DemocracyNow: Greta Thunberg, Frances Crowe and a Passing of the Torch

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By Amy Goodman & Denis Moynihan

Greta Thunberg, a 16-year-old Swedish climate activist, sailed into New York Harbor Wednesday after an occasionally harrowing, two-week trans-Atlantic voyage. Greta walks the walk, living her life with as small a carbon footprint as she can. She decided to forgo flying as part of that commitment, so, in order to make it from Europe to North America, she sailed on a zero-emissions racing yacht.

The day before Greta’s arrival, on Tuesday, another activist ended a remarkable voyage. Frances Crowe, a lifelong peace activist, died at home in Western Massachusetts, surrounded by her family, at the age of 100. Frances was a firebrand, a nonviolent warrior for justice, arrested countless times protesting war, nuclear weapons, nuclear power plants and more.

The departure of one elder activist on the eve of the arrival of one so young symbolizes, bittersweetly, the passing of a torch.

Frances was born just months after World War I ended. “My mother told me she took me to my first march when the soldiers came home,” she wrote in “Finding My Radical Soul,” her memoir. “I was only a baby, but I have always had the feeling that war has defined my life.”

Her husband, Tom, was a medical doctor. Speaking on the “Democracy Now!” news hour in 2005, she described a pivotal moment in her life, Aug. 6, 1945, the day the United States dropped an atomic bomb on Hiroshima: “I was a bride. My husband was in the Medical Corps in the Army. He had told me a few weeks before that he had heard rumors that we were developing this incredible weapon. He was at sea when we dropped the bomb, but I was alone in our apartment in New Orleans. When I heard it on the radio, I unplugged the iron, left the place mat that I was ironing and went out looking for a peace center in the streets of New Orleans.”

From that day, at the age of 26, until she died, Frances Crowe never relented in her pursuit of peace and justice. She was a war tax resister, refusing to pay taxes to support the sprawling Pentagon budget. She opposed South African apartheid and U.S. intervention in Central America in the 1980s and in Iraq and Afghanistan in the 2000s. She climbed fences into the Seneca Army Depot, and was arrested for pouring her own blood on a newly built Trident nuclear submarine just before it was launched in Connecticut.

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Wednesday, at Manhattan’s North Cove Marina, a vessel of a different kind arrived.

Hundreds of young climate activists cheered as Greta disembarked, standing on terra firma for the first time in two weeks. “The ground is still shaking for me,” she said as she opened her press conference.

“The climate is an ecological crisis, a global crisis, the biggest crisis humanity has ever faced,” she said. “If we don’t manage to cooperate, to work together despite our differences, then we will fail. … Let’s not wait any longer. Let’s do it now.”

We first met Greta at the U.N. climate change summit in Katowice, Poland, last December. She explained then on “Democracy Now!” that, because of her Asperger’s, “I work a bit different. I see things in black and white. I guess I saw the world from a different perspective.”

She focused intently on the worsening climate crisis, even suffering debilitating depression around the age of 11. “I got out of that depression by promising myself that I’m going to do everything I can to change things,” she said Wednesday.

That determination led her to launch a school strike for the climate, skipping school every Friday to stand in front of the Swedish parliament, demanding action to prevent catastrophic climate change. Her protest spread, quickly going global. Hundreds of thousands of schoolchildren around the globe have participated in their own, local school strikes for the climate.

This Friday, Greta will join kids in New York at their monthly strike outside the United Nations. A global strike for the climate, expected to be one of the largest global protests in history, will take place on Sept. 20. After that, Greta will make her way, using “a lot of trains, buses and probably even sailing,” she
explained, to the next U.N. climate change summit in Santiago, Chile, in December.

Greta’s work as an activist is just beginning. She is a living example of what Frances Crowe said not long ago: “There is something else also to life, the joy of struggle, that not enough people have tasted. The joy of community, and the joy of cooperation, instead of competition; these are the values that I want to perpetuate and talk about to young people.”

Frances Crowe, rest in power. Greta Thunberg, long may you carry the torch.

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Dark Money: Jane Mayer on How the Koch Bros. & Billionaire Allies Funded the Rise of the Far Right (David Koch crosses under at age 79.)

Democrats and Republicans are expected to spend about $1 billion getting their 2016 nominee elected. There’s a third group that will spend almost as much. It’s not a political party, and it doesn’t have any candidates. It’s the right-wing political network backed by the billionaire Koch brothers, Charles and David Koch, expected to spend nearly $900 million in 2016. The Kochs’ 2016 plans come as part of an effort to funnel hundreds of millions of dollars to conservative candidates and causes over the last four decades. The story of the Koch brothers and an allied group of billionaire donors is told in a new book by New Yorker reporter Jane Mayer, “Dark Money: The Hidden History of the Billionaires Behind the Rise of the Radical Right.” Mayer traces how the Kochs and other billionaires have leveraged their business empires to shape the political system in the mold of their right-wing agenda.

