We spend the hour today marking the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, the 2005 storm that devastated the Gulf Coast and New Orleans, killing more than 1,800 people, forcing more than a million people to evacuate. Ten years after Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans has become a different city. The population is now about 385,000—about 80 percent of its pre-Katrina population. The number of African Americans has plunged by nearly 100,000 since the storm. According to the Urban League, the income gap between black and white residents has increased 37 percent since 2005. Thousands of homes, many in African-American neighborhoods, remain abandoned. On Thursday, President Obama spoke in New Orleans, remembering what happened 10 years ago. "We came to realize that what started out as a natural disaster became a man-made disaster — a failure of government to look out for its own citizens,” Obama said. We speak to actor Wendell Pierce, Monique Harden of the New Orleans-based Advocates for Environmental Human Rights, and Gary Rivlin, author of "Katrina: After the Flood."
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We continue our coverage of the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina by speaking to Malik Rahim, co-founder of the Common Ground Collective and one of the founders of the Louisiana chapter of the Black Panther Party. In 2005, he and the Common Ground Collective helped bring thousands of people from all over the world to assist in the rebuilding of New Orleans. Just weeks after Hurricane Katrina hit the city, Malik took us around the neighborhood of Algiers, where he showed us how a corpse still remained in the street unattended, lying right around the corner from a community health center. Malik returns to Democracy Now! to talk about the storm a decade later.
Ten years after Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans has become a different city. The population of New Orleans is now approximately 385,000—about 80 percent of its pre-Katrina population. The number of African Americans has plunged by nearly 100,000 since the storm. According to the Urban League, the income gap between black and white residents has increased by 37 percent since 2005. In 2013, the median income for African-American households in New Orleans was $25,000, compared to over $60,000 for white households. Thousands of homes, many in African-American neighborhoods, remain abandoned. We speak to civil rights attorneys Tracie Washington of the Louisiana Justice Institute and Bill Quigley of Loyola University.
President Barack Obama is in New Orleans today to mark the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. According to prepared remarks, Obama will declare: "What started out as a natural disaster became a man-made one—a failure of government to look out for its own citizens." In 2005, Democracy Now! was on the ground in the days following the storm that devastated the Gulf Coast, killing more than 1,800 people and forcing more than 1 million people to evacuate. We turn now to excerpts of Democracy Now!’s coverage of Hurricane Katrina.
In Guatemala, a judge has ordered that former Vice President Roxana Baldetti must remain in prison while her corruption trial takes place. The ruling comes on the heels of the Guatemalan Supreme Court’s decision Tuesday to lift the immunity from prosecution for President Otto Pérez Molina, clearing the way for his impeachment. The court passed the impeachment recommendation along to Congress. A general strike has been called in Guatemala for today. We are joined by Allan Nairn, longtime journalist who has covered Guatemala since the 1980s.
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In his acclaimed TV show "The Wire," David Simon captured the city of Baltimore from the angles of street-level drug dealers, beat police officers and journalists covering corrupt politicians. Earlier this year, President Obama described "The Wire" as "one of the greatest, not just television shows, but pieces of art, in the last couple of decades.” Simon said he aimed to portray how "raw, unencumbered capitalism" devalues human beings. Nearly a decade ago in Slate, Jacob Weisberg wrote: "No other program has ever done anything remotely like what this one does, namely to portray the social, political, and economic life of an American city with the scope, observational precision, and moral vision of great literature."
Today we spend the hour with David Simon, the man behind "The Wire," what some have described as the best television series ever broadcast. His latest project is titled "Show Me a Hero," a six-part mini-series now airing on HBO. It looks at what happened in Yonkers, New York, in the 1980s when the city was faced with a federal court order to build a small number of low-income housing units in the white neighborhoods of his town.
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Legendary hip-hop artist Boots Riley has just published a new book, "Tell Homeland Security–We Are the Bomb," of his songs, commentaries and stories from his work with the Oakland hip-hop group The Coup and the band Street Sweeper Social Club. Riley has been deeply involved in political activism for decades, from taking part in protests against police brutality to supporting Occupy Oakland to speaking out on Palestinian issues. Last week, he joined more than 1,000 black activists, artists and scholars in signing on to a statement supporting "the liberation of Palestine’s land and people." He also describes how his his cousin, Carlos Riley, who was accused of shooting a police officer in Durham, North Carolina, in 2012 was just found not guilty of shooting the police officer.
