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As Nigerian Massacre Evidence Grows, Questions Swirl over Collusion Between Boko Haram & Military

Democracy Now - Fri 07 40 AM

Satellite images and witness accounts have emerged of what Amnesty International calls the "catastrophic destruction" from a massacre in northern Nigeria. Hundreds are feared dead after Boko Haram militants attacked Baga and surrounding areas earlier this month. Before and after images taken of two adjacent towns show thousands of buildings damaged or destroyed. The Nigerian military has claimed a toll as low as 150, but it could be as high as 2,000. Boko Haram is also suspected in a pair of suicide attacks over the weekend where explosives were strapped to young girls. It was nine months ago that the hashtag #BringOurGirlsHome drew the world’s attention to the group’s abduction of some 270 schoolgirls, most of whom remain unaccounted for. We host a roundtable discussion on the latest developments and the rise of Boko Haram with three guests: Adotei Akwei, managing director of government relations for Amnesty International USA; Rona Peligal, deputy director of the Africa Division for Human Rights Watch; and Horace Campbell, professor of African American studies and political science at Syracuse University. "The Boko Haram struggle is about who will control the billions of dollars, 10,000 barrels of oil per day that is siphoned out of Nigeria," Campbell argues. He has written extensively on African politics, including the article, "The Menace of Boko Haram and Fundamentalism in Nigeria."

Pope Francis Plea for Climate Action Revives Concept of "The Commons" to Rethink Economy & Society

Democracy Now - Fri 07 31 AM

We continue our coverage of Pope Francis’s visit to the Philippines, the country most impacted by global warming, ahead of his plans to issue the first-ever comprehensive Vatican teachings on climate change. The pope recently said the warming planet is "frequently exploited by human greed and rapacity." We are joined by Nathan Schneider, a columnist at America magazine, a national Catholic weekly magazine published by the Jesuits, where he has been covering Catholic engagement with climate change. "This is a different way of thinking about economics that is a part of Catholic tradition," Schneider says. "Pope Francis talking about the environment, about creation, is not an innovation; it is a response to a contemporary crisis. But it goes way back, to the scriptures, to Genesis." Schneider’s recent article is "A Global Catholic Climate Movement, None Too Soon." He is also an editor at Waging Nonviolence and the author of "Thank You, Anarchy: Notes from the Occupy Apocalypse."

"Man Has Slapped Nature in the Face": Pope Francis Urges Climate Action in Philippines Visit

Democracy Now - Fri 07 12 AM

Just weeks after Pope Francis announced he would urge 1.2 billion Catholics worldwide to take action on climate change, he is visiting the Philippines and meeting with survivors of several typhoons that devastated the country. The Philippines is Asia’s largest Catholic nation, and 80 percent of its 100 million residents are Catholic. On Saturday, the pope heads to Tacloban to have lunch with survivors of Typhoon Haiyan — known as "Typhoon Yolanda" in the Philippines. We go to Manila to speak with Naderev "Yeb" Saño, the country’s climate change commissioner. Until recently he was the country’s lead climate negotiator at the United Nations climate conferences, where he drew links between climate change and the deadly typhoons the country has faced. He is leading a group of eco-volunteer bikers for the papal convoy — they are monitoring the papal route’s cleanliness and ensuring the implementation of the church’s zero-waste policy.

Women on Waves: Meet the Dutch Physician Who Defied Abortion Bans by Bringing Her Clinic to the Sea

Democracy Now - Thu 07 46 AM

As Republicans in the new Congress and in state legislatures across the United States seek new restrictions on abortion, we look at the story of a Dutch doctor who has brought safe abortion to countries around the world where it is illegal. The new documentary "Vessel" follows Dr. Rebecca Gomperts, founder of Women on Waves, who set sail on a ship to provide abortions in international waters, where a country’s bans do not apply. Gomperts later founded Women on Web, an online support service that helps women obtain and safely take medications to induce abortion. We speak with Gomperts and "Vessel" director Diana Whitten.

Click here to watch Part 2 of this interview.

Did Gitmo "Suicides" Cover Up Murder? U.S. Sgt. Speaks Out on Deaths & Prison's Secret CIA Site

Democracy Now - Thu 07 08 AM

In a month marking its 13th anniversary, we look at one of the great mysteries of the U.S. military prison at Guantánamo Bay: What happened the night of June 9, 2006, when three prisoners died? The Pentagon said the three — Yasser Talal al-Zahrani, Salah Ahmed al-Salami and Mani Shaman al-Utaybi — all committed suicide. But were they actually tortured to death at a secret CIA black site at the base? In a broadcast exclusive, we are joined by Joseph Hickman, a Guantánamo staff sergeant and author of the new book, "Murder at Camp Delta: A Staff Sergeant’s Pursuit of the Truth About Guantánamo Bay." We are also joined by Professor Mark Denbeaux, director of Seton Hall University School of Law’s Center for Policy and Research, which has just published the new report, "Guantánamo: America’s Battle Lab."

