The United States and Cuba are taking the next step in restoring diplomatic relations with each other as Secretary of State John Kerry arrived in Havana Friday to attend a ceremony marking the reopening of the U.S. Embassy there. This comes after former Cuban President Fidel Castro wrote in a newspaper column that the U.S. owes the island country "millions of dollars" as reparations for its decades-long embargo. "The question is what kind of change this represents,” says former Cuban diplomat Carlos Alzugaray Treto. "Is this only a change of tactics to continue trying to overthrow the Cuban government by different means? I call it the Roberta Flack strategy—’killing me softly with your song.’ On the other hand, maybe what we are seeing is an important change of strategy." We also speak with Peter Kornbluh, director of the Cuba Documentation Project at the National Security Archive at George Washington University and co-author of "Back Channel to Cuba: The Hidden History of Negotiations Between Washington and Havana."
Britain has announced plans to challenge Ecuador’s decision to provide asylum to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange in its London embassy, saying the $18 million price tag for policing the Ecuadorean Embassy during Assange’s residency is "unacceptable" to the British taxpayer. In response, Ecuador’s Foreign Ministry released a statement saying it is saddened Assange’s confinement has lasted so long, adding that its government had offered "31 times" to facilitate an "open judicial process" in Sweden. This comes just a day after Swedish prosecutors dropped part of their sexual assault inquiry against Assange, but the most serious part of the probe remains in place even though he has never been formally charged. Assange has been holed up in the Ecuadorean Embassy in London for three years, where he’s received political asylum. He fears he will be extradited to the United States to face prosecution for his role at WikiLeaks if he leaves the embassy. We are joined by Carey Shenkman, a First Amendment and human rights lawyer. He, along with Michael Ratner and the Center for Constitutional Rights, is representing WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.
U.S. Army whistleblower Chelsea Manning could face punishment of indefinite solitary confinement for having an expired tube of toothpaste, an issue of Vanity Fair in which transgender celebrity Caitlyn Jenner describes her new life living openly as a woman, the U.S. Senate report on torture and other "prohibited property" in her cell at the military prison at Fort Leavenworth. Manning is serving a 35-year sentence for leaking U.S. government cables to WikiLeaks. On Thursday, an Army spokesperson said it is committed to "a fair and equitable process" in Manning’s case, which is now pending before a disciplinary board.
Full episodes of Democracy Now! can be viewed at the link: https://freespeech.org/collection/democracy-now.