Feed aggregator

On 5th Anniversary of Citizens United, GOP Taps Koch Brothers-Backed Senator to Give SOTU Response

Democracy Now - Wed 07 51 AM

It was five years ago today that the U.S. Supreme Court issued its landmark Citizens United decision, allowing unlimited political spending by corporations and unions. Some of the biggest spenders since have been the billionaire brothers David and Charles Koch. On Tuesday night, newly elected Republican Sen. Joni Ernst of Iowa, who was strongly backed by the Koch brothers, gave the GOP response to President Obama. Meanwhile this weekend, four leading Republican presidential prospects — Sen. Ted Cruz, Sen. Marco Rubio, Sen. Rand Paul and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker — are set to appear at an exclusive gathering of rich conservatives organized by the Koch brothers. We speak to longtime consumer advocate Ralph Nader and Lisa Graves, executive director of the Center for Media and Democracy, which published an article Tuesday headlined "Koch Party Delivers SOTU Response."

David Cay Johnston: Class War Is Being Waged by the Rich Against the Poor

Democracy Now - Wed 07 36 AM

Republicans have accused President Obama of waging class warfare for using his State of the Union to push for an increase in taxes and closing loopholes that benefit the wealthiest 1 percent of Americans. Pulitzer Prize-winning tax reporter David Cay Johnston says there is indeed a class war going on in Washington — but by the rich against the poor. Johnston’s latest book is "Divided. The Perils of Our Growing Inequality."

Ralph Nader on What was Missing in President Obama's State of the Union Address

Democracy Now - Wed 07 29 AM

Much of President Obama’s State of the Union address focused on the economy and efforts to bolster the middle class with a push for education, child care and tax breaks. But did he go far enough? We speak to Ralph Nader, longtime consumer advocate, corporate critic and former presidential candidate. His latest book is called "Unstoppable: The Emerging Left-Right Alliance to Dismantle the Corporate State."

Rep. Keith Ellison on Obama's Push to Sign TPP & Seek Authority to Expand War in Iraq & Syria

Democracy Now - Wed 07 15 AM

We get reaction to President Obama’s State of the Union address from Rep. Keith Ellison, co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus and the first Muslim elected to Congress. He discusses Obama’s policies on war, the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the proposed Robin Hood tax, and growing economic inequality.

Phyllis Bennis: As Obama Hails "Turning Page" on Wars, U.S. Drone Strikes Continue Across Globe

Democracy Now - Wed 07 08 AM

On the foreign policy front, President Obama used his State of the Union to defend his decision to begin normalizing relations with Cuba, to pledge again to close Guantánamo and to call for authorization to expand war against the Islamic State. He mentioned the words "drones" and "torture" once each. We get reaction from Phyllis Bennis, fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies.

Prosecuting Guatemala's Dirty War: Rigoberta Menchú Hails Embassy Fire Verdict, Dictator's Trial

Democracy Now - Tue 07 44 AM

In a major victory for human rights activists, a Guatemalan court has returned a guilty verdict in the Spanish Embassy massacre of 1980. On Monday, the court found former police chief Pedro García Arredondo responsible for ordering an attack on 37 peasant activists and student organizers who were occupying the Spanish Embassy in Guatemala City to protest government repression. According Monday’s ruling, Arredondo was the officer who gave the order to set fire to the diplomatic mission, burning the activists to death. He was also found guilty of two separate murders and sentenced to a total of 90 years in prison. One of the victims of the Spanish Embassy massacre was Don Vicente Menchú, an indigenous peasant leader and father of Rigoberta Menchú, who later won the Nobel Peace Prize. Rigoberta Menchú joins us from Guatemala City to discuss the historic verdict. We are also joined by filmmaker Pamela Yates, who is finishing the third documentary in her trilogy about Guatemala’s internal armed conflict. It looks at how the genocide trial of former dictator Efrain Ríos Montt trial empowered Guatemala’s nonviolent resistance movements.

Prosecuting Guatemala's Dirty War: Rigoberta Menchú Hails Embassy Fire Verdict, Dictator's Trial

Democracy Now - Tue 07 44 AM

In a major victory for human rights activists, a Guatemalan court has returned a guilty verdict in the Spanish Embassy massacre of 1980. On Monday, the court found former police chief Pedro García Arredondo responsible for ordering an attack on 37 peasant activists and student organizers who were occupying the Spanish Embassy in Guatemala City to protest government repression. According Monday’s ruling, Arredondo was the officer who gave the order to set fire to the diplomatic mission, burning the activists to death. He was also found guilty of two separate murders and sentenced to a total of 90 years in prison. One of the victims of the Spanish Embassy massacre was Don Vicente Menchú, an indigenous peasant leader and father of Rigoberta Menchú, who later won the Nobel Peace Prize. Rigoberta Menchú joins us from Guatemala City to discuss the historic verdict. We are also joined by filmmaker Pamela Yates, who is finishing the third documentary in her trilogy about Guatemala’s internal armed conflict. It looks at how the genocide trial of former dictator Efrain Ríos Montt trial empowered Guatemala’s nonviolent resistance movements.

