Japan is getting ready to mark the third anniversary of one of the world’s worst atomic disasters. It was March 11, 2011, when a massive 9.0-magnitude earthquake triggered a devastating tsunami that struck Japan’s northeast coast. The twin disasters triggered a meltdown at the Tokyo Electric Power Company’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power station. The radiation that spewed from the plant stranded more than 315,000 evacuees. In the years following the Fukushima disaster, tens of thousands of Japanese have taken to the streets to march in opposition to nuclear power. In the nearly three years since the disaster, the Fukushima cleanup and decommissioning efforts have been complicated by leaks of highly radioactive water. The effort has also suffered from a lack of oversight and a shortage of workers, which Reuters reports has led to Japan’s homeless population being easy prey for recruiters. Following the disaster, Japan halted nearly all nuclear-related projects. However, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party reversed its campaign pledge to move Japan away from nuclear power just one week after coming into power in December 2012. Today, Japan’s trade ministry said it would approve a revival plan for the utility responsible for the Fukushima nuclear disaster: Tokyo Electric Power Company. This will be the second attempt to restore the utility’s depleted finances. We speak with David McNeill, a longtime foreign correspondent based in Japan who writes for The Independent of London, The Chronicle of Higher Education and other publications. McNeill is co-author of the book, "Strong in the Rain: Surviving Japan’s Earthquake, Tsunami, and Fukushima Nuclear Disaster."
Democracy Now! is broadcasting from Tokyo, Japan, today in the first of three special broadcasts. At a critical time for Japan and the region, we begin our coverage looking at the country’s rightward political shift under Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who was re-elected just over a year ago. As head of the Liberal Democratic Party, Abe is known as a conservative hawk who has pushed nationalistic and pro-nuclear policies. In December, he visited the controversial Yasukuni war shrine, which honors Japanese soldiers who died in battle, including several war criminals who were tried by the International Military Tribunal after World War II. The visit sparked outrage from China and South Korea, who consider the shrine a symbol of Japanese militarism and its refusal to atone for atrocities committed in the first half of the 20th century. We speak about Japan’s increasingly pro-nuclear, nationalistic stance with Koichi Nakano, professor at Sophia University in Tokyo and director of the Institute of Global Concern.
- White House Panel Refutes NSA Claims
- NSA Using Radio Waves to Hack Into Computers Worldwide
- Report: "No Spy" Agreement Nears Collapse over U.S. Refusal to End Spying on Germany
- Federal Court Strikes Down Net Neutrality Rules
- 52 Killed in Iraq Violence
- 11 Killed in Clashes over Egypt Referendum Vote
- Israeli Defense Minister: Kerry "Incomprehensible, Messianic"
- 2 Children Seriously Wounded in New Mexico School Shooting
- Judge Overturns Oklahoma Gay Marriage Ban; Utah Unions Get Federal Recognition
- Photos Tie Christie to Official in Bridge Scandal
- Report: U.S. Prepared to Scrap Environmental Rules to Win TPP Deal
Two months after 47 million food stamp recipients were hit with $5 billion in cuts, more are on the way as lawmakers finalize a new farm bill. The measure is likely to slash another $9 billion in food stamps over the next decade, depriving more than 800,000 households of up to $90 in aid per month. We look at how politicians have used coded racial appeals to win support for cuts like these and similar efforts since the 1960s with Ian Haney López, author of the new book, "Dog Whistle Politics: How Coded Racial Appeals Have Reinvented Racism & Wrecked the Middle Class." A senior fellow at Demos and law professor at the University of California, Berkeley, López argues that "this is about race as it wrecks the whole middle class. This sort of racism is being used to fool a lot of whites into voting for Republicans whose main allegiance is to corporate interests."
The Freedom Industries site behind the West Virginia chemical spill is just a mile upriver from the state’s largest water treatment plant, owned by American Water. But despite the obvious dangers to the source of 16 percent of West Virginia residents’ water supply, the spill has exposed major holes in how the state regulates the dangerous chemicals used coal mining and processing, its leading industry. The chemical, 4-methylcyclohexanemethanol (crude MCHM), does not receive close federal or state oversight. Environmental inspectors have not visited the Freedom Industries facility since 1991. Under West Virginia law, chemicals storage facilities are not even subject to inspections. The plant also had no groundwater protection plan in place. We speak with Mike Elk, a labor reporter for In These Times magazine who has extensively covered chemical regulation in the United States, including at the West, Texas, fertilizer plant where 15 people died in an explosion last year. And we’re joined from West Virginia by Erin Brockovich, the renowned environmentalist and consumer advocate.
