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Ta-Nehisi Coates on Police Brutality: "The Violence is Not New, It's the Cameras That are New"

Democracy Now - Mon 07 01 AM

Today we spend the hour with Ta-Nehisi Coates, author of an explosive new book about white supremacy and being black in America. Titled "Between the World and Me," it is written as a letter to his teenage son, Samori. In July, Ta-Nehisi Coates launched the book in his hometown of Baltimore. He spoke at the historic Union Baptist Church. "It seems like there’s a kind of national conversation going on right now about those who are paid to protect us, who sometimes end up inflicting lethal harm upon us," Coates said. "But for me, this conversation is old, and I’m sure for many of you the conversation is quite old. It’s the cameras that are new. It’s not the violence that’s new."

Chicago Hunger Strikers Enter Day 19 Challenging Rahm Emanuel's Push to Privatize Public Schools

Democracy Now - Fri 07 46 AM

In Chicago, a group of public school parents, grandmothers and education activists are entering the 19th day of a hunger strike to save Dyett High School, the only remaining open-enrollment public high school left in the community of Bronzeville. Supporters say the city neglected the school for years before announcing plans to close it. Under Rahm Emanuel, Chicago’s mayor and former Obama chief of staff, the city has closed about 50 schools in predominantly African-American and Latino neighborhoods as part of what critics say is a push to privatize education. We speak to one of the hunger strikers. Jitu Brown is the national director of the Journey for Justice Alliance, a member of the Coalition to Revitalize Dyett, and one of the lead organizers of the hunger strike.

Allan Nairn: U.S. Backers of Guatemalan Death Squads Should Be Jailed Alongside Ex-President

Democracy Now - Fri 07 32 AM

As former Guatemalan President Otto Pérez Molina is held in jail on corruption charges, investigative journalist Allan Nairn looks at how Pérez Molina could also be charged for his role in the mass killings of indigenous Guatemalans in the 1980s. In 1982, Nairn interviewed a Guatemalan general named "Tito" on camera during the height of the indigenous massacres. It turns out the man was actually Pérez Molina.

A Watershed Moment for Guatemala: Nobel Laureate Rigoberta Menchú Celebrates Jailing of Ex-President

Democracy Now - Fri 07 11 AM

In Guatemala, Otto Pérez Molina has been jailed on charges of corruption only hours after he resigned as president, bowing to massive popular protest. We speak to Mayan activist Rigoberta Menchú, who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1992. Her lawsuits helped bring former U.S.-backed dictator Efraín Ríos Montt to trial for his role in the killings of more than 1,700 Ixil Mayan people. Menchú lost her father, mother and two brothers during the Guatemalan genocide, later winning the Nobel Peace Prize for her campaigning on behalf of Guatemala’s indigenous population. Now Menchú is calling for Pérez Molina to be tried for commanding troops in the El Quiché region in the 1980s, the site of some of the worst massacres committed by the military.

As Syrian Colonel Faces Charges in Maher Arar Torture Case, Will U.S. Ever Apologize?

Democracy Now - Thu 07 39 AM

In a move to hold government officials accountable for torture, Canada has charged Syrian Colonel George Salloum with allegedly torturing Canadian engineer Maher Arar. In 2002, Arar was kidnapped by U.S. authorities during a layover at JFK Airport and then sent to his native Syria, where he was tortured and interrogated in a tiny underground cell. He was held for nearly a year. This is the first-ever criminal charge of torture brought by Canada against a foreign government official for acts committed abroad. Canada’s decision to pursue torture charges in Arar’s case may open the door to further such prosecutions, including of U.S. government officials. In 2007, Arar received a $10 million settlement from the Canadian government. The United States has yet to apologize to him. We speak with Maher Arar’s wife, Monia Mazigh, and Alex Neve, secretary general of Amnesty International Canada.

