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- Texas Blues Radio Living Blues radio poll report, April 1, 2016
We are broadcasting live from Denver, Colorado, where in 2012 the state voted to legalize the recreational use of marijuana. Now 23 states and the District of Columbia have legalized marijuana for either medical or recreational use, and the cannabis industry is one of the fastest growing in the United States. But some have questioned who stands to cash in on the billions being generated by cannabis sales. Michelle Alexander, the best-selling author of "The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness," addressed the issue in a conversation with the Drug Policy Alliance, saying, "Here are white men poised to run big marijuana businesses, dreaming of cashing in big—big money, big businesses selling weed—after 40 years of impoverished black kids getting prison time for selling weed, and their families and futures destroyed. Now, white men are planning to get rich doing precisely the same thing." We speak now to Wanda James, CEO of the Denver-based cannabis dispensary Simply Pure. She is the first African-American woman in Colorado to own a cannabis dispensary. She was inspired to start a dispensary by the experiences of her brother, who at 17 was locked up on a petty drug charge—and forced to pick cotton in Texas for four years to earn his freedom.
The world is mourning the loss of the hugely acclaimed and influential musical sensation Prince. He died Thursday at his home in Minnesota at the age of 57. His work spanned funk, rock and jazz, and he recorded and distributed it on his own terms, once writing "slave" on his cheek to protest his treatment by Warner Bros. "When I think back on the work and the writing I’ve done around race and gender and identity to this time, I realize seeing Prince was one of the first times I saw someone who refused to live in a binary," says Steven Thrasher, whose new piece is entitled "Prince broke all the rules about what black American men should be." "When he named himself the artist formerly known as Prince, or, rather, used that symbol, he was really refusing to play by the game that society had put forth for him." We also speak with Winston Grady-Willis, a lifelong fan of Prince and professor and chair of Africana Studies at Metropolitan State University of Denver.
On Wednesday, U.S. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew has announced that new $20 bills will feature Harriet Tubman on the front, replacing former president and slave owner Andrew Jackson. The move comes after more than a half a million people voted for Tubman to replace Jackson. But in fact, Jackson will not be removed entirely, simply moved to the back of the bill. Some have criticized the idea that Harriet Tubman should represent U.S. currency at all. In a 2015 essay that went viral again yesterday, writer Feminista Jones wrote: "If having Harriet Tubman’s face on the $20 bill was going to improve women’s access to said bill, I’d be all for it. But instead, it only promises to distort Tubman’s legacy ... [which] is rooted in resisting the foundation of American capitalism." For more, we speak with Steven Thrasher, a weekly columnist for the Guardian US, where he wrote a piece headlined "To put Harriet Tubman on the $20 bill would be an insult to her legacy." And we speak also with Winston Grady-Willis, professor and chair of Africana Studies at Metropolitan State University of Denver.
- World Mourns the Death of Music Legend Prince
- On Earth Day, Heads of State Sign Paris Climate Deal
- Great Barrier Reef More Than 90% Bleached
- Mexico: Pemex Raises Death Toll from Explosion to 24
- Mexico: President Proposes Legalizing Medical Marijuana
- U.S. Suicide Rates Hit 30-Year High
- New York City: Election Board Clerk Suspended over Voting Fiasco
- Head of Syrian Rescue Group Denied Entry to U.S. to Receive Award
- U.K. Issues Travel Warning to LGBT Travelers Headed to NC and Miss.
- FBI Director: Agency Paid $1.3 Million to Crack iPhone
- Vigils Mark 1st Anniversary of Death of Man Killed by Prison Guards
As Saudis Continue Deadly Bombing of Yemen, Is Obama Trading Cluster Munitions for Riyadh's Loyalty?
President Obama’s fourth visit to Saudi Arabia for a meeting with leaders of the Gulf Cooperation Council comes as human rights organizations have been pressing Congress to block arms sales to the kingdom in the wake of Saudi-led coalition strikes in Yemen. The United Nations estimates more than 3,000 civilians have been killed since the Saudi bombing campaign began last March. We speak with William Hartung, senior adviser to the Security Assistance Monitor, who recently wrote in The New York Times that "Obama Shouldn’t Trade Cluster Bombs for Saudi Arabia’s Friendship." Hartung is also the director of the Arms and Security Project at the Center for International Policy. His latest book is called "Prophets of War: Lockheed Martin and the Making of the Military-Industrial Complex."
The first criminal charges have been filed in the ongoing Flint water contamination crisis that exposed nearly 100,000 residents to poisonous levels of lead. Two state employees have been charged with misleading the U.S. government about the problem: Michigan Department of Environmental Quality employees Stephen Busch and Michael Prysby. Meanwhile, a Flint employee, Michael Glasgow, is charged with altering water test results. The charges come as Michigan’s Republican Governor Rick Snyder said he has not been questioned by prosecutors in connection with the crisis. Protesters have called for Governor Snyder to resign over his handling of the Flint water crisis, which began when the city’s unelected emergency manager, appointed by Governor Snyder, switched the source of the city’s drinking water from the Detroit system to the corrosive Flint River, and the water corroded Flint’s aging pipes, causing lead to leach into the drinking water. We get reaction from Curt Guyette, an investigative reporter for the ACLU of Michigan who helped bring the crisis to light. His work focuses on emergency management and open government. Guyette just won the 2016 Hillman Prize for Web Journalism as well as the Aronson Award for Outstanding Pioneering Reporting.
