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Breaking: In Latest Attack on Gaza Medical Site, IDF Shells al-Aqsa Hospital; 5 Dead, Dozens Hurt

Democracy Now - Mon 07 19 AM

In breaking news from the Gaza Strip, at least five people were killed today and dozens wounded when the Israeli military shelled the al-Aqsa Hospital. It is at least the third Israeli military attack on a Gaza hospital since the ground invasion on Thursday. Speaking from Gaza’s overrun al-Shifa Hospital, Norwegian doctor Mads Gilbert accuses Israel of directly targeting medical facilities. Gilbert helped treat many of the victims of Israel’s attack on the Shejaiya neighborhood, where 72 people were killed. We also speak with Democracy Now! correspondent Sharif Abdel Kouddous, reporting from Gaza City.

Sharif Abdel Kouddous on Israel's Gaza Massacres: F-16 Kills 24 Relatives After 72 Die in Shejaiya

Democracy Now - Mon 07 11 AM

The Israeli assault on the Gaza Strip has seen its bloodiest day so far, bringing the Palestinian death toll to more than 500. More than 100 Palestinians were killed in a 24-hour period between Saturday and Sunday nights. The dead include 72 residents of one of Gaza’s poorest and most densely populated neighborhoods. In the single worst attack to date, Israeli forces shelled homes and fought militants in Shejaiya, leaving behind a scene of carnage that survivors called a massacre. Frightened civilians fled along streets strewn with dead bodies. Wounded residents bled to death in their homes. An unconfirmed report said more than 20 children and 14 women were killed. Scores of homes were destroyed. Hundreds of people were wounded and taken to the overrun Shifa Hospital, which struggled to find room for the bodies. U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has condemned the attack on Shejaiya as an "atrocious action." The fighting in Shejaiya killed 13 Israeli soldiers, bringing the Israeli military toll to 18 since the ground invasion began last week. Joining us from Gaza City, Democracy Now! correspondent Sharif Abdel Kouddous details the assault on Shejaiya and describes a new Israeli strike that killed 24 members of the Abu Jamaa family in Khan Younis. Kouddous documented their bodies collected together inside a local morgue.

Stephen Cohen: Downed Malaysian Plane Raises Risk of War Between Russia and the West

Democracy Now - Fri 07 47 AM

A Malaysia Airlines flight carrying 298 people has exploded and crashed in eastern Ukraine, killing everyone on board. U.S. and Ukrainian officials say the Boeing 777 was shot down by a Russian-made surface-to-air missile, but it is unclear who fired the missile. The plane was traveling from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur with passengers from at least 10 countries on board, including 173 Dutch nationals, 44 Malaysians and 27 Australians. As many as 100 of the world’s leading AIDS researchers and advocates were reportedly on the plane en route to a conference in Australia, including the pioneering researcher and former president of the International AIDS Society, Joep Lange. Both sides in Ukraine’s conflict are blaming each other for downing the plane. We speak with Professor Stephen Cohen on what this incident could mean for the region. His most article for The Nation magazine is "The Silence of American Hawks About Kiev’s Atrocities."

Glenn Greenwald: Why Did NBC Pull Veteran Reporter After He Witnessed Israeli Killing of Gaza Kids?

Democracy Now - Fri 07 28 AM

NBC is facing questions over its decision to pull veteran news correspondent Ayman Mohyeldin out of Gaza just after he personally witnessed the Israeli military’s killing of four Palestinian boys on a Gaza beach. Mohyeldin was kicking a soccer ball around with the boys just minutes before they died. He is a longtime reporter in the region. In his coverage, he reports on the Gaza conflict in the context of the Israeli occupation, sparking criticism from some supporters of the Israeli offensive. Back in 2008 and 2009, when he worked for Al Jazeera, Mohyeldin and his colleague Sherine Tadros were the only foreign journalists on the ground in Gaza as Israel killed 1,400 people in what it called "Operation Cast Lead." We speak to Glenn Greenwald of The Intercept, who has revealed that the decision to pull Mohyeldin from Gaza and remove him from reporting on the situation came from NBC executive David Verdi. Greenwald also comments on the broader picture of the coverage of the Israel/Palestine conflict in the U.S. media.

