Democracy Now!

Headlines for August 16, 2019

Child Victims Act: Hundreds File Suits as New York Extends Statute of Limitations on Sex Abuse Cases

Hundreds of child sex abuse victims filed lawsuits in New York on Wednesday under the Child Victims Act, a new state law that allows survivors of childhood sexual abuse in the state to bring their perpetrators to court who previously were barred due to statutes of limitations. Lawsuits were filed against the Catholic Church, the Boy Scouts, a number of schools and hospitals and the estate of Jeffrey Epstein. The Child Victims Act was signed into law in February. It allows prosecutors to bring criminal charges against alleged abusers until the accuser turns 28. Accusers can file a civil lawsuit until they reach the age of 55. In addition, the “lookback window” will allow accusers of any age to bring charges against their alleged perpetrators — no matter how long ago the abuse occurred — for a period of one year starting Wednesday. We speak with two New York legislators that spearheaded the new law, state Senator Alessandra Biaggi and Assemblywoman Yuh-Line Niou. They are both survivors of childhood sexual abuse.

Jeffrey Epstein Is Dead. Civil Rights Lawyer Says Civil Charges Against His Estate Will Continue

Charges and civil suits against Jeffrey Epstein are continuing following the death of the serial sex abuser, who was found dead in his jail cell on Saturday. Epstein had been arrested in July for allegedly running a sex trafficking operation by luring underage girls as young as 14 years old to his mansion in Manhattan. While the federal criminal charges against Epstein will likely end, prosecutors can still pursue suits against any of his accomplices, including his friend Ghislaine Maxwell. On Wednesday, one of Epstein’s alleged victims, Jennifer Araoz, sued Epstein’s estate, Maxwell and three other unnamed women who worked for Epstein. Araoz accuses Epstein of raping her when she was 15 years old and repeatedly sexually assaulting her. From Los Angeles, we speak with civil rights attorney Lisa Bloom, who is representing two other alleged victims of Jeffrey Epstein.

Horror at MCC: "Gulag" Conditions at NYC Jail Were Known for Decades Before Jeffrey Epstein's Death

Questions are mounting surrounding accused serial sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein’s alleged suicide in his New York jail cell over the weekend. Epstein was found dead in his jail cell on Saturday morning at the Metropolitan Correctional Center, or MCC, in Manhattan, where authorities say he hanged himself. The warden at MCC has since been reassigned, and two guards who were tasked with monitoring Epstein were put on leave. Reports emerged Tuesday that the guards may have been asleep during their shift, failing to check on Epstein for hours and then falsifying time logs. MCC, which has housed many high-profile prisoners, has been plagued with reports of understaffing, overcrowding and dire conditions for years. Mexican drug lord Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán called the prison “psychological torture.” A United Nations human rights expert as well as Amnesty International have also condemned conditions in parts of the jail, saying they are akin to torture and result in “cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment.” We speak with Jeanne Theoharis, a professor of political science at Brooklyn College who has written extensively on the Metropolitan Correctional Center. Her latest book is titled “A More Beautiful and Terrible History: The Uses and Misuses of Civil Rights History.”

Headlines for August 15, 2019

"River of Fire": In New Memoir, Sister Helen Prejean Reflects on Decades of Fighting Executions

The Trump administration is moving ahead with plans to resume the death penalty after a more than 15-year moratorium. This week Attorney General William Barr proposed fast-tracking executions in mass murder cases, and last month ordered the execution of five death row prisoners beginning in December. The federal government has executed just three people since 1963 — the last being in 2003. The death penalty is widely condemned by national governments, international bodies and human rights groups across the world. Experts say capital punishment does not help deter homicides and that errors and racism in the criminal justice system extend to those sentenced to death. We speak with Sister Helen Prejean, a well-known anti-death-penalty activist who began her prison ministry over 30 years ago. She is the author of the best-selling book “Dead Man Walking: An Eyewitness Account of the Death Penalty,” which was turned into an Academy Award-winning film starring Susan Sarandon and Sean Penn. Her new book, “River of Fire: My Spiritual Journey,” is out this week.

"A Narco State Supported by the United States": How Crime & Corruption in Honduras Fuel Migration

We speak with Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter Sonia Nazario, who has closely detailed why migrants from Central America are fleeing their homes in an attempt to seek asylum in the United States. Earlier this year, Nazario spent a month in Honduras documenting how corruption and gang violence are forcing many people to flee. Her piece, “Pay or Die,” ran in The New York Times, where she is a contributing opinion writer.

