Friday, October 11, 2013

  • Chemical Weapons Watchdog Wins Nobel Peace Prize as U.S. Opposes Calls for WMD-Free Middle East


    As the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons wins the 2013 Nobel Peace Prize, we look at international efforts to rid Syria and other countries — including the United States — of chemical weapons. While Syria recently pledged to sign the 1993 Chemical Weapons Convention, four other countries have not: Egypt, North Korea, Angola and South Sudan. Israel and Burma have signed the treaty, but not ratified it. Both Egypt and Syria say they maintained chemical weapon arsenals to counter Israel’s secret nuclear weapons program. Meanwhile, the United States and Russia, both signatories of the treaty, missed a 2012 deadline to destroy their remaining chemical weapons arsenals — which is some 95 percent of the global stockpile. We speak to 2013 Right Livelihood Award winner Paul Walker of Green Cross International and Stephen Zunes, professor of politics and international studies at the University of San Francisco, where he chairs the program in Middle East studies.

  • Worse Than Nixon? Committee to Protect Journalists Warns About Obama Crackdown on Press Freedom


    In its first report on press freedom in the United States, the Committee to Protect Journalists warns President Obama has ushered in a paralyzing climate of fear for both reporters and their government sources. Among the cases it details: Six government employees — plus two contractors, including Edward Snowden — have faced felony criminal prosecutions since 2009 under the 1917 Espionage Act for leaking classified information to the press, compared with just three such prosecutions in all previous U.S. administrations. The Department of Justice has also secretly subpoenaed and seized Associated Press reporters’ phone logs and emails, and New York Times reporter James Risen was ordered to testify against a former CIA officer who provided leaked information to him, or go to jail. We speak to the report’s author, Leonard Downie Jr., former executive editor of The Washington Post. He spoke with dozens of journalists who told him officials are "reluctant to discuss even unclassified information … because they fear that leak investigations and government surveillance make it more difficult for reporters to protect them as sources."

  • "500 People Will Control American Democracy" If Supreme Court Overturns Campaign Finance Law


    The U.S. Supreme Court appears poised to strike down most of the remaining limits on massive spending by wealthy donors on political campaigns. On Tuesday, justices heard arguments in McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission, which has been referred to as "the next Citizens United." Republican leaders and wealthy GOP donor Shaun McCutcheon wants the Supreme Court to throw out aggregate limits on individual contributions in a single two-year cycle, saying they violate free speech. "If these advocate limitations go down, 500 people will control American democracy. It would be 'government for the 500 people,' not for anybody else — and that’s the risk," says Burt Neuborne, law professor and founding legal director of the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University Law School. On Tuesday, Chief Justice John Roberts indicated he is prepared to strike down caps on donations to individual candidates, but perhaps not on donations to political committees. Justice Antonin Scalia appears to be set to back the lifting of all limits. "The Scalia side says, 'Look, if you're rich, you’re entitled to have as much influence as you can buy,’" Neuborne says. "And the Scalia side has won 5-to-4 consistently in recent years."

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Full News Hour


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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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