Democracy Now

Democracy Now!
Democracy Now! is an independent daily TV & radio news program, hosted by award-winning journalists Amy Goodman and Juan González. We provide daily global news headlines, in-depth interviews and investigative reports without any advertisements or government funding. Our programming shines a spotlight on corporate and government abuses of power and lifts up the stories of ordinary people working to make change in extraordinary times. Democracy Now! is live weekdays at 8am ET and available 24/7 through our website and podcasts.
Updated: 4 hours 57 min ago

"Mr. Smith Goes to Prison": After Year in Jail, Former State Senator Condemns Mass Incarceration

9 hours 47 min ago

The first time Jeff Smith appeared on the national radar, he was the subject of the critically acclaimed documentary, "Can Mr. Smith Get to Washington Anymore?," which chronicled his 2004 campaign for the congressional seat of the retiring Dick Gephardt. Smith narrowly lost the race to Russ Carnahan, but his surprising performance in a crowded field of 10 made him a rising star in Missouri Democratic politics. Smith was elected state senator in 2006 and served until 2009, when he pleaded guilty to conspiracy for an election law violation tied to the 2004 campaign. Smith was sentenced to one year and a day in a Kentucky federal prison. He chronicles his experience in his new book, "Mr. Smith Goes to Prison: What My Year Behind Bars Taught Me About America’s Prison Crisis," which he calls "a scathing indictment of a system that teaches prisoners to be better criminals instead of better citizens." We speak with Smith, now an assistant professor of urban policy at The New School, about what he learned in prison and his thoughts about criminal justice reform.

Despite Global Ban, Saudi-Led Forces Kill Dozens in Yemen Using U.S.-Made Cluster Bombs

9 hours 57 min ago

Human Rights Watch has accused Saudi Arabia of using U.S.-made cluster munition rockets in at least seven attacks in the Yemeni city of Hajjah between late April and mid-July. Dozens of civilians were killed or wounded, both during the attacks and later, when they picked up unexploded submunitions that detonated. Neither the United States, Saudi Arabia or Yemen have joined the global convention banning the use of cluster munitions. Kenneth Roth of Human Rights Watch criticized the U.S. stance on cluster munitions. "The U.S. thinks that cluster munitions are legitimate weapons," Roth said. "The U.S. still hasn’t signed onto the landmines treaty. So, the U.S. is very much behind the rest of the world."

The Next Not-So-Cold War: As Climate Change Heats Arctic, Nations Scramble for Control and Resources

10 hours 16 min ago

President Barack Obama arrived in Alaska on Monday for a three-day tour during which he will become the first sitting U.S. president to visit the Alaska Arctic. On Monday, Obama highlighted the dangers posed by climate change in the region. "Arctic temperatures are rising about twice as fast as the global average," Obama said. "Over the past 60 years, Alaska has warmed about twice as fast as the rest of the United States." As the Arctic region warms, the geopolitical significance of the region is growing as new areas become reachable, spurring maritime traffic and oil drilling. Resources below the Arctic ice cap are worth over $17 trillion, the rough equivalent of the entire U.S. economy. According to investigative journalist James Bamford, the region has become the "crossroads of technical espionage" as the United States, Russia, Canada, Norway and Denmark battle for control of those resources. Bamford joins us to talk about his recent piece, "Frozen Assets: The Newest Front in Global Espionage is One of the Least Habitable Locales on Earth—the Arctic."

As Al Jazeera Journalists Are Jailed for 3 Years in Egypt, Will U.S. Stop "Cozying Up" to Regime?

Mon 07 52 AM

In Egypt, Al Jazeera journalists Mohamed Fahmy, Baher Mohamed and Peter Greste were sentenced over the weekend to three years in jail for "spreading false news" that purportedly harmed Egypt following the 2013 military coup. Fahmy and Mohamed were taken into custody on Saturday. Greste remains free in Australia. The three had already spent more than a year in prison before being released on bail earlier this year. We speak with Democracy Now! correspondent Sharif Abdel Kouddous in Cairo and with Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch. "The U.S. should stop cozying up to General—now President—Sisi," Roth says. "He is presiding over the worst crackdown in modern Egypt history."

