With just over a year left in office, President Obama is running out of time to fulfill his longstanding promise to close the U.S. military prison at Guantánamo Bay. The imprisonment of foreigners at Guantánamo is one of several Bush-era policies that continue under Obama’s presidency. While Obama has shut down the CIA’s secret prisons and banned the harshest of Bush’s torture methods, many others—the drone war, presidential secrecy, jailing whistleblowers and mass surveillance—either continue or have even grown. The story of the Obama administration’s counterterrorism legacy is told in the new book, "Power Wars: Inside Obama’s Post-9/11 Presidency," by Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times correspondent Charlie Savage.
In the largest one-time release of federal prisoners in U.S. history, more than 6,000 inmates have been freed early under a resentencing effort for people convicted of nonviolent drug crimes. Decisions by the U.S. Sentencing Commission last year reduced prison terms for certain drug offenses and applied those changes retroactively. Most have been released to halfway houses and home confinement, while close to one-third—about 1,700 people—are undocumented immigrants who now face immediate deportation. The release comes as President Obama has announced a series of steps to help former prisoners readjust to society, including "banning the box"—barring federal agencies from asking potential employees about their criminal records on job applications. We discuss the Obama administration’s steps and the societal challenges for newly freed prisoners with three guests: Susan Burton, founder and executive director of A New Way of Life Reentry Project, which provides support to former prisoners after their release; Five Mualimm-ak, a former prisoner and founder of Incarcerated Nation Collective, a collective of previously incarcerated people; Victoria Law, a freelance journalist and author of "Resistance Behind Bars: The Struggles of Incarcerated Women."
Tuesday was Election Day in the United States as voters across the country decided ballot initiatives and elected city and state leaders. In one of the most closely watched races, tea party favorite Matt Bevin won the governorship in Kentucky, becoming just the second Republican to hold the post in more than four decades. In Houston, Texas, voters repealed a City Council measure barring discrimination over factors including sexual orientation and gender identity. Opponents ran what critics called a fear-mongering and anti-LGBT campaign. In Ohio, voters rejected a measure that would have legalized marijuana for medical and recreational use. Many legalization advocates ended up opposing the effort because it called for giving wealthy investors who funded the campaign the exclusive rights to growing commercial marijuana in Ohio. In San Francisco, voters rejected a measure to limit short-term rentals, which would have restricted the website Airbnb. We discuss Tuesday’s election results with John Nichols, political writer for The Nation.
A mass protest is set for Puerto Rico on Thursday over the federal government’s unequal payments to the island’s Medicare and Medicaid programs. For decades, Congress has capped federal reimbursements of Puerto Rico’s healthcare costs, bringing the system to the brink of collapse. The Obama administration has warned Puerto Rico faces a humanitarian crisis unless Congress takes steps to address its crushing debt. We get analysis from Democracy Now! co-host and Daily News columnist Juan González.
- Tea Party Favorite Wins Kentucky Governor's Race
- Election Day: Pot Legalization, LGBT Rights, Airbnb Limits Defeated
- War-Torn Yemen Battered by Historic Cyclone
- China Burned More Coal Than Initially Disclosed
- Leaders of Taiwan, China to Hold Historic Meeting
- U.S. Continues Keystone Pipeline Review, Despite TransCanada Request
- Report: Syrian Rebels Caging Civilians as Human Shields
- Doctors Without Borders Marks 1 Month Since U.S. Bombing of Hospital
- Maldives President Declares State of Emergency Ahead of Opposition Rally
- EPA Accuses Volkswagen of Additional Emissions Cheating
- U.S. Fines Takata $70 Million over Fatal Airbag Flaw
- Hundreds of Refugee Women on Hunger Strike in Texas
- Report: Drug Overdoses Fuel Higher White, Middle-Aged Death Rate
- St. Louis Officers Avoid Charges for Killing of Kajieme Powell
- Colorado Shooting: 911 Caller Was Told About Open Carry Law
When it comes to sheltering the wealth of the super-rich, the United States is moving up the ranks. A new study says the U.S. is now the third most secretive country for offshore finances, trailing only Hong Kong and Switzerland. While recent U.S. laws force banks and other firms to disclose the assets of American citizens, Washington has been criticized for failing to share that information with other countries. A 2012 study by the Tax Justice Network on the "offshore economy" estimated that wealthy individuals and their families have between $21 and $32 trillion of hidden financial assets around the world in offshore accounts or tax havens. The actual sums could be higher because the study only dealt with financial wealth deposited in bank and investment accounts, and not other assets such as property and yachts. The new documentary "The Price We Pay" tackles the issue of tax havens and their cost to the societies losing out on trillions of dollars in revenue. We are joined by the film’s director, Harold Crooks, and economist James Henry, senior adviser with the Tax Justice Network.
