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: 7 hours 30 min ago

#SayHerName: Protests Demand Justice for Sandra Bland & Black Teen Found Dead in Jail 1 Day Later

Thu 07 06 AM

In Texas, new information has emerged about the arrest of Sandra Bland, the 28-year-old African-American woman found dead in a jail cell in what authorities claim was a suicide by hanging. Bland was stopped for not signaling a lane change. Dash cam video shows Texas State Trooper Brian Encinia forced her from her car, threatening to "light [her] up," after she failed to put out her cigarette. Now, Waller County Sheriff Glenn Smith says Bland told jailers she had previously attempted suicide. But an attorney for Bland’s family said relatives have no evidence of a prior suicide attempt. A local ABC station meanwhile obtained a voicemail Bland left for a friend while in jail. Video of Bland’s arrest shows her accusing police of slamming her head into the ground and saying, "I can’t even hear." Texas authorities have denied claims the 52-minute police dash cam video they released was edited, telling Mother Jones the apparent glitches in the video resulted from a YouTube upload error. Meanwhile, hundreds gathered in New York to honor Sandra Bland and highlight the case of Kindra Chapman, an 18-year-old African-American woman found dead in an Alabama jail cell one day after Sandra Bland was found dead. Protesters also honored India Clarke, the 10th transgender woman murdered so far this year. Tune in Friday when we will speak with Bland’s family and their attorney.

"Between the World and Me": Ta-Nehisi Coates Extended Interview on Being Black in America

Wed 07 16 AM

We spend the hour with Ta-Nehisi Coates, author of "Between the World and Me," an explosive new book about white supremacy and being black in America. The book begins, "Here is what I would like for you to know: In America, it is traditional to destroy the black body—it is heritage." It is written as a letter to his 15-year-old son, Samori, and is a combination of memoir, history and analysis. Its publication comes amidst the shooting of nine African-American churchgoers by an avowed white supremacist in Charleston; the horrifying death of Sandra Bland, a 28-year-old African-American woman in Texas who was pulled over for not signaling a lane change; and the first anniversary of the police killings of Eric Garner in Staten Island and Michael Brown in Ferguson. Coates talks about how he was influenced by freed political prisoner Marshall "Eddie" Conway and writer James Baldwin, and responds to critics of his book, including Cornel West and New York Times columnist David Brooks. Coates is a national correspondent at The Atlantic, where he writes about culture, politics, and social issues.

Juan González: Ride-Sharing Service Uber "Using Any Means Necessary" to Stop Regulation Attempts

Wed 07 14 AM

As the fight over the $40 billion ride-sharing service Uber is about to climax in New York City with a pending vote to cap temporarily Uber’s rapid expansion, Democracy Now! co-host Juan González discusses how the company is determined to fight any limits. Cab drivers in New York say Uber’s model of part-time drivers threatens full-time professional drivers and lowers wages for all drivers. González notes the company has faced major conflicts in 40 locations around the world, including in France, where cab drivers rioted and burned Uber cars, prompting the government to declare the company’s operation illegal.

"I Will Light You Up!": New Dash Cam Video Shows Arrest of Sandra Bland, Found Dead in Texas Jail

Wed 07 10 AM

In Texas, authorities have released police dashboard camera footage that shows the arrest of Sandra Bland, a 28-year-old African-American woman who was found dead in a jail cell in Waller County, Texas, last week after a traffic stop for not signaling a lane change. Authorities have said her death was a suicide, a claim that her friends and family have disputed. The arrest video shows Trooper Brian Encinia threatening to "light [Bland] up" after she questions his order for her to put out her cigarette while she was smoking in her own car. Previously released footage shot by a bystander shows Bland accusing police of slamming her head into the ground and saying, "I can’t even hear." Texas state Senator Royce West told reporters that the newly released dash cam footage shows that Bland should never have been arrested in the first place.

"Africa's Pinochet": Former U.S.-Backed Chadian Dictator Hissène Habré Faces War Crimes Trial

Tue 07 43 AM

In news from Africa, the trial of Hissène Habré, the former dictator of Chad, began in Senegal on Monday but took an unexpected turn today when it was postponed 45 days after Habré’s attorneys did not show for the trial. Hissène Habré is a former U.S. ally who has been described as "Africa’s Pinochet." He is accused of killing as many as 40,000 people during his eight years in power in the 1980s. Habré is being tried in a special court established after a two-decade-long campaign led by his victims. In a statement today about the postponed trial, attorney Reed Brody of Human Rights Watch said, "The victims are of course very disappointed, but they have been fighting to bring this case to court for 25 years, and 45 days will not change anything in the long march towards justice." Democracy Now! recently spoke to Reed Brody here in New York before he left for Senegal for the trail. He has worked with victims of Hissène Habré’s regime since 1999.

