Wednesday, June 19, 2013

  • Michael Hastings Dies at 33; Fearless Journalist Challenged Power & Exposed Myths of Afghan War

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    The investigative journalist Michael Hastings has died at the age of 33 in a Los Angeles car crash. Reporting extensively from Iraq and Afghanistan, Hastings’ widely read stories showed the grim realities of war. His 2010 Rolling Stone article on General Stanley McChrystal, the U.S. commander in Afghanistan, sparked a political controversy after McChrystal and his aides were quoted making disparaging remarks about top administration officials. The article exposed longstanding disagreements between civilian and military officials over the war’s direction and led to McChrystal’s firing. In a statement provided to Democracy Now!, the film director Oliver Stone said: "Michael Hastings went far in the span he had. One of our finest young investigative journalists, high stakes reporting in a sense cost him his life. We desperately need more and more young men and women such as Michael, willing to protest the intolerable war crimes and arrogance of our supremacy-seeking society." Rolling Stone issued this statement: "Hastings’ hallmark as a reporter was his refusal to cozy up to power. He leaves behind a remarkable legacy of reporting." We look back on two of of Hastings’ appearances on Democracy Now! in 2010 and 2012.

  • Defiant Turkish Demonstrators "Finding New Ways to Protest" in Face of Relentless State Crackdown

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    The Turkish government is threatening to send armed troops into cities to quell the ongoing anti-government protests that have continued despite an increasingly violent state crackdown. On Tuesday, Turkish police arrested 87 people in a series of raids targeting those suspected of participating in weeks of anti-government rallies. The latest demonstrations include acts of passive resistance inspired by performance artist Erdem Gündüz aka "The Standing Man," who attracted international attention for standing quietly in Taksim Square for eight hours to protest the police crackdown. We go to Istanbul to speak with Nazan Üstündag, an activist and scholar who has been involved in the Taksim Square protests since they began late last month. "People are finding new ways to protest," Üstündag says. "We’re coming together discussing what we’re going to do next, how we’re going to organize and voice our democratic demands."

  • Mass Protests Sweep Brazil in Uproar over Public Services Cuts & High Costs of World Cup, Olympics

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    Brazil is witnessing some of its largest protests in decades, after some 240,000 people protested Monday. Tens of thousands continue to take the streets. The demonstrations were initially sparked by an increase in bus fares in São Paulo, but the uprising soon spiraled nationwide amid outrage over government corruption, inequality, failing public services and police brutality against demonstrators. Protesters have also condemned the high level of government spending on the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Summer Olympics. We’re joined from São Paulo by Lucia Nader, executive director of the Brazil-based human rights organization Conectas and a participant in the protests.

  • Sister Helen Prejean & Bill Pelke on Freeing the Death Row Prisoner Who Killed Pelke’s Grandmother

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    In a remarkable story on the journey from grief to forgiveness, Bill Pelke joins us along with renowned activist and "Dead Man Walking" author Sister Helen Prejean to discuss the latest victory for the movement against the death penalty. On Monday, the state of Indiana freed Paula Cooper, the Indiana woman convicted for the 1985 murder of Pelke’s grandmother, elderly Bible school teacher Ruth Pelke, in Gary, Indiana. At the time, Cooper became the youngest person on death row. She had been the victim of child abuse and had attended 10 different schools by the time of her arrest. Her case galvanized human rights activists and death penalty opponents around the world, including Bill Pelke himself. Partnering with Sister Helen, he campaigned against the death penalty and pleaded for Cooper to be granted clemency. "I became convinced beyond a shadow of a doubt that my grandmother would have been appalled by the fact that this girl was on death row," Pelke recalls. "I was convinced she would have had love for Paula Cooper and her family. I felt she wanted some of my family to have that same sort of love and compassion." Sister Helen, whose best-selling book "Dead Man Walking" was turned into the Academy Award-winning film starring Susan Sarandon and Sean Penn, is the founder of Survive, a victims’ advocacy group in New Orleans. She continues to counsel not only inmates on death row, but also the families of murder victims. "Forgiveness is not first and foremost what you do for the one who’s hurt you to lift their burden," Sister Helen says. "It’s a way of saving your own life, a way of preserving wholeness, as we can see in Bill Pelke."

    Watch Part 2 of Interview with Sister Helen Prejean

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