While Washington debates the use of military force in Syria, the United Nations has revealed the number of refugees who have fled the country’s civil war has topped two million, with another four million internally displaced. The tide of children, women and men leaving Syria has risen almost tenfold over the past 12 months. On average, almost 5,000 people take refuge in Syria’s neighboring countries every day. The United Nations warned last month that the war is fueling the worst refugee crisis since the Rwanda genocide in 1994. Overall, the fighting in Syria has killed more than 100,000 since 2011, including some 7,000 children. In Beirut, Lebanon, we’re joined by Oxfam America President Raymond Offenheiser, just back from visiting refugee camps in Jordan and Lebanon.
- Obama Picks Up Key Congressional Support as Debate Begins on Syria Strike
- Kerry Won't Rule Out "Boots on the Ground" in Syria
- Ban: Syria Attack Without U.N. Backing "Unlawful"
- Obama in Sweden Before G-20 Summit
- Dozens Killed in Iraq Violence
- Thousands Rally Against Egypt Gov't; Al Jazeera Alleges Signal Disruption
- Fukushima Radiation at Record High
- South African Gold Miners Launch Strike for Higher Wages
- Tens of Thousands of Teachers Strike in Mexico
- Ariel Castro Found Hanged in Ohio Prison Cell
- Montana Judge Reconsiders Rape Sentence After Outcry
- Bloomberg Sues NYC Council over Police Racial Profiling Curbs
- Chelsea Manning Files Request for Presidential Pardon
British broadcasting legend David Frost has died at the age of 74 after a heart attack. He spent more than 50 years as a television personality best known for his signature long-form interviews, particularly for a series of historic interviews he conducted in 1977 with the disgraced former president, Richard Nixon, who had resigned three years earlier. The interviews lasted more than 28 hours and ended with Nixon making a tacit admission of guilt regarding his role in the bugging of Democratic rivals at Washington’s Watergate building and the later cover-up. The interview was later dramatized in the 2008 film "Frost/Nixon," directed by the Academy Award-winning filmmaker Ron Howard. In December 2008, Democracy Now! interviewed Howard about the film.
The New York Times has revealed the Drug Enforcement Administration has an even more extensive collection of U.S. phone records than the National Security Agency. Under a secretive DEA program called the Hemisphere Project, the agency has access to records of every phone call transmitted via AT&T’s infrastructure dating back to 1987. That period covers an even longer stretch of time than the NSA’s collection of phone records, which started under President George W. Bush. Each day, some four billion call records are swept into the database, which is stored by AT&T. The U.S. government then pays for AT&T employees to station themselves inside DEA units, where they can quickly hand over records after agents obtain an administrative subpoena. The DEA says the collection allows it to catch drug dealers who frequently switch phones, but civil liberties advocates say it raises major privacy concerns. We speak with Scott Shane, national security reporter for The New York Times and co-author of the report, "Drug Agents Use Vast Phone Trove, Eclipsing NSA’s."
The White House has launched what it describes as a "flood the zone" campaign to persuade Congress to authorize bombing Syria days after President Obama surprised many by announcing he would seek congressional approval before taking action against the Syrian government. On Saturday, the White House released a proposed military resolution that authorizes the president to use the armed forces "as he determines to be necessary and appropriate in connection with the use of chemical weapons or other weapons of mass destruction in the conflict in Syria." Critics of military intervention say the draft resolution could open the door to possible use of ground troops or eventual attacks on other countries. “It would intensify sectarian tensions inside Syria and neighboring states in particular in Lebanon and Iraq,” says Fawaz Gerges, professor of international relations and Middle East studies at the London School of Economics and Political Science. “It would deepen the involvement of regional powers further in Syria, particularly Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and Qatar on the one hand, and Iran, Hezbollah and to a smaller extent, Iraq. It would rekindle the collective memory of Arabs and Muslims of previous Western hegemonic attacks. The Iraq model is very much alive in the Arab imagination.” While Washington debates the use of military force, the United Nations has revealed the number of refugees who have fled Syria has topped two million. The tide of children, women and men leaving Syria has risen almost 10-fold over the past 12 months.
