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"Where Does This End?": After Drone Papers Leaks, U.K. Gov't Has a Kill List of Its Own

Democracy Now - Thu 06 42 AM

Last week, The Intercept published the most in-depth look at the U.S. drone assassination program to date. "The Drone Papers" exposed the inner workings of how the drone war is waged, from how targets are identified to who decides to kill. They reveal a number of flaws, including that strikes have resulted in large part from electronic communications data, or "signals intelligence," that officials acknowledge is unreliable. We are joined by Clive Stafford Smith, founder and director of the international legal charity Reprieve, who says the British government also has a secret kill list in Afghanistan.

U.S. Ally Saudi Arabia Prepares to Behead, Crucify Pro-Democracy Protester Ali Mohammed al-Nimr

Democracy Now - Thu 06 36 AM

A young Saudi protester is set to be beheaded and crucified for his role in 2012 pro-democracy protests. Ali Mohammed al-Nimr was arrested at the age of 17 and convicted of encouraging protests during the Arab Spring. He faces execution any day. Earlier this month, in response to mounting international pressure to release al-Nimr, the Saudi Embassy in London said, "the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia rejects any form of interference in its internal affairs and any impingement on its sovereignty or the independence and impartiality of its judiciary." We are joined by Clive Stafford Smith of the international legal charity Reprieve, which has just released a report on executions in Saudi Arabia.

Shaker Aamer: After 5,000 Days of Torment, Last British Prisoner at Guantanamo is Set for Release

Democracy Now - Thu 06 23 AM

The 14-year nightmare of the last British prisoner at Guantánamo Bay could soon be coming to an end. The United States announced last month it will release Shaker Aamer, imprisoned without charge at Guantánamo since February 2002. Aamer says he was working as a charity worker in Afghanistan when he was kidnapped and handed over to U.S. forces. During his time in captivity, he claims he was subjected to abuses including torture, beatings, sleep deprivation and being held in solitary confinement for nearly a year. At one point, he lost half his body weight while on a hunger strike. Aamer has been cleared for release since 2007, but the Pentagon has refused to set him free. The U.S. announced last month that he will finally be released – but only after a 30-day notification period required by Congress. If the U.S. follows through, Aamer will likely be released on Sunday and flown back to Britain to join his wife and four children. Even as he’s set for freedom, Aamer has remained on hunger strike to protest his treatment. We are joined by Clive Stafford Smith, Aamer’s attorney and director of the international legal charity Reprieve.

"Domestic Terrorism": Spate of Black Church Burnings Near Ferguson Raise New Hate Crime Fears

Democracy Now - Thu 06 10 AM

Over 10 days, six predominantly black churches have been set ablaze in the St. Louis area of Missouri. Police and fire officials say there’s no doubt the fires are deliberate. All the fires were set within a three-mile radius of northern St. Louis. The area includes Ferguson, where the police killing of unarmed African-American teen Michael Brown set off protests and a national movement more than a year ago. The burnings come after a series of fires at African-American churches across the South following the Charleston church massacre in June. Three of those fires were ruled as arson. White supremacists have targeted black churches with burnings dating back to the Civil War. We are joined by two guests: Rev. Rodrick Burton, pastor of New Northside Missionary Baptist Church, attacked by an arsonist on October 10, and Jeffrey Mittman, executive director of the ACLU of Missouri.

How a $100M Facebook Donation for Neoliberal School Reform Sparked a Grassroots Uprising in Newark

Democracy Now - Wed 06 39 AM

Five years ago, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg donated $100 million to fix the trouble-plagued schools of Newark, New Jersey. Joining forces with Republican Gov. Chris Christie and then-Democratic Mayor Cory Booker, the effort was billed as a model for education reform across the nation. But the story of what followed emerges as a cautionary tale. Tens of millions were spent on hiring outside consultants and expanding charter schools, leading to public school closures, teacher layoffs and an overall decline in student performance. Parents, students, teachers and community members pushed back in a grassroots uprising to save their schools. We are joined by Dale Russakoff, who tells the story in her book, "The Prize: Who’s in Charge of America’s Schools?"

U.S. Sells New Warships to Saudi Arabia Despite Warnings of War Crimes & Civilian Deaths in Yemen

Democracy Now - Wed 06 35 AM

The Obama administration has approved an $11.25 billion deal to sell four advanced, Lockheed Martin-made warships to Saudi Arabia. The move comes as Amnesty International has called on the United States to halt arms transfers to Saudi Arabia or risk being complicit in war crimes in Yemen, where Saudi Arabia is waging a U.S.-backed campaign against Houthi rebels. We speak to Rep. Ted Lieu about his critique of U.S. policy in Yemen and Syria.

