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Started by Abolitionists in 1865, The Nation Magazine Marks 150 Years of Publishing Rebel Voices

Democracy Now - Wed 07 29 AM

The Nation magazine, the oldest news magazine in the United States, is celebrating its 150th anniversary this year. The first issue was published on July 6, 1865 — just weeks after the end of the Civil War and three months after the assassination of Abraham Lincoln. Over the years, The Nation has published many of the nation’s leading dissidents, academics and activists. We broadcast an excerpt from the new documentary, "Hot Type: 150 Years of The Nation," and speak with the magazine’s editor and publisher, Katrina vanden Heuvel. The Nation is celebrating its anniversary with a quintuple-length, blockbuster edition.

Indiana Scrambles to Contain Growing Corporate, Public Outcry over Anti-LGBT "Religious Freedom" Law

Democracy Now - Wed 07 13 AM

As the state of Indiana faces increasing pressure to repeal a new religious freedom law, Arkansas lawmakers have passed a similar bill that critics say could allow business owners to refuse service to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender customers in the name of religious freedom. Republican Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson has said he plans to sign the bill into law. On Tuesday, the CEO of Wal-Mart, Arkansas’s largest corporation, called for Hutchinson to veto the bill. Wal-Mart joins a growing number of corporations opposing the religious freedom bills. Nine chief executive officers, including the heads of Apple, Angie’s List and Eli Lilly, have spoken out in protest. A number of states and cities have also taken action, banning officials from traveling to Indiana. On Tuesday, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence said he stood by the law but urged lawmakers to work on reforming its language. We go to Indianapolis to speak with Indiana State Senate Democratic leader Tim Lanane, who led his party’s opposition to the "Religious Freedom Restoration Act" before its passage.

Mumia Abu-Jamal Moved from Prison to Intensive Care, Supporters Seek Access and Answers

Democracy Now - Tue 07 55 AM

Imprisoned journalist and former Black Panther Mumia Abu-Jamal has been taken to the Intensive Care Unit of Schuylkill Medical Center in Pottsville, Pennsylvania, after he was removed from prison for a medical emergency without any notification to his family, friends or lawyers. Prison officials told his supporters he is in diabetic shock. We get an update from Abu-Jamal’s longtime friend, Johanna Fernández who first discovered he was in the hospital Monday morning when she went to visit him in prison and was told he had been taken to the intensive care unit. Fernández is a history professor at Baruch College-CUNY, and one of the coordinators of the Campaign to Bring Mumia Home.

"Straights Only"? Indiana Faces Boycotts, Protests over Anti-LGBT "Religious Freedom" Law

Democracy Now - Tue 07 46 AM

Indiana is facing boycotts and fierce criticism following Gov. Mike Pence’s new measure that could sanction discrimination by allowing business owners to refuse service to LGBT customers in the name of "religious freedom." Connecticut is the first state to officially boycott Indiana over the move, now San Francisco and Seattle have also imposed bans on city-funded travel to the state. Nine chief executive officers, including the heads of Angie’s List and Eli Lilly, wrote letters asking Indiana state officials to "take immediate action" to ensure the act will not sanction or encourage discrimination. On Saturday, thousands of people marched in Indianapolis calling for Pence’s resignation. Critics have called for a boycott, and some, including former NBA star Charles Barkley, are calling for the upcoming Final Four college basketball championship, to be moved out of state. Supporters of the legislation have said 19 other states have similar laws and that Indiana is attracting undue criticism. Pence has said he will seek a new measure to "clarify the intent" of his new law, though he added that LGBT protections are "not on my agenda." We are joined by Eunice Rho, advocacy and policy counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union.

Ex-Sen. George Mitchell: Freed Whistleblower on Azerbaijan Corruption Should Never Have Been Jailed

Democracy Now - Tue 07 43 AM

We look at the case of Frederic "Rick" Bourke, who is considered a whistleblower after he was imprisoned for exposing corruption and bribery in the oil-rich region of the Caspian Sea. Bourke is known for founding the luxury handbag company Dooney & Bourke and is a philanthropist who has invested his wealth into ventures seeking novel cures for cancer. In the mid-1990s, he met a Czech national named Viktor Kozeny who recruited investors for the takeover of SOCAR, the state-owned oil company of Azerbaijan. Serious investors vetted the opportunity and sank huge sums into the enterprise, including our guest, former Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell, as well as Columbia University’s investment fund, the insurance giant AIG, and legendary hedge-fund manager Lee Cooperman, a longtime executive at Goldman Sachs. But the investment failed, and Kozeny absconded with the remaining funds. Bourke was recently released from prison, while Kozeny was never punished. When asked if Bourke should be exonerated, Mitchell responds, "I do not believe he should have been convicted in the first place."

