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Black Granddaughter of Segregationist Strom Thurmond Praises SC for Removing Confederate Flag

Democracy Now - Fri 07 14 AM

The Confederate battle flag that has flown on the South Carolina state House grounds for more than 50 years comes down today. Governor Nikki Haley signed a bill Thursday to permanently remove the flag, after the House and Senate overwhelmingly approved it earlier this week. This is final push in a decades-long struggle that began after the Confederate flag was placed on South Carolina’s Capitol dome in 1962 and was later relocated to a 30-foot flagpole at the Civil War monument after a compromise that required a two-thirds vote in both the House and Senate to take it down. As Gov. Haley signed the bill in the state House rotunda Thursday, she was joined by relatives of the nine people gunned down June 17 at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston as they attended Bible study, along with three former South Carolina governors and the Rev. Jesse Jackson. The flag is set to be taken down at 10 a.m. this morning and will be moved to the state’s Military Museum in Columbia, where it will be on display in the Confederate Relic Room. For more, we speak to Wanda Williams-Bailey, the interracial granddaughter of the late South Carolina senator, former governor and longtime segregationist, Strom Thurmond, who died at the age of 100 in 2003. Months later, a woman named Essie Mae Washington-Williams came public to reveal she was the daughter of Thurmond and Carrie Butler, who was a 16-year-old African-American housekeeper in Thurmond’s home. Thurmond never publicly acknowledged Washington-Williams as his daughter or Wanda as his granddaughter.

Did BP Get Off Cheaply? Antonia Juhasz on $18.7B Gulf Oil Spill Settlement

Democracy Now - Thu 07 52 AM

BP has reached an $18.7 billion settlement to resolve all government claims resulting from the 2010 Deepwater Horizon explosion, the worst offshore oil spill in world history. If confirmed by a federal judge, it would be the largest environmental settlement in U.S. history and the largest ever by a single entity. The agreement covers damages sought by the federal government, the states of Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas, as well as more than 400 civic entities along the Gulf Coast. The payment includes a $5.5 billion civil penalty under the Clean Water Act and a $7.1 billion fine for environmental damage to the Gulf. But some groups have questioned if BP is paying enough. For more we’re joined by reporter Antonia Juhasz in San Francisco. Her Rolling Stone story is headlined "BP 'Got Off Cheaply' With $18.7 Billion Settlement.”

"These Should Not Be in America": Democrats Aim to Remove Confederate Symbols from Federal Property

Democracy Now - Thu 07 49 AM

As House lawmakers in South Carolina pass a measure to remove the Confederate flag from the grounds of the state Capitol, we speak to Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA) about efforts in Washington to remove symbols of the Confederacy. The South Carolina vote came early this morning, almost exactly three weeks to the day after a white suspect who embraced the Confederate flag massacred nine African-American worshipers at a church bible study in Charleston.

The Next Steps on Cuba: Rep. Barbara Lee Pushes for End to Embargo & U.S Travel Restrictions

Democracy Now - Thu 07 45 AM

As the United States prepares to reopen its embassy in Havana, we speak to Rep. Barbara Lee, who has been rumored to be a frontrunner to become U.S. ambassador to Cuba. Lee has traveled to Cuba over 20 times since the 1970s and has co-sponsored the Freedom to Travel to Cuba Act and Free Trade with Cuba Act.

"A Sea Change": With 100 Women in Congress, Lawmakers Go on Offensive with Landmark Pro-Choice Bill

Democracy Now - Thu 07 36 AM

In a landmark push to turn back the record tide of anti-choice restrictions, pro-choice U.S. lawmakers have introduced a bill to expand insurance coverage of abortion. The Equal Access to Abortion Coverage in Health Insurance Act, or EACH Woman Act, would dismantle the nearly 40-year-old Hyde Amendment, which bans federal funding of abortion, except in cases of life endangerment, rape or incest. The Hyde Amendment denies coverage of abortion to many of the country’s poorest women, who are disproportionately women of color. We speak with Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA), lead sponsor of the bill. "In the past, we’ve just been on the defense constantly, just defending a woman’s right to choose, a woman’s right to privacy, Roe v. Wade. Well, now it’s about time we take the offense," Lee says. "This is a major first step."

