Last week marked the first anniversary of the passing of Luis Garden Acosta, the founder and longtime president of the nationally known El Puente youth and community leadership program in Brooklyn. Long regarded as one of New York City’s foremost human rights and Latino community activists, Garden Acosta died last January at the age of 72. A former seminarian who had been active in the Catholic antiwar movement, Garden Acosta joined the Young Lords Party in 1970 and later founded that group’s Massachusetts chapter while he was still a student at Harvard Medical School. He went on to pioneer successful nonviolent direct action campaigns against segregated public schools and against environmental racism in New York City. In his later years, together with his wife Frances Lucerna, Garden Acosta created an alternative public high school geared toward human rights activism, the El Puente Academy for Peace and Justice. To honor his legacy, we speak with the renowned poet Martín Espada. He is a professor of English at the University of Massachusetts Amherst and the author of more than 20 books. His latest collection of poems is called “Vivas to Those Who Have Failed.”
In Oakland, California, a group of mothers fighting homelessness is waging a battle against real estate speculators and demanding permanent solutions to the Bay Area housing crisis by occupying a vacant house with their children. The struggle began in November, when working mothers in West Oakland moved into 2928 Magnolia Street, a vacant house owned by real estate investment firm Wedgewood Properties. The firm tried to evict them, claiming they were illegally squatting on private property, but the mothers went to court and filed a “right to possession” claim, saying housing is a human right. Their name is Moms 4 Housing. The battle for the house came to a head last week when an Alameda County judge ruled in favor of Wedgewood Properties and ordered the mothers to vacate the house. But Moms 4 Housing has stayed to fight eviction. Monday night, hundreds of protesters gathered at the house after receiving a tip that the Sheriff’s Office was coming to evict the families — a show of support that led the sheriff to abandon the eviction attempt. We speak with Carroll Fife, director of the Oakland office for the Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment, and Dominique Walker, a member of Moms 4 Housing who has been living at the house with her family. Our interview was interrupted by news of another possible eviction attempt.
The impeachment trial of President Trump is anticipated to proceed this week, as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is expected to send the two articles of impeachment to the Senate as early as Wednesday. The House impeached Trump in December for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress related to Trump’s effort to pressure Ukraine to investigate his political rival Joe Biden. A growing number of Republican senators are pushing for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to hold a vote on whether to allow witnesses to speak at the Senate trial. The timing of the Senate impeachment trial could impact the 2020 presidential race. Three Democratic candidates — Senators Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren and Amy Klobuchar — will have to leave the campaign trail for the trial, which could begin this week. On Monday, Senator Cory Booker dropped out of the race in part because of the time demands of the impeachment trial. We speak with Dahlia Lithwick, senior editor at Slate.com, where she is their senior legal correspondent and Supreme Court reporter. Dahlia also hosts the podcast “Amicus.”
- "It Doesn't Really Matter": Trump Changes Story on Soleimani Killing
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- Trump Plans to Divert Additional $7.2 Billion from Military Budget to Border Wall
- Turkey and Russia Broker Ceasefire for Idlib, Syria
- France to Send More Troops to West Africa Amid Rising Violence in Sahel
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- Study: 2019 Was Hottest Year for World's Oceans on Record
- AG Barr and Apple Face Off over Phone of Alleged Pensacola Shooter
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Nearly 150 people were arrested on Capitol Hill Friday in a climate protest led by Academy Award-winning actor and activist Jane Fonda. Fonda has been leading weekly climate demonstrations in Washington, D.C., known as “Fire Drill Fridays,” since October. For her last and 14th protest, actors Martin Sheen and Joaquin Phoenix, indigenous anti-pipeline activist Tara Houska, journalist Naomi Klein and dozens more lined up to get arrested as they demanded a mass uprising and swift political action to thwart the climate crisis. Fonda then marched with supporters down Pennsylvania Avenue to a Chase Bank branch where environmentalist Bill McKibben and dozens of others were occupying the space to draw attention to the bank’s ties to the fossil fuel industry. Ten, including McKibben, were arrested. The day of action was the launch of “Stop the Money Pipeline,” a campaign to halt the flow of cash from banks, investment firms and insurance companies to the fossil fuel industry. “Let us remember that we are not the criminals,” Naomi Klein told a crowd of protesters. “The criminals are the people who are letting this world burn for money.”