- Obama Pushes for Congressional Approval to Attack Syria; Syrian Refugees Top 2 Million
- Israel Says Mediterranean Missile Launch That Sparked Syria Fears was Joint Test with U.S.
- Report: DEA Uses Phone Record Trove That Surpasses NSA's
- Brazil Blasts Reported NSA Spying on President's Communications
- Report: NSA Hacked Communications of Al Jazeera
- Budget Documents Show Widespread Use of Cyber-Attacks by U.S.
- Japan Pledges Funds for Fukushima Crisis
- Egyptian Judges Call for Dissolution of Muslim Brotherhood; Morsi to Stand Trial
- Egypt Court Orders Closure of Al Jazeera Affiliate, 3 Other Stations
- Taliban Attacks U.S. Base in Afghanistan; Number of Police Deaths Doubles
- U.S. Drone Strikes Hit Yemen, Pakistan
- Teen Sentenced to 3 Years in Gang-Rape Case That Ignited India
- Mandela Released from Hospital, Condition "Remains Critical"
- Verizon Reaches Deal to Obtain Sole Control of World's Largest Wireless Provider
- Diana Nyad Completes Historic Swim from Cuba to Florida
On the heels of last month’s historic ruling declaring the "stop-and-frisk" tactics of the New York City Police Department unconstitutional, Ahmir "Questlove" Thompson of the Grammy Award-winning band The Roots joins us to talk about his own experiences being repeatedly racially profiled by police. He describes the first time he was harassed by police, as a young teenager in Philadelphia on his way to Bible study, to the most recent: being pulled over in his car by the NYPD several weeks ago, despite being one of the most acclaimed artists in hip-hop. He also discusses the 40th birthday of hip-hop, the anniversary of the first Bronx block party thrown by New York DJ Kool Herc. He talks about his upbringing, his musical interests, transitioning to "Late Night," and his new memoir, "Mo’ Meta Blues: The World According to Questlove."
After 75 years of federal laws prohibiting marijuana use, the Justice Department has announced it will not prevent states from legalizing the use, production, distribution and sale of recreational marijuana. The changes were prompted by marijuana legalization votes last year in Colorado and Washington state, and were announced in a memo from U.S. Deputy Attorney General James Cole, who also cited "limited prosecutorial resources" as the reason for the decision. He stressed that marijuana remains illegal under federal law, and made clear the Justice Department still expects states to regulate marijuana sales to minors, interstate trafficking, and accidents involving drivers under the influence of the drug. "There is so much cultural momentum with respect to marijuana, there is a significant shift in place that the politicians are now starting to catch up to it," says Martin Lee, longtime investigative reporter and author of several books, including "Smoke Signals: A Social History of Marijuana — Medical, Recreational and Scientific." He also notes that "the guidance issue made by the Department of Justice yesterday is kind of littered with caveats and red flags."
The National Football League has reached a settlement with former players who accused it of profiting from the sport’s violence, while hiding the risks of concussions and repeated hits to the head. On Thursday, the NFL agreed to a $765 million payout to all past NFL players and the spouses of those who have already died. The settlement stems from a lawsuit filed by than 4,500 former players, some of whom suffer from brain injuries, Alzheimer’s disease and depression. This comes as the 2013 season football season kicks off for the NFL, colleges and high schools across the country. "I hope that the tremendous amount of publicity that’s been generated by this lawsuit will cause coaches and parents to think in a much more healthy way about how to take care of these kids and how to protect them and how to recognize the symptoms of concussions when they occur," says Bill Littlefield, host of NPR’s "Only a Game," who has followed the issue of concussions in sports for the past decade.
