New environmental regulations unveiled this week are being described as the U.S. government’s most sweeping effort to date in curbing the emissions that cause global warming. The Environmental Protection Agency is seeking a 30-percent reduction of carbon emissions from 2005 levels at coal-fired power plants by the year 2030. But many environmentalists are urging the United States to take greater action on cutting greenhouse gas emissions. The Guardian reports some of the most coal-heavy states, including West Virginia, Kentucky and Ohio, will be allowed to maintain, or even increase, their emissions under the EPA plan. Meanwhile, the European Union said the United States must "do even more" to help keep global temperatures from rising more than 2 degrees Celsius. We are joined by Janet Redman, director of the Climate Policy Program at the Institute for Policy Studies.
Seattle made history this week by passing the $15-an-hour minimum wage — the highest rate in the country for a major city, and more than twice the federal minimum. The raise will be phased in over time. Seattle businesses will have three to seven years to implement it, depending on their size. The plan also includes several loopholes for businesses, which were fought until the last minute by Seattle City Council Member Kshama Sawant, the first socialist to be elected to the council in a century. Sawant ran for City Council last year on a platform of raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour. She join us from Seattle.
The Obama administration is seeking to contain a congressional backlash over a prisoner exchange that saw the release of American soldier Bowe Bergdahl for five Taliban leaders. On Wednesday, top intelligence and military officials held a closed-door briefing for the entire Senate showing them a recent video of Bergdahl in declining health. The administration says the video helped spur action to win his release over fears his life was in danger. Opponents of the deal say the White House failed to give Congress proper notice, and may have endangered American lives by encouraging the capture of U.S. soldiers. The criticism has exploded as news spread through right-wing media that Bergdahl may have left his base after turning against the war. We are joined by Brock McIntosh, a member of Iraq Veterans Against the War who served in Afghanistan from November 2008 to August 2009. McIntosh applied for conscientious objector status and was discharged last month.
The backlash over the prisoner swap involving U.S. soldier Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl and five members of the Taliban continues to grow. In Bergdahl’s hometown of Hailey, Idaho, community members have a canceled a celebration of his release over public safety concerns. In recent days, angry phone calls and emails poured into Hailey city hall and local organizations over the town’s support for the soldier. Bergdahl was captured by the Taliban in 2009 shortly after he left his military outpost in Afghanistan. Some of Bergdahl’s fellow soldiers have described him as a deserter. They have also said at least six soldiers died while searching for him, a claim the Pentagon rejects. We discuss the Bergdahl controversy and its local impact in Idaho with Larry Schoen, a county commissioner in Blaine County.
- Senate Shown Bergdahl Captivity Video; Hometown Cancels "Welcome Home" Event
- Family of Western Couple Held by Taliban Pleads for Their Release
- Assad Claims Election Victory; U.N. Aid Chief Appeals for Access to Besieged Areas
- U.N. Cites Progress on Syrian Chemical Stockpile Despite Missed Deadline
- Rebel Group Kidnaps Kurdish Students in Northern Syria
- Thousands March on World Cup Stadium in São Paulo
- Appeals Court Overturns Rejection of Citigroup-SEC Settlement
- Court Upholds BP Liability for Pollution in 2010 Spill
- Walmart Faces Worker Strikes Ahead of Shareholders Meeting
- Relatives of U.S. Drone Strike Victims Won't Appeal Court Ruling
- California Prisoners Win Class-Action Status for Lawsuit Challenging Solitary Confinement
- "Reset the Net" Protests Back Online Encryption, Privacy
As Oklahoma enacts a law that could close all but one abortion clinic in the state — and Louisiana is poised to follow suit — we look at the legacy of Dr. George Tiller, who was assassinated five years ago this past weekend. Tiller was one of a handful of doctors providing abortions in the third trimester of pregnancy. He braved constant threats, a firebombing at his clinic and an assassination attempt that left him with gunshot wounds to both arms. On May 31, 2009, anti-choice extremist, Scott Roeder, entered Tiller’s church in Wichita, Kansas, and shot him dead. We remember Tiller by speaking with Dr. Cheryl Chastine, who travels from Chicago to Wichita each week to provide abortions at Tiller’s former clinic, which reopened last year. Chastine discusses the obstacles to abortion access in Kansas and responds to the threats and harassment she and her colleagues face. "I get up in the morning and there are patients that need me," Chastine says. "If I allow myself to be deterred from doing this work, then I am allowing a victory for terrorism."
