New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s "Bridgegate" continues to unfold, as a legislative panel investigating the scandal has issued 18 more subpoenas. They include one for the head of the state’s police aviation unit, who could offer details about whether Christie shared a helicopter with David Wildstein on the same days Wildstein oversaw the closures of traffic lanes leading to the George Washington Bridge for four days in September. Wildstein was Christie’s former Port Authority appointee. A photograph taken on the third day the lanes were blocked shows Christie walking with Wildstein and other close allies at the authority. Christie has denied having any knowledge of the closures as they happened, saying he only found out when the scandal broke open last month. But last week, Wildstein said "evidence exists" that Christie was aware at the time, contrary to his public statements. We speak with Elizabeth Kolbert, whose recent article for The New Yorker, "Red Light," looks at the Port Authority’s evolution from progressive government experiment to patronage mill stacked with Christie loyalists.
The Sixth Extinction: Elizabeth Kolbert on How Humans Are Causing Largest Die-Off Since Dinosaur Age
In the history of the planet, there have been five known mass extinction events. The last came 65 million years ago, when an asteroid about half the size of Manhattan collided with the Earth, wiping out the dinosaurs and bringing the Cretaceous period to an end. Scientists say we are now experiencing the sixth extinction, with up to 50 percent of all living species in danger of disappearing by the end of the century. But unlike previous extinctions, the direct cause this time is us — human-driven climate change. In "The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History," journalist Elizabeth Kolbert visits four continents to document the massive "die-offs" that came millions of years ago and those now unfolding before our eyes. Kolbert explores how human activity — fossil fuel consumption, ocean acidification, pollution, deforestation, forced migration — threatens life forms of all kinds. "It is estimated that one-third of all reef-building corals, a third of all fresh-water mollusks, a third of sharks and rays, a quarter of all mammals, a fifth of all reptiles, and a sixth of all birds are headed toward oblivion," Kolbert writes. "The losses are occurring all over: in the South Pacific and in the North Atlantic, in the Arctic and the Sahel, in lakes and on islands, on mountaintops and in valleys."
Nearly a decade after the George W. Bush administration’s warrantless spying program came to light, the issue of mass government surveillance has again sparked a global outcry with the disclosures of whistleblower Edward Snowden. Leaks of National Security Agency files have exposed a mammoth spying apparatus that stretches across the planet, from phone records to text messages to social media and email, from the internal communications of climate summits to those of foreign missions and even individual heads of state. Today privacy advocates are holding one of their biggest online actions so far with "The Day We Fight Back Against Mass Surveillance." Thousands of websites will speak in one voice, displaying a banner encouraging visitors to fight back by posting memes and changing their social media avatars to reflect their demands, as well as contacting their members of Congress to push through surveillance reform legislation. The action is inspired in part by the late Internet open-access activist Aaron Swartz, who helped set a precedent in January 2012 when more than 8,000 websites went dark for 12 hours in protest of a pair of controversial bills that were being debated in Congress: the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the PROTECT IP Act (PIPA). The bills died in committee in the wake of protests. We discuss today’s global action with Rainey Reitman, activism director at the Electronic Frontier Foundation and co-founder of the Freedom of the Press Foundation.
- Anti-Drone Activist Missing in Pakistan
- Kabul Records 1st Polio Case Since 2001
- Suicide Attack Kills 2 NATO Contractors in Afghanistan
- Mass Protests Erupt in Bosnia over Corruption, Unemployment
- Report: NC Regulators Shielded Duke Energy from Coal Ash Lawsuits
- Congressional Hearing Fails to Conclude if Water in West Virginia is Safe After Spill
- Healthcare Rule Delayed for Some Employers
- Contractor Pleads Guilty in Fox News Leak Case
- Video Shows U.S. Abduction of Terror Suspect from Tripoli Street
- OWS Activist Cecily McMillan Faces Up to 7 Years in Prison for Alleged Assault of Cop
- NJ Lawmakers Issue New Subpoenas in Christie Bridge Scandal
- Barclays Bank Cuts Thousands of Jobs, Raises Bonuses
- "Godfather of Multiculturalism" Stuart Hall Dies at 82
Investigative journalists Jeremy Scahill and Glenn Greenwald join us for their first interview upon launching The Intercept, their new digital magazine published by First Look Media, the newly formed media venture started by eBay founder Pierre Omidyar. Greenwald is the journalist who first broke the story about Edward Snowden’s disclosures on the National Security Agency. He was previously a columnist at The Guardian newspaper. Scahill is producer and writer of the documentary film "Dirty Wars," which is nominated for an Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature. "We are really about a journalistic ethos — which is not doing things like helping the U.S. continue its targeting of U.S. citizens for death, but by being adversarial to the government," Greenwald says. "Telling the public what it ought to know, and targeting the most powerful corporate factions with accountability journalism." Greenwald and Scahill founded TheIntercept.org with filmmaker Laura Poitras.