Israel Bombs Gaza's Only Rehab Hospital: Staff Forced to Evacuate Paralyzed Patients After Shelling

Democracy Now - Fri 07 17 AM

Al-Wafa Hospital, the only rehabilitation hospital in Gaza and the West Bank, was shelled by Israel on Thursday. At the time of the attack, the hospital was filled with patients who were paralyzed, unconscious and unable to move. We speak with the hospital’s executive director, Basman Alashi, who says the hospital received a warning call ahead of the assault. "I don’t understand why they hit us," Alashi says. "We’ve been in this place since 1996, we are known to the Israeli government." Alashi says no one was injured but the building was heavily damaged.

"A Terrifying Night in Gaza": Sharif Abdel Kouddous Reports on Israeli Ground Invasion

Democracy Now - Fri 07 11 AM

The Israeli military is pushing deeper into Gaza and threatening to "significantly widen" its ground offensive that began on Thursday night. Over the past 11 days, at least 264 Palestinians have been killed, mostly civilians. The death toll of children is approaching 50, including three teenagers killed today by Israeli tank shelling near the northern town of Beit Hanoun. Israel suffered its second fatality when one of its soldiers was killed in Gaza. Israeli media says the soldier was likely killed by friendly fire. Israel maintains the new ground offensive was needed to target tunnels used by Palestinian militants, but many civilian facilities have been hit, including a media office in Gaza City and the al-Wafa rehabilitation hospital, forcing the evacuation of patients. We speak to Democracy Now! correspondent Sharif Abdel Kouddous, whose new article for The Nation magazine is "Death and Destruction in Gaza as Israel Launches Ground Invasion."

Nobel Economist Joseph Stiglitz Hails New BRICS Bank Challenging U.S.-Dominated World Bank & IMF

Democracy Now - Thu 07 45 AM

A group of five countries has launched its own development bank to challenge the U.S.-dominated World Bank and International Monetary Fund. Leaders from the so-called BRICS countries — Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa — unveiled the New Development Bank at a summit in the Brazilian city of Fortaleza. The bank will be headquartered in Shanghai. Together, BRICS countries account for 25 percent of global GDP and 40 percent of the world’s population. To discuss this development, we are joined by Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz, a professor at Columbia University and the World Bank’s former chief economist. "It’s very important in many ways," Stiglitz says of the New Development Bank’s founding. "This is adding to the flow of money that will go to finance infrastructure, adaptation to climate change — all the needs that are so evident in the poorest countries. It [also] reflects a fundamental change in global economic and political power. The BRICS countries today are richer than the advanced countries were when the World Bank and the IMF were founded. We’re in a different world — but the old institutions haven’t kept up."

Click here to watch Part 2 of this interview.

U.S. Turns Back on Child Migrants After Its Policies in Guatemala, Honduras Sowed Seeds of Crisis

Democracy Now - Thu 07 26 AM

As tens of thousands of children cross the U.S. border fleeing violence in their native Central American home countries, we look at the historical roots of the crisis. The United States has a long and sadly bloody history of destabilizing democratic governments in Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador — the very countries that are now the sources of this latest migration wave. This week saw the first planeload of children deported to Honduras since President Obama vowed to speed up the removal of more than 57,000 youth who have fled to the United States from Central America in recent months. The group of 38 deportees included 21 children between the ages of 18 months and 15 years, along with 17 female family members. White House spokesman Josh Earnest said the experience of Cordova and others should demonstrate to Central Americans that "they will not be welcomed to this country with open arms."

But U.S. funding and foreign policy has long shaped the lives of Central Americans. June 28 marked the fifth anniversary of the military coup that deposed democratically elected Honduran President Manuel Zelaya, which the United States did not oppose. For analysis, we are joined by University of California-Santa Cruz Professor Dana Frank, who argues it was the coup — more than drug trafficking and gangs — that opened the doors to the violence in Honduras and unleashed an ongoing wave of state-sponsored repression. We are also joined by human rights activist and lawyer Jennifer Harbury from Weslaco, Texas, about five miles from the U.S.-Mexico border. Harbury’s husband, Efraín Bámaca Velásquez, a guerrilla commander, a Mayan comandante and guerrilla, was disappeared after he was captured by the Guatemalan army in the 1980s. Harbury is the author of "Searching for Everardo: A Story of Love, War, and the CIA in Guatemala" and has spent decades pressing for classified information on her husband’s case.

