The first time Jeff Smith appeared on the national radar, he was the subject of the critically acclaimed documentary, "Can Mr. Smith Get to Washington Anymore?," which chronicled his 2004 campaign for the congressional seat of the retiring Dick Gephardt. Smith narrowly lost the race to Russ Carnahan, but his surprising performance in a crowded field of 10 made him a rising star in Missouri Democratic politics. Smith was elected state senator in 2006 and served until 2009, when he pleaded guilty to conspiracy for an election law violation tied to the 2004 campaign. Smith was sentenced to one year and a day in a Kentucky federal prison. He chronicles his experience in his new book, "Mr. Smith Goes to Prison: What My Year Behind Bars Taught Me About America’s Prison Crisis," which he calls "a scathing indictment of a system that teaches prisoners to be better criminals instead of better citizens." We speak with Smith, now an assistant professor of urban policy at The New School, about what he learned in prison and his thoughts about criminal justice reform.
Human Rights Watch has accused Saudi Arabia of using U.S.-made cluster munition rockets in at least seven attacks in the Yemeni city of Hajjah between late April and mid-July. Dozens of civilians were killed or wounded, both during the attacks and later, when they picked up unexploded submunitions that detonated. Neither the United States, Saudi Arabia or Yemen have joined the global convention banning the use of cluster munitions. Kenneth Roth of Human Rights Watch criticized the U.S. stance on cluster munitions. "The U.S. thinks that cluster munitions are legitimate weapons," Roth said. "The U.S. still hasn’t signed onto the landmines treaty. So, the U.S. is very much behind the rest of the world."
The Next Not-So-Cold War: As Climate Change Heats Arctic, Nations Scramble for Control and Resources
President Barack Obama arrived in Alaska on Monday for a three-day tour during which he will become the first sitting U.S. president to visit the Alaska Arctic. On Monday, Obama highlighted the dangers posed by climate change in the region. "Arctic temperatures are rising about twice as fast as the global average," Obama said. "Over the past 60 years, Alaska has warmed about twice as fast as the rest of the United States." As the Arctic region warms, the geopolitical significance of the region is growing as new areas become reachable, spurring maritime traffic and oil drilling. Resources below the Arctic ice cap are worth over $17 trillion, the rough equivalent of the entire U.S. economy. According to investigative journalist James Bamford, the region has become the "crossroads of technical espionage" as the United States, Russia, Canada, Norway and Denmark battle for control of those resources. Bamford joins us to talk about his recent piece, "Frozen Assets: The Newest Front in Global Espionage is One of the Least Habitable Locales on Earth—the Arctic."
- Obama Calls for Urgent Action on Climate Change During Arctic Visit
- Obama to Call for New Icebreakers amid Military Escalation in Arctic
- Syria: U.N. Confirms ISIL's Destruction of Ancient Temple of Bel
- Iraq: Anti-Corruption Protests Swell in Rebuke to U.S. Imposed Gov't
- Ukraine: 1 Officer Dead After Ultra-Nationalists Clash with Police
- Guatemala: Congress Prepares to Vote on President's Impeachment
- Puerto Rico: Religious Leaders Call on Federal Reserve for Debt Help
- Turkey: Two Vice Journalists and Translator Jailed on Terror Charges
- Philippines: Third Journalist Shot and Killed in Two Weeks
- Pope to Let Priests Forgive "Contrite" Women Who Have Abortions
- Judge Sides with Anti-Choice Group Opposed to Birth Control
- KKK Member Convicted of Killing 3 at Jewish Centers
- Chicago: Hunger Strike to Save Public School Enters Third Week
- State Dept. Posts Thousands of Hillary Clinton's Emails
- Professor Who Called for Treating Academics as "Combatants" Resigns
- SCOTUS Rules Against KY Clerk Refusing to Issue Marriage Licenses
In Egypt, Al Jazeera journalists Mohamed Fahmy, Baher Mohamed and Peter Greste were sentenced over the weekend to three years in jail for "spreading false news" that purportedly harmed Egypt following the 2013 military coup. Fahmy and Mohamed were taken into custody on Saturday. Greste remains free in Australia. The three had already spent more than a year in prison before being released on bail earlier this year. We speak with Democracy Now! correspondent Sharif Abdel Kouddous in Cairo and with Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch. "The U.S. should stop cozying up to General—now President—Sisi," Roth says. "He is presiding over the worst crackdown in modern Egypt history."
Weeks after approving Shell’s plans to drill in Alaska, President Obama is heading to the state to warn about the dangers of climate change. "Alaska’s glaciers are melting faster, too, threatening tourism and adding to rising seas," Obama said in his weekly address. A protest is scheduled today in Anchorage to urge Obama to reverse his decision on Shell and stop all exploratory drilling in the Arctic. We speak to Richard Steiner, an Alaskan marine conservation biologist, who is speaking at the "Our Climate, Our Future" rally.
