Democracy Now! 4/01/16

On today's episode of Democracy Now!

Advocates are calling it one of the largest pay raises for American workers in the history of the country. About 5 million workers will see their wages increase substantially after a historic victory for the "Fight for 15" campaign. Both the state of California and New York City are poised to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour in the coming years. On Thursday, the California Legislature voted to raise the minimum wage incrementally each year until it reaches $15 an hour by 2022. Meanwhile, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo says he has reached a budget deal that will hike the minimum wage in New York City to $15 by the end of 2018. "It’s remarkable that only about three years ago this movement started with a single strike of a bunch of McDonald’s workers in New York City, and it has spread across the country," says Democracy Now! co-host Juan Gonzalez. "And it’s going to continue to spread, because there’s too many Americans who cannot live on the federal minimum wage."

In a Democracy Now! exclusive, Cherelle Baldwin joins us for her first interview since a Connecticut jury found her not guilty in the death of her abusive ex-boyfriend, Jeffrey Brown. According to court documents, Brown had repeatedly threatened Baldwin, took her credit cards and money, and assaulted her during visits to see their son. Baldwin eventually attained a court order barring threats, harassment and assaults during visits, but Brown continued sending Baldwin threatening text messages. Then, according to a police affidavit based on Baldwin’s statements, Brown showed up at her house, climbed through her window and attacked her, choking her with his belt. Baldwin escaped and managed to get inside her car, but so did Brown, who again choked her. What happened next is hard for even Baldwin to remember, but when police arrived they found Baldwin on the ground with a broken leg, and Brown was lifeless in front of the car, pinned against the garage wall. Baldwin was eventually arrested on murder charges. Since the incident, Baldwin has spent nearly three years in jail, held on a million-dollar bond. A first trial in 2015 ended in a hung jury and was declared a mistrial. Prosecutors then moved to retry Baldwin. The jury reached its verdict on Thursday, hours after her mother appeared on Democracy Now! The case has caught the attention of domestic violence organizations nationwide, who cite it as an example of how black women are disproportionately imprisoned when they defend themselves against domestic abuse. "When I received letters, I would cry. So many women told me different stories, how they were in my situation. I didn’t know so many women were going through that," Baldwin says. "Especially at a young age, it touched me a lot. I had so much support that I didn’t even know I had. It helped me a lot while being incarcerated." We are also joined by Baldwin’s mother, Cynthia Long, and her defense attorney, Miles Gerety.

Hundreds of thousands took to the streets in Yemen this week to protest the first anniversary of the U.S.-backed, Saudi-led offensive against Houthi rebels. The protests were said to be the largest in Yemen since demonstrations in 2011 forced the resignation of President Ali Abdullah Saleh. Since last March, more than 6,000 people have been killed in Yemen, about half of them civilians. "Yemenis are asking me, ’Why is there no global outrage when our schools, our universities, our hospitals, our clinics, when football fields, when playgrounds are bombed with U.S. bombs?" says Sarah Leah Whitson, executive director of Human Rights Watch’s Middle East and North Africa Division. Her recent piece for the Los Angeles Times is headlined "The U.S. is quietly helping Saudi Arabia wage a devastating aerial campaign in Yemen." Meanwhile, the U.S. launched air attacks on al-Qaeda in southern Yemen, killing 14 people described by local sources as suspected militants. We also get response from Farea Al-Muslimi, a visiting scholar at the Carnegie Middle East Center in Beirut. He is also the co-founder and chairman of the Sana’a Center for Strategic Studies. In 2013, he testified before the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee hearing on the U.S. secret drone program.

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