In a Democracy Now! exclusive, the only freed member of the Cuban Five, René González, speaks out after a 13-year imprisonment in the United States. The five Cuban intelligence agents were arrested in the United States in 1998 and convicted of conspiracy to commit espionage. They say they were not spying on the United States, but rather trying to monitor violent right-wing Cuban exile groups responsible for attacks inside Cuba. In Cuba, the five are seen as national heroes. González was released in October 2011 and returned to Cuba in April. Joining us from Havana, González discusses why he came to the United States to spy on Cuban exiles, his arrest, and the four other members of the Cuban Five who remain in jail.
- Germany Complains to U.S. over Spying on Merkel
- Pakistani PM Asks Obama to End U.S. Strikes; Report Details U.S.-Pakistani Cooperation on Drone War
- Syria Hit by Blackouts After Attack on Pipeline
- Kerry, Netanyahu Hold Talks in Italy
- Russia Reduces Charges Against Greenpeace Activists
- U.S. Extends Deadline for Health Exchange Enrollment
- Bank of America Found Liable for Countrywide Fraud
- Detroit Bankruptcy Trial Opens Amidst Protests
- Poll: 58% Support Marijuana Legalization
- FCC Extends Deadline for Low-Power FM Radio License Applications
- Food Giants Spending Millions to Defeat GMO Labeling in Washington State
- Hawaiian Island Approves Anti-Pesticide Protections
We turn to the latest news in the so-called "kids-for-cash" scandal in Pennsylvania, in which judges took money in exchange for sending juvenile offenders to for-profit youth jails. In 2011, former Luzerne County Judge Mark Ciavarella was convicted of accepting bribes for putting juveniles into detention centers operated by the companies PA Child Care and a sister company, Western Pennsylvania Child Care. Ciavarella and another judge, Michael Conahan, are said to have received $2.6 million for their efforts. Now the private juvenile-detention companies at the heart of the kids-for-cash scandal in Pennsylvania have settled a civil lawsuit for $2.5 million. The state has also passed much-needed reforms aimed at improving its juvenile justice system and ensuring such abuses are not repeated. We are joined in Philadelphia by Marsha Levick, chief counsel of the Juvenile Law Center, which helped expose the corrupt judges and represented the families’ class action suit.
We look at a major new investigation into how Youth Services International, a private prison company that runs juvenile detention centers, is rapidly expanding its services, despite a record of abuse and neglect over the past 25 years. Despite allegations that include the neglect and abuse of young prisoners and the bribing of public officials to win contracts, Youth Services International has expanded its contracts to operate juvenile prisons in several states. More than 40,000 boys and girls in 16 states have gone through these facilities in the past two decades. This comes as nearly 40 percent of all detained juveniles are now committed to private facilities, and in Florida, it is 100 percent. We are joined by Chris Kirkham, business reporter at The Huffington Post, where he has just published his new two-part investigative series, "Prisoners of Profit: Private Prison Empire Rises Despite Startling Record of Juvenile Abuse." Kirkham explains: "When oversight is not as strong as it can be, companies are only going to be incentivized to do what the government that’s paying them makes them do. And so in these cases if the oversight is lacking, if there is not constant monitoring, I think there is an incentive to cut costs and services."
Amnesty International has released a major new report on how U.S. drone strikes kill civilians in Pakistan, where it says some deaths may amount to war crimes. The group reviewed 45 drone strikes that have occurred in North Waziristan since January 2012. It found at least 19 civilians were killed in just two of those strikes, despite claims by the Obama administration it is accurately targeting militants. In a separate report, Human Rights Watch criticized U.S. drone strikes in Yemen that have killed civilians. We are joined by Mustafa Qadri, Pakistan researcher at Amnesty International and author of the report, "'Will I be Next?' U.S. Drone Strikes in Pakistan." Qadri asks: "How do they justify killing a grandmother if these weapons are so precise, if their standards and their policies for using them are very rigorous?" He also clarifies, "It’s not enough that a person is a militant to say that it’s OK to kill them. They have to be taking active part in hostilities to be lawfully targeted, and some other requirements as well."