Click here to watch Part 2 of this interview.

As Fox News Apologizes, Jeremy Scahill on Fake "Terror Experts" & Challenges of Real War Reporting

Democracy Now - Tue 07 30 AM

Fox News has apologized for broadcasting false information about Muslims in the wake of the Paris attacks. Last weekend, self-described terrorism expert Steve Emerson claimed on air that parts of Europe, including the entire English city of Birmingham, were totally Muslim areas where non-Muslims do not go. Emerson was forced to apologize, but the claim about so-called "no-go zones" was repeated by other Fox guests and anchors. On Saturday, according to a CNN Money tally, Fox News took time out of four broadcasts to apologize for reports on Muslims. Jeremy Scahill, co-founder of The Intercept, discusses the rise of so-called "terrorism experts" by Fox News and other major cable networks. In two recent interviews with CNN, Scahill has criticized the news giant and others for their use of "on-air analysts who also work in the private sector and make money on the idea that we should be afraid." He also responds to blistering criticism from FBI chief James Comey of using an anonymous al-Qaeda source in reporting on the Charlie Hebdo massacre, and analyzes what al-Qaeda’s claim of responsibility will mean for the U.S. drone war in Yemen.

A Coup in Yemen? Jeremy Scahill & Iona Craig on Rebel Offensive to Seize Power, Saudi Role & AQAP

Democracy Now - Tue 07 13 AM

As the world focuses on the threat posed by al-Qaeda in Yemen, the Yemeni government is on the verge of collapse. A dispute between Shia Houthi rebels and the government of President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi has sparked the capital Sana’a’s worst violence in months. Houthi fighters have reportedly entered Yemen’s presidential palace in a possible coup attempt. This comes days after fighters abducted the president’s chief of staff. As the government fights the Houthis, it also wages a U.S.-backed offensive against al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), whose insurgency has only grown deadlier by the year. The latest unrest comes days after AQAP took responsibility for the Charlie Hebdo massacre in Paris. Will the Yemeni government be overthrown in a coup? We are joined by two guests: Iona Craig, a journalist who has reported from Yemen for years and until recently was its last accredited foreign reporter; and Jeremy Scahill, co-founder of the The Intercept and the reporter who broke the story that AQAP took credit for the Charlie Hebdo killings. Scahill reported from Yemen extensively for his book and documentary film, "Dirty Wars."

Exclusive: Newly Discovered 1964 MLK Speech on Civil Rights, Segregation & Apartheid South Africa

Democracy Now - Mon 07 01 AM

In a Democracy Now! and Pacifica Radio Archives exclusive, we air a newly discovered recording of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. On December 7, 1964, days before he received the Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo, King gave a major address in London on segregation, the fight for civil rights and his support for Nelson Mandela and the anti-apartheid struggle in South Africa. The speech was recorded by Saul Bernstein, who was working as the European correspondent for Pacifica Radio. Bernstein’s recording was recently discovered by Brian DeShazor, director of the Pacifica Radio Archives.

As Nigerian Massacre Evidence Grows, Questions Swirl over Collusion Between Boko Haram & Military

Democracy Now - Fri 07 40 AM

Satellite images and witness accounts have emerged of what Amnesty International calls the "catastrophic destruction" from a massacre in northern Nigeria. Hundreds are feared dead after Boko Haram militants attacked Baga and surrounding areas earlier this month. Before and after images taken of two adjacent towns show thousands of buildings damaged or destroyed. The Nigerian military has claimed a toll as low as 150, but it could be as high as 2,000. Boko Haram is also suspected in a pair of suicide attacks over the weekend where explosives were strapped to young girls. It was nine months ago that the hashtag #BringOurGirlsHome drew the world’s attention to the group’s abduction of some 270 schoolgirls, most of whom remain unaccounted for. We host a roundtable discussion on the latest developments and the rise of Boko Haram with three guests: Adotei Akwei, managing director of government relations for Amnesty International USA; Rona Peligal, deputy director of the Africa Division for Human Rights Watch; and Horace Campbell, professor of African American studies and political science at Syracuse University. "The Boko Haram struggle is about who will control the billions of dollars, 10,000 barrels of oil per day that is siphoned out of Nigeria," Campbell argues. He has written extensively on African politics, including the article, "The Menace of Boko Haram and Fundamentalism in Nigeria."

