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The Killing of Jordan Davis: Michael Dunn Faces 60 Years After Split Verdict in 'Thug Music' Trial

Democracy Now - Mon 08 14 AM

A Florida jury has convicted Michael Dunn of three counts of attempted murder for opening fire on a car of unarmed black teenagers during an argument over loud rap music at a gas station. But the jury deadlocked on the most serious charge, the first-degree murder of 17-year-old Jordan Davis, forcing the judge to declare a mistrial on that count. Dunn, who is white, shot at the vehicle carrying Davis and his friends 10 times. He then fled the scene, went to a hotel with his girlfriend and ordered pizza. He never called the police. Citing Florida’s Stand Your Ground law, Dunn’s attorneys had claimed the shooting was justified because he had felt threatened by the teenagers. But prosecutors said the teenagers were unarmed and never left their vehicle. Legal analysts say Dunn could face at least 60 years in jail for the attempted murder convictions against the three other teens. The jury in the trial was 2/3 white and did not include any black males. The verdict was reached on Saturday, one day before what would have been Davis’ 19th birthday. We speak to Michael Skolnik, editor-in-chief of GlobalGrind.com, who attended the trial.

Debate: Was Snowden Justified? Former NSA Counsel Stewart Baker vs. Whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg

Democracy Now - Fri 08 09 AM

Former National Security Agency lawyer Stewart Baker and Pentagon Papers whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg join us for a debate on Edward Snowden’s disclosure of the NSA’s massive spying apparatus in the United States and across the globe. Snowden’s leaks to The Guardian and other media outlets have generated a series of exposés on NSA surveillance activities — from its collection of American’s phone records, text messages and email, to its monitoring of the internal communications of individual heads of state. Partly as a consequence of the government’s response to Snowden’s leaks, the United States plunged 13 spots in an annual survey of press freedom by the independent organization, Reporters Without Borders. Snowden now lives in Russia and faces possible espionage charges if he returns to the United States. Baker, a former NSA general counsel and assistant secretary for policy at the Department of Homeland Security, is a partner at the law firm Steptoe & Johnson and author of "Skating on Stilts: Why We Aren’t Stopping Tomorrow’s Terrorism." Ellsberg is a former Pentagon and RAND Corporation analyst and perhaps the country’s most famous whistleblower. Ellsberg leaked the Pentagon Papers in 1971, exposing the secret history of the U.S. involvement in Vietnam, prompting Henry Kissinger to call him "the most dangerous man in America."

N.C. Governor No Longer Works for Duke Energy, But After Coal Spill, Is He Doing Their Bidding?

Democracy Now - Thu 08 48 AM

In one of the worst coal ash spills in U.S. history, up to 27 million gallons of contaminated water and 82,000 tons of coal ash spilled into North Carolina’s Dan River after a pipe burst underneath a waste pond. That is enough toxic sludge to fill more than 70 Olympic swimming pools. The river has turned grey for miles, and environmentalists say they have found arsenic levels 35 times higher than the maximum set by federal regulators. Did state regulators intentionally block lawsuits against Duke Energy in order to shield the company where Republican Gov. Pat McCrory worked for 28 years? We speak to Amy Adams, who recently resigned from the North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources in protest of changes at the agency last year. She now works with the organization Appalachian Voices.

Bill McKibben on Fight Against Keystone XL, Fossil Fuel Divestment and Obama's Failures on Climate

Democracy Now - Thu 08 31 AM

Hundreds of college students are expected to risk arrest on March 2 outside the White House to pressure President Obama to reject the Keystone XL tar sands oil pipeline project. Organizers of "XL Dissent" say they hope to stage one of the largest acts of civil disobedience against the pipeline to date. The Keystone XL would carry 830,000 barrels of oil a day from Canada to the Gulf Coast. In January, a long-awaited environmental impact statement from the State Department found the Keystone XL would do little to slow the expansion of Canada’s vast oil sands, and would not significantly exacerbate the problem of greenhouse gas emissions. The Washington Post later revealed the review was run by a dues-paying member of the American Petroleum Institute with close ties to the company behind the pipeline, TransCanada. As we enter the final steps in the Keystone XL decision, we are joined by Bill McKibben, co-founder and director of 350.org.

McKibben describes how the effort to confront global warming is growing worldwide. "The one place where we’ve really been able to go on the offense is this divestment movement. It has now spread around the world. Oxford University published a study in October saying it was the fastest-growing such corporate campaign in history. Universities, colleges, churches, city and state governments, pension funds — all now starting with an exhilarating pace to cut their ties with fossil fuel industries. It is one place where there is some real hope."