"Did God Tell You to Treat Us Like This?": Protests Grow over Clerk's Denial of Same-Sex Marriages

Democracy Now - Thu 07 19 AM

In Kentucky, the county clerk who has defied the Supreme Court and refused to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples is set to appear before a federal judge today to make her case for why she shouldn’t be held in contempt of court. Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis stopped issuing all marriage licenses rather than comply with the Supreme Court ruling in June that legalized same-sex marriage nationwide. On Monday, the Supreme Court denied Davis’ appeal that the court grant her "asylum for her conscience." The next day, same-sex couples went to Davis’ office. In a video that went viral, David Moore confronted Davis about her decision not to issue same-sex marriage licenses. We speak with Moore about how he and his partner, David Ermold, have been denied a marriage license on three occasions by Kim Davis and staffers in her office. We’re also joined by Chris Hartman, director of the Fairness Campaign, Kentucky’s statewide LGBT advocacy group, and Joe Dunman, an attorney who represented the plaintiffs and petitioners in several Kentucky marriage cases which were consolidated into the Supreme Court case that effectively made marriage equality the law of the land.

Guatemalan President Resigns in "Huge Victory" for Popular Uprising

Democracy Now - Thu 07 10 AM

After a massive public uprising, Guatemalan President Otto Pérez Molina has resigned. His resignation came just hours after a judge approved the attorney general’s arrest warrant for him. This follows the Guatemalan Legislature’s unanimous decision to strip him of immunity from prosecution, bowing to popular pressure. Prosecutors said Pérez Molina will be charged with illicit association, taking bribes and customs fraud. Attorney General Thelma Aldana said Pérez Molina was also being investigated for money laundering, which could lead to the freezing of his assets. Otto Pérez Molina’s former vice president and other government officials are facing similar charges. We speak to George Polk Award-winning journalist Allan Nairn in Guatemala City.

With a Record Backing Coups, Secret War & Genocide, Is Kissinger an Elder Statesman or War Criminal?

Democracy Now - Wed 07 40 AM

Four decades after Henry Kissinger left office, his influence on the national security state can still be widely felt, as the United States engages in declared and undeclared wars across the globe. Kissinger served as national security adviser and secretary of state in the Nixon and Ford administrations and helped revive a militarized version of American exceptionalism. We speak with Greg Grandin, author of the new book, "Kissinger’s Shadow: The Long Reach of America’s Most Controversial Statesman."

Is Guatemala's President Going to Jail? Legislature Strips Pérez Molina of Immunity After Protests

Democracy Now - Wed 07 31 AM

In Guatemala, the Legislature voted unanimously to strip President Otto Pérez Molina of immunity from prosecution, clearing the way for his arrest. The ruling echoes the decision by the country’s Supreme Court last week and makes it possible to prosecute Pérez Molina as part of a corruption investigation that has sparked protests calling for his resignation. We’re joined from Guatemala City by Allan Nairn, a longtime journalist who has covered Guatemala since the 1980s.

After Mass Hunger Strikes & Lawsuits, Prisoners Force California to Scale Back Solitary Confinement

Democracy Now - Wed 07 10 AM

In a major victory for prisoners’ rights, California has agreed to greatly reduce the use of solitary confinement as a part of a legal settlement that may have major implications in prisons nationwide. The decision on Tuesday came following years of litigation by a group of prisoners held in isolation for a decade or more at Pelican Bay State Prison, as well as prisoner hunger strikes. We speak to Dolores Canales, the co-founder of California Families to Abolish Solitary Confinement, whose son, John Martinez, has been held in solitary confinement at Pelican Bay for more than 14 years. We also speak with Jules Lobel, the lead attorney representing prisoners at Pelican Bay in the lawsuit.

"Mr. Smith Goes to Prison": After Year in Jail, Former State Senator Condemns Mass Incarceration

Democracy Now - Tue 07 41 AM

The first time Jeff Smith appeared on the national radar, he was the subject of the critically acclaimed documentary, "Can Mr. Smith Get to Washington Anymore?," which chronicled his 2004 campaign for the congressional seat of the retiring Dick Gephardt. Smith narrowly lost the race to Russ Carnahan, but his surprising performance in a crowded field of 10 made him a rising star in Missouri Democratic politics. Smith was elected state senator in 2006 and served until 2009, when he pleaded guilty to conspiracy for an election law violation tied to the 2004 campaign. Smith was sentenced to one year and a day in a Kentucky federal prison. He chronicles his experience in his new book, "Mr. Smith Goes to Prison: What My Year Behind Bars Taught Me About America’s Prison Crisis," which he calls "a scathing indictment of a system that teaches prisoners to be better criminals instead of better citizens." We speak with Smith, now an assistant professor of urban policy at The New School, about what he learned in prison and his thoughts about criminal justice reform.

