The latest disclosures from Edward Snowden show the National Security Agency is recording every single phone call made in an undisclosed foreign country. A surveillance system called MYSTIC stores the billions of phone conversations for up to 30 days. Agents are able to rewind and review any conversation within the previous month using a tool codenamed RETRO. One senior manager for the program compared it to a time machine. We speak to Ashkan Soltani, who co-wrote the Washington Post exposé on MYSTIC and has closely studied the cost of surveillance. He has co-written a series of other exposés for the Post that revealed how the NSA uses Google cookies to pinpoint targets for hacking and how the NSA secretly broke into the main communications links that connect Yahoo and Google data centers around the world.
- Russia, U.S. Trade Sanctions over Ukraine; EU Leaders Sign Deal with Ukraine Gov't
- Afghanistan: AFP Reporter Among Dead in Wave of New Year's Attacks
- Reid Orders Probe of Senate Computers After Reports of CIA Spying
- Report: U.S. Boycotts Talks on Drone Strikes in Geneva
- Turkey Attempts to Block Twitter, Causing Twitter to Erupt
- Report: Groups Descended from Right-Wing Death Squads Slaughtering Residents of Colombian City
- Mayor of Bogotá, Colombia, Removed by President
- Texas: Hunger-Striking Immigrants in Private Prison Report Retaliation
- Top U.S. Army General Avoids Prison Time in Sexual Assault Case
- Former Navy Football Player Acquitted of Sexual Assault
- Florida Executes 5th Prisoner Using Controversial Drug Method
- North Carolina: Duke Energy Cited for Dumping 61 Million Gallons of Toxic Waste
- New York: 59 Arrested Protesting for Economic Justice at State Capitol in Albany
- NYC Mayor de Blasio Signs Paid Sick Leave Bill
- Lawrence Walsh, Prosecutor in Iran-Contra Scandal, Dies at 102
- Anti-Gay Extemist Fred Phelps Dead at 84
Texas has executed death row prisoner Ray Jasper after obtaining a new supply of pentobarbital, the drug it uses for executions, just days before its current batch was set to expire. Meanwhile, Oklahoma has postponed two executions because it lacks the drugs required to put prisoners to death. As death penalty drugs become scarce, the assistant Oklahoma attorney general has joked with a Texas colleague that he might be able to help Texas get the drugs in exchange for 50-yard-line tickets for a top college football game between the University of Oklahoma and the University of Texas. The exchange is revealed in email obtained by The Colorado Independent, which also exposed how Oklahoma injected leftover lethal drugs into the bodies of dead prisoners. We are joined by Susan Greene, editor of The Colorado Independent.
"Medicaid expansion now!" was the rallying cry this week of a rising grassroots movement spreading across the South. Nearly 40 people were arrested at the Georgia State Senate on Tuesday protesting a bill that would bar the expansion of Medicaid. Georgia has the fifth-highest number of uninsured people of any state in the country. Under the Affordable Care Act, an estimated 650,000 additional residents would be eligible for Medicaid. But Georgia is one of a number of Republican-led states that have opted out of such Medicaid expansion. The protest at the Georgia State Senate was the largest to date by Moral Monday Georgia, an outgrowth of the Moral Monday movement that began in North Carolina. We are joined by Reverend Dr. Raphael Warnock, senior pastor of the Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, Georgia, which was the spiritual home of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Rev. Warnock was among the protesters arrested for nonviolent civil disobedience on Tuesday. "Dr. King said that the time comes when silence is betrayal," Rev. Warnock says. "That time is now. The issue is affordable healthcare for all in the richest country in the world."
The New York State Senate has rejected a bill that would have provided tuition assistance to undocumented immigrant college students. The defeated bill, known as the DREAM Act, would affect some 8,000 college-age immigrants who were brought to this country as children by their parents. Last night, students protested the vote in New York City. Some of them were upset at Democratic State Senator Jeff Klein of the Bronx for bringing the bill to a vote before he had the necessary support.
The standoff over Ukraine and the fate of Crimea has sparked the worst East-West crisis since the end of the Cold War. The U.S. has imposed sanctions on top Russian officials while announcing new military exercises in Baltic states. Meanwhile in Moscow, the Russian government says it is considering changing its stance on Iran’s nuclear talks in response to newly imposed U.S. sanctions. As tensions rise, we are joined by Jack Matlock, who served as the last U.S. ambassador to the Soviet Union. Matlock argues that Russian President Vladimir Putin is acting in response to years of perceived hostility from the U.S., from the eastward expansion of NATO to the bombing of Serbia to the expansion of American military bases in eastern Europe.
