Today we look back at 2012. In the most expensive election in U.S. history, President Barack Obama defeated Mitt Romney, forcing the Republicans to reconsider their policies, among others, around women and immigrants. While the major party presidential candidates did not take on climate change in any of their debates, it was a year of extreme weather — from the melting of the Arctic to Superstorm Sandy, to the massive typhoon in the Philippines. 2012 will also be remembered for a series of mass shootings: from Aurora, Colorado, to the Sikh temple in Wisconsin, to the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. The shooting death of the unarmed teenager Trayvon Martin in Florida sparked national protests, after police initially refused to arrest the gunman, George Zimmerman. The U.S. war in Afghanistan entered its 12th year, while Obama continues to expand his secret drone wars. [includes rush transcript]
This transcript is available free of charge. However, donations help us provide closed captioning for the deaf and hard of hearing on our TV broadcast.
AMY GOODMAN: Today we look back at 2012. In the most expensive election in U.S. history, President Obama defeated Mitt Romney, forcing the Republicans to reconsider their policies, among others, around women and immigrants. While the major-party presidential candidates did not take on fossil-fueled climate change in any of their debates, it was a year of extreme weather, from the melting of the Arctic to Superstorm Sandy, to the massive typhoon in the Philippines. 2012 will also be remembered for a series of mass shootings: from Aurora, Colorado, to the Sikh temple in Wisconsin, to the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. The shooting death of the unarmed teenager Trayvon Martin in Florida sparked national protests, after police initially refused to arrest the gunman, George Zimmerman. The U.S. war in Afghanistan entered its 12th year, while Obama continues to expand his secret drone wars. We spend the hour today looking back at the moments and movements that shaped 2012.
AMY GOODMAN: Democratic Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords of Arizona has announced she will step down this week from Congress. Giffords was shot in the head last year in a shooting spree that left six people dead in Tucson.
REP. GABRIELLE GIFFORDS: Thank you for your prayers and for giving me time to recover. I have more work to do on my recovery. So, to do what is best for Arizona, I will step down this week.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Iraqis are voicing outrage over the sentencing of the last of the U.S. marines charged in the 2005 Haditha massacre of 24 Iraqi civilians. On Tuesday, Staff Sergeant Frank Wuterich received no jail time.
AWIS FAHMI: [translated] I was expecting that the American courts would sentence this person to life in prison. He should appear and confess in front of the whole world that he committed this crime, so that America could show itself as democratic and fair.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: In a dramatic scene yesterday on Capitol Hill, several Democrats walked out of a congressional hearing on the Obama administration’s contraception rule. Before walking out, Democratic Representative Carolyn Maloney of New York criticized the panel at the hearing, which was exclusively male.
REP. CAROLYN MALONEY: What I want to know is: Where are the women? When I look at this panel, I don’t see one single woman representing the tens of millions of women across the country who want and need insurance coverage for basic preventive healthcare services, including family planning. Where are the women?
AMY GOODMAN: We’re joined by Sandra Fluke, the female witness who was not allowed to
testify at the all-male hearing on Capitol Hill yesterday.
SANDRA FLUKE: I was there really to talk about the voices of the women whose lives have been affected by this policy, who have been affected financially, emotionally and medically. And what I wanted the members of Congress to hear and the public to hear is what a difference this policy could make to their lives. I wanted to talk about how birth control is not accessible widely, that clinics are being defunded and are closing, and it’s not easy, and it’s incredibly expensive.
RUSH LIMBAUGH: What does it say about the college co-ed Susan Fluke [sic] who goes before a congressional committee and essentially says that she must be paid to have sex? What does that make her? It makes her a slut, right? Makes her a prostitute. She wants to be paid to have sex. She’s having so much sex, she can’t afford the contraception. She wants you and me and the taxpayers to pay her to have sex.
SANDRA FLUKE: I strongly believe that our government has to legislate for reality, not ideology. So, if we don’t provide contraception coverage and healthcare, that’s not going to stop anyone from having sex, whether they should or should not be. And we really have to take care of women’s healthcare and not worry about policing their moral choices.
AMY GOODMAN: The whistleblowing website WikiLeaks has begun publishing what it says are five-and-a-half million emails obtained from the servers of Stratfor, a private U.S.-based intelligence-gathering firm known to some as a “shadow CIA.”
JULIAN ASSANGE: Today, WikiLeaks begins its release of 5,000 emails documenting the private lives and private lies of private spies.
AMY GOODMAN: A U.S. Army sergeant is in custody after he went on a shooting spree in southern Afghanistan, killing 16 Afghan civilians, nine of them children.
KATHY KELLY: I think that the United States and military officials would like to characterize the massacre as exceptional, sort of one bad apple. But I think it actually encapsulates what the United States presence in Afghanistan has been all about.
AMY GOODMAN: Police in Sanford, Florida, have released a series of 911 tapes from the night an unarmed black teenager named Trayvon Martin was shot to death by a self-appointed neighborhood watch captain.
GEORGE ZIMMERMAN: This guy looks like he’s up to no good or he’s on drugs or something. It’s raining, and he’s just walking around, looking about.
911 DISPATCHER: OK. And this guy, is he white, black or Hispanic?
GEORGE ZIMMERMAN: He looks black.
911 DISPATCHER: Did you see what he was wearing?
GEORGE ZIMMERMAN: Yeah, a dark hoodie, like a grey hoodie, and either jeans or sweatpants and white tennis shoes.
911 DISPATCHER: Are you following him?
GEORGE ZIMMERMAN: Yeah.
911 DISPATCHER: OK, we don’t need you to do that.
REV. GLENN DAMES: This is modern-day lynching. And we have decided that we will not accept what Langston Hughes called “strange fruit hanging from the trees,” which was of course African Americans who were hung in that day and time from trees, publicly, for great outcry. And so now we’re making sure that this does not happen in 2012.
