NBC News is at the center of a new controversy, this time focused on its chief foreign correspondent Richard Engel. Back in 2012 he and five other members of an NBC News team were kidnapped by armed gunmen in Syria. They were held for five days. Just after his release Engel spoke on NBC News and said this about his captors: "This is a government militia. These are people who are loyal to President Bashar al-Assad. They are Shiite." Well, earlier this week, a New York Times investigation prompted Engel to revise his story and reveal he was actually captured by Sunni militants affiliated with the U.S.-backed Free Syrian Army. In an article published on Wednesday, Engel said the kidnappers had "put on an elaborate ruse to convince us they were Shiite Shabiha militiamen." According to the Times investigation, NBC knew more than it let on about the kidnappers. We speak to As’ad AbuKhalil, professor of political science at California State University, Stanislaus. He runs the Angry Arab News Service blog. He expressed serious doubts about the circumstances surrounding Engel’s captivity and release when the story first broke in December 2012.
In an act of mass civil disobedience, tens of thousands of parents in New York state had their children boycott the annual English Language Arts exam this week. At some Long Island and upstate school districts, abstention levels reached 80 percent. Protest organizers say at least 155,000 pupils opted out — and that is with only half of school districts tallied so far. The action is seen as a significant challenge to the education agenda of Gov. Andrew Cuomo and to standardized testing nationwide. More than a decade after the passage of No Child Left Behind, educators, parents and students nationwide are protesting the preponderant reliance on high-stakes standardized testing, saying it gives undue importance to ambiguous data and compromises learning in favor of test prep. We speak to Jack Bierwirth, superintendent of Herricks Public Schools in Long Island, and parent Toni Smith-Thompson, who led the boycott against standardized testing at Central Park East 1 Elementary School in East Harlem.
- Lawmakers Reach Deal to Give Obama TPP Fast-Track Authority
- Iraqi Forces Retake Towns Near Oil Refinery from ISIL
- Al-Qaeda Gains Ground in South Yemen; U.N. Envoy Resigns
- WikiLeaks Publishes Full Database of Hacked Sony Emails
- Muslim Migrants Accused of Pushing 12 Christians Overboard
- Obama Signs "Doc Fix" Law to Overhaul Medicare Payments
- Wesleyan Students Launch Fossil Fuel Divestment Sit-In; Harvard Blockade Continues
- Gyrocopter Pilot Who Landed on Capitol Lawn Could Face 4 Years in Prison
- Vatican Ends Takeover of U.S. Nuns Accused of "Radical Feminism"
- Former IMF Chief Rodrigo Rato Probed for Money Laundering
- Bernanke to Take Hedge Fund Job in Latest Sign of Revolving Door
- Judge Allows U.S. Lawsuit over Murder of Chilean Musician Víctor Jara
- Amnesty International Details "Chilling Crackdown" in Bahrain
- Jeb Bush Calls for Congress to Approve Lynch Nomination
- Parents of Martin Richard Oppose Death Penalty for Tsarnaev
- Jewish Studies Scholar Cancels Univ. of Illinois Lecture over Salaita Dismissal
- New Yorkers Protest Income Inequality at Billionaire's Condo Building
- House Republicans Pass Tax Break for Wealthiest 0.2%
Students at Harvard University have expanded their blockade of key administration offices while calling on the school to divest from fossil fuels. Harvard has the largest endowment of any university in the world, at $36.4 billion. The protest began on Sunday when students began blockading Massachusetts Hall, the school’s central administrative building. Several alumni of Harvard have also taken part in the blockade including Bill McKibben, the founder of the group 350.org, and former Colorado Senator Tim Wirth. We speak to sophomore Talia Rothstein, one of the coordinators of Divest Harvard, and Harvard science professor Naomi Oreskes.
A day after a mailman from Florida landed a tiny personal aircraft called a gyrocopter on the lawn of the U.S. Capitol in a protest to demand campaign finance reform, we speak to Rep. Alan Grayson of Florida about money and politics. Grayson also reveals that he will "probably" run for U.S. Senate in 2016 for Marco Rubio’s seat, who has joined the race for the Republican presidential nomination.
