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An Angry White House Vows to Confront Netanyahu, But Will It End Key U.S. Support for Occupation?

Democracy Now - Tue 07 41 AM

The White House says it is re-evaluating its policy toward Israel following Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s rejection of a two-state solution. Administration officials have openly criticized Netanyahu for vowing no Palestinian state during his tenure and warning supporters about a high turnout of Arab voters. Netanyahu has tried to walk back his comments, but U.S. officials have suggested they might take steps including no longer vetoing U.N. Security Council resolutions critical of Israel. The dispute over Netanyahu’s comments comes amidst existing tensions over his effort to derail nuclear talks with Iran. According to The Wall Street Journal, Netanyahu’s obstructionism now includes Israeli spying on the U.S.-Iran talks and then turning over sensitive information to Republican members of Congress. Despite the frayed ties and talk of punitive U.S. action, whether the White House is prepared to end longstanding U.S. support for the occupation is the question that lies ahead. Administration officials have already vowed the billions of dollars in U.S. military aid to Israel will continue unimpeded. We are joined by three guests: Lisa Goldman, a contributing editor at +972 Magazine and a fellow at the New America Foundation; Dr. Hatim Kanaaneh, a physician, author and Palestinian citizen of Israel; Yousef Munayyer, executive director of U.S. Campaign to End Israeli Occupation.

"Inside Baghdad's Brutal Battle Against ISIS": In Chaos of Post-Invasion Iraq, Militias Take Hold

Democracy Now - Tue 07 29 AM

"If you visited the Interior Ministry compound in Baghdad during the holy month of Muharram this past fall, you would be forgiven for thinking that Iraq, like its neighbor Iran, is a country whose official religion is Shiite Islam," writes journalist Matthieu Aikins in his latest Rolling Stone article, "Inside Baghdad’s Brutal Battle Against ISIS." We speak to Aikins about the rise of militias in Iraq and its return to the sectarian warfare that ravaged the country in the years after the 2003 U.S. invasion. Aikins, who has reported extensively from Afghanistan, also discusses Afghan President Ashraf Ghani’s visit to the White House. We also hear from Erin Evers, Iraq researcher for Human Rights Watch.

After Liberation Came Destruction: Iraqi Shiite Militias Accused of Looting, Burning Sunni Villages

Democracy Now - Tue 07 13 AM

A new report finds Shiite militias in Iraq have burned down entire Sunni villages after liberating them from control of the Islamic State. This comes as Iraqi forces and Iranian-backed Shiite militias are in their fourth week of a fight to retake Tikrit from ISIS militants. We air a Human Rights Watch video report from the Iraqi town of Amerli and speak to Erin Evers, Iraq researcher for HRW, who co-wrote the group’s new report, "After Liberation Came Destruction: Iraqi Militias and the Aftermath of Amerli."

RIP Danny Schechter: Media Pioneer Who Covered Apartheid South Africa, Occupy & Kissinger

Democracy Now - Mon 07 33 AM

We speak with two close colleagues and friends of the pioneering author, filmmaker and media reform activist Danny Schechter, who died last week of pancreatic cancer at the age of 72, and play excerpts from different points in his career. In one interview, Schechter explains how he got his start as "The News Dissector" on Boston’s WBCN radio in the 1970 and garnered fans such as Noam Chomsky. Schechter went on to work as a television producer at ABC’s 20/20, where he won two Emmy Awards, and at the newly launched CNN. He wrote 12 books, including "The More You Watch, the Less You Know." He was also a leading activist and journalist against apartheid in South Africa, who left the corporate journalist world to make six documentaries about Nelson Mandela and produce the groundbreaking television series "South Africa Now," which aired on 150 public television stations in the late 1980s and early 1990s at the height of the anti-apartheid struggle. We broadcast exclusive excerpts from the show, which has been newly digitized by Yale University, and speak with South African filmmaker Anant Singh, who worked with Schechter on the feature film "Mandela: Long Walk Home"; and Rory O’Connor, who co-founded Globalvision with Schechter and worked with him for decades.

Yemen in Crisis: U.S. Closes Key Drone Base & Withdraws Forces as U.N. Warns of Civil War

Democracy Now - Mon 07 14 AM

After touting its "successful" counterterrorism model in Yemen, the United States has evacuated its remaining personnel, including 100 special operations forces from a military base seen as key in the drone war against al-Qaeda. This comes amidst worsening violence between government forces and Shia Houthi rebels, and an attack claimed by the Islamic State that killed dozens of worshipers at two mosques. The United Nations has warned Yemen is on the brink of an "Iraq-Libya-Syria"-type civil war. We are joined by Iona Craig, a journalist who was based in Sana’a for four years as the Yemen correspondent for The Times of London.

Remembering Danny Schechter, "The News Dissector": Pioneering Journalist, Filmmaker & Activist

Democracy Now - Fri 07 53 AM

The author, filmmaker and media reform activist Danny Schechter has died of pancreatic cancer at the age of 72. Danny Schechter rose to prominence as the "The News Dissector" on Boston’s WBCN radio in the 1970s. He went on to work as a television producer at ABC’s 20/20, where he won two Emmy Awards, and at the newly launched CNN. But he left corporate media to lead MediaChannel.org and Globalvision. Schechter wrote 12 books, including "The More You Watch, the Less You Know," and was a leading activist and journalist against apartheid in South Africa, making six nonfiction films about Nelson Mandela. He was a frequent guest on Democracy Now! over the years. The last time he was on the program, he discussed the life and legacy of Nelson Mandela.

