Today marks Columbus Day, a federal holiday to commemorate the arrival of Christopher Columbus to the so-called "New World" in 1492. But the holiday has long evoked sadness and anger among Native Americans, who object to honoring a man who opened the door to European colonization, the exploitation of native peoples, and the slave trade. Last Monday, the Seattle City Council unanimously adopted a resolution to celebrate the second Monday in October as Indigenous Peoples’ Day at the encouragement of indigenous activists — joining many other cities and states with non-Columbus Day holidays. "We’re making sure that we acknowledge the absolute horrors of colonization and conquering that happened in the Americas at the hands of the European so-called explorers, and Columbus was one of the primary instigators," says Socialist City Councilmember Kshama Sawant, one of the sponsors of the resolution to celebrate Indigenous Peoples’ Day. She is a member of Socialist Alternative, a nationwide organization of social and economic justice activists.
Since the killing of unarmed black teenager Michael Brown two months ago, protesters in Ferguson, Missouri, have defied a militarized crackdown and taken to the streets to call for the arrest of police officer Darren Wilson, who shot him. Their efforts have made Ferguson the ground zero for the movement against police brutality and racial bias. Democracy Now! was there this weekend when thousands of people traveled to St. Louis to take part in "Ferguson October," four days of action calling for justice in Brown’s case and the reform of police practices nationwide. “Everybody that we know and love is held accountable for breaking the law,” says activist and actor Jesse Williams, star of the TV show, “Grey’s Anatomy.” “So those who break the law, if they happen to be wearing a blue shirt with a button-up that we paid for, they should probably be held accountable also.” We hear from residents of St. Louis, and from many of the protesters who traveled to Ferguson from around the country. “Everybody here is representing a family member or someone that’s been hurt, murdered, killed, arrested, deported,” notes Richard Wallace, with the Chicago Workers’ Collaborative. Over the weekend, 17 people were arrested in a sit-in at a gas station near the St. Louis neighborhood of Shaw, where protests have broken out since last week when police fatally shot Vonderrit Myers, an 18-year-old African American. Police say Myers fired at them and that they recovered a gun at the scene. But his family claims he was unarmed, holding only a sandwich he had bought minutes before. On Sunday night, Myers’ parents led a march to Saint Louis University, where they held a four-minute moment of silence for their son. Ferguson October organizers say more nonviolent civil disobedience is planned for today.
- Nurses Protest Inadequate Policies After Dallas Nurse Contracts Ebola
- NIH Director: Budget Cuts Prevented Ebola Vaccine
- Liberian Health Workers Call Strike After 95 Die of Ebola
- Turkey Allows Use of Bases by U.S. Forces
- Anbar Province Said to Be on Verge of Falling to ISIS
- ISIS Releases Third Video of British Hostage
- U.S. Drone Strikes Kill 8 Near Afghan-Pakistani Border
- Donors Pledge $2.7 Billion for Gaza Reconstruction
- Thousands Join "Ferguson October" Protests Against Police Shootings
- Hong Kong: Protest Opponents Tear Down Barricades
- Bolivia: President Evo Morales Wins Third Term
- Brazil: Environmentalist Silva Backs Pro-Corporate Candidate Neves
- In Less-Reported Remarks, Nobel Winner Malala Yousafzai Backs Socialism, Opposes Drone Strikes
- Texas: Abortion Providers Report Surge in Calls, Wait Times After Court Ruling
- Former NSA Director: Government Shouldn't Pursue Journalist James Risen
- New Jersey: 7 High School Football Players Arrested for Sexual Assault
As we broadcast from Detroit, Michigan, we get an update on Grace Lee Boggs, the 99-year-old activist, author and philosopher based in Detroit. She is considered a legendary figure in the struggle for justice in America. Throughout her life, Boggs has participated in all of the 20th century’s major social movements — for civil rights, women’s rights, workers’ rights, and has inspired generations of local activists. In 1994, she co-founded Detroit Summer, "a multi-racial, inter-generational collective" that functions as a training ground for activists, attracting young people across the country each year. Boggs has been in hospice care at her Detroit home, largely bedridden after taking a bad fall last month. She recently posted a statement on her website that read in part, "I am coming to the end of a long journey — a journey that began over 70 years ago at the beginning of World War II." We broadcast an excerpt from our 2011 interview with Boggs, and speak with her longtime friend, Alice Jennings, who is one of two people in charge of her care.
