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Chokwe Lumumba: Remembering "America's Most Revolutionary Mayor"

Democracy Now - Wed 08 09 AM

In Mississippi, the city of Jackson is grieving today following the sudden death of Mayor Chokwe Lumumba, less than a year after he was elected. He suffered from heart failure on Tuesday. A longtime black nationalist organizer and attorney, Lumumba had been described as "America’s most revolutionary mayor." Working with the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement, Lumumba advocated for participatory democracy and the creation of new worker-run cooperatives in Jackson. Over the past four decades, Lumumba was deeply involved in numerous political and legal campaigns. As an attorney, his clients have included former Black Panther Assata Shakur and the late hip-hop artist Tupac Shakur. As a political organizer, Lumumba served for years as vice president of the Republic of New Afrika, an organization which advocated for "an independent predominantly black government" in the southeastern United States and reparations for slavery. He also helped found the National Black Human Rights Coalition and the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement. We air our June 2013 interview with the then-newly elected Jackson mayor and speak to several of his close associates.

Chokwe Lumumba: Remembering "America's Most Revolutionary Mayor"

Democracy Now - Wed 08 09 AM

In Mississippi, the city of Jackson is grieving today following the sudden death of Mayor Chokwe Lumumba, less than a year after he was elected. He suffered from heart failure on Tuesday. A longtime black nationalist organizer and attorney, Lumumba had been described as "America’s most revolutionary mayor." Working with the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement, Lumumba advocated for participatory democracy and the creation of new worker-run cooperatives in Jackson. Over the past four decades, Lumumba was deeply involved in numerous political and legal campaigns. As an attorney, his clients have included former Black Panther Assata Shakur and the late hip-hop artist Tupac Shakur. As a political organizer, Lumumba served for years as vice president of the Republic of New Afrika, an organization which advocated for "an independent predominantly black government" in the southeastern United States and reparations for slavery. He also helped found the National Black Human Rights Coalition and the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement. We air our June 2013 interview with the then-newly elected Jackson mayor and speak to several of his close associates.

Spies of Mississippi: New Film on the State-Sponsored Campaign to Defeat the Civil Rights Movement

Democracy Now - Tue 08 37 AM

A new documentary reveals how the Mississippi state government spied on civil rights activists in the 1950s and 1960s. A little-known state agency called the Mississippi Sovereignty Commission hired spies to infiltrate the civil rights movement and squash attempts to desegregate the state and register African Americans to vote. Some of the spies were themselves African-American. The Commission generated more than 160,000 pages of reports, many of which were shared with local police departments whose officers belonged to the Ku Klux Klan. The film, "Spies of Mississippi," also looks at how some of those reports contributed to the 1964 deaths of Freedom Summer activists James Chaney, Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner 50 years ago. For more, we speak with Jerry Mitchell, an investigative journalist for the Jackson Clarion-Ledger. He won the release of more than 2,400 pages of Commission records in 1989, and used those to reopen many cold cases from the civil rights era. His work helped lead to the 1994 conviction of the killer of Mississippi NAACP leader Medgar Evers and paved the way for 23 more convictions. We are also joined by Dawn Porter, the award-winning producer and director of "Spies of Mississippi," which is now streaming online at PBS Independent Lens.

Exclusive: Inside the Army Spy Ring & Attempted Entrapment of Peace Activists, Iraq Vets, Anarchists

Democracy Now - Tue 08 10 AM

More details have come to light showing how the U.S. military infiltrated and spied on a community of antiwar activists in the state of Washington. Democracy Now! first broke this story in 2009 when it was revealed that an active member of Students for a Democratic Society and Port Militarization Resistance was actually an informant for the U.S. military. The man everyone knew as "John Jacob" was in fact John Towery, a member of the Force Protection Service at Fort Lewis. He also spied on the Industrial Workers of the World and Iraq Veterans Against the War. A newly made public email written by Towery reveals the Army informant was building a multi-agency spying apparatus. The email was sent from Towery using his military account to the FBI, as well as the police departments in Los Angeles, Portland, Eugene, Everett and Spokane. He wrote, "I thought it would be a good idea to develop a leftist/anarchist mini-group for intel sharing and distro." Meanwhile, evidence has also emerged that the Army informant attempted to entrap at least one peace activist, Glenn Crespo, by attempting to persuade him to purchase guns and learn to shoot. We speak to Crespo and his attorney Larry Hildes, who represents all the activists in the case.

"The Paragraph Began to Self-Delete": Did NSA Hack Computer of Snowden Biographer & Edit Book Draft?

