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War for Decades to Come? 1 Year After ISIL Advance, U.S. Could Send Hundreds More Troops to Iraq

Democracy Now - Wed 07 13 AM

The Obama administration is considering a plan to increase the U.S. presence in Iraq by sending 400 to 500 more military personnel as well as establishing a new military base in Anbar province. The United States already has about 3,000 troops, including trainers and advisers, in Iraq. The administration is describing the military personnel as advisers who will help train Iraqi forces in an attempt to retake the city of Ramadi, which fell to the self-described Islamic State last month. Plans to retake Mosul may be pushed off until next year. It was a year ago this week when Islamic State fighters seized Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city. Today the city remains in ISIL’s hands. Advisers close to the White House say it could take decades to defeat ISIL. We discuss the fight against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria with two guests: Malcolm Nance, a retired Arabic-speaking counterterrorism intelligence officer and combat veteran who first worked in Iraq in 1987; and Patrick Cockburn, Middle East correspondent for The Independent, just back from reporting in Iraq and Syria. Cockburn’s latest book is "The Rise of Islamic State: ISIS and the New Sunni Revolution."

Rainbow Warrior: 30 Years Later, Will France Ever Apologize for Fatal Bombing of Greenpeace Ship?

Democracy Now - Tue 07 53 AM

Next month marks the 30th anniversary of a turning point in the history of Greenpeace. On July 10, 1985, the Greenpeace flagship Rainbow Warrior was bombed by French government agents and sunk in a harbor in Auckland, New Zealand. The ship was preparing to head to sea to protest against French nuclear bomb tests in the South Pacific. Greenpeace photographer Fernando Pereira was killed in the attack. Our guest Peter Willcox was the captain of the ship and on board when the boat was blown up.

The Arctic 30: How Greenpeace Activists Risked All to Stop Oil Drilling in New Climate Battleground

Democracy Now - Tue 07 33 AM

The Arctic is now the center of one of the world’s great environmental battles. As temperatures rise in the region, the world’s largest oil companies are eyeing vast new untapped reserves once covered year-round by ice. Environmentalists are pushing back in an attempt to save the pristine Arctic and keep the oil underground. We look back at a 2013 protest that caught the world’s attention, when activists from Greenpeace attempted to board a Russian oil drilling rig owned by the Russian state oil company Gazprom. In total, 28 Greenpeace activists and two journalists were arrested and brought to Russia, where they were charged with piracy and held for two months. They had faced up to 15 years in prison. They became known as the Arctic 30. We are joined by two guests: Peter Willcox, the captain of the Greenpeace ship involved in the action who spent two months in a Russian jail; and Ben Stewart, a longtime member of Greenpeace and author of the new book, "Don’t Trust, Don’t Fear, Don’t Beg: The Extraordinary Story of the Arctic 30."

Pulling a Gun on a Pool Party? Texas Cop Suspended After Manhandling Bikini-Clad Black Teen

Democracy Now - Tue 07 13 AM

As a grand jury charges former South Carolina police officer Michael Slager with murder for the shooting death of unarmed African American Walter Scott, hundreds have protested in McKinney, Texas, against a white police officer who threw an African-American bikini-clad 14-year-old girl to the ground and pointed his pistol at other black youths at a pool party. We are joined by Cheryl Dorsey, a former sergeant in the Los Angeles Police Department, the third largest in the country. Dorsey’s autobiography is "The Creation of a Manifesto: Black & Blue."

Traumatized by 3 Years at Rikers Without Charge, Ex-Teen Prisoner Kalief Browder Commits Suicide

Democracy Now - Mon 07 48 AM

A young man imprisoned for three years at Rikers Island jail in New York without charge has committed suicide. Kalief Browder was a 16-year-old high school sophomore when he was detained on suspicion of stealing a backpack. Browder never pleaded guilty and was never convicted. He maintained his innocence and requested a trial, but was only offered plea deals while the trial was repeatedly delayed. After enduring nearly 800 days in solitary confinement and abuses from guards, Browder was only released when the case was dismissed. Browder died Saturday at his home in the Bronx. He was 22 years old. We are joined by Jennifer Gonnerman, a staff reporter for The New Yorker who was the first to report Kalief’s suicide. She originally recounted Kalief Browder’s story last year in her article, "Before the Law: A boy was accused of taking a backpack. The courts took the next three years of his life," and later published exclusive surveillance footage of him being beaten by guards and fellow prisoners.