We are on the road in Detroit, broadcasting from the "Great Lakes State" of Michigan, which has one of the longest freshwater coastlines in the country. But its residents are increasingly concerned about their access to affordable water. A judge overseeing Detroit’s bankruptcy recently ruled the city can continue shutting off water to residents who have fallen behind on payments after a judge concluded there is no "enforceable right" to water. The city began cutting off water to thousands of households several months ago, prompting protests from residents and the United Nations. Today, some 350 to 400 customers reportedly continue to lose water service daily in Detroit, where poverty rate is approximately 40 percent, and people have seen their water bills increase by 119 percent within the last decade. Most of the residents are African-American. Two-thirds of those impacted by the water shutoffs involve families with children. We speak with Alice Jennings, the lead attorney for residents who have lost their water access. "What’s happening here is nothing short of a humanitarian crisis," Jennings says. "In a military way, the truck would start at one end of the street, and by the time it reached the other end maybe 50 percent of the homes were shut off."
Demonstrations over the police killing of an unarmed teenager in St. Louis, Missouri, continued for a second night ahead of a national weekend of action in nearby Ferguson over the police killing of Michael Brown two months ago. Organizers have invited the Brown family to take part. Dr. Cornel West and actor Harry Belafonte are also among those expected to attend the events, which include a mass march and a planned act of civil disobedience. They will join local activists who have been calling for the arrest of police officer Darren Wilson, who killed Mike Brown; for the appointment of a special prosecutor in the case; and the firing of Ferguson Police Chief Thomas Jackson. We speak with three of the organizers who have been involved in the protests since the beginning: Tef Poe, a St. Louis rapper and activist; Tory Russell, an organizer with Hands Up United; and Ashley Yates, of Millennial Activists United. "The message that we’re sending to the system is that we’re not going to stop. We are resilient," Poe says.
Pakistani education activist Malala Yousafzai and Indian child rights activist Kailash Satyarthi have jointly won the Nobel Peace Prize. At age 17, Yousafzai is the youngest person ever to win a Nobel Prize. In 2012, she was shot in the head by a Taliban gunman who boarded her school bus. She survived and continued to campaign for the rights of girls to go to school. Satyarthi, age 60, has been a leader for decades in the international movement against child slavery and the exploitation of child workers. In a statement, the Nobel committee said it "regards it as an important point for a Hindu and a Muslim, an Indian and a Pakistani, to join in a common struggle for education and against extremism." Last year on July 12, her 16th birthday, Yousafzai appeared at the United Nations and delivered her first speech since she underwent surgery, saying she was undeterred by the Taliban’s efforts to silence her voice. The event marked a global day in her honor. We broadcast an excerpt from her address. "Let us wage a glorious struggle against illiteracy, poverty and terrorism. Let us pick up our books and our pens. They are the most powerful weapons," Yousafzai says. "One child, one teacher, one book and one pen can change the world. Education is the only solution."
- Malala Yousafzai, Kailash Satyarthi Win Nobel Peace Prize
- West African Leaders Plead for Aid to Combat Ebola
- ISIS Militants Continue Assault on Kobani Despite U.S.-Led Strikes
- Yemen: 47 Killed in Blast Targeting Shiite Houthis
- Central African Republic Sees Worst Violence in Months
- Hong Kong: Fresh Rally Held After Government Cancels Talks
- New Voter ID Laws Blocked by Courts in Wisconsin, Texas
- Protests Continue over Police Shooting Near Ferguson Ahead of Weekend of Action
- Drug Lord Arrested in Mexico; More Mass Graves Found Near Iguala
- Former Haitian Dictator "Baby Doc" Denied State Funeral After Protests
- Estonia Legalizes Same-Sex Unions in First for Former Soviet State
- Microsoft CEO Suggests Women Shouldn't Ask for Pay Raises
- Wells Fargo Settles Claims It Denied Home Loans to Recent Mothers
- New York City Airplane Cleaning Workers Strike over Unsafe Conditions
The new Hollywood film "Kill the Messenger" tells the story of Gary Webb, one of the most maligned figures in investigative journalism. Webb’s explosive 1996 investigative series "Dark Alliance" for the San Jose Mercury News revealed ties between the CIA, Nicaraguan contras and the crack cocaine trade ravaging African-American communities. The exposé provoked protests and congressional hearings, as well as a fierce reaction from the media establishment, which went to great lengths to discredit Webb’s reporting. We revisit Webb’s story with an extended clip from the documentary "Shadows of Liberty," and speak with Robert Parry, a veteran investigative journalist who advised Webb before he published the series.