Preserving Borders vs. Preserving People: Death Toll Rises as Refugees Head to Europe Seeking Safety
The European Union has called for emergency talks to address the rapidly growing number of people fleeing to Europe to escape violence and unrest in Syria, Libya, Somalia, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, sub-Saharan Africa and other regions. According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, approximately 2,500 people are believed to have died or gone missing trying to reach Europe so far this year. On Sunday, 37 people died when a boat capsized off the Libyan coast. This came just days after another boat capsized off the Libyan coast killing more than 200 people. Meanwhile, investigators in Hungary and Austrian authorities are continuing to probe the deaths of 71 people who were found abandoned last week inside a truck on the main highway between Budapest and Vienna. We speak to Joel Millman of the International Organization for Migration in Geneva; Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch; and Dr. Chiara Montaldo of Doctors Without Borders in the Sicilian town of Pozzallo in Italy. She has been providing medical and psychological care to people rescued from boats in the Mediterranean.
- EU Calls Emergency Talks on Migrant Crisis
- Obama Arrives in Alaska for Trip Focused on Climate
- Obama to Restore Mount McKinley's Alaska Native Name, "Denali"
- Dominica: Tropical Storm Erika Kills 20, Wreaks "Monumental" Damage
- Yemen: 36 Civilians Killed by Saudi-Led Strike on Bottling Plant
- Report: Saudi-Led Forces Used U.S.-Made Cluster Munitions in Yemen
- Egypt: Al Jazeera Journalists Sentenced to 3 Years in Jail
- Syria: ISIL Destroys Part of Key Temple in Palmyra
- Japan: 120,000 Protest Push to Rewrite Peace Constitution
- Malaysia: Up to 300,000 Demand PM Resign over Financial Scandal
- Texas: Suspect in Killing of Deputy Spent Time in Sheriff-Run Jail
- Texas: Video Shows Deputies Killing Man After He Raised Both Hands
- West Bank: Female Relatives Free Boy from Israeli Soldier
- Sanders Closes in on Clinton in Iowa Poll
- Christie Says He Would Track Immigrants Like FedEx Packages
- Virginia: Black Man Dies in Jail After 4 Months for $5 Theft
- Highest-Ranking Vatican Official to Be Charged with Sex Abuse Dies
- Renowned Neurologist Oliver Sacks Dies at 82
- Bush Dances at Katrina Anniversary Event in New Orleans
On Sept. 2, 2005, during a nationally televised telethon benefit for victims of Hurricane Katrina, hip-hop legend Kanye West went off script to directly criticize the media and the White House’s handling of the storm. "I hate the way they portray us in the media," he said. "If you see a black family, it says they’re looting. If you see a white family, it says they’re searching for food." West went on to say, "George Bush doesn’t care about black people." Bush later wrote in his memoir that this moment was an all-time low of his presidency.
New Orleans actor and activist Wendell Pierce looks at how insurance companies discouraged poor and black families from returning to New Orleans after Katrina by refusing to honor homeowner policies. Pierce, whose great-grandfather came to New Orleans as a slave in the 1850s, talks about how Allstate gave his parents just $400 after they paid premiums for 50 years. Pierce writes about his family in his new book, "The Wind in the Reeds: A Storm, a Play, and the City That Would Not Be Broken."
Shock Doctrine: A Look at the Mass Privatization of NOLA Schools in Storm's Wake & Its Effects Today
Just two weeks after Hurricane Katrina, the city fired 7,500 public school teachers, launching a new push to privatize the school system and build a network of charter schools. Many accused lawmakers of trying to break the powerful United Teachers of New Orleans union. Today former President George W. Bush will return to the city to speak at the Warren Easton Charter High School. We speak to the New Orleans actor and activist Wendell Pierce, whose mother was a teacher and union member for 40 years, as well Gary Rivlin, author of "Katrina: After the Flood." He recently wrote a piece for The New York Times titled "Why New Orleans’s Black Residents Are Still Underwater After Katrina."
We spend the hour today marking the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, the 2005 storm that devastated the Gulf Coast and New Orleans, killing more than 1,800 people, forcing more than a million people to evacuate. Ten years after Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans has become a different city. The population is now about 385,000—about 80 percent of its pre-Katrina population. The number of African Americans has plunged by nearly 100,000 since the storm. According to the Urban League, the income gap between black and white residents has increased 37 percent since 2005. Thousands of homes, many in African-American neighborhoods, remain abandoned. On Thursday, President Obama spoke in New Orleans, remembering what happened 10 years ago. "We came to realize that what started out as a natural disaster became a man-made disaster — a failure of government to look out for its own citizens,” Obama said. We speak to actor Wendell Pierce, Monique Harden of the New Orleans-based Advocates for Environmental Human Rights, and Gary Rivlin, author of "Katrina: After the Flood."
