Democracy Now! - December 15, 2015

President Obama has claimed progress in fighting the self-proclaimed Islamic State, while urging U.S. allies to do more. On Monday, Obama touted the gains of the U.S.-led military coalition in Iraq and Syria while offering an implicit rebuke of Middle East allies, omitting them from the nations he named that are helping the campaign. Obama’s comments come amid a quietly expanding U.S. military presence on the ground, with dozens of special forces recently deployed to Iraq and Syria. The United States also is increasing its role in global talks on the Syrian civil war, with Secretary of State John Kerry beginning a multi-nation visit today in Russia. Even if ISIL is losing ground from U.S.-led strikes, Obama’s comments highlight a dangerous predicament laid bare in recent weeks: While the coalition says its bombings will help stop future ISIL terrorism, ISIL says those bombings will lead to more terrorist attacks. We are joined by Gilbert Achcar, Middle East expert, author and professor at the School of Oriental and African Studies at the University of London.

A former Oklahoma City police officer is facing life in prison for the serial rapes of African-American women. An all-white jury convicted Daniel Holtzclaw last week of rape and other crimes against eight of the 13 women who accused him. All 13 victims testified during the trial, each with similar stories of rape, sexual assault, and threats if they did not comply with Holtzclaw’s demands. Holtzclaw targeted them during traffic stops and interrogations, forcing them into sexual acts in his police car or in their homes. Prosecutors say he deliberately preyed on vulnerable black women from low-income neighborhoods. He was reportedly under investigation by the Oklahoma City police sex crimes unit six weeks before his final crime. That means Holtzclaw assaulted half of the women he was convicted of attacking while under investigation. While Holtzclaw’s conviction may bring his victims some relief, the case has raised questions about whether it’s part of a wider problem of devaluing African-American lives, in this case African-American women. Despite the charges and ultimate convictions of serial rape, the Holtzclaw prosecution got far less corporate media attention than other criminal trials. We hear from some of his victims and speak with three guests: Kimberlé Crenshaw, law professor at UCLA and Columbia University and the founder of the African American Policy Forum; and Candace Liger and Grace Franklin, co-founders of OKC Artists for Justice, an Oklahoma City-based advocacy group founded around the Holtzclaw case.

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