West Virginia has begun partially lifting its ban on tap water five days after a chemical spill in the Elk River. More than 300,000 residents have been unable to use their water for drinking, cooking or bathing since Thursday, when the company Freedom Industries leaked up to 7,500 gallons of 4-methylcyclohexanemethanol (crude MCHM), an agent used in coal extraction, into the water supply. Scores of schools and businesses have been closed, including in the state capital, Charleston. The ban has been lifted in four zones so far, but is still in effect for a vast majority of residents. Dozens of people have been hospitalized since the spill, with symptoms including nausea, vomiting, dizziness, diarrhea, rashes and reddened skin. We get reaction from Erin Brockovich, the renowned environmentalist, consumer advocate and legal researcher. While a single mother of three working as a legal assistant, she helped win the biggest class action lawsuit in American history, holding the California power company Pacific Gas & Electric Company for polluting a city’s water supply. Her story was told in the Oscar-winning film "Erin Brockovich." Today, Brockovich and her team are investigating the spill in West Virginia. On Monday evening, she held a town hall meeting in Charleston to discuss the spill with local residents. "They’re banding together stronger than I’ve ever seen before," Brockovich says of West Virginians self-organizing in the spill’s aftermath.
- South Sudan: 200 Drown in Ferry Accident While Fleeing
- Egypt: Voting Begins on New Constitution
- 50 News Outlets Urge Egypt to Release Journalists
- Interim Leader Announces Military Crackdown in Central African Republic
- Thailand: Mass Opposition Protests Continue in Bangkok
- Lawmakers Reach Deal on $1 Trillion Gov't Spending Bill That Allows Aid to Egypt
- California: Police Officers Acquitted in Beating Death of Homeless Man
- Senate Confirms Obama Pick for Key Appeals Court; High Court Hears Case on Obama Appointments
- Supreme Court Rejects Bid to Reinstate Arizona 20-Week Abortion Ban
- Mexico Sends Troops to Michoacán After Self-Defense Groups Rise Up Against Cartels
- Report: U.S. Drug Agents Met Extensively with Mexican Cartel Leaders
- Docs Show 2nd Mayor May Have Faced Christie Reprisal; Feds Probe Use of Superstorm Sandy Funds
- Nigeria's President Signs Harsh Anti-Gay Law
- New Mexico Ruling Lets Doctors Help Terminally Ill Patients Die
- Transgender Woman CeCe McDonald Freed from Prison
- Franklin McCain, One of Greensboro 4 Who Staged Woolworth Sit-In, Dies at 73
Rashid Khalidi & Noam Chomsky: For Peace Today, US Must End Support for Sharon's Expansionist Legacy
Upon the death of former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, we look at how his legacy of separating Gaza from the West Bank and building a "separation wall" to seal off Israeli settlements has impacted the peace process in the Middle East today. We speak with Noam Chomsky, world-renowned political dissident, linguist, author and Institute Professor Emeritus at Massachusetts Institute of Technology; Rashid Khalidi, Edward Said Professor of Arab Studies at Columbia University; and Avi Shlaim, Emeritus Professor of International Relations at Oxford University, widely regarded as one of the world’s leading scholars on the Israeli-Arab conflict. "What [Secretary of State] John Kerry should do is insist on implementing a very broad international consensus, virtually universal, calling for a two-state settlement on the internationally recognized border," Chomsky says. "This is supported by the entire world; it’s been blocked by the United States for 35 years. We should shift that policy, join the world, and carry out measures which might conceivably bring a semi-decent peace."
We look at one of the most shocking incidents in the career of the late former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon: the Sabra and Shatila massacre. Up to 2,000 Palestinians died on Sept. 16-17, 1982, when the Israeli military allowed a Christian militia to attack the camp. Then-Defense Minister Ariel Sharon was forced to resign after a special Israeli investigative panel declared him to be "personally responsible" for the massacre. We air a description of the killings by Ellen Siegel, a Jewish-American nurse who was working at Gaza Hospital at the Sabra camp at the time of the attacks, and speak with Rashid Khalidi, Edward Said Professor of Arab Studies at Columbia University, and Noam Chomsky, world-renowned political dissident, linguist, author and Institute Professor Emeritus at Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon died Saturday at the age of 85 after eight years in a coma. Sharon was one of the most dominant political figures in Israel’s history, involved in each of Israel’s major wars dating back to its founding in 1948. Among Palestinians, Sharon was one of the most reviled political figures in the history of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. He is seen as father of the settlement movement and an architect of the Israeli invasion of Lebanon that killed a reported 20,000 Palestinian and Lebanese. We discuss Sharon’s legacy with three guests: Noam Chomsky, world-renowned political dissident, linguist, author and Institute Professor Emeritus at Massachusetts Institute of Technology; Rashid Khalidi, Edward Said Professor of Arab Studies at Columbia University; and Avi Shlaim, Emeritus Professor of International Relations at Oxford University, widely regarded as one of the world’s leading scholars on the Israeli-Arab conflict. "There is a convention that you’re not supposed to speak ill of the recently dead, which unfortunately imposes a kind of vow of silence, because there is nothing good to say," Chomsky says. "He was a brutal killer; he had one fixed idea in mind which drove him all his life: a greater Israel, as powerful as possible, as few Palestinians as possible. ... He doubtless showed courage and commitment to pursuing this ideal, which is an ugly and horrific one."