Iraqi Journalist Who Embedded with Shia Militias on Fighting ISIS & Why US Strategy is Bound to Fail
As ISIS continues to make advances in the face of U.S.-led airstrikes, we are joined by Ghaith Abdul-Ahad, an Iraqi journalist working with The Guardian who recently embedded with Shia militias around Baghdad fighting the Sunnis. "The war that ISIS is raging on the Iraqi government is a coalition of many different tiny little wars," Abdul-Ahad says. "Everyone has his own grievances against the central government of Iraq, yet ISIS has managed to include them all under a single umbrella." Abdul-Ahad argues that any attempt by the United States and its allies to fight the Islamic State as a monolithic organization is bound to fail. "By sending more weapons, sending more money, you’re just adding to the fuel of the war. You need a social contract with the Sunnis of Iraq." We are also joined by Patrick Cockburn, Middle East correspondent for The Independent. His new book is "The Jihadis Return: ISIS and the New Sunni Uprising."
Two months after the United States began airstrikes in Iraq that then expanded to Syria, the Islamic State remains in control of most of the territory it has seized — and now threatens to capture the Syrian town of Kobani, just six miles from the Turkish border. If Kobani were to fall to the Islamic State, the group would be in control of more than half of Syria’s border with Turkey. "If Kobani does fall, this will be a symptom of a massive military failure," says Patrick Cockburn, Middle East correspondent for The Independent. "And it’s not just in Syria that this is happening, [but] in Iraq as well."
- Concerns Raised over Thomas Eric Duncan's Treatment After He Succumbs to Ebola
- U.S. Unveils Ebola Screening at 5 Airports
- U.N.: West Africa Ebola Outbreak Grows in "Exponential Way"
- Kerry: Defending Besieged Syrian Town From ISIS Not a "Strategic Objective"
- Pentagon Denies Reports of Iraq Civilian Deaths in U.S. Airstrikes
- Latest U.S. Drone Strike Kills 4 in Pakistan
- Dozens Killed in Suicide Bombing, Army Base Attack in Yemen
- Tens of Thousands Protest Student Disappearances in Mexico
- Federal Appeals Court Upholds Wisconsin Voter ID Law Weeks Before Election
- Protests Erupt Near Ferguson over Fatal Police Shooting of Black Teen
Broadcasting from Trinity University, we speak with Graciela Sánchez, director of the Esperanza Peace and Justice Center, which is going on its 28th year as a community gathering space in San Antonio, Texas. The center recently hosted an exhibit on fracking, "Frack-aso! Portraits of Extraction in Eagle Ford and Beyond." The Eagle Ford Shale is the site of a massive fracking project in the local area — the flares burning off excess natural gas can be seen by satellite at night. Sánchez also talks about grassroots efforts to demilitarize their community.
Migrant Women, Children Allege Harsh Conditions, Sexual Assault at For-Profit Texas Immigration Jail
Broadcasting from San Antonio, we look at a new family detention center just south of the city that holds more than 500 immigrant women and their children as they await deportation. The for-profit Karnes County Residential Center is owned by the GEO Group, the second-largest private prison company in the United States. Many women imprisoned at the Karnes facility have accused guards of sexually assaulting them. A federal complaint filed last week says guards are promising the women help with their immigration cases in return for sexual favors. Many of the detainees came to the United States seeking asylum from violence in their home countries of Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador. But the Obama administration says it is detaining them in order to discourage more migrants from coming. We hear from one of the facility’s few detainees to be released since a wave of migrants arrived in August, an El Salvador national who came with her 7-year-old daughter, who suffers from brain cancer. We also speak to Javier Maldonado, an immigration attorney involved in the detainees’ case alleging sexual assault and poor conditions, and Cristina Parker, the immigration projects coordinator for Grassroots Leadership and co-author of their new report, "For-Profit Family Detention: Meet the Private Prison Corporations Making Millions by Locking Up Refugee Families."
We broadcast from San Antonio, which is now the last outpost for legal abortion in southern Texas. Last week, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals allowed a provision requiring abortion providers to meet hospital-style building requirements to come into immediate effect, effectively gutting abortion access overnight. The move shuttered 13 clinics and left just eight open in a state that once had more than 40 facilities. On Monday, a number of abortion providers filed an emergency application asking the Supreme Court to intervene. The provision is part of HB2, a sweeping anti-choice law passed last summer after it was initially blocked by a people’s filibuster and an 11-hour stand from Texas State Sen. Wendy Davis. We speak with two guests: Jeffrey Hons, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood South Texas, which is building a new facility in San Antonio that meets the new regulations, and Lindsay Rodriguez, president of the Lilith Fund, which provides grants to Texans who need abortions but cannot afford them.