Retired U.S. Army Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson, who served as Secretary of State Colin Powell’s chief of staff from 2002 to 2005, says the escalation of tensions between the U.S. and Iran today is a continuation of two decades of U.S. policy disasters in the Middle East, starting with the 2003 run-up to war with Iraq under the Bush administration. “America exists today to make war. How else do we interpret 19 straight years of war and no end in sight? It’s part of who we are. It’s part of what the American Empire is,” says Wilkerson. “We are going to cheat and steal to do whatever it is we have to do to continue this war complex. That’s the truth of it. And that’s the agony of it.”
Iranian protesters have taken to the streets for a third day, after the Iranian military acknowledged it accidentally shot down a Ukrainian airliner last week, killing all 176 people on board, including 82 Iranians and 57 Canadians. Iran initially denied downing the plane, but Iran’s Revolutionary Guard took responsibility for what authorities now describe as a “disastrous mistake.” The plane was downed hours after Iranian forces fired 22 rockets at military bases in Iraq housing U.S. troops, in retaliation for the U.S. assassination of Iranian General Qassem Soleimani. Millions of Iranians took to the streets last week to pay tribute to Soleimani, but this week anti-government protests resumed in at least a dozen cities. There are reports of Iranian forces firing live ammunition and tear gas to disperse the protesters. Meanwhile, in Washington, Defense Secretary Mark Esper has publicly contradicted President Trump’s assertion that Soleimani was planning to attack four U.S. embassies at the time of his assassination. Esper said he had not seen evidence supporting Trump’s claim. For more on the Iranian protests, we speak with Ali Kadivar, assistant professor of sociology and international studies at Boston College. Kadivar grew up in Iran during the Iran-Iraq War and completed his undergraduate and first graduate degree at the University of Tehran, where he was active in the student movement.
- Esper Says He Did Not See Specific Evidence Soleimani Was Planning Embassy Attacks
- Iran Admits It Mistakenly Shot Down Plane Last Week, Sparking Protests
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- White House Press Secretary Under Pressure to Hold Press Briefing
- Volcanic Eruption in Philippines Forces Residents to Evacuate Homes
- French Government Backing Down on Efforts to Raise Retirement Age
- Taiwan: Voters Re-elect President Tsai Ing-wen in Rebuke to Beijing
- Malta: New Prime Minister to Be Sworn In, After Journalist's Murder Rocked Government
- 2 Iraqi Journalists Killed in Basra; Mexican Radio Presenter Killed in Michoacán
- Judge Orders Chicago Police Department to Turn Over Misconduct Documents
- "Jeopardy!" Sparks Outrage by Claiming Church of Nativity Is in Israel, Not Palestine
- Women Protest Against Accused Rapists Harvey Weinstein & President Trump
- South Africa: Transgender Activist Nare Mphela Murdered
We continue our conversation with the directors of “The Great Hack,” Jehane Noujaim and Karim Amer, as well as former Cambridge Analytica employee Brittany Kaiser and propaganda researcher Emma Briant, about Cambridge Analytica’s parent company SCL Group’s history as a defense contractor. “We’re in a state of global information warfare now,” Briant says. “How do we know if our militaries develop technologies and the data that it has gathered on people, for instance, across the Middle East … how do we know when that is turning up in Yemen or when that is being utilized by an authoritarian regime against the human rights of its people or against us? How do we know that it’s not being manipulated by Russia, by Iran, by anybody who’s an enemy, by Saudi Arabia, for example, who SCL were also working with? We have no way of knowing, unless we open up this industry and hold these people properly accountable for what they’re doing.”
