As tens of thousands gather for the World Social Forum in Tunis, Tunisia, we speak to one of the most prominent radical thinkers in Africa — the Egyptian-born economist Samir Amin. He is considered one of Africa’s leading political economists and was one of the pioneers of describing modern human history from the perspective of the Third World, arguing that the countries of the South were not latecomers to capitalism, but were integrated into the global economy from the start in a position of dependency to the rich, industrialized North. He is presently director of the Third World Forum in Dakar, Senegal — considered a precursor to the World Social Forum — and since 1997, has been the chair of the World Forum for Alternatives. Amin has written thousands of journal articles and opinion pieces as well as more than 30 books — with titles such as "Imperialism and Unequal Development," "Global History: A View from the South" and "The Liberal Virus: Permanent War and the Americanization of the World." The historian Ama Biney says Amin is "an intellectual titan in the canon of African radical thought."
As Saudi Arabia and Egypt threaten to send ground troops into Yemen, we look at the roots of the crisis. While many analysts have described the fighting as a proxy war between Saudi Arabia and Iran, journalist Iona Craig says the fighting stems from a domestic conflict. "People try to frame this as an Iran versus Saudi kind of battle, which it has now become. But it is very much because of domestic politics," explains Iona Craig, who recently spent four years reporting from Sana’a. We also speak to Brian Whitaker, former Middle East editor at The Guardian, about the decades-old history of Saudi intervention in Yemen.
A Saudi-led aerial bombing campaign has entered its second day in Yemen. The Saudi-led airstrikes are intended to thwart the advance of Shiite Houthi rebels after they seized control of the capital Sana’a last year and deposed President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi last month. On Thursday, Hadi left his refuge in Aden for Saudi Arabia. At least 39 civilians have reportedly been killed so far in the airstrikes. Amnesty International reports the dead include at least six children under the age of 10. Saudi’s bombing campaign has been backed by the United States, Gulf states, Egypt, Turkey, Pakistan and Sudan. We go to Sana’a to speak with Farea Al-Muslimi, a visiting scholar at Carnegie Middle East Center. He recently tweeted: "I’m a 25 year old Yemeni man. I’ve seen at least 15 wars in my country. I don’t need more. I need some help and education & economy; not guns."
The nation’s top museums are facing calls to cut ties with billionaire funders who profit from global warming. In an open letter, a coalition of climate scientists, museum experts and environmental groups says science and natural history museums should stop accepting money from fossil fuel corporations and individual donors like the Koch brothers. Koch Industries has extensive energy industry holdings and has funded climate denial. David Koch is a board member of both the American Museum of Natural History and the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History. One of the most controversial exhibits is a Koch-backed installation at the Smithsonian that promotes the theory that humankind evolved in response to climate change. The letter is the creation of a different kind of museum — the new, mobile Natural History Museum, which seeks to "highlight the socio-political forces that shape nature." We are joined by Beka Economopoulos, co-founder and director of the new Natural History Museum, who coordinated the letter to 330 science and natural history museums, and by James Powell, one of the scientists who signed the open letter. Powell is a geochemist, former president of the Franklin Institute and former president and director of the Los Angeles County Natural History Museum.
The U.S. military has charged Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl with one count of desertion and one count of misbehavior before the enemy. Bergdahl was held in Taliban captivity for five years after leaving his Army base in Afghanistan in 2009. An earlier military report found Bergdahl likely walked away of his own free will, but stopped short of finding that he planned to permanently desert American forces. In Taliban captivity, Bergdahl has said he was beaten, tortured and locked in a cage after trying to escape some 12 times. He was freed last year in exchange for five Taliban militants. He now faces life in prison if convicted. We are joined by Brock McIntosh, who served in Afghanistan from November 2008 to August 2009. McIntosh applied for conscientious objector status and was discharged in May 2014.