- Obama Meets with Pakistani PM as Reports Fault U.S. on Drones
- Syrian Opposition Unsure on Geneva Peace Conference
- Head of U.N.-OPCW Reports Progress in Syria Mission
- Suicide, Gun Attacks Kill Scores in Iraq
- Thousands Ordered to Evacuate Australia Bushfires; PM Rejects Climate Change Link
- Mexico Says Obama Pledges to Probe NSA Spying Claims
- White House Admits New Flaws in Health Exchange Rollout
- Appeals Court: GPS Tracking of Vehicles Requires Probable Cause
- 10 U.S. CEOs Earned Over $100 Million for First Time
- Panel: U.S. Failing to Stop Antibiotic Use in Livestock Feed
- Chicago Palestinian Activist Accused of Immigration Fraud
- Hundreds Rally for Teen Rape Victim in Maryville, Missouri
- Ohio Man Who Challenged Ohio Gay Marriage Ban Dies
The civil rights lawsuits filed by the families of Samuel Cruz and Mohamed Bah, both murdered by police after family members called 911 for medical assistance, include a call to train police how to handle crisis intervention and how to respond to calls for help with people who are emotionally disturbed. Unlike the 2,500 communities in over 40 states, New York City and New Rochelle police do not have crisis intervention teams designed by mental health professionals. Many of these so-called CITs are based on what has become known as the "Memphis Model," a policy developed there after an officer killed a mentally ill person in 1987. We’re joined by Sam Cochran, retired police officer who served as the coordinator of the Memphis Police Department’s Crisis Intervention Team for 20 years, from 1988 to 2008. He is now project coordinator with the University of Memphis’s CIT Center, where he is nationally known for his work.
On May 26, Elsa Cruz called 911 because she was worried her husband, Samuel Cruz, had stopped taking his medication for schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. Police from New Rochelle, New York, soon arrived. By the time they had left, Cruz had been shot dead. Police claimed he lunged at officers with a knife. Cruz was a 48-year-old artist from Puerto Rico. The Cruz family is filing a lawsuit against the New Rochelle Police Department today. We speak to Elsa and her attorneys, Mayo Bartlett and Randolph McLaughlin, both longtime civil rights attorneys.
Click here to watch part 1 of this segment about the case of Mohamed Bah, who was killed by New York City police after his mother called 911 for medical help.
As the October 22nd Coalition to Stop Police Brutality, Repression and the Criminalization of a Generation holds protests in several cities today, we bring you the shocking story of Mohamed Bah, a 28-year-old college student from the African nation of Guinea. He was shot dead by New York City police officers on September 25, 2012. Police arrived at Mohamed Bah’s apartment after his mother, Hawa Bah, called 911 because she thought he was depressed, and wanted an ambulance to take him to the hospital. Police claimed he lunged at officers with a knife. But many questions remain unanswered. We are joined by Hawa and her attorneys, Mayo Bartlett and Randolph McLaughlin, both longtime civil rights attorneys.
Click here to watch part 2 of this segment about a similar case involving the police murder of a bipolar Puerto Rican artist whose wife called 911 for medical help.
