Friday, December 13, 2013

  • Labor Leader Eliseo Medina on Fasting for Immigration Reform, Organizing with Cesar Chavez

    Eliseomedina-getty

    The Republican-controlled House of Representatives has finished its work for the year without passing comprehensive immigration reform. On Thursday, leaders from both parties promised to revisit the issue early in the new year. Meanwhile, more than 1,000 immigration activists descended into the offices of House lawmakers on Thursday afternoon to protest the House’s inaction on the issue. The demonstrations came as the immigration reform organization "Fast for Families" concluded 31 days of fasting. We speak to Eliseo Medina, former international secretary-treasurer of the Service Employees International Union. Medina recently spent 22 days on a water-only fast. Medina worked alongside labor leader and civil rights activist Cesar Chavez for 13 years. His career as a labor activist began in 1965 when, as a 19-year-old grape picker, he participated in the historic United Farm Workers strike in Delano, California.

  • Polaroid & Apartheid: Inside the Beginnings of the Boycott, Divestment Movement Against South Africa

    Polaroid

    We look back at how African-American workers at Polaroid in Massachusetts helped launch the divestment movement against apartheid South Africa in the early 1970s. We speak to Caroline Hunter, co-founder of the Polaroid Workers Revolutionary Movement, who stumbled upon evidence that her employer was providing the camera system to the South African state to produce photographs for the infamous passbooks for black residents. Hunter and her late husband, Ken Williams, then launched a boycott of the company. The boycott and divestment campaign ultimately grew to target other corporations in apartheid South Africa, including General Motors and Barclays Bank, among others. By 1977, Polaroid finally withdrew from South Africa.

  • "One of Our Greatest Coups": The CIA & the Capture of Nelson Mandela

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    As South Africa prepares to hold a state funeral for Nelson Mandela, we look at how the CIA helped the South African government track down and capture Mandela in 1962. In 1990, the Cox News Service quoted a former U.S. official saying that within hours after Mandela’s arrest a senior CIA operative named Paul Eckel admitted the agency’s involvement. Eckel was reported as having told the official, "We have turned Mandela over to the South African security branch. We gave them every detail, what he would be wearing, the time of day, just where he would be. They have picked him up. It is one of our greatest coups." Several news outlets have reported the actual source of the tip that led to the arrest of Mandela was a CIA official named Donald Rickard. On Thursday, Democracy Now! attempted to reach Rickard at his home in Colorado. On two occasions, a man who picked up the phone hung up when we asked to speak with Donald Rickard. The activist group RootsAction has launched a campaign to urge the CIA to open its files on Mandela and South Africa, and the media watchdog group Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting has questioned why corporate media outlets have largely ignored the story. We speak to journalist Andrew Cockburn, who first reported on the CIA link to Mandela’s arrest in 1986 in The New York Times.

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