Feed aggregator

Fight for $15: Fast-Food Workers Stage Day of Action in Historic Mobilization of Low-Wage Labor

Democracy Now - Wed 07 55 AM

Protests are being held across the country today in what organizers call the "largest-ever mobilization of underpaid workers." Fast-food workers in 230 cities are walking off the job as part of the "Fight for $15" campaign, a push for a $15-an-hour minimum wage and the right to form a union. Hundreds of workers in Boston held their action one day early in deference to today’s anniversary of the Boston Marathon bombings. We hear from some of the workers who kicked off the day of protest this morning at a McDonald’s in New York City.

Khalil Muhammad: To Stop Police Killings, Transform the Political Culture That Threatens Black Lives

Democracy Now - Wed 07 44 AM

Protests were held from coast to coast on Tuesday in a day of action against police violence and racial profiling. The protests came as the sheriff’s reserve deputy, who fatally shot Eric Harris in Oklahoma, turned himself in to authorities. Robert Bates said he thought he was using his Taser instead of his gun when he killed Harris earlier this month. Bates is a wealthy insurance executive and heavy donor to the Tulsa Police Department, who gets to volunteer on the force as a reserve. Meanwhile, the South Carolina police officer charged with murder for fatally shooting Walter Scott will probably not face the death penalty if he is convicted. Prosecutors say Michael Slager would still be eligible for a sentence of life in prison. We are joined by Khalil Muhammad, author of "The Condemnation of Blackness: Race, Crime, and the Making of Modern Urban America," and director of the New York Public Library’s Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture.

Obama to Remove Cuba from Terror List After Latin American Outcry, Will the Embargo Follow?

Democracy Now - Wed 07 15 AM

President Obama has told Congress he will remove Cuba from a U.S. list of state sponsors of terrorism, clearing a major obstacle to restoring diplomatic relations with Havana for the first time in a half-century. Obama’s move comes just days after he and Cuban President Raúl Castro sat down at a summit in Panama for a historic meeting. Cuba was placed on the terrorism list in 1982 at a time when Havana was supporting liberation struggles in Africa and Latin America. While Cuba is being removed from the terrorism list, the trade embargo remains in effect. To discuss the thawing of U.S.-Cuban relations, we are joined from Havana by former Cuban diplomat, Carlos Alzugaray Treto.

Black Lives Matter Activists in South Carolina Demand Reform After Police Killing of Walter Scott

Democracy Now - Tue 07 54 AM

Cries of "Black Lives Matter" continue to ring out across the country after new police killings of unarmed African Americans. Over the weekend in South Carolina, the funeral was held in North Charleston for Walter Scott, the black man who fled a traffic stop and was fatally shot in the back by police officer Michael Slager. Video of the incident taken by a bystander forced the police to retract its initial defense of Slager and see him charged with murder and fired from the force. This comes as Oklahoma prosecutors have charged a sheriff’s reserve deputy with second-degree manslaughter in the fatal shooting of an unarmed African-American man in Tulsa. Robert Bates — who is white — says he mistakenly used his handgun instead of his stun gun, killing the victim, Eric Harris. We are joined from South Carolina by Muhiyidin d’Baha, an organizer with Black Lives Matter Charleston.

As Video Captures Officers' Fatal Shootings of Unarmed Men, Knowing Your Rights to Film the Police

Democracy Now - Tue 07 50 AM

Over the past week, video of police killings of unarmed African Americans in South Carolina and in Oklahoma has led to charges against the officers who fired the fatal shots. Meanwhile, 10 sheriff’s deputies have been suspended in California after a news helicopter filmed them kicking and punching a suspect as he lay face down in the desert after a chase. As video proves decisive in holding police accountable for abuses nationwide, we are joined by Jay Stanley, senior policy analyst with the Speech, Privacy and Technology Project at the American Civil Liberties Union. He authored "Know Your Rights" for the ACLU, and its companion article, "You Have Every Right to Photograph That Cop."

Remembering Eduardo Galeano, Champion of Social Justice & Chronicler of Latin America's Open Veins

Democracy Now - Tue 07 11 AM

One of Latin America’s most acclaimed writers, Eduardo Galeano, died on Monday at age 74 in Montevideo, Uruguay. The Uruguayan novelist and journalist made headlines when Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez gave President Obama a copy of his classic work, "The Open Veins of Latin America: Five Centuries of the Pillage of a Continent." Since its publication in 1971, "Open Veins" has sold more than a million copies worldwide, despite being banned by the military governments in Chile, Argentina and his native country of Uruguay. While in exile after the Uruguayan military junta seized power in a 1973 coup, Galeano began work on his classic trilogy "Memory of Fire," which rewrites five centuries of North and South American history. He also authored "Soccer in Sun and Shadow," "Upside Down," "The Book of Embraces," "We Say No," "Voices of Time," "Mirrors," "Children of the Days: A Calendar of Human History," among others. Galeano received numerous international prizes, including the Lannan Prize for Cultural Freedom, the Casa de las Américas Prize, and the First Distinguished Citizen of the region by the countries of Mercosur. We look back on Galeano’s life and hear from his Democracy Now! interviews in 2009 and 2013.

