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Attack on Canadian Parliament Fuels "Anti-Terror" Laws, Ignoring Ties to Mental Illness, Drug Abuse

Democracy Now - Tue 06 09 AM

As Canada mourns the death of a soldier gunned down while standing guard at the National War Monument in Ottawa, Prime Minister Stephen Harper is pushing new antiterrorism legislation that would expand surveillance and intelligence sharing with foreign governments. In the days since the shooting, the gunman, Michael Zehaf-Bibeau, has been identified as a convert to Islam with a history of drug abuse, criminal activity and mental illness. The incident came two days after another violent attack on Canadian troops in Quebec. Martin Couture-Rouleau, also identified as a "radicalized" Muslim convert, drove a car into two soldiers, killing one of them. The incidents have sparked fears of blowback shortly after Canada joined the U.S.-led war against Islamic State militants in Iraq. But the violence has also raised questions about Canada’s treatment of the mentally ill and others on the margins. Zehaf-Bibeau had been dealing with a serious crack-cocaine addiction and living in and out of homeless shelters. On Monday, the Canadian government introduced an antiterrorism measure that was to have been unveiled the same day as the Ottawa attack. We are joined by two guests: Ihsaan Gardee, executive director of the National Council of Canadian Muslims; and Harsha Walia, a social justice activist, founder of No One Is Illegal, and author of the book, "Undoing Border Imperialism."

Mumia Abu-Jamal Speaks Out from Prison on Pennsylvania's New Law Censoring Convicts' Speech

Democracy Now - Mon 06 44 AM

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett has signed into law a bill that critics say tramples the free speech rights of prisoners. The "Revictimization Relief Act" authorizes the censoring of public addresses of prisoners or former offenders if judges agree that allowing them to speak would cause "mental anguish" to the victim. The measure was introduced after one of the state’s most famous prisoners, journalist and former Black Panther Mumia Abu-Jamal, delivered a pretaped commencement address for graduating students at Vermont’s Goddard College earlier this month. The speech was opposed by the widow of Daniel Faulkner, the police officer who Abu-Jamal was convicted of killing. The American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania has criticized the new measure, calling it "overbroad and vague," and unable to "pass constitutional muster under the First Amendment." Speaking to us from prison, Abu-Jamal says that "by signing that bill into law, [Gov. Corbett] has violated both of his oaths as governor and as an attorney."

From Fear-Mongering to Crippling Debt, Lapses in Politics and Health Hurt Global Effort on Ebola

Democracy Now - Mon 06 23 AM

The World Health Organization says nearly 5,000 people have now died from Ebola out of 10,000 known cases. But the actual death toll may be significantly higher in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, the three worst-hit countries. The virus is now threatening Ivory Coast, which shares a border with Guinea and Liberia. The World Health Organization has sent experts to Ivory Coast and Mali to help prepare for a possible outbreak. Meanwhile in the United States, hospital officials say the first Ebola patient in New York City, Dr. Craig Spencer, is in serious, but stable, condition at Bellevue Hospital. Spencer recently returned from treating Ebola patients in Guinea with Doctors Without Borders. On Friday, the states of New York and New Jersey announced they would automatically quarantine medical workers returning from Ebola-hit West African countries. We discuss the latest news in the Ebola crisis with two guests: Jeffrey Sachs, a leading economist and director of The Earth Institute at Columbia University, who is working with the government in Guinea to battle the Ebola epidemic, and Nancy Kass, professor of bioethics and public health at Johns Hopkins University.

Back from West Africa, a U.S. Nurse Says Quarantining Medical Workers Threatens Ebola Response

Democracy Now - Mon 06 10 AM

The governors of New York and New Jersey are facing federal pressure to reverse new quarantine rules on medical workers returning from West Africa. Under the policy, arriving passengers with a risk of Ebola exposure will be placed in a 21-day quarantine. White House officials lobbied New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo over the weekend, saying the rules would discourage workers from joining the Ebola response in West Africa. On Sunday night, Cuomo announced a slight easing of the restrictions, saying the workers can be quarantined at home. A nurse named Kaci Hickox became the first health worker isolated under the rules after returning to New Jersey from Sierra Leone. Hickox has been placed in an isolated tent inside a Newark hospital despite testing negative for Ebola. She has threatened to fight her 21-day quarantine in court, saying the order violates her constitutional rights. We are joined by Carissa Guild, a nurse with Doctors Without Borders (MSF) who has just returned from Guinea, where she took part in the Ebola response effort.