Exclusive: "Eco-Terrorist" Freed 10 Years Early After Feds Withhold Evidence on Informant's Role

Democracy Now - Wed 07 41 AM

In a Democracy Now! exclusive, we speak to environmental activist Eric McDavid, who has just been released from prison 10 years early after federal prosecutors acknowledged withholding key evidence about how he may have been entrapped by an FBI informant with whom he had fallen in love. In 2008, McDavid was sentenced to 19 years in prison for conspiring to bomb sites in California including the Nimbus Dam. Defense attorneys say he was entrapped by a teenage informant who went by the name "Anna" and supplied him with food, housing and bomb-making instructions, and pressured him into illegal activity. As part of a settlement reached in the case on Thursday, federal prosecutors acknowledged withholding key evidence, including an FBI request for the informant to undergo a lie-detector test. This damning detail about the government’s star witness was found in thousands of documents released after his trial, when his supporters filed a Freedom of Information Act request. In his first interview since his release, McDavid joins us from Sacramento along with his partner Jenny Esquivel, a member of the group Sacramento Prisoner Support. We are also joined by McDavid’s lawyer, Ben Rosenfeld, a civil rights attorney who specializes in cases dealing with police and FBI misconduct.

Parents of Kidnapped U.S. Journalist Austin Tice on Their Struggle to Free Son from Syria Captivity

Democracy Now - Wed 07 20 AM

It has been nearly two-and-a-half years since American journalist Austin Tice disappeared while covering the war in Syria. At the time of his disappearance, Austin was one of the few foreign journalists who had continued reporting in Syria as the conflict intensified. He traveled extensively throughout the country filing in-depth dispatches from the frontlines. Tice is the last known U.S. reporter held in Syria, after two others — James Foley and Steven Sotloff — were beheaded by militants from the self-described Islamic State last year. Syria is said to be the world’s most dangerous country for journalists, with nearly 130 news and information providers killed since the conflict began in March 2011. Austin’s parents, Debra and Marc Tice, join us to discuss the ongoing effort to win their son’s release. We also speak to Delphine Halgand, U.S. director of Reporters Without Borders, which has has launched a public awareness campaign for Austin’s release.

After Confronting NYC Mayor, Police Union Leader Faces Mutiny of His Own from Dissident Cops

Democracy Now - Wed 07 14 AM

After leading a controversial campaign against Mayor Bill de Blasio, the head of New York City’s largest police union, Patrick Lynch, is facing an internal challenge of his own. Lynch, who accused de Blasio of having "blood on his hands" for a gunman’s murder of two officers and later spearheaded the two-week arrest and summons slowdown by New York City Police Department officers, will be challenged by dissident cops in the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association’s next election in June. Democracy Now! co-host and New York Daily News columnist Juan González discusses the revolt, which he attributes in part to a changing NYPD demographic that in recent years has seen officers of color become the majority on the force.

Massacre in Nigeria: Up to 2,000 Feared Dead in Boko Haram's Worst Attack to Date

Democracy Now - Tue 07 53 AM

As the world focused on the Charlie Hebdo massacre in Paris, a massive atrocity was unfolding in Nigeria. On January 3, the Islamist militant group Boko Haram attacked the northern town of Baga and surrounding areas. Over the next several days, hundreds, possibly thousands, of civilians were killed. Fleeing residents were chased into the bush and shot dead, others reportedly drowning in Lake Chad as they tried to swim away. Scores of homes were burned to the ground, and bodies were strewn in the streets. Estimates of the death toll range from around 500 to up to 2,000. Some 30,000 people were also displaced. Amnesty International says the assault on Baga could be the deadliest of the Boko Haram’s six-year insurgency. The group has waged relentless violence in a bid to establish an Islamist state in northern Nigeria. We are joined by Adotei Akwei, managing director of government relations for Amnesty International USA.

Reporters Without Borders on Witnessing the Paris Massacre Aftermath & Press Freedom After Charlie

Democracy Now - Tue 07 44 AM

The group Reporters Without Borders is condemning what it calls the "presence of 'predators'" in Sunday’s march over the Charlie Hebdo massacre. The group says it is "appalled by the presence of leaders from countries where journalists and bloggers are systematically persecuted" such as Egypt, Russia, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates. Saudi Arabia joined other Arab and Muslim countries in condemning the attack at the same time as it faced global outrage at the public lashing of jailed blogger Raif Badawi. On Friday, Badawi received the first 50 of 1,000 lashes as part of his punishment for running a liberal website devoted to freedom of speech in the conservative kingdom. One cartoon shared on social networks shows a pencil being flayed by whips. Amnesty International considers Badawi a prisoner of conscience who is being punished for creating an online forum for debate. We are joined by two guests from Reporters Without Borders: Program Director Lucie Morillon, who attended Sunday’s march and was at the site of the Charlie Hebdo attack shortly after it occurred; and Delphine Halgand, U.S. director of Reporters Without Borders.

