsible and highly troubling," adding, "there seems to be an inappropriate effort to influence public opinion about this case." The recent disclosures have heightened tensions between the protesters and police, with protesters saying the leaks are part of a broader strategy to prematurely diffuse public discontent ahead of any decision not to indict Wilson. Meanwhile, the St. Louis County Police Department has reportedly stocked up on tear gas, grenades, pepper balls and plastic handcuffs in anticipation of massive protests when the grand jury reaches its decision in November. We are joined by Antonio French, St. Louis alderman of the 21st Ward, longtime community advocate and founder of the new organization Heal STL.

Monsanto, BigAg Spend Millions Fighting Colorado, Oregon Ballot Measures to Label GMO Foods

Democracy Now - Tue 07 48 AM

Colorado and Oregon could soon become the first states in the nation to pass ballot initiatives mandating the labeling of food products containing genetically modified organisms. Earlier this year, Vermont became the first state to approve GMO labeling through the legislative process, but the decision is now being challenged in the courts. Numerous items are already sold in grocery stores containing genetically modified corn and soy, but companies are currently not required to inform consumers. Advocates of Prop 105 in Colorado and Measure 92 in Oregon say GMO foods can be harmful to human health due to pesticide residues and the altered crop genetics. Opponents say the effort to label genetically modified food is overly cumbersome and will spread misinformation. Leading corporations opposing the labeling measures include Monsanto, Kraft Foods, PepsiCo Inc., Kellogg Co. and Coca-Cola. By some accounts, opponents of labeling have contributed roughly $20 million for campaigning against the proposed laws, nearly triple the money raised by supporters of the initiatives. In Oregon, the fight for GMO labeling has turned into the most expensive ballot measure campaign in the state’s history. We speak to Tufts University professor Sheldon Krimsky, editor of "The GMO Deception: What You Need to Know about the Food, Corporations, and Government Agencies Putting Our Families and Our Environment at Risk."

As Indonesia's New President Takes Office, Cabinet Includes Officials Tied to Atrocities of Old

Democracy Now - Tue 07 31 AM

Indonesia’s new president, Joko Widodo, has held his first Cabinet meeting amidst criticism from human rights activists for picking a new defense minister who once defended military killings of civilians. In July, the former Jakarta governor known as "Jokowi" defeated the U.S.-trained former army general Prabowo Subianto, who had been accused of mass killings when he headed the Indonesian special forces in the 1990s. While human rights groups hailed the defeat of Prabowo in July’s election, the new president is facing opposition for picking former Army Chief of Staff Ryamizard Ryacudu to be Indonesia’s new defense minister. Over the past decade, Ryamizard has defended the military’s actions in West Papua and Aceh and publicly claimed that civilians become legitimate army targets if they "dislike" army policy or have "the same voice" as anti-government rebels. We are joined from Indonesia by veteran investigative journalist Allan Nairn, whose dispatches shook up the presidential race when he reported on human rights abuses committed by Prabowo and the U.S.-trained general’s statement that Indonesia needs "a benign authoritarian regime" because the country was “not ready for democracy." Nairn also discusses his latest major report, revealing that a top adviser to Indonesia’s new president has admitted "command responsibility" in the 2004 assassination of the country’s leading human rights activist, Munir Thalib.

Attack on Canadian Parliament Fuels "Anti-Terror" Laws, Ignoring Ties to Mental Illness, Drug Abuse

Democracy Now - Tue 07 09 AM

As Canada mourns the death of a soldier gunned down while standing guard at the National War Monument in Ottawa, Prime Minister Stephen Harper is pushing new antiterrorism legislation that would expand surveillance and intelligence sharing with foreign governments. In the days since the shooting, the gunman, Michael Zehaf-Bibeau, has been identified as a convert to Islam with a history of drug abuse, criminal activity and mental illness. The incident came two days after another violent attack on Canadian troops in Quebec. Martin Couture-Rouleau, also identified as a "radicalized" Muslim convert, drove a car into two soldiers, killing one of them. The incidents have sparked fears of blowback shortly after Canada joined the U.S.-led war against Islamic State militants in Iraq. But the violence has also raised questions about Canada’s treatment of the mentally ill and others on the margins. Zehaf-Bibeau had been dealing with a serious crack-cocaine addiction and living in and out of homeless shelters. On Monday, the Canadian government introduced an antiterrorism measure that was to have been unveiled the same day as the Ottawa attack. We are joined by two guests: Ihsaan Gardee, executive director of the National Council of Canadian Muslims; and Harsha Walia, a social justice activist, founder of No One Is Illegal, and author of the book, "Undoing Border Imperialism."

Mumia Abu-Jamal Speaks Out from Prison on Pennsylvania's New Law Censoring Convicts' Speech

Democracy Now - Mon 07 44 AM

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett has signed into law a bill that critics say tramples the free speech rights of prisoners. The "Revictimization Relief Act" authorizes the censoring of public addresses of prisoners or former offenders if judges agree that allowing them to speak would cause "mental anguish" to the victim. The measure was introduced after one of the state’s most famous prisoners, journalist and former Black Panther Mumia Abu-Jamal, delivered a pretaped commencement address for graduating students at Vermont’s Goddard College earlier this month. The speech was opposed by the widow of Daniel Faulkner, the police officer who Abu-Jamal was convicted of killing. The American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania has criticized the new measure, calling it "overbroad and vague," and unable to "pass constitutional muster under the First Amendment." Speaking to us from prison, Abu-Jamal says that "by signing that bill into law, [Gov. Corbett] has violated both of his oaths as governor and as an attorney."

From Fear-Mongering to Crippling Debt, Lapses in Politics and Health Hurt Global Effort on Ebola

Democracy Now - Mon 07 23 AM

The World Health Organization says nearly 5,000 people have now died from Ebola out of 10,000 known cases. But the actual death toll may be significantly higher in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, the three worst-hit countries. The virus is now threatening Ivory Coast, which shares a border with Guinea and Liberia. The World Health Organization has sent experts to Ivory Coast and Mali to help prepare for a possible outbreak. Meanwhile in the United States, hospital officials say the first Ebola patient in New York City, Dr. Craig Spencer, is in serious, but stable, condition at Bellevue Hospital. Spencer recently returned from treating Ebola patients in Guinea with Doctors Without Borders. On Friday, the states of New York and New Jersey announced they would automatically quarantine medical workers returning from Ebola-hit West African countries. We discuss the latest news in the Ebola crisis with two guests: Jeffrey Sachs, a leading economist and director of The Earth Institute at Columbia University, who is working with the government in Guinea to battle the Ebola epidemic, and Nancy Kass, professor of bioethics and public health at Johns Hopkins University.

Back from West Africa, a U.S. Nurse Says Quarantining Medical Workers Threatens Ebola Response

Democracy Now - Mon 07 10 AM

The governors of New York and New Jersey are facing federal pressure to reverse new quarantine rules on medical workers returning from West Africa. Under the policy, arriving passengers with a risk of Ebola exposure will be placed in a 21-day quarantine. White House officials lobbied New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo over the weekend, saying the rules would discourage workers from joining the Ebola response in West Africa. On Sunday night, Cuomo announced a slight easing of the restrictions, saying the workers can be quarantined at home. A nurse named Kaci Hickox became the first health worker isolated under the rules after returning to New Jersey from Sierra Leone. Hickox has been placed in an isolated tent inside a Newark hospital despite testing negative for Ebola. She has threatened to fight her 21-day quarantine in court, saying the order violates her constitutional rights. We are joined by Carissa Guild, a nurse with Doctors Without Borders (MSF) who has just returned from Guinea, where she took part in the Ebola response effort.