The Pentagon has announced it will soon start flying bombing missions out of the Kurdish region of northern Iraq as part of an expanded U.S.-led military campaign against militants from the Islamic State. But it remains unclear when the U.S. will begin launching airstrikes in Syria. According to McClatchy, President Obama has not yet authorized the U.S. Central Command to conduct offensive combat operations in Syria as many questions over U.S. strategy remain unresolved. To talk more about President Obama’s plans to expand U.S. military operations in Iraq and to bomb Syria, we are joined by one of the nation’s leading peace activists, Medea Benjamin, founder of CodePink which held a protest outside the White House on Wednesday during President Obama’s speech. She is the author of "Drone Warfare: Killing by Remote Control."
- Kerry Visits Saudi Arabia, Turkey to Push for Support Against ISIS
- James Foley's Mother: U.S. Response to ISIS Has "Increased the Hate"
- Syrian Rebels Release 45 Fijian Peacekeepers
- Chile Marks Anniversary of Its Own 9/11
- AP: More Than 5,000 Killed in Central African Republic
- Hundreds of Thousands Rally for Catalan Independence from Spain
- Banks Threaten to Leave Scotland if Independence Approved
- Floods Displace 1 Million in India, Pakistan
- Hewlett-Packard Fined for Bribing Russian Officials; U.S., EU Impose New Russian Sanctions
- HRW: Israel Committed War Crimes by Attacking Gaza Schools
- Oscar Pistorius Guilty of Manslaughter, Not Murder, for Killing Girlfriend
- Argentina Adopts Law to Repay Debts Outside of U.S. Court Ruling
- U.S. Threatened to Fine Yahoo $250,000 Per Day for Guarding User Data
- Missouri Enacts 72-Hour Waiting Period for Abortion
- Columbia Students Help Survivor Carry Mattress in Sexual Assault Protest
- University of Illinois Trustees Vote Against Salaita over Gaza Tweets
- Study: Residents Near Fracking Sites More Likely to Become Ill
- FCC Receives Record Number of Comments over Net Neutrality
What would Dr. Martin Luther King do? As debate continues over U.S. plans to launch airstrikes in Syria, we look at the final year of King’s life when he became a fierce critic of U.S. foreign policy and the Vietnam War, calling his government "the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today." We speak to public TV and radio broadcaster Tavis Smiley, author of the new book, "Death of a King: The Real Story of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s Final Year."
President Obama has authorized U.S. airstrikes for the first time in Syria and their expansion in Iraq against the militant group Islamic State. In a prime-time address, Obama vowed to hunt down Islamic State militants "wherever they are." Obama also announced he is sending 475 more U.S. military troops to Iraq, bringing the total to 1,600. He also called for congressional support to arm and train the Syrian opposition. We get analysis of Obama’s speech and this latest U.S. military foray into the Middle East with two guests: Peter Galbraith, a former U.S. ambassador to Croatia who has worked on issues involving Iraq since the 1980s and a former adviser to the Kurdistan Regional Government; and Vijay Prashad, professor of international studies at Trinity College and author of several books. Prashad’s latest article is "What President Obama Should Not Do About ISIS."
- Obama Claims Authority to Expand Strikes to Syria
- Family: Sotloff Was Sold to ISIS by "Moderate" Rebels
- Saudi Arabia to Host Training of Syrian Opposition
- Dozens Arrested in Ferguson at Highway Protest
- U.N.: Ozone Layer Recovering; New Steps Needed to End HFCs
- Ebola Toll Tops 2,300; 4th Patient Arrives in U.S.
- Israel Probes 2 High-Profile Gaza Killings
- Israeli Officials Admit Hamas Leadership Had No Part in Kidnappings
- Israeli Officer Charged for Beating of U.S. Teen
- Hundreds Attend Funeral for Palestinian Killed in Israeli Raid
- Bahrain Allies Urged to Pressure Monarchy for Political Prisoners' Release
- NFL Was Sent Rice Video; Former FBI Chief to Lead Probe
- Texas Carries Out Execution after Failed Appeal
We look at the growing movement for drug decriminalization that is moving ahead in the United States and being amplified by former heads of state from around the around. On Monday, Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter said he would sign a bill that would make Philadelphia the largest city in the country to decriminalize marijuana possession. Just two weeks ago, the City Council in Santa Fe voted to decriminalize marijuana. Earlier this year, District of Columbia Mayor Vincent Gray signed a bill to decriminalize possession of up to an ounce of marijuana in the U.S. capital. Ballot initiatives on legalization of marijuana will go before voters in Oregon, Florida and Alaska in November. This comes two years after voter initiatives in Colorado and Washington state legalized recreational marijuana. Meanwhile, a group of former presidents and United Nations leaders gathered in New York Tuesday to call for an end to the criminalization and incarceration of drug users. Known as the Global Commission on Drug Policy, the panel includes the former presidents of Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Mexico, Poland, Portugal and Switzerland. The commission first made headlines in 2011 when it declared the war on drugs to be a failure. We are joined by two guests: Michel Kazatchkine, a member of the Global Commission on Drug Policy and the United Nations’ special envoy on HIV/AIDS in Eastern Europe and Central Asia; and Ethan Nadelmann, founder and executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance. Watch Part 2 of this interview.