"Our Climate, Our Future": As Obama Visits Arctic, Alaskans Urge Him to Reverse Shell Oil Deal

Mon 07 43 AM

Weeks after approving Shell’s plans to drill in Alaska, President Obama is heading to the state to warn about the dangers of climate change. "Alaska’s glaciers are melting faster, too, threatening tourism and adding to rising seas," Obama said in his weekly address. A protest is scheduled today in Anchorage to urge Obama to reverse his decision on Shell and stop all exploratory drilling in the Arctic. We speak to Richard Steiner, an Alaskan marine conservation biologist, who is speaking at the "Our Climate, Our Future" rally.

Preserving Borders vs. Preserving People: Death Toll Rises as Refugees Head to Europe Seeking Safety

Mon 07 14 AM

The European Union has called for emergency talks to address the rapidly growing number of people fleeing to Europe to escape violence and unrest in Syria, Libya, Somalia, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, sub-Saharan Africa and other regions. According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, approximately 2,500 people are believed to have died or gone missing trying to reach Europe so far this year. On Sunday, 37 people died when a boat capsized off the Libyan coast. This came just days after another boat capsized off the Libyan coast killing more than 200 people. Meanwhile, investigators in Hungary and Austrian authorities are continuing to probe the deaths of 71 people who were found abandoned last week inside a truck on the main highway between Budapest and Vienna. We speak to Joel Millman of the International Organization for Migration in Geneva; Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch; and Dr. Chiara Montaldo of Doctors Without Borders in the Sicilian town of Pozzallo in Italy. She has been providing medical and psychological care to people rescued from boats in the Mediterranean.

"George Bush Doesn't Care About Black People": Reflections on Kanye West's Criticism 10 Years After

Fri 07 46 AM

On Sept. 2, 2005, during a nationally televised telethon benefit for victims of Hurricane Katrina, hip-hop legend Kanye West went off script to directly criticize the media and the White House’s handling of the storm. "I hate the way they portray us in the media," he said. "If you see a black family, it says they’re looting. If you see a white family, it says they’re searching for food." West went on to say, "George Bush doesn’t care about black people." Bush later wrote in his memoir that this moment was an all-time low of his presidency.

New Orleans Actor & Activist Wendell Pierce on the "Greatest Crime" in Wake of Hurricane Katrina

Fri 07 37 AM

New Orleans actor and activist Wendell Pierce looks at how insurance companies discouraged poor and black families from returning to New Orleans after Katrina by refusing to honor homeowner policies. Pierce, whose great-grandfather came to New Orleans as a slave in the 1850s, talks about how Allstate gave his parents just $400 after they paid premiums for 50 years. Pierce writes about his family in his new book, "The Wind in the Reeds: A Storm, a Play, and the City That Would Not Be Broken."

Shock Doctrine: A Look at the Mass Privatization of NOLA Schools in Storm's Wake & Its Effects Today

Fri 07 29 AM

Just two weeks after Hurricane Katrina, the city fired 7,500 public school teachers, launching a new push to privatize the school system and build a network of charter schools. Many accused lawmakers of trying to break the powerful United Teachers of New Orleans union. Today former President George W. Bush will return to the city to speak at the Warren Easton Charter High School. We speak to the New Orleans actor and activist Wendell Pierce, whose mother was a teacher and union member for 40 years, as well Gary Rivlin, author of "Katrina: After the Flood." He recently wrote a piece for The New York Times titled "Why New Orleans’s Black Residents Are Still Underwater After Katrina."

