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"War Makes Everyone Crazy": Hiroshima Survivor Reflects on 69th Anniversary of U.S. Atomic Bombing

Democracy Now - Wed 07 47 AM

Sixty-nine years ago at 8:15 a.m., the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the Japanese city of Hiroshima. Destruction from the bomb was massive: Shock waves, radiation and heat rays took the lives of some 140,000 people — nearly half of the town’s population. Three days later, the United States dropped a second atomic bomb on the Japanese city of Nagasaki, killing another 74,000. At Hiroshima’s Peace Memorial Park, we hear from blast survivor Koji Hosokawa, who was 17 years old at the time. His 13-year-old sister, Yoko, died in the bombing. Hosokawa spoke to us next to the A-Bomb Dome, one of the few structures in the city that survived the blast.

Killing of U.S. General by Afghan Soldier Underscores Obama's "Deep Problems" in Winding Down War

Democracy Now - Wed 07 43 AM

A U.S. general has been killed in Afghanistan in what the Pentagon says is the latest insider attack by an Afghan soldier. Major General Harold Greene reportedly died after the soldier opened fire at a British-run military academy near the capital, Kabul. Up to 14 coalition troops were wounded. Greene was the deputy commanding general for the command involved in preparing the withdrawal of U.S.-led coalition troops at the end of the year. He is the highest-ranking U.S. officer killed in combat since the Vietnam War. We speak to Matthieu Aikens, an award-winning investigative journalist based in Kabul, Afghanistan. Aikins recently investigated possible war crimes in Afghanistan for Al Jazeera America and has previously covered insider attacks. "This kind of attack shows just how the deep the problem runs," Aikins says. "Even at the highest levels, what should have been a highly secured group of senior officers, [insider attacks] can do damage. It will certainly restrict even more the already limited contact [U.S.-led NATO forces] have with the Afghans."

Click here to watch Part 2 of this interview.

Can Israel Claim Self-Defense Against the Territory It Occupies? Int'l Jurist John Dugard Says No

Democracy Now - Wed 07 25 AM

With close to 1,900 dead from Israel’s month-long assault on Gaza, Human Rights Watch is calling on Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to seek International Criminal Court jurisdiction over potential war crimes committed on and from Palestinian territory. HRW says both Israeli forces and Palestinian militants committed war crimes. We are joined by HRW Executive Director Kenneth Roth and John Dugard, former U.N. special rapporteur on human rights in the Palestinian territories and emeritus professor of international law at the University of Leiden in the Netherlands. "Given the fact that Gaza is an occupied territory, it means that Israel’s present assault is simply a way of enforcing the continuation of the occupation," says Dugard, "and the response of the Palestinian militants should be seen as the response of an occupied people that wishes to resist the occupation."

As Palestinians Go to ICC, Human Rights Watch Alleges Israeli War Crimes for Shooting Fleeing Gazans

Democracy Now - Wed 07 10 AM

As the 72-hour ceasefire in Gaza enters its second day, Palestinian officials have been meeting with prosecutors at the International Criminal Court to push for a probe of alleged war crimes committed by Israel during the 29-day offensive that left nearly 1,900 Palestinians dead. Israel has said it attempted to avoid civilian casualties in Gaza and accused Hamas of putting its people in harm’s way by launching rockets from within densely populated districts. In a report this week, Human Rights Watch accused Israeli soldiers of shooting and killing fleeing civilians in Gaza, citing interviews with seven Palestinians in the village of Khuza’a. We air testimony from Khuza’a residents who survived the attacks, and speak to Human Rights Watch Executive Director Kenneth Roth.

