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As Yemenis Suffer from Strikes, Conflict and Siege, Will Geneva Peace Talks Offer Any Relief?

Democracy Now - Tue 07 10 AM

Al-Qaeda in Yemen has announced its leader, Nasser al-Wuhayshi, has been killed in a U.S. bombing, likely a CIA drone strike. Al-Wuhayshi is a former associate of Osama bin Laden who became head of AQAP in 2009. Meanwhile, a delegation of Houthi rebels has arrived in Geneva for the second day of U.N.-backed peace talks. It has been nearly three months since Saudi Arabia launched its offensive against the Houthis in Yemen. On Monday, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called for a two-week humanitarian ceasefire to coincide with the start of the holy month of Ramadan. The United Nations recently said 20 million people, 78 percent of the population, need urgent humanitarian aid in Yemen. We are joined by Democracy Now! correspondent Sharif Abdel Kouddous, reporting from the capital Sana’a, and by Joe Lauria, U.N. correspondent for The Wall Street Journal.

What Do 800-Year-Old Magna Carta & Black Lives Matter Have in Common? A People's Historian Explains

Democracy Now - Mon 07 45 AM

The Magna Carta turns 800 years old today. Known as the "Great Charter," it is widely considered the foundation of parliamentary democracy, human rights and the supremacy of the law over the crown. As dignitaries including the queen of England and Prime Minister David Cameron commemorate the sealing of the historic text, we go to Lincoln Castle in England, where the finest originals of the Magna Carta and the charters of English liberty are kept in a lockstone vault, and speak with people’s historian Peter Linebaugh, author of "The Magna Carta Manifesto: Liberty and Subsistence for All." He is attending the event to draw connections between the Magna Carta and the Black Lives Matter movement.

Israeli Report Finds 2014 Gaza War "Lawful" and "Legitimate" Ahead of Critical U.N. Investigation

Democracy Now - Mon 07 30 AM

The Israeli government has released a report that concludes its military actions in the 2014 war in Gaza were "lawful" and "legitimate." The findings come ahead of what is expected to be a critical United Nations investigation into the 50-day conflict that Israel has dismissed as biased and refused to cooperate with. More than 2,200 Palestinians died in what was called "Operation Protective Edge," the vast majority civilians. On Israel’s side, 73 people were killed, all but six of them soldiers. In its report, Israel says it made "substantial efforts" to avoid civilian deaths, insisting Hamas was to blame for the high number of civilian casualties and accusing Hamas militants of disguising themselves as civilians and of converting civilian buildings into military centers. We are joined by Yousef Munayyer, executive director of the U.S. Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation and the former executive director of The Jerusalem Fund. We also go to Tel Aviv to speak with Gideon Levy, Haaretz columnist, whose latest piece is "Israel washed itself clean of Gaza’s dead beach children."

As Democrats Walk Out on Obama's TPP Deal, Where Does Presidential Candidate Hillary Clinton Stand?

Democracy Now - Mon 07 12 AM

Former secretary of state, senator and first lady Hillary Clinton kicked off her White House bid to become the first woman U.S. president by highlighting her support for income equality, regulating Wall Street and vowing to fight for a fairer economy. On Sunday, she broke her silence on the secretive Trans-Pacific Partnership deal, saying President Obama "should listen to and work with his allies in Congress, starting with Nancy Pelosi, who have expressed their concerns about the impact that a weak agreement would have on our workers to make make sure we get the best, strongest deal possible. And if we don’t get it, there should be no deal." Clinton’s comments come as the U.S. House of Representatives on Friday rejected the first in a series of trade bills despite President Obama making a personal plea for his own party’s support ahead of the vote. We speak with Lori Wallach, director of Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch and author of "The Rise and Fall of Fast Track Trade Authority"; and Jeffrey Sachs, a leading economist, director of The Earth Institute at Columbia University and author of "The Age of Sustainable Development."

The Wanted 18: Israel Blocks Palestinian Filmmaker from Making NYC Film Premiere About Intifada Cows

Democracy Now - Fri 07 45 AM

The annual Human Rights Watch International Film Festival is underway here in New York City, but one of its featured directors won’t be able to attend his film’s U.S. premiere this weekend. That’s because Israel recently deemed Palestinian filmmaker Amer Shomali a "security threat" and prevented him from traveling to Jerusalem to obtain a U.S. visa. Then he went to Amman, Jordan, where the U.S. approved a visa but said their visa machine was broken. Shomali had previously attended half a dozen European festivals without incident, and his film has drawn international acclaim. Interestingly, the film, "The Wanted 18," shows how Israel has historically tried to undermine any form of Palestinian nonviolent resistance by branding such resistance as dangerous and threatening, and recreates an astonishing true story from the First Palestinian Intifada when the Israeli army pursued 18 cows, whose independent milk production on a Palestinian collective farm was declared "a threat to the national security of the state of Israel." We speak to Amer Shomali in Ramallah.