- Amnesty Report: U.S. Drone Killings in Pakistan May Amount to War Crimes
- Amnesty: Pakistanis Fearful of the U.S. "the Way They are Fearful of the Taliban"
- HRW: U.S. Air Strikes in Yemen Kill Scores of Civilians in Violation of International Law
- White House Admits "Legitimate Questions" Raised by Reports of NSA Spying on Allies
- Obama Defends Healthcare Law After Massive Online Failures
- Assad Dampens Hopes for Peace Talks on Syria
- Middle-School Student Opens Fire at School in Nevada
- 2 Women Shot Dead at Senior Center in Detroit
- New Jersey Gov. Christie Drops Challenge to Same-Sex Marriage
- Firefighters in Australia Face More Than 60 Blazes
- 15-Year Sentence for Qatari Poet Upheld
- Transit Workers in California Reach Tentative Deal to End Strike
- Southwestern Energy Loses Bid to Block Anti-Fracking Protests in Canada
- NAACP Names Former House Clerk Lorraine Miller as Interim President
As pressure grows for Congress to pass comprehensive immigration reform now that the government shutdown is over, we spend the hour with one of those leading the fight. Democratic Rep. Luis Gutiérrez of Illinois has been working to improve immigration policies since he won his congressional seat in the early 1990s. Most recently he helped author the bipartisan proposal for reform in the House. Earlier this month, Gutiérrez and seven other members of Congress were arrested protesting Washington’s failure on immigration. His arrest came as the number of undocumented immigrants deported under President Obama approaches two million — more than under any other president. "I want a president of the United States that signs a comprehensive immigration bill for two reasons: Number one, it stops the deportation and it brings justice, fairness, and equity to the immigrant community; and number two, I want Barack Obama to be known as the president that led us to 11 million people reaching freedom in this country," Gutiérrez says. The immigration protest was not the first time Gutiérrez has been arrested for civil disobedience. In 2000, he was arrested for protesting the U.S. military for using the inhabited Puerto Rican island of Vieques as a bombing range. Gutiérrez has just written a memoir, "Still Dreaming: My Journey from the Barrio to Capitol Hill." We talk about his time living in Puerto Rico, the night his house in Chicago was firebombed, his embrace of civil disobedience over the years, and his political mentor, Harold Washington, Chicago’s first African-American mayor. Gutiérrez also talks about his next challenge: securing enough votes in the House to pass an immigration bill. "I create new friendships and new relationships in regards to comprehensive immigration reform, because let’s face it: Democrats didn’t do it in 2007 and 2008 when we were in the majority; Democrats didn’t do it in 2009 and 2010, we were in the majority. Now, we’ve got to do it," he says. "We have the majority in Senate. They’ve done their job, and I have to figure out a way to take our minority of 201 Democrats and get to 218 votes. There’s only one way you can do that, and that’s working with Republicans. We must put the lives of the immigrant community ahead of bipartisan politics."
- JPMorgan Chase to Pay $13 Billion in Record DOJ Settlement over Mortgages
- U.S. Restarts Aid to Pakistan; Prime Minister Arrives in D.C. for Talks
- U.N. Officials Criticize U.S. Drone Wars in New Reports
- Diplomats Fuel Confusion over Syria Talks; Car Bomb Kills 37 Outside Hama
- Syria: Clerics Permit Eating of Dogs, Cats amid Starvation in Rebel-Held Areas
- Train Derailment Sparks Fireball, Evacuations in Alberta, Canada
- Commander Defends "Collateral Murder" Pilots: "These are Attack Pilots Wearing Gloves of Steel"
- Maldives: Police Block Voting in Rescheduled Presidential Election
- Obama to Address Glitches Plaguing Healthcare Exchange
- France Summons U.S. Ambassador After Report on NSA Spying
- Report: NSA Hacked Mexican President's Email in 2010
- Anti-Austerity Protests Sweep Portugal, Italy
- Montenegro: LGBT Activists Stage Pride March Despite Anti-Gay Mob
- NC Register Becomes 1st in South to Accept Same-Sex Marriage Applications
- Same-Sex Weddings Begin in New Jersey
- Daisy Coleman Speaks Out on Maryville Rape Case: "I Refuse to Be a Victim of Cruelty Any Longer"
New research shows more than half of low-wage workers at fast-food restaurants rely on public assistance to survive – a rate double that of the overall workforce. According to researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, low wages in the fast-food industry cost American taxpayers nearly $7 billion every year – that’s more than the entire annual budget of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. A companion report by the National Employment Law Project found McDonald’s alone costs Americans $1.2 billion annually by paying its workers insufficient wages. Last year the top 10 largest fast-food companies alone made more than $7.4 billion in profits.