Former Mideast Peace Envoy George Mitchell on U.S.-Israel Showdown over Iran, Palestinian Statehood

Democracy Now - Tue 07 20 AM

George Mitchell, the former senator and U.S. Special Envoy for Middle East Peace under President Obama, joins us to discuss the escalating U.S.-Israel standoff over Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s campaign against an Iran nuclear deal and open rejection of the two-state solution. Last week, it emerged Israeli intelligence spied on the Iran talks and then fed the information to congressional Republicans. Obama and other top officials have vowed to re-evaluate their approach to the Israel-Palestine conflict following Netanyahu’s vow to prevent a Palestinian state. U.S. officials have suggested they might take steps, including no longer vetoing U.N. Security Council resolutions critical of Israel. A first test of the new U.S. approach might come in the next few weeks when France will put forward a U.N. Security Council measure aimed at encouraging peace talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. Mitchell headed the U.S. role in the Mideast talks between 2009 and 2011. He previously served under President Bill Clinton, as the Special Envoy for Northern Ireland, where he helped broker the Belfast Peace Agreement of 1998.

"A Matter of War & Peace": Iran, Powers Near Preliminary Deal in face of Congress-Israel Opposition

Democracy Now - Tue 07 11 AM

Negotiators meeting in Lausanne, Switzerland, over an Iran nuclear deal are set to issue a general statement that enough progress has been made to continue in a new phase aimed at a comprehensive agreement in June. Details of the talks have been kept under wraps. The United States had imposed a Tuesday deadline for a preliminary accord in order to help stave off congressional opposition, buoyed by the efforts of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Congress has vowed to impose additional sanctions if negotiators fail to reach a preliminary agreement, and the Senate is expected to take up a measure that would give Congress final approval. We go to Lausanne for an update from Trita Parsi, founder and president of the National Iranian American Council, who has been following the negotiations closely.

TSA Checklist Exposed: "Suspicious Signs" Include Throat Clearing, Whistling & "Exaggerated Yawning"

Democracy Now - Mon 07 50 AM

Next time you are at an airport, you may not want to gaze down at your feet. But also be careful not to stare at anyone with your eyes wide open. Both of these behaviors are listed on a "suspicious signs" checklist used by the U.S. Transportation Security Administration. The Intercept obtained the confidential document from a source concerned about the quality of the program. The document shows how the TSA identifies potential terrorists based on behaviors that it thinks indicate stress or deception, including "fidgeting," "whistling" and "throat clearing." The checklist is part of the TSA’s controversial program known as the "Screening of Passengers by Observation Techniques.” It employs specially trained officers, known as behavior detection officers, to watch and interact with passengers going through screening. The TSA has trained and deployed thousands of these officers, spending more than $900 million on this program since its inception in 2007. However, the Government Accountability Office has found there is no evidence to back up the claim that "behavioral indicators … can be used to identify persons who may pose a risk to aviation security." We are joined by Cora Currier, staff reporter for The Intercept, whose new article co-written with Jana Winter, is "TSA’s Secret Behavior Checklist To Spot Terrorists."

Iran Nuclear Talks Near Deadline Amid "Air of Inevitability Combined with Tremendous Uncertainty"

Democracy Now - Mon 07 44 AM

Talks over a nuclear deal with Iran are in their final stages before Tuesday’s self-imposed deadline. Progress has been reported on several issues, including limiting centrifuges at Iran’s main nuclear facility to around 6,000. But Iran has reportedly backed off a key pledge to enrich its atomic fuel overseas. Iranian officials are said to have previously agreed to sending uranium stockpiles to Russia, but now want to keep the fuel inside the country. The demand could still be overcome by agreements on regular inspections and sufficiently diluting the fuel. If a preliminary deal is reached by Tuesday, a final agreement would follow by the end of June. From the Swiss city of Lausanne where the talks are underway, we are joined by Trita Parsi, founder and president of the National Iranian American Council.

Ex-U.S. Official on Bowe Bergdahl Charges: Why Are We Vilifying an Ex-POW Tortured by Taliban?

Democracy Now - Mon 07 27 AM

With Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl facing charges of desertion and misbehavior before the enemy, the case has revived controversy over how the Obama administration won his release in exchange for five Taliban detainees held at Guantánamo Bay. On Friday, the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee asked the White House for documents related to the swap. Others have raised different questions over the Bergdahl case, including whether he is being unfairly targeted while the military and political leaders who mishandled the Afghan war evade scrutiny. We speak with Matthew Hoh, a former Marine and State Department official who resigned in protest from his post in Afghanistan over U.S. policy in September 2009.

Attorney for Bowe Bergdahl: Army Report Shows Ex-POW Left Base to Report Wrongdoing, Not Desert Unit

Democracy Now - Mon 07 10 AM

The U.S. Army says it plans to charge Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl with desertion and the rare charge of misbehavior before the enemy after he was held and tortured in Taliban captivity for five years when he left his base in Afghanistan in 2009. He was freed in 2014 in exchange for five Taliban prisoners held for years at Guantánamo Bay. Now Bergdahl’s defense could center on an Army probe that found he walked off his post in an attempt to reach another U.S. base to report on wrongdoing in his unit. An earlier military report found Bergdahl likely walked away on his own free will, but stopped short of finding that he planned to permanently desert U.S. forces. We get the details from his lawyer, Eugene Fidell, a lecturer at Yale Law School and co-founder and former president of the National Institute of Military Justice.