SABRINA FULTON: Our son was not committing any crime. Our son is your son. I want you guys to stand up for justice and stand up for what’s right. This is not about a black-and-white thing. This is about a right-and-wrong thing.
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: You know, if I had a son, he would look like Trayvon. And, you know, I think they are right to expect that all of us, as Americans, are going to take this with the seriousness it deserves and that we’re going to get to the bottom of exactly what happened.
NERMEEN SHAIKH: A new exposé in Wired Magazine has revealed new details about how the National Security Agency is quietly building the largest spy center in the country in Bluffdale, Utah, as part of a secret NSA surveillance program codenamed “Stellar Wind.”
JAMES BAMFORD: So you have this massive agency that’s collecting a tremendous amount of information every day by satellites, by tapping into undersea cables, by picking up microwave links and tapping of cellphones and data links on your computer, email links, and so forth. And then it has to store it someplace, and that’s why they built Bluffdale.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: We begin today’s show with the latest on the shooting death of Kenneth Chamberlain Sr., the 68-year-old African-American veteran who was shot dead inside his own home by a White Plains New York police officer in November.
KENNETH CHAMBERLAIN JR.: My father accidentally triggered his life alert pendant one morning. The police, White Plains police, responded to the home, supposedly to do a medical check to see if he was OK. He told them he was fine, yet they insisted that he open the door. When my father said that he knows his rights and he doesn’t have to open the door, they began to bang on the door for over an hour, ultimately breaking the door down and shooting him and killing him.
LIFEAID OPERATOR: This is your help center for LifeAid, Mr. Chamberlain. Do you need help?
KENNETH CHAMBERLAIN SR.: Yes, this is an emergency! I have the White Plains Police Department banging on my door, and I did not call them, and I am not sick!
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Police video shows the moment police broke down his door and shot him with a taser.
AMY GOODMAN: You can actually see the electricity shooting Kenneth Chamberlain. The video cuts out at this point. Within minutes, Kenneth Chamberlain was shot dead by the police.
AMY GOODMAN: Burmese pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi has reportedly won her first bid for parliament after spending much of the past 20 years under house arrest and in detention.
AUNG SAN SUU KYI: We hope that this will be the beginning of a new era, where there will be more emphasis on the role of the people in the everyday politics of our country.
AMY GOODMAN: A gunman opened fire at a small Christian college in Oakland, California, Monday, killing at least seven people and wounding three. It was the deadliest U.S. school shooting since the Virginia Tech massacre in 2007. The killings occurred at Oikos University, a college affiliated with a Korean-American church.
WITNESS: He stood up in the class and just started firing, shot one guy in the chest, shot another person. And once, you know, he just started firing like crazy.
AMY GOODMAN: President Obama has accused Republicans of favoring the rich with a, quote, “radical” budget plan that focuses on cutting popular programs.
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: It is a Trojan Horse. Disguised as deficit reduction plans, it is really an attempt to impose a radical vision on our country. It is thinly veiled social Darwinism.
AMY GOODMAN: Hundreds of people gathered Saturday in Athens, Greece, for the funeral of Dimitris Christoulas, the 77-year-old retired pharmacist who shot and killed himself near the Greek Parliament building last week after writing a note that blamed his suicide on the economic crisis. Christoulas’ daughter, Emi, spoke at his funeral and said his act had been “deeply political.”
EMI CHRISTOULAS: [translated] You found it unacceptable that they were killing our freedom, our democracy, our dignity. You found it unacceptable as they tightened the harsh noose of economic austerity and apartheid around us, to the unacceptable act of surrendering our independence and the keys to the country. It was unacceptable to you that Greece did not acknowledge its children, and its children did not recognize their own country. You found the bestiality of capitalism unacceptable, that it infiltrated our lives, and no one tried to stop it. Then, you made your decision: to become the fear, the death, the memory, the sorrow of our ruined lives.
AMY GOODMAN: Forty-six days after killing the unarmed African-American teenager Trayvon Martin, George Zimmerman has been detained and charged with second-degree murder in Florida.
ANGELA COREY: Let me emphasize that we do not prosecute by public pressure or by petition. We prosecute based on the facts of any given case, as well as the laws of the state of Florida.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: In a national broadcast exclusive, we’re joined by National Security Agency whistleblower William Binney.
WILLIAM BINNEY: After 9/11, all the wraps came off for NSA, and they decided to—between the White House and NSA and CIA, they decided to eliminate the protections on U.S. citizens and collect on domestically. So they started collecting from a commercial—the one commercial company that I know of that participated provided over 300—probably, on the average, about 320 million records of communication of a U.S. citizen to a U.S. citizen inside this country.
AMY GOODMAN: We’re going to interrupt the broadcast, because right now we have just gotten a call from Mumia Abu-Jamal from prison in Pennsylvania. Mumia Abu-Jamal is speaking to us for the first time no longer on death row.
OPERATOR: This call is from the State Correctional Institution at Mahanoy and is subject to monitoring and recording.
MUMIA ABU-JAMAL: You’ve probably heard me refer to life as “slow death row.” It sounds a little dramatic, but it is really more truth to it than hyperbole. And that’s because, you know, in Pennsylvania, it has the highest population, or one of the highest populations, in the state, of lifers—in fact, juveniles with life sentences. And in Pennsylvania, there’s no gradation: you know, all lifers are lifers, and that’s for their whole life. It’s slow death row, to be sure.