The Associated Press is reporting the White House is considering using a drone to kill an American citizen who is allegedly a member of al-Qaeda. The AP did not name the man or the country where he is residing. The Obama administration has killed four U.S. citizens in drone strikes since 2009, including Anwar al-Awlaki and his son in separate strikes in Yemen. We get response to the latest news from investigative journalists Jeremy Scahill and Glenn Greenwald of the new digital magazine, TheIntercept.org.
In the first exposé for their new venture, First Look Media’s digital journal The Intercept, investigative journalists Jeremy Scahill and Glenn Greenwald reveal the National Security Agency is using complex analysis of electronic surveillance, rather than human intelligence, as the primary method to locate targets for lethal drone strikes. The NSA identifies targets based on controversial metadata analysis and cellphone tracking technologies, an unreliable tactic that has resulted in the deaths of innocent and unidentified people. The United States has reportedly carried out drone strikes without knowing whether the individual in possession of a tracked cellphone or SIM card is in fact the intended target of the strike. Scahill and Greenwald join us in this exclusive interview to discuss their report and the launch of their media project.
- Syria Peace Talks Resume in Geneva; Civilians Evacuated from Homs
- Afghan Civilians Deaths Up 14% in 2013; 35% for Women, Children
- Bangladesh Factory Owners Surrender over Deadly Fire
- Report: Snowden Used Cheap Software to Take NSA Docs
- U.S. Using NSA Metadata, Phone Tracking for Drone Strikes
- Up to 100,000 Stage "Moral March" Against North Carolina GOP
- Duke Energy Urged to Move Coal Ash Away from Water Sources After North Carolina Spill
- Justice Dept. Expands LGBT Rights in Federal Sites
- U.S. Eases Immigration Rules for War Zone Refugees
- Accused U.S. Servicemembers in Japan Evading Punishment for Sex Crimes
- Beef Parts Recalled in U.S. over "Diseased and Unsound Animals"
- NATO 3 Activists Found Not Guilty on Terror Charges
- Anti-Drone Protesters Get 15 Days Behind Bars
- Ex-Editor Leaving NYT to Launch Criminal Justice News Site
- College Football Star Poised to Become NFL's First Openly Gay Player
A wealthy teen who killed four people in a Texas drunk driving accident will not go to jail after a judge ruled this week that instead, he must attend an expensive rehabilitation facility paid for by his parents. The driver was 16-year-old Ethan Couch. He was speeding, with a blood-alcohol level more than three times the legal limit. Couch has admitted to his crime, and in a case that went before a Texas judge, prosecutors sought a 20-year sentence. Instead, Couch was sentenced to 10 years’ probation after a psychologist claimed he had "affluenza," and testified that his cushy upbringing prevented him from connecting bad behavior with its consequences. We get response from Richard Alpert, the Tarrant County assistant district attorney who prosecuted the case against Couch. We are also joined by Boyce Watkins, a Syracuse University professor and the founder of "YourBlackWorld.net." He recently wrote an article titled "Rich, White Kids Have 'Affluenza,' Poor, Black Kids Go to Prison."
We look at the tragic case of a Florida high school student named Jordan Davis who was shot dead in 2012 on the day after Thanksgiving over a dispute about loud music. The trial of his killer, Michael Dunn, began Thursday. Dunn claims he felt threatened by Davis and his three teenage friends in an SUV that pulled up next to him. According to his police interview, one of the teens in the car said something about "killing." Dunn said when Davis allegedly bent down in the car, he feared he was reaching for a weapon. Dunn then used his handgun to shoot four times into the SUV. When the teenagers started to retreat, Dunn chased their vehicle and shot four to five more shots. Jordan was fatally shot in the back seat. Dunn is expected to use the Stand Your Ground defense during his trial, in which he faces the same prosecutor who argued the Trayvon Martin case. We play excerpts from the trial’s opening arguments and speak with Michael Skolnik, editor-in-chief of GlobalGrind.com, who has been closely following the case and has been in contact with Davis’ parents. He serves on the board of directors of the Trayvon Martin Foundation. Skolnik also explains why he’s asked the rapper DMX not to fight George Zimmerman in a celebrity boxing match.