Glenn Greenwald: With Calls to Spare Petraeus, Feinstein Plea Shows that Not All Leaks are Equal

Democracy Now - Tue 07 38 AM

The FBI and federal prosecutors have recommended felony charges against former CIA director David Petraeus for allegedly providing classified information to a woman with whom he had an extramarital affair. Petraeus resigned in 2012 after admitting to cheating on his wife with his biographer, Paula Broadwell. The recommendation of charges stems from a probe into whether Petraeus gave Broadwell access to his CIA email account and other sensitive material. Attorney General Eric Holder was supposed to have decided by the end of last year on whether to indict. According to The New York Times, the delay has frustrated some federal officials "who have questioned whether Petraeus has received special treatment at a time Holder has led a crackdown" on government whistleblowers. On Sunday, Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California urged the Department of Justice not to bring criminal charges against Petraeus, saying "the four-star general of our generation" and "very brilliant man" has "suffered enough." We are joined by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Glenn Greenwald, who calls Feinstein’s comments "one of the most disgusting you will ever hear. What she’s actually saying is that because David Petraeus is a really important person, that he should be immunized from consequences for his lawbreaking … Dianne Feinstein has called for the prosecution of all sorts of leakers, and yet she exempts David Petraeus."

Glenn Greenwald on How to Be a Terror "Expert": Ignore Facts, Blame Muslims, Trumpet U.S. Propaganda

Democracy Now - Tue 07 11 AM

Who are the so-called terrorism experts? In the wake of the Paris attacks, the corporate media has once again flooded its news programs with pundits claiming authority on terrorism, foreign policy and world events. We discuss the growing and questionable field of "terrorism experts" with three guests: Glenn Greenwald, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and co-founder of The Intercept; Lisa Stampnitzky, social studies lecturer at Harvard University and author of "Disciplining Terror: How Experts Invented 'Terrorism'"; and Luc Mathieu, foreign affairs reporter for the French newspaper Libération.

Jeremy Scahill on Paris Attacks, the al-Qaeda Link & the Secret U.S. War in Yemen

Democracy Now - Mon 07 25 AM

The gunmen who attacked Charlie Hebdo staff, Chérif and Said Kouachi, were killed by French police on Friday following a three-day manhunt. Shortly before his death, Chérif Kouachi told a French television station he received financing from the late Islamic cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, who was killed by a U.S. drone in Yemen in 2011. Both brothers reportedly traveled to Yemen that same year and had weapons training in the deserts of Marib, an al-Qaeda stronghold. Meanwhile, a video released over the weekend shows Amedy Coulibaly — the gunman who killed four hostages at a kosher supermarket in Paris — pledging allegiance to the Islamic State. In a statement to The Intercept, a source within al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), claimed responsibility for the Charlie Hebdo attack, saying: "The leadership of #AQAP directed the operation, and they have chosen their target carefully as a revenge for the honor of Prophet … the target was in France in particular because of its obvious role in the war on Islam and oppressed nations." We speak to the reporter who broke this story, The Intercept’s Jeremy Scahill, about al-Awlaki’s background and the Paris shooters’ claims of militant ties.

"Circus of Hypocrisy": Jeremy Scahill on How World Leaders at Paris March Oppose Press Freedom

Democracy Now - Mon 07 12 AM

An estimated 3.7 million people rallied across France on Sunday in response to the Charlie Hebdo shootings and ensuing attacks that left 17 people dead. More than a million people marched in Paris, making it the largest demonstration in French history. More than 40 world leaders traveled to Paris to help lead the march. "What we saw on display on the one hand was very heartening, to see so many people come into the streets," says Jeremy Scahill, co-founder of The Intercept. "But on the other hand, this is a sort of circus of hypocrisy when it comes to all of those world leaders who were marching at the front of it. Every single one of those heads of state or representatives of governments there have waged their own wars against journalists."

29 Arrested as Single-Payer Advocates Disrupt Vermont Gov. Shumlin's Inauguration

Democracy Now - Fri 07 52 AM

We turn now to Vermont, where a sit-in demanding single-payer healthcare erupted during Gov. Peter Shumlin’s inaugural address on Thursday. This comes after Shumlin backed down in December on his promise to create a single-payer healthcare system in the state. During Thursday’s sit-in, protesters sang songs and expressed their disappointment as they called out their demands and were arrested. We speak to James Haslam, director of the Vermont Workers’ Center, which coordinates the Healthcare is a Human Right Campaign.