The Co-ops Collapse: How GOP & Insurers Undercut Obamacare's Nonprofit Option, Leaving 500K Uninsured
As the Obamacare open enrollment period begins, it’s the end for many healthcare co-ops, leaving hundreds of thousands of people scrambling to find coverage. The co-ops were founded to offer a cheaper alternative on insurance exchanges after Democrats stopped demanding a public option. But since going live three years ago, the co-ops have faced major cutbacks from the Republican-controlled Congress. Now the system is faltering, with at least eight health insurance co-ops shutting down. The co-op closures have left some 500,000 people without insurance—and a marketplace of fewer choices and higher prices. It’s the kind of scenario that advocates of a single-payer system warned about from the outset: With Obamacare relying on for-profit insurance companies to provide coverage, the market will find a way to squeeze out those who need it most. We are joined by three guests: physician, professor and single-payer advocate Dr. Steffie Woolhandler; Wendell Potter, a former insurance executive turned whistleblower; and Julia Hutchins, chief executive officer of Colorado HealthOP, a consumer-directed, nonprofit health cooperative in Colorado that was forced to shut down last month.
The corporation behind the Keystone XL oil pipeline has asked the Obama administration to suspend its long-running review of the controversial project. On Monday, TransCanada told the State Department it wants to wait until Nebraska, a state along the pipeline’s route, gives its approval. If the delay is granted, the decision on Keystone XL would be pushed until after the 2016 election—and possibly handed to President Obama’s successor. That’s led many to speculate TransCanada is throwing a Hail Mary in the hopes the next White House occupant is a Republican. We are joined by Bill McKibben, co-founder of 350.org, an environmental group that has helped lead the multi-year grassroots campaign against the Keystone XL. "In the end, this was never really about the power of the administration," McKibben says. "This was about the power of organized people to come together and change the script—and that’s what’s happened here."
- U.N.: Record Number of Refugees Crossed Mediterranean in October
- Obama Defends Decision to Send Special Forces to Syria
- Israeli Forces Shut Down West Bank Radio Station Amid Latest Attacks
- TransCanada Asks U.S. to Halt Review of Keystone XL Pipeline
- Obama "Bans the Box" for Former Prisoners on Federal Job Applications
- Obama Signs 2-Year Budget Deal
- Report: Pentagon Spent $43 Million on Gas Station in Afghanistan
- Ahmed Chalabi, Iraqi Politician Who Helped Push U.S. to War, Dies at 71
- Video: U.S. Agent Helps Oust Reporter for Questioning Uzbek President
- Lawrence Lessig Drops Presidential Bid After DNC Changes Debate Rules
- Bid by Republican Campaigns to Control Debates Appears to Collapse
- Feds: Illinois School District's Treatment of Transgender Girl Broke Title IX
- South Africa: Officers Arrested After Video Shows Man Shot on the Ground
- Father of One of the 43 Missing Mexican Students Runs NYC Marathon
- Marijuana Legalization, Airbnb at Stake in Local Elections Today
In Turkey, the party of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has regained its parliamentary majority in national elections. On Sunday, Turkish voters elected Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party—the AKP—to 330 of the Parliament’s 550 seats. It’s a major comeback for the AKP after losing its majority in the last campaign five months ago. The victory will help Erdogan strengthen a hold on power critics say has become increasingly authoritarian and divisive. We are joined from Istanbul by Patrick Cockburn, Middle East correspondent for The Independent, who has been reporting on the Turkish elections.