A Gift to ExxonMobil? Chris Christie Criticized over Settlement to Clean Up Century of Contamination

Democracy Now - Fri 07 45 AM

State senators in New Jersey have voted to condemn a $225 million settlement between Republican Gov. Chris Christie and ExxonMobil, which saved the oil giant billions of dollars. New Jersey quietly agreed to accept less than 3 percent of the $8.9 billion it had initially sought from Exxon over pollution at two refinery sites. That amounts to just three cents on the dollar. On Monday, lawmakers asked a judge to reject the deal, calling it "grossly inappropriate, improper and inadequate." We speak to Bob Hennelly, political analyst and investigative reporter for WBGO, Newark’s NPR station and a regular contributor to Salon, City and State and WhoWhatWhy.

Ecuadorean Foreign Minister Ricardo Patiño on Press Freedom, Anti-Correa Protests & Chevron Case

Democracy Now - Fri 07 31 AM

In Ecuador, thousands of people took to the streets in Quito and at least 12 other cities on Thursday to protest against the government of President Rafael Correa. In Quito, protesters held signs reading "We want democracy" and "Say no to re-election." Demonstrators rallied in part to oppose constitutional changes that would allow indefinite re-election of the president and other officials. We speak to Ecuadorean Foreign Minister Ricardo Patiño about the protests, press freedom in Ecuador and the recent ruling by the International Court of Justice in the ongoing lawsuit against Chevron over oil pollution.

Ecuador: Why Did It Take Sweden 1,000 Days to Agree to Question Julian Assange in Our U.K. Embassy?

Democracy Now - Fri 07 23 AM

Ecuadorean Foreign Minister Ricardo Patiño responds to recent reports Swedish prosecutors will seek to question WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange in the Ecuadorean Embassy in London. Assange has never been charged over allegations of sexual assault, yet he has been holed up in the embassy since 2012, fearing that if he steps outside, he will be arrested and extradited to Sweden, which could lead to his extradition to the United States — which is investigating Assange over WikiLeaks publishing classified documents. "We are pleased to see the Swedish prosecutors say that they now want to take the statements from Julian Assange at our embassy," Patiño says. "But at the same time, we are concerned that 1,000 days have gone by, 1,000 days with Julian Assange confined in our embassy, before they say that they are going to do what they should have done from day one."

Ecuadorean Foreign Minister: The United States is the Real Threat in the Americas, Not Venezuela

Democracy Now - Fri 07 13 AM

The Obama administration is facing criticism across Latin America for leveling new sanctions against Venezuela and declaring the country an "unusual and extraordinary threat to national security." On Saturday, foreign ministers of the 12-country Union of South American Nations called for a revocation of the sanctions. In a statement, the ministers said: "It constitutes an interventionist threat to sovereignty and the principle of non-interference in the internal affairs of other countries." On Thursday, U.S. policy in Venezuela was also questioned during a meeting of the Organization of American States in Washington, D.C. Representatives from Mexico, Brazil, Colombia, Argentina and other nations all criticized the U.S. approach. We speak to Ecuadorean Foreign Minister Ricardo Patiño, who took part in the Organization of American States meeting yesterday. Ecuador has offered to mediate dialogue between the United States and Venezuela.

"How the FBI Created a Terrorist": Agency Accused of Entrapping Mentally Ill Man in Florida

Democracy Now - Thu 07 50 AM

"How the FBI Created a Terrorist." That’s the subtitle of a new exposé in The Intercept by Trevor Aaronson, a journalist who investigates the FBI’s use of informants in sting operations. The article tells the story of Sami Osmakac, a mentally disturbed, financially unstable young man who was targeted by an elaborately orchestrated FBI sting in early 2012. The operation involved a paid informant who hired Osmakac for a job, when he was too broke to afford inert government weapons. The FBI provided the weapons seen in a so-called martyrdom video Osmakac filmed before he planned to deliver what he believed was a car bomb to a bar in Tampa, Florida. His family believes Osmakac never would have initiated such a plot without the FBI. And transcripts of conversations obtained by Aaronson show FBI agents appeared to agree, describing him as a “retarded fool” whose terrorist ambitions were a “pipe-dream scenario.” The transcripts show how the agents worked to get $500 to Osmakac so he could make a down payment on the weapons — something government prosecutors wanted to prove their case. In November 2014, Osmakac was sentenced to 40 years in federal prison, despite a court-appointed psychologist diagnosing him with schizoaffective disorder. We are joined by Avni Osmakac, the older brother of Sami Osmakac, and Trevor Aaronson, contributing writer at The Intercept and executive director of the nonprofit Florida Center for Investigative Reporting.