And when you see, as I’ve seen, going to chow or going to a meal and seeing what I call the “million man wheelchair march,” it makes an impact on you. You know, you look up in the morning, and there are 30 or 40 guys going through the handicap line, and they’re in wheelchairs. And although some are young, most are quite old. Life means life in Pennsylvania.
AMY GOODMAN: President Obama has publicly declared his support for same-sex marriage, becoming the first U.S. president to do so.
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: At a certain point I’ve just concluded that, for me, personally, it is important for me to go ahead and affirm that I think same-sex couples should be able to get married.
AMY GOODMAN: Joining us now is the acclaimed playwright, the screenwriter, the gay rights activist, Tony Kushner.
TONY KUSHNER: It’s been astonishing to watch over the years the slow but steady progress of marriage rights and, in general, of the enfranchisement of the LGBT community. It’s at a pace that’s faster than I honestly anticipated it would be.
AMY GOODMAN: A federal judge Wednesday struck down part of a controversial law signed by President Obama that gave the government the power to indefinitely detain anyone it considers a terrorism suspect anywhere in the world without charge or trial, including U.S. citizens.
AMY GOODMAN: Chris Hedges is with us, senior fellow at the Nation Institute, former foreign correspondent for the New York Times. Among his pieces, “Why I’m Suing Barack Obama.” He’s suing the administration over the National Defense Authorization Act, or NDAA.
CHRIS HEDGES: It, in essence, invalidates that provision, Section 1021, that permits the U.S. government to use the military to hold American citizens, strip them of due process, and detain them in military facilities, including our offshore penal colonies, until, in the language of that section, the end of hostilities. So, it’s monumental, because she threw the whole thing out. She invalidated the law. It was quite a courageous decision—I think, clearly, a correct one.
AMY GOODMAN: At the end of Sunday’s march, Iraq Veterans Against the War held a ceremony where nearly 50 veterans discarded their war medals by hurling them in the direction of the NATO summit.
MAGGIE MARTIN: My name is Maggie Martin. I was a sergeant in the Army. I did two tours in Iraq. No amount of medals, ribbons or flags can cover the amount of human suffering caused by these wars. We don’t want this garbage. We want our human rights. We want our right to heal.
SCOTT OLSEN: My name is Scott Olsen. I have with me today—today I have with me my Global War on Terror Medal, Operation Iraqi Freedom Medal, National Defense Medal and Marine Corps Good Conduct Medal. These medals, once upon a time, made me feel good about what I was doing. They made me feel like I was doing the right thing. And I came back to reality, and I don’t want these anymore.
SURAIA SAHAR: My name is Suraia Sahar. I’m representing Afghans for Peace. We’re a global Afghan-led peace movement speaking out against the occupation and war in Afghanistan. And we’re here to protest NATO and call on all NATO representatives to end this inhumane, illegal, barbaric war against our home country and our people.
AMY GOODMAN: The New York Times is reporting President Obama personally oversees a, quote, “kill list” containing the names and photos of individuals targeted for assassination in the secret U.S. drone war. According to the New York Times, Obama signs off on every targeted killing in Yemen and Somalia and the more complex or risky strikes in Pakistan.
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: I want to make sure that people understand, actually, drones have not caused a huge number of civilian casualties. For the most part, they have been very precise precision strikes against al-Qaeda and their affiliates. And we are very careful in terms of how it’s been applied.
DRONE ATTACK SURVIVOR: [translated] It was Ramadan. We were about to break our fast with the children. We took a bite, said our prayers. The children had just started eating when the missile struck. My two sons and I were outside, but everyone inside was killed. Three people were killed: my brother, my brother’s son and my brother-in-law.
MEDEA BENJAMIN: How many people are you willing to sacrifice? Why are you lying to the American people and not saying how many innocents have been killed?
MODERATOR: Thank you, ma’am, for expressing your views. There will be time for questions and answers after the presentation.
MEDEA BENJAMIN: I speak out on behalf of Tariq Aziz, a 16-year-old in Pakistan, who was killed because he wanted to document the drone strikes. I speak out on behalf of Abdulrahman al-Awlaki, a 16-year-old born in Denver, killed in Yemen, just because his father was someone we don’t like.
AMY GOODMAN: In other news from Syria, reports have emerged that the young Syrian filmmaker Bassel Shahade was killed on Monday in the city of Homs. Bassel appeared on Democracy Now! in December. At the time, he asked we only use his first name for security reasons.
BASSEL SHAHADE: The violence in the city of Homs is like—what I saw the last week I was there … like, it’s threatening to turn into like almost a civil war. A heavy crackdown on the city, punishing the rising area and killing the civilians, is forcing the locals to form like an armed resistance to the regime’s forces.
AMY GOODMAN: For more, we’re going to Charles Glass, award-winning journalist, author, broadcaster, specializing in the Middle East, just returned from Syria last month.
CHARLES GLASS: The massacre at Houla and in Taldou, massacres in those places, are a clear indication of how urgent it is to find—to force both sides in the conflict, the opposition and the regime, to negotiate a settlement, which would ultimately probably mean a change of regime, but certainly a transition. In the absence of that, you will have the Russians arming the government; you’ll have the Saudis, the Qataris, possibly the United States to Turkey, arming the opposition, which can only exacerbate the civil war. And as we remember from civil wars in Iraq and Lebanon, more massacres will then take place.
AMY GOODMAN: We continue with Democracy Now!‘s look back at 2012 after break. To get a copy of today’s whole show, you can go to our website at democracynow.org.
AMY GOODMAN: “At Last” by the legendary blues singer Etta James. She died January 20th, 2012, at the age of 73. This is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org,The War and Peace Report. I’m Amy Goodman, as we look back at 2012.
AMY GOODMAN: Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker has survived a historic recall election more than a year after launching a controversial campaign against the state’s public workers.