With freed American prisoner of war Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl now facing an Army probe into potential desertion, we are joined by Charles Glass, a historian and former ABC News chief Middle East correspondent. Glass’ book, "The Deserters: A Hidden History of the Second World War," tells the story of three men whose lives dramatize how the strain of war can push a soldier to the breaking point. They are among some 50,000 American soldiers who deserted in the European theater during World War II. "We have to understand what [Bergdahl] was going through," Glass says. "The young person at the front line, having believed in his country’s mission in Afghanistan and discovering it was not at all what he was told it was, and saw himself as part of the mechanism of oppression, of killing people, of going into villages, and when trying to take out enemy combatants was killing families. I hope that we’ll understand what he went through and have compassion for him and his family."
The Taliban has released a video showing the hand over of Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl to U.S. Special Operations Forces in the deal that saw the U.S. exchange five high-ranking Taliban militants held at Guantánamo bay. Despite winning the freedom of the only known U.S. prisoner of war, the deal has come under Republican attack amidst reports Bergdahl voluntarily left his base after growing opposed to the war in Afghanistan. Army officials say they will investigate whether Bergdahl engaged in misconduct, and several of the soldiers who served with him have taken to the media to call him a deserter. "[Bergdahl] is speaking as someone who has seen firsthand what the American imperial machine is all about … and is responding from a very core, visceral place," says James Branum, a lawyer who specializes in representing U.S. military deserters and conscientious objectors. "One can’t help be moved by that." Branum adds that most other soldiers convicted of desertion, including many of his clients, have received six to 24 month sentences. "[Bergdahl] has already effectively served more jail time than anyone ever has in the modern era for desertion, in his time as a POW. Given that, there is no reason to punish him."
- Military to Probe Bergdahl Case; White House Apologizes for Lack of Notice to Congress
- Sisi to Be Sworn-In Following Election Victory
- Egyptian Satirist Ends Broadcast over Censorship, Threats
- Obama: NATO Expanding in Europe to Counter Russia
- U.S. to Reopen Diplomatic Presence in Somalia
- Nigeria Backs Down on Protest Ban; Generals Reportedly Found Guilty of Boko Haram Ties
- 25th Anniversary of Tiananmen Square Marked in Hong Kong
- Central U.S. Hit With Severe Storms, Flooding
- Mississippi GOP Senate Primary Headed for Runoff
- Justice Dept. Revives Domestic Terror Unit
- Teens Among 6 Wounded in Chicago Shooting
- New NSA Chief Rejects Portrait of Snowden as Foreign Spy
- New York City Teachers Approve Landmark Contract
In one of the most significant press freedom cases in decades, the U.S. Supreme Court has turned down the appeal of a New York Times reporter who faces prison for refusing to reveal a confidential source. James Risen had asked the court to overturn a ruling forcing him to testify in the criminal trial of ex-CIA analyst Jeffrey Sterling. Prosecutors believe Sterling gave Risen information on the CIA’s role in disrupting Iran’s nuclear program. Risen vowed to go to prison rather than testify and was hoping for Supreme Court intervention. But on Monday, the Supreme Court refused to weigh in, effectively siding with the government. The Obama administration must now decide if it will try to force Risen’s testimony and risk sending one of the nation’s most prominent national security journalists to jail. We are joined by two guests: Trevor Timm, executive director of the Freedom of the Press Foundation and a columnist at The Guardian; and Matthew Cooper, a veteran Washington correspondent who was held in contempt of court during the Bush administration leak case that led to the outing of Valerie Plame as a CIA agent.