U.S. Prepares to Strike Syria Over Alleged Chemical Weapons as British Vote Not to Back Int'l Action
Pentagon officials say the U.S. Navy has moved five destroyers equipped with Tomahawk cruise missiles into the eastern Mediterranean Sea to prepare for a possible strike on Syria. This comes as the British Parliament voted Thursday not to back international action against Syria following the Assad regime’s alleged use of chemical weapons last week. This comes as a team of U.N. inspectors, who spent the week traveling to rebel-controlled areas in search of proof of a poison gas attack, is set to give its preliminary findings to U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Saturday. As the United States continues to try to build an international coalition, we speak with Bassam Haddad, director of the Middle East Studies Program at George Mason University and co-founder of Jadaliyya.com. "The United States in Iraq has actually used nerve agents, mustard gas and/or white phosphorus in Fallujah and beyond, left depleted uranium all over the country in Iraq, ruined and destroyed the lives of generations as a result, and now claims that it needs to do this to protect Syrian civilians — which is exactly the opposite of what will happen in any invasion or any strike on Syria, which is not possible to happen in the surgical manner that is being discussed right now," Haddad says. "You have a regional environment that is also in many ways opposed to this, including of course the allies of Syria in the region, and we have a possibility of this becoming something much more than what many envision."
Democracy Now! co-host Juan González discusses his reports for the New York Daily News about how one of the New York City’s fastest-growing chains of charter schools, Success Academy, has far higher suspension rates than other public elementary schools. "More than two dozen parents have come to me complaining about their children — who are special needs, special education children, or children with behavior problems," González reports, "that they feel are being pushed out or forced out by the charter school in an effort to to improve the test scores." Success Academy uses its high test scores to attract funding, and just secured a $5 million grant it will use to expand from 20 to 100 schools. González obtained a copy of secretly recorded meetings in which school administrators pressed one parent to transfer her special education kindergarten student back into the public school system.
- U.S. Considers Unilateral Syrian Strike After U.K. Vote Against Use of Force
- Antiwar Protesters Rally Against U.S. Military Action in Syria
- U.S. Intelligence "Black Budget" Tops $50 Billion
- U.S. Spy Satellites Played Key Role in Hunt for Bin Laden
- Merrill Lynch to Pay $160 Million in Largest Racial Discrimination Settlement Ever
- U.S. Allows States to Legalize Recreational Marijuana
- Crackdown on Brotherhood and Journalists Continues
- IRS Extends Tax Benefits to Married Same-Sex Couples
- Banks Report Record $42 Billion Profit in Second Quarter
- Fast-Food Workers Go On Strike in 60 Cities Demanding Living Wage
- U.S. Seeks to Expand Military Presence in the Philippines
- Anti-Smoking Groups Criticize U.S. Stance on TPP Tobacco Negotiations
- 30,000 March in Colombia to Support Small Farmers
- Report: Veterans Commit Suicide at Double Rate of Civilian Population
- Lawyer: Chelsea Manning is "Doing Very Well"
- Protests in Montana After Teacher Sentenced to Just 30 Days for Raping Student
- Irish Writer Seamus Heaney, 74, Dies
Historian Taylor Branch on the March on Washington and the Kennedys' Aversion to Dr. King's Struggle
As we continue our coverage of the 50th anniversary of the historic March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom and Dr. Martin Luther King’s "I Have a Dream" speech, we’re joined by the acclaimed chronicler of the civil rights movement, Taylor Branch. A Pulitzer Prize-winning author, Branch is best known for his landmark narrative history of the civil rights era, the "America in the King Years" trilogy. His new book is a collection from the trilogy that he has adapted for a college course, "The King Years: Historic Moments in the Civil Rights Movement."
The Obama administration appears to be pressing ahead with military strikes on Syria despite new obstacles at home and abroad. On Wednesday, an informal meeting of the United Nations Security Council failed to reach an agreement after Russia and China opposed any authorization of force in response to last week’s alleged chemical attack by Assad forces in Ghouta. After domestic pressure, British Prime Minister David Cameron announced he will seek parliamentary authorization for using force against Syria, and only after U.N. inspectors complete their current mission. And in Washington, the White House plans to brief lawmakers today following growing calls that President Obama seek congressional backing for any use of force. The administration is expected to make public soon some of its intelligence, but skeptics say there remains no smoking gun implicating the Assad regime. We host a debate on military intervention in Syria between Tariq Ali of the New Left Review and Steven Clemons of The Atlantic.