"A Monster of a Facility": Amid Manhunt for Fugitives, Advocate Urges Reforms at Dannemora Prison

Democracy Now - Fri 07 40 AM

As two fugitives who escaped from the Clinton Correctional Facility in Dannemora, New York, remain at large, human rights and prison reform activist Five Mualimm-ak discusses the need for reform at the massive prison. "This is a facility that is historically known for its abuse, has no accountability," Mualimm-ak says. "This place needs to be changed."

From Solitary to the Street: Coping with Freedom After Years in Prison Isolation

Democracy Now - Fri 07 26 AM

The Department of Justice estimates that about 80,000 prisoners are in solitary confinement. Some have been held in isolation for decades. Former Black Panther Albert Woodfox has been in solitary for over 40 years. While Woodfox could be released as early as today, we look at a new investigation by The Marshall Project and NPR that reveals prisons are sending thousands of people directly from solitary confinement back into their communities with almost no help or preparation. Many wind up homeless or back in prison. We speak to Christie Thompson of The Marshall Project and Five Mualimm-ak, founder of Incarcerated Nation Collective, a collective of previously incarcerated people. He spent 11 years in New York’s prison system, including five years in solitary.

Tamir Rice Killing: Activists Push for Arrests After Judge Finds Probable Cause to Charge Officers

Democracy Now - Fri 07 10 AM

A judge in Ohio has found probable cause to charge a police officer with murder for the fatal shooting of 12-year-old Tamir Rice, who was shot dead at a playground while holding a toy gun. On Thursday, Judge Ronald Adrine of the Cleveland Municipal Court said there are grounds to prosecute the officers. The ruling came after community leaders in Cleveland took the unusual legal step on Tuesday of appealing directly to the judge to commence prosecution of the officer, saying they were tired of waiting over six months without any progress on the case. We speak to Rice family attorney Walter Madison and Rhonda Williams, the director of the Social Justice Institute at Case Western Reserve University. She’s one of the eight community activists who signed the affidavits in Tamir Rice’s case.

As Ruling Threatens to Gut Abortion Access in Texas, Providers Vow to Take Fight to Supreme Court

Democracy Now - Thu 07 49 AM

This week has seen a new round of restrictions on reproductive rights in the United States. In Texas, a federal appeals court Tuesday upheld anti-choice provisions which threaten to leave Texas with just 10 or fewer abortion clinics. The ruling upholds restrictions forcing abortion facilities to meet the standards of hospital-style surgery centers and forcing providers to obtain admitting privileges at a nearby hospital. If the decision goes into effect in about 20 days, attorneys for the clinics have estimated about 900,000 reproductive-age women will live more than 150 miles from the nearest open abortion facility in the state. The clinics plan to take their appeal to the Supreme Court. Meanwhile, Florida Governor Rick Scott has signed a bill into law forcing women to wait at least 24 hours to have an abortion. And the Wisconsin state Senate has approved a bill that would ban abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy. Like similar bans in other states and a federal ban passed by the U.S. House last month, the bill is based on the medically debunked claim fetuses can feel pain after 20 weeks. We are joined by Heather Busby, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Texas.

After Iraq-Syria Takeover, the Inside Story of How ISIL Destroyed Al-Qaeda from Within

Democracy Now - Thu 07 31 AM

A year ago this month, fighters from the self-proclaimed Islamic State declared they had established a caliphate in the territories they controlled in Iraq and Syria. Since then, the Islamic State has continued to grow, building affiliates from Afghanistan to West Africa while recruiting new members from across the globe. In response, President Obama has sent thousands of U.S. troops back to Iraq. The deployment of another 450 troops was announced on Wednesday. Meanwhile, the rise of the Islamic State has reshaped the jihadist movement in the region, essentially bringing al-Qaeda to the brink of collapse. According to a new investigation by The Guardian, the Islamic State has successfully launched "a coup" against al-Qaeda to destroy it from within. The Islamic State began as al-Qaeda’s branch in the heart of the Middle East but was excommunicated in 2014 after disobeying commands from al-Qaeda leader, Ayman al-Zawahiri. While the Islamic State has since flourished, The Guardian reports al-Zawahiri is now largely cut off from his commanders and keeping the group afloat through little more than appeals to loyalty. We are joined by Guardian reporter Shiv Malik.