European Privacy in the Age of Snowden: We Need a Debate About What Intelligence Agencies Are Doing

Democracy Now - Fri 06 48 AM

As the movie "Citizenfour" about National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden opens in theaters in the United States, we look at the impact his leaks have had on the debate over online privacy in Europe. The Austrian newspaper Der Standard reports the NSA has accessed nearly 70 percent of telecommunications in Vienna, home to thousands of diplomats from around the world. Earlier this year, Germany ordered the removal of a top U.S. intelligence official in the country after leaks from Snowden showed the United States was monitoring the communications of millions of Germans and tapping Chancellor Angela Merkel’s cellphone. In a victory for digital privacy, the European Court of Justice struck down a rule that required telecommunication companies to store the communications data of European Union citizens for up to two years. The ruling happened on the same day Snowden addressed the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe from Moscow. We are joined by Andreas Krisch, president of European Digital Rights.

Former Weapons Inspector in Iraq Questions Claims that Iran Hiding Nuclear Tests

Democracy Now - Fri 06 32 AM

We are broadcasting from Vienna, where the six world powers leading nuclear negotiations with Iran have set a November deadline to reach a deal to constrain Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for easing Western sanctions. Earlier this month, a report by the International Atomic Energy Agency found Iran is meeting its commitments under a temporary deal. But Western diplomats say Iran has refused to provide information about alleged experiments on high explosives intended to produce a nuclear weapon. Information on the experiments is reportedly contained in an intelligence document the IAEA is investigating, but the document itself remains unverified, and at least one member of the IAEA community has raised concerns about its authenticity. Our guest, Robert Kelley, was part of the IAEA’s Iraq Action Team in 2003 and says he is speaking out now because "I learned firsthand how withholding the facts can lead to bloodshed." Prior to his time in Iraq, Kelley was a nuclear weapons analyst based at the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico.

Obama Promised a "World Without Nuclear Weapons," But May Now Spend $1 Trillion on Upgrades

Democracy Now - Fri 06 15 AM

We are on the road in the historic city of Vienna, Austria, not far from the Czech Republic where President Obama gave a major address in 2009 that called for a nuclear-free world. His disarmament efforts were cited when he won the Nobel Peace Prize, but since then advocates say little progress has been made. A recent New York Times investigation found the United States is on pace to spend as much as $1 trillion over the next three decades to modernize its nuclear arsenal and facilities. This week, more than 150 countries at the United Nations signed a joint statement calling on nuclear powers to attend the third major conference on the humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons scheduled this December in Vienna. The United States has yet to attend one of the meetings. We are joined by Elena Sokova, executive director of the Vienna Center for Disarmament and Non-Proliferation.

Jeremy Scahill: Blackwater Execs Remain Free as Guards Convicted for Killing 14 Iraqis in Massacre

Democracy Now - Thu 06 50 AM

A federal jury has returned guilty verdicts against four Blackwater operatives involved in the 2007 massacre at Baghdad’s Nisoor Square. On Wednesday, the jury found one guard, Nicholas Slatten, guilty of first-degree murder, while three other guards were convicted of voluntary manslaughter: Paul Slough, Evan Liberty and Dustin Heard. The jury is still deliberating on additional charges against the operatives, who faced a combined 33 counts. The operatives were tried for the deaths of 14 of the 17 Iraqi civilians who died when their Blackwater unit opened fire. We speak to Jeremy Scahill, author of the best-selling book "Blackwater: The Rise of the World’s Most Powerful Mercenary Army." His most recent article published by The Intercept is "Blackwater Founder Remains Free & Rich While His Former Employees Go Down on Murder Charges."

Citizenfour: Inside Story of NSA Leaker Edward Snowden Captured in New Film by Laura Poitras

Democracy Now - Thu 06 11 AM

"At this stage I can offer nothing more than my word. I am a senior government employee in the intelligence community. I hope you understand that contacting you is extremely high risk … This will not be a waste of your time." This was one of the first messages Edward Snowden wrote to filmmaker Laura Poitras beginning an exchange that helped expose the massive surveillance apparatus set up by the National Security Agency. Months later, Poitras would meet Snowden for the first time in a Hong Kong hotel room. Poitras filmed more than 20 hours of footage as Snowden debriefed reporters Glenn Greenwald and Ewen MacAskill. That footage — most unseen until now — forms the backbone of Poitras’ new film, "Citizenfour." She joins us to talk about the film and her own experience with government surveillance. The film is the third installment of her 9/11 trilogy that also includes "My Country, My Country" about the Iraq War and "The Oath" about the U.S. military base at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. Poitras’ NSA reporting contributed to a Pulitzer Prize for Public Service awarded to The Guardian and The Washington Post. We also speak with Jeremy Scahill, who appears in the film reporting on recent disclosures about NSA surveillance from a new, anonymous government source. Scahill, along with Poitras and Greenwald, founded The Intercept, a new media venture to continue investigating whistleblower leaks.

