The Progressive magazine and Center for Media and Democracy have released new documents that show billionaire oil industrialist Charles Koch was an active member of the controversial right-wing John Birch Society during its campaigns against the civil rights movement in the 1960s. Charles Koch was following in the footsteps of his father, Fred Koch, a leader of the John Birch Society from its founding. We speak with The Progressive’s Lisa Graves about her new article, "The Koch Cartel: Their Reach, Their Reactionary Agenda, and Their Record." Graves details how the reactionary ideas absorbed during Charles Koch’s youth continue to animate many of his actions decades later. Charles and his brother, David Koch, have used their wealth to push a similar agenda into the mainstream through the tea party and "dark money" political coalitions that allow donors to shield their identity while funding attack ads against Democrats.
"Absolutely Unjustifiable": Aunt of US Teen Decries Brutal Beating by Israeli Forces Caught on Video
Over the weekend, video emerged of the beating of Tariq Abu Khdeir, the 15-year-old Palestinian-American cousin of murdered Palestinian teenager Mohammed Abu Khdeir. Footage shows him being severely beaten by Israeli officers after being detained during protests over his cousin’s murder. Tariq says he was watching demonstrations in East Jerusalem when he was seized. The video shows him lying on the ground as the officers repeatedly beat him with batons. Tariq has been placed under house arrest pending an investigation into potential charges of assaulting a police officer. He lives in Tampa, Florida, but is in East Jerusalem for the summer visiting his family. He was with his cousin Mohammed just moments before he was kidnapped and murdered last week. In a statement, the State Department said it was "profoundly troubled" by the assault, calling for a "speedy, transparent and credible investigation and full accountability for the apparent excessive use of force." We are joined from Tampa by Tariq’s aunt, Suhad Abukhdeir. "This is absolutely unjustifiable," she says of Tariq’s beating. "You have three uniformed men, in full combat gear, against a 15-year-old."
The threat of an Israeli assault on the Gaza Strip comes amidst heavy unrest in the West Bank and in Arab towns inside Israel following the killings of a Palestinian teenager and three teenage Israelis. The Israeli teens were abducted while hitchhiking near the West Bank settlement where they lived. Their bodies were found last week, after more than two weeks of Israeli raids throughout the West Bank that saw more than 200 Palestinians arrested and more than a dozen killed. In an apparent act of revenge right after the Israeli teens’ bodies were found, a Palestinian teenager named Mohammed Abu Khdeir was abducted near his home in East Jerusalem. His dead body was found shortly after, showing signs he was burned live. On Monday, Israel said it had arrested six suspects and that three have already confessed. While Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other top Israeli leaders have condemned the killing, Khdeir’s death followed calls for vengeance from Israeli political leaders as well as in marches and on social media. We are joined by two guests: Ali Abunimah, co-founder of The Electronic Intifada and author of the new book, "The Battle for Justice in Palestine," and Miko Peled, a peace activist and author of "The General’s Son: Journey of an Israeli in Palestine." The book’s title refers to a unique family history: Miko’s father, "Matti" Peled, served as a general in the 1967 war and later became a peace activist, calling for Israel to withdraw from the territory he helped to capture.
Violence in Israel and the Occupied Territories is escalating as Israel bombs the Gaza Strip and threatens a new full-scale assault. On Monday, the Israeli military announced "Operation Protective Edge," which it says aims to stop Palestinian rocket fire into southern Israel. At least nine Palestinians were wounded in Israeli strikes on more than 50 targets in Gaza overnight. Six Hamas members were killed in Israeli strikes on Sunday, the deadliest by Israel since an eight-day assault in late 2012. Palestinian militants have fired dozens of rockets into southern Israel since the weekend, causing no casualties. To prepare for a potential attack, Israel has called up more than 1,500 troops to fortify a contingent already massed along the Gaza border. Hamas says the latest bombings "exceed all red lines" and has vowed to respond with broader rocket fire. If Israel invades Gaza, it would be the third major assault on the coastal territory in six years. The first invasion in 2008 left more than 1,400 Palestinians dead, most of them civilians. We go to Gaza to speak with Mohammed Omer, an award-winning Palestinian journalist who has been covering the Israeli offensive.