- West Virginia Residents Face 5th Day Without Tap Water
- No Inspections at West Virginia Plant Behind Chemical Leak Since 1991
- U.S. Unemployment Rate Drops, But Job Growth Lags
- Farm Bill Could Cut $9 Billion in Food Stamps; Majority of Congress are Millionaires
- Iran Nuclear Deal to Take Effect With Sanctions Relief
- Syrian Opposition Undecided as Geneva Talks Near
- Al-Qaeda Rebels Execute Dozens of Rivals in Northern Syria
- Iraq Violence Continues Amidst Anbar Clashes
- Ex-Israeli PM Ariel Sharon Dead at 85
- Thousands Stage Anti-Government Blockades in Thailand
- U.S. Sends Military Advisers to Somalia
- Activists Mark Guantánamo Anniversary with D.C. Protest
- Hackers Mark 1st Anniversary of Aaron Swartz Suicide
We spend the hour looking at the life and legacy of Amiri Baraka, the poet, playwright and political organizer who died Thursday at the age of 79. Baraka was a leading force in the Black Arts Movement of the 1960s and 1970s. In 1963 he published "Blues People: Negro Music in White America," known as the first major history of black music to be written by an African American. A year later he published a collection of poetry titled "The Dead Lecturer" and won an Obie Award for his play, “Dutchman." After the assassination of Malcolm X in 1965, he moved to Harlem and founded the Black Arts Repertory Theatre. In the late 1960s, Baraka moved back to his hometown of Newark and began focusing more on political organizing, prompting the FBI to identify him as "the person who will probably emerge as the leader of the pan-African movement in the United States." Baraka continued writing and performing poetry up until his hospitalization late last year, leaving behind a body of work that greatly influenced a younger generation of hip-hop artists and slam poets. We are joined by four of Baraka’s longtime comrades and friends: Sonia Sanchez, a renowned writer, poet, playwright and activist; Felipe Luciano, a poet, activist, journalist and writer who was an original member of the poetry and musical group The Last Poets; Komozi Woodard, a professor of history at Sarah Lawrence College and author of "A Nation Within a Nation: Amiri Baraka and Black Power Politics"; and Larry Hamm, chairman of the People’s Organization for Progress in Newark, New Jersey. Watch Part 2 of this interview.
- Obama Meets With Privacy Advocates in NSA Surveillance Review
- European Parliament Invites Snowden to Testify
- West Virginia Declares State of Emergency After Chemical Spill in Elk River
- "Humiliated" Christie Fires Aide Who Ordered Bridge Closure
- Karzai Releases Dozens of Prisoners in Defiance of U.S.
- U.S. Accused of Secret Prisons, Killing of Afghan Boy
- Syrian Forces Kill Dozens in Homs
- Interim Central African Republic President Resigns Amidst Fighting
- South Sudan, Rebels at Impasse; Thousands Flee Fighting
- Egypt Extends Jailing of Al Jazeera Journalists
- Diplomat Returns Home to India After U.S. Arrest
- Panel Clears 1st Guantánamo Prisoner for Transfer
- Jesuit Order Dismisses Activist Priest John Dear
- Study: 48% of U.S. Blacks Arrested by Age of 23
- Transgender Woman Jailed in Controversial Case to See Early Release
Iraqi forces have surrounded Fallujah in preparation for a potential assault to retake the city from Sunni militants who have also seized parts of Ramadi. Thousands of Fallujah residents have fled to avoid being trapped in the crossfire. This comes as the United States is ramping up its delivery of Hellfire missiles and surveillance drones as part of a "holistic" strategy to oust the militant group known as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. We speak to two guests: Feurat Alani, a French-Iraqi journalist who was based in Baghdad from 2003 to 2008 and has made several documentaries, including "Roadtrip Iraq" and "Fallujah: A Lost Generation?"; and Peter Van Buren, a 24-year State Department veteran who served in Iraq and later wrote a book critical of U.S. policy there, titled "We Meant Well: How I Helped Lose the Battle for the Hearts and Minds of the Iraqi People." Van Buren faced dismissal after criticizing U.S. reconstruction efforts in Iraq.