New York Police Killing of Eric Garner Spurs Debate on Chokeholds & Filming Officer Misconduct

Democracy Now - Tue 07 43 AM

After a New York City medical examiner rules homicide in the death of Eric Garner at the hands of police, we look at the growing concern over the use of police chokeholds and a new attempt to hold officers accountable by defending a citizen’s right to videotape their actions. On July 17, New York City police placed Garner, an African-American father of six, in a chokehold after they confronted him for selling single cigarettes known as "loosies." Graphic video of the incident shows an officer pulling Garner to the ground by the neck and then holding his head against the pavement. He repeatedly says that he cannot breathe. Garner’s family and supporters have called for criminal charges against the officer and a federal civil rights investigation. Chokeholds like the one that killed Garner have been banned under NYPD’s excessive force guidelines for more than two decades. But today, the city’s Civilian Complaint Review Board will meet to address more than 1,000 chokehold complaints against officers in recent years. We are joined by two mothers whose sons were killed by New York City police officers: Iris Baez and Kadiatou Diallo. We also speak to civil liberties attorney Norman Siegel and his client, Debra Goodman, a retired legal secretary who filed a lawsuit against the City of New York after she was arrested for filming police in an incident last year.

Iron Dome Boondoggle: Has Obama Just Signed a $225M Check for a Defective Israeli Missile Shield?

Democracy Now - Tue 07 25 AM

President Obama signed a bill on Monday granting an additional $225 million in emergency funding for Israel to replenish its arsenal of interceptor missiles for its Iron Dome air defense system. The emergency spending was approved unanimously by the Senate and by a 395-to-8 vote in the House. Amidst universal support of Iron Dome from politicians and the corporate media, one of the country’s leading missile experts, Theodore Postol, says there is no evidence that Iron Dome is actually working. Postol is well known within defense circles for exposing the failures of the Patriot missile system during Operation Desert Storm in 1991. "I have been privy to discussions with members of Congress who have oversight responsibilities, who have acknowledged in those discussions that they have no idea whether Iron Dome is working or not," says Postol, a professor of science, technology and national security policy at MIT. "And I can also tell you that the U.S. government has not been given any information on the performance of Iron Dome."

Click here to watch Part 1 of this interview.

Gaza Ceasefire: After 1,800+ Dead, What Led Israel to Stop the Assault — and What Comes Next?

Democracy Now - Tue 07 09 AM

After a nearly month-long assault that left at least 1,865 Palestinians dead, Israel has pulled its ground forces from the Gaza Strip under the 72-hour ceasefire that went into effect earlier today. Israeli and Palestinian factions have agreed to attend talks in Cairo on a longer-term agreement. Gaza officials say the vast majority of Palestinian victims were civilians in the Israeli offensive that began on July 8. Israel says 64 of its soldiers and three civilians have been killed. Palestinians are returning to homes and neighborhoods that have seen a massive amount of destruction. Nearly a quarter of Gaza’s 1.8 million residents were displaced during the fighting which destroyed more than 3,000 homes. The ceasefire was reached after international outrage over Palestinian civilian deaths peaked, with even Israel’s chief backer, the United States, criticizing recent Israeli shelling of United Nations shelters that killed scores of displaced Palestinians. To discuss the lead-up to the ceasefire and what to expect from the talks in Cairo, we are joined by author and scholar Norman Finkelstein.

As Gaza Death Toll Tops 1,800, Dr. Mona El-Farra Mourns Loss of 9 Relatives in Israeli Strike

Democracy Now - Mon 07 54 AM

Early Friday morning, an Israeli airstrike on Khan Younis in southern Gaza killed nine members of the El-Farra family, including five children. The house was apparently hit by a rocket, causing the family and their neighbors to run onto the streets. Another rocket or missile reportedly struck the household’s members as they were fleeing. The El-Farra family are relatives of the prominent Palestinian physician Dr. Mona El-Farra, the health chair of the Palestinian Red Crescent Society of the Gaza Strip. She is also the director of Gaza projects for the Middle East Children’s Alliance. We speak to El-Farra and her niece, Laila El-Haddad, who testified about the massacre during a congressional briefing on Friday.