Bill McKibben: Climate Activists Celebrate Obama's Arctic Drilling Freeze & Harper's Canadian Defeat

Democracy Now - Wed 06 33 AM

In a victory for environmentalists, President Obama has ended the possibility of oil drilling in the Arctic for the rest of his tenure. The Obama administration has canceled plans to sell new drilling leases and refused to extend leases that were previously sold. The move comes after Shell halted its $7 billion bid to drill for oil in the Arctic amid a series of setbacks and tireless activist opposition. Activists are also celebrating the election outcome in Canada, where voters unseated three-term Prime Minister Stephen Harper, a major backer of carbon-intensive oil extraction and a foe of global climate regulation. We get reaction from Bill McKibben, head of 350.org, one of the nation’s leading climate activist groups.

Prison for Exxon Execs? Lawmakers Seek Probe of Oil Giant for Hiding Knowledge of Climate Change

Democracy Now - Wed 06 10 AM

For decades, Exxon has publicly questioned the science of global warming, contradicting internal findings by the company’s own scientists. Recent exposés by InsideClimate News and the Los Angeles Times reveal that Exxon concealed for decades its own conclusions that fossil fuels cause global warming, alter the climate and melt the Arctic. Exxon’s climate deception is now sparking calls for a federal probe similar to that which yielded a racketeering conviction of Big Tobacco for hiding the dangers of smoking. We are joined by Rep. Ted Lieu (D-California), who is calling for a Justice Department investigation of Exxon, as well as 350.org co-founder Bill McKibben, who was just arrested for a one-man protest shutting down his local Exxon gas station. "It’s difficult to think of a company that could have set back humanity for decades, and perhaps permanently," Rep. Lieu says. "But that’s what happened here."

Joe Biden for President? Media Buzz Ignores How Veep Worsened Student Debt on Big Banks' Behalf

Democracy Now - Tue 06 50 AM

Washington is abuzz with rumors Vice President Joe Biden will soon enter the race for the Democratic presidential nomination. While a new campaign would seek to capitalize on Biden’s two terms as vice president, it would also invite scrutiny of his Senate record in a Democratic political climate notably more progressive today than it was when Biden last sought the nomination. Biden’s 1994 crime bill, while implementing sweeping gun control, also helped fuel mass incarceration with financial incentives to keep people behind bars. Biden is also known for close ties to the financial industry, notably helping push through a 2005 bill that made it harder for consumers to declare bankruptcy. According to The New York Times, the credit card issuer MBNA was Biden’s top donor from 1989 to 2010. Now, as speculation over Biden’s presidential aspirations reaches a fever pitch, the Obama administration is seeking to repeal one of his key legislative achievements. The White House wants to undo a provision in the 2005 bankruptcy law that made it harder to reduce student debt, preventing most Americans from claiming bankruptcy protections for private student loans. The administration’s effort follows the publication last month of an International Business Times exposé by David Sirota, "Joe Biden Backed Bills to Make It Harder for Americans to Reduce Their Student Debt." Sirota discusses Biden’s role in passing the legislation.

"Heritage of Hate": Univ. of Miss. Students Seek Removal of Confederate Battle Flag from Campus

Democracy Now - Tue 06 38 AM

College students in Mississippi are confronting the national legacy of racism and slavery in a new battle over the display of Confederate symbols. The student government at the University of Mississippi will vote today on whether to seek removal of the state flag from campus grounds. The flag features the Confederate battle symbol in its upper left corner—the only state flag in the country that continues to use the design. It’s the latest Confederate symbol to be targeted for removal from a public space since a white supremacist killed nine African-American worshipers in Charleston, South Carolina, four months ago. Alabama and South Carolina have already taken down the Confederate flag on capitol grounds. Removing the flag would be particularly significant for the University of Mississippi, where in 1962 white students rioted over the registration of African-American student James Meredith, an incident that became a flashpoint in the civil rights struggle. Allen Coon, president of the University of Mississippi College Democrats, and Dominique Scott, secretary of the university’s chapter of the NAACP, discuss the student-led effort to remove the flag from campus grounds.

Canadians Oust Stephen Harper, Right-Wing PM Who Ignored Climate Change & Shunned First Nations

Democracy Now - Tue 06 11 AM

Canadian voters have unseated right-wing Prime Minister Stephen Harper after nearly a decade in office. In a surprise result following the closest election campaign in recent history, the centrist Liberals jumped from third place to a parliamentary majority. Liberal leader Justin Trudeau will become Canada’s next prime minister. Harper’s loss ends a tenure that saw him take three elections despite his Conservative Party never winning more than 40 percent of the vote. For a hostile stance on the environment and other signature right-wing policies, a recent headline in The Guardian called him "the last remnant of George W Bush in North America." Monday’s result is also a major loss for the traditionally leftist New Democratic Party, which fell from holding Official Opposition status to third place. The NDP led the polls in August but lost momentum as its leadership drifted toward the middle. Trudeau has pledged to reverse some of Harper’s key policies while backing others, including the C-51 surveillance law — known as "Canada’s Patriot Act" — and the Keystone XL pipeline. We discuss the Canadian elections with two guests: indigenous attorney and law professor Pamela Palmater, and Judy Rebick, founder of Rabble.ca, one of Canada’s leading independent news websites.