If your favorite website seems to load slowly today, take a closer look: You might be experiencing the Battle for the Net’s "Internet Slowdown," a global day of action. The Internet won’t actually be slowing down, but many sites are placing on their homepages animated "Loading" graphics , which organizers call "the proverbial 'spinning wheel of death,'" to symbolize what the Internet might soon look like. Large Internet service providers, or ISPs, like Comcast, Time Warner, AT&T and Verizon, are trying to change the rules that govern the Internet. Some of the biggest companies on the Internet — Netflix, Mozilla, Kickstarter, Etsy and WordPress — are joining today’s Internet Slowdown to draw attention to net neutrality, the principle that service providers shouldn’t be allowed to speed up, or slow down, loading times on certain websites, such as their competitors. This comes as 27 online advocacy groups sent a letter to Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler Tuesday, calling on him to participate in town hall-style public hearings on net neutrality before ruling on the issue as early as this year. We are joined by Tim Karr of the group Free Press, one of the main organizers of the Internet Slowdown global day of action.
Two climate activists were set to go on trial in Massachusetts on Monday for blocking the shipment of 40,000 tons of coal to the Brayton Point power plant, a 51-year-old facility that is one of the region’s largest contributors to greenhouse gases. But in a surprise move, a local prosecutor dropped the criminal charges and reduced three other charges to civil offenses, calling climate change one of the gravest crises our planet has ever faced. We are joined by the activists, Ken Ward and Jay O’Hara, and the prosecutor, Bristol County District Attorney Sam Sutter. Days after they were to square off in court, the three now say they plan to march together in the upcoming People’s Climate March in New York City.
- Obama Claims Existing Authority to Expand Strikes on Islamic State to Syria
- Syrian Rebel Leader Among 45 Killed in Blast
- Brown Wins GOP Senate Primary in NH; Cuomo Survives Primary Challenges in NY
- Ferguson Residents Pack City Council Meeting with Calls for Change
- Senate Holds Hearing on Police Militarization in Ferguson Aftermath
- Questioned on Assault Tape, NFL Commissioner Won't Rule Out Rice's Return
- Missouri Executes Death Row Prisoner; Texas Next
- Ousted Professor: University of Illinois Threatening Academic Freedom
- Philadelphia Set to Decriminalize Marijuana
In a surprise move, District Attorney Sam Sutter of Bristol, Massachusetts, has dropped criminal charges against two climate activists who were set to go on trial Monday for blocking a shipment of 40,000 tons of coal. In May 2013, Ken Ward and Jay O’Hara used their lobster boat to prevent a delivery of the coal to the Brayton Point Power Station in Somerset, Massachusetts. For their trial, Ward and O’Hara had planned to invoke the "necessity defense," arguing that their actions were justified by how the coal industry worsens the climate change that threatens our planet. In an unprecedented announcement, District Attorney Sutter all but adopted their reasoning and dropped the charges. "Climate change is one of the gravest crises our planet has ever faced," Sutter said outside the courthouse, explaining his decision. "In my humble opinion, the political leadership on this issue has been sorely lacking.”
Tune in to Democracy Now! on Wednesday for our interview with the two climate activists, Ken Ward and Jay O’Hara, and District Attorney Sam Sutter.
