Democracy Now! looks back at 2009, including the Israeli assault on Gaza, Barack Obama’s presidential inauguration, the economic crisis, Goldman Sachs and the AIG bonus scandal, the escalation of the war in Afghanistan, drone attacks on Pakistan, the coup in Honduras, healthcare reform, the release of the Bush administration torture memos, the murder of abortion provider Dr. George Tiller, the protests in Iran, the nomination of Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court, Blackwater and other private military contractors, the firing of White House environmental adviser Van Jones, the gay rights movement, the global food crisis, the ongoing occupation of Iraq, the Copenhagen climate summit and the growth of the climate justice movement, plus our exclusive interviews with former jailed activist Jeff "Free" Luers, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist David Barstow, Bolivian President Evo Morales, death row prisoner Mumia Abu-Jamal and many more. [includes rush transcript]
This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.
AMY GOODMAN: Today we look back at 2009. And we’ll begin where it began: in January.
- Headlines for January 5, 2009:
AMY GOODMAN: Israeli ground troops and tanks have pushed deeper into Gaza and surrounded Gaza City, effectively splitting Gaza into two sections. At least 531 Palestinians have died over the past ten days. Five Israelis have died since the fighting began.
AMY GOODMAN: The United States blocked a UN Security Council statement on Saturday calling for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza.
PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH:
All of us, of course, would like to see, you know, violence stop, but not at the expense of an agreement that does not prevent the crisis from happening again.
DR. MADS GILBERT: The statistics are clear. Among the 2,400-2,500 injured, 45 percent are women and children. And then there are also all the civilian men. So the large majority of the injured, the victims, are women, men and children civilian.
ANTOINE GRAND: There is no place safe in Gaza for the civilians. They’re afraid to stay home. They’re afraid to move. They’re also afraid to go down the street to try to find some water or to try to buy some food. No electricity, no water, difficult access to hospitals, ambulances that are not able to reach some places to collect the wounded.
Headlines for January 12, 2009:
AMY GOODMAN: The nation’s official unemployment rate has jumped to 7.2 percent as employers eliminated over 500,000 jobs in December.
CAMPBELL HARVEY: Right now it seems like we are losing about half a million jobs every month. So the situation is very dire. And combined with this, there’s no obvious end in sight.
AMY GOODMAN: Israel declared a unilateral ceasefire on Saturday, ending a twenty-two-day assault on Gaza that killed more than 1,300 Palestinians, most of them civilians and at least one-third children.
PALESTINIAN WOMAN: [translated] All our homes have been destroyed. Even this little boy does not have a home. What is his fault? Look at him. What do they want from us? Our houses? Why do they want to destroy them? Why do they destroy our homes?
AMY GOODMAN: President Bush held his final news conference Monday.
PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: There have been disappointments. Abu Ghraib obviously was a huge disappointment during the presidency. Not having weapons of mass destruction was a significant disappointment. I don’t know if you want to call those mistakes or not, but they were — things didn’t go according to plan. Let’s put it that way.
REV. JOSEPH LOWERY: We pray now, o Lord, for your blessing upon thy servant, Barack Obama, the forty-fourth president of these United States, his family and his administration.
CHIEF JUSTICE JOHN ROBERTS: I, Barack Hussein Obama…
PRESIDENT-ELECT BARACK OBAMA: I, Barack…
CHIEF JUSTICE JOHN ROBERTS: …do solemnly swear…
PRESIDENT-ELECT BARACK OBAMA: I, Barack Hussein Obama, do solemnly swear…
CHIEF JUSTICE JOHN ROBERTS: ...that I will execute the office of president to the United States faithfully…
PRESIDENT-ELECT BARACK OBAMA: ...that I will execute…
CHIEF JUSTICE JOHN ROBERTS: …faithfully the office of president of the United States…
PRESIDENT-ELECT BARACK OBAMA: …the office of president of the United States faithfully…
ALI MAZRUI:Barack Obama, himself, becomes the most powerful single black individual in the history of civilization, you know? There’s never been a person in control of the resources which the United States has, of the creative and destructive powers that the United States has...So he’s easily the most powerful single black individual that’s ever walked planet earth. And that’s a major breakthrough in race relations.
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: This is the meaning of our liberty and our creed, why men and women and children of every race and every faith can join in celebration across this magnificent Mall, and why a man whose father less than sixty years ago might not have been served at a local restaurant can now stand before you to take a most sacred oath.
AMY GOODMAN: President Obama is expected to sign executive orders today for the closure of the Guantanamo Bay prison and secret CIA jails overseas.
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Guantanamo will be closed no later than one year from now.
ROBERT GATES: There is little doubt that our greatest military challenge right now is Afghanistan. As you know, the United States has focused more on Central Asia in recent months. President Obama has made it clear that the Afghanistan theater should be our top overseas military priority.
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: The situation we face could not be more serious. We have inherited an economic crisis as deep and as dire as any since the Great Depression.
