Feed aggregator

One Billion Rising Honors "Revolution" as New Report Highlights Threats to Black Girls in U.S.

Democracy Now - Thu 08 53 AM

One Billion Rising is the name of a global movement in more than 200 countries to end rape and sexual violence against women. The campaign highlights the startling statistic that one in every three women on the planet will be raped or beaten in her lifetime — over one billion women. This year’s theme is "revolution." We are joined by two guests: V-Day founder and award-winning playwright Eve Ensler, creator of "The Vagina Monologues"; and Kimberle Crenshaw, a law professor at UCLA and Columbia University, and founder of the African American Policy Forum, whose new report is "Black Girls Matter: Pushed Out, Overpoliced and Underprotected."

#MuslimLivesMatter: Loved Ones Honor NC Shooting Victims & Reject Police Dismissal of a Hate Crime

Democracy Now - Thu 08 31 AM

Thousands gathered on the campus of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill last night to remember the three Muslim students shot dead by a gunman who had posted anti-religious messages online. The victims were two sisters — 19-year-old Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha and 21-year-old Yusor Mohammad Abu-Salha — and Yusor’s husband, 23-year-old Deah Barakat. Suspected gunman Craig Stephen Hicks has been charged with three counts of first-degree murder. Hicks had frequently posted anti-religious comments on his Facebook page and was a supporter of the group Atheists for Equality. On Wednesday, police said the killings resulted from a dispute over a parking space. But Mohammad Abu-Salha, the father of Razan and Yusor, described the shootings as a hate crime. The killings in Chapel Hill have sparked an international outcry, with the hashtag #MuslimLivesMatter spreading across social media. A community Facebook page was set up Wednesday in memory of the three victims, called "Our Three Winners." We are joined by two guests: Amira Ata, a longtime friend of Yusor, and Omid Safi, director of Duke University’s Islamic Studies Center.

Was Jeffrey Sterling Trial a Gov't Effort to Divide Investigative Journalists & Whistleblowers?

Democracy Now - Thu 08 27 AM

In January, a federal jury in Virginia convicted former CIA officer Jeffrey Sterling on nine felony counts, including espionage. Prosecutors accused Sterling of leaking classified information about a secret operation to disrupt Iran’s nuclear program to journalist James Risen of The New York Times. Risen later revealed how the risky operation could have inadvertently aided the Iranian nuclear program. Supporters of Sterling described him as a whistleblower, but prosecutors claimed he leaked the information to settle a score with the agency. Sterling is scheduled to be sentenced in April. He faces a maximum possible sentence of decades in prison. We speak with Norman Solomon, who reported from the Sterling trial. "We’ve got to support investigative journalists and whistleblowers. We can’t allow the government to drive a wedge between the two," Solomon says, co-founder of RootsAction.org, which has launched public campaigns to support both Sterling and Risen.

Brian Williams Suspended for False Iraq Tale, But Media's Real Scandal is the War Lies Spun Daily

Democracy Now - Thu 08 24 AM

NBC News has suspended anchor Brian Williams for six months without pay for making false statements about a 2003 incident in Iraq. Williams apologized last week after it emerged he had wrongly claimed he was on board a U.S. helicopter downed by rocket fire. American soldiers publicly challenged Williams’ account, saying he was nowhere near the aircraft that came under attack. Williams has blamed the "fog of memory" for his mistake. But in a statement, NBC said Williams’ claims were "wrong and completely inappropriate for someone in Brian’s position." We are joined by Norman Solomon, author of "War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death."

Endless War? Obama Sends Congress Expansive Anti-ISIS Measure 6 Months After Bombing Began

Democracy Now - Thu 08 13 AM

President Obama has sent Congress a formal request to authorize military force against the Islamic State six months after the U.S. began bombing Iraq and Syria. The resolution imposes a three-year limit on U.S. operations, but does not put any geographic constraints. It also opens the door for ground combat operations in limited circumstances. The resolution’s broad language covers military action against the Islamic State as well as "individuals and organizations fighting for, on behalf of, or alongside [ISIS] or any closely-related successor entity in hostilities against the United States or its coalition partners." The resolution also leaves in place the open-ended Authorization for Use of Military Force Congress enacted one week after the Sept. 11, 2001, which has been used to justify U.S. action in Afghanistan, Somalia, Pakistan, Yemen and beyond, and which Obama had previously called for repealing. We speak with Norman Solomon, executive director of the Institute for Public Accuracy and author of many books, including "War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death."

