Thirty-three years ago to the day, the United States narrowly missed a nuclear holocaust on its soil. The so-called "Damascus Accident" involved a Titan II intercontinental ballistic missile mishap at a launch complex outside Damascus, Arkansas. During a routine maintenance procedure, a young worker accidentally dropped a nine-pound tool in the silo, piercing the missile’s skin and causing a major leak of flammable rocket fuel. Sitting on top of that Titan 2 was the most powerful thermonuclear warhead ever deployed on an American missile. The weapon was about 600 times more powerful than the bomb that destroyed Hiroshima. For the next nine hours, a group of airmen put themselves at grave risk to save the missile and prevent a massive explosion that would’ve caused incalculable damage. The story is detailed in Eric Schlosser’s new book, "Command and Control: Nuclear Weapons, the Damascus Accident, and the Illusion of Safety," which explores how often the United States has come within a hair’s breadth of a domestic nuclear detonation or an accidental war. Drawing on thousands of pages of recently declassified government documents and interviews with scores of military personnel and nuclear scientists, Schlosser shows that America’s nuclear weapons pose a grave risk to humankind.
Bill McKibben, co-founder and director of 350.org, joins us to discuss "Draw the Line," a national day of action this Saturday to protest the Keystone XL oil pipeline. Already this week on Monday, 13 people were arrested during a protest in Houston in front of the offices of TransCanada, the company behind the controversial project. McKibben has just come out with the new book, "Oil and Honey: The Education of an Unlikely Activist." McKibben argues that Obama’s pending decision on whether to approve or reject the Keystone XL’s construction is a historic opportunity. "If [Obama] says no to the Keystone pipeline, he will be the first world leader ever to say, 'Here is something we are not going to build because of its effect on the climate,'" McKibben says. "It might have the effect of unfreezing the climate negotiations that have been wrecked ever since Copenhagen … Sometimes Obama, correctly, can blame his absurd Congress. But in the case of the Keystone pipeline, he gets to make the call himself. So he darn well better make that call."
The skies have finally cleared over Colorado after more than a week of rain that led to what experts are calling a "1,000-year flood." At least 21 inches of rain fell on parts of Boulder in the last week, nearly double the area’s average annual rainfall. At least eight people have died in the flooding. More than 1,600 homes were destroyed in the region and another 20,000 damaged, along with dozens of bridges, roads and major sections of highway. Many residents found themselves stranded by the high water. The overall flood zone encompassed 17 Colorado counties in an area nearly the size of Delaware. After a week of devastating floods, Colorado residents now face the threat of contaminated waters. The northeastern part of the state is home to thousands of gas and oil wells that were inundated with rushing water. We’re joined by two guests: Jim Pullen, a reporter and producer with the Colorado public radio station KGNU; and Bill McKibben, co-founder and director of 350.org.
- Obama Urges Congressional Response After Latest Mass Shooting
- Aaron Alexis Bought Shotgun Despite Arrests, Mental Issues
- U.S. Reviews Security Clearances in Wake of D.C. Shooting
- Senate Postpones "Stand Your Ground" Hearing; Study Ties Law to Jump in Justified Homicides
- U.S., Russia Differ on U.N. Resolution for Syria
- Dozens Killed in Latest Iraq Violence
- Egypt Arrests Top Muslim Brotherhood Spokesperson
- Brazilian President Cancels U.S. Trip over NSA Spying
- NSA Order Shows Lower Threshold for Phone Records, No Challenges from Telecoms
- Obama: No Deportation Reprieve for DREAMers' Parents
- U.S. Poverty Rate Unchanged at 15%
- Federal Judge Overturns NOLA Officer Convictions for Danziger Bridge Killings
- U.S. Extends Wage, Overtime Protections to Home Care Workers
- D.C. Council Fails to Override Veto of Living Wage Bill
- Activists Mark 2nd Anniversary of Occupy Wall Street
Fifty years ago this week, four young girls — Denise McNair, Carole Robertson, Cynthia Wesley and Addie Mae Collins — were killed when the Ku Klux Klan bombed the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama. The bombing came less than a month after the landmark March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. Hundreds gathered in the nation’s capital last week to honor their memory when lawmakers posthumously awarded the girls the Congressional Gold Medal. We’re joined by Addie Mae’s sister, Sarah Collins Rudolph, who is often referred to as the bombing’s "fifth victim." Just 12 years old when the church was attacked, Collins Rudolph was hit with shards of glass, lost an eye and was hospitalized for months. Today, she continues to live in Birmingham, suffering from the physical, mental and emotional effects of the bombing. She says she has yet to receive any compensation. Click here to watch Part 2 of this interview.