As the United States begins bombing the Iraqi city of Tikrit and again delays a withdrawal from Afghanistan, a new report has found that the Iraq War has killed about one million people. The Nobel Prize-winning International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War and other groups examined the toll from the so-called war on terror in three countries — Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan. The investigators found "the war has, directly or indirectly, killed around one million people in Iraq, 220,000 in Afghanistan and 80,000 in Pakistan. Not included in this figure are further war zones such as Yemen. The figure is approximately 10 times greater than that of which the public, experts and decision makers are aware. ... And this is only a conservative estimate." The true tally, they add, could be more than two million. We are joined by two guests who worked on the report: Hans von Sponeck, former U.N. assistant secretary-general and U.N. humanitarian coordinator for Iraq, who in 2000 resigned his post in protest of the U.S.-led sanctions regime; and Dr. Robert Gould, president of the San Francisco Bay Area chapter of Physicians for Social Responsibility.
The Obama administration continues to expand its controversial practice of detaining mothers and their children despite a judge’s order that using it to deter mass migration is illegal. Starting last summer, thousands of Central American women with kids as young as a few months old crossed into the United States seeking asylum. Even though many were later found to have a "credible fear" of violent persecution, they found themselves rounded up and put into detention, with little chance for freedom until they were deported. But last month, a federal judge ordered immigration authorities to begin releasing the women and children. He found the Obama administration’s policy of detaining them in order to deter others from coming was illegal. Since then, more families have been granted bond and released, while others who are unable to afford the bonds remain locked up. They are held at one of two new family detention centers run by private prison companies in southern Texas. We air an on-the-ground report from Texas by Democracy Now! producer Renée Feltz, who speaks to a recently released mother and her son. We are also joined by Barbara Hines, former director of the Immigration Clinic at the University of Texas Law School. Hines’ affidavit in a lawsuit challenging detention of women and children as a method of deterrence to mass migration was cited by the federal judge in his order to halt the practice.
Click here to watch Part 2 of this discussion.
Fifty years after the U.S. ground invasion of Vietnam began, we look back at the 1968 My Lai massacre, when American troops killed hundreds of civilians. Journalist Seymour Hersh broke the story of the massacre and cover-up, winning a Pulitzer Prize for his work. But Hersh never actually went there — he interviewed soldiers stateside. Forty-seven years later, he recently traveled to My Lai for the first time, which he documents in a new article for The New Yorker, "The Scene of the Crime: A Reporter’s Journey to My Lai and the Secrets of the Past." Hersh joins us to discuss how he exposed the massacre nearly five decades ago and what it was like to visit My Lai for the first time.
The White House says it is re-evaluating its policy toward Israel following Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s rejection of a two-state solution. Administration officials have openly criticized Netanyahu for vowing no Palestinian state during his tenure and warning supporters about a high turnout of Arab voters. Netanyahu has tried to walk back his comments, but U.S. officials have suggested they might take steps including no longer vetoing U.N. Security Council resolutions critical of Israel. The dispute over Netanyahu’s comments comes amidst existing tensions over his effort to derail nuclear talks with Iran. According to The Wall Street Journal, Netanyahu’s obstructionism now includes Israeli spying on the U.S.-Iran talks and then turning over sensitive information to Republican members of Congress. Despite the frayed ties and talk of punitive U.S. action, whether the White House is prepared to end longstanding U.S. support for the occupation is the question that lies ahead. Administration officials have already vowed the billions of dollars in U.S. military aid to Israel will continue unimpeded. We are joined by three guests: Lisa Goldman, a contributing editor at +972 Magazine and a fellow at the New America Foundation; Dr. Hatim Kanaaneh, a physician, author and Palestinian citizen of Israel; Yousef Munayyer, executive director of U.S. Campaign to End Israeli Occupation.