The new U.S. deployment to Syria comes more than a year after it launched a bombing campaign against the self-proclaimed Islamic State. It also comes weeks after Russia escalated its role by launching airstrikes against foes of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Patrick Cockburn, Middle East correspondent for The Independent, says that while the military dimension in Syria is escalating, the foreign powers involved could be a step closer to seeking a diplomatic resolution.
The U.S. deployment of a team of special operations forces to Syria comes after the first U.S. combat casualty in Iraq in four years. Just last month, President Obama reversed course in Afghanistan, halting the scheduled withdrawal of U.S. troops fighting in the nation’s longest war. In an escalation of the air war in Syria, the United States has also announced plans to deploy more fighter planes, including 12 F-15s, to the Incirlik Air Base in Turkey. On top of the wars in Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan, the U.S. continues to carry out drone strikes across the globe from Pakistan to Yemen to Somalia. "[Obama’s] policy has been one of mission creep," says Andrew Bacevich, retired colonel, Vietnam War veteran, and international relations professor at Boston University. "The likelihood that the introduction of a handful of dozen of U.S. soldiers making any meaningful difference in the course of events is just about nil."
The White House has announced a team of special operations forces numbering less than 50 will be sent to Syria. This marks the first sustained U.S. troop presence in Syria since President Obama launched a bombing campaign against the self-proclaimed Islamic State in September 2014. It’s also a reversal of Obama’s repeated promise of no U.S. boots on the ground in Syria, a pledge he also violated in Iraq. One day after the announcement, the United Nations and International Committee of the Red Cross made what they called an "unprecedented joint warning" for states to end wars, respect international law and aid the 60 million refugees made homeless from recent conflicts. We are joined by Phyllis Bennis of the Institute for Policy Studies, author of several books, including "Understanding ISIS and the New Global War on Terror."
- U.S. to Send Special Operations Forces to Syria
- Iraq: More Than 700 Killed in Violence Last Month
- Report: Blair Ordered Report on Illegality of Iraq War Destroyed
- Dozens of Refugees Perish in Aegean Sea En Route to Greece
- Germany: 6 Syrian Asylum Seekers Injured in Violent Attacks
- Plane Crash in Egypt Kills 224; Russian Airline Blames "External Impact"
- Turkey: Ruling Party Regains Parliamentary Majority
- Somalia: 14 Killed in Attack on Popular Hotel
- Netanyahu Retracts Claim Hitler Was Inspired by Palestinian Cleric
- Video: Israeli Officer Threatens to Gas Palestinians "Until You All Die"
- Bangladesh: Publisher of Slain Blogger Hacked to Death
- 5 Killed in Shootings in Colorado, North Carolina
- Florida: Corey Jones Laid to Rest Amid Questions over Killing by Cop
- #BlackLivesMatter Activists Interrupt Hillary Clinton in Georgia
- RNC Halts NBC Debate Partnership over "Mean-Spirited" Questions
- House Speaker Paul Ryan Rules Out Immigration Reform Under Obama
- Report: 1,000 Cops Lost Badges for Sexual Assault or Misconduct
- Episcopal Church Installs 1st African-American Leader
- Massachusetts Mosque Spraypainted with "USA" in Possible Hate Crime
- SXSW Apologizes for Cancelling Panels on Online Harassment
Despite their stellar record, a loss by the Harvard University debate team wouldn’t normally be national, let alone international, news. But one match last month wasn’t your typical sparring contest. Three members of the Harvard team squared off with opponents not from a rival university, but a maximum security New York prison. The topic was whether U.S. public schools should be able to deny enrollment to undocumented students. Despite being forced to advocate a position they don’t agree with, the prison team was declared the winner. The story went viral across the United States and around the world. The prisoners were debating as representatives of the Bard Prison Initiative, a program that offers inmates a college-level liberal arts education. Since its founding in 2001, more than 300 alumni have earned degrees while behind bars. We are joined by Max Kenner, founder and executive director of the Bard Prison Initiative.