Obama Seeks Fast Track for TPP, Trade Deal that Could Thwart "Almost Any Progressive Policy or Goal"

Democracy Now - Thu 07 36 AM

Congressional Democrats are openly criticizing the secrecy surrounding the negotiations over the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), just as President Obama begins a major push to pass the controversial deal. The United States is engaged in talks with 11 Latin American and Asian countries for the sweeping trade pact that would cover 40 percent of the global economy. But its provisions have mostly been kept secret. After the White House deemed a briefing on the trade pact "classified," Rep. Rosa DeLauro of Connecticut called the measures "needlessly secretive," saying: "If the TPP would be as good for American jobs as they claim, there should be nothing to hide." This comes as Obama recently called on Congress to pass "fast track" legislation to streamline the passage of trade deals through Congress. Meanwhile, the AFL-CIO says it will withhold contributions to congressional Democrats to pressure them to vote no on fast-track authority. And some tea party-backed Republicans are saying Obama cannot be trusted with the same negotiating authority that past presidents have had. This spring, the White House has invited Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to address a joint session of Congress in which he may promote the TPP. For more, we speak with by Lori Wallach, director of Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch, who has been sounding the alarm about the negotiations. She says Congress could vote on the TPP proposal in the third week in April.

Deadly Shooting Rampage at Tunisian National Museum Leaves Birthplace of Arab Spring on Edge

Democracy Now - Thu 07 20 AM

A shooting rampage at Tunisia’s national museum has left 22 people dead — 20 foreign tourists and two Tunisians. Nearly 50 people were injured. The two gunmen began the attack by opening fire on tourists as they got off a bus and then chasing them inside the museum. The Bardo museum is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Tunis and is adjacent to the country’s Parliament building. The dead included residents of Japan, Italy, Colombia, Australia, France, Poland, Spain and Britain. It was the most serious attack in years in Tunisia, where the Arab Spring began in 2011. In recent years, thousands of Tunisians have left the country to fight with the self-proclaimed Islamic State in Iraq, Syria and Libya. In response to the attack, the Tunisian government has pledged to wage what it calls a "merciless war against terrorism." Thousands of Tunisians have marched in the streets to denounce the shooting. We are joined from Tunis by Amna Guellali, director of the Tunisian office of Human Rights Watch.

Blockupy: Thousands Protest in Frankfurt Calling on Eurozone to Dismantle "Laboratory for Austerity"

Democracy Now - Thu 07 11 AM

Dozens of people have been wounded in clashes surrounding Wednesday’s massive protest against austerity in Frankfurt, Germany. A crowd of around 10,000 people marched outside the new headquarters of the European Central Bank to oppose economic policies that force deep cuts to public spending and worsen unemployment. Around 14 officers and 21 protesters were injured after breakaway marchers clashed with police. We speak with German climate justice activist Tadzio Mueller, who took part in the Blockupy protest.

A Family Broken Up: Freed After 8 Years at Guantánamo, a Father & Son Are Still Kept Apart

Democracy Now - Wed 07 47 AM

We look at the extraordinary story from Guantánamo of a father and son who were held for many years and what became of them after their release. Abdul Nasser Khantumani and his son Muhammed were imprisoned in Guantánamo in 2002. Muhammed was still a teenager when he was taken into U.S. custody in 2001. He was released in 2009 and resettled in Portugal. His father was resettled in Cape Verde almost exactly a year later. They have not been able to meet each other since. A new article in Harper’s Magazine details their ordeal, including how their relationship was used against them in Guantánamo: "Interrogators learned early on that proximity to Abdul Nasser was a 'comfort item' they could manipulate to try to make Muhammed talk. After Muhammed became uncooperative, they relocated him as a form of punishment. It would be years before they would hear each other’s voices again." We are joined by Pardiss Kebriaei, a senior staff attorney with the Center for Constitutional Rights who has represented Abdul Nasser Khantumani and his son Muhammed since 2008. Her article for Harper’s is "Life After Guantánamo: A Father and Son’s Story."

After Netanyahu Wins Israel Vote with Racism & Vow of Permanent Occupation, How Will World Respond?

Democracy Now - Wed 07 16 AM

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has won a surprise election victory, putting him on course for a fourth term in office. Netanyahu’s Likud Party is poised to control 29 or 30 seats in the 120-member Knesset. The Zionist Union opposition placed second with 24 seats. A united list of Arab parties came in third with 13 seats. Netanyahu closed out his campaign with a vow to oppose a Palestinian state, reneging on his nominal endorsement of a two-state solution in 2009. Netanyahu also vowed to expand the illegal West Bank settlements and issued a last-minute plea to supporters denouncing a high turnout of Arab voters. The Zionist Union, Netanyahu’s chief rival, also ran on a platform for Israel to keep the major Israeli settlement blocs in the occupied West Bank, the home of any future Palestinian state. Likud says Netanyahu intends to form a new government in the coming weeks. Talks are already underway with a number of right-wing parties. To discuss the election, we are joined by two guests: Jamal Zahalka, an Arab member of the Israeli Knesset and chair of Balad party, which is part of the Joint List of Arab parties; and Amira Hass, correspondent for the Israeli newspaper Ha’aretz in the occupied Palestinian territories.