New research shows many so-called experts who appeared on television making the case for U.S. strikes on Syria had undisclosed ties to military contractors. A new report by the Public Accountability Initiative identifies 22 commentators with industry ties. While they appeared on television or were quoted as experts 111 times, their links to military firms were disclosed only 13 of those times. The report focuses largely on Stephen Hadley, who served as national security adviser to President George W. Bush. During the debate on Syria, he appeared on CNN, MSNBC, Fox News and Bloomberg TV. None of these stations informed viewers that Hadley currently serves as a director of the weapons manufacturer Raytheon that makes Tomahawk cruise missiles widely touted as the weapon of choice for bombing Syria. He also owns over 11,000 shares of Raytheon stock, which traded at all-time highs during the Syria debate. We speak to Kevin Connor of the Public Accountability Initiative, a co-author of the report.
The United States recently announced plans to scale back aid to Egypt’s military government three months after the ouster of President Mohamed Morsi. Last week, the State Department said the United States will withhold hundreds of millions of dollars in military assistance until "credible progress" is made toward "an inclusive, democratically elected civilian government." But a new investigation from Al Jazeera’s "Fault Lines" program shows that the recent aid cuts might be more symbolic than anything else. Al Jazeera recently revealed that from July 3 to September 24, eight ships left New York, Baltimore and Norfolk, Virginia, bound for the Egyptian cities of Damietta and Alexandria, where they unloaded defense equipment covered by laws that require State Department approval. We speak to Anjali Kamat, correspondent and producer for Al Jazeera’s "Fault Lines."
The trial has begun in the largest corruption case in New York City history. Private consultants are accused of siphoning tens of millions of dollars in kickbacks from the scandal-ridden $700 million CityTime payroll project. Last year, the project’s main contractor, SAIC, was forced to repay the city $500 million as part of a deferred prosecution agreement. Juan González, who broke the story, discusses the latest developments.
- Obama Taps Pentagon Lawyer Who Played Key Role in Drone Wars to Head Homeland Security
- Budget Committee Begins Talks on Long-Term Spending
- Obama Calls on Congress to Pass Immigration Reform, Farm Bill
- Iraq: 66 Killed in Attacks
- 4 Former Blackwater Operatives Face New Charges for Nisoor Square Massacre
- Marine Panel: Officer Should Be Forcibly Discharged for Role in Troops Urinating on Dead Afghans
- Syrian Official Says Peace Talks Possible Next Month; Rebels Kill Top General
- Snowden Says He Took No Secret Files to Russia
- Snowden's Father Says Son is a Whistleblower, Not a Fugitive
- NSA Director and Deputy to Leave Agency
- Canada: Dozens Arrested as Police Descend on Anti-Fracking Blockade in New Brunswick
- Romania: Chevron Halts Search for Natural Gas After Mass Protests
- Romanians Protest Gold Mine Project Planned by Canadian Firm
- Report: Federal Health Exchange Created Using Decade-Old Technology
- Transit Workers Go on Strike in California
- U.N. Agency: Outdoor Air Pollution is Leading Cause of Cancer
- Report: Nearly 30 Million People Enslaved Worldwide; 60,000 in U.S.
As more revelations come to light about the National Security Agency, we speak to civil rights attorney Abdeen Jabara, co-founder of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee. He was involved in a groundbreaking court case in the 1970s that forced the NSA to acknowledge it had been spying on him since 1967. At the time of the spying, Jabara was a lawyer in Detroit representing Arab-American clients and people being targeted by the FBI. The disclosure was the first time the NSA admitted it had spied on an American.
The FBI and Justice Department are being urged to renew its investigation into one of the most shocking political murders in recent U.S. history. Twenty-eight years ago, on October 11, 1985, a prominent Palestinian-American leader named Alex Odeh was killed by a powerful pipe bomb planted at the Santa Ana, California, offices of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, where Odeh worked as the group’s western regional director. The FBI quickly named the militant Jewish Defense League, or JDL, as a focus of its investigations. But decades later, no one has been questioned or indicted for Odeh’s murder. "Despite 28 years of knocking on the doors of justice, we have not found it yet. Alex was a very peaceful man," says Albert Mokhiber, former president of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee. "He was known as an activist, in not just the Arab-American movement and Palestinian issues, but civil rights in general." We also speak to attorney Abdeen Jabara, who helped found the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, and Rep. John Conyers of Michigan.