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PETA: SeaWorld Employee Infiltrated Animal Rights Group, Called for Grabbing "Pitchforks & Torches"

Democracy Now - Wed 07 46 AM

The People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals has accused the popular animal theme park SeaWorld of infiltrating its organization by sending an employee on an undercover mission posing as an animal rights activist. According to PETA, the SeaWorld employee took part in numerous PETA protests against SeaWorld, including one at the 2014 Rose Parade in Pasadena when he was arrested along with other activists. One photo posted on Twitter showed him inside a police van along with other arrested activists. PETA activists knew the man as Thomas Jones, but his real name was Paul McComb. Unlike the other activists arrested that day, he was released without charge. His name never appeared on an arrest sheet. According to PETA, McComb also repeatedly used social media in an effort to incite other activists, stating that it’s time to "grab pitchforks and torches" and time to "burn [SeaWorld] to the ground." We speak to Matthew Strugar, director of litigation for the PETA Foundation; PETA volunteer Hal Weiss; and Will Potter, investigative reporter and author of "Green is the New Red: An Insider’s Account of a Social Movement Under Siege."

Strange Bedfellows: Why Are the Koch Brothers & Van Jones Teaming Up to End Mass Incarceration?

Democracy Now - Wed 07 11 AM

This week President Obama has launched a major push to reform the country’s criminal justice system. On Monday, he granted clemency to 46 men and women facing extreme sentences — in some cases life in prison — for nonviolent drug offenses. Tomorrow he is set to become the first sitting president to visit a federal prison. On Tuesday, Obama described what he called a "broken system" in an address at the NAACP’s annual convention. During his speech, Obama praised the "unlikely bedfellows" campaigning together for criminal justice reform from the left and right, including the Koch Brothers and Van Jones. We speak to Jones, Obama’s former green jobs adviser, and Mark Holden, senior vice president and general counsel for Koch Industries, where he is a close adviser to its leader, Charles Koch. We also speak to Shaka Senghor. He shot and killed a man in 1991. At the age of 19, he went to prison for 19 years, seven of which he spent in solitary confinement. He has used his experience to inspire and motivate others to understand the causes of youth violence.

Juan González: Martin O'Malley Puts Forth Broadest Immigration Reform Plan of 2016 Campaign

Democracy Now - Wed 07 09 AM

On Tuesday, former Maryland governor and Democratic presidential candidate Martin O’Malley vowed to go beyond President Obama in using executive power to help the country’s 11 million undocumented immigrants. O’Malley’s plan would expand deferred action against deportation and sharply reduce the number of people jailed while awaiting deportation. Juan González met with O’Malley on Tuesday and discusses his plan.

"Another Chance at Life": Man Granted Clemency Last Year Reacts to Obama’s 46 New Drug Commutations

Democracy Now - Tue 07 52 AM

We end today’s show with a new push by the White House to support bipartisan prison reform — this time by reducing punishments for nonviolent crimes. On Thursday, President Obama granted clemency to 46 prisoners, including 14 who faced life without parole. Many of the commutations went to crack offenders, including one African-American man who is 84 years old, and the mother of Denver Broncos wide receiver Demaryius Thomas. President Obama has now commuted 89 sentences, including 22 drug offenders who were granted release earlier this year and eight others in 2014. He is expected to call for more fairness in the criminal justice system when he speaks today at the annual convention of the NAACP. This Thursday he will become the first president to visit a federal prison when he tours the El Reno facility in Oklahoma. We speak to Cynthia Roseberry, director of the Clemency Project 2014, and Reynolds Wintersmith, who once faced life in prison for selling crack but was freed last year after receiving clemency.

"Something Big Is Happening": John Nichols on Bernie Sanders' Surge and Rising Power of Movements

Democracy Now - Tue 07 50 AM

We speak with John Nichols, political writer for The Nation, about the presidential candidacy of Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders. Nichols introduced Sanders at a recent event in Madison, Wisconsin, where the senator drew a record crowd of more than 10,000 people. "The key thing here is this 2016 presidential race, at least on the Democratic side, and I would even suggest on the Republican side, is being profoundly influenced by movements that are demanding that income inequality, wage gaps, wage stagnation be addressed," Nichols says. "Something big is happening, and I think that’s why people are turning out in these huge numbers."

