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Why We Lost: Retired U.S. General Calls for Public Inquiry into Failures of Iraq, Afghan Wars

Democracy Now - Wed 07 30 AM

Lt. Gen. Daniel P. Bolger, a retired three-star U.S. general who helped command troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, joins us to discuss his new book, "Why We Lost: A General’s Inside Account of the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars." Bolger writes: "I am a United States Army general, and I lost the Global War on Terrorism. It’s like Alcoholics Anonymous; step one is admitting you have a problem. Well, I have a problem. So do my peers. And thanks to our problem, now all of America has a problem, to wit: two lost campaigns and a war gone awry." Bolger is now calling for a public inquiry along the lines of the 9/11 Commission to look into why the two wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have gone so poorly.

Obama Calls for Net Neutrality, But His Own Industry-Tied FCC Appointee Could Stand in the Way

Democracy Now - Wed 07 16 AM

In a strong statement in favor of a free and open Internet, President Obama has called on the Federal Communications Commission to uphold the principle of net neutrality by classifying the Internet as a public utility. Obama said such protections would prevent Internet service providers like Comcast from blocking access to websites, slowing down content or providing paid fast lanes for Internet service. Obama’s proposal comes as his appointed FCC chair, Tom Wheeler, a former lobbyist for the cellphone and cable industries, is considering breaking with the president on net neutrality. According to The Washington Post, Wheeler met with officials from Google, Yahoo and Etsy on Monday and told them he preferred a more nuanced solution. Wheeler reportedly said: "What you want is what everyone wants: an open Internet that doesn’t affect your business. What I’ve got to figure out is how to split the baby." On Monday, protesters called on Wheeler to favor net neutrality as they blockaded his driveway when he attempted to go to work. Protests also took place in a dozen cities last week after The Wall Street Journal reported the FCC is considering a "hybrid" approach to net neutrality. This would apply expanded protections only to the relationship between Internet providers and content firms, like Netflix, and not to the relationship between providers and users. We discuss the ongoing debate over the Internet’s future with Steven Renderos of the Center for Media Justice.

Obama Reaches Climate Deal with China — and GOP Congress May Not Be Able to Stop It

Democracy Now - Wed 07 08 AM

The United States and China, the world’s two largest polluters, have agreed on new target limits for greenhouse gas emissions over the next decade. Announcing the deal in China with Chinese President Xi Jinping, President Obama said the United States will set a goal of reducing carbon emissions 26 to 28 percent below 2005 levels by 2025, a doubling of current reduction efforts. China has also made its first-ever commitment to stop emissions from growing by 2030. We are joined by Jake Schmidt, director of the International Program at the Natural Resources Defense Council.

StoryCorps Veterans Day Special: The Unlikely Bond Between a U.S. Soldier & Two Iraqi Boys

Democracy Now - Tue 07 54 AM

On Veterans Day, we broadcast the voice of a veteran recorded with StoryCorps, the award-winning national social history project. Two years ago, StoryCorps launched the Military Voices Initiative recording the stories of post-9/11 military veterans and their families. And this Veterans Day, StoryCorps is releasing a series of animations and a radio special based on these interviews. We broadcast one of those stories stories told by Spc. Justin Cliburn, who deployed to Iraq with the Oklahoma Army National Guard in 2005. While serving in Baghdad, Cliburn formed an unlikely friendship with two Iraqi boys who lived nearby. Cliburn speaks with his wife, Deanne, about the lasting impression the boys left on his life.

Legendary Talk Show Host Phil Donahue on the Silencing of Antiwar Voices in U.S. Media

Democracy Now - Tue 07 46 AM

Phil Donahue is one of the best-known talk show hosts in U.S. television history. The Phil Donahue Show was on the air for almost 30 years, until 1996. In 2002, Donahue returned to the airwaves, but was fired by MSNBC on the eve of the 2003 U.S.-led war in Iraq because he was allowing antiwar voices on the air. We talk to Donahue about his firing and the silencing of antiwar voices by the corporate media — that continues to this day.

Paralyzed Iraq War Vet Turned Peace Activist Tomas Young Dies on Eve of Veterans Day

Democracy Now - Tue 07 11 AM

As the nation marks Veterans Day, we remember the Iraq War veteran Tomas Young, who died this week at the age of 34. He enlisted in the military just after the Sept. 11 attacks. In 2004 he was sent to serve in Iraq. On April 4th–his fifth day in Iraq–Young’s unit came under fire in the Baghdad neighborhood of Sadr City. Young was shot and left paralyzed, never to walk again. Young returned home and became an active member of Iraq Veterans Against the War. He remained in and out of the hospital for the rest of his life. Young was later featured in the documentary "Body of War" directed by Ellen Spiro and the legendary television broadcaster Phil Donahue. We broadcast excerpts of the film and past Democracy Now! interviews with Young. Donahue joins us in studio to discuss the impact Young made in the antiwar and veteran communities and the making the film, which was nominated for an Academy Award.