Democracy Now - Mon 08 48 AM

Is the National Security Agency breaking into computers and tampering with unpublished manuscripts? Award-winning Guardian journalist Luke Harding says paragraphs of his writing mysteriously disappeared when he was working on his latest book, "The Snowden Files: The Inside Story of the World’s Most Wanted Man." "I wrote that Snowden’s revelations had damaged U.S. tech companies and their bottom line. Something odd happened," wrote Harding in The Guardian. "The paragraph I had just written began to self-delete. The cursor moved rapidly from the left, gobbling text. I watched my words vanish." Harding joins us to talk about the computer monitoring and other times he believes he was being tracked.

A Coup or a Revolution? Ukraine Seeks Arrest of Ousted President Following Deadly Street Protests

Democracy Now - Mon 08 13 AM

Ukraine is in a state of crisis two days after the country’s democratically elected president was ousted following months of street protests that left at least 82 people dead. On Saturday, Ukraine’s Parliament voted to remove President Viktor Yanukovych, a move Yanukovych described as a coup. Earlier today, Ukraine’s new leaders announced the ousted president was wanted for mass murder of peaceful protesters. Russia condemned the move to oust Yanukovych and recalled its ambassador to Ukraine. Meanwhile, Europe has embraced the new government. European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton is traveling to Ukraine today to discuss measures to shore up Ukraine’s ailing economy. One of Yanukovych’s main rivals, former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, was released from custody. We speak to Timothy Snyder, professor of history at Yale University. His latest article for The New York Review of Books is "Fascism, Russia, and Ukraine." We also speak to University of Rhode Island professor Nicolai Petro, who is in Odessa, Ukraine.

The Shadow Lobbying Complex: How Corporations Are Hiding Vast Influence Peddling Efforts

Democracy Now - Fri 08 49 AM

A new exposé in The Nation magazine reveals that much of the lobbying money spent on shaping policy in Washington is going unreported. For the third straight year, the official amount spent by lobbyists has declined, and the number of registered lobbyists is the lowest it’s been in more than a decade. But these numbers are misleading, says reporter Lee Fang, author of the "The Shadow Lobbying Complex: On paper, influence peddling has declined. In reality, it has gone underground."

Silencing the Scientist: Tyrone Hayes on Being Targeted by Herbicide Firm Syngenta

Democracy Now - Fri 08 30 AM

We speak with scientist Tyrone Hayes of the University of California, Berkeley, who discovered a widely used herbicide may have harmful effects on the endocrine system. But when he tried to publish the results, the chemical’s manufacturer launched a campaign to discredit his work. Hayes was first hired in 1997 by a company, which later became agribusiness giant Syngenta, to study their product, atrazine, a pesticide that is applied to more than half the corn crops in the United States, and widely used on golf courses and Christmas tree farms. When Hayes found results Syngenta did not expect — that atrazine causes sexual abnormalities in frogs, and could cause the same problems for humans — it refused to allow him to publish his findings. A new article in The New Yorker magazine uses court documents from a class action lawsuit against Syngenta to show how it sought to smear Hayes’ reputation and prevent the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency from banning the profitable chemical, which is already banned by the European Union.

Turning a Wedding Into a Funeral: U.S. Drone Strike in Yemen Killed as Many as 12 Civilians

Democracy Now - Fri 08 11 AM

Human Rights Watch has revealed as many as 12 civilians were killed in December when a U.S. drone targeted vehicles that were part of a wedding procession going toward the groom’s village outside the central Yemeni city of Rad’a. According to HRW, "some, if not all those killed and wounded were civilians" and not members of the armed group al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula as U.S. and Yemeni government officials initially claimed. The report concluded that the attack killed 12 men, between the ages of 20 and 65, and wounded 15 others. It cites accounts from survivors, relatives of the dead, local officials and news media reports. We speak to Human Rights Watch researcher Letta Tayler, who wrote the report, "A Wedding That Became a Funeral: US Drone Attack on Marriage Procession in Yemen," and Jeremy Scahill, co-founder of the TheIntercept.org, a new digital magazine published by First Look Media. He is the producer and writer of the documentary film, "Dirty Wars: The World is a Battlefield," which is nominated for an Academy Award.

Democracy Now! Celebrates 18 Years On Air

Democracy Now - Thu 08 54 AM

Eighteen years ago, on February 19, 1996, Democracy Now! aired for the first time. We began as a daily election-year show on Pacifica Radio and a handful of community radio stations. Democracy Now! was supposed to stay on the air for nine months. However, 18 years later, we are now a TV, radio and Internet news hour that millions of people worldwide rely on every day. We air a clip of that first episode before co-hosts Amy Goodman and Juan González are surprised with a birthday cake live on-air.

To celebrate our 18th birthday, we are asking our listeners and viewers to submit a photo or video that describes why Democracy Now! is important to you, starting with "I need Democracy Now! because…" Take a picture of yourself holding a sign or shoot a 30-second or shorter video telling us your name, where you live and why you tune in to Democracy Now! Click here to submit your photo or video. We’ll highlight our favorites online, live on air, or on our social media networks.