Likely Solution for a Lasting Ceasefire was on the Table Before Israeli Assault & Over 1,800 Dead

Democracy Now - Mon 07 41 AM

Is a lasting ceasefire in Gaza possible —- and on what terms? Our guest Nathan Thrall has laid out a possible plan for a ceasefire in his new article in the London Review of Books, "Hamas’s Chances." Thrall writes: "The obvious solution is to let the new Palestinian government return to Gaza and reconstruct it. Israel can claim it is weakening Hamas by strengthening its enemies. Hamas can claim it won the recognition of the new government and a significant lifting of the blockade. This solution would of course have been available to Israel, the U.S., Egypt and the Palestinian Authority in the weeks and months before the war began, before so many lives were shattered." Speaking to us from Jerusalem, Thrall is a senior analyst at the International Crisis Group, covering Gaza, Israel, Jordan and the West Bank. He also addresses Hamas’ accusation that Israel misled the world about the alleged capture of an Israeli soldier. On Friday, Israel said one of its soldiers, Lt. Hadar Goldin, had been captured near Rafah. His suspected abduction led to an Israeli offensive in Rafah that killed more than 100 people and the collapse of a U.S.— and U.N.-brokered ceasefire.

"Disgraceful," "Criminal Act": Israel Condemned as 10 Die in Another Strike on U.N. Shelter in Gaza

Democracy Now - Mon 07 25 AM

The United States and the United Nations have condemned Israel after an airstrike killed 10 people near the entrance of a United Nations school sheltering Palestinian civilians. The school was reportedly being used as a shelter for about 3,000 people. It was the second attack on a U.N. school in less than a week, and the seventh over the course of Israel’s offensive in Gaza. The coordinates of the school were reportedly communicated to the Israel Defense Force no fewer than 33 times, the last time just an hour before the shelling. Shortly after Sunday’s attack, the State Department issued a statement saying: "The United States is appalled by today’s disgraceful shelling outside an UNRWA school." U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon characterized the attack as "a moral outrage and a criminal act." We get an update from Christopher Gunness, spokesperson for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA).

"Everything That Moves in Rafah is a Target": Israel Continues Shelling of Gaza During Short "Pause"

Democracy Now - Mon 07 12 AM

The Palestinian death toll in Gaza has topped 1,800 as the Israeli offensive enters its 28th day. On Sunday, at least 10 people died when Israel shelled another United Nations school sheltering Palestinian civilians. The United States has called the attack "disgraceful," while U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon condemned it as a "moral outrage and a criminal act." It was the seventh U.N. school hit since Israel’s offensive began. The United Nations, meanwhile, is warning of a "rapidly unfolding" health crisis in Gaza as large parts of the territory remain without power or running water, and around 400,000 are displaced. More than 200 Palestinians have been killed since a 72-hour ceasefire collapsed on Friday. Over the weekend, the Israeli government admitted that a soldier it had reported as captured was actually killed in battle. Earlier today, Israel announced a unilateral seven-hour truce in most of the Gaza Strip, except for Rafah. Palestinians have already accused Israel of breaking its own ceasefire by launching deadly attack on the Shati refugee camp. We go to Gaza City to speak with Mohammed Omer, an award-winning Palestinian journalist who has family in Rafah.

John Brennan Faces Calls to Resign After CIA Admits to Spying on Senate Torture Probe

Democracy Now - Fri 07 50 AM

Central Intelligence Agency Director John Brennan is facing calls to resign after admitting CIA officials spied on a Senate panel probing the agency’s torture and rendition program. The allegation surfaced in March when members of the Senate Intelligence Committee openly accused CIA officials of illegally monitoring their staffers’ computers. The Senate report has yet to be released but reportedly documents extensive abuses and a cover-up by CIA officials to Congress. At the time, Brennan denied the spying allegations and said those who make them will be proved wrong. But he reversed his stance this week after an internal CIA inquiry found the spying indeed took place with the involvement of 10 agency employees. Brennan apologized to lawmakers in a briefing earlier this week. The White House is standing by Brennan, citing President Obama’s "great confidence" in his leadership. But at least two members of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Democrats Mark Udall of Colorado and Martin Heinrich of New Mexico, are calling for his resignation. We speak with the reporter who first broke the news of the CIA’s admission to spying on Senate computers: Jonathan Landay, senior national security and intelligence correspondent for McClatchy Newspapers.

