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We Are Seneca Lake: Josh Fox & Fracking Opponents Fight Natural Gas Storage Site in Upstate NY

Democracy Now - Fri 07 43 AM

On Wednesday, Josh Fox, director of "Gasland," the documentary which exposed the harms of the fracking industry, was arrested along with 20 other people after forming a human barricade at a natural gas storage facility in upstate New York. The action was part of a long-standing campaign against plans by Crestwood Midstream to expand gas storage in abandoned salt caverns at Seneca Lake, a drinking water source for 100,000 people. We speak to Fox and air his new documentary short, "We Are Seneca Lake."

As Torture Victims Win $5.5M in Reparations, Could Chicago Be a Model for Police Abuses Nationwide?

Democracy Now - Fri 07 29 AM

Earlier this month, the Chicago City Council approved a $5.5 million reparations fund for victims of police torture. More than 200 people, most of them African-American, were tortured under the reign of Chicago Police Commander Jon Burge from 1972 to 1991. Tactics included electric shocks and suffocation. The reparations package will provide free city college tuition for victims and relatives, counseling services, a memorial to victims, inclusion of Burge’s actions in the school curriculum, and a formal apology. We are joined by two guests: Flint Taylor, a founding partner at the People’s Law Office who has represented survivors of police torture for more than 25 years, and Darrell Cannon, a former prisoner who spent more than 20 years behind bars after being tortured into confessing to a crime he didn’t commit. Prosecutors dismissed Cannon’s case in 2004, and he was released three years later. He has since focused on the roughly 20 men tortured during the Burge era who remain behind bars.

As Chicago Pays Victims of Past Torture, Police Face New Allegations of Abuse at Homan Square

Democracy Now - Fri 07 13 AM

More victims have come forward to detail recent abuse inside Homan Square, a secret compound used by Chicago police for incommunicado interrogations and detentions which some have described as the domestic equivalent of a CIA black site overseas. Exclusive video obtained by The Guardian shows a Chicago man named Angel Perez being taken inside a "prisoner entrance." Perez says police handcuffed his right wrist to a metal bar and then sexually assaulted him with a metal object, believed to be a handgun barrel. Perez says the officers also threatened to "go after" his family members, including his father who is battling cancer. Perez is now the 13th person to describe his detainment at the secret police site to The Guardian. Like many detainees, he apparently was never formally arrested — neither booked, nor permitted access to an attorney, nor charged. Now, Perez and four others have filed a lawsuit against the Chicago Police Department. We are joined by the reporter who broke the Homan Square story, Spencer Ackerman, national security editor at The Guardian.

30 Million Gallons Under the Sea: Five Years After BP Disaster, New Drilling OK'd by Spill Site

Democracy Now - Thu 07 47 AM

We turn now from the Arctic to the Gulf of Mexico, where drilling has resumed near the site of the BP-operated offshore oil rig that exploded five years ago in the worst industrial environmental disaster in U.S. history. On Wednesday, Harper’s Magazine revealed a Louisiana-based oil company purchased the area from BP and is now drilling into the Macondo reservoir. The report also looks at the ongoing impact of the 2010 spill. We speak to reporter Antonia Juhasz, who spent two weeks on a ship in the Gulf of Mexico as part of a scientific research mission exploring the impacts of the BP Gulf oil spill. She participated in a dive in the Alvin submarine nearly a mile below the ocean surface, getting closer to the site of the blowout than anyone had ever been.

Seattle Mobilizes to Shut Down Shell Operations to Protest Arctic Oil Drilling

Democracy Now - Thu 07 42 AM

The Port of Seattle has voted to seek the blockade of rigs used by the oil giant Shell for its planned drilling in the Arctic this summer. Shell has signed a lease to station its rigs in the Puget Sound while it drills for oil in pristine and highly remote waters in the Chukchi Sea off the coast of Alaska. The Port of Seattle’s board called for a legal review of Shell’s plans and a temporary postponement of its docking. The move came after a wave of activism in Seattle challenging Shell’s effort. On Tuesday, activists set up a tripod to block work at the site of a fuel transfer station. Meanwhile, thousands of kayakers will try to block the arrival of a Shell rig on Saturday, the start of a three-day Festival of Resistance.