Despite Global Ban, Saudi-Led Forces Kill Dozens in Yemen Using U.S.-Made Cluster Bombs

Democracy Now - Tue 07 31 AM

Human Rights Watch has accused Saudi Arabia of using U.S.-made cluster munition rockets in at least seven attacks in the Yemeni city of Hajjah between late April and mid-July. Dozens of civilians were killed or wounded, both during the attacks and later, when they picked up unexploded submunitions that detonated. Neither the United States, Saudi Arabia or Yemen have joined the global convention banning the use of cluster munitions. Kenneth Roth of Human Rights Watch criticized the U.S. stance on cluster munitions. "The U.S. thinks that cluster munitions are legitimate weapons," Roth said. "The U.S. still hasn’t signed onto the landmines treaty. So, the U.S. is very much behind the rest of the world."

The Next Not-So-Cold War: As Climate Change Heats Arctic, Nations Scramble for Control and Resources

Democracy Now - Tue 07 13 AM

President Barack Obama arrived in Alaska on Monday for a three-day tour during which he will become the first sitting U.S. president to visit the Alaska Arctic. On Monday, Obama highlighted the dangers posed by climate change in the region. "Arctic temperatures are rising about twice as fast as the global average," Obama said. "Over the past 60 years, Alaska has warmed about twice as fast as the rest of the United States." As the Arctic region warms, the geopolitical significance of the region is growing as new areas become reachable, spurring maritime traffic and oil drilling. Resources below the Arctic ice cap are worth over $17 trillion, the rough equivalent of the entire U.S. economy. According to investigative journalist James Bamford, the region has become the "crossroads of technical espionage" as the United States, Russia, Canada, Norway and Denmark battle for control of those resources. Bamford joins us to talk about his recent piece, "Frozen Assets: The Newest Front in Global Espionage is One of the Least Habitable Locales on Earth—the Arctic."

As Al Jazeera Journalists Are Jailed for 3 Years in Egypt, Will U.S. Stop "Cozying Up" to Regime?

Democracy Now - Mon 07 52 AM

In Egypt, Al Jazeera journalists Mohamed Fahmy, Baher Mohamed and Peter Greste were sentenced over the weekend to three years in jail for "spreading false news" that purportedly harmed Egypt following the 2013 military coup. Fahmy and Mohamed were taken into custody on Saturday. Greste remains free in Australia. The three had already spent more than a year in prison before being released on bail earlier this year. We speak with Democracy Now! correspondent Sharif Abdel Kouddous in Cairo and with Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch. "The U.S. should stop cozying up to General—now President—Sisi," Roth says. "He is presiding over the worst crackdown in modern Egypt history."

"Our Climate, Our Future": As Obama Visits Arctic, Alaskans Urge Him to Reverse Shell Oil Deal

Democracy Now - Mon 07 43 AM

Weeks after approving Shell’s plans to drill in Alaska, President Obama is heading to the state to warn about the dangers of climate change. "Alaska’s glaciers are melting faster, too, threatening tourism and adding to rising seas," Obama said in his weekly address. A protest is scheduled today in Anchorage to urge Obama to reverse his decision on Shell and stop all exploratory drilling in the Arctic. We speak to Richard Steiner, an Alaskan marine conservation biologist, who is speaking at the "Our Climate, Our Future" rally.

Preserving Borders vs. Preserving People: Death Toll Rises as Refugees Head to Europe Seeking Safety

Democracy Now - Mon 07 14 AM

The European Union has called for emergency talks to address the rapidly growing number of people fleeing to Europe to escape violence and unrest in Syria, Libya, Somalia, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, sub-Saharan Africa and other regions. According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, approximately 2,500 people are believed to have died or gone missing trying to reach Europe so far this year. On Sunday, 37 people died when a boat capsized off the Libyan coast. This came just days after another boat capsized off the Libyan coast killing more than 200 people. Meanwhile, investigators in Hungary and Austrian authorities are continuing to probe the deaths of 71 people who were found abandoned last week inside a truck on the main highway between Budapest and Vienna. We speak to Joel Millman of the International Organization for Migration in Geneva; Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch; and Dr. Chiara Montaldo of Doctors Without Borders in the Sicilian town of Pozzallo in Italy. She has been providing medical and psychological care to people rescued from boats in the Mediterranean.