"How the Other Half Banks": Author Says America's Two-Tiered Banking System is a Threat to Democracy
The nation’s financial crisis taught us that when it comes to Wall Street giants, political leaders consider some banks "too big to fail." After initial misgivings, Democrats and Republicans joined together to commit over $700 billion to rescue major firms from collapse. Now a new book looks at the inverse of this policy: when it comes to serving communities on the local level, some banks are just too small to rescue. In "How the Other Half Banks: Exclusion, Exploitation, and the Threat to Democracy," University of Georgia law professor Mehrsa Baradaran explores how poor communities have been denied the normal banking opportunities that help sustain households and grow economies.
The American Psychological Association has officially notified the U.S. government of its new policy barring psychologists from participating in national security interrogations. The new rules were approved in August after an independent investigation documented how the APA leadership actively colluded with the Pentagon and the CIA torture programs. In a new letter to the White House and top federal officials, the APA asks the government to withdraw psychologists from any interrogation or prison setting that could put them in violation of the new ethics policy. We get reaction from Widney Brown, director of programs at Physicians for Human Rights, who says the changes are key to protecting health professionals from military prosecution "when they stand by those ethical codes of conduct and refuse to engage in what is patently unlawful behavior."
British resident Shaker Aamer has been freed from Guantánamo after more than 13 years behind bars. Aamer had been cleared for release since 2007, but the Pentagon kept him locked up without charge. During his time in captivity, Aamer claims he was subjected to abuses including torture, beatings and sleep deprivation. At one point, he lost half his body weight while on a hunger strike. Aamer is en route to London where he’ll rejoin his wife and four children. "If you think about how much our world has changed, it’s like they’re dropping them into a completely different place with very little support, and there’s no right to a remedy for the allegations of torture—which are absolutely credible—for the prolonged arbitrary detention and for any of the other violations that happened," says our guest Widney Brown, director of programs at Physicians for Human Rights.
The latest figures from Doctors Without Borders (MSF) show the U.S. airstrike on its hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan, earlier this month killed 30 people—13 workers, 10 patients and seven others who remain unidentified. Another 27 staffers were injured, along with an unknown number of patients and caretakers. The bombing left the 94-bed trauma center in ruins and hundreds of thousands of Afghans without a critical surgical facility. Doctors Without Borders has accused the U.S. of a "war crime" and demanded an independent international probe. Just three weeks later, another MSF hospital was destroyed in Yemen, this time by the U.S.-backed, Saudi-led coalition that has waged war there since March. Doctors Without Borders says the attack will leave 200,000 people without access to medical care. "The U.S. has been very strong at condemning the Syrian attacks on hospitals in Syria, yet it is backing the Saudis in Yemen, supplying them with weaponry—just like Russia is in Syria—and ignoring the fact the Saudis are doing in Yemen everything the U.S. government is accusing the Syrian government of doing in Syria," says Widney Brown of Physicians for Human Rights.
As global talks on Syria take place in Vienna, we look at the dangers to medical workers on the front lines of the world’s deadliest conflict. Nearly 700 medical personnel have been killed in Syria since the war erupted in March 2011. The group Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) says there have been more than 300 attacks on health facilities—with the Syrian regime responsible 90 percent of the time. According to Doctors Without Borders, airstrikes in Syria have killed at least 35 patients and medical staff since an escalation in bombings late last month. Russian airstrikes have damaged six Syrian health facilities this month, killing at least four civilians and wounding six medical staffers. We are joined by PHR’s Widney Brown and a Syrian doctor who fled his country under the cover of night.