"The Next Citizens United": McCutcheon Opens Floodgates for 1 Percent to Spend Millions on Campaigns
We continue our coverage of Wednesday’s Supreme Court decision in the case of McCutcheon v. FEC, described by many as "the next Citizens United." In a 5-to-4 vote, the court’s conservative justices eliminated a long-standing limit on how much donors can give in total to federal candidates, party committees and political action committees in a two-year election cycle. We are joined by Andy Kroll, senior reporter at Mother Jones magazine, who has extensively covered campaign finance and anonymous donations, called "dark money."
As the 2014 election season gets underway, the Supreme Court has struck down a long-standing limit on how much donors can give to federal candidates, political parties and political action committees in a two-year election cycle. Without any aggregate limit, a donor can now give millions directly to candidates and parties. The 5-to-4 decision in the McCutcheon v. FEC case is being described as the "next Citizens United," referring to the 2010 ruling that opened the floodgates for unlimited corporate spending on U.S. elections. We speak to Independent Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont about Wednesday’s landmark decision and his fight to remove big money from the electoral process. We also discuss Sanders’ potential presidential run in 2016, which he says he is considering "not because I wake up in the morning with a burning desire to be president … but [because] I happen to believe there are such enormous issues out there that I just don’t want to see swept under the rug."
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Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative journalist Julia Angwin joins us to discuss her new book, "Dragnet Nation: A Quest for Privacy, Security, and Freedom in a World of Relentless Surveillance." Currently at ProPublica and previously with The Wall Street Journal, Angwin details her complex and fraught path toward increasing her own online privacy. According to Angwin, the private data collected by East Germany’s Soviet-era Stasi secret police could pale in comparison to the information revealed today by an individual’s Facebook profile or Google search.
The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has issued its most dire warning yet about how greenhouse gases have driven up global temperatures and extreme weather, while threatening sources of food and water. "Throughout the 21st century, climate-change impacts are projected to slow down economic growth, make poverty reduction more difficult, further erode food security, and prolong existing and create new poverty traps, the latter particularly in urban areas and emerging hot spots of hunger," the report says. We are joined by two climate scientists who helped write the IPCC’s report: Princeton University Professor Michael Oppenheimer and Saleemul Huq, a climate scientist at the International Institute for Environment and Development in London. We are also joined by Tim Gore, head of policy for Food and Climate Justice at Oxfam. "[Fossil fuel companies] are the drug suppliers to the rest of the world, who are junkies and hooked on fossil fuels," Huq says. "But we don’t have to remain hooked on fossil fuels. Indeed, we are going to have to cut ourselves off from them."
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After being deported to Mexico from his home in Arizona earlier this year, Jaime Valdez joins us to detail his attempt today to re-enter the United States. Valdez says he was deported in retaliation for a hunger strike that his family took part in at the Phoenix offices of Immigration and Customs Enforcement to protest U.S. immigration policies. "All my family is in the U.S., so that’s why I’m trying to come back," Valdez says. "We’re going to try to get this message to the president, to stop the deportations and to stop the discrimination and injustice in detention centers." He and another immigrant hope to rejoin their families today by crossing at a checkpoint in the Mexican border town of Nogales, where the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops is currently on a three-day tour visiting with Border Patrol agents and migrants.
Following the death of two prisoners at New York City’s Rikers Island facility, we look at mounting pressure on jails and prisons to reform their use of solitary confinement. A corrections officer was arrested last week and charged with violating the civil rights of Jason Echevarria, a mentally ill Rikers prisoner who died after eating a packet of detergent given to him when his cell was flooded with sewage. It was the first such arrest in more than a decade. Also last month, Jerome Murdough, a mentally ill homeless veteran, died in a Rikers solitary mental-observation unit where he was supposed to be checked on every 15 minutes. An official told the Associated Press that Murdough "baked to death" after temperatures soared in his cell. We hear from Echevarria’s father, Ramon, at a protest seeking justice for his son, and speak to former Rikers prisoner Five Mualimmak, who was held in solitary there. And we are joined by two guests from within the prison system calling for reform: Dr. James Gilligan, a psychiatrist who is helping reduce violence in prisons, and Lance Lowry, president of the Texas Correctional Employees, the union which represents Texas prison guards. Lowry is calling on the state to reduce the use of solitary confinement, including on death row. "Zookeepers are not allowed to keep zoo animals in the kind of housing that we put human beings in," Dr. Gilligan says. "We have created the situation; it is called a self-fulfilling prophecy: We say these are animals, they are going to behave like animals, then we treat them so that they will."
Outrage is growing in Albuquerque, New Mexico, after the latest incident in a spate of police shootings. Video footage captured by a police helmet camera shows officers killing James Boyd, a homeless man who appeared to be surrendering to them at a campsite where he was sleeping. Boyd is seen picking up his belongings and turning away when officers deploy a flash grenade and then fire six live rounds at him from yards away. The Albuquerque Police Department has come under federal scrutiny for being involved in 37 shootings since 2010, 23 of them fatal. This week the FBI confirmed it is investigating the killing of Boyd, and the Justice Department has already been investigating the city’s police shootings for more than a year. We are joined by Russell Contreras, an Associated Press reporter who was tear-gassed while covering the Sunday protest and has been following the police shootings. We also speak to Nora Tachias-Anaya, a social justice activist whose nephew, George Levy Tachias, was fatally shot by police while driving in Albuquerque in 1988. Tachias-Anaya is a member of the October 22 Coalition To Stop Police Brutality.
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