Thursday, March 15, 2012

  • Contractor in NYC’s CityTime Scandal Avoids Prosecution with Record $500 Million Fine


    A New York City corruption case exposed by Democracy Now! co-host Juan González has led to a major fine for the main contractor involved. Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC) has agreed to pay $500 million in penalties for the scandal surrounding the computerized payroll system called CityTime. In what prosecutors call "the single biggest fraud ever perpetrated on the city of New York," SAIC employees and other consultants used shell companies and overseas bank accounts to funnel kickbacks and inflated billings, defrauding taxpayers of hundreds of millions of dollars as the budget for the project ballooned from $73 million to $700 million. "For the company, it’s like in Monopoly," González notes. "You pay $50 to get out of jail; they paid $500 million to stay out of jail." [includes rush transcript]

  • Jeremy Scahill: Why Is President Obama Keeping Yemeni Journalist Abdulelah Haider Shaye in Prison?


    The Obama administration is facing scrutiny for its role in the imprisonment of a Yemeni journalist who exposed how the United States was behind a 2009 bombing in Yemen that killed 14 women and 21 children. In January 2011, a Yemeni state security court gave the journalist, Abdulelah Haider Shaye, a five-year jail sentence on terrorism-related charges following a disputed trial that was condemned by several human rights and press freedom groups. Within a month of Shaye’s sentencing, then-Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh announced he was going to pardon the journalist. But Saleh changed his mind after a phone call from President Obama. Thirteen months later, Shaye remains behind bars. We speak to Mohamed Abdel Dayem of the Committee to Protect Journalists and award-winning investigative journalist Jeremy Scahill. "Abdulelah Haider Shaye [is] a brave journalist. He just happened to be on the wrong side of history in the eyes of the U.S.," Scahill says. "His crime seems to be interviewing the wrong people and having the audacity to publish another side of the story." [includes rush transcript]

  • As Obama Picks Up Union Endorsements, a Debate on Labor’s Role in 2012 Campaign


    We host a debate on Big Labor’s endorsement of President Obama’s re-election between labor reporter Mike Elk and Arthur Cheliotes, president of Communications Workers of America Local 1180, a union that has pledged support of President Obama. This week the AFL-CIO, the nation’s largest labor organization, endorsed Obama following earlier statements of support from several unions, including the Service Employees International Union; the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees; the American Federation of Teachers; and the Communications Workers of America. "Despite the talk of political independence that many in organized labor have been talking about for the last year, organized labor is still stuck in this Stockholm Syndrome of President Obama," Elk argues. "We live in this real world. It’s not a theoretical world. And we don’t have the luxury of standing on the sidelines," Cheliotes counters. "We have to engage." [includes rush transcript]