Out of Ebola Quarantine, Yale Student Says Health Workers Should Be Treated as Heroes, Not Pariahs

Democracy Now - Mon 07 47 AM

Health officials have declared the Dallas region to be free of Ebola after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced it had cleared all 177 people it had been checking for exposure over the past three weeks. The Texas city’s Ebola worries began on September 30 when a visiting Liberian man, Thomas Eric Duncan, was taken by ambulance to Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital, where he was diagnosed with the disease. He eventually died on October 8 and remains the only person to die of Ebola inside the United States. Two nurses who cared for him came down with the virus but recovered. Meanwhile in West Africa, the United Nations is reporting the spread of the virus is slowing in some of the hardest hit areas of Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone. But local health officials are warning it is too early to declare a premature victory over the outbreak. We are joined from by Ryan Boyko, a Yale University graduate student who was in Liberia for three weeks helping the government set up a computer database of Ebola cases. Soon after his return to the United States, he was quarantined in his home in New Haven, Connecticut, an ordeal that ended last Thursday.

On Eve of Veterans Day, a Former Soldier Speaks Out on Hidden Costs of War from PTSD to Suicide

Democracy Now - Mon 07 41 AM

On the eve of Veterans Day, we discuss with Matthew Hoh, a former Marine who fought in Iraq, the hidden impacts of war on those who serve. In 2009, Hoh became the first known U.S. official to resign in protest over the Afghan War. "The costs of these wars are hidden," Hoh says. "Men and women coming from war have always been afflicted by suicide. The problem is we don’t get help until we hit rock bottom." Twenty-two U.S. veterans commit suicide every day, a toll that has surpassed the number of soldiers killed in combat.

"This is Crazy": Ex-State Dept. Official Matthew Hoh Blasts Obama's Doubling of U.S. Troops in Iraq

Democracy Now - Mon 07 25 AM

As the nation prepares to commemorate Veterans Day, President Obama has authorized the deployment of an additional 1,500 troops to Iraq. The plan will more than double the current U.S. force in Iraq and will reportedly cost $5.6 billion. In a significant expansion of the U.S. military campaign against the Islamic State, military advisers will reportedly establish training sites across Iraq. The funding request will reportedly be presented to Congress during the lame-duck session that begins this week. In an interview on "Face the Nation" CBS broadcast on Sunday, Obama said the increased troop deployment to Iraq marks a "new phase" against ISIS militants — an offensive strategy, rather than a defensive one. The timing of the announcement has raised questions about whether the Obama administration waited until after the midterm elections in order to shield Democratic candidates from war-weary voters. We are joined by Matthew Hoh, a former Marine and State Department official who once served in Iraq. In 2009, he became the first known U.S. official to resign in protest over the Afghan War.

"I've Had Enough": Mexican Protesters Decry Years of Impunity After Apparent Massacre of 43 Students

Democracy Now - Mon 07 12 AM

Protests are continuing across Mexico after the apparent confession of gang members to the massacre of 43 teacher’s college students in the southern state of Guerrero six weeks ago. On Friday, the Mexican attorney general said suspects in the case admitted to killing the students and incinerating their bodies, leading investigators to the remains. The students disappeared following a police ambush, fueling public anger over government corruption and Mexico’s endemic violence. On Saturday, a breakaway group of protesters set fire to the door of the presidential palace in Mexico City after a march that drew thousands of people. Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto has drawn criticism for leaving Mexico to attend the APEC summit in China amidst the unrest. We are joined from Mexico by María Luisa Aguilar Rodríguez, coordinator of the advocacy unit for Tlachinollan, a human rights group working with the families of the 43 missing students.

Matt Taibbi and Bank Whistleblower on How JPMorgan Chase Helped Wreck the Economy, Avoid Prosecution

Democracy Now - Fri 07 17 AM

A year ago this month the U.S. Department of Justice announced that the banking giant JPMorgan Chase would avoid criminal charges by agreeing to pay $13 billion to settle claims that it had routinely overstated the quality of mortgages it was selling to investors. But how did the bank avoid prosecution for committing fraud that helped cause the 2008 financial crisis? Today we speak to JPMorgan Chase whistleblower Alayne Fleischmann in her first televised interview discussing how she witnessed "massive criminal securities fraud" in the bank’s mortgage operations. She is profiled in Matt Taibbi’s new Rolling Stone investigation, "The $9 Billion Witness: Meet the woman JPMorgan Chase paid one of the largest fines in American history to keep from talking."

