Feed aggregator

MOVE Bombing at 30: "Barbaric" 1985 Philadelphia Police Attack Killed 11 & Burned a Neighborhood

Democracy Now - Wed 07 44 AM

Today marks the 30th anniversary of a massive police operation in Philadelphia that culminated in the helicopter bombing of the headquarters of a radical group known as MOVE. The fire from the attack incinerated six adults and five children, and destroyed 65 homes. Despite two grand jury investigations and a commission finding that top officials were grossly negligent, no one from city government was criminally charged. MOVE was a Philadelphia-based radical movement dedicated to black liberation and a back-to-nature lifestyle. It was founded by John Africa, and all its members took on the surname Africa. We are joined in Philadelphia by Linn Washington, an award-winning journalist, professor and former columnist for The Philadelphia Tribune who has covered MOVE since 1975.

As Internal Docs Show Major Overreach, Why Is FBI Spying on Opponents of Keystone XL Pipeline?

Democracy Now - Wed 07 33 AM

A new report confirms for the first time that the FBI spied on activists in Texas who tried to stop the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline. Documents from the FBI reveal it failed to get approval before it cultivated informants and opened its investigation, which was run from its Houston field office. The files document "substantial non-compliance" with Department of Justice rules. The Tar Sands Blockade mentioned in that report was one of the main groups targeted by the FBI. Agents in Houston office also told TransCanada they would share "pertinent intelligence regarding any threats" to the company in advance of protests. We are joined by Adam Federman, contributing editor to Earth Island Journal and co-author of the new investigation published by The Guardian, "Revealed: FBI violated its own rules while spying on Keystone XL opponents." In February, he also revealed how the FBI has recently pursued environmental activists in Texas, Pennsylvania, Oregon, Washington and Idaho for "little more than taking photographs of oil and gas industry installations."

Revolt over TPP: Senate Dems Rebuke Obama by Blocking Debate on Secretive Trade Deal

Democracy Now - Wed 07 22 AM

In a surprising setback for President Obama, Senators from his own party have blocked debate on a bill that would have given the president fast-track authority to negotiate the Trans-Pacific Partnership, or TPP. The vote marked a victory for Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid, Elizabeth Warren and other critics of the TPP, a 12-nation trade pact that would encompass 40 percent of the global economy and is being negotiated in secret between the United States and 11 other Pacific Rim countries. Critics say the deal would hurt workers, undermine regulations and expand corporate power. Fast track would grant the president authority to negotiate the TPP and then present it to Congress for a yes-or-no vote, with no amendments allowed. We are joined by Lori Wallach, director of Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch and author of "The Rise and Fall of Fast Track Trade Authority."

Wisconsin Activists to Continue Protests After Cop Avoids Charges in Killing of Tony Robinson

Democracy Now - Wed 07 09 AM

A Madison, Wisconsin, police officer will not face criminal charges for fatally shooting an unarmed African-American teenager. Tony Robinson was shot dead in March after Officer Matt Kenny forced his way into an apartment following a "disturbance." Kenny says Robinson attacked him upon his entry. On Tuesday, the Dane County district attorney said an investigation found Kenny was lawful in firing the fatal shots. Robinson’s family members say they have been denied justice. Hundreds of people marched to the state Capitol on Tuesday in protest of the decision, and more actions are underway today. We are joined by M Adams, a Madison-based activist and organizer with the Young Gifted & Black Coalition.

Exclusive: CIA Whistleblower Jeffrey Sterling Speaks Out upon Sentencing to 3.5 Years in Prison

Democracy Now - Tue 07 43 AM

On Monday, former CIA officer Jeffrey Sterling was sentenced to 42 months in prison for leaking classified information to New York Times reporter James Risen about a failed U.S. effort to undermine Iran’s nuclear program. Risen later exposed how the risky operation could have actually aided the Iranian nuclear program. In January, Sterling was convicted of nine felony counts, including espionage. He becomes the latest government employee jailed by the Obama administration for leaking information. Since he was indicted four years ago, Jeffrey Sterling’s voice has never been heard by the public. But that changes today. We air an exclusive report that tells his story, "The Invisible Man." We are also joined by Norman Solomon, who interviewed Sterling for the piece and attended both his trial and sentencing. Solomon is a longtime activist, executive director of the Institute for Public Accuracy, co-founder of RootsAction.org and coordinator of ExposeFacts.org.