Amnesty International: U.S. Should Stop Arming Israel Amid "Growing Evidence of War Crimes in Gaza"

Democracy Now - Fri 07 43 AM

On the same day Israeli forces killed 20 Palestinians at a U.N. school this week, the U.S. confirmed it had provided Israel with fresh supplies of munitions, including mortar rounds for tanks and ammo for grenade launchers. Now, one of the nation’s leading human rights organizations has called on the United States to stop arms transfers to Israel amid "growing evidence of war crimes in Gaza." On Thursday, Amnesty International said the U.S. government must immediately end its ongoing deliveries of large quantities of arms to Israel, which are providing the tools to commit further serious violations of international law in Gaza. Amnesty’s call comes as the United Nations’ top human rights official has also criticized the United States. "They have not only provided the heavy weaponry which is now being used by Israel in Gaza, but they’ve also provided almost $1 billion in providing the Iron Domes to protect Israelis from the rockets attacks, but no such protection has been provided to Gazans against the shelling," said Navi Pillay, U.N. human rights high commissioner. "So I am reminding United States that it’s a party to international humanitarian law and human rights law." The United States is the largest exporter of military equipment to Israel, by far. According to data made public by the U.S. government, its arms transfers to Israel from January to May 2014 included nearly $27 million for "rocket launchers," $9.3 million worth in "parts of guided missiles" and nearly $762,000 for "bombs, grenades and munitions of war." We speak to Sunjeev Bery, director of Middle East/North Africa advocacy at Amnesty International USA.

Recipe for Lasting Ceasefire? Lifting Israeli Siege & Int'l Accountability Could Break Status Quo

Democracy Now - Fri 07 34 AM

The Gaza Health Ministry now says at least 50 Palestinians have been killed today in Gaza following the collapse of a U.S.- and U.N.-backed ceasefire. Hamas and Israel are blaming each other for violating the truce. Israel has launched a major operation to rescue a soldier captured earlier today. The Israeli Defense Forces just identified the soldier as Second Lieutenant Hadar Goldin. Hamas says the soldier was captured before the ceasefire began. The 72-hour ceasefire announced Thursday was supposed to bring Israeli and Palestinian representatives together in Cairo, but the outbreak of violence puts those talks in jeopardy. We speak with Yousef Munayyer, executive director of the Jerusalem Fund and its educational program, the Palestine Center. "We cannot go back to a status quo where a ceasefire ends rocket fire from the Gaza Strip but does not end the system of violence that is the siege … enforced through the regular use of Israeli fire," Munayyer says. "You cannot call it a ceasefire while that system of violence still exists."

Gazan Human Rights Lawyer Pleads to U.S.: We Deserve to be Protected, Not Bombed with Your Weapons

Democracy Now - Fri 07 21 AM

As new violence breaks out in Gaza following the collapse of a 72-hour ceasefire, the Palestinian death toll has now reached at least 1,460, mostly civilians, surpassing the number of Palestinians killed during Operation Cast Lead nearly six years ago. Sixty-four Israeli soldiers have been killed, in addition to three civilians inside Israel. We are joined from Gaza City by Raji Sourani, one of the top advocates for Palestinian human rights in the Occupied Territories. The director of the Palestinian Center for Human Rights in Gaza, Sourani serves on the executive board of the International Federation for Human Rights. He is a past winner of the Right Livelihood Award and the Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Award.

As Gaza Ceasefire Collapses, Israel Kills Dozens Following Soldier's Capture in Rafah

Democracy Now - Fri 07 10 AM

The ceasefire in Gaza has collapsed just hours after it began, with more than 40 Palestinians killed and the capture of an Israeli soldier. Israeli tanks reportedly opened fire in the southern Rafah area just hours after the 72-hour ceasefire began. Israel is claiming Hamas first broke the ceasefire by firing rockets from southern Gaza. Meanwhile, the Israeli military has launched a major effort to locate a soldier they say was captured near Rafah. The Israeli military says the soldier was captured when Israeli forces attempting to destroy a tunnel were attacked by militants, including a suicide bomber. Talks had been scheduled for this weekend in Cairo but are now in limbo. We are joined from Gaza by two guests: Raji Sourani, director of the Palestinian Center for Human Rights, and Mohammed Omer, an award-winning Palestinian journalist and Rafah resident.