Thursday, June 23, 2011

  • As Prosecutors Unseal Indictments in CityTime Scandal, Will Bloomberg Officials Be Next?


    Prosecutors have unsealed indictments against the company TechnoDyne and its founders in the CityTime payroll scandal in New York City, which was first exposed by Democracy Now!’s co-host Juan Gonzalez in his column for the New York Daily News. TechnoDyne executives face charges of paying millions in kickbacks to get CityTime work, and money laundering. Meanwhile, the founders of the company, Reddy Allen and his wife Padma, are now fugitives after fleeing to India. Prosecutors described CityTime as "one of the largest and most brazen frauds ever committed against the city." Following the indictments, Gonzalez says the question remains whether top officials in the administration of New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg will also be charged. [includes rush transcript]

  • Obama Plan for Afghan War Withdrawal Will Leave Troop Size at Pre-Surge Levels


    President Obama’s plan to draw down U.S. troops in Afghanistan still leaves more in the country than when he came into office. In a televised address, Obama said he will also bring home another 23,000 troops by the end of summer in 2012, leaving around 70,000 military forces, plus thousands of contractors. We discuss the longest war in U.S. history with Gareth Porter, an investigative journalist and historian specializing in U.S. national security policy. “There is an effort here to create a narrative that, as he put it, the war is receding, the tide of war is receding, when in fact nothing of the sort is happening,” says Porter. “Clearly, the Taliban are carrying out counterattacks this year and will do so again next year. That’s not going to come to an end.” [includes rush transcript]

  • Citing Domestic Economic Crisis, U.S. Mayors Back Resolution to Redirect War Funds Home


    Mayors from cities nationwide have endorsed a resolution calling on Congress to end funding for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and instead spend the money at home. The measure from the U.S. Conference of Mayors was drafted and pushed through by the activist group CodePink. We speak with the resolution’s sponsor, Kitty Piercy, mayor of Eugene, Oregon. [includes rush transcript]

  • Michigan Residents File Lawsuit Challenging Emergency Law Installing Unelected City Managers


    A group of Michigan residents have filed a suit challenging a controversial new state law that allows the governor to appoint an unelected emergency manager or corporation to take over financially distressed towns and cities and effectively fire elected officials. The law empowers these unelected managers to sell off public property, shred union contracts, and privatize government services, without any input from local voters. Michigan now has unelected emergency managers running the schools in Detroit, as well as the cities of Pontiac, Ecorse and Benton Harbor. We speak to longtime Detroit resident, Edith Lee-Payne, one of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit, and John Philo, legal director of the Maurice & Jane Sugar Law Center for Economic and Social Justice, which filed the lawsuit against the state of Michigan. [includes rush transcript]

  • Amidst Poverty and Human Rights Abuses, Equatorial Guinea Builds Lavish City to Host African Union


    African heads of state are convening today in Equatorial Guinea for a week-long African Union summit. There has been a wave of arrests leading up to the summit, with police detaining an estimated 100 people. Human Rights Watch reports Equatorial Guinea is rife with politically motivated harassment, arbitrary detentions and unlawful killings. The country’s government also faces criticism for spending an estimated $830 million to build a city for the summit, with luxury villas for visiting diplomats, an artificial beach and a golf course. Equatorial Guinea’s dictator, Teodoro Obiang, has led the country since 1979. Despite his human rights record, Obiang has maintained relations with the United States and many U.S. firms, including Exxon Mobil. We speak with Tutu Alicante, executive director of EG Justice, a U.S.-based organization dedicated to promoting the rule of law, transparency and civil society participation in Equatorial Guinea. [includes rush transcript]

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    Could Puerto Rico become America’s Greece? That’s a question many are asking as the island faces a devastating financial crisis and a rapidly crumbling healthcare system. Puerto Rico owes $72 billion in debt. $355 million in debt payments are due December 1, but it increasingly looks like the U.S. territory may default on at least some of the debt. Congress has so far failed to act on an Obama administration proposal that includes extending bankruptcy protection to Puerto Rico and allocating more equitable Medicaid and Medicare...


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