As the school year begins, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio is launching his signature initiative of full-day universal prekindergarten at public schools. More than 50,000 children have already enrolled and thousands of additional teachers have been hired. Democracy Now! co-host and New York Daily News columnist Juan González discusses how the program could transform public education in New York City, and potentially, nationwide.
The United States and NATO are openly accusing Russia of sending combat forces into Ukraine as tensions continue to mount. According to the United Nations, nearly 2,600 people have been killed in eastern Ukraine since April in fighting between Ukrainian forces and separatist rebels sympathetic to Russia. On Thursday, at least 15 civilians were killed when Ukrainian forces shelled the rebel-held city of Donetsk. Meanwhile, a new Human Rights Watch report accuses the rebels of arbitrarily detaining civilians and subjecting them to torture, degrading treatment, and forced labor. On Thursday,NATO released satellite images that it says show Russian artillery, vehicles and troops in and around eastern Ukraine. We are joined from London by the Guardian’s Jonathan Steele, the organization’s former Moscow correspondent and author of many books, including "Eternal Russia: Yeltsin, Gorbachev, and the Mirage of Democracy."
President Obama is sending Secretary of State John Kerry to the Middle East to help build a regional coalition against the Islamic State, or ISIS, the militant group that has seized large parts of Iraq and Syria. “We don’t have a strategy yet,” Obama admitted. We speak to journalist Jonathan Steele, author of “Defeat: Losing Iraq and the Future of the Middle East.” Steele says that at this point, he believes ISIS represents a “marginal threat” on Western interests and that airstrikes will be counterproductive.
Immigrants and their allies held protests in more than a dozen cities Thursday to mark what they called the National Day to Fight for Families. Calling on President Obama to take executive action and stem his record level of deportations, about 145 people were arrested in front of the White House after laying red carnations over photos of deported loved ones. The protest came as President Obama called on Congress yet again to help address immigration reform, but suggested he would take executive action if it is the only way to address the situation. We speak to Rep. Luis Gutiérrez (D-Illinois), chair of the Immigration Taskforce of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus.
President Obama has ordered a White House-led review of federal programs that fund and distribute military equipment to state and local police. Obama cited concern at how such equipment was used during the recent unrest in Ferguson, Missouri, following the police killing of Michael Brown. One of the BearCat armored trucks used during protests there was paid for with $360,000 in Homeland Security grants. According to Pentagon data published by The New York Times, police departments have received tens of thousands of machine guns during the Obama administration, along with nearly 200,000 ammunition magazines; thousands of pieces of camouflage and night-vision equipment; and hundreds of silencers, armored cars and aircraft. Much of the equipment is used by police SWATteams for what amount to paramilitary raids on people’s homes. A new report by the American Civil Liberties Union examines more than 800 of these raids and found only 7 percent were for genuine emergencies. Nearly 80 percent were for used for ordinary law enforcement purposes like serving search warrants on people’s homes. We are joined by Kara Dansky, a senior counsel for the ACLU and author of its new report, "The War Comes Home: The Excessive Militarization of American Policing."
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