In a deal brokered by Qatar, the United States agreed to release five Taliban leaders from Guantánamo Bay in return for winning Bowe Bergdahl’s freedom. Bergdahl is now being treated at an American military hospital in Germany and will return to the United States at a later date. The Taliban leaders be forced to remain in Qatar for one year. The deal has been controversial. Some of Bergdahl’s former soldiers say he should face a court-martial for desertion. Meanwhile, Republican lawmakers are accusing President Obama of failing to properly give Congress advanced warning of the Guantánamo prisoner transfers, and of endangering U.S. troops worldwide by incentivising their capture. We get reaction from retired Air Force Col. Morris Davis, who resigned as the former chief military prosecutor at Guantánamo Bay in 2007.
According to a 2012 profile in Rolling Stone magazine by the late reporter Michael Hastings, the newly freed U.S. soldier Bowe Bergdahl joined the Army in 2008 after he first tried to enlist with the French Foreign Legion, but was rejected. He was deployed to Afghanistan just after President Obama ordered the first troop surge in the Spring of 2009. Bergdahl reportedly told a soldier in his unit, "If this deployment is lame … I’m just going to walk off into the mountains of Pakistan." And on June 30, 2009, he may have done just that, leaving the base with just a knife and water, along with a digital camera and his diary. Within 24 hours, he was captured. We are joined by Sean Smith, an award-winning photographer and filmmaker for The Guardian who met Bowe Bergdahl while embedded with his unit in Afghanistan. Smith also profiled Bowe’s father, Bob Bergdahl, in the video we aired in the previous segment.
Bowe Bergdahl, the last known American prisoner of war in Afghanistan, has been freed in a prison swap with the Taliban five years after his capture. Bergdahl was captured after reportedly walking off his base unarmed. He was said to have left a note claiming he had become disillusioned with the Army, did not support the American mission in Afghanistan, and was leaving to start a new life. Bergdahl’s parents, Bob and Jani, had first revealed their son was the subject of prisoner swap negotiations three years ago when U.S.-Taliban talks broke down. In the lead-up to his son’s release, Bob Bergdahl spoke to The Guardian’s Sean Smith in an exclusive interview filmed around the Idaho countryside where the family lives. "I don’t think anybody can relate to the prisoners in Guantánamo more than our family, because it’s the same thing," Bob Bergdahl told Smith. "How could we have such a high standard of judicial process for horrible war criminals [during World War II] ... and yet now we can go for 10-11 years without even having judicial process? It’s just wrong."
- Obama Seeks $1 Billion to Boost U.S. Military in Europe
- Iraq: 15 Killed After Deadliest Month This Year
- Report: Iraq Vets Sickened by Breathing in Titanium at Base
- China to Limit Carbon Emissions After U.S. Unveils Plan
- Syria Holds Elections Despite Civil War
- Spanish Protesters Call for Referendum on Monarchy as King Abdicates
- U.S. to Recognize New Palestinian Unity Gov't
- Supreme Court Rejects Appeal by NYT Reporter James Risen
- Georgia: Toddler in Induced Coma After SWAT Team Throws Stun Grenade into Playpen
- Seattle City Council Passes $15-an-Hour Minimum Wage
- Report: Female Retail Workers Make $4 an Hour Less Than Men
- Study: Female-Named Hurricanes More Deadly Because Not Taken Seriously
- Oliver Stone to Make Film About Edward Snowden
Richard Clarke, the nation’s former top counterterrorism official, tells Democracy Now! he believes President George W. Bush is guilty of war crimes for launching the 2003 invasion of Iraq. Clarke served as national coordinator for security and counterterrorism during Bush’s first year in office. He resigned in 2003 following the Iraq invasion and later made headlines by accusing Bush officials of ignoring pre-9/11 warnings about an imminent attack by al-Qaeda. "I think things that they authorized probably fall within the area of war crimes," Clarke says. "Whether that would be productive or not, I think, is a discussion we could all have. But we have established procedures now with the International Criminal Court in The Hague, where people who take actions as serving presidents or prime ministers of countries have been indicted and have been tried. So the precedent is there to do that sort of thing. And I think we need to ask ourselves whether or not it would be useful to do that in the case of members of the Bush administration. It’s clear that things that the Bush administration did — in my mind, at least — were war crimes."