- Hundreds More People Die at Sea in Efforts to Reach Europe
- Austria: Residents Call for Open Borders at Vigil Marking Death of 70
- New Orleans: Obama Speaks on 10th Anniversary of Hurricane Katrina
- Guatemala: Tens of Thousands March to Demand President's Resignation
- Mexico: Parents of 43 Disappeared Students Seek Meeting with Pope
- Officials: U.S. Drones Kill British Hacker in Syria and 5 in Yemen
- N.D. Legalizes Police Use of Drones Armed with Tear Gas, Tasers
- Father of WDBJ Journalist Shot on Air Speaks Out for Gun Control
- NLRB Ruling Clears Way for Fast-Food Workers to Collectively Bargain
- NASA Imaging Show "Dramatic" Rise in Sea Levels from Climate Change
- Chicago Marks 60th Anniversary of Emmett Till's Death
- FBI Probe Death 1 Year Ago of Lennon Lacy, Found Hanging in NC
- U.S. Attorney's Office Joins Investigation into Death of Samuel Harrell
We continue our coverage of the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina by speaking to Malik Rahim, co-founder of the Common Ground Collective and one of the founders of the Louisiana chapter of the Black Panther Party. In 2005, he and the Common Ground Collective helped bring thousands of people from all over the world to assist in the rebuilding of New Orleans. Just weeks after Hurricane Katrina hit the city, Malik took us around the neighborhood of Algiers, where he showed us how a corpse still remained in the street unattended, lying right around the corner from a community health center. Malik returns to Democracy Now! to talk about the storm a decade later.
Ten years after Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans has become a different city. The population of New Orleans is now approximately 385,000—about 80 percent of its pre-Katrina population. The number of African Americans has plunged by nearly 100,000 since the storm. According to the Urban League, the income gap between black and white residents has increased by 37 percent since 2005. In 2013, the median income for African-American households in New Orleans was $25,000, compared to over $60,000 for white households. Thousands of homes, many in African-American neighborhoods, remain abandoned. We speak to civil rights attorneys Tracie Washington of the Louisiana Justice Institute and Bill Quigley of Loyola University.
President Barack Obama is in New Orleans today to mark the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. According to prepared remarks, Obama will declare: "What started out as a natural disaster became a man-made one—a failure of government to look out for its own citizens." In 2005, Democracy Now! was on the ground in the days following the storm that devastated the Gulf Coast, killing more than 1,800 people and forcing more than 1 million people to evacuate. We turn now to excerpts of Democracy Now!’s coverage of Hurricane Katrina.
In Guatemala, a judge has ordered that former Vice President Roxana Baldetti must remain in prison while her corruption trial takes place. The ruling comes on the heels of the Guatemalan Supreme Court’s decision Tuesday to lift the immunity from prosecution for President Otto Pérez Molina, clearing the way for his impeachment. The court passed the impeachment recommendation along to Congress. A general strike has been called in Guatemala for today. We are joined by Allan Nairn, longtime journalist who has covered Guatemala since the 1980s.
- Virginia: Vigils Held for Two Journalists Shot Dead on Live Broadcast
- Wal-Mart Will Stop Selling Assault Rifles, Will Still Sell Shotguns
- Jorge Ramos to Megyn Kelly: Trump "Has to Answer" on Immigration
- Ricky Martin on Trump: "Xenophobia is Lowest You Can Go"
- Guatemala: Judge Orders Former VP to Remain in Prison Pending Trial
- Honduras: Protesters Demand Resignation of President for Corruption
- Saudi Ground Troops Cross into Northern Yemen, Escalating Crisis
- China: 12 Arrested for Explosion at Chemical Facility that Killed 139
- South Sudan: President and Rebel Leader Sign Peace Deal
- Austria: 50 Migrants Fleeing Violence Found Dead in Parked Truck
- Mississippi: Judge Temporarily Blocks Executions over Drug Cocktail
- Civil Rights Pioneer Amelia Boynton Robinson Dies at 104
In his acclaimed TV show "The Wire," David Simon captured the city of Baltimore from the angles of street-level drug dealers, beat police officers and journalists covering corrupt politicians. Earlier this year, President Obama described "The Wire" as "one of the greatest, not just television shows, but pieces of art, in the last couple of decades.” Simon said he aimed to portray how "raw, unencumbered capitalism" devalues human beings. Nearly a decade ago in Slate, Jacob Weisberg wrote: "No other program has ever done anything remotely like what this one does, namely to portray the social, political, and economic life of an American city with the scope, observational precision, and moral vision of great literature."