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17 Shots: Police Killing of Unarmed Mexican Farmworker in Washington State Sparks Protest

Democracy Now - Fri 08 41 AM

Authorities in Pasco, Washington, have revealed police fired 17 shots at Antonio Zambrano-Montes, an unarmed Mexican farmworker who was shot dead on February 10. Cellphone video shows Zambrano turning to face police and raising his hands before he is shot. The shooting has sparked weeks of protests. Live from Pasco, we speak with Felix Vargas, chairman of Consejo Latino, a group of local businessmen in Pasco who are working with Zambrano’s family. We also talk to Jennifer Shaw, deputy director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Washington state and a member of the Community Police Commission in Seattle.

Antiquities Scholar: Islamic State's Destruction of Museum & Library is Cultural & Ethnic Cleansing

Democracy Now - Fri 08 28 AM

Video has surfaced showing militants from the Islamic State destroying ancient artifacts at a museum in the Iraqi city of Mosul. Men are seen toppling statues and using sledgehammers and drills to destroy the artifacts. The Guardian reports one of the statues destroyed was a winged-bull Assyrian protective deity that dates back to the 9th century B.C. The Islamic State has also reportedly destroyed the Mosul public library, which housed more than 8,000 rare books and manuscripts. On Thursday, UNESCO, the cultural arm of the United Nations, called for the U.N. Security Council to hold an emergency meeting on protecting Iraq’s cultural heritage. "I condemn this as a deliberate attack against Iraq’s millennial history and culture, and as an inflammatory incitement to violence and hatred," said UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova. We speak to Zainab Bahrani, professor of Near Eastern and East Mediterranean art and archeology at Columbia University. She has worked extensively in Iraq, including periods as senior adviser to Iraq’s Ministry of Culture and a UNESCO consultant.

"A Historic Decision": Tim Wu, Father of Net Neutrality, Praises FCC Vote to Preserve Open Internet

Democracy Now - Fri 08 08 AM

Advocates of a free and open Internet are celebrating a vote Thursday by the Federal Communications Commission to approve strong net neutrality rules. The move bans "paid prioritization" by Internet service providers who seek to charge extra fees from content producers, as well as blocking and throttling of lawful content. The new rules will also apply to mobile access. The vote is seen as a major victory for grassroots advocacy groups — including Fight for the Future, Demand Progress, Free Press, Color of Change and Center for Media Justice — who have spent years campaigning to preserve an open Internet. We speak to longtime open Internet advocate Tim Wu. He is a policy advocate and Columbia University law professor who is known for coining the term "net neutrality" back in 2002.

Who Bankrolls the Islamic State? Private Donors in Gulf Oil States Cited as Key to ISIS Success

Democracy Now - Thu 08 44 AM

Militants from the self-proclaimed Islamic State have reportedly abducted at least 220 people from Assyrian Christian villages in northeastern Syria during a three-day offensive. Meanwhile, the Islamic State militant nicknamed "Jihadi John," who has been featured in several beheading videos, has been identified as Mohammed Emwazi, a Kuwaiti-born former resident of London. In other news, two U.S.-led coalition airstrikes have reportedly killed over three dozen people in Iraq, including at least 20 civilians. Also this week, UNESCO is has condemned the Islamic State for destroying the Mosul public library, which housed more than 8,000 rare books and manuscripts. UNESCO described the incident as "one of the most devastating acts of destruction of library collections in human history." Earlier today, video was posted online that appears to show members of the Islamic State smashing ancient artifacts inside a Mosul museum. The video shows men toppling statues and using sledgehammers and drills to destroy the artifacts. The Guardian reports one of the statues destroyed was a winged-bull Assyrian protective deity that dates back to the 9th century B.C. Live from Iraq, we are joined by Patrick Cockburn, Middle East correspondent for The Independent. His latest book is "The Rise of Islamic State: ISIS and the New Sunni Revolution."

Exporting Torture: Former Chicago Police Detective Tied to Brutality at Guantánamo

Democracy Now - Thu 08 32 AM

A former Guantánamo Bay interrogator involved in torture was also a longtime Chicago police officer known for abusing people of color. According to The Guardian, Richard Zuley spent three decades as a notoriously brutal detective on the Chicago police force. From 1977 to 2007, Zuley used tactics including torture, threats and abuse to elicit confessions from suspects, the majority of whom were not white. One of those confessions was later ruled to be false, and the sentence was vacated. Zuley’s methods included shackling suspects to walls through eyebolts for several hours, allegedly planting evidence, and issuing threats of harm to family members and sentences of the death penalty unless a suspect confessed. Zuley was also accused of brutal methods at Guantánamo Bay, where he was a reserve officer in charge of interrogating a prisoner who said he made a false confession due to torture. The Guardian report comes just after the notorious Chicago police commander Jon Burge was released from a halfway house after he served four-and-a-half years for lying under oath about torturing prisoners in Chicago in the 1970s and 1980s. We speak to Spencer Ackerman, national security editor at The Guardian.