New GOP Majority Backs Amnesty for Corporate Tax Dodgers, But Not Undocumented Immigrants

Democracy Now - Fri 07 15 AM

"The same Republican leaders who decry any mention of amnesty for undocumented immigrants are more than ready to grant amnesty to corporate tax dodgers," writes Juan González in his latest New York Daily News column looking at the renewed push to give tax amnesty to General Electric, Apple, Microsoft and Pfizer. Over the past decade, multinational companies have funneled more than $2 trillion in profits out of the United States and parked it overseas. Much of it is labeled “deferred taxes” and invested to make more money. They keep it overseas to evade paying our 35 percent federal corporate tax. Meanwhile, they are lobbying fiercely in Washington for a huge one-year tax reduction to only 5 percent before they’ll agree to repatriate their money.

Midterm Voters Reject U.S. Drug War with Victories for Marijuana Legalization & Sentencing Reform

Democracy Now - Thu 07 52 AM

A historic number of marijuana legalization measures were on the ballot Tuesday, and most of them passed. Voters in Oregon and Alaska joined Colorado and Washington to make pot available for adults to buy in retail shops, while voters in the District of Columbia approved an initiative that makes it legal for adults to possess two ounces of marijuana and grow up to six marijuana plants in their home. One medical marijuana amendment narrowly lost in Florida, while another in Guam won by 56 percent, making it the first U.S. territory to approve such a law. Meanwhile, California overwhelmingly voted to change six low-level, nonviolent offenses, including simple drug possession, from felonies to misdemeanors. We speak with Ethan Nadelmann, founder and executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance, whose lobbying arm helped draft and support many of Tuesday’s successful measures.

Ben & Jerry’s Co-Founder on Knowing Your GMOs: Changing a Label Costs "Essentially Nothing"

Democracy Now - Thu 07 41 AM

Jerry Greenfield, co-founder of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream, discusses the company’s campaign for a successful genetically modified food labeling measure in its home state of Vermont, as well as one in Oregon — where it renamed one of its ice cream flavors as "Food Fight Fudge Brownie" — that ultimately failed to pass on Tuesday. "We are really proud of the ingredients we use," Greenfield says. "It is just so hard to imagine that other food companies wouldn’t want to tell consumers what is in their food." Ben & Jerry’s plans to complete its transition to all non-GMO ingredients by the end of the year. "That transition to all non-GMO ingredients is not going to raise the cost of a pint at all to a consumer. So it can be done." We are also joined by one of the leading advocates of an initiative that passed in Hawaii to suspend the cultivation of GMO crops. "We are beyond labeling," says Dr. Lorrin Pang. "For us, it is really more of an environmental health issue."

Maui v. Monsanto: Hawaii County Voters Defy Agri-Giant's Spending to OK Landmark Ban on GMO Crops

Democracy Now - Thu 07 35 AM

Ballot initiatives to require labeling of foods with genetically modified ingredients, or GMOs, failed to pass Tuesday in Colorado and Oregon, after agribusiness giants Monsanto, PepsiCo and Kraft spent millions to help defeat the measures. But in a victory for food safety advocates, Hawaii’s Maui County passed one of the strongest anti-GMO measures ever, despite the opposition outspending supporters by a ratio of 87 to 1. The Maui GMO moratorium calls for a complete suspension of the cultivation of GMO crops until studies conclusively prove they are safe. Maui is often called "GMO Ground Zero" and the moratorium that passed Tuesday could have national implications because multinational seed producers, such as Monsanto and Dow AgroSciences, use the county to research and develop new seed varieties. Under the new measure, farmers who knowingly cultivate GMOs could be penalized with a $50,000-per-day fine. On Wednesday, Monsanto released a statement saying it plans to ask the Maui court to declare the initiative "legally flawed" and not enforceable. We are joined in Maui by Dr. Lorrin Pang, a public health official who helped draft and submit Maui’s successful GMO moratorium initiative.

Obama & McConnell Pledge Cooperation; Will Fast-Tracking Secretive TPP Trade Deal Top Their Agenda?

Democracy Now - Thu 07 13 AM

While the two parties have plenty to fight about in the new Republican Congress, Mitch McConnell, the possible next Senate majority leader, says he shares common ground with the president on international trade. What does this mean for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP)? We get analysis from Lori Wallach of Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch, who notes that while some analysts say GOP gains will accelerate the passage of fast-track legislation in Congress to enable an agreement on the TPP, “it is kind of hard for the Republicans to voluntarily delegate more authority to the guy they’ve been attacking as the imperial president who grabs power that’s not his.” The controversial so-called free trade deal involves 12 countries and nearly 40 percent of the global economy. Trade ministers from the 12 countries negotiating the trade deal are due to meet in Beijing ahead of the Asia-Pacific economic summit next week to continue negotiations.