A longtime Facebook executive has admitted the company’s platform helped Donald Trump win the 2016 election, and it may happen again this year. In an internal memo, Facebook Vice President Andrew Bosworth wrote, “So was Facebook responsible for Donald Trump getting elected? I think the answer is yes.” Bosworth, who was a backer of Hillary Clinton in 2016, went on to write that the company should not change its policies in an effort to hurt Trump’s re-election chances. In his memo, Bosworth referenced the role of the shadowy data firm Cambridge Analytica but downplayed its significance. However, a new Oscar-shortlisted documentary called “The Great Hack” argues Cambridge Analytica has played a significant role not just in the U.S. election but in elections across the globe. The company harvested some 87 million Facebook profiles without the users’ knowledge or consent and used the data to sway voters during the 2016 campaign. We speak with the directors of “The Great Hack,” Jehane Noujaim and Karim Amer, as well as former Cambridge Analytica employee Brittany Kaiser and propaganda researcher Emma Briant.
- House Approves Resolution Aimed at Limiting Trump's War Powers
- NYT: Video Appears to Show Iranian Missile Hitting Jet Before Tehran Crash
- Internal Emails Show Boeing Workers Mocked Regulators & 737 MAX Jet Designers
- Trump Seeks to Exempt Large Projects from Some Environmental Review
- Mexican Asylum Seeker Dies by Suicide After Being Denied Entry into U.S.
- Six Democratic Candidates Will Debate in Iowa Next Week, Ahead of Caucus
- Transport Workers' Strike Becomes Longest in French History
- Health and Human Services Declares Public Health Emergency for Puerto Rico
- Grand Jury Indicts Hanukkah Attack Suspect on More Federal Hate Crime Charges
- Study: Raising Minimum Wage by a Dollar Could Prevent Thousands of Suicides a Year
- Yolanda Carr, Mother of Atatiana Jefferson, Dies in Texas
In China, a shocking new exposé has revealed that Chinese authorities are systematically forcing Muslims — mostly Uyghurs and Kazakhs — into labor programs to supply Chinese factories with a cheap and compliant workforce. The New York Times investigation, based on official documents, interviews and visits to the far-western region of Xinjiang, reveals a sweeping program to push poor farmers, villagers and small traders into sometimes months-long training courses before assigning them to low-wage factory work. The programs work in tandem with indoctrination camps where an estimated 1 million adults from the Uyghur community are being imprisoned. China claims its labor programs are “vocational training centers” designed to combat extremism and alleviate poverty, while Uyghur activists say they are part of China’s ongoing campaign to strip them of their language and community and to carry out cultural genocide. We speak with Austin Ramzy, a New York Times reporter who co-authored the recent exposé, and Nury Turkel, a Uyghur-American attorney and board chair at the Uyghur Human Rights Project.
We continue our conversation with Andrew Bacevich, president and co-founder of the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft. He is a retired colonel, Vietnam War veteran and author of, most recently, of “The Age of Illusions: How America Squandered Its Cold War Victory.” Bacevich says the crisis with Iran, sparked by President Trump’s assassination of top general Qassem Soleimani, is just the latest in a long series of ill-advised American actions in the Middle East. “The only conceivable way for us to begin to extricate ourselves from this terrible mess in the region … is to abandon this militarized approach and to take a more balanced position with regard to the rivalries in the region,” Bacevich says.
President Trump vowed on Wednesday to hit Iran with new sanctions but appeared to pull back from taking any new military action. Tension between the two countries soared after the U.S. assassinated Iranian commander Qassem Soleimani at the Baghdad International Airport last week. Early on Wednesday, Iran retaliated by firing 22 ballistic missiles at military bases in Iraq housing U.S. forces, but no one was injured in the attack. Iran had warned the Iraqi government about the strike in advance. Two small rockets also later hit the Green Zone near the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad. During a televised address on Wednesday, Trump urged NATO to become more involved in the Middle East and called for countries to pull away from the Iran nuclear deal. We speak with Andrew Bacevich, president and co-founder of the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft. He is a retired colonel and Vietnam War veteran and author of, most recently, “The Age of Illusions: How America Squandered Its Cold War Victory.”