A Black Site in Chicago? Police Accused of Running Secret Compound for Detentions & Interrogations

Democracy Now - Thu 08 15 AM

An explosive new report in The Guardian claims the Chicago police are operating a secret compound for detentions and interrogations, often with abusive methods. According to The Guardian, detainees as young as 15 years old have been taken to a nondescript warehouse known as Homan Square. Some are calling it the domestic equivalent of a CIA "black site" overseas. Prisoners were denied access to their attorneys, beaten and held for up to 24 hours without any official record of their detention. Two former senior officials in the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice are calling on their colleagues to launch a probe into allegations of excessive use of force, denial of right to counsel and coercive interrogations. We speak to Spencer Ackerman, national security editor at The Guardian. We are also joined by Victoria Suter, who was held at Homan Square after being arrested at the NATO protests in Chicago in 2012.

On National Adjunct Walkout Day, Professors Call Out Poverty-Level Wages & Poor Working Conditions

Democracy Now - Wed 08 53 AM

Today is National Adjunct Walkout Day. Adjunct professors on campuses across the country hope to draw attention to what many say are poverty-level wages, with no chance to advance to a tenured track position. We are joined by Louisa Edgerly, an adjunct instructor at Seattle University, where she will join other adjuncts and students — along with tenure-track professors — in walking out at noon today.

Students Launch Historic Debt Strike, Refusing to Pay Back Predatory College Loans

Democracy Now - Wed 08 44 AM

Students and activists are taking direct action over what some have called the nation’s next financial crisis: the more than $1.2 trillion in student loan debt. The massive cost of U.S. college tuition has saddled millions with crushing debt and priced many others out of the classroom. Now, 15 former students of the for-profit Corinthian Colleges system have launched what they say is the nation’s first student debt strike. The students have refused to pay back loans they took out to attend Corinthian, which has been sued by the federal government for its predatory lending. Meanwhile, another activist group has announced it has erased some $13 million of debt owed by students of Everest College, a Corinthian subsidiary. The Rolling Jubilee uses donated funds to purchase debt at discounted prices, then abolish it. We are joined by two guests: Laura Hanna, a filmmaker and activist who helped launch Strike Debt’s Rolling Jubilee initiative, and Latonya Suggs, a student debt striker in the "Corinthian 15" who is $63,000 in debt after completing a two-year program in criminal justice at Everest College.

Spy Cables: Greenpeace's Kumi Naidoo Targeted by Intelligence Agencies as "Security" Threat

Democracy Now - Wed 08 34 AM

Al Jazeera has obtained leaked diplomatic cables showing a number of foreign requests to South African intelligence to spy on activists, NGOs and politicians. One document shows South Korea sought out a "specific security assessment" of Greenpeace International Executive Director Kumi Naidoo in the run-up to a meeting of G20 leaders in Seoul in 2010. The disclosure is among scores contained in leaks to Al Jazeera by a South African intelligence source. From South Africa, we speak with Kumi Naidoo. "We are winning the [climate change] argument, and those trying to hold us back are getting desperate," Naidoo says.

Climate Deniers Exposed: Top Scientist Got Funding from ExxonMobil, Koch Brothers, Big Coal

Democracy Now - Wed 08 27 AM

A new investigation exposes how one of the top scientists involved in denying climate change has failed to disclose his extensive funding from the fossil fuel industry. Dr. Wei-Hock Soon of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics has downplayed global warming and rejected human activity as its cause, arguing the sun is more responsible than greenhouse gases from pollution. Climate denialists — including Republican Senator James Inhofe, chair of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee — frequently cite Soon’s work to reject concrete action. But documents obtained by the Climate Investigations Center show Soon received more than $1.2 million from fossil fuel corporations and conservative groups over the last decade and failed to disclose those ties in most of his scientific papers. Funders include ExxonMobil, the American Petroleum Institute, coal utility Southern Company and the Charles G. Koch Foundation. In letters with his funders, Soon referred to his scientific papers or congressional testimony as "deliverables." We are joined by the Kert Davies, executive director at Climate Investigations Center.

Obama Vetoes Keystone XL Bill, But Fight over Climate-Threatening Oil Pipeline Isn't Over

Democracy Now - Wed 08 23 AM

President Obama has vetoed a Republican bill approving the Keystone XL tar sands oil pipeline. The White House says the move is not a judgment on the pipeline’s merits, but a bid to see through a State Department review that will determine whether the project is in the national interest. Opponents of the Keystone XL pipeline have warned against further development of the tar sands oil fields in Canada. In 2011, NASA climate scientist James Hansen said approval of the Keystone XL pipeline would be "game over" for the Earth’s climate. May Boeve, executive director of 350.org, said: "After four years of rallies, marches, sit-ins, and civil disobedience, we’re thrilled to see President Obama take an important first step by vetoing this love letter to Big Oil. ... Now, it’s time for the president to show he’s serious about his climate legacy by moving on to step two: rejecting this pipeline once and for all." We discuss the politics of the pipeline with Kert Davies, executive director of the Climate Investigations Center.

