Yemen is facing political collapse following the mass resignations of President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi, his prime minister and entire cabinet. Thursday’s exodus came just hours after Shia Houthi rebels stormed the presidential compound in the capital city of Sana’a. Hadi said he could not continue in office after Houthis allegedly broke a peace deal to retreat from key positions in return for increased political power. The Houthis appear to have major backing from longtime former president Ali Abdullah Saleh, who was ousted in a popular uprising in 2011. The Obama administration had praised the Yemeni government as being a model for "successful" counterterrorism partnerships, but on Thursday the United States announced it was pulling more staff out of its embassy in Yemen. Some experts warn the developments in Yemen could result in civil war and help al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) gain more power. Meanwhile, Oxfam is warning more than half of Yemen’s population needs aid, and a humanitarian crisis of extreme proportions is at risk of unfolding in the country if instability continues. We are joined by Iona Craig, a journalist who was based in Sana’a for four years as the Yemen correspondent for The Times of London.
King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz of Saudi Arabia has died at the age of 90. Abdullah was one of the world’s most powerful men and a key U.S. ally in the region, controlling a fifth of the known global petroleum reserves. In a statement, President Obama praised Abdullah "as a force for stability and security in the Middle East and beyond." Many analysts accused Abdullah of turning the uprising in Syria into a proxy war with Iran. In 2010, WikiLeaks published U.S. diplomatic cables which identified Saudi Arabia as the world’s largest source of funds for Islamist militant groups. Abdullah also sent tanks to help squash pro-democracy uprisings in neighboring Bahrain. Saudi Arabia recently came under criticism for its treatment of imprisoned blogger Raif Badawi, who was sentenced to 10 years in prison and 1,000 lashes to be carried out at a rate of 50 per week for charges including insulting Islam. Abdullah’s half-brother, Crown Prince Salman, has now assumed the throne. We are joined by Toby Jones, director of Middle Eastern studies at Rutgers University and the author of "Desert Kingdom: How Oil and Water Forged Modern Saudi Arabia."
The Justice Department has reportedly concluded it will not bring civil rights charges against police officer Darren Wilson for shooting unarmed African-American teenager Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. On Wednesday, The New York Times reported Attorney General Eric Holder will have the final say, but will almost certainly side with investigators who are recommending no charges. A wider Justice Department probe into Ferguson police over reports of racial profiling in traffic stops and use of excessive force remains underway. Meanwhile, a judge has rejected an NAACP Legal Defense Fund request for a new grand jury to consider criminal charges against Wilson. The group raised concerns over the actions of prosecutor Bob McCulloch, including his decision to let a witness provide false testimony. All this comes as President Obama made just one mention of Ferguson in his State of the Union address Tuesday, prompting activists to release their own video on the State of the Black Union. We are joined by Vincent Warren, executive director of the Center for Constitutional Rights.
A journalist and activist accused of working with Anonymous has been given a five-year prison term and ordered to pay nearly $900,000 in restitution and fines. Barrett Brown was sentenced on Thursday after pleading guilty last year to charges of transmitting threats, accessory to a cyber-attack, and obstruction of justice. Supporters say Brown has been unfairly targeted for investigating the highly secretive world of private intelligence and military contractors. After his sentencing on Thursday, Brown released a satirical statement that read in part: "Good news! — The U.S. government decided today that because I did such a good job investigating the cyber-industrial complex, they’re now going to send me to investigate the prison-industrial complex." We discuss Brown’s case with Kevin Gallagher, a writer, activist and systems administrator who heads the Free Barrett Brown support network. He says that the public should not believe what the government says about Brown.
A major U.S. Supreme Court decision has upheld the right of federal employees to become whistleblowers. The case centers on former Transportation Security Administration Federal Air Marshal Robert MacLean. In July 2003, MacLean revealed to an MSNBC reporter that the Department of Homeland Security had decided to stop assigning air marshals to certain long-distance flights in order to save money, despite warnings of a potential plot to hijack U.S. airplanes. MSNBC’s report on the story sparked outcry, and the policy was quickly reversed. MacLean was fired three years later after admitting to being the story’s source. He filed a lawsuit over his dismissal, sparking a multi-year legal battle that ended earlier this week when the Supreme Court ruled on his behalf in a 7-to-2 decision. At issue was whether MacLean’s actions could be protected by the U.S. Whistleblower Protection Act, a law that protects employees if a disclosure exposes unlawful conduct, gross mismanagement or threats to public safety. We speak to Robert MacLean and attorney Neal Katyal, who argued MacLean’s case before the Supreme Court. Katyal is the former acting solicitor general of the United States.
Full episodes of Democracy Now! can be viewed at the link: https://freespeech.org/collection/democracy-now.
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