- Ukraine Announces Crimea Withdrawal as Russian Occupation Expands
- Israel Bombs Syrian Military in Golan Heights; Syria Shuts Lebanon Crossing
- Election Authorities Ordered to Help Enforce Voter ID Laws
- NSA: Tech Firms Knew of Bulk Spying
- Bin Laden Son-in-Law Testifies at Terrorism Trial
- Toyota Fined $1.2B for Safety Violations in Cars
- Homeless Veteran Dies in Overheated Rikers Cell
- New York City's Homeless Population Hits Record High
- Report: Nuclear Base Test Scores Boosted by Support Staff
- Fed Scales Back Bond Purchases; Winter Weather Hampered Economy
Three years after the triple meltdown at the Fukushima nuclear power plant, scores of U.S. sailors and marines are suing the plant’s operator, the Tokyo Electric Power Company, for allegedly misleading the Navy about the level of radioactive contamination. Many of the servicemembers who provided humanitarian relief during the disaster have experienced devastating health ailments since returning from Japan, ranging from leukemia to blindness to infertility to birth defects. We are joined by three guests: Lieutenant Steve Simmons, a U.S. Navy sailor who served on board the USS Ronald Reagan and joined in the class action lawsuit against TEPCO after suffering health problems; Charles Bonner, an attorney for the sailors; and Kyle Cleveland, sociology professor and associate director of the Institute for Contemporary Asian Studies at Temple University’s Japan campus in Tokyo. Cleveland recently published transcripts of the Navy’s phone conversations about Fukushima that took place at the time of the disaster, which suggest commanders were also aware of the risk faced by sailors on the USS Ronald Reagan.
Some 1,500 Black and Latino applicants to the Fire Department of New York have settled a long-running lawsuit with the city and the Justice Department over racially discriminatory hiring practices at the nation’s largest fire department. The agreement grants almost $100 million in back pay to those impacted. When the case was filed in 2007, the Fire Department was 90 percent white, even though African Americans and Latinos totaled half the city’s population. Under the new agreement, the Fire Department will be required to change its recruiting policies in order to increase diversity and make the department more representative of the city’s population. We discuss the settlement with two guests: Paul Washington, past president of the black firefighters’ group, the Vulcan Society of Black Firefighters, and captain of Engine 234 in Crown Heights, Brooklyn; and Richard Levy, the case’s lead attorney.
- Report: NSA Recording All of Foreign Nation's Phone Calls
- Snowden to TED Conference: "We Don't Have to Give Up Our Liberty"
- Russia Seizes Ukrainian Navy Base After Announcing Crimea Annexation
- U.S. Threatens New Sanctions on Russia
- U.N. Panel: Enough Evidence to Indict Syrian Combatants for War Crimes
- U.S. Suspends Syrian Embassy, Consulates
- Greenpeace Activists Detained at French Nuclear Plant
- France Bans Monsanto GM Corn
- Dozens Arrested Protesting Denial of Medicaid Expansion in Georgia
- Undocumented Immigrant Who Hid in Church Basement Re-Enters U.S.
- Obama Admin Denies Record Number of FOIA Requests on Security Grounds
- New York City Advocate Calls for Hotline to Report Fast-Food Wage Theft
- U.S. Vets Shunned by Army Racism Awarded Medal of Honor
In a Democracy Now! special, Sarah Shourd, Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal recall their harrowing ordeal as American hikers imprisoned in Iran. Detained after setting out on a hike in the summer of 2009 in Iraq’s Kurdish region near the Iranian border, Bauer and Fattal were held for 26 months, while Shourd — now married to Bauer — was held for 13 months, much of it in solitary confinement. The three tell their story in a new memoir, "A Sliver of Light: Three Americans Imprisoned in Iran."
- Putin: Crimea an "Integral Part" of Russia; U.S. Imposes New Sanctions
- Obama Hosts Abbas in Push for Framework Deal
- 15 Killed in Afghan Suicide Bombing
- Lawmakers Seek Answers on Lack of Mortgage Fraud Prosecutions
- Immigrant Detainees Launch Hunger Strike at 2nd GEO-Owned Prison
- GM Recalls Another 1.6M Cars as CEO Admits "Terrible" Consequences
- Admin Delays Vote on Surgeon General Nominee After Gun Control Stance Draws Opposition
- ACLU Files Suit Against Idaho "Ag-Gag" Law
New disclosures from Edward Snowden show the NSA is massively expanding its computer hacking worldwide. Software that automatically hacks into computers — known as malware "implants" — had previously been kept to just a few hundred targets. But the news website The Intercept reports that the NSA is spreading the software to millions of computers under an automated system codenamed "Turbine." The Intercept has also revealed the NSA has masqueraded as a fake Facebook server to infect a target’s computer and exfiltrate files from a hard drive. We are joined by The Intercept reporter Ryan Gallagher.
The conflict between Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and rebels seeking his ouster has just entered its fourth year. The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says more than 146,000 people have been killed since the Syrian conflict began on March 15, 2011, roughly half of them civilians. The conflict has displaced more than nine million people, with 2.5 million refugees living outside Syria and 6.5 million displaced within the country. We are joined by Patrick Cockburn, Middle East correspondent for The Independent, who has just returned from several weeks of reporting from Syria.