GOV. SCOTT WALKER: Tonight we tell Wisconsin, we tell our country, and we tell people all across the globe that voters really do want leaders who stand up and make the tough decisions.
DANIELLE VILLARREAL: In this action in particular, we waited for Governor Walker to come up to speak, and we unfurled a banner which said, “Walker has a Koch problem.” Koch spelled K-O-C-H. Walker represents this union-busting figure in the United States, which is completely wrong. It’s completely wrong to say that unions are somehow like the bane of society, when in fact they are the backbone.
NERMEEN SHAIKH: New figures show this year’s military suicide rate is on pace to reach a record high. The Pentagon says there have been at least 154 suicides among active-duty troops through last Thursday, a rate of nearly one each day.
AARON HUGHES: Every day in this country 18 veterans are committing suicide. Seventeen percent of the individuals that are in combat in Afghanistan, my brothers and sisters, are on psychotropic medication.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: In a major policy move, President Obama announced Friday that his administration will stop deporting hundreds of thousands of undocumented youth whose parents brought them to the United States.
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: These are young people who study in our schools. They play in our neighborhoods. They’re friends with our kids. They pledge allegiance to our flag. They are Americans in their heart, in their minds, in every single way but one—on paper. Now, let’s be clear. This is not amnesty. This is not immunity. This is not a path to citizenship. It’s not a permanent fix. This is a temporary, stopgap measure.
LORELLA PRAELI: I think this will redefine the immigrant rights movement in this country, and I think we’re taking a lead now. You know, like now we’re—I think we’re unstoppable. And I think our job, our responsibility to our community, to our parents, to the adults, is to continue that work, to look for permanent solutions, but I think to really empower the adult population in this country. I don’t call myself an illegal immigrant. And I go into Latino communities and immigrant communities, and they say, “ilegal.” And I say, “Do you understand what you’re internalizing when you’re saying that?” And so, now we’re really kind of really pushing for “undocumented Americans,” Americans in every sense of the word. And I think America is ready for that.
BILL McKIBBEN: Today is one of those days when you understand what the early parts of the global warming era are going to look like. We’ve got the first—for the first time in history, we managed to get the fourth tropical storm of the year before July. Debby is dropping absolutely record amounts of rain across much of Florida. The total may top two feet. Meanwhile, in Colorado, they’ve evacuated not only parts of the Air Force Academy, they just evacuated—and this is truly ironic—the headquarters of the National Center for Atmospheric Research outside Boulder, or at least part of it, because that’s the place where the most important climate science in the world is going on. These are the most destructive fires in Colorado history, and they come after the warmest weather ever recorded there. You could do the same exercise all over the planet today. This is what it looks like as the planet begins — and I underline “begins” — to warm.
AMY GOODMAN: Muslim Brotherhood candidate Mohamed Morsi has been declared the winner in Egypt’s presidential race one week after the vote was held.
MOHAMED MORSI: [translated] We will respect agreements and international law, as well as Egyptian commitments and treaties with the rest of the world.
AMY GOODMAN: To talk more about the significance of Morsi’s electoral victory, we’re joined now by Democracy Now! correspondent Sharif Abdel Kouddous. He is just back from Cairo.
SHARIF ABDEL KOUDDOUS: It’s a very significant victory. He’s the first democratically elected Islamist president in the Arab world, the first civilian president ever in Egypt’s history, and his win really marks a victory over the lingering remnants of Mubarak’s regime.
AMY GOODMAN: The U.S. Supreme Court has upheld the Affordable Care Act, President Obama’s signature healthcare reform bill. Chief Justice John Roberts proved to be the surprise deciding vote, joining with the court’s four liberal members.
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: The highest court in the land has now spoken. We will continue to implement this law. And we’ll work together to improve on it where we can.
MICHAEL MOORE: Let me state the positive first. This is—this really is a huge victory for our side, in spite of all of my concerns with this law. It didn’t go far enough. It doesn’t cover all Americans. This is not true universal healthcare. Nonetheless, the right wing has been handed a serious defeat today.
AMY GOODMAN: We begin today’s show in Mexico, where Mexico’s old ruling party, the PRI, is set to return to power. Early election results indicate the PRI candidate, Enrique Peña Nieto, has won the presidential election, but his chief rival, the leftist Andrés Manuel López Obrador, has not conceded.
JOHN ACKERMAN: Peña Nieto is pretty clearly the candidate who will give continuity and continuation with Calderón’s drug war strategies.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: We’re joined by Javier Sicilia.
JAVIER SICILIA: [translated] It’s an absurd war. Drugs are not a national security issue, they are a public health issue. Turning that, turning a health public issue into a national security issue has created a war, an absurd war that has killed many people, like 60,000 dead, and we don’t even know how many disappeared people.
AMY GOODMAN: A number of major banks are facing at least two criminal probes in the U.S. over a major interest-rate fixing scandal that’s already led to fines against the banking giant Barclays.
MATT TAIBBI: They were trading against this information in what essentially was the biggest kind of insider trading you could possibly imagine.
AMY GOODMAN: Thousands gathered in Aurora, Colorado, Sunday at a public vigil for the victims of the shooting rampage at a local movie theater. The toll stands at 12 dead, 58 wounded, nine of them critically.
PAUL BARRETT: I mean, I think it was tremendously significant that, immediately after this most recent massacre, the president’s chief spokesman, when asked about what the president intended to do, the very first words out of his mouth, literally, were: “We intend to protect Second Amendment rights.”
AMY GOODMAN: On Sunday morning, a gunman entered a Sikh temple in Oak Creek, Wisconsin, and killed at least six people, critically wounding three others, before a police officer shot him dead.