U.S. Hostage Kayla Mueller Remembered for Humanitarian Work from Syria to Occupied Territories

Democracy Now - Wed 08 45 AM

One day after her family confirmed her death in Syria, we remember the life of 26-year-old U.S. aid worker Kayla Mueller. Mueller’s captors, the Islamic State, say she was killed in a Jordanian airstrike last week. On Tuesday, the family said it had received proof she had died, but it remains unclear how. Mueller moved to the Turkish-Syrian border in late 2012 to work with Syrian refugees. She had previously worked with refugees overseas including Tibetans in India, Africans in Israel, and Palestinians in the Occupied Territories. Mueller disappeared in August 2013 after she was abducted while leaving a northern Syria hospital. In a letter written during her captivity, Mueller told her family: "I have been shown in darkness, light, and have learned that even in prison, one can be free. I am grateful. I have come to see that there is good in every situation, sometimes we just have to look for it." We are joined by two guests: Emily Schick, Mueller’s college roommate at Northern Arizona University and a fellow volunteer at the International Solidarity Movement in the West Bank; and Mauri Saalakhan of The Peace and Justice Foundation, who campaigned for Mueller’s release.

After Months of Protest, NYPD Officer Charged for Fatal Shooting of Unarmed Black Man Akai Gurley

Democracy Now - Wed 08 37 AM

After months of demonstrations calling for justice, a New York City Police Department officer has been indicted for the fatal shooting of unarmed African American Akai Gurley last November. A grand jury elected to charge Officer Peter Liang with manslaughter, criminally negligent homicide, assault and official misconduct. Liang was reportedly carrying his gun in his left hand and a flashlight in his right when he opened the door to a dimly lit stairwell he was patrolling in a Brooklyn housing project. His gun went off, hitting Gurley as he walked down the stairs. Police Commissioner William Bratton has described the shooting as an "unfortunate accident" and said Gurley was "totally innocent." Liang did not respond to police radio contact for more than six minutes and texted his union representative for advice. A neighbor ended up calling for the ambulance that rushed Gurley to the hospital, where he was pronounced dead. We get reaction to the indictment from Vincent Warren, executive director of the Center for Constitutional Rights.

Exchanging Vows, Alabama Same-Sex Couples Make History in a State Where Discrimination Runs Deep

Democracy Now - Wed 08 25 AM

Alabama has become the 37th state to allow same-sex marriage after the U.S. Supreme Court rejected the state’s bid to block the unions. Same-sex couples lined up to marry in parts of the state, including Huntsville, Birmingham and Montgomery. But on Tuesday, 44 of Alabama’s 67 counties reportedly continued to refuse to issue same-sex marriage licenses after Sunday’s conflicting order from an Alabama Supreme Court justice. Chief Justice Roy Moore ordered judges and officials not to issue or recognize the licenses, arguing the local courts are not beholden to a federal court ruling that struck down the ban. Now, a federal judge has set a hearing that could determine whether resistant local probate judges must grant the licenses. While marriage-equality advocates have welcomed recent developments in the historically conservative state, they warn that much work remains to be done. Alabama is one of the 30 states where it is still legal for an employer to fire LGBT employees. We are joined by Tori and Shanté Wolfe-Sisson, who made history Monday by becoming the first same-sex couple to marry in Montgomery.

As Study Finds 4,000 Lynchings in Jim Crow South, Will U.S. Address Legacy of Racial Terrorism?

Democracy Now - Wed 08 10 AM

A new report has uncovered shocking details about the history of lynchings in the United States and their legacy today. After five years of exhaustive research and interviews with local historians and descendants of lynching victims, the Equal Justice Initiative found white Southerners lynched nearly 4,000 black men, women and children between 1877 and 1950 — a total far higher than previously known. The report details a 1916 attack in which a mob lynched Jeff Brown for accidentally bumping into a white girl as he ran to catch a train. In an example from 1940, a crowd lynched Jesse Thornton for not addressing a white police officer as "mister." In many cases, the lynchings were attended by the entire white community in an area. We speak with attorney and Equal Justice Initiative founder and director Bryan Stevenson, whose group’s report is "Lynching in America: Confronting the Legacy of Racial Terror." The EJI is calling for the placement of historical markers at sites where lynchings occurred.

Ferguson Residents Challenge "Modern Debtors' Prison Scheme" Targeting Blacks with Fines, Arrests

Democracy Now - Tue 08 44 AM

Monday marked six months since a white police officer killed unarmed black teenager Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. The shooting sparked protests over Brown’s death and the broader racial divide it came to symbolize. Now, half a year later, a major legal action is taking that divide head-on. On Sunday, more than a dozen St. Louis-area residents filed class-action lawsuits against Ferguson and another suburb, Jennings. The residents accuse local officials of creating a "modern debtors’ prison scheme" that targets African Americans with arrests and fines and then locks them up when they cannot pay. A study last year by the ArchCity Defenders found a large part of the revenue for several St. Louis counties comes from fines paid by African-American residents disproportionately targeted for traffic stops and other low-level offenses. In Ferguson, fines and fees were the city’s second-largest source of income in fiscal year 2014. Ferguson issued on average nearly three warrants per household last year — the highest number of warrants in the state, relative to its size. We speak to Michael-John Voss, managing attorney at ArchCity Defenders, one of the groups that has filed a lawsuit against Ferguson and Jennings. We are also joined by Allison Nelson and Herbert Nelson Jr., two of the plaintiffs in the class-action lawsuits.