The Austerity Candidate? Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker Launches Presidential Bid on Anti-Union Record

Democracy Now - Tue 07 40 AM

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker has become the 15th Republican candidate to formally announce he’s running for president. On Monday, Walker launched his campaign by touting his successful efforts to eviscerate public employee unions in his home state and later defeat a recall effort against him. He also extolled his record reducing taxes, cutting the size of the federal government and passing voter restrictions. On the domestic front, Governor Scott Walker promised to repeal Obamacare, build the Keystone XL pipeline, subject welfare recipients to drug tests, and roll back federal regulations. On the international front, he vowed to reject the nuclear deal with Iran, re-establish an "unshakable bond" with Israel, focus more on Islamic terrorism and less on climate change, as well as engage more aggressively with Russia and China. We go to Wisconsin to speak with John Nichols of The Nation. "If there is someone who has attempted to impose an austerity agenda in an American state, in many senses, it is Scott Walker," Nichols says.

#ThisIsACoup: Greeks Denounce Bailout Deal That Calls for New Round of Austerity

Democracy Now - Tue 07 23 AM

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras is facing protests from members of his own Syriza party after accepting harsh austerity measures in exchange for a new international bailout. In order for the deal to move forward, the Greek Parliament must accept pension cuts and other reforms by Wednesday, 10 days after voters rejected similar reforms in a referendum. On Monday, Greek Defense Minister Panos Kammenos accused Germany of staging a coup. We speak to Michalis Spourdalakis, professor of political science at Athens University and a founding member of Syriza.

Could Historic Iran Nuclear Deal Transform the Middle East?

Democracy Now - Tue 07 08 AM

Iran has reached a nuclear deal with the United States and five major world powers, capping more than a decade of negotiations. Under the deal, sanctions imposed on Iran would be lifted in return for Iran agreeing to long-term curbs on its nuclear program. The deal allows Iran to maintain a civilian nuclear program, but aims to prevent Tehran from ever developing nuclear weapons. Earlier this morning in a national address that was also broadcast on Iranian television, President Obama said every pathway for Iran to a nuclear weapon has been cut off. Obama vowed to veto any congressional legislation to block the deal. Under the nuclear deal, sanctions on Iran could be reinstated in 65 days if the deal is violated. A U.N. weapons embargo is to remain in place for five years, and a ban on buying missile technology will remain for eight years. We go now to Vienna, where we are joined by Flynt Leverett, author of "Going to Tehran: Why America Must Accept the Islamic Republic of Iran" and professor of international affairs at Penn State. He served for over a decade in the U.S. government as a senior analyst at the CIA, a Middle East specialist for the State Department and as senior director for Middle East affairs at the National Security Council.

With Historic Iran Nuclear Deal Expected, Can President Obama Sell It to Congress and the Public?

Democracy Now - Mon 07 48 AM

We go to Vienna for an update on what could be the final stages of a historic deal between Iran and six world powers that would limit Tehran’s nuclear ability for more than a decade in exchange for sanctions relief. Negotiators are still smoothing over key details, including what limits to set on Iran’s nuclear research, the pace of sanctions relief and whether to lift a United Nations arms embargo on Iran. If a deal is brokered, Congress will have 60 days to review it, keeping U.S. sanctions in place in the meantime. An extra 22 days are set aside for voting, a possible presidential veto and then another vote to see if opponents can muster 67 Senate votes to override the veto. We speak to Flynt Leverett, who is following the talks. He is author of "Going to Tehran: Why America Must Accept the Islamic Republic of Iran" and is a professor of International Affairs at Penn State. He served for over a decade in the U.S. government as a senior analyst at the CIA, Middle East specialist for the State Department, and as senior director for Middle East affairs at the National Security Council.

Psychologists Collaborated with CIA & Pentagon on Post-9/11 Torture Program, May Face Ethics Charges

Democracy Now - Mon 07 15 AM

A new independent review has revealed extensive details on how members of the American Psychological Association, the world’s largest group of psychologists, were complicit in torture, lied and covered up their close collaboration with officials at the Pentagon and CIA to weaken the association’s ethical guidelines and allow psychologists to participate in the government’s "enhanced" interrogation programs after 9/11. The 542-page report was commissioned by the association’s board of directors last year based on an independent review by former Assistant U.S. Attorney David Hoffman and undermines the APA’s repeated denials that some of its 130,000 members were complicit in torture. The Guardian reports the new details could provide grounds to file ethics charges against members of the APA. We speak with Dr. Stephen Soldz, professor at the Boston Graduate School of Psychoanalysis and co-founder of the Coalition for an Ethical Psychology. Earlier this month, he was invited to address the APA’s board of directors, along with Coalition for an Ethical Psychology co-founder Steven Reisner, on the APA’s response to the anticipated Hoffman report. And we’re joined by Dr. Jean Maria Arrigo, a social psychologist, oral historian, and a member of the Coalition for an Ethical Psychology. She participated in the 2005 APA task force that condoned psychologists’ involvement in "enhanced" interrogations, and later blew the whistle. She has since established the APA PENS Debate Collection at University of Colorado at Boulder Archives.