- U.S. Faces New Hurdles to Military Intervention in Syria
- Obama: U.S. Believes Assad Regime Behind Chemical Attack
- Ban: U.N. Inspectors to Leave Syria on Saturday
- Thousands Mark 50th Anniversary of March on Washington
- 80 Killed in Iraq's Deadliest Day This Month
- Taliban Attack Afghan Police, NATO Base
- Russia Invades Home of Leading Gay Activist
- Iranian Lawmakers Approve Suit Against U.S. for 1953 Coup
- Hasan Sentenced to Death for Fort Hood Shooting Rampage
- NYPD Labeled Mosques "Terrorism Enterprises" to Justify Surveillance
- Zimmerman Wife Sentenced to Probation for Perjury; Defense Seeks $300,000 From Taxpayers
- U.S. Transfers 2 Guantánamo Prisoners to Algeria
- Fast-Food, Retail Workers Stage Largest Strike to Date
As part of today’s national commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington, the rarely seen Oscar-nominated documentary about Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and the civil rights movement, "King: A Filmed Record...Montgomery to Memphis," is being screened in theaters nationwide. Largely made from original newsreel footage, the film was played at a "one time only" event on one night in 1970 at 650 theaters, but has since gone largely unseen. We air an excerpt of the film in which King delivers his famous "I Have a Dream" speech 50 years ago on August 28, 1963. And we’re joined by the film’s associate producer, Richard Kaplan. Click here to watch Part 2 of this interview and see video clips of King organizing and speaking in Montgomery and Birmingham.
Japan’s nuclear regulator said today it has officially raised the severity rating of the latest radioactive water leak at the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant to Level 3 on an international scale for radiological releases. The plant’s operator, Tokyo Electric Power Co (TEPCO), said last week that 330 tons of highly radioactive water leaked from a storage tank at the facility. Crews of workers have been rushing to check for leaks in hundreds of other tanks holding radioactive water. Japanese regulators have accused TEPCO of failing to properly monitor the storage tanks. "The problem is going to get worse," warns Arnie Gundersen, a former nuclear industry executive who has coordinated projects at 70 nuclear power plants around the United States. "Radioactive water is leaking out of this plant as fast as it is leaking in."
One of the country’s oldest and most controversial nuclear plants has announced it will close late next year. Citing financial reasons, the nuclear plant operator Entergy said Tuesday it will decommission the Vermont Yankee nuclear power station in Vernon, Vermont. The site has been the target of protests for decades and has had a series of radioactive tritium leaks. In 2010, the Vermont State Senate voted against a measure that would have authorized a state board to grant Vermont Yankee a permit to operate for an additional 20 years. Its closure leaves the United States with 99 operating nuclear reactors, and our guest, former nuclear executive Arnie Gundersen, says he expects more to follow in the aftermath of Japan’s ongoing nuclear disaster at the Fukushima nuclear plant. "These small single-unit nuclear plants — especially the ones that are like Fukushima Daiichi — are prone to more closures in the future because it just makes no economic sense to run an aging nuclear plant that’s almost 43 years old, and to invest hundreds of millions of dollars more to meet the modifications related to Fukushima," Gundersen says.
Britain is set to introduce a United Nations Security Council resolution authorizing military action in Syria as the United States and allies gear up for expected strikes on the Assad regime. The resolution condemns the Syrian government for allegedly using chemical weapons and authorizes "necessary measures for protecting civilians." Russia and China are expected to issue a veto, raising the prospect that a U.S.-led bombing could come through NATO. The Obama administration says military action in Syria would be aimed at responding to chemical attacks, not seeking regime change, but critics say similar claims were made at the outset of the NATO intervention in Libya. "There is no military solution," says Phyllis Bennis of the Institute for Policy Studies. "Extra assaults from the United States are going to make the situation worse, put Syrian civilians at greater risk, and not provide protection."
- U.K. to Propose U.N. Resolution on Syria Ahead of Likely Strikes
- Dozens Killed as Iraq Violence Escalates
- Entergy to Close Vermont Yankee Nuclear Plant
- Fast-Food, Retail Workers to Stage Nationwide Strike
- Former El Salvador Colonel Linked to Jesuit Murders Gets U.S. Prison Term
- U.N. Expert Criticizes California Prisons on Solitary Confinement, Force-Feeding
- Wal-Mart to Provide Health Benefits to Same-Sex Couples
- Nation Marks 50th Anniversary of March on Washington