Since 9/11, the New York City Police Department has established an intelligence operation that in some ways has been even more aggressive than the National Security Agency. At its core is a spying operation targeting Arab- and Muslim-Americans where they live, work and pray. The NYPD’s "Demographics Unit," as it was known until 2010, has secretly infiltrated Muslim student groups, sent informants into mosques, eavesdropped on conversations in restaurants, barber shops and gyms, and built a vast database of information. The program was established with help from the CIA, which is barred from domestic spying. Just last month, it emerged the NYPD has labeled at least 50 Muslim organizations, including a dozen mosques, as terrorist groups. This has allowed them to carry out what are called "Terrorism Enterprise Investigations," sending undercover informants into mosques to spy on worshipers and make secret recordings. We’re joined by the Pulitzer-winning duo who exposed the NYPD’s spy program, Associated Press reporters Matt Apuzzo and Adam Goldman, co-authors of the new book, "Enemies Within: Inside the NYPD’s Secret Spying Unit and Bin Laden’s Final Plot Against America." We’re also joined by Linda Sarsour, executive director of the Arab American Association of New York, which was among the groups targeted by the NYPD.
A gunman opened fire at a naval base in Washington, D.C., on Monday, killing 12 people and wounding several others before dying in a shootout with police. The shooter has been identified as Aaron Alexis, a 34-year-old former Navy Reservist who had been arrested at least twice in the past for shooting-related incidents, but who got security clearance to enter the Washington Navy Yard. Alexis was discharged from the Navy Reserve in 2011 following what officials termed a "pattern of misbehavior." We speak to AP reporters Matt Apuzzo and Adam Goldman who reveal Alexis was treated by doctors within the Veterans Administration for serious mental illness, including "hearing voices."
- 13 Dead, Including Shooter, in Rampage at D.C. Navy Yard
- Report: Gun Ownership Linked to Firearm Homicide Rates
- U.N. Report Finds "Clear and Convincing Evidence" of Chemical Attack in Syria
- Turkey Shoots Down Syrian Helicopter
- Typhoon Hits Japan; Death Tolls Rise in Mexico, Colorado Flooding
- Report: 50 Top Firms Produce 73 Percent of Emissions
- NYC Activists Mark 2nd Anniversary of Occupy Wall Street
- Obama Acknowledges Growing Gap Between Rich and Poor
- House Bill Would Cut $4 Billion Annually from Food Stamps
- Report: NSA Spying on Financial Transactions
- NYC: Bill de Blasio Seals Victory in Democratic Primary for Mayor
Sunday marked the 50th anniversary of the bombing of the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama, a watershed moment in the civil rights movement. On Sept. 15, 1963, a dynamite blast planted by the Ku Klux Klan killed four young girls in the church — Denise McNair, age 11, and Carole Robertson, Cynthia Wesley and Addie Mae Collins, all 14 years old. Twenty other people were injured. No one was arrested for the bombings for 14 years. We hear an address by world-renowned author, activist and scholar Angela Davis, professor emerita at University of California, Santa Cruz. She spoke last night in Oakland, California, at an event organized by the Civil Rights and Restorative Justice Project at Northeastern University School of Law.
In his new book, “Breach of Trust: How Americans Failed Their Soldiers and Their Country," Andrew Bacevich looks at the growing gulf between America’s soldiers and the society that sends them off to war. Bacevich served in the U.S. Army for 23 years and retired at the rank of colonel. He is now a professor of history and international relations at Boston University. His son, Andrew, died in the Iraq War. “Now that the war in Iraq has ended,” Bacevich writes, “Americans might ponder the question of what the loss of several thousand soldiers there signifies. I have grappled with that question myself, not altogether successfully.”
The United States, France and Britain have agreed to seek a "strong and robust" U.N. resolution that sets precise and binding deadlines on removal of chemical weapons in Syria. The announcement comes two days after the United States and Russia brokered a deal for Syria to surrender its full chemical weapons arsenal by mid-2014. We speak to The Nation’s Katrina vanden Heuvel, who has covered Russia for years, and Boston University professor Andrew Bacevich, author of “Breach of Trust: How Americans Failed Their Soldiers and Their Country.”
