Friday, February 21, 2014

  • Turning a Wedding Into a Funeral: U.S. Drone Strike in Yemen Killed as Many as 12 Civilians


    Human Rights Watch has revealed as many as 12 civilians were killed in December when a U.S. drone targeted vehicles that were part of a wedding procession going toward the groom’s village outside the central Yemeni city of Rad’a. According to HRW, "some, if not all those killed and wounded were civilians" and not members of the armed group al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula as U.S. and Yemeni government officials initially claimed. The report concluded that the attack killed 12 men, between the ages of 20 and 65, and wounded 15 others. It cites accounts from survivors, relatives of the dead, local officials and news media reports. We speak to Human Rights Watch researcher Letta Tayler, who wrote the report, "A Wedding That Became a Funeral: US Drone Attack on Marriage Procession in Yemen," and Jeremy Scahill, co-founder of the, a new digital magazine published by First Look Media. He is the producer and writer of the documentary film, "Dirty Wars: The World is a Battlefield," which is nominated for an Academy Award.

  • Silencing the Scientist: Tyrone Hayes on Being Targeted by Herbicide Firm Syngenta


    We speak with scientist Tyrone Hayes of the University of California, Berkeley, who discovered a widely used herbicide may have harmful effects on the endocrine system. But when he tried to publish the results, the chemical’s manufacturer launched a campaign to discredit his work. Hayes was first hired in 1997 by a company, which later became agribusiness giant Syngenta, to study their product, atrazine, a pesticide that is applied to more than half the corn crops in the United States, and widely used on golf courses and Christmas tree farms. When Hayes found results Syngenta did not expect — that atrazine causes sexual abnormalities in frogs, and could cause the same problems for humans — it refused to allow him to publish his findings. A new article in The New Yorker magazine uses court documents from a class action lawsuit against Syngenta to show how it sought to smear Hayes’ reputation and prevent the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency from banning the profitable chemical, which is already banned by the European Union.

  • The Shadow Lobbying Complex: How Corporations Are Hiding Vast Influence Peddling Efforts


    A new exposé in The Nation magazine reveals that much of the lobbying money spent on shaping policy in Washington is going unreported. For the third straight year, the official amount spent by lobbyists has declined, and the number of registered lobbyists is the lowest it’s been in more than a decade. But these numbers are misleading, says reporter Lee Fang, author of the "The Shadow Lobbying Complex: On paper, influence peddling has declined. In reality, it has gone underground."

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    Juan González on How Puerto Rico’s Economic "Death Spiral" is Tied to Legacy of Colonialism
    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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