Seymour Hersh Details Explosive Story on Bin Laden Killing & Responds to White House, Media Backlash

Democracy Now - Tue 07 14 AM

Four years after U.S. forces assassinated Osama bin Laden, Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative reporter Seymour Hersh has published an explosive piece claiming much of what the Obama administration said about the attack was wrong. Hersh claims at the time of the U.S. raid bin Laden had been held as a prisoner by Pakistani intelligence since 2006. Top Pakistani military leaders knew about the operation and provided key assistance. Contrary to U.S. claims that it located bin Laden by tracking his courier, a former Pakistani intelligence officer identified bin Laden’s whereabouts in return for the bulk of a $25 million U.S. bounty. Questions are also raised about whether bin Laden was actually buried at sea, as the U.S. claimed. Hersh says instead the Navy SEALs threw parts of bin Laden’s body into the Hindu Kush mountains from their helicopter. The White House claims the piece is "riddled with inaccuracies." Hersh joins us to lay out his findings and respond to criticism from government officials and media colleagues.

Will Adnan Syed, Focus of Breakout Podcast Hit "Serial," Get a New Trial in Maryland?

Democracy Now - Mon 07 56 AM

The case of Maryland’s Adnan Syed drew national attention last year when it was the focus of Serial, considered the world’s most popular podcast and the medium’s first breakout hit. Syed was convicted of killing his ex-girlfriend in 1999 and has been serving a life sentence. His legal team argues prosecutors failed to interview an alibi witness and that his lawyer failed to inquire about a possible plea deal. Serial became the first-ever podcast to win a Peabody Award for its in-depth look at the case, exploring potential flaws with both the prosecution and with Syed’s defense. After two unsuccessful attempts to appeal his conviction, the Maryland Court of Special Appeals agreed in February to hear arguments about why Syed should get a new trial, based on the contention he had ineffective counsel. A hearing is set for June 9.

As Feds Probe Baltimore Police, Cops in Freddie Gray Case Seek Removal of Prosecutor Marilyn Mosby

Democracy Now - Mon 07 27 AM

As the Justice Department launches a probe of the Baltimore Police Department for a potential pattern of unconstitutional policing in the wake of the death of Freddie Gray, attorneys for the six officers indicted over Gray’s death are challenging the role of Baltimore’s top prosecutor, Marilyn Mosby. On Friday, defense lawyers filed a motion demanding Mosby recuse herself because of alleged conflicts of interest and "egregious" violations. The attorneys say Mosby’s judgment is compromised by her close relationship with the Gray family’s attorney and her husband’s job as a city councilmember from the district where Gray was arrested. The motion goes on to accuse Mosby of quelling the Baltimore riots by offering cops "up to the masses" as scapegoats. Mosby has rejected the claims and vowed to remain on the case. "There are consistent attempts here to derail the prosecution, to undermine public confidence and at the same time to influence the people who will one day be sitting as jurors," says our guest, Douglas Colbert, professor at the University of Maryland School of Law. He also responds to reports that Baltimore police officers are now reportedly hesitant to do their jobs.

EU Seeks U.N. Backing for Military Action to Stop Wave of Migrants Fleeing Horrific Abuse in Libya

Democracy Now - Mon 07 13 AM

The European Union is expected to ask the United Nations Security Council today to permit military action against human traffickers operating out of Libya. The U.N. estimates more than 60,000 people have already tried to cross the Mediterranean from Libya into Europe this year. Over 1,800 migrants have died in the attempt, 20 times more than the same period last year. Meanwhile, the European Commission is due to make a proposal that member countries take in refugees under an EU quota system. The European Commission’s migration policy will also propose organizing legal means for migrants to come to Europe so they don’t turn to traffickers. This comes as a new report by Amnesty International reveals how migrants are forced to flee Libya because of "horrific abuse." The report is based on interviews with refugees and migrants across Libya who face "rape, torture and abductions for ransom by traffickers and smugglers, as well as systematic exploitation by their employers, religious persecution and other abuses by armed groups and criminal gangs." We are joined by the report’s author, Magda Mughrabi, Libya researcher at Amnesty International.

As Obama Admin Seeks More Funding for Charter Schools, Questions Raised over Billions Already Spent

Democracy Now - Fri 07 42 AM

As the Obama administration asks Congress to increase funding for charter schools by almost 50 percent, a new report claims charter schools are spending billions of dollars with nearly no oversight, regulation or accountability. The Center for Media and Democracy argues the federal government has spent more than $3 billion over the past two decades on the charter school industry, but there is no comprehensive database showing how these funds are spent and what results they produce. The new report analyzes materials obtained from open records requests regarding independent audits of how states interact with charter schools and their authorizers. It concludes that the anti-regulatory environment around charter schools coupled with their lack of financial transparency warrants a moratorium rather than increased charter funding. We are joined by Lisa Graves, executive director of the Center for Media and Democracy. The group’s new report is "New Documents Show How Taxpayer Money Is Wasted by Charter Schools."