Richard Clarke served as the nation’s top counterterrorism official under presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush before resigning in 2003 in protest of the Iraq War. A year before the Sept. 11 attacks, Clarke pushed for the Air Force to begin arming drones as part of the U.S. effort to hunt down Osama bin Laden. According to Clarke, the CIA and the Pentagon initially opposed the mission. Then Sept. 11 happened. Two months later, on November 12, 2001, Mohammed Atef, the head of al-Qaeda’s military forces, became the first person killed by a Predator drone. According to the Bureau for Investigative Journalism, U.S. drones have since killed at least 2,600 people in Yemen, Somalia, Iraq, Pakistan and Afghanistan. Clarke has just written a novel about drone warfare called, "Sting of the Drone." We talk to Clarke about the book and his concerns about President Obama’s escalation of the drone war. "I think the [drone] program got out of hand," Clarke says. "The excessive secrecy is as counterproductive as some of the strikes are."
- Lone Known U.S. POW in Afghanistan Released in Taliban Prisoner Swap
- Hagel Rejects GOP Criticism of Prisoner Deal
- Report: Bergdahl Turned Against Afghan War
- EPA Seeks 30% Emissions Cut from U.S. Power Plants
- Senate to Take Up VA Overhaul Following Shinseki Resignation
- Report: NSA Amassing Vast Facial Image Database
- HHS Overturns Medicare Ban on Transgender Surgery
- National Park Service to Study LGBT Historical Sites
- White House Press Secretary Jay Carney Resigns
- Los Angeles Sues JPMorgan for Discriminatory Lending
- Japanese-American Civil Rights Activist Yuri Kochiyama Dies at 93
We air part two of our interview with famed essayist Ta-Nehisi Coates about his cover article in The Atlantic, “The Case for Reparations,” in which he exposes how slavery, Jim Crow segregation, and federally backed housing policy have systematically robbed African Americans of their possessions and prevented them from accruing inter-generational wealth. “It puts a lie to the myth that African Americans who act right, who are respectable, are somehow therefore immune to the plunder that is symptomatic of white supremacy in this country,” Coates says. “It does not matter. There’s no bettering yourself that will get you out of this.”
We are joined by Aviva Chomsky, whose new book, "Undocumented: How Immigration Became Illegal” details how systemic prejudice against Mexicans and many other migrant workers has been woven into U.S. immigration policies that deny them the same path to citizenship that have long been granted to European immigrants. She also draws parallels between the immigration laws now in place that criminalize migrants, and the caste system that has oppressed African Americans, as described by Prof. Michelle Alexander in her book, "The New Jim Crow." Chomsky’s previous book on this topic is "They Take Our Jobs! and 20 Other Myths about Immigration." She is a professor of history and coordinator of Latin American studies at Salem State University in Massachusetts.
President Obama announced this week that he is delaying a review of his administration’s controversial deportation practices until after the summer, after earlier ordering Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson to look into ways he could take executive action to scale back deportations after civil rights groups dubbed him the "deporter-in-chief." But during a hearing on immigration policy Thursday, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Republican Rep. Bob Goodlatte of Virginia made it clear that they remain highly skeptical of negotiating with the president. Immigration rights groups continue to express frustration over the lack of political traction on comprehensive immigration reform. “Our community is angry and we are going to channel that anger in the most constructive way possible,” says our guest Pablo Alvarado, director of the National Day Laborers Organizing Network, which has engaged in civil disobedience to pressure Obama to immediately stop deportations.
Image Credit: Juliosalgado.com