Backlash Against TPP Grows as Leaked Text Reveals Increased Corporate Control of Public Health

Democracy Now - Thu 07 10 AM

As the Obama administration praises the benefits of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), backlash continues to grow against the deal. WikiLeaks has just published another section of the secret text — this one about public healthcare and the pharmaceutical industry. Newly revealed details of the draft show the TPP would give major pharmaceutical companies more power over public access to medicine and weaken public healthcare programs. The leaked draft also suggests the TPP would prevent Congress from passing reforms to lower drug costs. One of the practices that would be allowed is known as "evergreening." It lets drug companies extend the life of a patent by slightly modifying their product and then getting a new patent. We speak to Peter Maybarduk of Public Citizen and John Sifton of Human Rights Watch about their concerns.

Will Albert Woodfox Be Freed? Louisiana Fights Release of Longest-Serving U.S. Prisoner in Solitary

Democracy Now - Wed 07 48 AM

Louisiana has delayed the release of former Black Panther Albert Woodfox, the longest-serving U.S. prisoner in solitary confinement, after appealing a judge’s order for his freedom. Earlier this year, a Louisiana grand jury re-indicted Woodfox for the 1972 murder of a prison guard, a crime for which he and his late, fellow Angola 3 member Herman Wallace maintained they were framed for their political activism. Wallace died on October 1, 2013, just three days after he was released from prison. On Monday, Federal Judge James Brady not only called for Woodfox’s release, but also barred a retrial. Woodfox’s two previous convictions in the case were both overturned. But on Tuesday, Louisiana filed an appeal to the Fifth Circuit, and that court issued a stay on Judge Brady’s order until 1 p.m. this Friday. Woodfox’s lawyers have until 5 p.m. today to file a response. We are joined by Woodfox’s attorney, George Kendall, as well as the Angola 3’s Robert King, who spent 29 years in solitary confinement.

War for Decades to Come? 1 Year After ISIL Advance, U.S. Could Send Hundreds More Troops to Iraq

Democracy Now - Wed 07 13 AM

The Obama administration is considering a plan to increase the U.S. presence in Iraq by sending 400 to 500 more military personnel as well as establishing a new military base in Anbar province. The United States already has about 3,000 troops, including trainers and advisers, in Iraq. The administration is describing the military personnel as advisers who will help train Iraqi forces in an attempt to retake the city of Ramadi, which fell to the self-described Islamic State last month. Plans to retake Mosul may be pushed off until next year. It was a year ago this week when Islamic State fighters seized Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city. Today the city remains in ISIL’s hands. Advisers close to the White House say it could take decades to defeat ISIL. We discuss the fight against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria with two guests: Malcolm Nance, a retired Arabic-speaking counterterrorism intelligence officer and combat veteran who first worked in Iraq in 1987; and Patrick Cockburn, Middle East correspondent for The Independent, just back from reporting in Iraq and Syria. Cockburn’s latest book is "The Rise of Islamic State: ISIS and the New Sunni Revolution."

Rainbow Warrior: 30 Years Later, Will France Ever Apologize for Fatal Bombing of Greenpeace Ship?

Democracy Now - Tue 07 53 AM

Next month marks the 30th anniversary of a turning point in the history of Greenpeace. On July 10, 1985, the Greenpeace flagship Rainbow Warrior was bombed by French government agents and sunk in a harbor in Auckland, New Zealand. The ship was preparing to head to sea to protest against French nuclear bomb tests in the South Pacific. Greenpeace photographer Fernando Pereira was killed in the attack. Our guest Peter Willcox was the captain of the ship and on board when the boat was blown up.

The Arctic 30: How Greenpeace Activists Risked All to Stop Oil Drilling in New Climate Battleground

Democracy Now - Tue 07 33 AM

The Arctic is now the center of one of the world’s great environmental battles. As temperatures rise in the region, the world’s largest oil companies are eyeing vast new untapped reserves once covered year-round by ice. Environmentalists are pushing back in an attempt to save the pristine Arctic and keep the oil underground. We look back at a 2013 protest that caught the world’s attention, when activists from Greenpeace attempted to board a Russian oil drilling rig owned by the Russian state oil company Gazprom. In total, 28 Greenpeace activists and two journalists were arrested and brought to Russia, where they were charged with piracy and held for two months. They had faced up to 15 years in prison. They became known as the Arctic 30. We are joined by two guests: Peter Willcox, the captain of the Greenpeace ship involved in the action who spent two months in a Russian jail; and Ben Stewart, a longtime member of Greenpeace and author of the new book, "Don’t Trust, Don’t Fear, Don’t Beg: The Extraordinary Story of the Arctic 30."