"This Should Not Come as a Surprise": Bill McKibben on Global Extreme Weather from U.S. to Sochi

Democracy Now - Thu 08 19 AM

While governors have declared states of emergency from Louisiana to New Jersey due to the massive snow and ice storm, other examples of extreme weather are being seen across the globe. California is facing possibly its worst drought in 500 years. In Russia temperatures have topped 60 degrees Fahrenheit at the Winter Olympic in Sochi. Meanwhile in Britain, gusts of more than 100 miles per hour lashed western England and Wales overnight, and in London the Thames has risen to its highest level in decades. "This is the kind of crazy weather that scientists said will mark the advent of climate change in its early stages," says 350.org co-founder Bill McKibben. "And it should be the warning that we need to actually do something, but so far our leaders haven’t taken up that challenge."

Meteorologist Jeff Masters: Climate Change Affecting Weather Patterns Regardless of Season

Democracy Now - Thu 08 13 AM

Governors have declared states of emergencies from Louisiana to New Jersey due to a massive snow and ice storm. A National Weather Service memo calls the storm "an event of historical proportions," identifying it as "catastrophic ... crippling ... paralyzing ... choose your adjective." The storm has already caused at least 13 deaths and left 550,000 without power. We speak to Jeff Masters, director of meteorology at the Weather Underground.

U.S. Plunges in Global Press Freedom Rankings as Obama Wages "War on Whistleblowers"

Democracy Now - Wed 08 50 AM

A new survey of press freedom around the world finds the United States has plunged 13 spots, now ranking just 46th among 180 countries. The annual survey by Reporters Without Borders also says Syria is the most dangerous country for journalists, showing a correlation between conflict zones and a low level of press freedom. Other countries that fell lower than in the previous year’s survey include the civil-war-torn Central African Republic, down 43 spots to 109, and Guatemala, where four journalists were killed last year alone. This comes as the United Nations General Assembly recently adopted its first resolution on the safety of journalists. The group has now called on the United Nations to monitor how member states meet their obligations to protect reporters. We are joined by Delphine Halgand of Reporters Without Borders.

From Jail to Law School: Jim Crow-Era Law Bars Florida Man from Voting, Taking Bar, Serving on Jury

Democracy Now - Wed 08 35 AM

Branding them "unnecessary and unjust," Attorney General Eric Holder is urging the repeal of state laws that prohibit formerly incarcerated people from voting, a move that would restore the right to vote to nearly six million people. Holder’s call is largely symbolic since the federal government cannot force states to change their voting laws. But civil rights groups and advocates are praising Holder for advancing a critical step in reforming the criminal justice system. We are joined by Desmond Meade, president of the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition. Meade is one of more than 1.3 million citizens in Florida who have lost their right to vote due to prior felony convictions. After overcoming homelessness and addiction, Meade is now finishing up a law degree — but like the right to vote, Florida statutes also stand to prohibit him from taking the bar and being able to practice law.

Drone on Your iPhone: Apple Drops Objections to App Tracking U.S. Strikes Overseas

Democracy Now - Wed 08 28 AM

A new iPhone app has been released that tracks every reported U.S. drone strike overseas. Over the course of two years, Apple rejected different versions no less than five times. Now, for the first time, the app is finally available under the name of Metadata+, created by New York University graduate student Josh Begley. Madiha Tahir, a filmmaker whose documentary "Wounds of Waziristan" looks at the drone war, says Apple stalled the app’s approval for political reasons before Begley found a workaround.

Karim Khan, Anti-Drone Activist Who Lost Family Members to U.S. Strike, Goes Missing in Pakistan

Democracy Now - Wed 08 11 AM

An anti-drone activist and journalist has gone missing in Pakistan just days before he was due to travel to Europe to speak with Parliament members about the impact of the U.S. drone wars. The legal charity Reprieve says Karim Khan was seized in the early hours of February 5 by up to 20 men, some wearing police uniforms. He has not been seen since. Khan’s brother and son were both killed in a drone strike. In addition to public activism, Khan was also engaged in legal proceedings against the Pakistani government for their failure to investigate the killings of his loved ones. We are joined by filmmaker Madiha Tahir, who interviewed Khan for her documentary, "Wounds of Waziristan."

"These are people seeking peaceful, legal routes for restitution for a great harm that been done to them," Tahir says. Of drone victim’s families’ difficulty gaining legal traction, she says, "It speaks to the secretive nature of the American state."

