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Legendary Native American Singer-Songwriter Buffy Sainte-Marie on Five Decades of Music, Activism

Democracy Now - Fri 07 41 AM

As we head into the Memorial Day weekend, Buffy Sainte-Marie returns to the Democracy Now! studios. Her song "Universal Soldier" became one of the classic antiwar songs of the 1960s. Buffy Sainte-Marie once said, "It’s about individual responsibility for war and how the old feudal thinking kills us all." Buffy Sainte-Marie wrote the song in 1964. A year later, just months after U.S. ground forces invaded Vietnam, the British singer Donovan turned it into a hit. She has also written and sung about the struggles of Native American and First Nations people for decades. She worked with the American Indian Movement and began the Nihewan Foundation for American Indian Education. Her political activism would lead her to be largely blacklisted from commercial radio in the 1970s. On her new album, she re-records two songs from what’s become known as her "blacklist years." Five decades later, Buffy Sainte-Marie is still making powerful music. She has just released "Power in the Blood." It’s her first studio album since 2008.

State of Emergency in California as Santa Barbara Cleans Up from Another Major Oil Spill

Democracy Now - Fri 07 28 AM

A cleanup effort residents say was slow to start is now underway off the coast of Santa Barbara, California, where crude oil from a broken pipeline leaked into the Pacific Ocean and washed ashore at Refugio State Beach. The company that operates the pipeline first said 21,000 gallons had leaked, but then increased their estimate to 105,000 gallons. On Thursday, The Santa Barbara Independent revealed the ruptured pipeline operated by Plains All American is the only pipeline in the county that is not required to be equipped with an automatic shutdown valve in case of a leak, because it operates outside of the regulatory oversight of the county. This latest spill recalls a catastrophic blowout at an oil well in the same area in 1969, when Union Oil’s drilling platform spewed an estimated three million gallons of crude along 30 miles of coastline. We speak to Tyler Hayden of The Santa Barbara Independent and Linda Krop of the Environmental Defense Center.

Neil Young Premieres New Anti-GMO Song "Rock Starbucks" from Forthcoming "The Monsanto Years" Album

Democracy Now - Fri 07 26 AM

Watch an excerpt from Neil Young’s newest video for his song "Rock Starbucks" from his forthcoming record, "The Monsanto Years." Young recorded the album with Willie Nelson’s sons, Micah and Lukas. "I want a cup of coffee, but I don’t want a GMO," Young sings on "Rock Starbucks." "I love to start my day off without helping Monsanto."

Indicted: Grand Jury Brings Charges Against Baltimore Police Officers Tied to Freddie Gray Death

Democracy Now - Fri 07 12 AM

A grand jury has indicted six Baltimore police officers in the death of Freddie Gray, clearing the path for a criminal trial in the Maryland courts. Freddie Gray died on April 19 from his injuries suffered in police custody. The indictments came nearly three weeks after Baltimore State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby first announced her decision to bring criminal charges against the officers. While some of the charges have been amended, the most serious ones — second-degree murder against Officer Caesar Goodson and involuntary manslaughter against four of the officers — remained intact. We speak to longtime Baltimore civil rights attorney A. Dwight Pettit.

Matt Taibbi on Baltimore, Freddie Gray and How Legal System Covers Up Police Violence

Democracy Now - Thu 07 48 AM

New cellphone video sheds light on Freddie Gray’s fatal journey in a Baltimore police van. The footage obtained by The Baltimore Sun shows Gray lying motionless as several police officers shackle his ankles and load him into the vehicle. It appears to contradict earlier police claims that Gray was "irate" and "combative." One of the officers, Lt. Brian Rice, reportedly threatened to use his Taser on the eyewitness who was filming. We are joined by Matt Taibbi, whose latest article for Rolling Stone is "Why Baltimore Blew Up." He writes, "Instead of using the incident to talk about a campaign of hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of illegal searches and arrests across decades of discriminatory policing policies, the debate revolved around whether or not the teenagers who set fire to two West Baltimore CVS stores after Gray’s death were “thugs,” or merely wrongheaded criminals."

Matt Taibbi: World's Largest Banks Admit to Massive Global Financial Crimes, But Escape Jail (Again)

Democracy Now - Thu 07 33 AM

Five of the world’s top banks will pay over $5 billion in fines after pleading guilty to rigging the price of foreign currencies and interest rates. Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase, Barclays and Royal Bank of Scotland pleaded guilty to conspiring to manipulate the price of U.S. dollars and euros exchanged in the $5 trillion FX spot market. UBS pleaded guilty for its role in manipulating the Libor benchmark interest rate. No individual bank employees were hit with criminal charges as part of the settlements. We are joined by Matt Taibbi, award-winning journalist with Rolling Stone magazine.