Senate Finance Committee leaders Republican Orrin Hatch and Democrat Ron Wyden are expected to introduce a "fast-track" trade promotion authority bill as early as this week that would give the president authority to negotiate the secretive Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal and then present it to Congress for a yes-or-no vote, with no amendments allowed. On Wednesday, more than 1,000 labor union members rallied on Capitol Hill to call on Democrats to oppose "fast-track" authority. We speak with two people closely following the proposed legislation: Lori Wallach, director of Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch, and Rep. Alan Grayson, a Democrat from Florida.
Fight for $15: Tens of Thousands Rally as Labor, Civil Rights & Social Justice Movements Join Forces
Low-wage workers in the United States have staged their largest action to date to demand a $15-an-hour minimum wage, with some 60,000 workers walking off the job in more than 200 cities. The "Fight for $15" campaign brought together fast-food workers, home-care aides, child-care providers, Wal-Mart clerks, adjunct professors, airport workers and other low-wage workers. Organizers say the action was held on Tax Day to highlight the taxpayer funds needed to support underpaid workers. A new study says low wages are forcing working families to rely on more than $150 billion in public assistance. We speak with Steven Greenhouse, former labor and workplace reporter for The New York Times, who has been covering the "Fight for $15" movement.
- 60,000 Workers Join Historic Strikes for $15-an-Hour Minimum Wage
- ISIL Claims New Villages in Western Iraq
- Iraqi PM Criticizes Saudi-Led Yemen Bombings; HRW Says Strikes Killed 31 Civilians
- NBC News Changes Account of Richard Engel's Kidnapping
- Ukraine: Journalist Shot Dead in Capital Kiev
- 400 Migrants Drown Off Libyan Coast
- Colombia Lifts Suspension of FARC Bombings After Attack
- Florida Mailman Lands Gyrocopter on Capitol Lawn in Call for Campaign Finance Reform
- EU Unveils Antitrust Charges Against Google
- Protester Jumps on Table, Throws Confetti at European Central Bank President
- Clinton Shifts Stance to Embrace Same-Sex Marriage
- 6 Arrested in Protest at BP Headquarters Ahead of Spill Anniversary
- Chicago Pays $5 Million for Police Killing; Mayor Backs Reparations for Police Torture
- Report: Workers Told to Falsify Training Records of Oklahoma Reserve Deputy Who Shot Eric Harris
- Texas: Immigrant Mothers Launch New Hunger Strike in Private Detention Center
Protests are being held across the country today in what organizers call the "largest-ever mobilization of underpaid workers." Fast-food workers in 230 cities are walking off the job as part of the "Fight for $15" campaign, a push for a $15-an-hour minimum wage and the right to form a union. Hundreds of workers in Boston held their action one day early in deference to today’s anniversary of the Boston Marathon bombings. We hear from some of the workers who kicked off the day of protest this morning at a McDonald’s in New York City.
Khalil Muhammad: To Stop Police Killings, Transform the Political Culture That Threatens Black Lives
Protests were held from coast to coast on Tuesday in a day of action against police violence and racial profiling. The protests came as the sheriff’s reserve deputy, who fatally shot Eric Harris in Oklahoma, turned himself in to authorities. Robert Bates said he thought he was using his Taser instead of his gun when he killed Harris earlier this month. Bates is a wealthy insurance executive and heavy donor to the Tulsa Police Department, who gets to volunteer on the force as a reserve. Meanwhile, the South Carolina police officer charged with murder for fatally shooting Walter Scott will probably not face the death penalty if he is convicted. Prosecutors say Michael Slager would still be eligible for a sentence of life in prison. We are joined by Khalil Muhammad, author of "The Condemnation of Blackness: Race, Crime, and the Making of Modern Urban America," and director of the New York Public Library’s Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture.