OAK CREEK SIKH TEMPLE SECRETARY: We never think these things are going to happen to our temple, because the people are—go over there for pray, and to pray for everybody. But, unfortunately, this happened. It’s really sad.
AMY GOODMAN: The gunman was Wade Michael Page, a white 40-year-old U.S. Army veteran with links to white supremacist groups.
MARK POTOK: What has happened is an absolutely explosive growth of groups on the radical right, in general. As a matter of fact, we’ve never seen this kind of growth. Not of—the white supremacist groups have grown, them not so spectacularly, but other kinds of groups, what we used to call militias back in the 1990s, have grown at an absolutely unbelievable pace, from 149 of these groups in 2008 to 1,274 last year, our last count.
AMY GOODMAN: We begin today with new scrutiny Republican candidate Mitt Romney is facing about his record at the private equity firm Bain Capital. The latest controversy surrounding Bain concerns how Romney helped found the company with investments from Central American elites linked to death squads in El Salvador.
RYAN GRIM: He failed to raise capital from traditional sources in the U.S. And so, given that, he flew to Miami and, in mid-’84, just he went directly to a bank and met with a number of these families who were involved with death squads and accepted what at the time was a huge amount of money.
MITT ROMNEY: Today is a good day for America, and there are better days ahead. Join me in welcoming the next president of the United States, Paul Ryan. Every now and then, I’m known to make a mistake. I did not make a mistake with this guy. But I can tell you this: He’s going to be the next vice president of the United States.
*REP. PAUL RYAN: I’ve been asked by Governor Romney to serve the country that I love.
JOHN NICHOLS: Ryan’s plan doesn’t balance the budget for 28 years. Ryan’s plan really is all about massive tax cuts for very, very wealthy people, for multinational corporations, and the beginning of a redistribution of federal spending from funding programs like Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security into Wall Street and the insurance companies.
NICOLE SAFAR: He wants to make abortion illegal in all cases. He has signed onto the personhood bill, which we’re very concerned will have implications for in vitro fertilization, for different kinds of birth control. It’s just a very extreme measure that has been defeated in Mississippi, one of the most conservative states in the country. And this is something that Congressman Ryan thinks is good public policy for the country.
AMY GOODMAN: A shooting in College Station, Texas, near Texas A&M University, on Monday has left three people dead, including the gunman, and wounded four others, at least one of them seriously. The shooter, 35-year-old Thomas Caffall, reportedly attacked a constable who had come to his home to serve him with an eviction notice, killing him as well as a bystander before being shot dead by police.
RICARDO PATIÑO: [translated] Today we’ve received from the United Kingdom a clear and written threat that they could storm our embassy in London if Ecuador refuses to hand in Julian Assange.
AMY GOODMAN: The government of Ecuador is announcing its decision on the asylum bid of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange today.
RICARDO PATIÑO: [translated] We want to make it absolutely clear that we are not a British colony, and that the times of colonialism are over.
JULIAN ASSANGE: I ask President Obama to do the right thing. The United States must renounce its witch hunt against WikiLeaks. The United States must dissolve its FBI investigation.
AMY GOODMAN: A prominent human rights activist in Bahrain has been sentenced to three years in prison for taking part in protests against the U.S.-backed regime. Nabeel Rajab, the president of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights, was detained in June after criticizing the Bahraini government in Twitter messages and in media appearances, including one on Democracy Now! in May.
NABEEL RAJAB: We are very upset about United States’ position with Bahrain. We are very upset about United States trying to hide the crimes and trying to hide the violation happening in all the Gulf country.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: We turn now to breaking news in Russia, where three members of the feminist punk group Pussy Riot have just been found guilty of hooliganism for staging a peaceful protest against Russian leader Vladimir Putin inside an Orthodox church.
SQUIRREL: When I put on my mask, I don’t feel like a person who can do everything. Of course I’m the same person, but this is another part of me, which has more courage and which wants—which has strong feeling that what she’s doing is right and she has enough power to change something, enough strength.
AMY GOODMAN: Republicans are mounting increasing pressure on Missouri Congressmember Todd Akin to end his bid to unseat Democratic Senator Claire McCaskill after he claimed women’s bodies can prevent pregnancies in cases of what he called “legitimate rape.”
REP. TODD AKIN: If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down. But let’s assume that maybe that didn’t work or something. You know, I think there should be some punishment, but the punishment ought to be on the rapist and not attacking the child.
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Rape is rape. And the idea that we should be parsing and qualifying and slicing what types of rape we’re talking about doesn’t make sense to the American people and certainly doesn’t make sense to me.
MIKE BURKE: Mr. Adelson, your thoughts on the Romney-Ryan ticket?
SHELDON ADELSON: No comment.
MIKE BURKE: We’re trying to follow Karl Rove and Sheldon Adelson as they go down the hallway here in the suites.
Mr. Adelson, how much money are you going to spend on this election?
ADELSON HANDLER: Guys, guys, hey!
ADELSON DAUGHTER: Get off me!
ADELSON HANDLER: Hey! Hey!
ADELSON DAUGHTER: Get off me! I’ll hit you!
HANY MASSOUD: He’s just walking.
MIKE BURKE: I did not touch her. She ran back into me. She just grabbed our
camera! This woman grabbed our camera.
CLINT EASTWOOD: And I know in the—I know you were against the war in Iraq, and that’s OK. But you thought the war in Afghanistan was OK. You know, I mean, you thought that was something that was worth doing. We didn’t check with the Russians to see how did there for the 10 years. But—but it—we did it, and it was—you know, it’s—it’s something to—to be thought about.
AMY GOODMAN: When David Koch sat down last night as a member of the New York delegation on the convention floor, I went over to talk to him, to ask him a question.
AMY GOODMAN: Mr. Koch, do you think unchecked concentration of wealth will undermine democracy?