- U.S., Russia Reach Deal to Destroy Syria's Chemical Weapons
- Larry Summers Withdraws from Consideration for Federal Reserve Post
- Iraq: Scores Killed in Weekend Attacks
- Afghanistan: Top Female Police Officer Gunned Down
- Children Killed by Suicide Bomber Targeting Afghan-NATO Convoy
- Report: Bahrain Routinely Detaining, Beating Children
- Mexico: Teachers Form New Protest Encampment After Police Crackdown
- Mexico: At Least 21 Killed as Storms Blasts Opposite Coasts
- Colorado Floods: 5 Confirmed Dead, Thousands Displaced
- NC: Officer Charged in Fatal Shooting of Unarmed Man Who Sought Help After Crash
- NYPD Open Fire on Unarmed Man, Injure 2 Bystanders
- Judge Orders U.S. to Consider Releasing Docs on NSA Spying
- Obama Appoints Millionaire, Former Bain Consultant to Top Economic Post
- Judge Halts Tar Sands "Megaloads" Through Nez Perce Land in Idaho
- 4 Girls Remembered on 50th Anniversary of Birmingham Bombings
Five years ago this weekend, the Wall Street giant Lehman Brothers collapsed triggering the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression. Today, the divide between the 1 percent and the 99 percent is as great as ever. According to one recent study, the top 1 percent has captured about 95 percent of the income gains since the recession ended. “Since the recovery, almost all of the gains have gone to the very, very top. People who are in the top 1 percent are doing even better than they did before the Great Recession, better than they have done since 1928,” says former Labor Secretary Robert Reich. “Most Americans are on a downward escalator. Median wage in the United States, adjusted for inflation, keeps on dropping.” Reich is the focus of the new film, “Inequality for All.” In this interview, he also talks about Syria, the second anniversary of Occupy Wall Street on September 17, Obama’s healthcare plan and Milton Friedman’s connection to the Pinochet dictatorship in Chile.
- Kerry Upholds Threat of Military Strike on Syria "Should Diplomacy Fail"
- Assad: U.S. Must End Threats Before Syria Surrenders Chemical Weapons
- U.N. Report: Syrian Gov't Attacking Hospitals, Blocking Treatment
- Syria Researcher Cited by Kerry, McCain Fired for Lying About Credentials
- Afghanistan: Taliban Attacks U.S. Consulate in Herat
- Egypt: Military-Backed Gov't Extends State of Emergency for 2 Months
- Al Jazeera Takes Legal Action Against Egypt for Media Crackdown
- India: 4 Sentenced to Death for Fatal Gang Rape That Ignited Protests
- Turkey: Mass Protests Erupt After Death of Demonstrator
- More Than 100 Women Arrested in Civil Disobedience for Immigration Reform
- California Set to Raise Minimum Wage to $10 an Hour by 2016
- California Lawmakers Pass Domestic Workers Bill of Rights
- D.C. Mayor Vetoes Living Wage Bill After Pressure from Wal-Mart, Other Retailers
- Colorado Hit by Deadly Floods
- Special Prosecutor to Probe Police Killing of 107-Year-Old Man in Arkansas
- Florida AG Pam Bondi Delays Prisoner's Execution to Attend Campaign Event
- Washington: Officials Test Alfalfa Crop for GMO Contamination
- Canada: Oil Carried by Derailed Train Was Mislabeled
- Release of Cuban 5 Demanded on 15th Anniversary of Arrest
- Philosopher, Writer Marshall Berman, Author of "All That Is Solid Melts Into Air," Dies at 72
- Education Scholar Jean Anyon Dies
A new study shows that income inequality in America is at a record high. According to an analysis of tax filings, the income gap between the richest 1 percent of Americans and the other 99 percent widened to unprecedented levels in 2012. The top 1 percent of U.S. earners collected more than 19 percent of household income, breaking a record previously set in 1927. Income inequality in the United States has been growing for almost three decades. We speak to Sasha Abramsky, author of the new book, "The American Way of Poverty: How the Other Half Still Lives." It is written in the spirit of Michael Harrington’s groundbreaking 1962 book, "The Other America," in which he chronicled the lives of people excluded from the 'age of affluence.' Harrington’s book went on to inspire President Lyndon B. Johnson’s subsequent "war on poverty."