President Obama has told Congress he will remove Cuba from a U.S. list of state sponsors of terrorism, clearing a major obstacle to restoring diplomatic relations with Havana for the first time in a half-century. Obama’s move comes just days after he and Cuban President Raúl Castro sat down at a summit in Panama for a historic meeting. Cuba was placed on the terrorism list in 1982 at a time when Havana was supporting liberation struggles in Africa and Latin America. While Cuba is being removed from the terrorism list, the trade embargo remains in effect. To discuss the thawing of U.S.-Cuban relations, we are joined from Havana by former Cuban diplomat, Carlos Alzugaray Treto.
- Congress to Have Say in Iran Deal After Obama Backs Down
- Obama to Remove Cuba from List of State Sponsors of Terrorism
- U.N. Security Council Imposes Arms Embargo on Houthis in Yemen
- U.N. Warns of Civilian Toll in Saudi, Houthi Attacks; U.S. Increases Intelligence Sharing
- U.S. Drone Strike Reportedly Kills AQAP Leader in Yemen
- Study: U.S. Drone Strikes Continue to Claim Civilian Lives in Yemen
- Aid Groups Seek Global Effort to End Israeli Blockade of Gaza
- Egyptian Court Sentences 14 to Death, American to Life
- 9-Year-Old Victim Reportedly Pregnant After Rape in ISIS Captivity
- Clinton Backs Constitutional Amendment on Campaign Finance
- 2 Charged for Sexual Assault on Crowded Florida Beach
- Former Educators Sentenced for Atlanta School Cheating Scandal
- New York Students Stage Mass Boycott of Standardized Tests
- World Bank Chief Calls for Carbon Tax; Harvard Sees Protests over Fossil Fuel Divestment
- Dozens Arrested in Protests Against Police Violence, Racial Profiling
- Fast-Food & Other Low-Wage Workers Stage Nationwide Day of Action
- Study: Low Wages Force Reliance on Over $150 Billion in Public Assistance
Cries of "Black Lives Matter" continue to ring out across the country after new police killings of unarmed African Americans. Over the weekend in South Carolina, the funeral was held in North Charleston for Walter Scott, the black man who fled a traffic stop and was fatally shot in the back by police officer Michael Slager. Video of the incident taken by a bystander forced the police to retract its initial defense of Slager and see him charged with murder and fired from the force. This comes as Oklahoma prosecutors have charged a sheriff’s reserve deputy with second-degree manslaughter in the fatal shooting of an unarmed African-American man in Tulsa. Robert Bates — who is white — says he mistakenly used his handgun instead of his stun gun, killing the victim, Eric Harris. We are joined from South Carolina by Muhiyidin d’Baha, an organizer with Black Lives Matter Charleston.
Over the past week, video of police killings of unarmed African Americans in South Carolina and in Oklahoma has led to charges against the officers who fired the fatal shots. Meanwhile, 10 sheriff’s deputies have been suspended in California after a news helicopter filmed them kicking and punching a suspect as he lay face down in the desert after a chase. As video proves decisive in holding police accountable for abuses nationwide, we are joined by Jay Stanley, senior policy analyst with the Speech, Privacy and Technology Project at the American Civil Liberties Union. He authored "Know Your Rights" for the ACLU, and its companion article, "You Have Every Right to Photograph That Cop."
One of Latin America’s most acclaimed writers, Eduardo Galeano, died on Monday at age 74 in Montevideo, Uruguay. The Uruguayan novelist and journalist made headlines when Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez gave President Obama a copy of his classic work, "The Open Veins of Latin America: Five Centuries of the Pillage of a Continent." Since its publication in 1971, "Open Veins" has sold more than a million copies worldwide, despite being banned by the military governments in Chile, Argentina and his native country of Uruguay. While in exile after the Uruguayan military junta seized power in a 1973 coup, Galeano began work on his classic trilogy "Memory of Fire," which rewrites five centuries of North and South American history. He also authored "Soccer in Sun and Shadow," "Upside Down," "The Book of Embraces," "We Say No," "Voices of Time," "Mirrors," "Children of the Days: A Calendar of Human History," among others. Galeano received numerous international prizes, including the Lannan Prize for Cultural Freedom, the Casa de las Américas Prize, and the First Distinguished Citizen of the region by the countries of Mercosur. We look back on Galeano’s life and hear from his Democracy Now! interviews in 2009 and 2013.
