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Activists Demand Release of Manuel Duran, Prominent Latino Journalist in Memphis Jailed by ICE

http://www.democracynow.org - April 24, 2018 - 8:44am

Immigrants rights activists are demanding the release of Manuel Duran, a prominent Latino journalist in Memphis who has been in ICE custody since early April. Duran was detained by immigration officials after he was arrested while covering a protest against immigrant detention outside a county jail. Duran, who was born in El Salvador, is a well-known reporter on Spanish radio stations in Memphis. He also runs the online site Memphis Noticias. Duran issued a statement while detained about the conditions in the LaSalle Detention Center in Jena, Louisiana, where he is being held. He writes, “Through this experience I have learned first hand details about the treatment our immigrants receive before they are deported. How they keep the lights on day and night and you have to sleep with a towel over your eyes. How they make you lie in bed for 45 minutes, in what seems to be at random after roll calling, and you cannot use the phone or the bathroom during that time.”

The Untold Story of How Fidel Castro's Love Affair with ABC Journalist Altered U.S.-Cuban Relations

http://www.democracynow.org - April 24, 2018 - 8:36am

A new Politico cover story reveals how an ABC journalist named Lisa Howard conducted a secret liaison with Cuba’s Fidel Castro, eventually establishing a secret back channel between Castro’s office and the White House. For more, we speak with Peter Kornbluh, who directs the Cuba Documentation Project at the National Security Archive at George Washington University, and who wrote the piece in Politico, “'My Dearest Fidel': An ABC Journalist’s Secret Liaison with Fidel Castro.”

As Cuba Gains a New President, Raúl Castro Steps Back, Not Down, from Power

http://www.democracynow.org - April 24, 2018 - 8:27am

For the first time since the Cuban revolution toppled dictator Fulgencio Batista, a president who does not have the last name Castro has taken power. Miguel Díaz-Canel was sworn in as president last Thursday. He succeeds Raúl Castro, who served two consecutive 5-year terms in office. Castro is now 86 years old and will remain head of the Communist Party. Fidel Castro handed over power to his brother Raúl in 2008 while his health deteriorated, and died in 2016. Thursday’s session was held on the 57th anniversary of Cuba’s 1961 defeat of a CIA-backed Cuban exile invasion known as the Bay of Pigs. Díaz-Canel began his term with a promise to defend the socialist revolution led by the Castro brothers. We speak to Peter Kornbluh, who directs the Cuba Documentation Project at the National Security Archive at George Washington University.

No End in Sight for US-Backed Yemen War as Airstrike Kills At Least 20, Including Bride, at Wedding

http://www.democracynow.org - April 24, 2018 - 8:11am

At least 20 people died Sunday when a Saudi-led coalition airstrike hit a wedding party in northern Yemen. Most of the dead were reportedly women and children who were gathered in one of the wedding party tents. The bride was among the dead. Medics and residents said more than 46 others—including 30 children—were also injured. The attack on the Yemeni wedding party was one of at least three airstrikes over the weekend that killed Yemeni civilians. A family of five died in an airstrike in the province of Hajjah. And 20 civilians died on Saturday when fighter jets bombed a bus near the city of Taiz. Earlier this month, U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres said Yemen had become the world’s worst humanitarian crisis. We speak to Shireen Al-Adeimi, a Yemeni doctoral candidate at Harvard University.

How Black Students Helped Lead the 1968 Columbia U. Strike Against Militarism & Racism 50 Years Ago

http://www.democracynow.org - April 23, 2018 - 8:16am

Fifty years ago today, on April 23, 1968, hundreds of students at Columbia University in New York started a revolt on campus. They occupied five buildings, including the president’s office in Low Library, then students barricaded themselves inside the buildings for days. They were protesting Columbia’s ties to military research and plans to build a university gymnasium in a public park in Harlem. The protests began less than three weeks after the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. The 1968 Columbia uprising led to one of the largest mass arrests in New York City history—more than 700 people arrested on April 30. It also inspired student protests across the country. Today, we spend the hour looking back at this pivotal moment. We are joined by Raymond Brown, former leader of the Student Afro-American Society; Nancy Biberman, a Barnard College student who joined the protests as a member of Students for Democratic Society; Mark Rudd, chair of the Columbia University chapter of SDS during the student strike; Juan González, Democracy Now! co-host who was a Columbia student and strike organizer; and Paul Cronin, editor of the new book “A Time to Stir: Columbia ’68.” We also feature excerpts from the 1968 documentary “Columbia Revolt” by Third World Newsreel.

Earth Day 2018: Ending Plastic Pollution in the Oceans, Land & Our Bodies

http://www.democracynow.org - April 20, 2018 - 8:44am

This Sunday more than a billion people will celebrate Earth Day. This year’s theme: ending plastic pollution by Earth Day 2020. Of the nearly 300 million tons of plastic sold each year, about 90 percent ends up in landfills, in the oceans—and in our bodies. Part of the focus will be microplastics, those small bits of plastic that are seemingly everywhere. We speak to Marcus Eriksen of the 5 Gyres Institute, who has led 20 expeditions around the world to research plastic marine pollution, and Priscilla Villa of the #BreakFreeFromPlastics movement.

