Democracy Now! - June 16, 2015

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Democracy Now! - June 16, 2015

Al-Qaeda in Yemen has announced its leader, Nasser al-Wuhayshi, has been killed in a U.S. bombing, likely a CIAdrone strike. Al-Wuhayshi is a former associate of Osama bin Laden who became head of AQAP in 2009. Meanwhile, a delegation of Houthi rebels has arrived in Geneva for the second day of U.N.-backed peace talks. It has been nearly three months since Saudi Arabia launched its offensive against the Houthis in Yemen. On Monday, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called for a two-week humanitarian ceasefire to coincide with the start of the holy month of Ramadan. The United Nations recently said 20 million people, 78 percent of the population, need urgent humanitarian aid in Yemen. We are joined by Democracy Now! correspondent Sharif Abdel Kouddous, reporting from the capital Sana’a, and by Joe Lauria, U.N. correspondent for The Wall Street Journal.

The U.S. Navy is set to begin a major war exercise in the Gulf of Alaska amid protests from local communities concerned about environmental damage. The Navy is reportedly unleashing thousands of sailors, soldiers, airmen, marines and Coast Guard members along with several Navy destroyers, hundreds of aircrafts, untold weaponry and a submarine for the naval exercises. The Gulf of Alaska is one of the most pristine places left on Earth; the region includes critical habitat for all five wild Alaskan salmon species and 377 other species of marine life. The Navy’s planned live bombing runs will entail the detonation of tens of thousands of pounds of toxic munitions, as well as the use of active sonar in fisheries. The Navy has conducted war games in the Gulf of Alaska, on and off, for the last 30 years, but these new exercises are the largest by far. They come at a time when scientists are increasingly worried about climate change causing Arctic melting. Meanwhile, the unprecedented melting has created an opportunity for the military to expand its operations into previously inaccessible terrain. We are joined by Dahr Jamail, staff reporter at Truthout, whose latest piece is "Destroying What Remains: How the US Navy Plans to War Game the Arctic."

The oil giant Shell is on its way to the Arctic, but not before a final showdown with environmental activists in kayaks. On Tuesday, dozens of "kayaktivists" were arrested after paddling up to a Shell drilling rig and preventing it from leaving the Port of Seattle. Several dozen supporters lined up behind them. The activists set off at 4 a.m. after learning of Shell’s plans to leave later that morning. Following a brief standoff, Shell’s Polar Pioneer was able to depart after the Coast Guard pulled the activists from the water. Monday’s action marked the latest in a series of protests since Shell arrived in Seattle last month. Shell is stationing its vessels in the Puget Sound while it drills for oil in pristine and highly remote waters in the Chukchi Sea off the coast of Alaska. Environmentalists warn Arctic drilling will threaten wildlife and worsen climate change. The Obama administration has tentatively approved Shell’s plans to begin oil extraction off the Alaskan coast this summer. We are joined by John Hocevar, oceans campaign director of Greenpeace. He was one of the activists, or "kayaktivists," detained by the Coast Guard during Monday’s action against Shell oil drilling in the Arctic.

While kayaktivists took to the water in Seattle to protest Shell’s plans to drill in the Arctic, the culture jamming group The Yes Men staged a different kind of anti-Shell protest last week. They took to the streets of New York posing as representatives of Shell. They handed out free shaved ice cones which they claimed were "remnants of the last icebergs of the North Pole." The action took place as the anti-corporate pranksters launched their third film, "The Yes Men Are Revolting," which looks at the group’s many actions around climate change. The Yes Men’s Andy Bichlbaum and Mike Bonanno join us to discuss the film and their ongoing brand of signature anti-corporate pranksterism.

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