- Trump Appears to Pull Back from New Military Action Against Iran
- Mitch McConnell Met with Trump at White House & Discussed Impeachment Trial
- Investigators Probe Cause of Fatal Boeing Plane Crash in Tehran
- Youth Climate Group the Sunrise Movement Endorses Bernie Sanders
- More Than 1 Billion Animals Killed in Climate-Fueled Wildfires in Australia
- Ruth Bader Ginsburg Says She's Cancer-Free
- Guatemalan President Says U.S. Cannot Send Mexican Asylum Seekers to Guatemala
- Spanish Socialist Party Leader Pedro Sánchez Sworn In as Prime Minister
- Facebook Doubles Down on Its Policy of Allowing Lies in Political Ads
A 6.4 magnitude earthquake rocked Puerto Rico early Tuesday, killing at least one person and plunging nearly the entire population into darkness in a mass power outage. It is the largest earthquake to hit the island in more than 100 years and follows a series of strong quakes that have rattled the island in recent days. A 5.8 magnitude quake struck on Monday, damaging the coastal town of Guánica. Damage from the earthquakes has left nearly 350 people homeless and at least 300,000 without drinking water. Governor Wanda Vázquez declared a state of emergency Tuesday. The devastation comes as Puerto Rico continues to reckon with the fallout from Hurricane Maria in 2017, which killed at least 3,000 and left Puerto Rico in the dark for months in the longest blackout in U.S. history — and the second-longest blackout in world history. We speak with Yarimar Bonilla, a political anthropologist and professor at Hunter College. She is the co-editor of the anthology “Aftershocks of Disaster: Puerto Rico Before and After the Storm” and the founder of Puerto Rico Syllabus, a guide for understanding the economic crisis in Puerto Rico. She says the word “aftershock” takes on a new meaning as delays in infrastructure repairs and electricity revival continue. The “infrastructural aftershocks … are not just about the earth shaking, but really about a lack of preparedness on the part of the government,” Bonilla says.
In the midst of escalating U.S.-Iran tensions, Border Patrol has been detaining Iranian Americans at the U.S.-Canada border. At least 100 people were delayed at ports of entry along the border over the weekend, following the U.S. assassination of Qassem Soleimani on January 3. For response, we speak with Anna Eskamani, Florida Democratic state representative of Orlando. She is the first Iranian American to be elected to any public office in Florida. “The reality is that when we see the potential war rise in countries like Iran … we’ll see xenophobia rise right here locally” in the U.S., Eskamani says.
Protests broke out in Iran in November in response to high fuel prices, leading to demonstrations in dozens of cities around the country. The protesters have demanded economic relief and denounced corruption. More than 1,000 people have been killed since the outbreak of the protests and a violent crackdown by security forces. The rise in tensions between Iran and the United States, triggered by the U.S. assassination of top Iranian general Qassem Soleimani, could weaken that protest movement, says Ali Kadivar, assistant professor of sociology and international studies at Boston College who was active in Iran’s student movement while studying at the University of Tehran.
Iran’s retaliatory missile strikes on bases in Iraq housing U.S. troops, following the U.S. assassination of top Iranian general Qassem Soleimani, have dramatically raised tensions in the Middle East. Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei called the missile strike a “slap in the face” of the Americans and called for U.S. troops to leave the Middle East. The Iranian missile strikes come just days after the Iraqi Parliament voted to expel all foreign military forces from Iraq. We speak with Juan Cole, professor of history at the University of Michigan.
Iranian forces fired 22 ballistic missiles at U.S. forces in Iraq early Wednesday in what Iran described as “fierce revenge” for the U.S. assassination of Iranian commander Qassem Soleimani, who was killed in a U.S. drone strike last week at the Baghdad airport. The Iranian missiles targeted the Al Asad Airbase in Anbar province and a base in Erbil. There were no initial reports of U.S. or Iraqi casualties. Shortly after the attacks, Iran’s Foreign Minister Javad Zarif tweeted, “We do not seek escalation or war, but will defend ourselves against any aggression.” Earlier today, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei called the missile strike a “slap in the face” of the Americans and called for U.S. troops to leave the Middle East. After the strikes, President Trump tweeted, “All is well! Missiles launched from Iran at two military bases located in Iraq. Assessment of casualties & damages taking place now. So far, so good! We have the most powerful and well equipped military anywhere in the world, by far! I will be making a statement tomorrow morning.” The Iranian missile strikes come just days after the Iraqi Parliament voted to expel all foreign military forces from Iraq. We speak with Mohammad Marandi in Tehran, where he is professor of English literature and Orientalism at the University of Tehran. He was part of the nuclear deal negotiations in 2015.