Noam Chomsky at United Nations: It Would Be Nice if the United States Lived up to International Law

Democracy Now - Wed 06 42 AM

After world-renowned scholar Noam Chomsky gave a major address on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in the hall of the United Nations General Assembly last week, Amy Goodman interviewed the world-renowned linguist and dissident before an audience of 800 people. Chomsky spoke at an event sponsored by the United Nations Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People. “One important action that the United States could take is to live up to its own laws. Of course it would be nice if it lived up to international law, but maybe that’s too much to ask,” Chomsky said.

In U.N. Speech, Noam Chomsky Blasts United States for Supporting Israel, Blocking Palestinian State

Democracy Now - Wed 06 08 AM

As U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon announces plans to set up an investigation into the attacks on United Nations facilities during Israel’s recent assault on the Gaza Strip, we broadcast the speech of world-renowned political dissident Noam Chomsky, who recently spoke in the hall of the U.N. General Assembly at an event sponsored by the United Nations Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People. "The pattern that was set in January 1976 continues to the present," said Chomsky, Institute Professor Emeritus at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. "Israel rejects a settlement of these terms and for many years has been devoting extensive resources to ensuring it will not be implemented with the unremitting and decisive support of the United States — military, economic, diplomatic and ideological."

Mumia Abu-Jamal Speaks Out from Jail on New Pennsylvania Law Silencing Prisoners

Democracy Now - Tue 06 48 AM

Pennsylvania Republican Gov. Tom Corbett is set to sign into law a bill critics say will trample the free speech rights of prisoners. Last week, lawmakers openly said they passed the legislation as a way to target one of the state’s most well-known prisoners: journalist and former Black Panther, Mumia Abu-Jamal, who was convicted in 1982 of killing of a Philadelphia police officer, but has long maintained his innocence. During a late night vote last Tuesday, the Pennsylvania House unanimously approved the "Revictimization Relief Act," which authorizes the censoring of public addresses of prisoners or former offenders if judges agree that allowing them to speak would cause "mental anguish" to the victim. The measure was introduced after Abu-Jamal delivered a pretaped commencement address for graduating students at Vermont’s Goddard College earlier this month. We air Abu-Jamal’s response to the bill and speak to Noelle Hanrahan, founder of Prison Radio, which has been recording and distributing Abu-Jamal’s commentaries from prison since 1992.

Former U.N. Special Rapporteur Richard Falk on the Legitimacy of Hope in the Palestinian Struggle

Democracy Now - Tue 06 31 AM

On Monday, the Israeli government made a rare appearance before the United Nations Human Rights Committee, but its delegation refused to acknowledge responsibility for the conditions in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, occupied by Israel for nearly half a century. We speak to a legal expert who has just spent six years trying to hold Israel to account for its actions in the Occupied Territories. Richard Falk recently completed his term as special rapporteur on Palestinian human rights for the United Nations Human Rights Council. His writings about the Israel-Palestine issue and his experience as U.N. rapporteur are compiled in the new book, "Palestine: The Legitimacy of Hope."

After Ignoring ISIS Assault on Kobani, U.S. Launches Major Strikes & Arms Turkey's Kurdish Foes

Democracy Now - Tue 06 15 AM

Earlier this month, Secretary of State John Kerry said the United States would not act to prevent the Islamic State from seizing Kobani because the Syrian Kurdish town was not a "strategic objective." But as news cameras on the Turkish-Syrian border showed Islamic State fighters assaulting a town in plain sight, the U.S.-led coalition responded with the most airstrikes of its Syria campaign. The U.S.-led coalition has also begun dropping air supplies of weapons and aid to the Syrian Kurds, a move it had resisted for weeks. Now Turkey says it will open its border with Syria to let Iraqi Kurdish fighters join the fight. The Turkish government had opposed aiding the Syrian Kurds in Kobani because of their links to Turkey’s longtime foe, the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, the PKK. To help us sort out this complicated picture, we are joined by longtime international law professor and former United Nations Special Rapporteur Richard Falk, who has just returned from four months in Turkey.