- Israel Strikes More Than 50 Sites in Gaza
- Afghanistan Faces Election Crisis; 16 Killed in Suicide Attack
- Nigeria: More Than 60 Girls, Women Escape Boko Haram
- 1 Dead as Typhoon Neoguri Hits Japan
- Earthquake Kills 3 in Mexico, Guatemala
- Protest Held at White House over Obama's Handling of Migrant Children
- Court Blocks Arizona Ban on Licenses for Young Immigrants
- Report: CIA Involved in Spy Operation That Led to German's Arrest
- Obama Signs New Intelligence Bill
- Bahrain Expels U.S. Diplomat over Meeting with Opposition Group
- Hundreds Join "Moral Monday" Protest Against North Carolina Voter ID Law
- Prosecutor: No Charges for Deputy Who Killed 8th Grader Holding Pellet Gun
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
After 2 Years of Confinement, Will Sweden Resolve Assange's Case? Swedish Foreign Minister Won't Say
Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt refuses to address questions from Democracy Now!'s Amy Goodman about the case of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who is wanted for questioning in Sweden on allegations of sexual offenses. Assange's attorneys recently asked the Swedish government to withdraw a warrant that has kept him confined in Ecuador’s London Embassy for two years. Assange has voiced fears he would ultimately be sent for prosecution in the United States if he were to return to Sweden. Assange’s attorneys say the warrant should be lifted because it cannot be enforced while Assange is in the embassy and Swedish prosecutors refuse to question him in London. Although Assange faces a warrant for questioning, he has not been formally charged. Fifty-nine international organizations have submitted reports to the United Nations challenging Sweden’s treatment of Assange. Speaking at the Almedalen political festival in Visby, Bildt refuses to address the case directly, calling it an issue for the Swedish judicial system, not its political one. We get reaction to Bildt’s comments from Assange legal adviser Jen Robinson, who also discusses the parallels between Assange and National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden. "We are now seeing a trend of whistleblowers, publishers, journalists having to seek asylum and refuge in countries around the world because of their concern about prosecution in the United States," Robinson says.
At the Almedalen political festival in Visby, Swedish lawmaker Per Bolund joins us to talk climate change, national politics, Sweden’s response to global National Security Agency surveillance and the government’s standoff with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. Elected to to the Swedish Riksdag in 2006, Bolund serves as the Green Party’s spokesperson for finance policy and is a member of the party’s board of directors.
While Sweden is known as the birthplace of Alfred Nobel, founder of the Nobel Peace Prize, many do not realize it is also one of the world’s largest arms manufacturers. Sweden is in fact the third largest arms exporter per capita after Israel and Russia. Swedish company, Saab, makes more than 50 percent of the weapons the country exports. While the Swedish government often takes a neutral position in international conflicts and offers assistance through peacekeeping missions and foreign aid, it has continued to send military equipment to regimes accused of human rights abuses, including Saudi Arabia, Thailand, Bahrain and Egypt. We speak with two guests: peace activist Martin Smedjeback, who has served three prison sentences for breaking into weapons factories and hammering on weapons meant for export, and with Anna Ek, president of Swedish Peace and Arbitration Society, the world’s oldest peace organization. Ek says that while Sweden signed the global Arms Trade Treaty earlier this year, it has resisted incorporating anti-corruption provisions into the country’s own laws.
After Breaking Gender Barrier, Sweden's 1st Female Archbishop Leads Church into Climate Change Fight
At the week-long Almedalen political festival in Visby, Sweden, one of the major issues has been climate change and Sweden’s role in addressing the crisis. In May, the bishops of the Church of Sweden issued a joint statement calling climate change "the biggest common challenge ever faced by humanity." Sweden’s new archbishop, Antje Jackelén, is among those calling for scientists, politicians, cultural icons and religious leaders to work in concert to address the issue. Jackelén issued the call after making history as Sweden’s first-ever female archbishop. "As a church, we are part of a global movement," she says. "The question of justice is at the heart of the Christian Church."
Democracy Now! is on the road in the Swedish city of Visby, on the island of Gotland in the Baltic Sea, during Almedalen Week — a week-long political festival perhaps unlike any other in the world. More than 25,000 people have gathered to hear political speeches and take part in seminars. Every Swedish political party is represented, from the Social Democrats to the Greens to the Feminist Initiative party, along with hundreds of other political organizations. We get an overview of the political situation in Sweden from Brian Palmer, a social anthropologist at Uppsala University. Palmer says progressive and Green candidates are expected to gain ground in Sweden’s election this September, and notes the country just became the first to send a militant feminist to the European Union. Sweden has a policy to grant asylum to anyone from Syria, and a recent study found attitudes toward immigrants are more positive in Sweden than in any other European country.