Bridgegate Scandal Grows as NJ Lawmakers Issue 18 Subpoenas to Christie's Office, Port Authority

Democracy Now - Tue 08 52 AM

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s "Bridgegate" continues to unfold, as a legislative panel investigating the scandal has issued 18 more subpoenas. They include one for the head of the state’s police aviation unit, who could offer details about whether Christie shared a helicopter with David Wildstein on the same days Wildstein oversaw the closures of traffic lanes leading to the George Washington Bridge for four days in September. Wildstein was Christie’s former Port Authority appointee. A photograph taken on the third day the lanes were blocked shows Christie walking with Wildstein and other close allies at the authority. Christie has denied having any knowledge of the closures as they happened, saying he only found out when the scandal broke open last month. But last week, Wildstein said "evidence exists" that Christie was aware at the time, contrary to his public statements. We speak with Elizabeth Kolbert, whose recent article for The New Yorker, "Red Light," looks at the Port Authority’s evolution from progressive government experiment to patronage mill stacked with Christie loyalists.

The Sixth Extinction: Elizabeth Kolbert on How Humans Are Causing Largest Die-Off Since Dinosaur Age

Democracy Now - Tue 08 31 AM

In the history of the planet, there have been five known mass extinction events. The last came 65 million years ago, when an asteroid about half the size of Manhattan collided with the Earth, wiping out the dinosaurs and bringing the Cretaceous period to an end. Scientists say we are now experiencing the sixth extinction, with up to 50 percent of all living species in danger of disappearing by the end of the century. But unlike previous extinctions, the direct cause this time is us — human-driven climate change. In "The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History," journalist Elizabeth Kolbert visits four continents to document the massive "die-offs" that came millions of years ago and those now unfolding before our eyes. Kolbert explores how human activity — fossil fuel consumption, ocean acidification, pollution, deforestation, forced migration — threatens life forms of all kinds. "It is estimated that one-third of all reef-building corals, a third of all fresh-water mollusks, a third of sharks and rays, a quarter of all mammals, a fifth of all reptiles, and a sixth of all birds are headed toward oblivion," Kolbert writes. "The losses are occurring all over: in the South Pacific and in the North Atlantic, in the Arctic and the Sahel, in lakes and on islands, on mountaintops and in valleys."

The Day We Fight Back: Activism Sweeps the Internet with Global Action Against Mass Surveillance

Democracy Now - Tue 08 12 AM

Nearly a decade after the George W. Bush administration’s warrantless spying program came to light, the issue of mass government surveillance has again sparked a global outcry with the disclosures of whistleblower Edward Snowden. Leaks of National Security Agency files have exposed a mammoth spying apparatus that stretches across the planet, from phone records to text messages to social media and email, from the internal communications of climate summits to those of foreign missions and even individual heads of state. Today privacy advocates are holding one of their biggest online actions so far with "The Day We Fight Back Against Mass Surveillance." Thousands of websites will speak in one voice, displaying a banner encouraging visitors to fight back by posting memes and changing their social media avatars to reflect their demands, as well as contacting their members of Congress to push through surveillance reform legislation. The action is inspired in part by the late Internet open-access activist Aaron Swartz, who helped set a precedent in January 2012 when more than 8,000 websites went dark for 12 hours in protest of a pair of controversial bills that were being debated in Congress: the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the PROTECT IP Act (PIPA). The bills died in committee in the wake of protests. We discuss today’s global action with Rainey Reitman, activism director at the Electronic Frontier Foundation and co-founder of the Freedom of the Press Foundation.

Defying Threats to Journalism, Jeremy Scahill & Glenn Greenwald Launch New Venture, The Intercept

Democracy Now - Mon 08 49 AM

Investigative journalists Jeremy Scahill and Glenn Greenwald join us for their first interview upon launching The Intercept, their new digital magazine published by First Look Media, the newly formed media venture started by eBay founder Pierre Omidyar. Greenwald is the journalist who first broke the story about Edward Snowden’s disclosures on the National Security Agency. He was previously a columnist at The Guardian newspaper. Scahill is producer and writer of the documentary film "Dirty Wars," which is nominated for an Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature. "We are really about a journalistic ethos — which is not doing things like helping the U.S. continue its targeting of U.S. citizens for death, but by being adversarial to the government," Greenwald says. "Telling the public what it ought to know, and targeting the most powerful corporate factions with accountability journalism." Greenwald and Scahill founded TheIntercept.org with filmmaker Laura Poitras.

Report: Obama Administration Considers Assassinating Another American Overseas

Democracy Now - Mon 08 44 AM

The Associated Press is reporting the White House is considering using a drone to kill an American citizen who is allegedly a member of al-Qaeda. The AP did not name the man or the country where he is residing. The Obama administration has killed four U.S. citizens in drone strikes since 2009, including Anwar al-Awlaki and his son in separate strikes in Yemen. We get response to the latest news from investigative journalists Jeremy Scahill and Glenn Greenwald of the new digital magazine, TheIntercept.org.