- U.N. Envoy Urges Intervention as ISIS Invades Besieged Syrian Town
- 12 Die in Turkey Protests Calling for Cross-Border Intervention
- U.N. Warns of "Grave" Humanitarian Crisis for Iraq's Displaced
- Canadian Parliament Votes to Join U.S.-Led Strikes in Iraq
- Dallas Ebola Patient Remains Critical as Concerns Raised over Treatment
- U.S. Set to Unveil Tougher Ebola Screening at Domestic, Foreign Airports
- Hong Kong Students Set Date for Talks with Government over Pro-Democracy Demands
- Report: Missouri Police, FBI Preparing for Riots if Officer Isn't Indicted
- Black Couple Sues Indiana Police over Tasering Caught on Tape
- Family of NYPD Chokehold Victim to Seek $75 Million in Damages
- Grand Jury Rejects Indictment for Georgia Police Raid That Injured Toddler
- Marriage Equality Bans Struck Down in Idaho, Nevada
Despite our advances in medicine, a new book calls for a radical transformation in how we approach the end of life. In "Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End," the physician and best-selling author Dr. Atul Gawande argues that a rigid focus on prolonging life can often undermine what is best for a dying patient. "Medical science has rendered obsolete centuries of experience, tradition, and language about our mortality," Gawande writes. "Our reluctance to honestly examine the experience of aging and dying has increased the harm we inflict on people and denied them the basic comforts they most need." A surgeon at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, Gawande is an acclaimed staff writer at The New Yorker and a professor at Harvard Medical School. "Being Mortal" is his fourth book, following the best-selling "The Checklist Manifesto: How to Get Things Right."
Sierra Leone is pleading for more international help to fight the Ebola outbreak in West Africa. On Saturday, the country recorded 121 deaths in one of the single deadliest days since the disease appeared there more than four months ago. At least 678 people have now died in Sierra Leone, with the official toll for West Africa topping 3,400. On Monday, President Obama said his administration is working on additional protocols for screening airplane passengers to identify people who might have Ebola, but ruled out a travel ban on West Africa. Meanwhile, the first patient diagnosed with the disease on U.S. soil, Thomas Eric Duncan, remains in critical condition at a Dallas hospital. The handling of Duncan’s case has raised questions about the how U.S. hospitals are prepared to handle a domestic Ebola outbreak. We are joined by Dr. Atul Gawande, a surgeon and best-selling author, regarded as one of the most influential healthcare policy writers in the country. "Our response was pathetic," Gawande says. "We simply mounted no substantial response. It might have been the best thing that has happened that the first case to leave the African continent came to America, because it brought our mobilization to realize that what happens there matters to us here. This is a disease that is eminently stoppable with basic public health measures."
- In Victory for Marriage Equality, Supreme Court Rejects Appeals from 5 States
- U.S. Airstrikes Target ISIS Militants Near Kobani
- U.S. Central Command: Over 340 Airstrikes Conducted in Iraq, Syria
- Report: Large Portion of ISIS Ammunition Made in the United States
- Libya: 100 Missing After Migrant Boat Sinks in Mediterranean
- Pakistan: 6 People Killed in 3rd U.S. Drone Strike in 3 Days
- Kenyan President Steps Down Temporarily to Face ICC Hearing
- Guantánamo Hunger Striker Challenges Force-Feeding Tactics in Civilian Court
- Former U.S. Prisoner Moazzam Begg Offered to Help Secure Release of British Hostage
- Mexican Federal Police Sent to Iguala After Disappearance of 43 Students
- Texas Abortion Clinics Appeal to Supreme Court
- Texas: Guards Accused of Sexually Assaulting Immigrants at Private Detention Center
- Ohio: Protesters Occupy Beavercreek Police Station over Shooting of John Crawford
- Judge: Police in Ferguson Violated Protesters' Constitutional Rights
- Betty Reid Mandell, Longtime Welfare Rights Advocate, Dies at 89
The renowned scholar, author and activist Dr. Cornel West, joins us to discuss his latest book, "Black Prophetic Fire." West engages in conversation with the German scholar and thinker Christa Buschendorf about six revolutionary African-American leaders: Frederick Douglass, W. E. B. Du Bois, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Ella Baker, Malcolm X and Ida B. Wells. Even as the United States is led by its first black president, West says he is fearful that we may be "witnessing the death of black prophetic fire in our time."
Click here to watch part 2 of this interview