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Ex-Auto Safety Head & Parent of Dead Victim: GM CEOs Should Face Prison for Covering Up Safety Flaws

Democracy Now - Thu 07 38 AM

In 2005, General Motors decided not to change a defective ignition switch redesign because it would have added about a dollar to the cost of each car. At least 13 people have died in accidents as a result, though the number could be much higher. Following two days of contentious congressional testimony by GM CEO Mary Barra, we are joined by two guests: Ken Rimer, whose 18-year-old stepdaughter Natasha Weigel died in a defective Chevy Cobalt in 2005, and consumer advocate Joan Claybrook, former head of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

"The Next Citizens United": McCutcheon Opens Floodgates for 1 Percent to Spend Millions on Campaigns

Democracy Now - Thu 07 25 AM

We continue our coverage of Wednesday’s Supreme Court decision in the case of McCutcheon v. FEC, described by many as "the next Citizens United." In a 5-to-4 vote, the court’s conservative justices eliminated a long-standing limit on how much donors can give in total to federal candidates, party committees and political action committees in a two-year election cycle. We are joined by Andy Kroll, senior reporter at Mother Jones magazine, who has extensively covered campaign finance and anonymous donations, called "dark money."

Sen. Bernie Sanders: Supreme Court Undermines Democracy by Allowing Billionaires to "Buy Elections"

Democracy Now - Thu 07 10 AM

As the 2014 election season gets underway, the Supreme Court has struck down a long-standing limit on how much donors can give to federal candidates, political parties and political action committees in a two-year election cycle. Without any aggregate limit, a donor can now give millions directly to candidates and parties. The 5-to-4 decision in the McCutcheon v. FEC case is being described as the "next Citizens United," referring to the 2010 ruling that opened the floodgates for unlimited corporate spending on U.S. elections. We speak to Independent Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont about Wednesday’s landmark decision and his fight to remove big money from the electoral process. We also discuss Sanders’ potential presidential run in 2016, which he says he is considering "not because I wake up in the morning with a burning desire to be president … but [because] I happen to believe there are such enormous issues out there that I just don’t want to see swept under the rug."

Dragnet Nation: Do Google, Facebook Know More Private Info Than NSA and Soviet-Era Secret Police?

Democracy Now - Wed 07 39 AM

Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative journalist Julia Angwin joins us to discuss her new book, "Dragnet Nation: A Quest for Privacy, Security, and Freedom in a World of Relentless Surveillance." Currently at ProPublica and previously with The Wall Street Journal, Angwin details her complex and fraught path toward increasing her own online privacy. According to Angwin, the private data collected by East Germany’s Soviet-era Stasi secret police could pale in comparison to the information revealed today by an individual’s Facebook profile or Google search.

U.N. Climate Panel Issues Dire Warning of Threat to Global Food Supply, Calls for Action & Adaption

Democracy Now - Wed 07 12 AM

The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has issued its most dire warning yet about how greenhouse gases have driven up global temperatures and extreme weather, while threatening sources of food and water. "Throughout the 21st century, climate-change impacts are projected to slow down economic growth, make poverty reduction more difficult, further erode food security, and prolong existing and create new poverty traps, the latter particularly in urban areas and emerging hot spots of hunger," the report says. We are joined by two climate scientists who helped write the IPCC’s report: Princeton University Professor Michael Oppenheimer and Saleemul Huq, a climate scientist at the International Institute for Environment and Development in London. We are also joined by Tim Gore, head of policy for Food and Climate Justice at Oxfam. "[Fossil fuel companies] are the drug suppliers to the rest of the world, who are junkies and hooked on fossil fuels," Huq says. "But we don’t have to remain hooked on fossil fuels. Indeed, we are going to have to cut ourselves off from them."