What Was Netanyahu Thinking? Criticism Swirls over Pre-Election Speech to U.S. Congress on Iran

Democracy Now - Tue 08 39 AM

Controversy is mounting around Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s planned address to the U.S. Congress next month about Iran ahead of Israel’s election. Reuters is reporting Israeli officials are now considering whether Netanyahu should speak to a closed-door session of Congress, rather than in a prime-time television speech. Netanyahu was invited by Republican House Speaker John Boehner. President Obama has said he will not meet with Netanyahu so close to Israel’s election. We get analysis from retired Air Force general Charles Wald, the former deputy commander of U.S. European Command, and University of Chicago professor John Mearsheimer, author of "The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy."

Playing with Fire? A Debate on U.S. Arming Ukraine & NATO Expansion to Russia's Border

Democracy Now - Tue 08 12 AM

As fighting continues in Ukraine, President Obama said Monday he has not ruled out arming the Ukrainian military against Russian-backed rebels. Meeting with Obama at the White House, German Chancellor Angela Merkel reiterated her opposition to arming Ukraine, saying the conflict could not be resolved militarily. Merkel is set to hold talks in Minsk on Wednesday with the leaders of Russia, Ukraine and France in a bid to end the crisis that has killed thousands and displaced 1.5 million people over the past year. Should the United States escalate its role in the conflict by arming Ukraine? We host a debate between retired Air Force general Charles Wald, the former deputy commander of U.S. European Command, and University of Chicago professor John Mearsheimer.

Exclusive: Freed CIA Whistleblower John Kiriakou Says "I Would Do It All Again" to Expose Torture

Democracy Now - Mon 08 14 AM

In a broadcast exclusive interview, we spend the hour with John Kiriakou, a retired CIA agent who has just been released from prison after blowing the whistle on the George W. Bush administration’s torture program. In 2007, Kiriakou became the first CIA official to publicly confirm and detail the agency’s use of waterboarding. In January 2013, he was sentenced to two-and-a-half years in prison. Under a plea deal, Kiriakou admitted to a single count of violating the Intelligence Identities Protection Act by revealing the identity of a covert officer involved in the torture program to a freelance reporter, who did not publish it. In return, prosecutors dropped charges brought under the Espionage Act. Kiriakou is the only official to be jailed for any reason relating to CIA torture. Supporters say he was unfairly targeted in the Obama administration’s crackdown on government whistleblowers. A father of five, Kiriakou spent 14 years at the CIA as an analyst and case officer, leading the team that found high-ranking al-Qaeda member Abu Zubaydah in 2002. He joins us from his home in Virginia, where he remains under house arrest for three months while completing his sentence. In a wide-ranging interview, Kiriakou says, "I would do it all over again," after seeing the outlawing of torture after he came forward. Kiriakou also responds to the details of the partially released Senate Committee Report on the CIA’s use of torture; argues NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden did a "great national service," but will not get a fair trial if he returns to the United States; and describes the conditions inside FCI Loretto, the federal prison where he served his sentence and saw prisoners die with "terrifying frequency" from lack of proper medical care.

Exclusive: Deported Palestinian Scholar Sami Al-Arian on His Chilling Post-9/11 Prosecution

Democracy Now - Fri 08 30 AM

Days after his deportation from the United States, the Palestinian activist and professor Sami Al-Arian discusses the end of his ordeal as the target of one of the most controversial prosecutions of the post-9/11 era. Sami was accused of ties to a militant group, but a Florida jury failed to return a single guilty verdict on any of the 17 charges against him. After prosecutors refiled charges, Sami chose jail time and deportation rather than face a second trial. For much of the three years following his arrest in 2003, he was imprisoned in solitary confinement and reportedly abused by prison staff under conditions Amnesty International called "gratuitously punitive." In a broadcast exclusive, Sami joins us from Turkey for his first broadcast interview since being deported. We are also joined by his daughter Laila Al-Arian, a Peabody Award-winning journalist based in Washington, D.C.

FCC's Net Neutrality Shift a Victory for Open Internet & Grassroots Activism Against Cable Giants

Democracy Now - Fri 08 18 AM

After much anticipation, the chair of the Federal Communications Commission has unveiled what he calls "the strongest open internet protections ever proposed by the [agency]." Tom Wheeler backed the regulation of Internet service like a public utility in order to uphold net neutrality, the principle of a free and open Internet. The new rules would prevent Internet service providers like Comcast from blocking access to websites, slowing down content, or providing paid fast lanes for Internet service. It would also extend such protections to Internet service on cell phones and tablets. The proposal comes after the FCC received a record-setting number of public comments — nearly four million, almost all in support of strong protections. President Obama also released public statements in support of Internet protections. The FCC will vote on the plan February 26, ahead of an influx of lobbying by the telecom industry, which has also threatened to sue if the measure passes. We are joined by Tim Karr, senior director of strategy for Free Press, one of the main organizers of the Internet Countdown campaign leading up to the FCC’s net neutrality vote.