KOCH HANDLER 1: We’re not doing—we’re not doing interviews right now.
DAVID KOCH: I couldn’t quite here you. Sorry, I’m deaf in one ear.
KOCH HANDLER 1: We’re not doing interviews. Thank you. We’re here to listen.
AMY GOODMAN: Let me ask the question again.
KOCH HANDLER 1: We’re here to listen to the speeches. Thank you so much.
MITT ROMNEY: President Obama promised to begin to slow the rise of the oceans and to heal the planet. My promise is to help you and your family.
AMY GOODMAN: One of the first acts of civil disobedience at the Democratic National Convention took place on Tuesday just outside the Time Warner Cable Center.
ACTIVISTS: No papers, no fear! No papers, no fear!
ROSI CARRASCO: Good afternoon. We are here to ask President Obama what his legacy will be. Will he be the president that has deported the most people in U.S. history? Or will he recognize our dignity and our right to organize? For that, we are risking arrest.
MARTÍN UNZUETA: My name is Martín Unzueta. I am undocumented. I’ve been living in this here for 18 years. I pay taxes, and I’m paying more taxes than Citibank. I’m here because we are against the separation of the families, against the [287(g)] and against all the discrimination that this society is making against our community.
AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now!‘s look back at 2012. To get a copy of today’s show, you can go to our website at democracynow.org. We’ll be back in a minute.
AMY GOODMAN: “I Don’t Know” by the Beastie Boys, featuring Adam Yauch, better known as MCA. The musician, activist, director died May 4th, 2012, at the age of 47. This is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org, The War and Peace Report. I’m Amy Goodman, as we look back at 2012.
AMY GOODMAN: We turn to our two guests for a discussion and debate about President Obama’s speech and record. We turn to Michael Eric Dyson.
MICHAEL ERIC DYSON: Of course, the fluff and the desiderata may be absolutely true, as Mr. Ford has indicated. But the reality is, is that Obama is as progressive a figure who has the chance of being elected in America. Friedrich Engels is not going to be the secretary of labor, and Marx will not be the secretary of treasury, bottom line.
AMY GOODMAN: And in New York City, we’re joined by Glen Ford.
GLEN FORD: We say that he is the more effective evil because he is able, being a Democrat, to accomplish more of that right-wing agenda than the Republicans ever could. Remember, George Bush tried to privatize Social Security. He got his worst domestic defeat of his term in so doing, and the Republicans were reeling from that even in 2009. It took Barack Obama to introduce the model for austerity.
AMY GOODMAN: Twenty-nine thousand public school teachers and support staff have gone on strike after union leaders failed to reach agreement with the nation’s third-largest school district over education reforms sought by Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel.
KAREN LEWIS: We will walk the picket lines. We will talk to parents. We will talk to clergy. We will demand a fair contract today. We demand a fair contract now.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: The protests in Yemen and Egypt follow Tuesday night’s storming of the United States consulate in the Libyan city of Benghazi. U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other staff members were killed in the attack.
MITT ROMNEY: There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what. All right, there are 47 percent who are with him, who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe that government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they’re entitled to healthcare, to food, to housing, to you-name-it, that that’s — it’s entitlement, and the government should give it to them. And they will vote for this president no matter what.
AMY GOODMAN: “Welcome to Bainport, a taste of the Romney economy.” That’s the message on one of the banners that greets you here at this tent city where we’re broadcasting from, two hours west of Chicago in between Wisconsin and Iowa, two swing states. “Bainport” is an encampment set up by workers who are faced with losing their livelihoods when the factory across the street from us closes their doors in November, moving to China, taking around 170 jobs with them.
TOM GAULRAPP: Bain Capital board has made their decision. The Sensata CEO has made his decision. So we believe that the only person in the world who can stop these jobs from being moved is Mitt Romney.
AMY GOODMAN: And in the latest sign of global warming’s impact, sea ice in the Arctic has melted to its smallest surface area since record keeping began.
CAROLINE CANNON” There are people that rely on that Arctic Ocean. If the ice melts, it’s a scary thought, because it’s who we are, you know, it’s where the animals migrate. And my elders rely — the community elders rely on their vitamins and the traditional food that the oceans supply.
MITT ROMNEY: I’m sorry, Jim. I’m going to stop the subsidy to PBS. I’m going to stop other things. I like PBS. I love Big Bird. I actually like you, too. But I’m not going to—I’m not going to keep on spending money on
things to borrow money from China to pay for.
NERMEEN SHAIKH: Historic labor protests against the nation’s largest private employer, Wal-Mart, are expanding to 28 stores in 12 states. Organizers are describing the actions as the first retail worker strike in Wal-Mart’s 50-year history.
MIKE COMPTON: I work in a Wal-Mart warehouse in Elwood, Illinois. The conditions are terrible—a lot of safety issues. We have broken equipment that was not getting repaired. They just—they push us to work at a rate that makes it even more unsafe. You know, we finally just had enough, and we started to organize. We started a petition, just asking for some basic rights. And our managers refused to take it. So, that was kind of the final straw. We decided that was it, and we walked out that day.
AMY GOODMAN: From Denver, Colorado, this is a Democracy Now!special broadcast, “Expanding the Debate.”
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: What I’m most concerned about is having a serious discussion about what we need to do to keep the country growing and restore security for hard-working Americans. That’s what people are going to be listening for. That’s the debate that you deserve.
MITT ROMNEY: And so, my record is out there. Proud of it. And I think that if people want to have somebody who understands how the economy works, having worked in the real economy, then I’m the guy that can best post up against Barack Obama.
ROCKY ANDERSON: These two parties, Republicans and Democrats, have a stranglehold on our democracy. They are depriving people around this country not only of being able to get on the ballot; they’re denying all of us of our freedom of choice.