Right to Return: Deported After Protest by His Family, Mexican Immigrant to Attempt U.S. Re-entry

Democracy Now - Tue 07 53 AM

After being deported to Mexico from his home in Arizona earlier this year, Jaime Valdez joins us to detail his attempt today to re-enter the United States. Valdez says he was deported in retaliation for a hunger strike that his family took part in at the Phoenix offices of Immigration and Customs Enforcement to protest U.S. immigration policies. "All my family is in the U.S., so that’s why I’m trying to come back," Valdez says. "We’re going to try to get this message to the president, to stop the deportations and to stop the discrimination and injustice in detention centers." He and another immigrant hope to rejoin their families today by crossing at a checkpoint in the Mexican border town of Nogales, where the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops is currently on a three-day tour visiting with Border Patrol agents and migrants.

Treating Humans Worse Than Animals: Prison System Voices Decry Solitary Confinement of Mentally Ill

Democracy Now - Tue 07 32 AM

Following the death of two prisoners at New York City’s Rikers Island facility, we look at mounting pressure on jails and prisons to reform their use of solitary confinement. A corrections officer was arrested last week and charged with violating the civil rights of Jason Echevarria, a mentally ill Rikers prisoner who died after eating a packet of detergent given to him when his cell was flooded with sewage. It was the first such arrest in more than a decade. Also last month, Jerome Murdough, a mentally ill homeless veteran, died in a Rikers solitary mental-observation unit where he was supposed to be checked on every 15 minutes. An official told the Associated Press that Murdough "baked to death" after temperatures soared in his cell. We hear from Echevarria’s father, Ramon, at a protest seeking justice for his son, and speak to former Rikers prisoner Five Mualimmak, who was held in solitary there. And we are joined by two guests from within the prison system calling for reform: Dr. James Gilligan, a psychiatrist who is helping reduce violence in prisons, and Lance Lowry, president of the Texas Correctional Employees, the union which represents Texas prison guards. Lowry is calling on the state to reduce the use of solitary confinement, including on death row. "Zookeepers are not allowed to keep zoo animals in the kind of housing that we put human beings in," Dr. Gilligan says. "We have created the situation; it is called a self-fulfilling prophecy: We say these are animals, they are going to behave like animals, then we treat them so that they will."

The "Bounty" Police Force? Albuquerque Officers Face Protests, Probe over Spate of Fatal Shootings

Democracy Now - Tue 07 12 AM

Outrage is growing in Albuquerque, New Mexico, after the latest incident in a spate of police shootings. Video footage captured by a police helmet camera shows officers killing James Boyd, a homeless man who appeared to be surrendering to them at a campsite where he was sleeping. Boyd is seen picking up his belongings and turning away when officers deploy a flash grenade and then fire six live rounds at him from yards away. The Albuquerque Police Department has come under federal scrutiny for being involved in 37 shootings since 2010, 23 of them fatal. This week the FBI confirmed it is investigating the killing of Boyd, and the Justice Department has already been investigating the city’s police shootings for more than a year. We are joined by Russell Contreras, an Associated Press reporter who was tear-gassed while covering the Sunday protest and has been following the police shootings. We also speak to Nora Tachias-Anaya, a social justice activist whose nephew, George Levy Tachias, was fatally shot by police while driving in Albuquerque in 1988. Tachias-Anaya is a member of the October 22 Coalition To Stop Police Brutality.

Exclusive: Egyptian Activist Alaa Abd El-Fattah on Prison & Regime's "War on a Whole Generation"

Democracy Now - Mon 07 12 AM

In a Democracy Now! global broadcast exclusive, we spend the hour with one of Egypt’s most prominent dissidents, Alaa Abd El-Fattah, speaking in his first extended interview after nearly four months behind bars. An open Internet and political activist, Fattah has been at the forefront of the struggle for change in Egypt for many years and has the distinction of having been actively persecuted by Egypt’s past four successive rulers. Facing a potential return to prison in the coming months, Fattah sits down with Democracy Now! correspondent Sharif Abdel Kouddous to discuss his case, Egypt’s future and its ongoing crackdown on activists. "They are on a sentencing frenzy," Fattah says of Egypt’s military rulers. "This is not just about me. It’s almost as if it’s a war on a whole generation." Special thanks to Omar Robert Hamilton and Sherine Tadros.