Fifty years ago this week, President Lyndon B. Johnson launched his "war on poverty," which led to many of the federal and state initiatives low-income Americans rely on today — Medicaid, Medicare, subsidized housing, Head Start, legal services, nutrition assistance, raising the minimum wage, and later, food stamps and Pell grants. Five decades later, many say another war on poverty is needed. We are joined by Peter Edelman, author of "So Rich, So Poor: Why It’s So Hard to End Poverty in America." A faculty director at the Center on Poverty, Inequality and Public Policy at Georgetown University, Edelman was a top adviser to Senator Robert F. Kennedy and a member of President Bill Clinton’s administration until he resigned in protest after Clinton signed the 1996 welfare reform law that threw millions of people off the rolls.
One week after the inauguration of new mayor Bill de Blasio, Melissa Mark-Viverito has been elected speaker of the New York City Council. Democracy Now! co-host and New York Daily News columnist Juan González says Mark-Viverito’s election cements a new political era in New York City where progressives have now filled several major posts, from the mayor on down.
A political controversy surrounding New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has grown into a scandal after it emerged a top aide deliberately ordered traffic delays to exact political revenge. Newly released documents show Christie’s Deputy Chief of Staff Bridget Anne Kelly personally ordered the closure of lanes leading to the George Washington Bridge, which connects New Jersey to New York City, to punish the mayor of Fort Lee for declining to endorse Christie’s bid for re-election. In an email to another Christie appointee and high school friend, David Wildstein, Kelly wrote: "Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee." The closures caused massive traffic jams with just one lane operational over a four-day period. In a statement, Christie denied involvement, saying he was "outraged and deeply saddened" by his deputy’s actions. Amy Goodman and Juan González discuss how the scandal could threaten Christie’s expected candidacy for the Republican presidential nomination in 2016.
- 13 Killed in Baghdad Suicide Bombing; Iraqi Forces Prep Fallujah Assault
- Syrian Rebels Seize Aleppo Base From Rival Faction
- Opposition Forces Attack Syrian Chemical Site
- Central African Republic President Reportedly Set to Resign as Crisis Grows
- White House Launches Probe as Video Emerges of Yemen Drone Attack
- Utah Won't Recognize Same-Sex Marriages
- 21 Killed as Polar Vortex Eases Across U.S.
- Christie Aide Ordered Traffic Closure for Political Retaliation
- Gates: Biden "Wrong on Nearly Every Issue"
- 100 Charged in NYC Disability Scam
- 6 Killed in Separate U.S. Helicopter Crashes
- Giffords Skydives 3 Years After Near-Death in Tucson Shooting
One of the great mysteries of the Vietnam War era has been solved. On March 8, 1971, a group of activists — including a cabdriver, a day care director and two professors — broke into an FBI office in Media, Pennsylvania. They stole every document they found and then leaked many to the press, including details about FBI abuses and the then-secret counter-intelligence program to infiltrate, monitor and disrupt social and political movements, nicknamed COINTELPRO. They called themselves the Citizens’ Commission to Investigate the FBI. No one was ever caught for the break-in. The burglars’ identities remained a secret until this week when they finally came forward to take credit for the caper that changed history. Today we are joined by three of them — John Raines, Bonnie Raines and Keith Forsyth; their attorney, David Kairys; and Betty Medsger, the former Washington Post reporter who first broke the story of the stolen FBI documents in 1971 and has now revealed the burglars’ identities in her new book, "The Burglary: The Discovery of J. Edgar Hoover’s Secret FBI."
Click here to watch the one-hour Part 2 of this interview.
- Polar Vortex Begins to Lift After 9 Deaths in U.S.
- Extension of Jobless Benefits Face GOP Challenge Despite Senate Vote
- JPMorgan Pays $2.6 Billion Fine to Avoid Criminal Charges in Madoff Case
- Iraq Violence Leaves Dozens Dead; Thousands Flee Fallujah
- Syria Begins Removal of Chemical Stockpile
- Al-Qaeda Group Leader Rejects Ceasefire Call from Rival in Syria
- Morsi Trial Delayed in Egypt
- U.S. to Deploy Additional Forces, Tanks to South Korea
- Victim in Maryville Rape Case Hospitalized After Suicide Attempt
- Los Angeles County Sheriff Resigns After Deputy Arrests
- Ex-Defense Secretary Gates Says Obama Doubted Afghanistan Strategy