Excessive Force? Migrant Shot Dead by U.S. Border Agent Near San Diego After Throwing Rock

Democracy Now - Thu 08 48 AM

While the United States, Mexico and Canada held a major summit in Mexico on Wednesday, U.S. border policies are back in the spotlight after a U.S. Border Patrol agent shot and killed a man near San Diego, California, on Tuesday. Officials said the agent was pursuing a group of people suspected of crossing the border from Mexico. When a man threw a rock at him, the agent opened fire and killed him. The agent suffered minor injuries and declined hospital care. The Department of Homeland Security’s inspector general recently found U.S. border agents have been involved in 20 fatalities since 2010, eight of which — that’s nearly half — involved rock throwing. For more, we’re joined by John Carlos Frey, an investigative reporter who has long reported on immigration, and more recently on killings of migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border.

Venezuelan Protests: Another Attempt by U.S.-Backed Right-Wing Groups to Oust Elected Government?

Democracy Now - Thu 08 37 AM

In Venezuela, at least six people have died in recent days during a series of anti-government protests. The latest casualty was a local beauty queen who died of a gunshot wound. The protests come less than a year after the death of Hugo Chávez and present the biggest challenge to Venezuela’s new president, Nicolás Maduro. Earlier this week, right-wing opposition leader Leopoldo López turned himself in to the National Guard after authorities issued a warrant for his arrest last week, accusing him of inciting deadly clashes. On Monday, Maduro ordered the expulsion of three U.S. consular officials while claiming the United States has sided with the opposition. Our guest, George Ciccariello-Maher, looks at the recent history of the U.S. role in Venezuela opposing both the Chávez and Maduro governments. He is author of "We Created Chávez: A People’s History of the Venezuelan Revolution" and teaches political science at Drexel University in Philadelphia.

A New Cold War? Ukraine Violence Escalates, Leaked Tape Suggests U.S. Was Plotting Coup

Democracy Now - Thu 08 11 AM

A short-lived truce has broken down in Ukraine as street battles have erupted between anti-government protesters and police. Last night the country’s embattled president and the opposition leaders demanding his resignation called for a truce and negotiations to try to resolve Ukraine’s political crisis. But hours later, armed protesters attempted to retake Independence Square, sparking another day of deadly violence. At least 50 people have died since Tuesday in the bloodiest period of Ukraine’s 22-year post-Soviet history. While President Obama has vowed to "continue to engage all sides," a recently leaked audio recording between two top U.S. officials reveal the Obama administration has been secretly plotting with the opposition. We speak to Stephen Cohen, professor emeritus of Russian studies and politics at New York University and Princeton University. His most recent book, "Soviet Fates and Lost Alternatives: From Stalinism to the New Cold War," is out in paperback. His latest Nation article is "Distorting Russia: How the American Media Misrepresent Putin, Sochi and Ukraine."

"Black Trans Bodies Are Under Attack": Freed Activist CeCe McDonald, Actress Laverne Cox Speak Out

Democracy Now - Wed 08 12 AM

After serving 19 months in prison, the African-American transgender activist CeCe McDonald is free. She was arrested after using deadly force to protect herself from a group of people who attacked her on the streets of Minneapolis. Her case helped turn a national spotlight on the violence and discrimination faced by transgender women of color. In 2011, McDonald and two friends were walking past a Minneapolis bar when they were reportedly accosted with homophobic, transphobic and racist slurs. McDonald was hit with a bar glass that cut open her face, requiring 11 stitches. A brawl ensued, and one of the people who had confronted McDonald and her friends, 47-year-old Dean Schmitz, was killed. Facing up to 80 years in prison for his death, McDonald took a plea deal that sentenced her to 41 months. In the eyes of her supporters, CeCe McDonald was jailed for defending herself against the bigotry and violence that transgender people so often face and that is so rarely punished. At the time of the attack, the murder rate for gay and transgender people in this country was at an all-time high. The National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs documented 30 hate-related murders of LGBT people in 2011; 40 percent of the victims were transgender women of color. Transgender teens have higher rates of homelessness, and nearly half of all African-American transgender people — 47 percent — have been incarcerated at some point.

McDonald joins us on her first trip to New York City. We are also joined by one of her supporters, Laverne Cox, a transgender actress, producer and activist who stars in the popular Netflix show, "Orange is the New Black." She plays Sophia Burset, a transgender woman in prison for using credit card fraud to finance her transition. She is producing a documentary about McDonald called "Free CeCe." We also speak to Alisha Williams, staff attorney with the Sylvia Rivera Law Project.

"I very easily could have been CeCe," Laverne Cox says. "Many times I’ve walked down the street of New York, and I’ve experienced harassment. I was kicked once on the street, and very easily that could have escalated into a situation that CeCe faced, and it’s a situation that too many trans women of color face all over this country. The act of merely walking down the street is often a contested act, not only from the citizenry, but also from the police."

Click here to watch part 2 of this interview.