Expanding Foothold, Islamic State Captures Syria's Ancient Palmyra After Fall of Iraq's Ramadi

Democracy Now - Thu 07 13 AM

The self-described Islamic State has seized control of the ancient city of Palmyra in central Syria. Palmyra is home to some of the world’s most renowned historic structures and is classified as a World Heritage Site. There are fears it could see the same fate as other cities where ISIL has destroyed ancient cultural sites and artifacts. With Palmyra’s capture, ISIL now reportedly controls more than half of Syrian territory. The seizing of Palmyra in Syria comes as the U.S. has launched airstrikes and expedited weapons shipments for the campaign to dislodge ISIL from the Iraqi city of Ramadi. ISIL seized Ramadi on Sunday, leaving hundreds dead and forcing thousands to flee. Iranian-backed Shiite militias are staging a counteroffensive to retake the city. We are joined by Charles Glass, former ABC News chief Middle East correspondent and author of "Syria Burning: ISIS and the Death of the Arab Spring."

"Shell No": From Sea to Land, Seattle Residents Fight Oil Giant's Plans for Arctic Drilling

Democracy Now - Wed 07 51 AM

A major campaign is underway in Seattle against oil giant Shell’s plans to drill in the remote and pristine Arctic this summer. On Monday, hundreds blocked the entrance to the the city’s port, where Shell has docked its 400-foot-long, 355-foot-wide Arctic-bound Polar Pioneer drilling rig. On Saturday, about 500 environmentalists and indigenous leaders took to kayaks and small boats in a protest described as "Paddle in Seattle." The Shell rig arrived Thursday even after Seattle’s mayor announced its permit as a cargo ship does not apply to oil rigs. Now the Seattle City Council has issued a notice of violation against Shell and could issue fines of up to $500 a day. All this comes after the Obama administration announced conditional approval for the company’s plans last week. We are joined by Seattle City Councilmember Mike O’Brien, who was among the hundreds of kayakers in Saturday’s action.

Illinois Judge Calls Police Killing of Rekia Boyd "Beyond Reckless" But Acquits Cop on Technicality

Democracy Now - Wed 07 40 AM

Rekia Boyd was 22 years old when she was killed in 2012 by an off-duty Chicago police detective. Dante Servin fired several shots over his shoulder into a group of people Boyd was standing with near his home, striking her in the back of her head. He was charged with involuntary manslaughter, marking the first time in 15 years a Chicago police officer was charged for a fatal shooting. But last month, in a dramatic dismissal, Judge Dennis Porter acquitted Servin on a legal fine point. While speaking from the bench, Porter suggested prosecutors should have actually charged Servin with murder. "The act of intentionally firing a gun at some person or persons on the street is an act that is so dangerous it is beyond reckless; it is intentional, and the crime, if there be any, is first-degree murder," he said. We speak to Rekia Boyd’s brother, Martinez Sutton.

Police Killing of Michelle Cusseaux Raises Questions of Wrongful Death & Handling of Mentally Ill

Democracy Now - Wed 07 33 AM

Last year on August 14, just days after Michael Brown was fatally shot in Ferguson, Michelle Cusseaux was killed at close range by a Phoenix police officer who had been called to take the 50-year-old woman to a mental health facility. The officer, Sgt. Percy Dupra, claims Cusseaux threatened him with a hammer. Her family joined supporters the week after her death in marching her casket from Phoenix City Hall to the U.S. Attorney’s Office to call for an outside investigation. Phoenix police say they are now creating a crisis intervention squad to respond to calls involving the mentally ill. We are joined by Michelle Cusseaux’s mother, Frances Garrett.

Say Her Name: Families Seek Justice in Overlooked Police Killings of African-American Women

Democracy Now - Wed 07 29 AM

As the Black Lives Matter movement grows across the country, the names of Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Tamir Rice and Freddie Gray have become well known. All died at the hands of local police, sparking waves of protest. During this time, far less attention has been paid to women who have been killed by law enforcement. Today, a vigil under the banner of Say Her Name is being organized in New York to remember them. We are joined by Kimberlé Crenshaw, professor of law at UCLA and Columbia University, founder of the African American Policy Forum and co-author of the new report, "Police Brutality Against Black Women."