Protesters Press Secluded G7 Leaders on Harmful Policies, from Crippling Austerity to Dirty Coal

Democracy Now - Mon 07 14 AM

As leaders of the seven wealthy democracies known as the Group of Seven hold talks in a secluded castle in Germany, thousands of protesters have been met with 20,000 police in the largest security operation in the history of Bavaria. Issues on the G7 agenda include climate change, a $10.4 billion bailout package for Greece, and more austerity measures. We are joined by three guests: Gawain Kripke of Oxfam America, which just published the new report, "Let Them Eat Coal"; Eric LeCompte of the Jubilee USA Network; and former banker Nomi Prins, author of "All the Presidents’ Bankers."

From Occupying Banks to City Hall: Meet Barcelona's New Mayor Ada Colau

Democracy Now - Fri 07 39 AM

A longtime anti-eviction activist has just been elected mayor of Barcelona, becoming the city’s first female mayor. Ada Colau co-founded the anti-eviction group Platform for People Affected by Mortgages and was an active member of the indignados, or 15-M movement. Colau has vowed to fine banks with empty homes on their books, stop evictions, expand public housing, set a minimum monthly wage of $670, force utility companies to lower prices, and slash the mayoral salary. Colau enjoyed support from the Podemos party, which grew out of the indignados movement that began occupying squares in Spain four years ago. Ada Colau joins us to discuss her victory.

A Fossil Fuel-Free World is Possible: How to Power a Warming Earth Without Oil, Coal and Nuclear

Democracy Now - Fri 07 23 AM

Is a 100 percent renewable energy future possible? According to Stanford professor Mark Jacobson, the answer is yes. Jacobson has developed plans for all 50 states to transform their power infrastructure to rely on wind, water and solar power. This comes as California lawmakers have approved a dozen ambitious environmental and energy bills creating new standards for energy efficiency. Dubbed the California climate leadership package, the 12 bills set high benchmarks for reducing greenhouse gas emissions and petroleum use. We speak with Jacobson and Noah Diffenbaugh, Stanford University associate professor and a senior fellow at the Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment.

From Historic California Drought to Deadly Indian Heat Wave, Global Warming Is Wreaking Havoc

Democracy Now - Fri 07 07 AM

As California’s massive drought worsens, new mandatory water restrictions have just gone into effect, requiring residents to cut back water use by a net total of 25 percent. A new study by the University of California, Davis, finds that in 2015 alone, the drought will cost the state’s farmers and agricultural industry $2.7 billion and more than 18,000 jobs. The study notes: "The socioeconomic impacts of an extended drought, in 2016 and beyond, could be much more severe." Meanwhile, the death toll from India’s heat wave has topped 2,300, making it the fifth deadliest heat wave on record. We speak to two leading climate scientists at Stanford University, Noah Diffenbaugh and Mark Jacobson.

A Victory for Privacy or Extension of Mass Surveillance? Co-Sponsor of USA FREEDOM Act Rejects Bill

Democracy Now - Thu 07 52 AM

Earlier this week, President Obama signed into law a measure ending the mass phone surveillance program exposed by Edward Snowden two years ago. The Senate passed the USA FREEDOM Act on Tuesday with a vote of 67 to 32. The law stops the bulk collection of telephone records. It instead requires the NSA to ask companies for a specific user’s data rather than vacuuming up all the records at once. Congressman Jared Polis initially co-sponsored the legislation but ended up voting against the measure. He joins us from Washington, D.C.

Colorado Congressman Calls for Probe into School Cancellation of Evan Young's Graduation Speech

Democracy Now - Thu 07 44 AM

Twin Peaks Charter Academy has announced the the school will launch an investigation into Principal BJ Buchmann’s decision to cancel Evan Young’s coming-out graduation speech. The school has defended decision by saying "the Valedictorian failed to follow the guidelines established by the school. The initial draft of the student’s speech submitted for review was condescending toward the school and the student’s peers and included, among other things, ridiculing comments about faculty and students. The draft speech also included references to personal matters of a sexual nature." We go to Washington, D.C., to speak with Rep. Jared Polis (D-Colorado) who called for the school probe. He is the first openly gay member of Congress to become a parent.