A New York City police officer who killed an unarmed African-American man will serve no time in jail. Officer Peter Liang, who is Chinese-American, fatally shot Akai Gurley in the darkened stairwell of a Brooklyn housing project. In February, a jury convicted Liang of manslaughter and official misconduct, but the judge made the rare decision to reduce the verdict to criminally negligent homicide. The case has sparked a debate within the Asian-American community as some say Liang was scapegoated because of his race. We host a heated discussion with Gurley’s aunt, Hertencia Petersen; Cathy Dang, executive director of CAAAV Organizing Asian Communities, which has supported Akai Gurley’s family; and John Liu, the former New York City comptroller who supports Officer Liang.
- Flint: 3 Officials Charged in Flint Water Crisis Investigation
- Harriet Tubman to Share New $20 Bill with Andrew Jackson
- Louisiana: 5 Cops Plead Guilty to 2005 Post-Katrina Killings
- Senate Passes Energy Bill with Concessions to Fossil Fuel Companies
- Volkswagen Heads to Court Today over Emissions Cheating Scandal
- Washington: Nuclear Waste Leaking at Storage Site
- Mexico: Explosion at Chemical Facility Kills 3
- Air Force Increasingly Relying on Drones in Afghanistan
- "Liberation Seder" Protests in NYC, Boston, Chicago, D.C. and SF
- NYC Residents Protest Brooklyn Board of Elections
- #OccupyINAC: First Nations Protests Sweep Across Canada
Is the U.S. Backing Rousseff's Ouster in Brazil? Opposition Holds Talks in D.C. as Obama Stays Quiet
On Sunday, Brazil’s lower house of Congress voted 367 to 137 to start impeachment proceedings against President Dilma Rousseff. Early next month, Brazil’s Senate will vote on whether to put Rousseff on trial on allegations of manipulating budget accounts. On Tuesday, Rousseff said attempts to impeach her constituted a "coup" and an "original sin." Brazil has been engulfed in a major corruption scandal, but Dilma Rousseff herself has not been accused of any financial impropriety. However, 318 members of the Brazilian Congress, including many who backed her impeachment, are under investigation or face charges. Leading the impeachment process has been Brazil’s Speaker of the House Eduardo Cunha, who has been accused of squirreling away $5 million into Swiss bank accounts.
Meanwhile, The Intercept is reporting a key Brazilian opposition leader has traveled to Washington, D.C., to partake in closed-door meetings with various U.S. officials and lobbyists. Sen. Aloysio Nunes of Brazil’s center-right PSDB party reportedly is meeting with the chair and ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Republican Bob Corker of Tennessee, and others to discuss the situation in Brazil. He also apparently attended a luncheon hosted by the Washington lobbying firm Albright Stonebridge Group, headed by former Clinton Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and Kellogg Company CEO Carlos Gutierrez. We speak to The Intercept’s Andrew Fishman in Brazil and economist Mark Weisbrot, co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research.
Tuesday’s voting in the New York primary was marked by chaos, particularly in Brooklyn, as tens of thousands of voters found their names had been removed from the polling rolls or that they were unable to vote at their polling station. The New York City Elections Board has confirmed that more than 125,000 Brooklyn voters had been removed from the voter rolls since November 2015. There were also reports that polling staff were unable to operate voting machines, gave out conflicting information and erroneously directed voters to alternate sites. In a statement, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said, "It has been reported to us from voters and voting rights monitors that the voting lists in Brooklyn contain numerous errors, including the purging of entire buildings and blocks of voters from the voting lists." We speak to Kristen Clarke, president and executive director of the national Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law.
On Tuesday, Republican Donald Trump and Democrat Hillary Clinton each scored decisive victories in New York, moving both candidates closer to becoming their respective parties’ presidential nominees. In the Republican race, Trump is poised to win 89 of the 95 delegates up for grabs. In the Democratic race, former New York Senator Hillary Clinton beat Senator Bernie Sanders by a margin of 58 to 42 percent. Sanders won the majority of counties in the state, but Clinton won big in the metropolitan New York area. We speak to former Manhattan Borough President Virginia Fields and economist Mark Weisbrot of the Center for Economic and Policy Research.
