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Umbrella Revolution: Hong Kong's Biggest Protests in Decades Challenge China on Political Freedom

Democracy Now - Tue 07 09 AM

Hong Kong is facing its biggest political unrest in decades as tens of thousands of protesters defy a police crackdown to demand greater freedom from China. The new round of protests began last week when thousands of college students launched a boycott to oppose China’s rejection of free elections in 2017. The protesters want an open vote, but China’s plan would only allow candidates approved by Beijing. After a three-day sit-in, police used tear gas and pepper spray to disperse the crowds. But that only fueled a public outcry which brought even more into the streets, with estimates reaching up to 200,000 people. Protest leaders have vowed to remain until the resignation of Hong Kong city leader, Leung Chun-ying, and a free vote for his successor. Originally organized by the group "Occupy Central," the protests have been dubbed Umbrella Revolution, for the umbrellas protesters have used to hide from the tear gas. The police crackdown is the harshest since China retook control of Hong Kong in 1997 after 150 years of British rule. The crackdown is being felt in mainland China, where the government has blocked the mobile photo-sharing app Instagram and heavily censored references to Hong Kong on social media. We are joined from Hong Kong by journalist Tom Gundy, who has been covering the protests.

Ferguson Unrest Continues as Police Accused of Incitement & Michael Brown's Killer Remains Free

Democracy Now - Mon 07 48 AM

Protests continue in Ferguson, Missouri, calling for the arrest of Darren Wilson, the officer who killed the unarmed African-American teenager Michael Brown. On Friday, officers dismantled an encampment where activists had been living in the weeks since Brown’s death. Some accused police of excessive force. More protests took place over the weekend, including one outside the Ferguson Police Department Sunday night. Two officers were wounded in separate shootings, but police say they were unrelated. The Justice Department has ordered local police to stop wearing bracelets in support of the officer who shot Michael Brown, which read "I Am Darren Wilson." Ferguson officers have also been instructed to stop hiding their identity through obscured nametags or not wearing them at all, saying it conveys a message that "officers may seek to act with impunity." We are joined by Patricia Bynes, Democratic committeewoman of Ferguson Township.

Soldier's Heart: Remembering Jacob George, Afghan War Vet Turned Peace Activist Who Took Own Life

Democracy Now - Mon 07 44 AM

We air a remembrance of Jacob George, an Afghanistan War veteran and peace activist who took his own life on September 17. He was 32 years old. George co-founded the Afghan Veterans Against the War Committee, part of Iraq Veterans Against the War. George was also a musician who biked around the country playing music for peace, a campaign he called "A Ride Till the End." In 2012, at the NATO summit in Chicago, he was among the veterans who hurled their military medals toward the summit gates in an act of protest against the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. George spoke openly about his struggles with post-traumatic stress disorder and with getting Veterans Affairs counselors to understand what he saw as a "moral injury" from his time in Afghanistan. In a storybook that accompanied his musical album "Soldier’s Heart," George wrote: "A wise medicine woman from Arkansas once told me that grief is pain trying to leave the body. If you don’t allow yourself to grieve, it gets stuck. But once you grieve, the body can heal itself. I won’t lie, some of this stuff is heavy. But telling my story is a part of my healing process. And it’s not just veterans who need to heal: all of us need to heal from war and the roster of ailments produced by a nation at war." Hear George playing the banjo and singing his song, "Soldier’s Heart."

"War Has Failed Miserably": Could U.S. Strikes Unite Extremists at Odds in Syria?

Democracy Now - Mon 07 36 AM

In an interview with CBS’s 60 Minutes on Sunday, President Obama acknowledged the United States has underestimated the rise of the Islamic State. With the U.S. military operation in Iraq and Syria now expanding, we are joined by Raed Jarrar, Iraqi-American blogger, political analyst, and policy impacts coordinator at the American Friends Service Committee. "The U.S. military force to deal with extremist groups has been tried before, and it has failed miserably," Jarrar says. "The U.S. military intervention is delaying and making a political solution harder."

After Civilian Deaths, Human Rights Watch Says U.S. Strikes on Syria May Violate Laws of War

Democracy Now - Mon 07 26 AM

As U.S. strikes on Syria expand, Human Rights Watch says a bombing last week on the town of Idlib should be investigated for possible violations of the laws of war. The strikes killed at least seven civilians, including five children, in the early morning hours of September 23 in the village of Kafr Deryan in northern Idlib province. Local activists at the scene of the attack collected and videotaped the remnants from the weapons used in the strikes. Human Rights Watch reviewed the footage and identified the remnants as debris of a turbofan engine from a Tomahawk cruise missile, a weapon that only the U.S. and British governments possess. "Witness accounts suggest that the attack on the village harmed civilians but did not strike a military target, violating the laws of war by failing to discriminate between combatants and civilians, or that it unlawfully caused civilian loss disproportionate to the expected military advantage," HRW details. The group has called on the U.S. government to investigate the allegations and publish its findings. We are joined by Nadim Houry, Human Rights Watch senior researcher for Lebanon and Syria.