As drug companies refuse to let their products be used for the death penalty, states are using untested drug combinations that have resulted in deaths like that of Dennis McGuire in Ohio, where the state used an untested two-drug method despite warnings it might cause immense suffering. We speak with the reporter who witnessed the execution and with a lawyer for a man executed in Missouri with an entirely different lethal drug cocktail, made by a pharmacy the state refuses to name. Meanwhile, on Thursday Virginia lawmakers failed to pass a law that would let death row prisoners die in the electric chair now that the state has run out of the chemicals used to make up its three-drug execution cocktail, and is unable to locate more. The delayed vote could impose a temporary moratorium in Virginia, which executes more people than any other state besides Texas. The execution drugs’ scarcity stems from the refusal of manufacturers in Europe and the United States to let them be used to put people to death. We speak with Alan Johnson, reporter with The Columbus Dispatch in Ohio, who witnessed McGuire’s execution and says he observed him gasping for air, and that he appeared to be choking. We are also joined by Cheryl Pilate, one of the lead attorneys for Herbert Smulls, who was executed Jan. 29 with a lethal dose of pentobarbital that was made by a compounding pharmacy the state refuses to name. Also joining us is Megan McCracken, attorney with the University of California, Berkeley, School of Law’s Death Penalty Clinic, where she is an expert on lethal injection methods.
- Report: High Levels of Toxic Metals Found in NC River After Coal Ash Spill
- Syria: Evacuation of Civilians from Homs Begins After Ceasefire
- Top U.S. Diplomat Caught on Recording Cursing the European Union over Ukraine
- Senate Republicans Block Restoration of Jobless Benefits
- Boehner: Immigration Reform Will Be "Difficult" Due to Lack of Trust in Obama
- Report: Iraqi Forces Illegally Detaining, Torturing Women
- Floods Kill 38 in Bolivia; Parts of Brazil See Worst Drought in 50 Years
- Agriculture Secretary Warns of Impact of Climate Change on U.S. Farmers
- Former SAC Capital Manager Convicted in Record Insider Trading Scheme
- Former NAACP Official Approved for Top Civil Rights Post
- Activists Spotlight Plight of Bangladeshi Garment Workers During NY Fashion Week
Historian and Latin America expert Greg Grandin looks at two recent elections in Latin America with historic implications. Despite losing a contested vote in Honduras, Grandin says the LIBRE party of former President Manuel Zelaya has altered the traditional Honduran political balance with newfound gains in the country’s National Congress. Meanwhile in El Salvador, former rebel commander Salvador Sánchez Cerén of the FMLN is expected to win the presidency next month after just missing the 50 percent needed to avoid a runoff vote. Sánchez Cerén is running to replace Mauricio Funes, which would mark the first time an FMLN candidate succeeds another after decades of right-wing governments.
In his new book, "The Empire of Necessity: Slavery, Freedom, and Deception in the New World," acclaimed historian Greg Grandin examines how the transnational slave trade transformed the world, causing mass economic, social and political upheaval in ways that continue to reverberate today. Grandin tells the true story of a slave insurrection aboard a ship named the Tryal in 1805, in which West African men and women rose up and seized the vessel. The uprising inspired Herman Melville to write his novella "Benito Cereno" that drew on the memoirs of Captain Delano, a distant relative of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Today, Grandin has used the dramatic incident to show how slavery was the "flywheel" that drove the global development of everything from trade and insurance to technology, religion and medicine for nearly four centuries. A professor of Latin American history at New York University, Grandin’s last book, "Fordlandia," was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in history.
Obamacare is a job killer — that was the message across the media this week after the release of a new Congressional Budget Office report about the Affordable Care Act. But what does the CBO report really say? We speak to Pulitzer Prize-winning Los Angeles Times columnist Michael Hiltzik, who says detractors have misinterpreted a report that actually brought good news. That is not to say Obamacare does not have its drawbacks, which Hiltzik argues could be cured by a single-payer healthcare system.