- Blackwater Operatives Get Long Prison Terms for 2007 Nisoor Massacre
- Russia Lifts Ban on Sale of Anti-Missile System to Iran
- White House Opposes Missile Shield That Could Deter Military Strikes on Iran
- Senate Panel Takes Up Measure That Could Block Lifting of Iran Sanctions
- 10 Killed in al-Shabab Attack on Gov't Building in Mogadishu
- Nigeria Marks 1 Year Since Girls' Kidnapping; Report Finds Over 2,000 Abductions by Boko Haram
- Oklahoma Reserve Deputy Charged for Fatal Shooting of Unarmed Eric Harris
- Activists Launch "March 2 Justice" for Police, Prison Reform
- Rubio Enters 2016 GOP Presidential Race
- Acclaimed Latin American Author Eduardo Galeano Dead at 74
- Nobel-Winning German Author Günter Grass Dead at 87
Former secretary of state, senator and first lady Hillary Clinton has formally entered the 2016 race for the White House in a second bid to become the first woman U.S. president. We host a roundtable discussion with four guests: Joe Conason, editor-in-chief of The National Memo, co-editor of The Investigative Fund, and author of "The Hunting of the President: The Ten-Year Campaign to Destroy Bill and Hillary Clinton"; Michelle Goldberg, senior contributing writer at The Nation; longtime journalist Robert Scheer, editor of Truthdig.com and author of many books; and Kshama Sawant, a Socialist city councilmember in Seattle and member of Socialist Alternative, a nationwide organization of social and economic justice activists.
- Obama, Castro Hold Historic Meeting at Americas Summit
- Castro Calls for "Respectful Dialogue" with U.S. in First Americas Summit Appearance
- Maduro Challenges Obama on Venezuela Sanctions
- Saudi Arabia Rejects Iran Ceasefire Calls in Yemen; Pakistani Lawmakers Reject Involvement
- Hillary Rodham Clinton Announces 2016 Presidential Bid
- U.N. Seeks Aid for Displaced Residents of Yarmouk
- Blackwater Operatives Face Sentencing for Nisoor Massacre; DOJ Prosecutors Differed on Charges
- Hundreds Mourn Walter Scott in South Carolina
- Tulsa Reserve Deputy Who Killed Unarmed Man is Wealthy Police Donor
- 10 California Sherriff's Deputies Suspended for Beating Caught on Video
- NYC: Ramsey Orta, Man Who Filmed Eric Garner Death, Freed on Bail
An explosive new report reveals the federal government secretly tracked billions of U.S. phone calls years before the 9/11 attacks. According to USA Today, the Justice Department and Drug Enforcement Administration collected bulk data for phone calls in as many as 116 countries deemed to have a connection with drug trafficking. The program began in 1992 under President George H.W. Bush, nine years before his son, George W. Bush, authorized the National Security Agency to gather logs of Americans’ phone calls in 2001. This program served as a blueprint for NSA mass surveillance. We speak with Brad Heath, the USA Today investigative reporter who broke the story.
Exclusive: Father of 1 of Missing Mexican 43 on How Drug War Aid "Being Used to Annihilate Students"
As the Summit of the Americas commences, several U.S.-based groups and university officials have signed a letter to President Obama questioning his response to the 43 students missing from the Mexican state of Guerrero for over six months. The letter asks why the Obama administration has placed sanctions on Venezuela, but maintained normal relations with Mexico, despite the students’ disappearance. Mexican authorities have declared the 43 students dead, saying local police acting on the orders of the mayor of Iguala attacked them and turned them over to drug gang members, who killed and incinerated them. But so far the remains of only one of the 43 have been identified, and reports have pointed to the involvement of federal authorities. We are joined by two relatives of the missing students who live here in New York: Antonio Tizapa is the father of missing student Jorge Antonio Tizapa Legideño; and Amado Tlatempa is the cousin of another missing student, Jesús Jovany Rodríguez Tlatempa. "What I would tell President Obama is to stop supporting Plan Mérida, because the weapons, the arms that are supposedly supporting the war against drugs, those arms are being used to annihilate our students," Tizapa says.