How the U.S. Concocted a Terror Threat to Justify Syria Strikes, and the Corporate Media Went Along

Democracy Now - Mon 07 17 AM

As the U.S. expands military operations in Syria, we look at the Khorasan group, the shadowy militant organization the Obama administration has invoked to help justify the strikes. One month ago, no one had heard of Khorasan, but now U.S. officials say it poses an imminent threat to the United States. As the strikes on Syria began, U.S. officials said Khorasan was "nearing the execution phase" of an attack on the United States or Europe, most likely an attempt to blow up a commercial plane in flight. We are joined by Murtaza Hussain of The Intercept, whose new article with Glenn Greenwald is "The Khorasan Group: Anatomy of a Fake Terror Threat to Justify Bombing Syria."

"We Deserve To Do More Than Just Survive": Marshall Islands Poet's Plea to the U.N. Climate Summit

Democracy Now - Fri 07 55 AM

We end today’s show with one of the most memorable speeches at the one-day United Nations climate summit this week. On Tuesday, Kathy Jetnil-Kijiner from the Marshall Islands read a poem to world leaders, written as a letter to her child. "Even though there are those hidden behind platinum titles who like to pretend that we don’t exist," she writes, "that the Marshall Islands, Tuvalu, Kiribati, Maldives and Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines and floods of Pakistan, Algeria, and Colombia and all the hurricanes, earthquakes, and tidalwaves didn’t exist. Still there are those who see us hands reaching out."

Eric Holder's Complex Legacy: Voting Rights Advocate, Enemy of Press Freedom, Friend of Wall Street

Democracy Now - Fri 07 12 AM

Attorney General Eric Holder announced his plan to resign Thursday after nearly six years as head of the Justice Department. He will remain in office until a successor is nominated and confirmed. Assessments of Holder’s legacy as attorney general have been mixed. The NAACP Legal Defense Fund hailed Holder as one of the finest attorneys general in the nation’s history in part for his role in transforming the Civil Rights Division of the Justice Department and his leadership on voting rights. Meanwhile, the American Civil Liberties Union criticized Holder’s record on national security issues. The ACLU notes that during Holder’s time in office, the Justice Department approved the drone killing of an American in Yemen, approved the National Security Agency’s mass surveillance programs, failed to prosecute any Bush administration officials for torture, and presided over more leak prosecutions than all previous Justice Departments combined. We speak to Georgetown University professor Michael Eric Dyson, Robert Weissman of Public Citizen, Leslie Proll of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund and Baher Azmy of the Center for Constitutional Rights.

Listen to the People, Not the Polluters: Kumi Naidoo of Greenpeace on the Global Climate Uprising

Democracy Now - Thu 07 47 AM

The People’s Climate March, which saw hundreds of thousands around the world take to the streets for action on global warming in New York City, was followed this week by a United Nations climate summit in which world leaders advanced an agenda devoid of binding commitments. We discuss this global climate week and what comes next with Kumi Naidoo, executive director of Greenpeace International. On the eve of the climate summit, Greenpeace projected the message "Listen to the People, Not the Polluters!" on the side of the U.N. building. Much of Greenpeace’s focus here has been on the need to protect the Arctic. During a meeting with U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, the group handed over a petition with six million signatures calling for its long-term protection. With scientists reporting the region is warming more than twice as fast as the global average, Greenpeace and other groups are calling for a ban on oil exploration of the area. Watch Part 2 of this interview.

Exclusive: Freed After Hunger Strike, Egyptian Journalist in U.S. to Campaign for Jailed Colleagues

Democracy Now - Thu 07 29 AM

In a global television and radio exclusive, we are joined by Abdullah Elshamy, the Al Jazeera journalist who was released from an Egyptian prison after he sustained a five-month hunger strike. Elshamy was freed from prison in June after being held for 10 months without charges. During his imprisonment, he lost over a third of his body weight. He is in New York City to lobby for the release of his fellow Al Jazeera reporters still imprisoned in Egypt. As he walked across the street on Wednesday to the United Nations where Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi delivered a speech, Sisi supporters threw hot coffee on him. Sisi is set to meet with President Obama and reportedly request more U.S. assistance — including military hardware. Human Rights Watch is calling on Obama to use the meeting to publicly criticize Egypt’s continued crackdown on human rights, including the widespread jailing of political opponents and journalists, mass death sentences, and lack of accountability for the killing of more than 1,000 protesters by security forces in July and August 2013.