AMY GOODMAN: What is this latest on the Obama administration twice invoking the state secrets privilege over the past two weeks?
KENNETH ROTH: They seem to be continuing the Bush administration’s policy of relying on the doctrine of state secrets to cover up inquiries by civil litigants into what went wrong with the Bush administration’s policies, whether that’s snooping on Americans or torturing suspects.
AMY GOODMAN: An unprecedented case of judicial corruption is unfolding in Pennsylvania. Several hundred families have filed a class-action lawsuit against two former judges who have pleaded guilty to taking bribes in return for placing youths in privately owned jails.
KURT KRUGER: I was never offered a lawyer, never explained my rights to a lawyer or what benefits it would have. I was just sent away to Camp Adams for at least ninety days, and I spent the better part of four-and-a-half months there.
JUAN GONZALEZ: A series of protests are scheduled outside the New York Post today to condemn the publication of a cartoon that critics say depicts President Obama as a chimpanzee.
REV. AL SHARPTON: I said that even though they called us chimps, we came to let them know we’re not chumps.
AMY GOODMAN: President Obama has unveiled a $3.55 trillion spending budget for the coming fiscal year. On Thursday, Obama said the plan includes tax relief for lower-income Americans while repealing Bush administration tax cuts for the wealthy.
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: No part of my budget will be free from scrutiny or untouched by reform.
AMY GOODMAN: That’s a pretty amazing story, Rocky Mountain News closing up. You’ve got the Minneapolis Star Tribune in bankruptcy. The Chicago Tribune, the Philadelphia Inquirer, San Francisco Chronicle is in deep trouble, even the New York Times.
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: As a candidate for president, I made clear my support for a timeline of sixteen months to carry out this drawdown, while pledging to consult closely with our military commanders upon taking office to ensure that we preserve the gains we’ve made and to protect our troops.
AMY GOODMAN: In Washington, DC, more than 2,000 activists blocked the gates of a coal-fired power plant on Capitol Hill Monday in what was described as the largest display of civil disobedience on the climate crisis in US history.
JUDY BONDS: I’m very proud to be here today with the youth of America that’s demanding change and demanding that the adults take responsibility for creating a mess.
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: In this effort, every voice has to be heard. Every idea must be considered. Every option must be on the table.
JUAN GONZALEZ: While the President said every idea must be considered, the idea of creating a single-payer national health insurance program has already been rejected.
AMY GOODMAN: The investigative journalist Seymour Hersh has revealed the Bush administration ran an “executive assassination ring” that reported directly to former Vice President Dick Cheney.
SEYMOUR HERSH: Congress has no oversight of it. It’s an executive assassination wing, essentially. It’s been going in — under President Bush’s authority, they’ve been going into countries, not talking to the ambassador or to the CIA station chief, and finding people on a list and executing them and leaving.
AMY GOODMAN: The failed insurance giant AIG is preparing to pay out $450 million in bonuses to top executives and other employees despite receiving a $173 billion government bailout.
LAWRENCE SUMMERS: We are a country of law. There are contracts. The government cannot just abrogate contracts.
JOAN NEMETH: Being paid $15,000 an hour compared to your workers’ hours at $8 or $10 or even $15, where’s the justice in that? There is no justice in being paid that much more.
REP. BARNEY FRANK: I think the time has come to exercise our ownership rights — we own most of the company — and then say, as owner, “No, I’m not paying you the bonus. You didn’t perform.”
AMY GOODMAN: I spoke to Mark Danner about the secret Red Cross report he obtained and what it reveals about the Bush administration’s treatment of prisoners.
MARK DANNER: The United States tortured prisoners and, secondly, that this activity was illegal and constituted a breach of international and domestic law.
AMY GOODMAN: So, Mark Danner, did President Bush lie?
MARK DANNER: Yes. Yeah, he did.
AMY GOODMAN: The G20 summit has begun in London following a day of protest from thousands of people. On Wednesday, dozens were arrested at demonstrations throughout London’s financial district.
TONY BENN: I have never in my long life known a time when public opinion was so divided from government opinion. And I think that’s happening not only in London, but all over the world.
AMY GOODMAN: In economic news, the nation’s unemployment rate has reached 8.5 percent, the highest it’s been in twenty-five years. 663,000 jobs were lost last month. A total of 5.1 million jobs have been lost in the past fourteen months.
LESLIE CAGAN: We need money pouring into job creation, and we need to deal with the global crisis of the environment. So there’s much to do, above and beyond bailing out bankers and continuing to pour money into wars.
AMY GOODMAN: Evann Orleck-Jetter testified at the public hearings on gay marriage last month before Vermont’s Joint Senate and House Judiciary Committees.
EVANN ORLECK-JETTER: There aren’t any examples of a family like mine. If my parents could just have the right to get married, this would make such a difference. It hurts me sometimes when I feel invisible, because few people understand my feelings about my family, and few people want to ask about families with two moms.