A Mounting Humanitarian Catastrophe in Yemen: War Death Toll Tops 3,000, Fear of Famine Grows

Democracy Now - Thu 07 11 AM

Aid groups are warning Yemen is on the brink of famine as the Saudi-led attack intensifies. More than 3,000 people, including 1,500 civilians, have died in Yemen since the U.S.-backed Saudi offensive against the Houthi rebel group began on March 26. According to the United Nations, 80 percent of Yemen’s 25 million people are now in need of some form of humanitarian aid, and more than one million Yemenis have fled their homes, as a Saudi naval blockade has cut off food and fuel supply lines for much of the country. Monday was reportedly the deadliest day since the fighting began, with over 176 people killed, including 30 people at a market in the northern province of Amran and 60 people at a livestock market in the southern town of al-Foyoush. To talk more about Yemen, we are joined by two guests. Farea Al-Muslimi is a co-founder of the Sana’a Center for Strategic Studies in Yemen. He is currently a visiting scholar at the Carnegie Middle East Center in Beirut. And here in New York is Matthieu Aikins, award-winning foreign correspondent. He’s a fellow at The Nation Institute. He was in Yemen last month reporting for Rolling Stone magazine.

Has the World Abandoned Gaza? Region Remains in Ruins a Year After Deadly Israeli Assault

Democracy Now - Wed 07 46 AM

As Gaza marks one year since the launch of Israel’s devastating 50-day assault, it remains in a state of crisis. The assault killed 2,200 Palestinians, including 550 children. On the Israeli side, 73 people were killed, all but six of them soldiers. A year later, none of the 12,000 homes destroyed in Gaza have been rebuilt, in part due to the ongoing Israeli blockade. The World Bank is warning the Gaza economy is on the verge of collapse. Overall unemployment now stands at 43 percent — the highest in the world. We speak with Palestinian journalist Mohammed Omer, author of "Shell-Shocked: On the Ground Under Israel’s Gaza Assault."

The End of Encryption? NSA & FBI Seek New Backdoors Against Advice from Leading Security Experts

Democracy Now - Wed 07 31 AM

FBI Director James Comey is set to testify against encryption before the Senate Intelligence Committee today, as the United States and Britain push for "exceptional access" to encrypted communications. Encryption refers to the scrambling of communications so they cannot be read without the correct key or password. The FBI and GCHQ have said they need access to encrypted communications to track criminals and terrorists. Fourteen of the world’s pre-eminent cryptographers, computer scientists and security specialists have issued a paper arguing there is no way to allow the government such access without endangering all confidential data, as well as the broader communications infrastructure. We speak with one of the authors of the paper, leading security technologist Bruce Schneier.

Matt Taibbi: Eric Holder Back to Wall Street-Tied Law Firm After Years of Refusing to Jail Bankers

Democracy Now - Wed 07 13 AM

In the latest sign of the revolving door between Wall Street and Washington, recently retired U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder is returning home — to the corporate law firm Covington & Burling, where he worked for eight years before becoming head of the Justice Department. During his time at Covington, Holder’s clients included UBS and the fruit giant Chiquita. The law firm’s client list has included many of the big banks Holder failed to criminally prosecute as attorney general for their role in the financial crisis, including Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo and Citigroup. We speak with Matt Taibbi, award-winning journalist with Rolling Stone magazine. "I think this is probably the single biggest example of the revolving door that we’ve ever had," Taibbi says.

A Socialist Surge in the U.S.? Bernie Sanders Draws Record Crowds, Praises Greek Anti-Austerity Vote

Democracy Now - Tue 07 49 AM

The Greek election has also factored into the U.S. presidential race. On Monday, Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders said, "I applaud the people of Greece for saying 'no' to more austerity for the poor, the children, the sick and the elderly. In a world of massive wealth and income inequality, Europe must support Greece’s efforts to build an economy which creates more jobs and income, not more unemployment and suffering." Sanders’ anti-austerity platform is resonating with voters. On Monday, Sanders spoke before 9,000 in Portland, Maine. Last week he drew more than 10,000 people in Madison, Wisconsin, the largest crowd for any presidential candidate in the 2016 race. We speak to Richard Wolff about Bernie Sanders and what it means to be a socialist.

Economist Richard Wolff on Roots of Greek Crisis, Debt Relief & Rise of Anti-Capitalism in Europe

Democracy Now - Tue 07 30 AM

As Greek voters reject further budget cuts and tax hikes in exchange for a rescue package from European creditors, who is to blame for the debt crisis embroiling Greece? Is Germany trying to crush Greece to set an example? Will Greece leave the eurozone? What does this mean for the global economy? We speak to Richard Wolff, emeritus professor of economics at University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and visiting professor at New School University. He’s the author of several books, including, most recently, "Democracy at Work: A Cure for Capitalism." Still with us in Athens, Greece, is Paul Mason, economics editor at Channel 4 News.