As the fall school term begins, an Illinois college campus is embroiled in one of the nation’s biggest academic freedom controversies in recent memory. The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign has sparked an outcry over its withdrawal of a job offer to a professor critical of the Israeli government. Steven Salaita was due to start work at the university as a tenured professor in the American Indian Studies Program. But after posting a series of tweets harshly critical of this summer’s Israeli assault on Gaza, Salaita was told the offer was withdrawn. The school had come under pressure from donors, students, parents and alumni critical of Salaita’s views, with some threatening to withdraw financial support. Thousands of academics have signed petitions calling for Salaita’s reinstatement, and several lecturers have canceled appearances in protest. The American Association of University Professors has called the school’s actions "inimical to academic freedom and due process." A number of Urbana-Champaign departments have passed votes of no-confidence in the chancellor, Phyllis Wise. And today, Urbana-Champaign students will be holding a campus walkout and day of silence in support of Salaita. We are joined by two guests: Columbia University law professor Katherine Franke, who has canceled a lecture series at Urbana-Champaign in protest of Salaita’s unhiring; and Kristofer Petersen-Overton, a scholar who went through a similar incident in 2011 when Brooklyn College reversed a job offer after complaints about his Middle East views, only to reinstate it following a public outcry.
We turn to the sporting news that has put a new spotlight on domestic violence and its lax treatment by the country’s most popular sport. Baltimore Ravens star running back Ray Rice has been cut by his team and indefinitely suspended by the National Football League after a new video showed him punching his then-fiancée into unconsciousness. But the details of the case have been known for months after a previous video from a different angle showed Rice dragging the unconscious woman out of an elevator and dropping her face-first on the ground. The Baltimore Ravens had defended Rice, while the NFL’s first response in July was to suspend him for just two games. A massive public outcry led NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell to apologize and change the league’s domestic violence policy. Why did it take the NFL so long to act? What did the league and the Ravens know, and when did they know it? We are joined by Dave Zirin, sports columnist for The Nation magazine and host of Edge of Sports Radio on SiriusXM. "This is about a National Football League that treats violence against women as a public relations crisis, not as a crisis about the ways in which the violence of the game spills over into people’s families," Zirin says.
- U.N.: Greenhouse Gas Levels Reach Record High
- Report: Southwestern U.S. at Higher Risk of "Megadrought"
- Iraqi Lawmakers Approve New Government
- EU OKs New Sanctions on Russia; Report Finds MH17 Hit by "High-Energy Objects"
- Yemeni Police Fire on Protesters, Killing 7
- Chile: Bomb Injures 7 in Subway Station
- Obama Extends Embargo on Cuba Despite Global Condemnation
- Top Anti-Logging Activist Murdered in Peru
- Report: Israel Unlawfully Coercing African Migrants to Leave
- U.S. Senate Advances Amendment to Overturn Citizens United
- Documents Show Secret U.S. Plans to Spy for the Benefit of Corporations
- SAC Capital Ex-Trader Sentenced to 9 Years in Prison
- Ray Rice Suspended from NFL After Video Shows Him Punching Then-Fiancée
- City of Ferguson to Adopt Reforms After Death of Michael Brown
- New Witness Confirms Michael Brown Fled, Put Hands in Air
- Video Shows NYPD Officers Beating Latino Man After Stop-and-Frisk
- Oklahoma: Cop Accused of Sexually Assaulting 8 Women Released from Jail
- Pennsylvania Mother Sentenced to Up to 18 Months for Helping Daughter Get Abortion Pills
Even as tobacco companies are legally barred from selling cigarettes to children, they are reportedly profiting from child labor. Investigations by The New York Times and Human Rights Watch reveal hundreds, if not thousands, of children are working on tobacco farms in the United States. Many suffer from "green tobacco sickness," or nicotine poisoning, which can cause vomiting, dizziness and irregular heart rates, among other symptoms. Children are especially vulnerable to toxic pesticides since their bodies are still developing. Workers can absorb as much nicotine as if they were actually smoking simply by handling wet tobacco leaves. We speak with Steven Greenhouse, longtime labor and workplace reporter for The New York Times, who went to North Carolina to meet the young laborers. "I was shocked that a lot of these kids said, 'I work in the fields from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m.,'" Greenhouse says of the 60-hour weekly schedules the young workers commonly endure, often in grueling heat. Under U.S. law, tobacco farms can hire workers as young as 12 years old for unlimited hours, as long as it doesn’t conflict with their school attendance.