AMY GOODMAN: We turn now to my interview with author, journalist, death row prisoner, Mumia Abu-Jamal. Last week, the Supreme Court denied his appeal to overturn his conviction for the 1981 killing of a white police officer following a controversial trial before a predominantly white jury.
MUMIA ABU-JAMAL: The fight goes on. I am a believer firmly in “without struggle, there is no progress.” Frederick Douglass used to say that, of course. It was true then; it’s true now. You know, without struggle, there’s nothing. There really is nothing. So we struggle on.
AMY GOODMAN: The Obama administration has released four Bush administration memos that gave CIA interrogators the legal basis for torture at Guantanamo Bay and other foreign jails.
SCOTT HORTON: These are techniques that federal prosecutors previously charged as crimes. Moreover, in prosecutions that occurred at the end of the World War II, American federal prosecutors sought the death penalty, sought capital punishment, for people who did these things.
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: For those who carried out some of these operations within the four corners of legal opinions or guidance that had been provided from the White House, I do not think it’s appropriate for them to be prosecuted.
AMY GOODMAN: A former Marine corporal who fought in Afghanistan testified last week on Capitol Hill and urged lawmakers to oppose President Obama’s escalation of the war in Afghanistan.
RICK REYES: As a Marine, I was willing to give my life for my country and still am. But invading and occupying Afghanistan, sending more troops to solve what is a political problem, is not the answer.
AMY GOODMAN: Senator Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania has announced he’s leaving the Republican Party to join the Democratic caucus on Capitol Hill.
SEN. ARLEN SPECTER: As the Republican Party has moved farther and farther to the right, I have found myself increasingly at odds with the Republican philosophy and more aligned with the philosophy of the Democratic Party.
AMY GOODMAN: The World Health Organization is warning the swine flu outbreak is at the imminent stages of becoming a global pandemic.
JANET NAPOLITANO: We have been preparing as if we are facing a true pandemic, even though we don’t know the ultimate scope of what will occur.
AMY GOODMAN: Legendary folk singer, banjo player, storyteller, and political and environmental activist Pete Seeger turned ninety on Sunday.
PETE SEEGER: Normally I’m against big things. I think the world is going to be saved by millions of small things. Too many things can go wrong when they get big.
AMY GOODMAN: At the top of the agenda for immigrant rights advocates is ending the spate of deportations that have separated more than a million families. We’re going to turn now to one family torn apart by deportation who have brought their case to Capitol Hill.
GERARDO ZAMUDIO: I am in Washington, because I would like — I would like my mom back, and I would like to talk to President Obama, because I want my mom back and I know that he can help us.
AMY GOODMAN: Dozens of civilians were killed Tuesday in a US bombing in Afghanistan in what may be one of the highest civilian death tolls of the war.
HILLARY CLINTON: I wish to express, you know, my personal regret and certainly the sympathy of our administration on the loss of civilian life in Afghanistan.
AMY GOODMAN: The US military is denying it has allowed soldiers to try to convert Afghans to Christianity, following a report on Al Jazeera that showed pictures of soldiers with Bibles translated into Pashto and Dari.
LT. COL. GARY HENSLEY: The Special Forces guys, they hunt men, basically. We do the same things as Christians: we hunt people for Jesus.
AMY GOODMAN: New York Times reporter David Barstow. He recently won the 2009 Pulitzer Prize for Investigative Reporting for exposing how dozens of retired generals working as radio and television analysts had been co-opted by the Pentagon to make its case for the war in Iraq.
DAVID BARSTOW: So they saw this group, and they saw in this group a way of taking the media filter, which politicians are always so fond of complaining about, and turning the media filter into more of a media megaphone.
AMY GOODMAN: The Iranian American journalist Roxana Saberi was released from an Iranian jail Monday and has been reunited with her family.
SEN. MAX BAUCUS: Committee in order. We will stand in recess until the police can restore order.
SUE CANNON: We want single payer at this table. Healthcare is a human right. We want guaranteed healthcare.
AMY GOODMAN: Five people were arrested yesterday at a Senate Finance Committee hearing on healthcare reform and charged with “disruption of Congress.
DR. MARGARET FLOWERS: We really requested to Senator Baucus that he include a single-payer advocate at these roundtable discussions, and we were told very clearly that there would be no invitation coming. And so, we felt that and I felt that we couldn’t be silent any longer. We needed to stand up on behalf of our patients, on behalf of our colleagues, and speak out.
ANJALI KAMAT: Today’s top story is Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka’s quarter-century-long civil war is in its final throes, with the militant Tamil separatist group the Tamil Tigers, or the LTTE, almost completely defeated. The United Nations says nearly 7,000 civilians were killed and over 16,000 wounded since January.
AMY GOODMAN: In Pakistan, the UN is warning the exodus of Swat Valley residents fleeing government-Taliban clashes could turn into the worst displacement crisis since the Rwandan genocide. Around two million people have fled their homes since fighting broke out three weeks ago.