Dilma Rousseff: The Rise of Brazil's Far Right Threatens Democratic Gains Since End of Dictatorship

http://www.democracynow.org - April 20, 2018 - 8:27am

The imprisonment of former Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva has shaken up this year’s presidential election. Lula is the front-runner but will likely be barred from running if he is not released from prison. Polling second is the far-right former military captain Jair Bolsonaro. We speak to former Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff about the rise of the far right and the recent assassination of Brazilian human rights activist and Rio City Councilmember Marielle Franco.

Dilma Rousseff: Lula's Imprisonment Is Part of a Coup Corroding Brazil's Democratic Institutions

http://www.democracynow.org - April 20, 2018 - 8:12am

Protests are continuing in Brazil over the imprisonment of former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva. Two weeks ago, Lula began serving a 12-year prison sentence for a highly controversial corruption conviction. Lula had been the front-runner in this year’s presidential election. His supporters say his jailing is a continuation of a coup that began in 2016, when his close ally, Dilma Rousseff, was impeached as president. Both Lula and Rousseff are members of the left-leaning Workers’ Party, which has been credited with lifting tens of millions of Brazilians out of poverty since Lula was first elected in 2003. Last month, Lula spoke on Democracy Now! in one of his final TV interviews before being jailed. Earlier this week, Lula was dealt another setback when Brazil’s Fourth Federal Regional Court denied Lula’s latest appeal. Meanwhile, hundreds of Lula supporters have set up an encampment outside the prison where Lula is being held in the the southern city of Curitiba. We speak to former Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff. Her impeachment in 2016 ended nearly 14 years of rule by the Workers’ Party. Rousseff is a former political prisoner who took part in the underground resistance to the U.S.-backed Brazilian dictatorship in the 1960s. She was jailed from 1970 to 1972, during which time she was repeatedly tortured. She was elected president in 2010 and re-elected in 2014.

Stunning Investigation Confirms Black Mothers and Babies in the U.S. Are in a Life-or-Death Crisis

http://www.democracynow.org - April 19, 2018 - 8:50am

Tuesday marked the end of the inaugural Black Maternal Health Week, a campaign founded and led by the Black Mamas Matter Alliance. The effort was launched to build awareness and activism around the state of black maternal health in the U.S. The United States ranks 32 out of the 35 wealthiest nations in infant mortality. Black infants are now more than twice as likely to die as white infants, a disparity greater than existed in 1850, 15 years before slavery ended. Each year, an estimated 700 to 900 maternal deaths occur in the U.S., which is one of only 13 countries in the world where the rate of maternal mortality is worse than it was 25 years ago. And according to the Centers for Disease Control, black women are three to four times as likely to die from pregnancy-related causes as their white counterparts. These statistics were reported in a powerful new investigation in The New York Times Magazine, “Why America’s Black Mothers and Babies Are in a Life-or-Death Crisis.” Even more shocking is that, according to the report and contrary to widely accepted research, education and income offer little protection. The answer to the disparity in death rates has everything to do with the lived experience of being a black woman in America. We speak to New York Times Magazine contributing writer Linda Villarosa, who directs the journalism program at the City College of New York.

Former Gitmo Prisoner Moazzam Begg Explains How Torture & U.S.-Run Prisons Helped Give Birth to ISIS

http://www.democracynow.org - April 19, 2018 - 8:44am

As President Trump continues to refuse to close the U.S. military prison at Guantánamo, we speak to a former prisoner at the camp—Moazzam Begg. He was held in extrajudicial detention by the U.S. government from 2002 to 2005, first in Kandahar, then at Bagram Air Base, for approximately a year before being transferred to Guantánamo.

Rashid Khalidi: Ending the Proxy Wars in Syria Is Key to De-escalating Deadly Conflict

http://www.democracynow.org - April 19, 2018 - 8:39am

Columbia professor Rashid Khalidi discusses how the war in Syria has become a proxy war with a number of nations involved, including Russia, Iran, the United States, Israel, Turkey and the Gulf states.

Moazzam Begg on Syria: A No-Fly Zone Is Needed Around Idlib to Prevent "Unprecedented" Massacre

http://www.democracynow.org - April 19, 2018 - 8:27am

In Syria, international chemical weapons inspectors are still attempting to enter the town of Douma, where an alleged chemical gas attack killed dozens of people earlier this month. Inspectors with the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons arrived in Damascus on Saturday but have been unable to reach Douma and have accused Syrian and Russian authorities of blocking access to the town. On Friday, the United States, France and Britain carried out airstrikes against two chemical weapons storage facilities and a research center in Syria. In response to the U.S.-led strikes, Russia announced it may supply Syria with a state-of-the-art air defense system—a move likely to anger the United States and Israel. Israel has carried out more than 150 bombing raids in Syria since 2011. Just last week Israel bombed an Iranian air defense system at a Syrian base.