Horror on Gaza Beach: New York Times Photographer Witnesses Israeli Killing of 4 Palestinian Boys

Democracy Now - Thu 07 08 AM

Israel says it is considering a new ceasefire proposal from Egypt that would take effect on Friday. There is no word yet from Hamas, which rejected the last proposal on the grounds its leaders were never consulted and the terms would have allowed for the continued siege of Gaza and for Israeli bombardment at will. The news of a fresh proposal comes just as a five-hour humanitarian pause has ended. The United Nations asked for the break to let Gazans receive supplies and repair damage following 10 days of Israeli bombings. On Wednesday, an Israeli gunboat shelled a beach, killing four boys who were playing. The boys were all between the ages of nine and 11 and from the same extended family. Seven other adults and children were wounded in the strike. The scene was witnessed by several international journalists, including our guest Tyler Hicks, a Pulitzer Prize-winning staff photographer at The New York Times. We are also joined from Gaza City by Democracy Now! correspondent Sharif Abdel Kouddous, who has interviewed family members of the young victims.

How Do We Define American? Jose Vargas, Symbol of Undocumented Immigrant Struggle, Detained in Texas

Democracy Now - Wed 07 51 AM

Jose Antonio Vargas, one of the country’s best-known undocumented immigrants, was detained by the U.S. Border Patrol on Tuesday. A Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, Vargas came to the United States from the Philippines in 1993 at the age of 12. After reporting for The Washington Post and other outlets, he revealed his undocumented status in a widely read essay in 2011. Vargas recently traveled to the Texas border to document the crisis of thousands of migrant children fleeing violence and poverty in Central America. But he soon realized he might have trouble leaving due to the heavy presence of Border Patrol agents and checkpoints. On Tuesday, Vargas was arrested at McAllen-Miller International Airport and held for about eight hours. His detention became a top U.S. trend on Twitter, with hundreds using the hashtag #IStandWithJose. As the country watched, Vargas was eventually released with a notice to appear before an immigration judge. In a statement after his release, Vargas said, "With Congress failing to act on immigration reform, and President Obama weighing his options on executive action, the critical question remains: How do we define American?" We broadcast video of Vargas speaking in McAllen, Texas, about the U.S. treatment of child migrants just days before his arrest. "These children are not illegal; they are human beings, and they are not a national security threat," Vargas says. "The only threat that these children pose to us is the threat of testing our own conscience."

Is an Iran Nuclear Deal Within Reach? Dissecting the Latest Talks over a "Manufactured Crisis"

Democracy Now - Wed 07 43 AM

Secretary of State John Kerry says he is returning to Washington, D.C., to consult with President Obama following talks with Iran over its nuclear program. Speaking on Tuesday, Kerry cited "tangible progress" on key issues, but said "very real gaps" remain ahead of a Sunday deadline. Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif says Iran could freeze its nuclear capacity in exchange for sanctions relief, but Kerry would not say if the United States would agree. The main dispute is over Iran’s uranium enrichment program, which Tehran claims it will need to expand to fuel its nuclear power reactor. The United States counters that this would allow Iran to enrich enough uranium at a high level to make a nuclear weapon, and wants Tehran to cut back sharply on its enrichment capability for as long as 20 years. We dissect the negotiations with investigative journalist Gareth Porter, author of the book, "Manufactured Crisis: The Untold Story of the Iran Nuclear Scare." Porter recently returned from a trip to Tehran where he interviewed top Iranian officials, including Zarif and the country’s nuclear chief.

"Iraq Has Already Disintegrated": ISIS Expands Stronghold as Leaks Expose US Doubts on Iraqi Forces

Democracy Now - Wed 07 12 AM

Iraq remains on the verge of splintering into three separate states as Sunni militants expand their stronghold in the north and west of Iraq. The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) declared itself a caliphate last month and now controls large parts of northern and western Iraq and much of eastern Syria. Recent advances by ISIS, including in the city of Tikrit, come amidst leaks revealing extensive Pentagon concerns over its effort to advise the Iraqi military. Iraqi politicians, meanwhile, are scrambling to form a power-sharing government in an effort to save Iraq from splintering into separate Shiite, Sunni and Kurdish states. We are joined by two guests: Reporting live from Baghdad is Hannah Allam, foreign affairs correspondent for McClatchy Newspapers, and joining us from London is Patrick Cockburn, Middle East correspondent for The Independent and author of the forthcoming book, "The Jihadis Return: ISIS and the New Sunni Uprising."