Peace talks between South Sudan’s warring sides have failed to reach a deal to end a civil war which has claimed tens of thousands of lives in the world’s youngest nation. Last week, the United States proposed implementing a United Nations arms embargo on South Sudan and new sanctions unless the government signs a peace deal to end the conflict. Now the situation in South Sudan is the subject of a new documentary, "We Come as Friends," by Austrian director Hubert Sauper that provides an aerial view of the conflict in Sudan from a shaky, handmade two-seater plane. The film depicts American investors, Chinese oilmen, United Nations officials and Christian missionaries struggling to shape Sudan according to their own visions, while simultaneously applauding the alleged "independence" of the world’s newest state. What emerges is a devastating critique of the consequences of cultural and economic imperialism. We speak with Hauper and feature excerpts from the film, which debuts this week in theaters.
"Casino Capitalism": Economist Michael Hudson on What's Behind the Stock Market's Rollercoaster Ride
Black Monday is how economists are describing Monday’s market turmoil, which saw stock prices tumble across the globe, from China to Europe to the United States. China’s stock indices fell over 8 percent on Monday and another 7 percent today. On Wall Street, the Dow Jones Industrial Average initially fell a record 1,100 points before closing down nearly 600 points. The decline also caused oil prices to plunge to their lowest levels in almost six years. To make sense of what’s really behind the fluctuations in the market, we are joined by economist Michael Hudson, president of the Institute for the Study of Long-Term Economic Trends, a Wall Street financial analyst and author of the book, "Killing the Host: How Financial Parasites and Debt Bondage Destroy the Global Economy."
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In Guatemala, Protests Threaten to Unseat President, a U.S.-Backed General Implicated in Mass Murder
We turn now to Guatemala, where President Otto Pérez Molina is attempting to hold onto his office despite growing calls demanding for his resignation. The president has faced months of massive protests amid a multimillion-dollar corruption scandal in which importers paid bribes to Tax Authority officials to obtain discounts. Over the weekend, most of Pérez Molina’s Cabinet stepped down. The scandal has also led to the arrest of top officials, including Vice President Roxana Baldetti, who was arrested on Friday on corruption charges. On Saturday, crowds rallied outside the presidential palace chanting "Resign now!" and waving Guatemalan flags. On Sunday, the Roman Catholic Church joined in calling for the president’s resignation. Hours later, Otto Pérez Molina announced he would not resign. We go to Guatemala to speak with journalist and activist Allan Nairn about the current corruption scandal and Pérez Molina’s history as a U.S.-backed general implicated in the mass murder of indigenous Mayans during the country’s dirty war in the 1980s.
In a recent article for The Daily Beast, "Facebook Now a Place for Prisoners, Too," Sarah Shourd looked at the growing debate on prisoners using social media. Facebook has been accused of being too willing to delete profile pages of prisoners at the request of U.S. authorities. The company recently changed its policy after complaints from the Electronic Frontier Foundation and other groups.
Since her 2010 release from an Iranian prison, Sarah Shourd’s work has focused largely on exposing and condemning the cruelty and overuse of solitary confinement in U.S. prisons. She has just written a play about solitary confinement in the United States titled "Opening the Box." It was performed Thursday at an event hosted by the Fortune Society in New York City, before an audience of many who had been in solitary.
As members of Congress continue to debate the historic Iran nuclear deal ahead of next month’s vote, more attention is being paid to the three—possibly four—Americans imprisoned in Iran: Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian, Saeed Abedini, Amir Hekmati and Robert Levinson, whose whereabouts are in question. During a recent press conference, President Obama defended his decision not to tie the nuclear negotiations to the release of the hostages, saying it would have encouraged Iran to use hostages perhaps to get additional concessions from the United States. We speak to Sarah Shourd, one of the three American hikers imprisoned in Iran for more than a year in solitary confinement. She was captured, along with her two companions, Shane Bauer and Joshua Fattal, in July 2009 while hiking near the unmarked Iran-Iraq border in semi-autonomous Iraqi Kurdistan during a week-long trip from her home in Damascus, Syria.
The 2016 presidential race is shaping up to be the most expensive political race in history. Experts predict as much as $10 billion could be spent by candidates, parties and outside groups on the campaign. A recent analysis by The New York Times shows fewer than 400 families are responsible for almost half the money raised to date. The vast majority of the $388 million raised so far has been channeled to super PACs which can accept unlimited donations in support of candidates. According to the Times, the political network overseen by the conservative billionaires Charles and David Koch plans to spend close to $900 million on the 2016 campaign. That figure dwarfs how much the Republican National Committee and the party’s two congressional campaign committees spent in the 2012 election. Meanwhile, Hillary Clinton has a set a fundraising goal of $2.5 billion. Today we are joined by a law professor who is considering challenging Clinton in the Democratic primary. His platform is simple: Get money out of politics. Harvard professor Lawrence Lessig says that if he won the presidency, he would serve only as long as it takes to pass sweeping campaign finance reform. Then, he says, he would resign.