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Recent turmoil in Mali is adding urgency to efforts to preserve the priceless scholarship contained within the nation's ancient manuscripts. The 2012 takeover of parts of the country by insurgents led to some being destroyed. Many manuscripts were successfully hidden. Now the U.S. based Malian Manuscripts Foundation wants to help preserve them for generations to come. Thank you to Michael Covitt of the Malian Manuscript Foundation and Sabatier Film Group for providing us with the footage from the documentary "333", which he also produced. For more information on that: The music for the documentary was produced by the remarkable... Continue reading
As the winter bites on America's East Coast, for the third January running I've been lucky enough to head West….to California's Silicon Valley where, on Friday, I'll be producing a Google + Hangout with President Barack Obama. It's become something of a tradition for Google to secure an interview with the President in the immediate aftermath of the State of the Union Address. And I'm delighted to say it's become something of a tradition for me to head here to help the Google team produce the broadcast. Back in 2012, we presented "Your Interview with the President", which gave a... Continue reading
The execution of the North Korean leader's uncle is the most significant development on the peninsula since Kim Jong Un took power in 2012. The language of the Korean News Agency, KCNA's statement about Jang Song Thaek's conviction and execution is really Shakespearean in character. Definitely worth a read: I asked one of America's leading experts on the DPRK Professor Stephen Haggard, the Director of the Korea-Pacific Program at the University of California, San Diego to provide some expert analysis. This interview is appearing on our flagship news show FSN Reports, but the full interview is available here. Fascinating... Continue reading
Facing a long list of deadlines and obligations, the US Senate is scrambling to finish the bill that sets funding and policy for the military before the end of the year. This week, lawmakers are debating controversial amendments on military sexual assault, economic sanctions on Iran and the Guantanamo Bay prison. But some lawmakers and independent watchdogs are urging a closer look at the underlying bill, in which the Senators ignore the budget caps they themselves set two years ago. On Capitol Hill, Alice Ollstein reports. In an environment of fiscal austerity, in which social safety net programs like food... Continue reading
Just a few blocks from Capitol Hill, a conservative civil liberties group petitioned a federal judge Monday to put a halt to the domestic spying activities of the US government, saying the suspicion-less collection of phone and Internet communications violates the Constitution. Justice Department lawyers present at the hearing argued that the Court doesn’t have the right to such matters of national security and surveillance, saying only the US Supreme Court could do so. That high court announced today, without explanation, that it’s rejecting a legal challenge to the NSA’s programs. But judges and advocates alike say the issue will... Continue reading
New data on sexual assault in the military shows a nearly 50 percent increase of sexual assault complaints over this past year, with 3,553 instances of “rape, sodomy and other unwanted sexual contact.” That number does not include cases of sexual harassment. In testimony before a congressional panel on Thursday, Pentagon leaders said the report shows signs of improvement, with more assault survivors feeling comfortable reporting crimes and seeking justice. But a number of military rape survivors and US Senators continue to call for major changes to the military justice system, and will try to attach reforms during the upcoming... Continue reading
Even an off-year election season can produce major, influential changes in national politics, and Tuesday night’s races shook up governors’ mansions, city halls and local policies across the country. Republican Governor Chris Christie won his reelection by a landslide in New Jersey, while women and voters of color carried establishment Democrat Terry McAuliffe to victory in Virginia. Both men had the backing of big business’ big money. But the election brought many progressive victories as well, including the election of the first Democratic mayor of New York City in more than two decades, the first East Coast city to legalize... Continue reading
After a historic 61 to 30 vote Monday night to advance legislation to protect LGBT rights in the workplace, the US Senate began debating the Employment Non-Discrimination Act. It’s the first time the bill has made it to the Senate floor in 17 years, which many members of Congress praised as a sign of movement toward a more equal society. But some lawmakers and civil rights advocates are concerned about amendments currently up for consideration, which would make more organizations exempt from the bill and give them license to fire or refuse to hire someone because they are gay or... Continue reading
In the wake of still more revelations about the scope and power of the US government’s spying programs, including surveillance of international banks and the United Nations, competing bills are making their way through Congress to institute reforms. The USA Freedom Act, which would end the bulk collection of domestic phone records among other provisions, has the backing of many pro-privacy groups. But several powerful senators are backing a different bill, which activists say would codify, not curtail, the mass surveillance practices. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------- In multi-hour closed door meeting this week, the Senate Judiciary Committee passed the “FISA Improvements Act” 11... Continue reading
Unless Congress steps in, a deep cut to the food stamp program will go into effect, reducing benefits for millions of low-income Americans and their children. The nearly $11 billion dollar reduction is triggered by the expiration of the 2009 stimulus bill, which gave a boost to families struggling during the so-called Great Recession. Some progressive lawmakers are pushing an 11th-hour bill to undo the impending cuts, saying they would increase hunger in America and hurt a still shaky economy. But the measure isn’t likely to make it through before Friday’s deadline, and even deeper cuts could be on the... Continue reading
At a House hearing Wednesday on the troubled roll-out of the Affordable Care Act, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius personally apologized for the problems millions of Americans have had in purchasing insurance plans on the newly set up federal exchanges. Sebelius assured committee members that many experts are working on the website, which she expects to be much improved by the end of November. But Republican lawmakers were not soothed, and continued to demand the now three-year-old health care reform law be delayed or repealed. At Wednesday’s hearing, Republican members of the Energy and Commerce Committee aggressively... Continue reading