"A Hostage Situation": Greece Yields to Austerity Demands Just Days After Historic "No" Vote

Democracy Now - Fri 07 46 AM

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras has submitted a bailout proposal which includes harsh austerity measures, just days after the Greek people overwhelmingly rejected such measures in a historic referendum. The proposal submitted to Greece’s creditors reportedly includes tax increases, pension cuts, a reduction in military spending, and the privatization of public assets. It comes after Tsipras himself had urged the Greek people to reject creditors’ demands for further austerity. In exchange for the reforms, Greece would receive a three-year, $59 billion bailout package. Germany, meanwhile, appears to be yielding to demands to provide at least some measure of debt relief to Greece. European officials have expressed approval for the Greek offer ahead of a key meeting of European finance ministers on Saturday. The Greek Parliament is expected to vote on the bailout proposal today, just five days after an overwhelming 61 percent of Greek voters rejected similar terms. We speak to Mark Weisbrot, co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research. He is the author of forthcoming book, "Failed: What the Experts Got Wrong About the Global Economy."

Mother of Eric Garner Praises New York's Appointment of Special Prosecutor to Probe Police Killings

Democracy Now - Fri 07 32 AM

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has announced plans to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate police killings of unarmed civilians, making New York the first state to do so. Cuomo’s move came a day after mothers of New Yorkers killed by police rallied outside his New York City office demanding he fulfill his promise to appoint the special prosecutor if state lawmakers did not take action. We speak to Gwen Carr, the mother of Eric Garner, who died almost exactly one year ago, on July 17, after police pulled him to the ground in a chokehold and piled on top of him while he said "I can’t breathe" at least 11 times. A grand jury declined to indict the officer, Daniel Pantaleo, who put Garner in the chokehold. The prosecutor in the case, Daniel Donovan, was recently elected to Congress.

Black Granddaughter of Segregationist Strom Thurmond Praises SC for Removing Confederate Flag

Democracy Now - Fri 07 14 AM

The Confederate battle flag that has flown on the South Carolina state House grounds for more than 50 years comes down today. Governor Nikki Haley signed a bill Thursday to permanently remove the flag, after the House and Senate overwhelmingly approved it earlier this week. This is final push in a decades-long struggle that began after the Confederate flag was placed on South Carolina’s Capitol dome in 1962 and was later relocated to a 30-foot flagpole at the Civil War monument after a compromise that required a two-thirds vote in both the House and Senate to take it down. As Gov. Haley signed the bill in the state House rotunda Thursday, she was joined by relatives of the nine people gunned down June 17 at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston as they attended Bible study, along with three former South Carolina governors and the Rev. Jesse Jackson. The flag is set to be taken down at 10 a.m. this morning and will be moved to the state’s Military Museum in Columbia, where it will be on display in the Confederate Relic Room. For more, we speak to Wanda Williams-Bailey, the interracial granddaughter of the late South Carolina senator, former governor and longtime segregationist, Strom Thurmond, who died at the age of 100 in 2003. Months later, a woman named Essie Mae Washington-Williams came public to reveal she was the daughter of Thurmond and Carrie Butler, who was a 16-year-old African-American housekeeper in Thurmond’s home. Thurmond never publicly acknowledged Washington-Williams as his daughter or Wanda as his granddaughter.

Did BP Get Off Cheaply? Antonia Juhasz on $18.7B Gulf Oil Spill Settlement

Democracy Now - Thu 07 52 AM

BP has reached an $18.7 billion settlement to resolve all government claims resulting from the 2010 Deepwater Horizon explosion, the worst offshore oil spill in world history. If confirmed by a federal judge, it would be the largest environmental settlement in U.S. history and the largest ever by a single entity. The agreement covers damages sought by the federal government, the states of Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas, as well as more than 400 civic entities along the Gulf Coast. The payment includes a $5.5 billion civil penalty under the Clean Water Act and a $7.1 billion fine for environmental damage to the Gulf. But some groups have questioned if BP is paying enough. For more we’re joined by reporter Antonia Juhasz in San Francisco. Her Rolling Stone story is headlined "BP 'Got Off Cheaply' With $18.7 Billion Settlement.”

"These Should Not Be in America": Democrats Aim to Remove Confederate Symbols from Federal Property

Democracy Now - Thu 07 49 AM

As House lawmakers in South Carolina pass a measure to remove the Confederate flag from the grounds of the state Capitol, we speak to Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA) about efforts in Washington to remove symbols of the Confederacy. The South Carolina vote came early this morning, almost exactly three weeks to the day after a white suspect who embraced the Confederate flag massacred nine African-American worshipers at a church bible study in Charleston.