In a Democracy Now! special, we go inside the Ecuadorian embassy in London to interview Wikileaks founder Julian Assange. He has been holed up there for more than two years, having received political asylum. He faces investigations in both Sweden and the United States. In the U.S., a secret grand jury is investigating WikiLeaks for its role in publishing a trove of leaked documents about the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, as well as classified State Department cables. In Sweden, Assange is wanted for questioning on allegations of sexual misconduct, though no charges have been filed. Late last week, there was the first break in the latter case in two years, when a Swedish court announced it would hold a hearing on July 16 about a request by his lawyers for prosecutors to hand over new evidence and withdraw the arrest warrant. In the first of a two-part interview, Assange discusses his new legal bid in Sweden, the ongoing grand jury probe in the United States, and WikiLeaks’ efforts to assist National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden.
- Israel Kills 9 Hamas Members in Gaza Bombing
- Israeli Suspects Reportedly Confess to Murder of Palestinian Teen
- U.S. Teen Cousin of Slain Palestinian Beaten, Detained by Israeli Forces
- Iraqi Lawmakers Postpone Key Talks; General Killed Near Baghdad
- Germany Accuses Intelligence Agent of Spying for U.S.
- Leaks: Most Seized NSA Communication from Ordinary Users
- Former CIA Employee Reveals Firing for Seeking to Declassify Docs
- Supreme Court Issues New Contraception Exemption for Nonprofits
- Report: Indonesian Forces Seeking to Rig Presidential Election
In this Fourth of July holiday special, we begin with the words of Frederick Douglass. Born into slavery around 1818, Douglass became a key leader of the abolitionist movement. On July 5, 1852, in Rochester, New York, he gave one of his most famous speeches, "The Meaning of July Fourth for the Negro." He was addressing the Rochester Ladies Antislavery Society. This is actor James Earl Jones reading the speech during a performance of historian Howard Zinn’s acclaimed book, "Voices of a People’s History of the United States." He was introduced by Zinn.
Earlier this year, the legendary folk singer and activist Pete Seeger died at the age of 94. For nearly seven decades, Seeger was a musical and political icon who helped create the modern American folk music movement. In the 1940s, he performed in The Almanac Singers with Woody Guthrie, and then formed The Weavers. In the 1950s, he opposed Senator Joseph McCarthy’s political witch hunt and was almost jailed for refusing to answer questions before the House Un-American Activities Committee. Seeger became a prominent civil rights activist and helped popularize the anthem, "We Shall Overcome." He was also a vocal critic of the Vietnam War and inspired a generation of protest singers. Later in his life, Seeger was at the center of the environmental and anti-nuclear movements. In 2009, Seeger and Bruce Springsteen performed Woody Guthrie’s "This Land is Your Land" on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial at an inaugural concert for Barack Obama, when he first became president. We re-air highlights from our 2013 and 2004 interviews with Seeger.
Former U.S. congressmember and presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich speaks to Democracy Now! while in Sweden to observe the political festival Almedalen Week, which brings together people from all points on the political spectrum. Kucinich says the United States needs a similarly inclusive political process. "You come here and you see so many different political persuasions represented, and our politics back at home are monochromatic," Kucinich says. "We need to awaken those sentiments in America and one way to do it is proportional representation." On the crisis in Iraq, Kucinich says: "If we learned anything from our experience, it should be that interventionism is not the wave of the future." Kucinich served in the in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1997 to 2013, and ran for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2008 and 2012.
How Sweden's Feminist Initiative Party Became First of Its Kind to Win a Seat in European Parliament
In May, Sweden’s Feminist Initiative party won a seat in the European Parliament, becoming the first feminist party in history to do so. We are joined by the party’s co-founder, Gudrun Schyman, a former member of the Swedish Parliament. Schyman talks about the Feminist Initiative’s focus on climate change, anti-racism and connecting the violence in intimate relationships to the violence in international relations. "The patriarch structure is global, and it shows in all fields of society, in your intimate relations, in the labor market," Schyman says. "We have to ban violence, and we have to see that the role of violence is always control, always power."
As we broadcast from Almedalen Week, a unique political festival in Sweden, we are joined by Jonas Sjöstedt, Swedish chairperson of the Left Party and member of the Swedish Parliament. Sjöstedt describes the Left Party as a modern socialist, left-wing party with roots in the labor movement and a new focus on tackling climate change and privatization. "Sweden has become kind of an experiment for privatization, especially in the education system, in healthcare and the homes for the elderly," Sjöstedt says. "We want to ban all profit-making companies from these welfare sectors."
Sweden is in the middle of a "super election year" with elections taking place for the European Parliament, as well as local and national elections. After eight years of a right-wing government, our guest says the balance of power is set to shift to a red-green alliance between the country’s Left Party and Green Party. "There is a lot at stake for a lot of people," says Andreas Gustavsson, editor-in-chief of the daily Swedish newspaper Dagens ETC. He discusses key issues in the election, and recent protests against the Party of the Swedes, a neo-Nazi party whose members oppose immigration and have joined in fighting alongside fascist groups in Ukraine.
While the United States considered the African National Congress a terrorist organization, the Swedish government openly funded the group for decades. According to many accounts, Sweden was the largest single source of financial aid to the ANC. Olof Palme, the Swedish prime minister, was assassinated in 1986 just a week after he gave a keynote speech at the Swedish People’s Parliament Against Apartheid in Stockholm. Rumors have swirled for years about the South African government’s involvement in his killing. Shortly after he was released in 1990, Nelson Mandela came to Sweden on one of his first foreign stops after being released from prison. During an address to the Swedish Parliament, Mandela thanked Sweden for standing in the "front ranks of the international forces that have fought against the apartheid system." On Wednesday night, one of Mandela’s closest associates, Ahmed Kathrada, spoke in the Swedish town of Visby, which is hosting the week-long political festival Almedalen Week. Kathrada spent 26 years in prison, including 18 years on Robben Island.
- Israeli Settlers Blamed for Murder of Abducted Palestinian Teen; Dozens Wounded in West Bank, Gaza
- White House Condemns Murder of Palestinian Teen
- U.N. Rights Chief Condemns Gaza Rockets, "Excessive" Israeli Strikes
- Report: ISIS Leaders on U.S. Kill List
- Activist: Anti-Immigrant Protest Marks "Worst of the American Spirit"
- ACLU: Obama Waiver Violates Child Migrants' Due Process Rights
- U.S. Increases Security Measures at Overseas Airports
- Missouri Gov. Vetoes 72-Hour Abortion Wait Law
- Georgia Enacts Widened Gun Permit Law; Christie Vetoes Limit on Gun Magazines
- Target Bans Guns in All Stores Following National Petition
- Occupy Activist Cecily McMillan Freed from Prison
- "The Farm" Founder Stephen Gaskin Dies at 79