Is the Era of U.S.-Backed Anti-Castro Terrorism Over? Reflections on Restored Ties Between Nations

Tue 07 25 AM

Hundreds of dignitaries from Cuba and the United States gathered in Washington on Monday to mark the reopening of the Cuban Embassy after being closed for more than five decades. We speak to Congressmembers Raúl Grijalva and Barbara Lee; actor Danny Glover; former U.S. diplomat Wayne Smith; attorneys Michael Smith and Michael Ratner, who co-authored "Who Killed Che?: How the CIA Got Away with Murder"; Phyllis Bennis and James Early of the Institute for Policy Studies; and others.

Secret Talks & Sperm Deals: Sen. Patrick Leahy Details Back Story to Renewed U.S.-Cuban Ties

Tue 07 15 AM

Senator Patrick Leahy of Vermont also attended Monday’s opening of the Cuban Embassy in Washington, D.C. He played a pivotal role in the secret negotiations between the United States and Cuba, and helped with the release of the Cuban Five. Leahy made headlines last year when it was revealed that Leahy helped the wife of one of the members of the Cuban Five become pregnant. Gerardo Hernández, the baby’s father, is one of the three former Cuban intelligence agents released in December as part of a prisoner swap amidst thawing ties with Cuba. While he was not allowed conjugal visits, Hernández was able to impregnate his wife by having his frozen sperm transferred to her in Panama, a process authorized by U.S. officials, funded by the Cuban government and facilitated by a staffer for Leahy. We speak to Leahy and his wife, Marcelle, at the Cuban Embassy.

A Victory for the People in Havana: Former Cuban Parliamentary Speaker Hails Restoration of Ties

Tue 07 08 AM

Hundreds of dignitaries from Cuba and the United States gathered outside the Cuban Embassy in Washington, D.C., to mark the historic restoration of diplomatic ties between the two countries after 54 years. Crowds of people cheered as the Cuban national anthem played and three Cuban soldiers stood at attention while the flag was raised. Bruno Rodríguez became the first Cuban foreign minister to visit Washington since the time of the Cuban revolution. Later in the day, he met with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry at the State Department. The U.S. Embassy in Havana also became fully operational Monday but will not host a flag-raising ceremony until August 14, when Kerry will pay a visit to the capital. Earlier Monday, Cuba’s flag was raised at the State Department, joining the flags of more than 150 other countries that have diplomatic relations with the United States. Democracy Now! spoke with Ricardo Alarcón, former speaker of the Cuban National Assembly.

Danny Glover and Medea Benjamin on Assata, Guantánamo and Trade as Cuban Flag Rises in Washington

Mon 07 41 AM

As U.S.-Cuban diplomatic relations are officially restored after five decades, we speak to two activists who have spent decades opposing U.S. policy on Cuba: the actor Danny Glover and CodePink co-founder Medea Benjamin. Both have traveled to Cuba many times over the past decades despite the U.S. embargo. Benjamin lived on the island for four years and has written three books on Cuba. They are both in Washington today for the reopening of the Cuban Embassy after 54 years. The reopened Cuban Embassy was built in 1917, becoming the first diplomatic building in this neighborhood and helping to establish this area as a diplomatic center. Fidel Castro visited the embassy in 1959 after he overthrew Cuban dictator Fulgencio Batista. Two years later, in 1961, the United States unilaterally broke off relations with Cuba. The last time the United States and Cuba had diplomatic ties, President Dwight Eisenhower was in office. Today’s opening of embassies is just the first step in normalizing relationships between the two countries. On Wednesday, Cuban President Raúl Castro applauded the diplomatic renewal but called on Obama to use his executive powers to remove the ongoing U.S. trade and financial embargo. So far, the Republican majority in Congress has rejected Obama’s calls to lift the U.S. embargo on Cuba. Obama’s congressional opponents have also vowed to block any ambassadorial nominee to Cuba and have denounced the decision to formally remove Cuba from the U.S. list of state sponsors of terrorism.

Special Broadcast from Opening of Cuban Embassy in Washington as U.S.-Cuban Diplomatic Ties Restored

Mon 07 11 AM

History is being made in Washington today when Cuba raises its flag and officially reopens its U.S. Embassy after 54 years. Hundreds are gathering for this historic moment, including U.S. and Cuban lawmakers and diplomats, activists and artists, scholars and historians. Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodríguez is leading a delegation of over two dozen officials from Havana, including Cuba’s chief negotiator, Josefina Vidal. Also among the attendees is Cuban singer-songwriter Silvio Rodriguez and former Parliament President Ricardo Alarcón. This afternoon, Bruno Rodríguez will hold a joint news conference with Secretary of State John Kerry at the State Department, where Cuba’s flag was raised earlier this morning, joining the flags of more than 150 other countries that have diplomatic relations with the U.S. In Havana, the U.S. Embassy will also reopen its doors today. Kerry is set to travel there later this summer for the formal inauguration ceremony where a U.S. flag will be hoisted. Cubans have welcomed the diplomatic rapprochement with jubilation. For more, we’re joined by Cuban-American attorney José Pertierra and Peter Kornbluh, director of the Cuba Documentation Project at the National Security Archive at George Washington University.

