Democracy Now! - August 18, 2015

The Obama administration has granted Royal Dutch Shell final approval to resume drilling for oil and gas in the Arctic Ocean for the first time since 2012 despite widespread protests from environmental groups. Shell first obtained drilling permits in the Arctic during the George W. Bush administration, but drilling stopped in 2012 after a series of mishaps. The Interior Department’s decision comes just weeks after a protest in Portland, Oregon, temporarily blocked an Arctic-bound rig of Shell’s from leaving the city after a group of activists from Greenpeace dangled off a bridge, blocking the ship’s movement while "kayaktivists" took to the water below. A coalition of environmental groups have pushed the Obama administration to say no to Arctic drilling, citing the dangers of a possible oil spill in the pristine region and the impact new oil extraction would have on the climate. The Interior Department approved the Arctic drilling ahead of President Obama’s upcoming trip to the Arctic later this month. He mentioned the trip during his recent speech unveiling plan to slash carbon emissions from U.S. power plants.

Documents from NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden have exposed how extensively the NSA relied on telecommunications giant AT&T for its vast spying operations. Records described by The New York Times and ProPublica laud AT&T’s "extreme willingness to help" the NSA’s spying efforts. According to the piece, the company supplied access to billions of emails flowing across its domestic networks and technical aid in carrying out a secret order allowing the wiretapping of all Internet communications at the headquarters of the United Nations — an AT&T customer. In 2013, the NSA’s top-secret budget for its partnership with AT&T was reportedly more than twice that of the next largest such program.

As documents from NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden expose how AT&T aided the NSA’s vast spying operations, we speak to former AT&T technician Mark Klein, who worked at the company for 22 years. In 2006, he blew the whistle on AT&T’s cooperation with the National Security Agency by leaking internal documents that revealed the company had set up a secret room in its San Francisco office to give the NSA access to its fiber-optic Internet cables.

Imprisoned Army whistleblower Chelsea Manning is scheduled to go before a closed-door disciplinary hearing today at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, where she is serving a 35-year sentence for leaking U.S. government cables to WikiLeaks. Manning’s lawyers say she could be sent back to indefinite solitary confinement after being accused of a number of infractions including having an expired tube of toothpaste, an issue of Vanity Fair in which transgender celebrity Caitlyn Jenner describes her new life living openly as a woman, a copy of the U.S. Senate report on torture, several LGBT books and magazines and other "prohibited property" in her cell. Supporters of Manning are planning to deliver a petition today to the Army Liaison Office on Capitol Hill signed by more than 75,000 people calling on the U.S. military to drop the new charges and demanding that her disciplinary hearing be open to the press and the public. We speak to Chase Strangio, staff attorney at the American Civil Liberties Union and a member of Manning’s legal team.

The murder of Tamara Dominguez on Saturday in Kansas City, Missouri, marked at least the 17th murder of a transgender woman so far this year. Dominguez was repeatedly run over in a church parking lot. Her death follows the recent murders of a number of African-American transgender women, including Elisha Walker, found in a "crude grave" in North Carolina; Shade Schuler, whose decomposed body was found in a Dallas field; Amber Monroe, shot and killed in a Detroit park; and Kandis Capri, fatally shot last Tuesday night in Phoenix, Arizona. "This is a state of emergency for the transgender community," Chase Strangio says. "We are living in a moment where we should be incredibly concerned about all of the mechanisms of violence against our community."

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Amy Goodman Arctic Democracy Now! Domestic Spying National Security Agency (NSA) Transgender

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