- U.N. Says Syria Can Meet Chemical Weapons Deadline Despite Falling Behind
- Report: Children Endure "Unspeakable Suffering" in Syria Conflict
- 23 Killed in Baghdad Bombings
- Israel OKs New Settlements, Demolishes Palestinian Homes
- U.N. Chides Catholic Church on Child Sexual Abuse
- El Salvador Orders Probe of 1981 Massacre
- Doctors Still Advising Some Residents to Avoid West Virginia Water; 2 Schools Closed
- Report: 2009 TransCanada Natural Gas Pipeline Rupture Kept from Public View
- U.S. Drugstore Chain to Stop Tobacco Sales
- LGBT Activists Stage Global Protests Against Russian Crackdown
- Pussy Riot Members Honored at Brooklyn Concert
Russian President Vladimir Putin has spent more than $50 billion on the Winter Games in Sochi, making this the most expensive Olympics in history. In the lead-up to the games, Russia has faced worldwide criticism and calls for boycotts, especially after it passed a law in June banning the spread of so-called "gay propaganda" to children. With the games just two days away, we host a roundtable with four guests: Dave Zirin, sports columnist for The Nation magazine and author of "Game Over: How Politics Has Turned the Sports World Upside Down"; Samantha Retrosi, a luge athlete who competed in the 2006 Winter Olympics; historian and former U.S. Olympic soccer player, Jules Boykoff, who is author of "Celebration Capitalism and the Olympic Games"; and Helen Lenskyj, author of several books on the Olympics, including "Gender Politics and the Olympic Industry" and the forthcoming book, "Sexual Diversity and the Sochi 2014 Olympics: No More Rainbows."
With the opening ceremony of the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, just two days away, we look at a side of the games that you won’t see in the wall-to-wall media coverage. Former Olympic athlete Samantha Retrosi joins us to discuss her recent Nation article, "Why the Olympics are a Lot Like 'The Hunger Games.'" A luge competitor in the 2006 Winter Games in Italy, Retrosi says a lack of government support and sufficient safety protections forces athletes into relying on corporate sponsors and putting themselves in harm’s way. "This is like an 'Olympic Snowden,'" says political sportswriter Dave Zirin, who also joins us in studio. "This is a legitimate whistleblowing moment. People who are part of the Olympic program don’t say what Samantha just said."
- Senate OKs Farm Bill with $8.7 Billion in Food Stamp Cuts
- North Carolina: Up to 82,000 Tons of Coal Ash, 27 Million Gallons of Polluted Water Leaks into River
- Study: Americans To Work Fewer Hours Under Obamacare
- Morgan Stanley to Pay $1.25 Billion for Toxic Securities
- Report: U.S. Limits Pakistan Drone Strikes; Taliban Talks Delayed
- British Spies Hacked Sites of Anonymous, LulzSec
- Lithuania Orders Probe of CIA Torture
- D.C. Council Votes to Decriminalize Marijuana
- Rally Held to Urge Settlement in Central Park Five Case
- New York Measure Would Pull Funding for Academic Boycott of Israel
- U.S. Abortion Rate Hits 40-Year Low
Today a special on "kids for cash," the shocking story of how thousands of children in Pennsylvania were jailed by two corrupt judges who received $2.6 million in kickbacks from the builders and owners of private prison facilities. We hear from two of the youth: Charlie Balasavage was sent to juvenile detention after his parents unknowingly bought him a stolen scooter; Hillary Transue was detained for creating a MySpace page mocking her assistant high school principal. They were both 14 years old and were sentenced by the same judge, Judge Mark Ciavarella, who is now in jail himself — serving a 28-year sentence. Balasavage and Transue are featured in the new documentary, "Kids for Cash," by filmmaker Robert May, who also joins us. In addition, we speak to two mothers: Sandy Fonzo, whose son Ed Kenzakoski committed suicide after being imprisoned for years by Judge Ciavarella, and Hillary’s mother, Laurene Transue. Putting their stories into context of the larger scandal is attorney Robert Schwartz, executive director of the Juvenile Law Center. The story is still developing: In October, the private juvenile-detention companies in the scandal settled a civil lawsuit for $2.5 million.