The Prosecution Gap: Corporate Polluters Rarely Criminally Charged for Violating Environmental Law

Democracy Now - Tue 07 55 AM

A new investigation by The Crime Report published Monday documents how corporations almost never face criminal investigations for violating environmental laws such as the Clean Air Act and the Clean Water Act. A survey of environmental violations tracked by the Environmental Protection Agency shows just one-half of 1 percent of them trigger criminal prosecution. Joining us to describe his investigation, The Crime Report’s Graham Kates describes how one company, Alpha Natural Resources, faced only civil fines after it racked up more than 6,000 violations between 2007 and 2013. Kates says prosecutions are hampered by limited government resources in pursuing corporate polluters. The EPA has just 200 agents nationwide, and the Environmental Crime Section of the Department of Justice has just 38 prosecutors.

Green Scare: Animal Rights Activists Face Terrorism Charges for Freeing Minks from Fur Farm

Democracy Now - Tue 07 48 AM

The government has unveiled federal terrorism charges against two animal rights activists accused of helping to free minks and foxes from fur farms in rural Illinois. In newly unsealed indictments, the prosecutors accuse Tyler Lang and Kevin Olliff of freeing about 2,000 mink from their cages on a fur farm and then removing parts of the fence surrounding the property so the mink could escape. The activists are also accused of spray-painting "Liberation is Love" on the farm’s walls. Lang and Olliff have been indicted under the controversial Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act (AETA), with each count carrying a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. We are joined by reporter Will Potter, who covers animal rights and environmental issues at GreenIstheNewRed.com. "It really doesn’t matter how you feel about animal rights groups or about these alleged crimes of stealing animals," Potter says of the AETA, which he argues is too broad while criminalizing protests and civil disobedience. "This is really about a corporate campaign to demonize their opposition and to use terrorism resources to shut down a movement." Potter also discusses his wildly successful Kickstarter campaign to purchase a drone for use in photographing abuses at factory farms.

After Palestinian Unity Deal, Did Israel Spark Violence to Prevent a New "Peace Offensive"?

Democracy Now - Tue 07 28 AM

It is widely thought that the flare-up in Israel and the Occupied Territories began with the kidnapping of three Israeli teens in the West Bank just more than a month ago. But our guests — author Norman Finkelstein and Palestinian political analyst Mouin Rabbani — argue that such a narrative ignores the broader context of decades of occupation and recent events highlighting the expansionist goals of the Israeli government in the Palestinian land under its control. "Whenever the Palestinians seem like they are trying to reach a settlement of the conflict — which the [Fatah-Hamas] unity government was — at that point Israel does everything it can to provoke a violent reaction, in this case from Hamas, break up the unity government, and then Israel has its pretext," Finkelstein says. Rabbani and Finkelstein are co-authors of the forthcoming book, "How to Solve the Israel-Palestine Conflict."

With 192 Dead in Gaza, Is Lasting Ceasefire Possible Under Israeli Occupation?

Democracy Now - Tue 07 13 AM

The next phase of the violence that has killed nearly 200 Palestinians in Gaza is in flux after a ceasefire proposal from Egypt. The Egyptian government proposed a temporary halt to violence and the reopening of Gaza’s border crossings, followed by talks in Cairo on a long-term truce. Israel’s Security Cabinet has endorsed the proposal, but Hamas has yet to officially respond. The Hamas military wing has rejected the pact as a "surrender," saying the ceasefire fails to meet any of its core demands. These include a lifting of the siege of Gaza, the release of prisoners recently detained in Israeli raids, an end to Israeli attacks on the Occupied Territories, and respect for the Palestinian unity government. But it is Hamas’ political wing that will have the final say. Earlier today, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed to widen the attack on Gaza if Hamas rejects the ceasefire and if rocket fire continues. The potential for a ceasefire follows a week that saw Israel kill at least 192 Palestinians in a massive bombing campaign on one of the world’s most densely populated areas. The United Nations estimates more than 80 percent of Gaza’s dead are civilians, including 36 children. More than 1,000 rockets from Gaza have hit Israel over the same period, with just a fraction landing in urban areas. Around a dozen Israelis have been wounded. No casualties have been reported. We are joined from Ramallah by Amira Hass, Ha’aretz correspondent for the occupied Palestinian territories, the only Israeli journalist to have spent several years living in and reporting from Gaza and the West Bank.