DR. JILL STEIN: We have a state of emergency, I think, at the national level. And to silence the only hope of an opposition voice in this election, when so much is at stake, I think, would be just a terrible loss for the American people.
AMY GOODMAN: As President Obama and Mitt Romney square off for the first time, we’ll break the sound barrier by expanding the debate to include two candidates shut out by the major two political parties. The Green Party presidential candidate, Jill Stein, and the Justice Party’s presidential candidate, Rocky Anderson, will participate in the debate in real time.
ELEANOR FAIRCHILD: I am mad. This land is my land.
AMY GOODMAN: We begin today’s show in Texas, where a standoff is underway over construction of the Keystone XL oil pipeline, which would run tar sands oil from Canada to U.S. refineries on the Gulf Coast.
ELEANOR FAIRCHILD: And it’s been our land since ’83. Our home is on it. They’re going to destroy the woods, and also they could destroy the springs. It’s just devastating, but it also is not very good to have the tar sands anywhere in the United States. This is not just about my land; it’s about all of our country.
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Governor Romney says he’s got a five-point plan. Governor Romney doesn”t have a five-point plan; he has a one-point plan. And that plan is to make sure that folks at the top play by a different set of rules.
MITT ROMNEY: We took a concerted effort to go out and find women who had backgrounds that could be qualified to become members of our cabinet. I went to a number of women’s groups and said, ‘Can you help us find folks,’ and they brought us whole binders full of women.
AMY GOODMAN: Green Party presidential nominee Jill Stein and vice-presidential candidate Cheri Honkala were arrested Tuesday outside Hofstra University after attempting to join the presidential debate.
DR. JILL STEIN: We’re here to stand our ground. We’re here to stand ground for the American people, who have been systematically locked out of these debates for decades by the Commission on Presidential Debates. We think that this commission is entirely illegitimate; that if—if democracy truly prevailed, there would be no such commission, that the debates would still be run by the League of Women Voters, that the debates would be open.
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: This is a serious and big storm. And my first message is to all people across the Eastern Seaboard, mid-Atlantic, going north, that you need to take this very seriously and follow the instructions of your state and local officials, because they are going to be providing you with the best advice in terms of how to deal with this storm over the coming days.
ORENA ELWOODS: Help! We need help! Seriously.
HAMMEL HOUSES RESIDENT 1: The most that we need right now is lights. At least you have light, you can see. At night time, it’s pitch black. You can’t even see what’s in front of you.
CATHERINE YEAGER: What’s happening behind me right now is basically we’re working with Sandy Relief and OWS. The people are bringing by the car loads in clothes, food, cans goods, diapers, batteries, flashlights, everything under the sun, you know, that we kind of need right now.
BOROUGH PRESIDENT JAMES MOLINARO: I have not seen the American Red Cross at a shelter. I have not seen them down south shore, where people are buried in their own homes, have nothing to eat, have nothing to drink.
GOV. ANDREW CUOMO: There is a wake-up call here, and there is a lesson to be learned. There is a reality that has existed for a long time, that we have been blind to. And that is, climate change, extreme weather—call it what you will—and our vulnerability to it. It was true 10 years ago. It was true five years ago. It is undeniable today.
NAOMI KLEIN: And the truth about climate change is that we’re locked into a certain amount of climate change in the years to come, but we absolutely have a very small window to try to avoid catastrophic climate change. And we’ve gotten a taste of what we’re looking for, and it’s pretty—looking forward to, and it’s pretty scary.
AMY GOODMAN: President Obama has been re-elected to a second term with a resounding victory over Republican challenger Mitt Romney.
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: I return to the White House more determined and more inspired than ever about the work there is to do and the future that lies ahead.
AMY GOODMAN: In one of the most closely watched races nationwide, consumer advocate Elizabeth Warren unseated Republican Senator Scott Brown in Massachusetts.
ELIZABETH WARREN: For every family that has been chipped at, squeezed, and hammered, we’re going to fight for a level playing field, and we’re going to put people back to work. You bet. That’s what we’re going to do, yes.
AMY GOODMAN: Advocates of marriage equality ended Tuesday with four out of four victories, as voters legalized same-sex marriage in Maine and Maryland, upheld same-sex marriage in Washington state, and defeated a measure to ban same-sex marriage in Minnesota.
AMY GOODMAN: Noam Chomsky recently returned from his first visit to Gaza.
NOAM CHOMSKY: It’s kind of amazing and inspiring to see people managing somehow to survive in—as essentially caged animals and subject to constant, random, sadistic punishment only to humiliate them, no pretext. They’re—Israel and the United States keep them alive, basically. They don’t want them to starve to death. But the life is set up so that you can’t have a dignified, decent life.
AMY GOODMAN: Israel is threatening to launch a ground invasion of the Gaza Strip after breaking an informal ceasefire with a series of ongoing deadly attacks. On Wednesday, an Israeli air strike assassinated Ahmed Jabari, the head of Hamas’s military wing.
MOHAMMED OMER: This is mostly children and civilians, that’s right, mostly children. I just saw, about a couple of minutes ago, more children who are brought here, and with severe injuries. Israel is using some type of weapons that burn the bodies of the children, burn the bodies of the children and makes it difficult to identify who are those people.
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: There is no country on earth that would tolerate missiles raining down on its citizens from outside its borders. So, we are fully supportive of Israel’s right to defend itself from missiles landing on people’s homes and workplaces and potentially killing civilians.
AMY GOODMAN: At least 118 people have been killed and many injured in a massive fire at a garment factory in Bangladesh. The victims were reportedly working overtime making clothes for major U.S. retailers, including Wal-Mart and Sears, when the fire tore through their workplace on Saturday.