"Irresponsible & Reckless": Environmentalists Decry Obama's Approval for Shell Drilling in Arctic

Democracy Now - Thu 07 33 AM

The Obama administration has tentatively approved Shell’s plans to begin oil extraction off the Alaskan coast this summer. Federal scientists estimate the Arctic region contains up to 15 billion barrels of oil, and Shell has long fought to drill in the icy waters of the Chukchi Sea. Environmentalists warn Arctic drilling will pose a risk to local wildlife and exacerbate climate change. They fear that a drilling accident in the icy Arctic Ocean waters could prove far more devastating than the deadly 2010 Gulf of Mexico spill since any rescue operations could be delayed for months by harsh weather conditions. We speak to Subhankar Banerjee. He is a renowned photographer, writer and activist who has spent the past 15 years working for the conservation of the Arctic and raising awareness about indigenous human rights and climate change. He is editor of the anthology, "Arctic Voices: Resistance at the Tipping Point."

As Train Crash Death Toll Reaches 7, GOP Votes to Cut Amtrak Budget by $250M & Delay Safety Upgrades

Democracy Now - Thu 07 10 AM

The death toll from Tuesday’s Amtrak train derailment in Philadelphia is now at seven and is expected to rise. About a dozen passengers are still missing. Authorities now say the train was traveling at about 106 miles per hour, more than double the speed limit, as it headed into a steep curve. National Transportation Safety Board member Robert Sumwalt said the accident would have been preventable if Amtrak had installed positive train control technology on that section of track. Just hours after the crash, the Republican-controlled House Appropriations Committee rejected a Democratic amendment to offer $825 million to speed up positive train control implementation. In addition, the committee voted to cut Amtrak’s budget by $250 million. We speak to Edward Wytkind, president of the Transportation Trades Department of the AFL-CIO, which represents two million transportation workers, including the vast majority of Amtrak workers, and David Sirota, senior writer at the International Business Times. His recent piece is headlined "Lawmakers Moved to Delay Rail Safety Rule Weeks Before Philadelphia Derailment."

MOVE Bombing at 30: "Barbaric" 1985 Philadelphia Police Attack Killed 11 & Burned a Neighborhood

Democracy Now - Wed 07 44 AM

Today marks the 30th anniversary of a massive police operation in Philadelphia that culminated in the helicopter bombing of the headquarters of a radical group known as MOVE. The fire from the attack incinerated six adults and five children, and destroyed 65 homes. Despite two grand jury investigations and a commission finding that top officials were grossly negligent, no one from city government was criminally charged. MOVE was a Philadelphia-based radical movement dedicated to black liberation and a back-to-nature lifestyle. It was founded by John Africa, and all its members took on the surname Africa. We are joined in Philadelphia by Linn Washington, an award-winning journalist, professor and former columnist for The Philadelphia Tribune who has covered MOVE since 1975.

As Internal Docs Show Major Overreach, Why Is FBI Spying on Opponents of Keystone XL Pipeline?

Democracy Now - Wed 07 33 AM

A new report confirms for the first time that the FBI spied on activists in Texas who tried to stop the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline. Documents from the FBI reveal it failed to get approval before it cultivated informants and opened its investigation, which was run from its Houston field office. The files document "substantial non-compliance" with Department of Justice rules. The Tar Sands Blockade mentioned in that report was one of the main groups targeted by the FBI. Agents in Houston office also told TransCanada they would share "pertinent intelligence regarding any threats" to the company in advance of protests. We are joined by Adam Federman, contributing editor to Earth Island Journal and co-author of the new investigation published by The Guardian, "Revealed: FBI violated its own rules while spying on Keystone XL opponents." In February, he also revealed how the FBI has recently pursued environmental activists in Texas, Pennsylvania, Oregon, Washington and Idaho for "little more than taking photographs of oil and gas industry installations."

Revolt over TPP: Senate Dems Rebuke Obama by Blocking Debate on Secretive Trade Deal

Democracy Now - Wed 07 22 AM

In a surprising setback for President Obama, Senators from his own party have blocked debate on a bill that would have given the president fast-track authority to negotiate the Trans-Pacific Partnership, or TPP. The vote marked a victory for Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid, Elizabeth Warren and other critics of the TPP, a 12-nation trade pact that would encompass 40 percent of the global economy and is being negotiated in secret between the United States and 11 other Pacific Rim countries. Critics say the deal would hurt workers, undermine regulations and expand corporate power. Fast track would grant the president authority to negotiate the TPP and then present it to Congress for a yes-or-no vote, with no amendments allowed. We are joined by Lori Wallach, director of Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch and author of "The Rise and Fall of Fast Track Trade Authority."