Pope Francis Plea for Climate Action Revives Concept of "The Commons" to Rethink Economy & Society

Democracy Now - Fri 07 31 AM

We continue our coverage of Pope Francis’s visit to the Philippines, the country most impacted by global warming, ahead of his plans to issue the first-ever comprehensive Vatican teachings on climate change. The pope recently said the warming planet is "frequently exploited by human greed and rapacity." We are joined by Nathan Schneider, a columnist at America magazine, a national Catholic weekly magazine published by the Jesuits, where he has been covering Catholic engagement with climate change. "This is a different way of thinking about economics that is a part of Catholic tradition," Schneider says. "Pope Francis talking about the environment, about creation, is not an innovation; it is a response to a contemporary crisis. But it goes way back, to the scriptures, to Genesis." Schneider’s recent article is "A Global Catholic Climate Movement, None Too Soon." He is also an editor at Waging Nonviolence and the author of "Thank You, Anarchy: Notes from the Occupy Apocalypse."

"Man Has Slapped Nature in the Face": Pope Francis Urges Climate Action in Philippines Visit

Democracy Now - Fri 07 12 AM

Just weeks after Pope Francis announced he would urge 1.2 billion Catholics worldwide to take action on climate change, he is visiting the Philippines and meeting with survivors of several typhoons that devastated the country. The Philippines is Asia’s largest Catholic nation, and 80 percent of its 100 million residents are Catholic. On Saturday, the pope heads to Tacloban to have lunch with survivors of Typhoon Haiyan — known as "Typhoon Yolanda" in the Philippines. We go to Manila to speak with Naderev "Yeb" Saño, the country’s climate change commissioner. Until recently he was the country’s lead climate negotiator at the United Nations climate conferences, where he drew links between climate change and the deadly typhoons the country has faced. He is leading a group of eco-volunteer bikers for the papal convoy — they are monitoring the papal route’s cleanliness and ensuring the implementation of the church’s zero-waste policy.

Women on Waves: Meet the Dutch Physician Who Defied Abortion Bans by Bringing Her Clinic to the Sea

Democracy Now - Thu 07 46 AM

As Republicans in the new Congress and in state legislatures across the United States seek new restrictions on abortion, we look at the story of a Dutch doctor who has brought safe abortion to countries around the world where it is illegal. The new documentary "Vessel" follows Dr. Rebecca Gomperts, founder of Women on Waves, who set sail on a ship to provide abortions in international waters, where a country’s bans do not apply. Gomperts later founded Women on Web, an online support service that helps women obtain and safely take medications to induce abortion. We speak with Gomperts and "Vessel" director Diana Whitten.

Click here to watch Part 2 of this interview.

Did Gitmo "Suicides" Cover Up Murder? U.S. Sgt. Speaks Out on Deaths & Prison's Secret CIA Site

Democracy Now - Thu 07 08 AM

In a month marking its 13th anniversary, we look at one of the great mysteries of the U.S. military prison at Guantánamo Bay: What happened the night of June 9, 2006, when three prisoners died? The Pentagon said the three — Yasser Talal al-Zahrani, Salah Ahmed al-Salami and Mani Shaman al-Utaybi — all committed suicide. But were they actually tortured to death at a secret CIA black site at the base? In a broadcast exclusive, we are joined by Joseph Hickman, a Guantánamo staff sergeant and author of the new book, "Murder at Camp Delta: A Staff Sergeant’s Pursuit of the Truth About Guantánamo Bay." We are also joined by Professor Mark Denbeaux, director of Seton Hall University School of Law’s Center for Policy and Research, which has just published the new report, "Guantánamo: America’s Battle Lab."

Exclusive: "Eco-Terrorist" Freed 10 Years Early After Feds Withhold Evidence on Informant's Role

Democracy Now - Wed 07 41 AM

In a Democracy Now! exclusive, we speak to environmental activist Eric McDavid, who has just been released from prison 10 years early after federal prosecutors acknowledged withholding key evidence about how he may have been entrapped by an FBI informant with whom he had fallen in love. In 2008, McDavid was sentenced to 19 years in prison for conspiring to bomb sites in California including the Nimbus Dam. Defense attorneys say he was entrapped by a teenage informant who went by the name "Anna" and supplied him with food, housing and bomb-making instructions, and pressured him into illegal activity. As part of a settlement reached in the case on Thursday, federal prosecutors acknowledged withholding key evidence, including an FBI request for the informant to undergo a lie-detector test. This damning detail about the government’s star witness was found in thousands of documents released after his trial, when his supporters filed a Freedom of Information Act request. In his first interview since his release, McDavid joins us from Sacramento along with his partner Jenny Esquivel, a member of the group Sacramento Prisoner Support. We are also joined by McDavid’s lawyer, Ben Rosenfeld, a civil rights attorney who specializes in cases dealing with police and FBI misconduct.