President and First Lady Pose with Infant Orphaned in El Paso Massacre

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New details have emerged about Wednesday’s visit to El Paso by the president and first lady Melania Trump. Reporters were barred from following the Trumps as they toured the University Medical Center of El Paso, where victims of Saturday’s mass shooting were treated. None of the eight survivors who were still receiving treatment agreed to meet with the president. But a cellphone video given to local station KDBCshows the president smiling and laughing with medical workers as he boasts about the size of a crowd at a Trump campaign rally in El Paso in February, while disparaging a competing campaign rally held by Beto O’Rourke.

President Donald Trump: “That was some — that was some crowd. And we had twice the number outside. And then you had this crazy Beto. Beto had like 400 people, in a parking lot.”

CNN reports a hospital official said President Trump showed an “absence of empathy” during the visit. On Thursday, Melania Trump’s Twitter account published a photo from the trip showing the first lady holding a 2-month-old infant who was orphaned when both her parents were gunned down Saturday. In the photo, President Trump stands next to his wife, flashing a “thumbs up” sign. Both the president and first lady are grinning widely. Relatives brought the child back to the hospital for the Trumps’ visit. The child’s parents, Jordan and Andre Anchondo, died as they shielded their baby from the alleged white nationalist shooter whose online manifesto — published moments before the assault — echoed President Trump’s rhetoric about an “invasion” of immigrants. The baby was grazed by a bullet and was treated for broken fingers.

Meet The Alabama Doctor Who Could Face 99 Years In Prison For Providing Abortions Under New Law

Alabama Governor Kay Ivey signed the nation’s most restrictive abortion ban into law on Wednesday, effectively banning the procedure except in cases where a pregnant person’s life is at serious risk. The law does not make exceptions in cases of rape or incest and doctors could face 99 years in prison for performing abortions. We speak with Dr. Yashica Robinson, the medical director of the Alabama Women’s Center for Reproductive Alternatives, one of only three clinics left in the state that offer patients abortion services. She is one of only two abortion providers living and working in Alabama. Under the new Alabama law, she could spend the rest of her life in prison for doing her job.

Pompeo to Discuss Iranian “Threats” in Europe as U.S. Ramps Up Military Presence

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Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has canceled a visit to Moscow today and is instead heading to Brussels to meet with European leaders to discuss “recent threatening actions and statements” from Iran, according to the State Department. The nature of the threats has not been specified but the U.S. announced it is sending additional bombers and an aircraft carrier to the Persian Gulf to act as a “deterrent.” The European Union reiterated today its continued support for the Iran Nuclear Deal in the face of mounting tensions with the U.S.

Meanwhile, Iran’s president Hassan Rouhani is calling for internal unity as the nation faces sanctions that could have worse consequences than war with Iraq in the 1980s and that he said amount to “a war unprecedented in the history of our Islamic revolution.”

Explosive Investigation Uncovers Greed & Infighting at NRA, Shattering “Myth” of the Group’s Power

Is the National Rifle Association imploding? As the nation grieves over another deadly school shooting, we turn to look at how internal turmoil inside the NRA threatens the future of the gun lobbying group. A major new report published by The Trace in partnership with The New Yorker finds that while the NRA has blamed its recent financial woes on left-wing attacks on the Second Amendment, the real damage to the organization comes from within. Chief among the NRA’s problems is its three-decade-old relationship with Oklahoma-based public relations firm Ackerman McQueen. The firm, which is behind the NRA’s imaging, messaging and most of its initiatives, was paid more than $40 million dollars in 2017. We speak to Mike Spies, staff writer at The Trace.

We Can’t Back People Who Hate Our Kids: Kentucky & Minnesota Teachers of Year Boycott Trump Meeting

MAY 03, 2019
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We speak with two award-winning teachers who are trying to teach Trump a lesson. On Monday, Jessica Dueñas, the 2019 Kentucky Teacher of the Year, and Kelly Holstine, the 2018 Minnesota Teacher of the Year, boycotted a White House ceremony honoring them and other state winners of the award in protest of the Trump administration’s education policies. But Dueñas and Holstine skipped the event to register their opposition to Trump’s policies on immigration, education and LGBTQrights, saying many of the White House policies directly impact their immigrant and refugee students.