A Debate on Torture: Legal Architect of CIA Secret Prisons, Rendition vs. Human Rights Attorney

Democracy Now - Fri 07 12 AM

As the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence feuds with the CIA over the declassification of its 6,000-page report on the agency’s secret detention and interrogation programs, we host a debate between former CIA acting general counsel John Rizzo and human rights attorney Scott Horton. This comes as the United Nations Human Rights Committee has criticized the Obama administration for closing its investigations into the CIA’s actions after Sept. 11. A U.N. report issued Thursday stated, "The Committee notes with concern that all reported investigations into enforced disappearances, torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment that had been committed in the context of the CIA secret rendition, interrogation and detention programmes were closed in 2012 leading only to a meager number of criminal charges brought against low-level operatives." Rizzo served as acting general counsel during much of the George W. Bush administration and was a key legal architect of the U.S. interrogation and detention program after the Sept. 11 attacks. He recently published a book titled "Company Man: Thirty Years of Controversy and Crisis in the CIA." Attorney Scott Horton is contributing editor at Harper’s magazine and author of the forthcoming book, "Lords of Secrecy: The National Security Elite and America’s Stealth Foreign Policy."

The Unknown Known: Errol Morris' New Doc Tackles Unrepentant Iraq War Architect Donald Rumsfeld

Democracy Now - Thu 07 34 AM

Academy Award-winning documentary filmmaker Errol Morris joins us to talk about his new film, "The Unknown Known," based on 33 hours of interviews with former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. The title refers to an infamous press briefing in 2002 when Rumsfeld faced questions from reporters about the lack of evidence of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction. "The Unknown Known" is Morris’ 10th documentary feature. He won a Best Documentary Oscar for his film "The Fog of War: Eleven Lessons from the Life of Robert S. McNamara." His other films include "Standard Operating Procedure," about alleged U.S. torture of terror suspects in Abu Ghraib prison, and "The Thin Blue Line," about the wrongful conviction of Randall Adams for the murder of a Dallas policeman. The release of "The Unknown Known" comes in a month marking 11 years since the U.S. invaded Iraq, leaving an estimated half a million Iraqis dead, along with at least 4,400 American troops.

Targeted by Firebombing, Legislation, and Now Vandalism, Montana Abortion Provider Shutters Clinic

Democracy Now - Thu 07 10 AM

A Montana medical office that provided abortions, among other services, has been forced to close after a vandal systematically broke or slashed practically every object and surface inside. All Families Healthcare saw the destruction of its plumbing and heating systems, plants pulled up by their roots, and holes stabbed through faces in family photographs. The accused vandal, Zachary Klundt, is the son of a former board member of the anti-choice group Hope Pregnancy Ministries. Twyla Klundt resigned after her son’s arrest. We are joined by All Families Healthcare owner Susan Cahill, who is facing the latest threat to her work following decades of providing abortion as part of family healthcare. Another clinic where she worked was firebombed in 1994. The following year, the Montana state Legislature passed a measure known as the Susan Cahill Law to ban physician assistants from providing abortions. Cahill was the only physician assistant providing abortions in the state. The Montana Supreme Court later upheld her right to do so.

The Right to Heal: 11 Years After Iraq Invasion, U.S. Urged on Reparations for War's Enduring Wounds

Democracy Now - Wed 07 50 AM

Eleven years ago this month, the U.S. invaded Iraq. Today, a group of Iraq civilians and U.S. veterans of the war are coming together in Washington to demand the U.S. government be held accountable for the lasting effects of war at home and abroad. We are joined by two members of the Right to Heal Initiative: Joyce Wagner, co-director of Iraq Veterans Against the War, who served two tours in Iraq, and Yanar Mohammed, president of the Organization of Women’s Freedom in Iraq. She recently gathered thousands of signatures in Baghdad to request a hearing before the Inter-American Commission for Human Rights — a request that was denied.