African Economist Samir Amin on the World Social Forum, Globalization & the Barbarism of Capitalism

Democracy Now - Fri 07 34 AM

As tens of thousands gather for the World Social Forum in Tunis, Tunisia, we speak to one of the most prominent radical thinkers in Africa — the Egyptian-born economist Samir Amin. He is considered one of Africa’s leading political economists and was one of the pioneers of describing modern human history from the perspective of the Third World, arguing that the countries of the South were not latecomers to capitalism, but were integrated into the global economy from the start in a position of dependency to the rich, industrialized North. He is presently director of the Third World Forum in Dakar, Senegal — considered a precursor to the World Social Forum — and since 1997, has been the chair of the World Forum for Alternatives. Amin has written thousands of journal articles and opinion pieces as well as more than 30 books — with titles such as "Imperialism and Unequal Development," "Global History: A View from the South" and "The Liberal Virus: Permanent War and the Americanization of the World." The historian Ama Biney says Amin is "an intellectual titan in the canon of African radical thought."

The Yemen Crisis: Could Domestic Conflict Grow into Protracted Regional War?

Democracy Now - Fri 07 23 AM

As Saudi Arabia and Egypt threaten to send ground troops into Yemen, we look at the roots of the crisis. While many analysts have described the fighting as a proxy war between Saudi Arabia and Iran, journalist Iona Craig says the fighting stems from a domestic conflict. "People try to frame this as an Iran versus Saudi kind of battle, which it has now become. But it is very much because of domestic politics," explains Iona Craig, who recently spent four years reporting from Sana’a. We also speak to Brian Whitaker, former Middle East editor at The Guardian, about the decades-old history of Saudi intervention in Yemen.

Yemen Does Not Need Another War: Report from Sana'a as Saudi Attack Enters Second Day

Democracy Now - Fri 07 13 AM

A Saudi-led aerial bombing campaign has entered its second day in Yemen. The Saudi-led airstrikes are intended to thwart the advance of Shiite Houthi rebels after they seized control of the capital Sana’a last year and deposed President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi last month. On Thursday, Hadi left his refuge in Aden for Saudi Arabia. At least 39 civilians have reportedly been killed so far in the airstrikes. Amnesty International reports the dead include at least six children under the age of 10. Saudi’s bombing campaign has been backed by the United States, Gulf states, Egypt, Turkey, Pakistan and Sudan. We go to Sana’a to speak with Farea Al-Muslimi, a visiting scholar at Carnegie Middle East Center. He recently tweeted: "I’m a 25 year old Yemeni man. I’ve seen at least 15 wars in my country. I don’t need more. I need some help and education & economy; not guns."

Why Is Climate Denier David Koch on the Board of Top Science Museums? Letter Urges Cutting of Ties

Democracy Now - Thu 07 49 AM

The nation’s top museums are facing calls to cut ties with billionaire funders who profit from global warming. In an open letter, a coalition of climate scientists, museum experts and environmental groups says science and natural history museums should stop accepting money from fossil fuel corporations and individual donors like the Koch brothers. Koch Industries has extensive energy industry holdings and has funded climate denial. David Koch is a board member of both the American Museum of Natural History and the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History. One of the most controversial exhibits is a Koch-backed installation at the Smithsonian that promotes the theory that humankind evolved in response to climate change. The letter is the creation of a different kind of museum — the new, mobile Natural History Museum, which seeks to "highlight the socio-political forces that shape nature." We are joined by Beka Economopoulos, co-founder and director of the new Natural History Museum, who coordinated the letter to 330 science and natural history museums, and by James Powell, one of the scientists who signed the open letter. Powell is a geochemist, former president of the Franklin Institute and former president and director of the Los Angeles County Natural History Museum.

Brutalized in Taliban Captivity After Fleeing War He Opposed, Bowe Bergdahl Charged with Desertion

Democracy Now - Thu 07 38 AM

The U.S. military has charged Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl with one count of desertion and one count of misbehavior before the enemy. Bergdahl was held in Taliban captivity for five years after leaving his Army base in Afghanistan in 2009. An earlier military report found Bergdahl likely walked away of his own free will, but stopped short of finding that he planned to permanently desert American forces. In Taliban captivity, Bergdahl has said he was beaten, tortured and locked in a cage after trying to escape some 12 times. He was freed last year in exchange for five Taliban militants. He now faces life in prison if convicted. We are joined by Brock McIntosh, who served in Afghanistan from November 2008 to August 2009. McIntosh applied for conscientious objector status and was discharged in May 2014.