A CIA Tie to JFK Assassination? Book on Ex-Director Allen Dulles Questions Agency's Role

Democracy Now - Mon 06 53 AM

David Talbot, author of "The Devil’s Chessboard: Allen Dulles, the CIA, and the Rise of America’s Secret Government," re-examines what happened in Dallas on November 22, 1963, and looks at John F. Kennedy’s relationship with his former CIA director. "The weekend of Kennedy’s assassination, Allen Dulles is not at home watching television like the rest of America," Talbot said. "He’s at a remote CIA facility, two years after being pushed out of the agency by Kennedy, called The Farm, in northern Virginia, that he used when he was director of the CIA as a kind of an alternate command post." Talbot also asks why the agency has refused to publicly release travel documents of CIA officials who have been identified for having a possible role in Kennedy’s death.

Inside Allan Dulles' Reign as CIA Director, from '54 Guatemala Coup to Plotting Castro's Overthrow

Democracy Now - Mon 06 41 AM

Voters go to the polls in Guatemala on Sunday to elect a new president after a popular uprising led to President Otto Pérez Molina’s resignation and jailing. We speak with journalist and historian David Talbot, author of "The Devil’s Chessboard: Allen Dulles, the CIA, and the Rise of America’s Secret Government," about the role Allen Dulles and his brother, then-Secretary of State John Foster Dulles, played in the CIA’s 1954 coup in the country, the ramifications of which are still being felt. "The CIA and Allen Dulles told Eisenhower after the Guatemala coup, 'Oh, it was a clean coup. You know, hardly anyone died,'" Talbot said. "But the fact is, tens of thousands of people died in the killing fields of Guatemala as a result of that coup, and that violence continues today."

After Historic Shifts on Cuba & Iran, Will Obama End Decades-Long Support for Israeli Occupation?

Democracy Now - Mon 06 37 AM

The Israeli government has rejected a French call for international observers at the Temple Mount, the holy site that has been a flashpoint for the current unrest in Israel and the Occupied Territories. The United States is backing Israel’s stance ahead of a meeting with top leaders from both sides in the coming days. After President Obama restored ties to Cuba and brokered a nuclear deal with Iran, some are hoping for a similar change on Israel-Palestine during his last 15 months in office. Will it happen? We are joined by Palestinian human rights lawyer Jamil Dakwar.

Israel-Palestine: As Stabbings, Shootings Kill Dozens, Endless Occupation Fuels Vengeful Resistance

Democracy Now - Mon 06 12 AM

The death toll from violence in Israel and the Occupied Territories has increased with new Palestinian stabbing attacks and an intensified Israeli crackdown. On Sunday, an attacker identified as a 21-year-old Arab citizen of Israel knifed an Israeli soldier to death and then opened fire at a bus station in Beersheba, wounding 10 people. The attacker was killed. In an apparent case of racial profiling, a mob of soldiers and bystanders then shot and beat an Eritrean man to death, mistakenly thinking he was a second assailant. After sealing off East Jerusalem neighborhoods last week, Israel is widening its crackdown on Arab residents and continuing military operations across the West Bank and Gaza. The United Nations says last week was the deadliest for Palestinians in the West Bank and Israel in 10 years, raising concerns "of excessive use of force, and violations of the right to life and security of the person." We are joined by two guests: Jamil Dakwar, a Palestinian human rights lawyer with Israeli citizenship, and Nathan Thrall, senior analyst at the International Crisis Group whose new article for The New York Times is "Mismanaging the Conflict in Jerusalem."

The Longest U.S. War, Prolonged: After Vowing Afghan Pullout, Obama Extends Occupation Indefinitely

Democracy Now - Fri 06 42 AM

President Obama has reversed plans to withdraw most U.S. troops from Afghanistan by the time he leaves office. On Thursday, Obama said a deteriorating security situation will force him to maintain the current deployment of 9,800 soldiers through 2016. When Obama’s term ends in 2017, the U.S. will keep at least 5,500 troops at four bases across Afghanistan. After 14 years of war, the Taliban now holds more of Afghanistan than at any point since the 2001 U.S. invasion, and some estimates put them in control of half the country. President Obama’s announcement comes nearly a year after he declared an official end to the U.S. combat mission, though U.S. military operations have continued. The move assures that despite previous pledges, the war will continue under his successor. We are joined by Intercept reporters Jeremy Scahill, Ryan Devereaux and Cora Currier, whose new series "The Drone Papers" includes a detailed look at the drone war in Afghanistan based on government leaks.