The United States and the European Union are warning Russia not to annex Crimea after voters there overwhelmingly backed a referendum to leave Ukraine. Crimean authorities say 96.8 percent of voters supported the referendum to join Russia, but many members of the ethnic Ukrainian and Muslim Tatar minorities stayed home in a boycott. The Obama administration has threatened sanctions on Russia if Crimea follows through and secedes. But Russia has vowed to approve Crimea’s bid in a parliamentary vote. On Saturday, the Russian government vetoed a U.S.-backed Security Council resolution declaring the referendum invalid. Russian forces also seized a natural gas terminal in Ukraine, just outside Crimea’s regional border. The situation in Crimea has sparked the gravest crisis in East-West relations since the Cold War. We discuss the Crimea vote and its diplomatic fallout with three guests: Oliver Bullough, Caucasus editor for the Institute for War and Peace Reporting; Nicholas Clayton, a freelance journalist who has been reporting from Crimea and covering the South Caucasus since 2009; and Dmitri Trenin, director of the Carnegie Moscow Center.
- U.S. Warns Russia After Crimea Votes to Secede
- Syria Recaptures Key Strategic Town Near Lebanon
- Syrian Conflict Enters 4th Year
- U.S. Delivers New Weapons Aid to Iraq
- U.S. Forces Seize Stolen Libyan Oil Tanker
- Plane May Have Flown for Hours After Tracking Disabled
- Obama Orders "More Humane" Deportation Procedures Amidst Political Pressure
- Judge Strikes Down Arkansas' 12-Week Abortion Ban
- Insurers Ordered to Offer Health Plans to Same-Sex Couples
- U.S. General Reaches Plea Deal in Sexual Assault Case
- U.S. Relinquishes Control of Internet Domains
- New Clashes Break Out in Venezuela Protests
- Haitians File New Suit Against U.N. over Cholera Outbreak
- U.N. Urges Probe of Drone Strikes
- Farmworkers End 5-State March with Florida Vigil
Tony Benn, the former British Cabinet minister, longtime Parliament member and antiwar activist, has died at the age of 88. He was the longest-serving member of Parliament in the history of Britain’s Labour Party, serving more than half a century. He left Parliament in 2001, saying he planned to "spend more time on politics." In 2009 he appeared on Democracy Now! to talk about the war in Afghanistan and Britain’s fight for a nationalized healthcare system. "You’ve got to judge a country by whether its needs are met and not just by whether some people make a profit," Benn said. "I’ve never met Mr. Dow Jones, and I’m sure he works very, very hard with his averages — we get them every hour — but I don’t think the happiness of a nation is decided by the share values in Wall Street."
President Obama has deployed thousands of new U.S. Border Patrol agents to the southern border of Arizona, a state known for its controversial crackdown on immigrants. Caught in the middle of the border militarization are about 28,000 members of the Tohono O’odham Nation. Their federally recognized reservation is about the size of the state of Connecticut, and for a 76-mile stretch it spans both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border. Broadcasting from Flagstaff, we speak with both Klee Benally, a Diné (Navajo) activist, and Alex Soto, a member of the Tohono O’odham Nation and organizer with O’odham Solidarity Across Borders. He is also a member of the hip-hop duo, Shining Soul. "The Tohono O’odham people, which translates to desert people, are caught in the midst of colonial policies that are now militarizing our lands, from just the amount of Border Patrol agents, to checkpoints, to drones, to just the overall surveillance of our community," Soto says.
The iconic Grand Canyon is the site of a battle over toxic uranium mining. Last year, a company called Energy Fuels Resources was given federal approval to reopen a mine six miles from the Grand Canyon’s popular South Rim entrance. A coalition of Native and environmental groups have protested the decision, saying uranium mining could strain scarce water sources and pose serious health effects. Diné (Navajo) tribal lands are littered with abandoned uranium mines. From 1944 to 1986, 3.9 million tons of uranium ore were chiseled and blasted from the mountains and plains of the region. More than 1,000 mines have closed, but the mining companies never properly disposed of their radioactive waste piles, leading to a spike in cancer rates and other health ailments. Broadcasting from Flagstaff, Arizona, we speak with Taylor McKinnon, director of energy with Grand Canyon Trust, and Klee Benally, a Diné (Navajo) activist and musician. "It’s really a slow genocide of the people, not just indigenous people of this region, but it’s estimated that there are over 10 million people who are residing within 50 miles of abandoned uranium mines," Benally says. Benally also describes the struggle to preserve the San Francisco Peaks, an area considered sacred by 13 Native tribes, where the Snowbowl ski resort is using treated sewage water to make snow.
While the fight over the Keystone XL pipeline and the Alberta tar sands has galvanized the environmental movement, far less attention has been paid to a related story here in the West. The state of Utah has begun making preparations for its own major tar sands and oil shale extraction projects. According to one U.S. government report, land in the region could hold up to three trillion barrels of oil — that’s more recoverable oil than has been used so far in human history. Critics say Utah is sitting on a tar sands carbon bomb. The Utah Water Quality Board has recently begun giving out permits for companies to extract from the state’s tar sands reserves. We speak to Taylor McKinnon, energy director of the Grand Canyon Trust.