Watch more #SayHerName coverage from today’s show:
Police Killing of Michelle Cusseaux Raises Questions of Wrongful Death & Handling of Mentally Ill

Illinois Judge Calls Police Killing of Rekia Boyd "Beyond Reckless" But Acquits Cop on Technicality

Sgt. James Brown, 26, Survived Two Tours in Iraq Only to Die Begging for His Life in Texas Jail

Democracy Now - Wed 07 09 AM

Newly released video has revealed the dying moments of an African-American active-duty soldier who checked himself into the El Paso, Texas, county jail for a two-day sentence for driving under the influence, and died while in custody in 2012. Authorities claimed Sgt. James Brown died due to a pre-existing medical condition, but shocking new video from inside the jail raises new questions about what happened. The video shows guards swarming on top of him as he repeatedly says he can’t breathe and appears not to resist. By the end of the video, he is shown naked, not blinking or responding, his breathing shallow. Attorneys say an ambulance was never called. Brown was eventually brought to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead. His family had long suspected foul play in his death but received little information from authorities. They’ve now filed a lawsuit against El Paso County saying his constitutional rights were violated. We are joined by Brown’s mother, Dinetta Scott.

"By Any Means Necessary": Remembering Malcolm X on His 90th Birthday

Democracy Now - Tue 07 54 AM

Ninety years ago today, on May 19, 1925, Malcolm X was born in Omaha, Nebraska. He would go on to become one of the most influential political figures of the 20th century. We hear Malcolm X in his words speaking in 1964 — half a year before his assassination — delivering his famed speech, "By Any Means Necessary."

How an 85-Year-Old Nun, Activists Infiltrated Top U.S. Nuclear Site, Exposing Dangers & Urging Peace

Democracy Now - Tue 07 25 AM

Three peace activists who infiltrated a nuclear weapons site have been freed from prison after their convictions were overturned. In 2012, the self-described Transform Now Plowshares broke into the Y-12 nuclear facility in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. Known as the "Fort Knox of Uranium," the complex holds enough uranium to make 10,000 nuclear bombs. The activists cut holes in the fence to paint peace slogans and threw blood on the wall, revealing major security flaws at the facility, which processes uranium for hydrogen bombs. The break-in sparked a series of congressional hearings, with The New York Times describing it as "the biggest security breach in the history of the nation’s atomic complex." The three were convicted of damaging a national defense site. After two years behind bars, a federal appeals court recently vacated their convictions, saying the prosecution failed to prove the three intended to "injure the national defense." All three were released this weekend until their resentencing on a remaining charge of damaging government property. They have likely already served more time than they are set to receive under their new sentencing. We are joined by two of the activists — Sister Megan Rice, an 85-year-old Catholic nun, and Michael Walli — as well as their attorney, Bill Quigley.

With House Passage of Extreme 20-Week Abortion Ban, GOP Continues Assault on Reproductive Rights

Democracy Now - Tue 07 11 AM

Republicans continue to seek the erosion of reproductive rights with a series of measures at the federal and state level. Last week the Republican-controlled House approved a bill that would ban most abortions after 20 weeks. The vote came months after Republicans were forced to withdraw their initial version following dissent from women in their own party. The new revised measure drops a requirement that rape and incest survivors who seek an exemption must first report to police. But it instead imposes a mandatory waiting period for such women of at least 48 hours before they can have an abortion. The so-called Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act is based on the medically debunked contention that fetuses can feel pain after 20 weeks of pregnancy. Its passage in the House is seen as largely symbolic, with Senate Democrats opposed and a previous veto threat from President Obama. But it shows Republicans remain determined to advance an anti-choice agenda on the national level as they do so in the states. According to The New York Times, 11 states have passed at least 37 new anti-abortion laws in the first five months of this year. We are joined by Cecile Richards, president of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America and the Planned Parenthood Action Fund.

Ralph Nader on Bernie Sanders' Presidential Bid & His Unanswered Letters to the White House

Democracy Now - Mon 07 45 AM

Since independent Senator Bernie Sanders announced his presidential candidacy in April, polls in Iowa show support there for him has increased to 15 percent among Democrats, up from five percent in February. This compares to about 60 percent backing for former secretary of state, senator and first lady Hillary Clinton. Sanders is the longest-serving independent member of Congress in U.S. history, yet he is going to run in the Democratic Party for the Democratic nomination. We discuss Sanders’ plans with former presidential candidate, Ralph Nader, author of the new book, "Return to Sender: Unanswered Letters to the President, 2001-2015."