Omar Khadr, Child Prisoner Who Claimed Torture at Gitmo, Freed on Bail in Canada During U.S. Appeal

Democracy Now - Fri 07 28 AM

Omar Khadr, once the youngest prisoner held on terror charges at Guantánamo Bay, has been released on bail from a Canadian prison. The Toronto-born Khadr was detained in 2002 by U.S. forces in Afghanistan before being transferred to Guantánamo Bay at the age of 16. Khadr became the first person since World War II to be prosecuted in a war crimes tribunal for acts committed as a juvenile. After eight years at Guantánamo, he confessed in 2010 to throwing a grenade that killed an American soldier. His lawyers say his statements were illegally obtained through torture and cruelty. As part of a plea deal, the United States later allowed his transfer back to Canada. Khadr will remain free while he appeals his war crimes convictions in the United States. We are joined by Michelle Shephard, national security reporter for the Toronto Star and author of "Guantanamo’s Child: The Untold Story of Omar Khadr."

Court Rules NSA Bulk Spying Illegal: New Vindication for Snowden and Uncertainty for PATRIOT Act

Democracy Now - Fri 07 12 AM

A federal appeals court has ruled the National Security Agency’s bulk collection of millions of Americans’ phone records is illegal. The program was exposed by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden; the ACLU filed its lawsuit based largely on Snowden’s revelations. In a unanimous decision Thursday, a three-judge panel of the Second Circuit Court of Appeals in New York called the bulk phone records collection "unprecedented and unwarranted." The ruling comes as Congress faces a June 1 deadline to renew the part of the PATRIOT Act that authorizes the NSA’s bulk data surveillance. Another measure, the USA FREEDOM Act, would lead to limited reforms of some of the NSA’s programs. We are joined by Jameel Jaffer, deputy legal director of the ACLU, which filed the case challenging the NSA’s bulk collection of Americans’ phone records.

The Socialization of Evil: Robert Jay Lifton on the Death Penalty, the Holocaust & Armenian Genocide

Democracy Now - Thu 07 44 AM

For the past five decades, eminent psychiatrist Robert Jay Lifton has written extensively on the psychological dimensions of war, from the U.S. atomic bombing of Hiroshima, to doctors who aided Nazi crimes, to nuclear war. In 1967, Lifton won a National Book Award for his work, "Death in Life: Survivors of Hiroshima." In 1970, he would testify before a Senate committee about the Vietnam War, warning about the need to help rehumanize returning veterans into society. In 1986, he published the seminal book, "The Nazi Doctors: Medical Killing and the Psychology of Genocide." In the final part of our interview, Lifton expounds on what he calls "the socialization of evil," from the Holocaust to Vietnam to the death penalty.

Robert Jay Lifton, Author of "The Nazi Doctors": Psychologists Who Aided Torture Should Be Charged

Democracy Now - Thu 07 28 AM

Robert Jay Lifton, the prominent psychiatrist famous for his study of the doctors who aided Nazi war crimes, speaks out on the role of the American Psychological Association in aiding government-sanctioned torture under President George W. Bush. A new report alleges the APA, the world’s largest group of psychologists, secretly coordinated with government officials to align its ethics policy with the operational needs of the CIA’s torture program. "What the APA did was a scandal within a scandal," Lifton says. "[This] is something we have to confront as a nation."

Robert Jay Lifton on How Climate Change Joins Nuclear War in Threatening Human Survival

Democracy Now - Thu 07 12 AM

After advocating against nuclear weapons for decades, the leading American psychiatrist Robert Jay Lifton has recently focused on the global threat posed by climate change. Last year, he wrote a piece in The New York Times comparing the nuclear freeze movement of the 1980s to the climate justice movement of today. "People came to feel that it was deeply wrong, perhaps evil, to engage in nuclear war, and are coming to an awareness that it is deeply wrong, perhaps evil, to destroy our habitat and create a legacy of suffering for our children and grandchildren," Lifton said. One of the nation’s best-known psychiatrists, Lifton joins us to discuss the parallels between the threats of nuclear weapons and global warming, and the growing public awareness to meet the challenges they pose.