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Let me begin by disposing of one argument as plainly as I can: we are not going to release anyone if it would endanger our national security.
VINCE WARREN: The idea of detaining people not because they’ve committed a crime, but because of their general dangerousness or that they may commit a crime in the future. That’s something that the documents that President Obama was standing in front of, particularly the Bill of Rights and the Constitution, simply doesn’t permit.
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: After completing this exhaustive process, I have decided to nominate an inspiring woman who I believe will make a great justice: Judge Sonia Sotomayor of the great state of New York.
JUDGE SONIA SOTOMAYOR: Although I grew up in very modest and challenging circumstances, I consider my life to be immeasurably rich. I was raised in a Bronx public housing project but studied at two of the nation’s finest universities.
AMY GOODMAN: In Kansas, police have arrested a fifty-one-year-old anti-abortion activist in connection to the murder of Dr. George Tiller. Tiller was shot dead Sunday as he attended services at his church in Wichita.
ELLIE SMEAL: Every day he was thanked by women whose lives he saved. He was a humanitarian, a person who — I think his family said it so well. He was dedicated to women and to women’s rights everywhere. And he did what he knew he should do as a skilled physician.
DR. WARREN HERN: Of course, this is a great loss for women, but this means that we have a very highly organized, active, well-armed and well-funded terrorist movement in the country that opposes the basic premises of American society.
JUAN GONZALEZ: President Obama delivered a highly anticipated speech in Cairo, Egypt, today, aimed at Muslims across the world.
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: I’m also proud to carry with me the good will of the American people and a greeting of peace from Muslim communities in my country: As’salaamu alaykum.
JUAN GONZALEZ: Twenty-eight-year-old Syed Fahad Hashmi, known to his family and friends as Fahad, has been held in pretrial solitary confinement in a federal prison in Manhattan for over two years now.
FAISAL HASHMI: Imagine for yourself, you’re a pretrial detainee, not convicted of anything, and you’re held in these conditions where you’re not allowed to move, not allowed to talk.
AMY GOODMAN: The oil giant Royal Dutch Shell has agreed to pay a $15.5 million settlement to avoid a trial over its alleged involvement in human rights violations in the Niger Delta.
JUDITH BROWN CHOMSKY: Well, I believe they settled because they didn’t want the public exposure of their relationship with the military government and their involvement in human rights abuses in Ogoni and in Nigeria.
AMY GOODMAN: Hope, War and Resistance: Democracy Now!
looks back at 2009. Stay with us.
AMY GOODMAN: We return to Hope, War and Resistance: Democracy Now! looks back at 2009.
- Hundreds of Thousands Protest in Tehran Accusing Ahmadinejad of Stealing Election; Guardian Council Orders Partial Recount (6/16/09):
AMY GOODMAN: Our top story of the day is Iran, where protests against Friday’s election results continue for the fourth day, and the powerful Guardian Council says it’s ready to hold a recount of disputed votes. The announcement follows a mass rally Monday in Tehran of several hundred thousand people who defied an official ban on a public rally to protest the election results. Iranian state radio reports seven people were killed at the rally.
NAHID SIAMDOUST: Riot police, as well as Basijis, dealt really, really heavily with demonstrators and protesters, who were gathered in smaller pockets around town, as opposed to the huge demonstration yesterday. The government has been really shutting down many means of communication, the internet, pro-Mousavi sites, text messaging. So information is — information channels are blocked, and it’s hard to know exactly how many people have been killed.
ARANG KESHAVARZIAN: For many Iranians, it’s not simply about whether — who won and who lost this debate, but it’s about the basic procedures and laws related to the election that were violated.
AMY GOODMAN: Goldman Sachs has just said that their staff can look forward to the biggest bonus bailouts in the firm’s 140-year history. How is this possible?
NOMI PRINS: It is possible because our government has chosen to effectively give Goldman the money to do that, in a number of different ways. So when Goldman says — has the nerve to say, feels entitled to say — that it’s going to pay its bankers record bonuses after the travesty that it and other banks have created in the markets, it is on the back of federal subsidies that effectively come from our pockets.
JUAN GONZALEZ: We turn now to Somalia, where thousands have fled the capital of Mogadishu as government forces continue to fight opposition Islamist fighters.
SADIA ALI ADEN: You have a humanitarian crisis, a serious humanitarian crisis — the worst in Africa. Over one million people internally displaced, 3.5 million on the verge of starvation.
AMY GOODMAN: More than thirty people were arrested Tuesday, including the NASA climate scientist James Hansen and actress Daryl Hannah, protesting mountaintop removal in West Virginia.
DARYL HANNAH: I am just absolutely shocked that there are over 400 — 504 mountains that have been blown up and that they pushed out the rubble into the valleys below, crushing over 2,000 headwater streams. And it’s affected over — you know, close to two million acres in this area. And it’s just a completely destructive way of mining.