Wisconsin Activists to Continue Protests After Cop Avoids Charges in Killing of Tony Robinson

Democracy Now - Wed 07 09 AM

A Madison, Wisconsin, police officer will not face criminal charges for fatally shooting an unarmed African-American teenager. Tony Robinson was shot dead in March after Officer Matt Kenny forced his way into an apartment following a "disturbance." Kenny says Robinson attacked him upon his entry. On Tuesday, the Dane County district attorney said an investigation found Kenny was lawful in firing the fatal shots. Robinson’s family members say they have been denied justice. Hundreds of people marched to the state Capitol on Tuesday in protest of the decision, and more actions are underway today. We are joined by M Adams, a Madison-based activist and organizer with the Young Gifted & Black Coalition.

Exclusive: CIA Whistleblower Jeffrey Sterling Speaks Out upon Sentencing to 3.5 Years in Prison

Democracy Now - Tue 07 43 AM

On Monday, former CIA officer Jeffrey Sterling was sentenced to 42 months in prison for leaking classified information to New York Times reporter James Risen about a failed U.S. effort to undermine Iran’s nuclear program. Risen later exposed how the risky operation could have actually aided the Iranian nuclear program. In January, Sterling was convicted of nine felony counts, including espionage. He becomes the latest government employee jailed by the Obama administration for leaking information. Since he was indicted four years ago, Jeffrey Sterling’s voice has never been heard by the public. But that changes today. We air an exclusive report that tells his story, "The Invisible Man." We are also joined by Norman Solomon, who interviewed Sterling for the piece and attended both his trial and sentencing. Solomon is a longtime activist, executive director of the Institute for Public Accuracy, co-founder of RootsAction.org and coordinator of ExposeFacts.org.

Seymour Hersh Details Explosive Story on Bin Laden Killing & Responds to White House, Media Backlash

Democracy Now - Tue 07 14 AM

Four years after U.S. forces assassinated Osama bin Laden, Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative reporter Seymour Hersh has published an explosive piece claiming much of what the Obama administration said about the attack was wrong. Hersh claims at the time of the U.S. raid bin Laden had been held as a prisoner by Pakistani intelligence since 2006. Top Pakistani military leaders knew about the operation and provided key assistance. Contrary to U.S. claims that it located bin Laden by tracking his courier, a former Pakistani intelligence officer identified bin Laden’s whereabouts in return for the bulk of a $25 million U.S. bounty. Questions are also raised about whether bin Laden was actually buried at sea, as the U.S. claimed. Hersh says instead the Navy SEALs threw parts of bin Laden’s body into the Hindu Kush mountains from their helicopter. The White House claims the piece is "riddled with inaccuracies." Hersh joins us to lay out his findings and respond to criticism from government officials and media colleagues.

Will Adnan Syed, Focus of Breakout Podcast Hit "Serial," Get a New Trial in Maryland?

Democracy Now - Mon 07 56 AM

The case of Maryland’s Adnan Syed drew national attention last year when it was the focus of Serial, considered the world’s most popular podcast and the medium’s first breakout hit. Syed was convicted of killing his ex-girlfriend in 1999 and has been serving a life sentence. His legal team argues prosecutors failed to interview an alibi witness and that his lawyer failed to inquire about a possible plea deal. Serial became the first-ever podcast to win a Peabody Award for its in-depth look at the case, exploring potential flaws with both the prosecution and with Syed’s defense. After two unsuccessful attempts to appeal his conviction, the Maryland Court of Special Appeals agreed in February to hear arguments about why Syed should get a new trial, based on the contention he had ineffective counsel. A hearing is set for June 9.

As Feds Probe Baltimore Police, Cops in Freddie Gray Case Seek Removal of Prosecutor Marilyn Mosby

Democracy Now - Mon 07 27 AM

As the Justice Department launches a probe of the Baltimore Police Department for a potential pattern of unconstitutional policing in the wake of the death of Freddie Gray, attorneys for the six officers indicted over Gray’s death are challenging the role of Baltimore’s top prosecutor, Marilyn Mosby. On Friday, defense lawyers filed a motion demanding Mosby recuse herself because of alleged conflicts of interest and "egregious" violations. The attorneys say Mosby’s judgment is compromised by her close relationship with the Gray family’s attorney and her husband’s job as a city councilmember from the district where Gray was arrested. The motion goes on to accuse Mosby of quelling the Baltimore riots by offering cops "up to the masses" as scapegoats. Mosby has rejected the claims and vowed to remain on the case. "There are consistent attempts here to derail the prosecution, to undermine public confidence and at the same time to influence the people who will one day be sitting as jurors," says our guest, Douglas Colbert, professor at the University of Maryland School of Law. He also responds to reports that Baltimore police officers are now reportedly hesitant to do their jobs.