Could a Former Activist Unseat Mayor 1%? Rahm Emanuel Faces Chicago Runoff Despite Vast Outspending

Democracy Now - Wed 08 11 AM

Chicago’s mayoral race is heading to a runoff election after incumbent Rahm Emanuel failed to win 50 percent of the vote. Emanuel raised roughly $16 million, more than four times his challengers combined. Could the second-place challenger, Jesús "Chuy" García, a county commissioner and former immigrant rights activist born in Mexico, defeat the man nicknamed "Mayor 1 Percent"? We are joined by Salim Muwakkil, senior editor of In These Times and host of "The Salim Muwakkil Show" on WVON in Chicago.

50 Years After Murder, Malcolm X Remembered by Daughter Ilyasah Shabazz & Friend A. Peter Bailey

Democracy Now - Tue 08 43 AM

As Democracy Now! continues to mark the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Malcolm X, we are joined by his daughter, Ilyasah Shabazz, and friend, A. Peter Bailey. Both were inside the Audubon Ballroom on Feb. 21, 1965, the day Malcolm X was shot dead. Shabazz was just two years old, while Bailey was among the last people to speak with Malcolm X that day. Shabazz is a community organizer, motivational speaker and author of several books, including the young adult-themed "X: A Novel" and a memoir, "Growing Up X." Bailey is a journalist, author and lecturer who helped Malcolm X found the Organization of Afro-American Unity and served as one of the pallbearers at his funeral. Bailey is the author of several books, including "Witnessing Brother Malcolm X, the Master Teacher." Shabazz and Bailey discuss the circumstances surrounding Malcolm X’s killing and share personal reflections on his life and legacy.

Watch Part 2 of the discussion here.

Revolt at "Ritmo": Dire Conditions in For-Profit Texas Immigration Jail Spark Prisoner Uprising

Democracy Now - Tue 08 34 AM

In Texas, up to 2,000 immigrant prisoners in Raymondville staged a two-day uprising to protest inadequate medical care at a privately run prison. After refusing to eat breakfast on February 20, prisoners seized control of part of the prison and set fires. Critics have described the jail as "Ritmo" — short for Raymondville’s Guantánamo prison — or simply "tent city," since most of the prison population sleeps in massive Kevlar tents. In a report last year, the American Civil Liberties Union described living conditions as "[not] only foul, cramped and depressing, but also overcrowded." The Willacy County Correctional Center in Raymondville is owned and operated by Management & Training Corporation, a private company based in Utah. It is one of 13 privately run so-called "Criminal Alien Requirement" prisons. The latest reports indicate that the prisoners are being relocated from the facility after it was deemed "uninhabitable." We speak to Carl Takei, a staff attorney with the ACLU’s National Prison Project. Last year he wrote the report, "Warehoused and Forgotten: Immigrants Trapped in Our Shadow Private Prison System."

As Netanyahu Tries to Stop U.S.-Iran Deal, Leaked Cables Show Israeli Spies Reject His Nuke Claims

Democracy Now - Tue 08 12 AM

In what has been described as the biggest intelligence leak since Edward Snowden, Al Jazeera has begun publishing a series of spy cables from the world’s top intelligence agencies. In one cable, the Israeli spy agency Mossad contradicts Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s own dire warnings about Iran’s ability to produce a nuclear bomb within one year. In a report to South African counterparts in October 2012, the Mossad concluded Iran was "not performing the activity necessary to produce weapons." The explosive disclosure comes just as the United States and Iran have reported progress toward reaching a nuclear deal, an outcome Netanyahu will try to undermine when he addresses the U.S. Congress next week. We go to Doha to speak with Clayton Swisher, the head of Al Jazeera’s investigative unit, which broke the Iran story and several others in a series of articles called, "The Spy Cables."

50 Years Later, Malcolm X's Family Gather at Place of His Murder to Honor Revolutionary Life, Legacy

Democracy Now - Mon 08 40 AM

This weekend, people around the country marked the 50th anniversary of the assassination of El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz, known as Malcolm X — one of the most influential political figures of the 20th century. In New York City, family members and former colleagues led a memorial ceremony in the former Audubon Ballroom where Malcolm X was gunned down on February 21, 1965. The Audubon Ballroom is now the Malcolm X and Betty Shabazz Memorial and Education Center. We hear some of the event’s speakers, including Malcolm X’s daughter Ilyasah Shabazz. We broadcast an excerpt of our 2006 interview with the late civil rights activist Yuri Kochiyama, who witnessed the assassination and held Malcolm X as he lay dying. We also air the Pacifica Archives recording of the 1965 eulogy delivered by the actor and activist Ossie Davis.