"A Europe of Equals": Report from Athens as Greek Voters Seek Alternatives to Austerity

Democracy Now - Tue 07 12 AM

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras has arrived in Brussels for an emergency eurozone summit two days after Greek voters overwhelmingly turned down the terms of an international bailout in a historic rejection of austerity. On Sunday, Greeks, by a 61-to-39-percent margin, voted against further budget cuts and tax hikes in exchange for a rescue package from European creditors. Tsipras is scrambling to present a new bailout proposal as Greek banks remain shut down. If Greek banks run out of money and the country has to print its own currency, it could mean a state leaving the euro for the first time since it was launched in 1999. Euclid Tsakalotos was sworn in Monday as Greece’s new finance minister, replacing Yanis Varoufakis, who resigned following Sunday’s referendum. Tsakalotos, who has called for a "Europe of equals," had served as Greece’s main bailout negotiator and has been a member of Syriza for nearly a decade. Like Varoufakis, Tsakalotos has been a vocal opponent of fiscal austerity imposed by the core of the eurozone, saying it has unnecessarily impoverished Greece. We go to Athens to speak with Paul Mason, economics editor at Channel 4 News, and economics professor Richard Wolff.

Bree Newsome: As SC Lawmakers Debate Removing Confederate Flag, Meet the Activist Who Took It Down

Democracy Now - Mon 07 16 AM

As South Carolina state lawmakers begin debate on whether to remove the Confederate flag from the grounds of the state Capitol in Columbia, we are joined by Bree Newsome, the 30-year-old African-American woman who took down the flag herself. On June 27, 10 days after the Charleston massacre and one day after the funeral for the Rev. Clementa Pinckney, Newsome scaled the 30-foot flagpole at the state Capitol and took the flag in her hand. "I come against you in the name of God!" Newsome said. "This flag comes down today!" As soon as she reached the ground, she and fellow activist James Tyson were arrested. The protest went viral and was seen around the world. Newsome and Tyson join us to discuss their action in an extended interview.

"Democracy Cannot Be Blackmailed": Greek Voters Overwhelmingly Reject Creditors' Austerity Demand

Democracy Now - Mon 07 08 AM

Greek voters have overwhelmingly turned down the terms of an international bailout in a historic rejection of austerity. With a margin of 61 to 39 percent, Greeks voted no to further budget cuts and tax hikes in exchange for a rescue package from European creditors. Polls had indicated a narrow vote, but the "no" side swept districts across the country. Thousands of people flocked to Athens’ Syntagma Square Sunday night in celebration. In voting against austerity, Greeks have rejected measures that helped cripple the economy, but also turned down a financial lifeline for its struggling banks. The banks will remain closed today as the European Central Bank meets to consider new emergency loans. Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras says he will seek a new round of talks with creditors in which restructuring Greece’s $267 billion debt is on the table. In a surprise move, Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis announced his resignation today, saying Greece’s creditors no longer want him involved in the talks. Varoufakis said, "I shall wear the creditors’ loathing with pride." We are joined by Costas Panayotakis, author of "Remaking Scarcity: From Capitalist Inefficiency to Economic Democracy" and professor of sociology at NYC College of Technology at CUNY.

"We Shall Overcome": Remembering Folk Icon, Activist Pete Seeger in His Own Words & Songs

Democracy Now - Fri 07 27 AM

We end our Fourth of July holiday special remembering the late legendary folk singer and activist Pete Seeger. For nearly seven decades, Seeger was a musical and political icon who helped create the modern American folk music movement. We air highlights of two appearances by Seeger on Democracy Now!. Interspersed in the interviews, Seeger sings some of his classic songs, "We Shall Overcome," "If I Had a Hammer" and "Where Have All the Flowers Gone." He also talks about what has been described as his "defiant optimism." "Realize that little things lead to bigger things. That’s what [the album] 'Seeds' is all about," Seeger said. "And there’s a wonderful parable in the New Testament: The sower scatters seeds. Some seeds fall in the pathway and get stamped on, and they don’t grow. Some fall on the rocks, and they don’t grow. But some seeds fall on fallow ground, and they grow and multiply a thousandfold. Who knows where some good little thing that you’ve done may bring results years later that you never dreamed of?"

Seeger led an illustrious musical career. In the 1940s, he performed in The Almanac Singers with Woody Guthrie. Then he formed The Weavers. In the 1950s, he was blacklisted after he opposed Senator Joseph McCarthy’s political witch hunt and was almost jailed for refusing to answer questions before the House Un-American Activities Committee. Seeger became a prominent civil rights activist and helped popularize the anthem "We Shall Overcome." In the 1960s, he was a vocal critic of the Vietnam War and inspired generations of protest singers. He was later at the center of the environmental and anti-nuclear movements. With his wife Toshi, Pete helped found Clearwater, a group to clean up the Hudson River. Toshi died in 2013 just weeks before their 70th wedding anniversary. In 2009, he and Bruce Springsteen performed Guthrie’s "This Land is Your Land" on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial at an inaugural concert for Barack Obama.