An Unequal Recovery in New Orleans: Racial Disparities Grow in City 10 Years After Katrina

Fri 07 12 AM

We spend the hour today marking the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, the 2005 storm that devastated the Gulf Coast and New Orleans, killing more than 1,800 people, forcing more than a million people to evacuate. Ten years after Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans has become a different city. The population is now about 385,000—about 80 percent of its pre-Katrina population. The number of African Americans has plunged by nearly 100,000 since the storm. According to the Urban League, the income gap between black and white residents has increased 37 percent since 2005. Thousands of homes, many in African-American neighborhoods, remain abandoned. On Thursday, President Obama spoke in New Orleans, remembering what happened 10 years ago. "We came to realize that what started out as a natural disaster became a man-made disaster — a failure of government to look out for its own citizens,” Obama said. We speak to actor Wendell Pierce, Monique Harden of the New Orleans-based Advocates for Environmental Human Rights, and Gary Rivlin, author of "Katrina: After the Flood."

If You are Poor, It's Like the Hurricane Just Happened: Malik Rahim on Katrina 10 Years After

Thu 07 47 AM

We continue our coverage of the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina by speaking to Malik Rahim, co-founder of the Common Ground Collective and one of the founders of the Louisiana chapter of the Black Panther Party. In 2005, he and the Common Ground Collective helped bring thousands of people from all over the world to assist in the rebuilding of New Orleans. Just weeks after Hurricane Katrina hit the city, Malik took us around the neighborhood of Algiers, where he showed us how a corpse still remained in the street unattended, lying right around the corner from a community health center. Malik returns to Democracy Now! to talk about the storm a decade later.

New Orleans After Katrina: Inequality Soars as Poor Continue to Be Left Behind in City's "Recovery"

Thu 07 33 AM

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans has become a different city. The population of New Orleans is now approximately 385,000—about 80 percent of its pre-Katrina population. The number of African Americans has plunged by nearly 100,000 since the storm. According to the Urban League, the income gap between black and white residents has increased by 37 percent since 2005. In 2013, the median income for African-American households in New Orleans was $25,000, compared to over $60,000 for white households. Thousands of homes, many in African-American neighborhoods, remain abandoned. We speak to civil rights attorneys Tracie Washington of the Louisiana Justice Institute and Bill Quigley of Loyola University.

Remembering Hurricane Katrina 10 Years Later: Voices from the Storm

Thu 07 25 AM

President Barack Obama is in New Orleans today to mark the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. According to prepared remarks, Obama will declare: "What started out as a natural disaster became a man-made one—a failure of government to look out for its own citizens." In 2005, Democracy Now! was on the ground in the days following the storm that devastated the Gulf Coast, killing more than 1,800 people and forcing more than 1 million people to evacuate. We turn now to excerpts of Democracy Now!’s coverage of Hurricane Katrina.

Guatemala President Faces Arrest as Business Interests and U.S. Scramble to Contain Uprising

Thu 07 08 AM

In Guatemala, a judge has ordered that former Vice President Roxana Baldetti must remain in prison while her corruption trial takes place. The ruling comes on the heels of the Guatemalan Supreme Court’s decision Tuesday to lift the immunity from prosecution for President Otto Pérez Molina, clearing the way for his impeachment. The court passed the impeachment recommendation along to Congress. A general strike has been called in Guatemala for today. We are joined by Allan Nairn, longtime journalist who has covered Guatemala since the 1980s.

Watch Allan Nairn interview in Spanish

The Drug War Has to End: David Simon on "The Wire" & Over-Policing of the Poor

Wed 07 42 AM

In his acclaimed TV show "The Wire," David Simon captured the city of Baltimore from the angles of street-level drug dealers, beat police officers and journalists covering corrupt politicians. Earlier this year, President Obama described "The Wire" as "one of the greatest, not just television shows, but pieces of art, in the last couple of decades.” Simon said he aimed to portray how "raw, unencumbered capitalism" devalues human beings. Nearly a decade ago in Slate, Jacob Weisberg wrote: "No other program has ever done anything remotely like what this one does, namely to portray the social, political, and economic life of an American city with the scope, observational precision, and moral vision of great literature."

David Simon on Katrina Anniversary: New Orleans "May Be the Greatest Gift We Have to Offer"

Wed 07 32 AM

Ten years ago this week, Hurricane Katrina struck the Gulf Coast, killing more than 1,800 people. David Simon’s series "Treme" looked at New Orleans after the storm. We talk to the acclaimed TV writer and producer about the show and his love of New Orleans.