No Charges in Ohio Police Killing of John Crawford as Wal-Mart Video Contradicts 911 Caller Account

Democracy Now - Thu 07 08 AM

An Ohio grand jury has declined to indict the white police officer who fatally shot John Crawford. A 22-year-old African American, Crawford was killed inside a Wal-Mart store last month after a caller phoned police to accuse him of brandishing a gun and pointing it at other customers. In fact, Crawford had picked up an unloaded BB air rifle on a shelf, an item that is sold in the store. Newly released surveillance footage shows major discrepancies between a 911 caller’s account, and what really happened. The Justice Department now says it will launch a federal review to determine if Crawford’s civil rights were violated. We are joined by two guests: Rashad Robinson, executive director of Color of Change, a national organization that has campaigned for Wal-Mart to release the surveillance tapes, and James Hayes, founding member of the Ohio Student Association, which has been organizing protests over the shooting.

"We Can't Rely on Our Leaders": Inaction at Climate Summit Fuels Call for Movements to Take the Helm

Democracy Now - Wed 07 34 AM

Two days after the largest People’s Climate March in history, more than 120 world leaders gathered in New York City for a one-day United Nations climate summit. Tuesday’s meeting took place ahead of the larger, 200-nation summit in Paris in 2015, when delegates will attempt to finalize an agreement to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions. In a series of speeches, world leaders made nonbinding agreements to slow global warming and keep the rise in ocean temperatures below two degrees. Several leaders from the most carbon-polluting nations skipped the climate summit, including China, India and Russia. In one commitment to come out of the summit, more than 30 countries set a deadline to end deforestation by 2030. If successful, this could reduce carbon emissions by an estimated eight billion tons per year — the equivalent of emissions by all of the world’s one billion cars. But Brazil, which has the largest continuous rainforest in the world, refused to sign on, saying the plan conflicts with its own laws and targets. We are joined by two guests: Bianca Jagger, the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Ambassador for the Bonn Challenge, which seeks restore 150 million hectares of the world’s degraded and deforested lands by 2020, and founder and chair of the Bianca Jagger Human Rights Foundation; and Asad Rehman, head of international climate for Friends of the Earth.

Without a Truce in Syrian Civil War, U.S.-Led Strikes Threaten More Chaos for World's Worst Crisis

Democracy Now - Wed 07 10 AM

The U.S.-led bombing of militant targets inside Syria has intensified as Pentagon officials acknowledge the military mission could take years. On Tuesday, U.S. and other coalition forces launched more than 200 strikes on Islamic State targets. The latest round of airstrikes in Syria hit targets near the Turkish border, close to an area where tens of thousands of Kurds have fled to escape from militants tied to the Islamic State group. Activists report the strikes have killed civilians. To discuss the latest news, we are joined by Patrick Cockburn, Middle East correspondent for The Independent and author of "The Jihadis Return: ISIS and the New Sunni Uprising."

Vandana Shiva, Winona LaDuke & Desmond D'Sa on a Global, Grassroots Response to U.N. Climate Summit

Democracy Now - Tue 07 46 AM

Two days after the historic People’s Climate March, world leaders are gathering in New York City today for a United Nations summit on climate change. President Obama, along with more than 100 heads of state, are expected to attend. But the leaders of several major polluters, including China, India and Canada, are skipping the talks. The summit is part of a lengthy and so far failed process leading to climate negotiations in Paris next year, when countries will seek a binding deal to limit the emissions that cause global warming. We speak to three leading environmentalists: Vandana Shiva of India, Desmond D’Sa of South Africa, and Winona LaDuke of the White Earth Reservation in northern Minnesota. Click here to watch Part 2 of this interview.

Winona LaDuke footage courtesy Keri Pickett.

Flood Wall Street: 100 Arrested at Sit-In Targeting Financial Giants' Role in Global Warming

Democracy Now - Tue 07 29 AM

One day after the largest climate march in history in New York City, protesters rallied near Wall Street on Monday to highlight the financial industry’s role in fueling industries responsible for the air pollution that is causing global warming and climate change. The action came ahead of the one-day United Nations Climate Summit today, where leaders from 125 countries will take part in the first high-level climate talks since Copenhagen nearly five years ago. Dubbed "Flood Wall Street," hundreds of protesters dressed in blue held a rowdy sit-in on Broadway just blocks from the U.S. Stock Exchange. The demonstrators occupied the street for more than eight hours until police began arresting some 100 people. Democracy Now! was in the streets to cover the action. Watch our video report to hear some of the voices of people in the demonstration.