Democracy Now! - August 21, 2015

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras announced his resignation on Thursday, paving the way for new elections in which he will run. The move came after Tsipras lost the support of many members of his own Syriza party, which opposed his backing of the demands of international creditors for yet more austerity and economic reform in exchange for a new $96 billion bailout. Many analysts predict Tsipras will retain his post as prime minister after the election, but the conservative government has announced plans to try to form a new coalition government ahead of the elections. Meanwhile, 25 members of the left wing of Syriza have announced they are breaking away to form a separate party called Popular Unity. We speak to Costas Panayotakis, author of "Remaking Scarcity: From Capitalist Inefficiency to Economic Democracy."

Democratic presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders recently convened a panel of economists in Washington to discuss the debt crisis in Greece and throughout the world. In his opening statement, Sanders talked about the debt crisis in Greece as well as in Puerto Rico. "It is time for creditors to sit down with the governments of Greece and Puerto Rico and work out a debt repayment plan that is fair to both sides," Sanders said. "The people of Greece and the children of Puerto Rico deserve nothing less."

Scientists at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration released a report Thursday showing that July was Earth’s hottest month on record. Nine of the 10 hottest months since record keeping began in 1880 have occurred since 2005. Climatologists also expect 2015 to be the hottest year on record. This news comes as scientists from Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory released a report that shows that global warming has worsened the California drought, now entering its fourth year. This new study is the first to estimate the extent to which rising temperatures are affecting the loss of moisture from plants and soil, and suggests that within a few decades continually increasing temperatures and resulting moisture losses will push California into a permanent drought by 2060. We discuss the report and the impact of the findings with the study’s lead author, Park Williams, a bioclimatologist at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory.

Since 1998, more than 5 million people have died in the Democratic Republic of Congo in what has been described as the deadliest documented conflict in African history. Much of the fighting has been over precious minerals including tantalum, tin, tungsten and gold. Tantalum has become a precious commodity in the digital age — it’s found in cellphones, DVD players, laptops and hard drives. Human rights groups have long pushed for mandatory labeling of so-called "conflict minerals" in order to allow consumers and investors to avoid fueling the bloody conflict through the purchase of their products. The mandatory disclosure policy became law as part of the 2010 Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform Act. But this week a federal appeals court ruled the Securities and Exchange Commission cannot force companies to disclose whether minerals come from the Democratic Republic of Congo because the mandatory labeling would violate the companies’ freedom of speech. We speak to Zorka Milin, senior legal adviser with Global Witness.

In one of his final speeches, the late civil rights leader Julian Bond spoke at the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial on May 2, 2015, as part of the "Vietnam: Power of Protest" conference. He was introduced by the actor and activist Danny Glover. Julian Bond died on August 15 at the age of 75. Bond first gained prominence in 1960 when he organized a series of student sit-ins while attending Morehouse College. He went on to help found SNCC, the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee. Julian Bond would go on to co-found the Southern Poverty Law Center. He served as the organization’s first president from 1971 to 1979. From 1998 to 2010, he was chairman of the NAACP.

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