"Give Us Your Rich": Immigration Reporter Says Trump Admin Is Changing "Wholesale" Who Gets into U.S.

“Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!” Those are the words of Emma Lazarus inscribed on the Statue of Liberty. But this week, acting Director of Citizenship and Immigration Services Ken Cuccinelli attempted to rewrite the poem to make a case for limiting immigration to the United States. He told NPR’s Rachel Martin on Tuesday that the Statue of Liberty’s message is “Give me your tired and your poor, who can stand on their own two feet and who will not become a public charge.” Facing outrage, Cuccinelli then doubled down on his comments, telling CNN that the words on the Statue of Liberty are about “people coming from Europe.” We speak with Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Sonia Nazario about the comments and recent moves by the Trump administration to thwart immigration and target immigrants already in the U.S. Nazario says, “It’s a wholesale attempt to change who’s allowed into this country: Give us your rich; don’t give us your poor. And, of course, this is contrary to the entire tradition of immigration to the United States.”

Headlines for August 14, 2019

How to Be an Antiracist: Ibram X. Kendi on Why We Need to Fight Racism the Way We Fight Cancer

In his new book, “How to Be an Antiracist,” professor Ibram X. Kendi urges readers to break out of the false framework of “racist” and “not racist,” instead laying out what it means to be antiracist: viewing racial groups as equals and pushing for policies that create racial equity. Kendi says, “We can’t just talk about racism as an original sin. We have to talk about racism as the original cancer, as this original disease that has been killing America.”

Ibram X. Kendi: IQ Tests, SAT Scores and Other "Intelligence" Tests Propagate Racism

Author and professor Ibram X. Kendi joins us to discuss his new book, “How to Be an Antiracist.” He talks about the racist development of intelligence tests that blatantly discriminate against people of color under a veneer of scientific objectivity. “Even when we talk about antiracism, when most people think of who needs to be an antiracist, they think of Southerners. They think of people who voted for Trump,” says Kendi. “They don’t think of people who are advocating for the maintenance of these tests, which are denying access to some of the best schools in New York City to black and Latino kids.”

"Today the Lynch Mob Only Needs an Assault Rifle": Ibram X. Kendi on White Supremacist Violence

This week marks two years since white supremacists descended on Charlottesville, Virginia, where a neo-Nazi drove his car into a crowd of antiracist protesters, killing 32-year-old activist Heather Heyer. Days later, President Trump claimed there were “very fine people on both sides.” Since Charlottesville, white supremacists have committed at least 73 murders, according to the Anti-Defamation League. Just last week, a white supremacist in El Paso, Texas, opened fire in a crowded Walmart and killed 22 people. It’s been described as the deadliest attack to target Latinos in modern American history. We speak with Dr. Ibram X. Kendi, founding director of the Antiracist Research and Policy Center at American University and author of the new book, “How to Be an Antiracist.”

Headlines for August 13, 2019

"The Next Step Is the Kremlin": Why Moscow Protests Have Putin's Government Worried

Up to 60,000 protesters gathered Saturday in Moscow in the largest demonstration Russia has witnessed in years. Although the protest was officially authorized, dozens of protesters were arrested in the capital, and dozens more were also arrested in demonstrations across the country. Saturday’s protest was organized to denounce the recent barring of opposition candidates from running in an upcoming election for Moscow City Council. We speak with Nina Khrushcheva, professor of international affairs at The New School. She is the co-author of “In Putin’s Footsteps: Searching for the Soul of an Empire Across Russia’s Eleven Time Zones.”

Hong Kong Grounds Flights as Mass Sit-in Shuts Down Airport After Weekend of Protests

All departing flights were grounded as chaos engulfed the Hong Kong International Airport Monday, after thousands of pro-democracy protesters filled the travel hub to protest police brutality. Many eventually left the airport, fearing threats of more police action, but hundreds of activists remain. The latest escalation follows a weekend of bloody clashes between the police and protesters. Confrontations turned especially violent on Sunday night as riot police fired tear gas inside a subway station and were filmed beating protesters with batons. Meanwhile, Beijing has escalated its rhetoric against the protesters, with a Chinese official saying their actions show signs of “terrorism.” It’s been 10 weeks since mass demonstrations erupted in Hong Kong, when millions took to the streets to demand the withdrawal of an extradition bill that would have sent people from Hong Kong to mainland China to face criminal charges. Demands quickly escalated for the resignation of Hong Kong’s leader Carrie Lam, an independent investigation into police brutality against demonstrators, and pro-independence reforms. We speak with Mary Hui, a reporter for the business news outlet Quartz who has been covering the mass demonstrations for more than two months.