AMY GOODMAN: The pop music artist Michael Jackson died at the age of fifty. Jackson was one of the most influential musical artists of the twentieth century and a pivotal figure in opening the door for African American artists in popular music.
REV. AL SHARPTON: He put on one glove, pulled his pants up, and broke down the color curtain, where now our videos are shown and magazines put us on the cover! It was Michael Jackson that brought blacks and whites and Asians and Latinos together!
AMY GOODMAN: In Honduras, the democratically elected President Manuel Zelaya has been overthrown in a military coup.
PRESIDENT MANUEL ZELAYA: [translated] They attacked my house at 5:30 in the morning. A group of at least 200 to 250 armed soldiers with hoods and bulletproof vests and rifles aimed their guns at me, fired shots, used machine guns, kicked down the doors, and just as I was, in pajamas, they put me on a plane and flew me to Costa Rica. This all happened in less than forty-five minutes.
AMY GOODMAN: The billionaire financier Bernie Madoff has been sentenced to 150 years in prison, the maximum sentence allowed. Madoff pleaded guilty in March to running a massive Ponzi scheme that defrauded investors of some $50 billion.
ELLEN BERNFELD: The fact that Bernie Madoff is going to be — spend the rest of his life in jail, you know, that’s a good thing, right? But it doesn’t repair the damage done. And it doesn’t repair the broken system that allowed it to happen.
AMY GOODMAN: A ship trying to deliver humanitarian aid to Gaza from Cyprus has been threatened by Israel in international waters.
HUWAIDA ARRAF: We hope it’s clear to the international community that this is a deliberate attack, and we hope it also opens their eyes to the policies of Israel, which have nothing to do with security. It has to do with punishing an entire population, and we just can’t accept this.
AMY GOODMAN: Democrat Al Franken has been declared the winner in his Minnesota Senate race against incumbent Republican Norm Coleman.
AL FRANKEN: I’m not going to Washington to be the sixtieth Democratic senator. I’m going to Washington to be the second senator from the state of Minnesota, and that’s how I’m going to do this job.
AMY GOODMAN: In Afghanistan, US forces have launched what’s being described as the largest Marine offensive since the Vietnam War. Some 4,000 Marines and hundreds of Afghan troops are targeting areas in the Helmand River Valley to wrest it from Taliban control.
JUAN GONZALEZ: In South Dakota, activists with the environmental group Greenpeace scaled the Mount Rushmore National Monument Wednesday and hung a banner urging President Obama to take action on global warming.
MATT LEONARD: We were basically rappelling off the faces of the monument, hanging a giant banner that, as you said, calling on President Obama to show true leadership in solving the climate crisis.
AMY GOODMAN: In a speech before Ghana’s parliament, Obama urged Africans across the continent to take greater responsibility for stamping out war, corruption and disease plaguing the region.
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Africa’s future is up to Africans. I say this knowing full well the tragic past that has sometimes haunted this part of the world. After all, I have the blood of Africa within me.
AMY GOODMAN: Confirmation hearings for Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor continue on Capitol Hill.
JUDGE SONIA SOTOMAYOR: I want to state up front, unequivocally and without doubt, I do not believe that any ethnic, racial or gender group has an advantage in sound judging.
AMY GOODMAN: The US Senate is expected to vote this week on a measure that would expand the definition of hate crimes and widen federal authority to prosecute them.
JUDY SHEPARD: This bill will send a great message of respect to the nation that the government understands that hate crimes against the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered community are on the rise, they are heinous, they’re very violent.
AMY GOODMAN: We’re talking to Governor Dean, Dr. Dean, former head of the
Democratic National Committee.
HOWARD DEAN: I don’t give a damn about the health insurance people being in business or out of business. I want a system that works.
AMY GOODMAN: The country’s oldest and largest civil rights organization had its hundredth anniversary celebrations last week here in New York.
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: NAACP, it will not be easy. It will take time. Doubts may rise, and hopes may recede. But if John Lewis could brave billy clubs to cross a bridge, then I know young people today can do their part to lift up our community.
AMY GOODMAN: Four US troops died Monday in a roadside bombing in eastern Afghanistan. At least thirty US soldiers have died so far this month, making it the deadliest month for US forces since the war began nearly eight years ago.
REPORTER: Recently, Professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr., was arrested at his home in Cambridge. What does that incident say to you, and what does it say about race relations in America?
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: The Cambridge police acted stupidly in arresting somebody when there was already proof that they were in their own home.
HENRY LOUIS GATES: But what it made me realize was how vulnerable all black men are, how vulnerable all people of color are, and all poor people, to capricious forces like a rogue policeman. And this man clearly was a rogue policeman.
WENDELL POTTER: My name is Wendell Potter, and for twenty years I worked as a senior executive at health insurance companies. And I saw how they confused their customers and dumped the sick, so all they — so also they can satisfy their Wall Street investors.