"If you visited the Interior Ministry compound in Baghdad during the holy month of Muharram this past fall, you would be forgiven for thinking that Iraq, like its neighbor Iran, is a country whose official religion is Shiite Islam," writes journalist Matthieu Aikins in his latest Rolling Stone article, "Inside Baghdad’s Brutal Battle Against ISIS." We speak to Aikins about the rise of militias in Iraq and its return to the sectarian warfare that ravaged the country in the years after the 2003 U.S. invasion. Aikins, who has reported extensively from Afghanistan, also discusses Afghan President Ashraf Ghani’s visit to the White House. We also hear from Erin Evers, Iraq researcher for Human Rights Watch.
A new report finds Shiite militias in Iraq have burned down entire Sunni villages after liberating them from control of the Islamic State. This comes as Iraqi forces and Iranian-backed Shiite militias are in their fourth week of a fight to retake Tikrit from ISIS militants. We air a Human Rights Watch video report from the Iraqi town of Amerli and speak to Erin Evers, Iraq researcher for HRW, who co-wrote the group’s new report, "After Liberation Came Destruction: Iraqi Militias and the Aftermath of Amerli."
We speak with two close colleagues and friends of the pioneering author, filmmaker and media reform activist Danny Schechter, who died last week of pancreatic cancer at the age of 72, and play excerpts from different points in his career. In one interview, Schechter explains how he got his start as "The News Dissector" on Boston’s WBCN radio in the 1970 and garnered fans such as Noam Chomsky. Schechter went on to work as a television producer at ABC’s 20/20, where he won two Emmy Awards, and at the newly launched CNN. He wrote 12 books, including "The More You Watch, the Less You Know." He was also a leading activist and journalist against apartheid in South Africa, who left the corporate journalist world to make six documentaries about Nelson Mandela and produce the groundbreaking television series "South Africa Now," which aired on 150 public television stations in the late 1980s and early 1990s at the height of the anti-apartheid struggle. We broadcast exclusive excerpts from the show, which has been newly digitized by Yale University, and speak with South African filmmaker Anant Singh, who worked with Schechter on the feature film "Mandela: Long Walk Home"; and Rory O’Connor, who co-founded Globalvision with Schechter and worked with him for decades.
After touting its "successful" counterterrorism model in Yemen, the United States has evacuated its remaining personnel, including 100 special operations forces from a military base seen as key in the drone war against al-Qaeda. This comes amidst worsening violence between government forces and Shia Houthi rebels, and an attack claimed by the Islamic State that killed dozens of worshipers at two mosques. The United Nations has warned Yemen is on the brink of an "Iraq-Libya-Syria"-type civil war. We are joined by Iona Craig, a journalist who was based in Sana’a for four years as the Yemen correspondent for The Times of London.
The author, filmmaker and media reform activist Danny Schechter has died of pancreatic cancer at the age of 72. Danny Schechter rose to prominence as the "The News Dissector" on Boston’s WBCN radio in the 1970s. He went on to work as a television producer at ABC’s 20/20, where he won two Emmy Awards, and at the newly launched CNN. But he left corporate media to lead MediaChannel.org and Globalvision. Schechter wrote 12 books, including "The More You Watch, the Less You Know," and was a leading activist and journalist against apartheid in South Africa, making six nonfiction films about Nelson Mandela. He was a frequent guest on Democracy Now! over the years. The last time he was on the program, he discussed the life and legacy of Nelson Mandela.
State senators in New Jersey have voted to condemn a $225 million settlement between Republican Gov. Chris Christie and ExxonMobil, which saved the oil giant billions of dollars. New Jersey quietly agreed to accept less than 3 percent of the $8.9 billion it had initially sought from Exxon over pollution at two refinery sites. That amounts to just three cents on the dollar. On Monday, lawmakers asked a judge to reject the deal, calling it "grossly inappropriate, improper and inadequate." We speak to Bob Hennelly, political analyst and investigative reporter for WBGO, Newark’s NPR station and a regular contributor to Salon, City and State and WhoWhatWhy.
Sign Up Now to receive our weekly E-Newsletter every Sunday!