SCOTT NOVA: Indeed, Wal-Mart itself discovered problems at the factory in 2011, problems that were unspecified in the report that’s been published. But apparently Wal-Mart took no action to address those problems. And, of course, we saw the results of that inaction on Saturday.
AMY GOODMAN: The talks in Doha concluded as the death toll from a devastating typhoon in the Philippines continues to soar with some 650 now reported dead and about 900 still missing.
NADEREV SAÑO: And I’m making an urgent appeal, not as a negotiator, not as a leader of my delegation, but as a Filipino. I appeal to the whole world. I appeal to the leaders from all over the world to open our eyes to the stark reality that we face. I appeal to ministers. The outcome of our work is not about what our political masters want. It is about what is demanded of earth’s seven billion people. I appeal to all: Please, no more delays, no more excuses.
AMY GOODMAN: Jonathan Pershing, are you following President Obama’s wishes? And how do you respond to civil society groups who are saying that the U.S. is the lead obstructor to any kind of negotiated deal here in Doha?
JONATHAN PERSHING: I have no comment on the first part of that.
KUMI NAIDOO: Our governments must realize that this failure is a betrayal of the people in the Philippines and around the world that have faced climate impacts now, today, and will continue in the days to come. But what is at stake here is not some ethereal thing called the planet, the climate, the environment, but what is at stake here is selling down our children and grandchildren’s futures.
AMY GOODMAN: Federal and New York prosecutors, state prosecutors, have unveiled their $1.9 billion settlement with the banking giant HSBC for a massive money-laundering scheme used by drug cartels and other illegal groups.
MATT TAIBBI: You can do real time in jail in America for all kinds of ridiculous offenses, for taking up two subway seats in New York City, if you fall asleep in the subway. People go to jail for that all the time in this country, for having a marijuana stem in your pocket. There are 50,000 marijuana possession cases in New York City alone every year. And here we have a bank that laundered $800 million of drug money, and they can’t find a way to put anybody in jail for that. That sends an incredible message not just to the financial sector but to everybody.
AMY GOODMAN: I had a chance to speak directly with Leonard Peltier, when he called into a news conference that was organized by Native elders, his lawyers and Pete Seeger.
What would you do if you were free?
LEONARD PELTIER: Well, I’d probably go home on house arrest. I mean, that’s the only thing I can expect, because I don’t think Obama is going to give—he’s going to do what Bill Clinton did, and he ain’t going to give no clemencies until his last year. He’s just not going to—it’s not going to happen. I really don’t believe it. So, I’m trying to—we’re trying to—George Bush signed the Second Chance Act, which is house arrest, and so we’re trying to push that, so I can get over there, at least to maybe get some—if I do get the house arrest, I can at least get some medical treatment, you know, because they’re not giving—they’re not giving it to me. They’re just—you know, they’re not going to give it to me. That’s all there is to it.
AMY GOODMAN: The initial shock of the latest semiautomatic weapon-fueled massacre has passed, but the grief only grows. Now the funerals occur with a daily drumbeat. It will take not 27, but 28 funerals, as the Newtown, Connecticut, shooter, Adam Lanza, took his own life after slaughtering his mother at home, then 20 children, aged 6 and 7, and six women at the Sandy Hook Elementary School who tried to protect them.
PRESS SECRETARY JAY CARNEY: There is, I’m sure—will be, rather, a day for discussion of the usual Washington policy debates, but I don’t think today is that day.
REP. CAROLYN McCARTHY: As soon as that press conference was over, I called the White House. Listen, we’ve gone through too many of these shootings. And everybody says, “You can’t say anything. You can’t say anything.” Well, you know, we should have been talking about this going all the way back from Columbine. We should have been talking about this in the last few years, going with Gabby Giffords. I thought for sure that our colleagues would see this as what it is, that there are too many guns out on—out on the streets. And the ones we’re after, if you look at all the shootings that we’ve had lately, are the assault-weapons-type guns and certainly the large magazine clips. So, this time, I would not hold my voice. This time, I said, “No, I will go out, and I will start speaking.”
NERMEEN SHAIKH: On Tuesday, Andrei Nikitchyuk of Newtown, Connecticut, spoke in Washington at an event organized by the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence. His eight-year-old son was pulled into a classroom by a teacher and escaped harm at the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting last week.
ANDREI NIKITCHYUK: I am an immigrant. I have been here for 22 years. And I kind of—I held these beliefs: America has deep history with guns, it’s part of American history; gun owners and people who handle guns, they know how to keep them safe and be responsible; our politicians will do whatever they can to make sure our kids are safe. And, you know, every time something like Columbine, Virginia Tech, Aurora were happening, I would avert my eyes, and I will still think that something will be done. But all those beliefs were shattered on Friday. And now I think we all need to speak up.
AMY GOODMAN: Democratic Congressmember Dennis Kucinich.
REP. DENNIS KUCINICH: We spend trillions of dollars for war and to wage violence thousands of miles away, and we’ve become anesthetized to the violence of war against millions of innocent women, children and men abroad. It’s no wonder that we’re grappling with how best to deal with domestic violence. Imagine if we took a fraction of the trillions of dollars we spent for war and used it to deal with directly the root causes of domestic violence, spousal abuse, child abuse, violence in the school, gang violence, gun violence, racial violence, violence against immigrants, violence against gays. I mean, if we did that and looked at the root causes, we wouldn’t even be arguing about spending money for war. We need to look at the issue of violence in America, and do it in a consistent, comprehensive way. I yield back.
AMY GOODMAN: That concludes our look back at 2012. If you’d like a copy of today’s broadcast, you can go to our website at democracynow.org.