- Trump and Clinton Win New York Primary, Amid Voter "Irregularities"
- NYPD Officer Who Killed Akai Gurley Will Serve No Jail Time
- Syria: Regime Airstrikes Kill 40; Partial Ceasefire Collapses
- Obama and Defense Secretary Carter Visit Saudi Arabia
- Justice Dept. to Investigate Tax Avoidance, Following Panama Papers
- Michigan AG to Announce Criminal Charges over Flint Water Crisis
- Detroit Artists Face 4 Years Prison over "Free the Water" Graffiti
- Virginia Court Rules Trans Student Has Right to Use Men's Bathroom
- Man Sentenced to 12 Years for Killing Trans Woman Islan Nettles
- Argentina: Thousands March in Protest of Macri's Economic Reforms
- Non-Tenured Professors at U. of Illinois Launch Two-Day Strike
- Columbia Students Occupy Library, Demanding Fossil Fuel Divestment
Utah State Senator Jim Dabakis is part of a group of people seeking to buy The Salt Lake Tribune in order to prevent the Mormon Church from taking control of the major independent newspaper. "For many years, since the ‘50s, The Salt Lake Tribune has been the big, independent, progressive voice and the Mormon Church had the Deseret News," Dabakis says. "We’re in the position now where it looks like The Salt Lake Tribune will be a daily or once-a-week supplement inside the [Deseret News] without an independent voice, and there will be one voice in our community, and it will be the voice of the Mormon Church."
As North Carolina and Mississippi have passed sweeping anti-LGBT laws, with similar measures under consideration elsewhere, we look at a landmark law Utah passed last year that goes the other way. You might not expect it of one of the reddest states in the nation, but last year Utah was the only state to advance statewide nondiscrimination protections for LGBT people. Backed by the Mormon Church and passed with a Republican supermajority, the new law, dubbed "the Utah compromise," sought to protect LGBT people from housing and employment discrimination. We speak with two people who played a key role in the law’s passage: Utah Democratic State Senator Jim Dabakis, the only openly gay member of the Utah Legislature, and Troy Williams, executive director of Equality Utah.
Voters head to the polls today in New York for both the Democratic and Republican primary in one of the most closely watched races of the election. But millions of New Yorkers won’t be able to vote, thanks to the state’s restrictive voting laws. The state has no early voting, no Election Day registration, and excuse-only absentee balloting. The voter registration deadline for the primary closed 25 days ago, before any candidate had even campaigned in New York. Meanwhile, independent or unaffiliated voters had to change their party registrations back in October—over 190 days ago—to vote in today’s closed Democratic or Republican primaries. Meanwhile, WNYC is reporting there are 60,000 fewer registered Democrats in Brooklyn and no clear reason why. This comes as a group of New Yorkers who saw their party affiliations mysteriously switched filed a lawsuit seeking to open the state’s closed primary so that they can cast a ballot. We speak to The Nation’s Ari Berman, author of "Give Us the Ballot: The Modern Struggle for Voting Rights in America."
On Monday, the 100th Pulitzer Prizes were announced, and Puerto Rican composer, director and actor Lin-Manuel Miranda won the Pulitzer for best drama for the Broadway musical hit “Hamilton,” a retelling of the story of Alexander Hamilton that features all actors of color. We get reaction from Representative Luis Gutiérrez (D-IL).
Last week, Oklahoma Senator Jim Inhofe proposed reopening a U.S. military base in Puerto Rico as Congress considers legislation to address Puerto Rico’s debt crisis. For decades, Puerto Rico was host to a slew of U.S. military bases, where the Navy conducted bombing practices and war games, dumped old munitions, leading to lasting environmental damage, and napalmed the island. We speak with Rep. Luis Gutiérrez (D-IL), who has been arrested protesting the U.S. military bases.
Journalist and immigrant rights activist Jose Antonio Vargas was also in the Supreme Court during Monday’s oral arguments in the case, United States v. Texas. The case pits the Obama administration against 26 states which filed suit to block Obama’s action to protect more than 4 million undocumented immigrants from deportation. The Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist famously came out of the shadows in 2011 in The New York Times Magazine with his story, "My Life as an Undocumented Immigrant."
The Supreme Court heard arguments Monday in what’s being called the most significant immigration case in decades. The case pits the Obama administration against 26 states led by Texas. The states filed suit to block Obama’s program DAPA, Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents, which would protect more than 4 million undocumented immigrants from deportation. Following the death of Antonin Scalia, the court is divided with four liberal justices and four conservatives. A 4-4 split would leave in place a 2015 lower court ruling that threw out the president’s executive action. We speak to Rep. Luis Gutiérrez (D-IL), chair of the Immigration Task Force of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus.
- New York Voters Head to Polls Today in Closely Watched Primary
- #DemocracyAwakening: 300 Arrested in D.C. to Protest Money in Politics
- Hundreds of Refugees Feared Dead After Boat Capsizes in Mediterranean
- Syrian Opposition Quits Peace Talks Amid Assad's Ceasefire Violations
- Afghanistan: Taliban Attack in Kabul Kills 28
- Ecuador: Death Toll from Earthquake Rises to 413
- Texas Gov. Declares State of Emergency Amid Unprecedented Flooding
- Israeli Police Say 21 Injured in Bomb Explosion on Jerusalem Bus
- L.A. Public School Opens District's First Gender-Neutral Bathroom
- Maryland: Black Trans Woman Keyonna Blakeney Murdered
- Chicago: Father Takes Sanctuary in Church to Protect from Deportation
- Baltimore Youth Wins Goldman Environmental Prize
- Pulitzer Prize Awarded to AP Investigation "Seafood from Slaves"