For the first time ever, survivors of drones strikes came to Washington today to testify before Congress about the impact the lethal technology has had on their families and their communities. Pakistani schoolteacher Rafiq ur Rehman told a House briefing, which only 5 members of Congress attended, that the strike that killed his mother and wounded his children last year has stirred anti-American anger in the region, and called for the practice to end. The event came on the heels of several major investigations by the United Nations and independent human rights groups that found that the drone strikes have... Continue reading
“They say wiretap, we say fight back!” Thousands of activists marched through the streets of DC this weekend to protest the powerful surveillance system used by the US government to collect the phone calls and emails of American citizens and foreign nationals. Holding banners reading “Stop Watching Us,” the demonstrators called on Congress and the courts to quickly pass reforms that bring the surveillance programs in line with constitutional protections against suspicionless searches DRAKE: The sovereignty of individuals cannot be breached. That’s fundamental. If the State decides to say, ‘I’m going to violate your rights in order to make you... Continue reading
In a speech at the White House today, President Obama called on Congress to pass a long-delayed comprehensive immigration reform law, creating a path to citizenship for some of the estimated 11 million undocumented people currently living in the US. He touted the proposed reform—which passed the Senate this summer but stalled in the House—as politically popular, and a benefit to both the economy and national security. But many undocumented immigrants and their supporters across the country are protesting the President, for calling for immigration reform while at the same time nearing a record two million deportations during his time... Continue reading
Two major reports on the United States’ use of drones in Pakistan and Yemen contradict claims that the government is following international law and protecting civilian life. The reports, from Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, come just days before the United Nations discusses two reports of its own criticizing the lethal drone strikes and calling for more transparency. As Pakistan’s Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif meets with President Obama this week to discuss the nations’ future relationship, the human rights groups’ reports fault both governments for failing to protect human life and compensate the families of those killed. ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- President... Continue reading
A windowless courtroom at the DC Circuit Court of Appeals was packed Friday with lawyers, law students and activists, as Oakland-based attorney Jon Eisenburg argued on behalf of a group of Guantanamo Bay detainees whose hunger strike has been met with daily, non-consensual force-feedings. EISENBERG: My belief is that force-feeding is unethical, it’s inhumane, it’s a violation of international law and a violation of medical ethics. But the case mostly focused on jurisdiction, as lower courts have ruled, and the government continued to argue, that the detainees have no legal standing as prisoners of war to question the force-feedings or... Continue reading
Competing proposals to end the government shutdown and prevent a default on the nation’s debt were the subject of marathon closed-door meetings Tuesday on Capitol Hill. A plan from the Senate crafted Monday night by Republican and Democratic party leaders met criticism from the upper chambers far-right members, who think it didn’t make enough changes to Affordable Care Act, and from progressive members like Vermont Independent Bernie Sanders. SANDERS: We have reached an agreement which is not a particularly good agreement. It only extends the budget for another 3 and a half months, which is crazy in my mind, and... Continue reading
Speaker of the House John Boehner announced Thursday that he’s offering to raise the country’s debt ceiling for 6 weeks, in a bid to overcome at least one issue causing gridlock in Washington. So far, Republicans are making no movement on the now 10-day-long government shutdown. And as furloughed federal workers and their supporters rallied outside the US Capitol to protest the failure to fund the government, two major congressional hearings examined the potential domestic and global impacts of refusing to end the shutdown and raise the debt ceiling. Our correspondent Alice Ollstein has more. The crowd gathered in the... Continue reading
It’s Day 9 of a government shutdown, and pressure is increasing on lawmakers to sit down together and hammer out a deal. President Obama hosted House Democrats to the White House this afternoon to discuss a path forward on reopening the government and averting an upcoming collision with the debt ceiling. The President plans to host House Republicans and all members of the Senate later this week. Republican and Democratic leaders also met briefly on Capitol Hill today for the first time since the government ran out of funding last week. House Speaker John Boehner refused to comment on what... Continue reading
Senator Bernie Sanders speaking outside the Supreme Court. Photo by Alice Ollstein The Supreme Court of the United States heard a blockbuster case Tuesday morning that analysts are calling "the next Citizens United," because of its potential to strip away some of the few remaining limits on big money in politics. In McCutcheon versus the Federal Election Commission, a wealthy donor and the Republican National Committee are challenging the limit of 123 thousand 2 hundred dollars that an individual can give to various candidates during a 2 year election cycle. They claim the limit is a restriction on free speech... Continue reading
Photo by Alice Ollstein Tomorrow marks a week since parts of the US government shut down and there are few signs of progress on a deal between House Republicans and Senate Democrats to get the wheels of government moving again. The Treasury Department says unless the debt ceiling is raised within the next ten days, the economy will take another blow....with the US unable to meet its international obligations or defend its credit-worthyness.But some elements of the US government are functioning at full steam: ahead of a rally Tuesday for immigration reform, some activists and lawmakers says immigration detentions and... Continue reading
In Washington, the fourth day of the government shutdown brought few signs of progress, with House Republicans continuing to push bills to start just some federal programs, and Senate Democrats repeating their demand for a full funding bill with no extra policies tacked on. Lawmakers and privacy advocates are also turning their attention to how the shutdown is impacting the federal intelligence community and its controversial surveillance programs. From Capitol Hill, Alice Ollstein reports. CLICK HERE TO HEAR THE FULL REPORT CHANTING: “We want to work now!” Tempers flared on Capitol Hill on Friday as furloughed workers and Congressional leaders... Continue reading
Our Wall Street correspondent Liling Tan reports for CCTV's BizAsia America. Continue reading
My report from DSEI 2013 - a vast arms fair in London. Olly Barratt - UK correspondent Continue reading
Dan Whitehead with this report from Rotterdam. Is melting ice going to revolutionise the way consumer goods can get to Europe from China? Continue reading