AMY GOODMAN: Ousted Honduran President Manuel Zelaya briefly returned to Honduras twice in recent days in an attempt to put pressure on the coup leaders who deposed him last month.
HILLARY CLINTON: President Zelaya’s effort to reach the border is reckless. It does not contribute to the broader efforts to restore democratic and constitutional order in the Honduras crisis.
AMY GOODMAN: Republican Governor Sarah Palin has stepped down as governor of Alaska eighteen months before the end of her first term as governor. Palin spent part of her farewell speech criticizing the media.
SARAH PALIN: You represent what could and should be a respected, honest profession that could and should be a cornerstone of our democracy. Democracy depends on you. And that is why — that’s why our troops are willing to die for you. So, how about, in honor of the American soldier, you quit making things up?
ANJALI KAMAT: We begin with a Democracy Now! broadcast exclusive. Peace activists in Washington state have revealed an informant posing as an anarchist has spied on them while working under the US military.
BRENDAN MASLAUSKAS DUNN: He admitted that, yes, he did in fact spy on us. He did in fact infiltrate us. He admitted that he did pass on information to an intelligence network, which, as you mentioned earlier, was composed of dozens of law enforcement agencies, ranging from municipal to county to state to regional, and several federal agencies, including Immigration Customs Enforcement, Joint Terrorism Task Force, FBI, Homeland Security, the Army in Fort Lewis.
SHARIF ABDEL KOUDDOUS: Democratic Congress member Henry Waxman has represented California’s 30th congressional district for nearly thirty-five years.
REP. HENRY WAXMAN: On the healthcare bill, I don’t want the perfect to be the enemy of the good. I don’t want another fifteen years before we can deal with the issue of healthcare for the uninsured in this country.
AMY GOODMAN: Two American journalists are reuniting with their families in California following their release from imprisonment in North Korea. Euna Lee and Laura Ling of Current TV were freed after a visit by former President Bill Clinton.
LAURA LING: We knew instantly in our hearts that the nightmare of our lives was finally coming to an end.
AMY GOODMAN: Murder, destruction of evidence, weapons smuggling, corruption — those are just some of the explosive allegations made by two former employees of the private military contractor formerly known as Blackwater.
JEREMY SCAHILL: These declarations, Amy, are stunning, in the sense that it’s the first time that we really see insiders at Blackwater alleging a direct role by Erik Prince, the sole owner and the founder of the company, potentially in either murdering someone who was cooperating with federal authorities or was intending to cooperate with federal authorities.
AMY GOODMAN: A US Army specialist who refused to deploy to Afghanistan faces a court-martial today and up to a month in jail.
SPC. VICTOR AGOSTO: Right now I’m on Fort Hood. And I decided that I just — I couldn’t, in good conscience, deploy to Afghanistan. I don’t believe that we’re actually there to fight terror or that terror can even be fought on the battlefield.
SONIA SOTOMAYOR: I, Sonia Sotomayor, do solemnly swear that I will administer justice without respect to persons.
AMY GOODMAN: Burmese pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi has been sentenced to an additional eighteen months of house arrest after a controversial trial. Suu Kyi has already spent fourteen of the past twenty years in detention under Burma’s military junta.
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: The same critics who say that the United States has not intervened enough in Honduras are the same people who say that we’re always intervening and the Yankees need to get out of Latin America. You can’t have it both ways.
AMY GOODMAN: Right-wing opponents of President Obama’s healthcare plan are continuing their efforts to disrupt town hall meetings held by Democratic lawmakers during the August recess.
QUESTIONER 22: What it says is, as a seventy-four-year-old man, if you develop cancer, we’re pretty much going to write you off, because you’re no longer a working citizen who will be paying taxes. What are you going to do about it? You’re here because of the plan we have now.
SEN. ARLEN SPECTER: Well, you’re just not right. Nobody seventy-four is going to be written off because they have cancer. That’s a vicious, malicious, untrue rumor.
AMY GOODMAN: The US Supreme Court has taken the rare step of ordering a federal trial court to conduct a new hearing for Georgia death row prisoner Troy Anthony Davis.
MARTINA CORREIA: You have Sam Millsap, who’s a prosecutor, you have people who support the death penalty and people who are against the death penalty on the same side in a case, saying this is an abomination. You cannot kill people like this, because if you kill Troy Davis, you’re going to expose this system, and you’re going to shut it down, you know. And that’s what this case is about.
JUAN GONZALEZ: Millions of Afghans are voting in presidential and provincial elections today amid tight security, amid threats of violence from the Taliban, and with thousands of foreign troops still occupying the country, led by the United States.
SONALI KOLHATKAR: Most mainstream media are reporting, that the legitimacy of the occupation by the US and NATO are linked to the legitimacy of these elections. And by that standard, that’s already failed.