In what could be a major development for worker rights, the AFL-CIO has announced a new plan to enlist tens of millions of non-union workers, including immigrants and low-wage workers who have traditionally not been part of its federation. The move comes as unions face a major decline in membership and have seen their collective bargaining rights slashed in former union strongholds like Wisconsin. Meanwhile, non-union workers at Wal-Mart, and fast food chains like McDonalds, have gained momentum in their efforts to push for better pay by holding one-day strikes. We’re joined by Cristina Tzintzun, executive director of the Workers Defense Project in Texas, who just attended the AFL-CIO Quadrennial Convention.
Despite assurances from President Obama, the scandal around the National Security Agency continues to grow. The Guardian reports the NSA has routinely passed raw intelligence to Israel about U.S. citizens. "The NSA was sharing what they call raw signals intelligence, which includes things like who you are calling and when you are calling, the content of your phone call, the text of your emails, your text messages, your chat messages," says Alex Abdo of the American Civil Liberties Union. "It sounds like all of that was handed over." Abdo also discusses the ACLU’s successful fight to force the government to declassify documents that show the NSA wrongly put 16,000 American phone numbers on an "alert list."
After the three-term administration of billionaire Mayor Michael Bloomberg, progressive candidates emerged as the clear winners of New York City’s primary elections earlier this week. Mayoral candidate Bill de Blasio led the Democratic field after opposing Bloomberg’s embrace of the police tactic of "stop and frisk" and vowing to take on growing inequality between rich and poor. A number of young progressive candidates also pulled off surprising wins in races for City Council nominations. "New York City is on the cusp of electing its most progressive government in 50 years," says Democracy Now! co-host and New York Daily News columnist Juan González.
- U.S., Russia Resume Talks on Syrian Chemical Weapons
- Putin: U.S. Attack on Syria Would Spark "New Wave of Terrorism"
- Report: CIA Shipping Weapons to Syrian Rebels
- U.N. Panel: Syria Attack Would Worsen Civilian Suffering
- Ban: Syria Killings a "Collective Failure"
- Assad Forces Accused of Bombing Hospital; Al-Qaeda Group Linked to Massacre
- U.S. Marks 12th Anniversary of 9/11 Attacks
- Niece of 9/11 Victim Makes Appeal for Peace
- Chile Marks 40th Anniversary of U.S.-Backed Coup
- Kissinger Meets With Kerry on Chilean Coup's 40-Year Mark
- 33 Killed, Dozens Wounded in Iraq Bombing
- Thousands Protest Education Law in Mexico
- Israel to Pay $1.1 Million to Family of "Prisoner X"
- NSA Shared Raw Intel With Israel
- Senate Confirms Ex-FBI Lawyer Linked to Surveillance Overreach for Federal Judgeship
- Florida Pastor Arrested Before Attempt to Burn Korans
- Richmond, CA Approves Body to Oversee Purchases of Underwater Mortgages
- Koch-Linked "Freedom Partners" Spent $236 Million in 2012 Campaign
Noam Chomsky, the world-renowned political dissident, linguist and author, weighs in on today’s 12th anniversary of the September 11, 2001, attacks and how the civil war in Syria appears destined to permanently break the country apart. "[9/11] was very significant, a major terrorist act, thousands of people killed," Chomsky says. "It’s the first time since the War of 1812 that U.S. territory had been attacked. The United States has had remarkable security, and therefore was, aside from the horrible atrocity, a very significant, historical event. And it changed attitudes and policies in the United States quite considerably. And in reaction to this, the government was able to ram through laws that sharply constrained civil liberties. It was able to provide pretexts for the invasion of Afghanistan, invasion of Iraq — the destruction of Iraq, with consequences that spread through the region. And it’s the basis for Obama’s massive terrorist war, the drone war, the most extreme terrorist campaign that’s underway now, maybe most extreme in history, and the justification for it is the same: the second 9/11, 9/11/2001. So, yes, it’s had enormous effects on society, on attitudes, on policies. Many victims throughout the world can testify to that." On Syria, Chomsky says the country "is plunging into suicide. If negotiations [don’t] work, Syria is moving towards a kind of very bloody partition."