Debate: Hillary Clinton Sounds Populist Tone, But Are Progressives Ready to Back Her in 2016?

Democracy Now - Mon 07 30 AM

Former secretary of state, senator and first lady Hillary Clinton has formally entered the 2016 race for the White House in a second bid to become the first woman U.S. president. We host a roundtable discussion with four guests: Joe Conason, editor-in-chief of The National Memo, co-editor of The Investigative Fund, and author of "The Hunting of the President: The Ten-Year Campaign to Destroy Bill and Hillary Clinton"; Michelle Goldberg, senior contributing writer at The Nation; longtime journalist Robert Scheer, editor of Truthdig.com and author of many books; and Kshama Sawant, a Socialist city councilmember in Seattle and member of Socialist Alternative, a nationwide organization of social and economic justice activists.

Blueprint for Post-9/11 Surveillance: U.S. Began Bulk Collection of Phone Call Data in 1992

Democracy Now - Fri 07 56 AM

An explosive new report reveals the federal government secretly tracked billions of U.S. phone calls years before the 9/11 attacks. According to USA Today, the Justice Department and Drug Enforcement Administration collected bulk data for phone calls in as many as 116 countries deemed to have a connection with drug trafficking. The program began in 1992 under President George H.W. Bush, nine years before his son, George W. Bush, authorized the National Security Agency to gather logs of Americans’ phone calls in 2001. This program served as a blueprint for NSA mass surveillance. We speak with Brad Heath, the USA Today investigative reporter who broke the story.

Exclusive: Father of 1 of Missing Mexican 43 on How Drug War Aid "Being Used to Annihilate Students"

Democracy Now - Fri 07 41 AM

As the Summit of the Americas commences, several U.S.-based groups and university officials have signed a letter to President Obama questioning his response to the 43 students missing from the Mexican state of Guerrero for over six months. The letter asks why the Obama administration has placed sanctions on Venezuela, but maintained normal relations with Mexico, despite the students’ disappearance. Mexican authorities have declared the 43 students dead, saying local police acting on the orders of the mayor of Iguala attacked them and turned them over to drug gang members, who killed and incinerated them. But so far the remains of only one of the 43 have been identified, and reports have pointed to the involvement of federal authorities. We are joined by two relatives of the missing students who live here in New York: Antonio Tizapa is the father of missing student Jorge Antonio Tizapa Legideño; and Amado Tlatempa is the cousin of another missing student, Jesús Jovany Rodríguez Tlatempa. "What I would tell President Obama is to stop supporting Plan Mérida, because the weapons, the arms that are supposedly supporting the war against drugs, those arms are being used to annihilate our students," Tizapa says.

Obama Faces Latin American Opposition to Venezuela Sanctions as Cuba Joins Summit of the Americas

Democracy Now - Fri 07 24 AM

President Obama has arrived in Panama to attend the Summit of the Americas along with other leaders from Canada, Central America, South America, the Caribbean — and for the first time, Cuba. On Thursday, Obama announced the State Department has finished its review of whether Cuba should be removed from the list of state sponsors of terrorism. The move would allow the two countries to reopen their embassies and move forward on historic efforts to normalize relations that were announced in December. Meanwhile, the United States faces other tensions at the summit over its recent sanctions against Cuba’s close ally, Venezuela. An executive order signed by President Obama last month used the designation to sanction top Venezuelan officials over alleged human rights abuses and corruption. This week, the United States announced it no longer considers the country a national security threat. Other topics expected to be on the summit’s agenda include trade, security and migration. We speak with two guests: Miguel Tinker Salas, professor of Latin American history at Pomona College and author of the new book, "Venezuela: What Everyone Needs to Know," and Mark Weisbrot, co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research and president of Just Foreign Policy. His article in The Hill is headlined "Obama Could Face Disastrous Summit Due to Venezuela Sanctions."

Juan González on Walter Scott Shooting: When Will the Police Killings of Black Males Stop?

Democracy Now - Fri 07 16 AM

Democracy Now! co-host Juan González discusses how video of the Walter Scott killing echoes other videos of police shootings, such as Tamir Rice in Cleveland and Eric Garner in New York City. "People wonder why the Black Lives Matter movement has grown and spread so rapidly across the country," González notes, "when people are seeing these videos where people who are shot and not even given immediate aid." González writes about the issue in his new column for the New York Daily News headlined "When Will the Killings of Black Males by Cops Cease?"