Mass Shootings on the Rise: 4 Marines Killed in Tennessee While Aurora Theater Gunman Found Guilty

Fri 07 51 AM

On Thursday, a gunman opened fire on two separate military sites in Chattanooga, Tennessee. The rampage left four marines and the gunman dead and at least three people injured. The Tennessee shooting came as a jury in Colorado announced its verdict in one of the deadliest mass shootings in U.S. history. Almost exactly three years ago, on July 20, 2012, James Holmes walked into a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado, and opened fire, killing 12 people and injuring 70 others. On Thursday, the jury found him guilty of 165 counts of first-degree murder and attempted murder. Holmes now faces a lengthy sentencing process which could result in the death penalty.

Newly Released Dash Cam Video Shows California Police Shooting Unarmed Man with Hands Up

Fri 07 39 AM

After a two-year legal battle between the California city of Gardena and news outlets, a federal judge has ordered the release of police dash cam footage that shows local police officers shooting an unarmed man. In the video unsealed Tuesday, police order Ricardo Diaz-Zeferino and two other men to raise their hands in the air. The men comply. Diaz-Zeferino then lowers and raises his hands several times and removes his cap. His friends say he was trying to explain to the officers that they were on the streets looking for his brother’s stolen bicycle and were not bicycle thieves themselves as the cops incorrectly suspected. Three officers then open fire, killing him with eight bullets. They also wound one of the other men. The city of Gardena paid $4.7 million to settle a civil rights lawsuit with the victims’ families, but blocked release of the dash cam videos. In his ruling on Tuesday, Judge Stephen Wilson said there was a public interest in seeing the material. Gardena has since filed a notice of appeal with the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which issued a stay suspending the release of the videos; however, the videos have gone viral and remain available online. For more, we go to Los Angeles, California, where we’re joined by Sonia Mercado, a civil rights attorney representing the family of Ricardo Diaz-Zeferino.

Outrage Grows After Mysterious Death of #BlackLivesMatter Activist Sandra Bland in Texas Jail

Fri 07 31 AM

Last Friday, an African-American woman was returning home from a job interview in Waller County, Texas, when she was stopped by police. Apparently, she had improperly signaled a lane change. Two days later, the woman, Sandy Bland, was found dead in a jail cell. A video taken by a bystander during the arrest shows Bland shouting that the officer had slammed her head into the ground. According to police, Sandra Bland was taken into custody and charged with "assault of a public servant." On Monday, police say Bland was "found in her cell not breathing from what appears to be self-inflicted asphyxiation." The announcement was made by Waller County Sheriff Glenn Smith. Meanwhile, reports have emerged that Smith was fired from his previous post as chief of police of Hempstead, Texas, amidst accusations of racism. Bland’s friends and family contest Smith’s account, saying the thought of her committing suicide by hanging is "unfathomable." Social media is now ablaze with people demanding answers about Sandra Bland’s death. The hashtag #SandraBland is now trending on Twitter, edging out the Emmys as a topic of discussion. We speak to Maya Schenwar, editor-in-chief of Truthout and author of "Locked Down, Locked Out: Why Prison Doesn’t Work and How We Can Do Better."

The War on Drugs is a War on Minorities: Former El Reno Prison Inmate Freed by Obama Speaks Out

Fri 07 08 AM

President Obama became the first sitting president in history to visit a federal prison Thursday when he toured the El Reno Federal Correctional Institution in Oklahoma. After passing through several security gates, Obama stepped inside a 9-by-10 cell and walked through a section called Cell Block B that houses prisoners who are part of a drug rehabilitation and prevention program. He also spent about 45 minutes meeting with six nonviolent drug offenders, which he described during a press conference afterward. Obama’s stop at the federal prison in El Reno comes amidst a broader, bipartisan push to end mass incarceration. On Monday, he commuted the sentences of 46 low-level drug offenders. Many of them had stories like our next guest, Jason Hernandez, who was sentenced to life in prison without parole in 1998 for his role in a drug conspiracy, starting when he was only 15. He was one of eight prisoners whose sentences were commuted by President Obama on December 19, 2013. We are also joined by Maya Schenwar, editor-in-chief of Truthout and author of "Locked Down, Locked Out: Why Prison Doesn’t Work and How We Can Do Better."

Protests Erupt Outside of Greek Parliament as It Approves Harsh Austerity Measures in Bailout Deal

Thu 07 53 AM

Protests erupted in Greece Wednesday as the Greek Parliament approved harsh new austerity measures in exchange for a third European bailout. Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras won the parliamentary vote by a vote of 229 to 64. But 32 members of his own Syriza party voted against the plan, including former Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis. Lawmakers approved the harsh austerity measures just days after voters rejected similar reforms in a referendum, including retirement age increases, tax hikes, public spending cuts, pension adjustments and collective bargaining restructuring in exchange for up to $94 billion. The vote came amid worker strikes, peaceful marches and violent clashes between protesters and police across Athens. We go to Greece for an update from Theodoros Karyotis, a sociologist, translator and activist who has been participating in grassroots movements and protesting austerity.