Democracy Now! - October 27, 2015

On Monday, President Obama met Indonesia’s new president, Joko Widodo, at the White House to discuss climate change, trade and strengthening U.S.-Indonesian ties. President Obama described Indonesia as one of the world’s largest democracies, but human rights groups paint a different story, citing the military’s ongoing repression in West Papua as well as discriminatory laws restricting the rights of religious minorities and women. Indonesia has also been criticized for attempting to silence any discussion about the 50th anniversary of the 1965 Indonesian genocide that left more than 1 million people dead. We speak to John Sifton of Human Rights Watch and journalist Allan Nairn, who has covered Indonesia for decades.

Indonesian President Joko Widodo has decided to cut his U.S. trip short due to raging fires that have resulted in haze and toxic fumes covering much of the country as well as parts of Malaysia and Singapore. Many of the fires were illegally set in order to clear land for palm oil and paper plantations. The fires have been described as one of the biggest environmental crimes of the 21st century. According to the World Resource Institute, since September the fires have generated more carbon emissions than the entire U.S. economy.

In Guatemala, Jimmy Morales, a right-leaning former television comedian with no government experience, won the presidency after less than half of eligible voters cast ballots on Sunday. Morales received 67 percent of the votes — more than double the votes cast for his contender, ex-first lady Sandra Torres. The election comes after massive popular protests ousted former President Otto Pérez Molina in September. Pérez Molina is now in jail facing corruption charges. President-elect Jimmy Morales is well known for his starring role in a long-running sketch comedy show, which often featured lewd sketches that some have criticized as being homophobic and sexist. But little is known about Morales’ political platform, although he has unveiled a handful of eccentric proposals, such as tagging teachers with GPS trackers to ensure they attend classes. We speak to journalist and activist Allan Nairn in Guatemala City.

As presidential candidates spar over economic policies and Congress debates the TPP, one of the nation’s leading economists is calling for a comprehensive overhaul of the U.S. economy. Nobel Prize-winning economist and Columbia University professor Joseph Stiglitz has just published a new book called "Rewriting the Rules of the American Economy: An Agenda for Growth and Shared Prosperity."

Early Monday morning, three campus police officers at the University of Mississippi removed the state flag with its Confederate emblem from the grounds of the school’s campus in Oxford. The move comes after the student government voted to remove the flag. Mississippi’s flag is the latest Confederate symbol to be targeted for removal from a public space since a white supremacist killed nine African-American worshipers in Charleston, South Carolina, four months ago. We speak to Dominique Scott, an undergraduate at the University of Mississippi and the secretary of the university’s chapter of the NAACP.

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