AMY GOODMAN: Democratic Senator Edward Kennedy of Massachusetts has died after a bout with brain cancer. He was seventy-seven years old. Kennedy served in the Senate for forty-six years, earning the nickname the “liberal lion” for his steadfast advocacy of progressive causes.
REV. JESSE JACKSON: We mourn his passing, celebrate his living. We’re deeply in the debt of Ted Kennedy for his record of high-risk service. When he voted for the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to end legislative Jim Crow, that was tyranny territory. For that, his brothers were killed, Dr. King killed, Medgar Evers killed. When he voted for the Voting Rights Act, he changed the American political landscape. When many would dip out an ocean with a bucket, he built a canal. He changed the course.
AMY GOODMAN: President Obama intensified his push for healthcare reform Wednesday with a nationally televised address before a joint session of Congress.
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: There are also those who claim that our reform efforts would insure illegal immigrants. This, too, is false. The reforms — the reforms I’m proposing would not apply to those who are here illegally.
REP. JOE WILSON: You lie!
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: It’s not true.
JUDGE RICHARD GOLDSTONE: The mission concluded that actions amounting to war crimes and possibly, in some respects, crimes against humanity were committed by the Israel Defense Force.
NORMAN FINKELSTEIN: It was a massacre in Gaza. And you don’t really see that, because they’re measuring everything against what they call the laws of war. But you’re applying laws of war to a massacre. There was no war there.
JIMMY CARTER: I think an overwhelming portion of the intensely demonstrated animosity toward President Barack Obama is based on the fact that he is a black man, that he’s African American.
JUAN GONZALEZ: The anti-poverty group ACORN is launching an independent review after the group’s workers were caught on camera appearing to encourage tax evasion and prostitution.
BERTHA LEWIS: This is a continuation of the concentrated, relentless attacks on this organization by Republicans, by the right wing, when they couldn’t come up with anything that was true.
SHARIF ABDEL KOUDDOUS: Honduran President Manuel Zelaya has made a dramatic return to his country nearly three months after the military coup that forced him into exile.
AMY GOODMAN: We now go directly to the Brazilian embassy, inside, in Tegucigalpa to Andrés Conteris, who works with us at Democracy Now! and on the Program on the Americas director for Nonviolence International.
ANDRÉS CONTERIS: Amy, I’m right here with the President, and he is speaking. I’m going to let you hear his voice and try to interpret a little bit. [translating President Zelaya] “Just the way that they attacked my house and they brutally kidnapped me, this is the way that they are attacking us now even today.”
AMY GOODMAN: Yes, Michael Moore is back, with his new film Capitalism: A Love Story.
MICHAEL MOORE: I think that this economic system that we have is an evil system. I truly believe that it is essentially designed to cause harm to people.
ANJALI KAMAT: As leaders of the world’s richest nations gathered in Pittsburgh for the G-20 summit this past Thursday and Friday, thousands took to the streets in protest amidst a heavy police crackdown.
PROTESTERS: Tell me what democracy looks like!
PROTESTERS: This is what democracy looks like!
STEVE MARTINEZ: Then the police turned on their new weapon of crowd dispersement: the sound cannon.
AMY GOODMAN: We turn to a woman the New York Times calls India’s most impassioned critic of globalization and American influence, Arundhati Roy.
ARUNDHATI ROY: Out of this chaos, something new has to come, and will come, because it cannot go on like this. And I don’t know whether that thing will be worse or will be better, but it can’t go on like this. You know, the kind of polythene bag over our heads has to burst open at some point. You know, we have to be allowed to breathe.
AMY GOODMAN: In Indonesia, UN officials are estimating at least 1,100 people have died in an earthquake in the western city of Padang. Thousands of people remain missing and feared trapped in the wreckage of shattered buildings.
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: I come here today as a passionate supporter of the Olympic and Paralympic Games, as a strong believer in the movement they represent, and as a proud Chicagoan.
DAVE ZIRIN: But if they want to spread the fact that it will bring this tangible economic benefit to Chicago, that it’ll benefit the people of Chicago, that is just a fact that is not borne out by anything in Olympic history.
JUAN GONZALEZ: In Chicago, seven people were arrested Thursday at a demonstration outside the offices of the insurance giant CIGNA.
PROTESTER: Care is being delayed. People are dying because of that every day. Seven people here today have been willing to be arrested. Let’s let them know we’re with them. We love you guys.
AMY GOODMAN: Hope, War and Resistance: Democracy Now!
looks back at 2009. Stay with us.
AMY GOODMAN: We return to Hope, War and Resistance: Democracy Now! looks back at 2009.
- As US Continues Afghan, Iraq Occupations and Quashes Accountability for Gaza Assault, Critics Decry Awarding of Nobel Peace Prize to Obama (10/9/09):
THORBJORN JAGLAND: [translated] The Norwegian Nobel Committee has decided that the Nobel Peace Prizefor 2009 is to be awarded to President Barack Obama for his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples.