Think Tanks as Lobbyists: Exposé Shows U.S. Groups Receive Millions to Push Foreign Nations' Agendas
A New York Times exposé reveals more than a dozen prominent Washington research groups have received tens of millions of dollars from foreign governments in recent years while pushing United States government officials. Some scholars funded by the think tanks say they faced pressure to reach conclusions friendly to the government financing their work. The groups named in the report include the Brookings Institution, the Center for Strategic and International Studies, and the Atlantic Council, and most of the money comes from countries in Europe, the Middle East and Asia, including the oil-producing nations of the United Arab Emirates, Qatar and Norway. Few of them have registered with the Justice Department as "foreign agents" that aim to shape policy, as required by the Foreign Agents Registration Act. We are joined by Brooke Williams, a contributing reporter at The New York Times who co-wrote the new article, "Foreign Powers Buy Influence at Think Tanks."
President Obama has launched an effort to rally Congress and the public behind a sustained offensive against the militant group, Islamic State. Obama is set to meet with Congress on Tuesday followed by a national address Wednesday. The United States says it will lead the offensive against the Islamic State with a so-called "core coalition" of 10 countries. The White House says the fight could last beyond the end of President Obama’s term in early 2017. Meanwhile on Sunday, Arab League foreign ministers met in Cairo and announced they would cooperate with efforts to combat militants who have overrun parts of Iraq and Syria. Their resolution did not explicitly support the U.S. campaign against the Islamic State, but suggested it would back the effort.
We are joined by Rami Khouri, director of the Issam Fares Institute for Public Policy and International Affairs at the American University of Beirut and editor-at-large of the Beirut-based newspaper, The Daily Star. "Combining American militarism with Arab dictatorships is probably the stupidest recipe that anybody could possibly come up with to try to fight jihadi movements like al-Qaeda and the Islamic State and others," Khouri says. "It was that combination of Arab autocracy and American militarism that actually nurtured and let these movements expand."
- Obama Delays Executive Action on Immigration, Denies Midterms as Factor
- Immigrant Rights Group: Obama Delay "a Betrayal of Latino Community"
- Obama to Push Expanded Offensive Against Islamic State
- Al-Shabab Names New Leader, Vows Revenge for U.S. Strike
- Ukraine-Rebel Ceasefire Holds Despite Sporadic Violence
- Amnesty: Both Sides Committing War Crimes in Ukraine; Imagery Proves Russia Role
- African Union Holds Emergency Talks as Study Points to Potential Vaccine
- Obama: U.S. Military Will Assist Global Ebola Response
- Bush Memo: "Congress Cannot Curtail" Warrantless Spying
- NBA Owner to Sell Team after Email Seeking to Attract Racist Audience
- Federal Judge Approves $41 Million Central Park Five Settlement
Fast-food workers fighting for a $15 hourly wage and union rights took to the streets in 150 cities across the country Thursday. More than 400 workers and their supporters were arrested during the strikes as they engaged in nonviolent civil disobedience by blocking streets during rush hour. To discuss this growing labor movement, we are joined by two guests: Ashona Osborne, a fast-food worker at Wendy’s who was arrested Thursday during the fast-food worker strikes, and before that in May during protests at the McDonald’s shareholders’ meeting; and Mary Kay Henry, president of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), which represents two million workers in healthcare, public and property services and has been a major backer of the fast-food worker strikes.
A federal judge has ruled that BP was "grossly negligent" and "reckless" in the lead-up to the 2010 Deepwater Horizon explosion that killed 11 workers and caused more than 200 million gallons of oil to flood into the Gulf of Mexico. BP could face up to $18 billion in extra fines following the ruling. The ruling also found BP subcontractors Transocean and Halliburton "negligent" in the accident. BP says it will immediately appeal. In a statement on its website, BP wrote: "BP strongly disagrees with the decision? … The law is clear that proving gross negligence is a very high bar that was not met in this case. BP believes that an impartial view of the record does not support the erroneous conclusion reached by the District Court." We discuss the court ruling with Antonia Juhasz, an oil and energy analyst who has reported on the Gulf oil spill from its outset. She is the author of "Black Tide: The Devastating Impact of the Gulf Oil Spill."
Professor Stephen Cohen says new reports raise questions about why the Malaysia Airlines flight carrying 298 people exploded and crashed in eastern Ukraine, killing everyone on board. "There seems to have been an agreement among the major powers not to tell us who did it," Cohen says. While U.S. and Ukrainian officials say the Boeing 777 was shot down by a Russian-made surface-to-air missile, it is unclear who fired the missile. "There are reports from Germany that the White House version of what happened is not true, therefore you have to look elsewhere for the culprit who did the shooting down," Cohen notes. "They’re sitting on satellite intercepts. They have the images. They won’t release the air controller’s conversations in Kiev with the doomed aircraft. Why not?" See part one of this interview.