We go to London to speak with Moazzam Begg. He is a former Guantánamo detainee. He was held in extrajudicial detention by the U.S. government from 2002 to 2005, first in Kandahar, then at Bagram Air Base for approximately a year before being transferred to Guantánamo. In 2011 and 2012, Begg made several trips to Syria to investigate reports of U.S. and U.K. rendition operations and to interview former prisoners of the Assad regime. Begg works as outreach director at the London-based organization CAGE, which advocates on behalf of victims of the “war on terror.”

Rashid Khalidi: The Israeli Security Establishment Is Terrified of a Nonviolent Palestinian Movement

http://www.democracynow.org - April 19, 2018 - 8:11am

Palestinian protests against the Israeli occupation are continuing this week as Israel begins to mark the country’s 70th anniversary of its founding in 1948. According to the Palestinian Ministry of Health in Gaza, Israeli forces have killed 33 Palestinian protesters over the past three weeks since the “Great March of Return” protests began to commemorate the mass expulsion of Palestinians during Israel’s establishment. Palestinian authorities estimate nearly 4,300 Palestinians have been injured in the peaceful protests—many were shot with live ammunition or rubber-coated steel bullets. Gaza authorities have also accused Israel of deliberately targeting journalists and medics. Since the protests began, one journalist—Yaser Murtaja—was killed, and 66 journalists were injured. In addition, 44 medics have been wounded, and 19 ambulances were reportedly targeted. The protest marches are set to last to until May 15, recognized as the official Israeli Independence Day. Palestinians mark the date as Nakba Day, or “Day of the Catastrophe.” For more, we’re joined by Rashid Khalidi, Edward Said professor of Arab studies at Columbia University. He’s the author of several books, his most recent titled “Brokers of Deceit: How the U.S. Has Undermined Peace in the Middle East.”

#FreeSiwatu: Pregnant Black Detroit Activist Jailed for Standing Her Ground & Protecting Her Family

http://www.democracynow.org - April 18, 2018 - 8:38am

An environmental activist and young black mother in Detroit may be forced to give birth behind bars, after standing her ground during a frightening encounter. Since she was 15 years old, Siwatu-Salama Ra has fought for environmental justice. She campaigned against the Marathon oil refinery and the Detroit Renewable Power trash incinerator. She represented Detroit at the Paris climate summit. She’s also worked to engage kids and educate young mothers about nutrition. Now, at age 26, Siwatu has been sentenced to a mandatory two years in prison, following an incident in which she brandished her unloaded—and legally registered—handgun while defending her mother and 2-year-old daughter. She was sentenced last month to two years in prison even though she is scheduled to give birth in June. We speak to two of her attorneys and Patrisse Khan-Cullors, co-founder of Black Lives Matter.

America's #1 Weapons Salesman: Trump Promotes U.S. Arms Manufacturers & Weakens Export Rules

http://www.democracynow.org - April 18, 2018 - 8:22am

A new exposé by Reuters reveals how the Trump administration plans to make the U.S. an even larger weapons exporter by loosening restrictions on the sale of equipment ranging from fighter jets and drones to warships and artillery. Reuters reveals that the new initiative will provide guidelines that could allow more countries to be granted faster deal approvals, and will call on Cabinet officials to help close deals between foreign governments and U.S. defense contractors. In one example, Reuters reveals President Trump himself urged the emir of Kuwait, in a telephone call, to finalize a $10 billion fighter jet deal with Boeing, the country’s second-largest defense contractor. The exposé details the role U.S. Cabinet officials may be asked to play in pushing arms exports abroad as part of the new initiative, which will call for a “whole of government” approach—from the president and his Cabinet to military attachés and diplomats—to help draw in billions of dollars more in arms business overseas. The Trump administration is expected to announce the new rules as early as Thursday. We speak to Mike Stone of Reuters and William Hartung, director of the Arms and Security Project at the Center for International Policy.

Unlimited Worldwide War: ACLU Warns Senate Against Giving Trump Blank Check to Declare War

http://www.democracynow.org - April 18, 2018 - 8:10am

The New York Times is reporting President Trump launched airstrikes against Syria on Friday despite opposition from his own defense secretary, James Mattis, who wanted Trump to first get congressional approval. Meanwhile, a number of lawmakers have described the strikes on Syria as illegal since Trump did not seek congressional input or authorization.This comes as Congress is considering rewriting the war powers granted to the president after the September 11 attacks—what’s known as the AUMF, or Authorization for Use of Military Force. On September 14, 2001, the current AUMF passed the Senate 98-0 and 420-1 in the House, with California Democrat Barbara Lee casting the sole dissenting vote. Since then, it’s been used by Presidents Bush, Obama and Trump to justify at least 37 military operations in 14 countries—many of which were entirely unrelated to 9/11. On Monday, Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chair Bob Corker, a Tennessee Republican, and Democratic committee member Tim Kaine of Virginia introduced legislation to replace the AUMFs with a new one. Corker and Kaine claim their legislation would strengthen congressional oversight. But critics, including the American Civil Liberties Union, warn the proposed legislation would actually expand the authority of President Trump and all future presidents to engage in worldwide war without limitations. For more, we’re joined by Faiz Shakir, national political director for the ACLU.

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