As Iraq launches a new military operation to retake the city of Tikrit from the self-proclaimed Islamic State, thousands of Iraqi forces and militia fighters have converged in the city Samarra to strike nearby ISIS strongholds. The United States is expected to provide air support as part of its continued bombing campaign. The offensive comes as the Iraqi military prepares for a major U.S.-backed operation to retake Mosul from ISIS in the coming weeks. ISIS "is one of the results of the United States hitting a very vulnerable society with a sledgehammer, which elicited sectarian conflicts that had not existed," says Noam Chomsky. "It is hard to see how Iraq can even be held together at this point. It has been devastated by U.S. sanctions, the war, the atrocities that followed from it. The current policy, whatever it is, is not very likely to even patch up or even put band-aids on a cancer."
The recent ceasefire in Ukraine continues to hold after a shaky start, days after Secretary of State John Kerry publicly accused Russian officials of lying to his face about their military support for separatist rebels. The United Nations says the death toll from the nearly year-old conflict has topped 6,000. This comes as tens of thousands rallied in Moscow to honor the slain opposition leader Boris Nemtsov, who had accused Russian President Vladimir Putin of authoritarian rule. "It’s fashionable in the United States and Britain to condemn Putin as some sort of distorted mind," says Noam Chomsky, but he notes no Russian leader can accept the current Ukrainian move to join NATO. He argues a strong declaration that Ukraine will be neutralized offers the path to a peaceful settlement.
Six months after the end of a devastating Israeli assault on Gaza, aid agencies have condemned the lack of progress in rebuilding Gaza, saying reconstruction of tens of thousands of destroyed homes, schools and hospitals has been "woefully slow," with 100,000 Palestinians still displaced. Our guest, Noam Chomsky, notes it was the Pentagon that supplied many of the weapons used in the massive destruction. "The arms were taken from arms the U.S. stores in Israel. They are pre-positioned in Israel for eventual use by U.S. forces," Chomsky says. "Israel is regarded essentially as an offshore military base."
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has arrived in the United States as part of his bid to stop a nuclear deal with Iran during a controversial speech before the U.S. Congress on Tuesday. Dozens of Democrats are threatening to boycott the address, which was arranged by House Speaker John Boehner without consulting the White House. Netanyahu’s visit comes just as Iran and six world powers, including the United States, are set to resume talks in a bid to meet a March 31 deadline. "For both Prime Minister Netanyahu and the hawks in Congress, mostly Republican, the primary goal is to undermine any potential negotiation that might settle whatever issue there is with Iran," says Noam Chomsky, institute professor emeritus at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. "They have a common interest in ensuring there is no regional force that can serve as any kind of deterrent to Israeli and U.S. violence, the major violence in the region." Chomsky also responds to recent revelations that in 2012 the Israeli spy agency, Mossad, contradicted Netanyahu’s own dire warnings about Iran’s ability to produce a nuclear bomb, concluding that Iran was "not performing the activity necessary to produce weapons."
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker made headlines Thursday when he compared the Islamic State to pro-labor protesters in Wisconsin. A top Republican presidential contender, Walker made the comment at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) when asked about the Islamic State. "If I can take on 100,000 protesters, I can do the same across the globe," Walker told the audience. Meanwhile, Walker has announced plans to sign an anti-union right-to-work bill that would eliminate the requirement that workers must pay union fees. On Wednesday, the Wisconsin State Senate passed the measure on a mostly party-line vote of 17 to 15. The Republican-controlled State Assembly is expected to pass the legislation next week. We speak to Madison-based journalist John Nichols of The Nation. He is author of "Uprising: How Wisconsin Renewed the Politics of Protest, from Madison to Wall Street."
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.
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.
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.
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."
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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