Evan Young: Meet the High School Valedictorian Barred from Giving Coming-Out Graduation Speech

Democracy Now - Thu 07 27 AM

Part two of our interview with Evan Young, 2015 valedictorian of Twin Peaks Charter Academy High School in Longmont, Colorado. Young’s principal prevented him from delivering his graduation speech in which he planned to out himself as gay. This past weekend, Evan was able to give his speech at an Out Boulder fundraiser in a backyard before an audience of hundreds, a number of them politicians congratulating him for his bravery, including Colorado Congressman Jared Polis. Polis is the first openly gay member of Congress to become a parent.

"These are War Crimes": Shocking Details Emerge of U.S. Resident Majid Khan's Torture by CIA

Democracy Now - Thu 07 08 AM

Shocking new details have emerged about how the CIA tortured a former resident of Baltimore, Maryland, who has been in U.S. detention since 2003, first at a CIA black site, then at Guantánamo. Majid Khan is the only known legal resident of the United States to be held at Guantánamo. Over the years, Khan has detailed U.S. torture practices to his attorneys at the Center for Constitutional Rights, but until recently much of the information remained classified. According to the declassified notes, Khan was waterboarded on two separate occasions, he was hung on a wooden beam for days on end, he spent much of 2003 in total darkness, and he experienced repeated beatings and threats to beat him with tools, including a hammer. Khan also faced rectal feeding, which his lawyers described as a form of rape. Part of Khan’s torture was outlined in last year’s Senate torture report, but the declassified information provides new details on the abuse. We are joined by Majid Khan’s lawyer, J. Wells Dixon, a senior staff attorney with the Center for Constitutional Rights.

Fracking Protests Continue in Texas as New ALEC-Backed Law Bars Towns from Banning Drilling

Democracy Now - Wed 07 48 AM

The city of Denton, Texas, is in a showdown with Big Oil after it tried to pass a ban on fracking within its city limits. On Tuesday night, residents of Denton, about 30 miles north of Dallas-Fort Worth, packed a city council meeting to oppose a vote to repeal the ban. The vote was ultimately tabled. The move comes after Texas lawmakers passed a new law that prohibits such bans. The measure went into effect on Monday. That same morning, three protesters locked themselves to the entrance of the first fracking well to reopen. It was just this past November that nearly 60 percent of Denton residents supported the ban at the ballot box. But they were immediately threatened with lawsuits by the Texas Oil and Gas Association and the Texas General Land Office. Those same interests worked with lawmakers and the American Legislative Exchange Council, or ALEC, to pass this new ban on fracking bans known as House Bill 40. All of this comes as Oklahoma became the second state to ban fracking bans on Friday. Meanwhile, Maryland became the second state, after New York, to ban fracking. We are joined by Tara Linn Hunter, volunteer coordinator for Frack Free Denton.

Australian Whistleblower Who Took on FIFA Corruption: Sepp Blatter's Resignation Long Overdue

Democracy Now - Wed 07 33 AM

The beleaguered head of the international soccer governing body FIFA has resigned over a growing corruption scandal. Sepp Blatter’s announcement follows last week’s indictments of 14 people on corruption charges, including two FIFA vice presidents. The New York Times reported Blatter’s secretary general, Jérôme Valcke, allegedly made $10 million in bank transactions that are central elements of the bribery scandal. U.S. officials have confirmed Blatter is the focus of a criminal investigation, with investigators hopeful those already charged will cooperate. The resignation won’t take effect for another four months due to FIFA rules. We are joined by Bonita Mersiades, the former head of corporate and public affairs with the Football Federation of Australia during Australia’s bid for the 2022 World Cup, which ultimately was awarded to Qatar. Mersiades was let go from the bid team after disagreeing with a policy to influence the vote of FIFA’s Executive Committee members with money for pet projects, and testified during FIFA’s own investigation into corruption in the 2018 and 2022 World Cup bidding process.