TARIQ ALI: For all the talk, US soldiers remain in Iraq, and their bases are likely to stay there for some time. And the war in Afghanistan continues unabated, with President Obama actually sending in more troops. More people are being killed, both Afghans and NATO soldiers. The war has been expanded into Pakistan. So this is a sort of odd, though not surprising, choice by the Nobel Prize Committee.
JUAN GONZALEZ: We turn now to the Pacific island of Guam, where the United States is planning an enormous military buildup to the tune of $15 billion.
JULIAN AGUON: I guess the best way to explain the Guam situation is that there’s nothing neo about our colonialism. This is such old school-styled colonialism, it’s unreal. It really is unreal.
AMY GOODMAN: Tens of thousands of people took to the streets in Washington to take part in the National Equality March for gay rights.
PROTESTER: It’s absolutely ridiculous that we have to work so hard to support this country and to be a part of this country and to pay and vote for this country that we should be a question of equality. And it’s just absurd. It’s absolutely absurd. It’s enough.
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: After many months of thoughtful deliberation, the fifth and final committee responsible for healthcare reform has passed a proposal that has both Democratic and Republican support.
JANE HAMSHER: It contains in it the things that the White House wants, and there is no public option. It taxes benefits for union workers. The AFL-CIO is opposing it very strongly because of that. And I hope that now at least we can have a frank conversation about what it is that the White House is backing.
ANJALI KAMAT: It’s been described as the worst food crisis since the 1970s. According to the Food and Agricultural Organization, more than a billion people, or one-sixth of the world’s population, go hungry every day.
DEVINDER SHARMA: There is no shortage of food in the world. You know, we have about 6.7 billion people on the earth, and we produce food for 11.5 billion people. There’s no shortage. It’s only that one part of the world is eating more, and one part of the world is starving. And I think that’s a distribution problem, the critical problem that we need to address.
AMY GOODMAN: The Pakistani military has launched a major offensive against militants in South Waziristan, the heartland of the Pakistani Taliban. Over 150,000 civilians have fled the region seeking refuge.
HINGO SEMBRA: The Chamber seeks a solid business solution, one that requires much less intervention and has a proven track record. What we need is simply a carbon tax.
BRIAN SULLIVAN: Breaking news right now, the Chamber of Commerce saying it will reverse its position on the climate change bill and wants a carbon tax.
Alright, so the US Chamber is denying it now. Alright, so, maybe not.
AMY GOODMAN: Well, that’s Fox Business News. You might be able to guess who was behind this prank. Well, if you guessed the Yes Men, you’re right.
155 Killed in Double Suicide Bombing in Baghdad (10/26/09):
SHARIF ABDEL KOUDDOUS: In Baghdad, the death toll from Sunday’s synchronized suicide car bombings has risen to 155. More than 500 people were injured. It was the deadliest bombing in Iraq in two years.
RICK ROWLEY: Well, first of all, the first thing to say is that, you know, there is no peace in Iraq, that these bombings, first of all, put the lie once again to the three myths that we’ve been pushed about the war in Iraq: first, the story that the war is over; second, that we won the war; and third, that the lessons of this victory can be applied to Afghanistan.
SHARIF ABDEL KOUDDOUS: We turn now to a Democracy Now! national broadcast exclusive. Gregg and Jannett Keesling are the parents of Chancellor Keesling, a US soldier who took his own life on June 19th of this year.
AMY GOODMAN: Since Chancellor’s death, Gregg and Jannett Keesling have yet to receive a letter of condolence from President Obama.
JANNETT KEESLING: Chancellor was extremely precious to us. And I sat around thinking, he died on foreign soil for us, you know? He sacrificed his young life, six years. And a letter from the President is a little bit of closure to show us that he appreciated our son’s life. And I know he’s busy with a lot of issues, but this is not one that is so hard to change.
AMY GOODMAN: We end today’s show with a Democracy Now! national broadcast exclusive: an interview with Shon Meckfessel. He’s the fourth member of the group of the three Americans arrested by Iranian authorities in July while they were on a hiking trip.
SHON MECKFESSEL: It’s obvious they’re not a threat to Iran, so I just
don’t understand why they’re being held.
AMY GOODMAN: On Monday, a federal court of appeals dismissed Canadian citizen Maher Arar’s case against US officials for their role in sending him to Syria to be tortured.
MARIA LAHOOD: This decision is broad enough to affect any of us. Basically, if the federal government decides to do something that it purports to be in our national security to do, they could torture any of us, they could kill any of us, and there would be no relief in the federal courts.
AMY GOODMAN: In a landmark ruling, an Italian judge has convicted twenty-three Americans, mostly CIA operatives, for kidnapping a Muslim cleric from the streets of Milan in 2003. We go now to Rome, where we’re joined by Armando Spataro. He’s the Italian prosecutor who brought the case.
ARMANDO SPATARO: I think that it’s a victory for the justice, because the importance of this ruling is clear, according to my opinion — namely, our democracy don’t nee