Jeffrey Epstein Is Dead, But Victims Call for Probes of His Sex Trafficking Ring to Continue

Jeffrey Epstein is dead. The accused serial sex trafficker who once counted President Trump and former President Bill Clinton among his high-profile friends was found dead in his Manhattan jail cell Saturday morning. Authorities say he hanged himself. Epstein had been put on suicide watch after he was found unconscious with marks on his neck in July, but authorities had removed him from suicide watch 11 days before his death. Epstein had been in jail since July, when he was arrested for allegedly running a sex trafficking operation by luring underage girls as young as 14 years old to his mansion in Manhattan. His death came less than 24 hours after hundreds of pages of court documents were unsealed with testimonies from former employees and new details of sexual abuse committed by Epstein, which also implicated a number of well-known figures. Men named in the papers include former New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson, former Senator George Mitchell, Alan Dershowitz and Prince Andrew. While the federal criminal prosecution of Epstein will likely end, prosecutors can still pursue charges against any of his accomplices. Civil suits will also continue against Epstein’s multimillion-dollar estate. We speak with Casey Frank, the Miami Herald’s senior editor for investigations. The newspaper’s multipart series published in November is largely credited with reopening the Epstein case.

Headlines for August 12, 2019

Documents Reveal Monsanto Surveilled Journalists, Activists & Even Musician Neil Young

Explosive new documents reveal the U.S. agribusiness giant Monsanto ran a “fusion center” to surveil and discredit journalists and activists who criticized or wrote damning reports about Monsanto, as well as legendary singer-songwriter Neil Young, who released an album in 2015 called “The Monsanto Years.” Monsanto monitored Young’s Twitter activity and even analyzed the lyrics of his album. The fusion center also surveilled journalist Carey Gillam, who has done extensive research and writing about Monsanto and its popular pesticide Roundup, which has been linked to cancer. The corporation also targeted the nonprofit research group U.S. Right to Know, which submitted Freedom of Information Act requests about the company. From Kansas City, Missouri, we speak to Carey Gillam, a veteran investigative journalist and author of “Whitewash: The Story of a Weed Killer, Cancer, and the Corruption of Science,” and from Berkeley, California, Gary Ruskin, co-founder of U.S. Right to Know.

Supersizing Climate Change: U.N. Says Meat Production Destroys Land & Diminishes Key Water Sources

The United Nations’ top panel of climate scientists warns that humans are consuming land and water resources at an unprecedented rate, with the destructive effects of the climate crisis increasingly threatening the planet’s biodiversity and the food security of hundreds of millions of people. In its latest climate change and land special report, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change warns that without dramatic action, extreme weather and rising temperatures will turn even more fertile land into desert, shrinking the global food supply, even as the world’s population rises to more than 7.5 billion people. The IPCC recommends dramatic reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, along with more efficient farming methods and a shift in diets away from dairy and meat — which produce vast amounts of methane and carbon dioxide while using large amounts of land. We speak with Pamela McElwee, an associate professor in the Department of Human Ecology at the School of Environmental and Biological Sciences at Rutgers University and co-author of the IPCC report.

Mass ICE Raids in Mississippi After Workers Fought for Better Conditions Leave Kids Without Parents

Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents swept through seven poultry processing plants in Mississippi this week and arrested 680 people. It was the largest single-state raid in U.S. history.The mass arrests also came on the first day of the school year, and some children walked home from school only to find their doors locked and their family members missing. Wednesday’s raids targeted chicken processing plants operated by Koch Foods, one of the largest poultry producers in the U.S. Last year, the company paid out $3.75 million to settle an Equal Employment Opportunities Commission class-action suit charging the company with sexual harassment, national origin and race discrimination, and retaliation against Latino workers at one of its Mississippi plants. Labor activists say it’s the latest raid to target factories where immigrant workers have organized unions, fought back against discrimination or challenged unsafe and unsanitary conditions. We speak with Jackson, Mississippi, Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba and L. Patricia Ice, legal projects director at the Mississippi Immigrants Rights Alliance.

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