Exclusive: Mumia Abu-Jamal Releases New Prison Radio Commentary on Walter Scott Shooting

Democracy Now - Fri 07 14 AM

Imprisoned journalist and former Black Panther Mumia Abu-Jamal has spoken out from a prison infirmary about the police killing of Walter Scott in South Carolina. Abu-Jamal, who is seriously ill at SCI Mahanoy, rose from his infirmary bed to record the commentary after a fellow prisoner wheeled in a TV so he could watch coverage of the shooting. In a Democracy Now! exclusive, we air an excerpt from Abu-Jamal’s Prison Radio commentary about Michael Slager, the now-fired police officer who shot Scott during a traffic stop. "Is he a punk? A predator?" Abu-Jamal asks. "Or what Huey P. Newton called 'a pig'?" Abu-Jamal’s supporters say he remains severely ill after he was hospitalized recently for diabetic shock. Today his supporters have called a national day of action with protests in 10 cities to demand he be allowed to see a diabetes specialist. Abu-Jamal is in prison for the 1981 murder of Philadelphia police officer Daniel Faulkner, but has always maintained his innocence. Amnesty International has found he was deprived of a fair trial.

Is U.S. Abandoning Americans in Yemen? U.S. Citizen Recounts Harrowing Trip to Escape Saudi Attacks

Democracy Now - Thu 07 50 AM

A coalition of civil rights organizations is calling on the Obama administration to evacuate U.S. citizens from war-torn Yemen as violence there claims more and more lives. In mid-February, the U.S. government closed its embassies in Yemen and evacuated its personnel. Last month, Yemen’s airports all but shut down amidst heavy fighting, making it nearly impossible to leave the Gulf state. But critics say the Obama administration has effectively told American citizens to fend for themselves. The U.S. State Department’s website states: "There are no plans for a U.S. government-coordinated evacuation of U.S. citizens at this time. We encourage all U.S. citizens to shelter in a secure location until they are able to depart safely." The U.S. refusal to evacuate its citizens comes despite its support for the Saudi-led bombing campaign against Houthi rebels in Yemen. The United States has vowed to ramp up weapons deliveries to members of the Saudi-led coalition and agreed to perform aerial refueling of bombers. Meanwhile, governments of several countries, including Russia, India, and even Somalia, have sent ships to rescue their citizens. We are joined by Mokhtar Alkhanshali, a Yemeni American who has just managed to escape Yemen after being stranded there since December 2014.

After Cop's Shooting of Unarmed Walter Scott Caught on Video, New Calls for Body Cameras on Police

Democracy Now - Thu 07 46 AM

The murder charges filed against North Charleston police officer Michael Slager for fatally shooting Walter Scott has reignited debate over whether officers should wear body cameras. Police were forced to change their story that Slager fired his gun because he feared for his safety, after Feidin Santana came forward with video of the encounter he filmed on his cellphone. The video shows Slager fired eight times as Scott was running away from him. The original police report said Scott took Slager’s Taser and that officers tried to revive him with CPR. The video appears to show neither claim is true. On Wednesday, North Charleston Mayor Keith Summey announced a new order for police body cameras. Today, investigators are expected to release the dash-cam video from Slager’s patrol car. Many cities have installed cameras in their patrol cars. The Police Executive Research Forum surveyed police departments in 2013 and found about a quarter of respondents required body cameras. We are joined by Jay Stanley, senior policy analyst with the Speech, Privacy and Technology Project at the American Civil Liberties Union. Stanley wrote the 2013 report, "Police Body-Mounted Cameras: With Right Policies in Place, a Win for All," and updated it this year with new ways to address civil rights concerns.

As Video Exposes Walter Scott Police Killing, Why is the Man Who Filmed Eric Garner's Death in Jail?

Democracy Now - Thu 07 28 AM

As a South Carolina police officer faces murder charges after his fatal shooting of unarmed Walter Scott was caught on video, we look at what happened to the man who filmed Eric Garner’s fatal chokehold on Staten Island. While no police officers were indicted for Garner’s death, the man who filmed the attack, Ramsey Orta, is now locked up in jail after facing what he described as harassment by local police. Orta was first arrested on an unrelated gun charge the day after the Staten Island coroner declared Garner’s death to be a homicide. He was later arrested and jailed on a drug charge. His mother, brother and wife have all been arrested, too. Supporters have accused the New York City Police Department of targeting Orta’s family for releasing the Garner video. We are joined by Ramsey Orta’s aunt, Lisa Mercado, as well as Orta family attorneys William Aronin and Ken Perry.

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev Found Guilty: Will Federal Jury Impose Death Penalty in State that Bans It?

Democracy Now - Thu 07 11 AM

A federal jury has found Dzhokhar Tsarnaev guilty on all 30 charges for his role in the Boston Marathon bombing that killed three and injured hundreds two years ago this month. Tsarnaev was also convicted in the murder of a police officer in the ensuing days. During the trial, Tsarnaev’s defense attorneys admitted he joined his older brother, Tamerlan, in setting off two explosions. The jury will now choose between the death penalty and a sentence of life without parole. Massachusetts bars the death penalty, but the case is taking place at the federal level. We are joined by James Rooney, president of Massachusetts Citizens Against the Death Penalty.