Democracy Now

Democracy Now!
A daily TV/radio news program, hosted by Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez, airing on over 1,100 stations, pioneering the largest community media collaboration in the United States.
Updated: 1 hour 50 min ago

As Obama Moves to Cap Student Debt Payments, Activists Push For Broader Write-Off of Crushing Loans

Tue 07 43 AM

President Obama has unveiled new executive actions to address what some have called the nation’s next financial crisis: the over $1.2 trillion in student loans. Obama’s order will expand the "Pay as Your Earn" program capping loan payments at ten percent of monthly income. The program also forgives any outstanding debt after twenty years of payments. The massive cost of U.S. college tuition has saddled millions with crushing debt and priced many others out of the classroom. Student loans now exceed all other forms of consumer debt except for home mortgages. This year’s graduate class is the most indebted in U.S. history, with borrowers owing an average $33,000. More than 70% of this year’s class has taken on a student loan, up from less than half of graduates twenty years ago. We are joined by two guests: Pamela Brown, a Ph.D. student in sociology at the New School and leading activist on the issue of student debt; and Andrew Rossi, director and producer of a new documentary on U.S. higher education, "Ivory Tower."

As Taliban Attacks Karachi Airport Again, Could Pakistan Fall Into Civil War With Militants?

Tue 07 31 AM

For the second time in 48 hours, Taliban militants have attacked Karachi’s international airport, the largest in Pakistan. Earlier today a group of gunmen on motorbikes opened fire on an academy run by the Airport Security Force. An assault by Taliban militants on Sunday left at least 38 people dead including the attackers. The Pakistani Taliban has claimed responsibility for both attacks, saying it was avenging military operations in North Waziristan and a U.S. drone strike that killed its leader, Hakimullah Mehsud, late last year. The Pakistani government moved toward peace talks with the Taliban earlier this year, but the process has faltered with a split inside the Taliban over whether to take part. We speak to Ayesha Siddiqa, a Pakistani political and defense analyst. Siddiqa is the author of "Military Inc.: Inside Pakistan’s Military Economy."

As Right-Wing Shooting Rampages Grow, U.S. Revives Domestic Terror Unit Shelved After 9/11

Tue 07 11 AM

Less than a week after Attorney General Eric Holder revived a task force to look at domestic terrorists, a married couple aligned with the anti-government Patriot movement shot dead two Las Vegas police officers, killed a civilian bystander, and then turned their guns on themselves. Jerad and Amanda Miller had recently spent time at the ranch of Cliven Bundy during his standoff with the federal government. Police say they proclaimed "the beginning of the revolution," and laid an American Revolutionary flag and a swastika symbol on the dead officers’ bodies. The Las Vegas shooting came just two days after a man tied to the “sovereign citizen” movement attacked a Georgia courthouse, throwing smoke bombs and shooting a sheriff’s deputy, who returned fire and killed him. Authorities say the shooter, Dennis Marx, had homemade explosives, and food and water, suggesting he planned to take hostages. Holder’s decision to revive the domestic terror unit comes five years after Republican outrage led the Obama administration to withdraw a key report on the resurgence of the radical right-wing. We are joined by Mark Potok of the Southern Poverty Law Center, which monitors U.S. hate groups and extremists."The [right-wing militia] movement is on fire at the moment, and it may get worse before it gets better," Potok says.

Freed From Prison, Bahraini Activist Nabeel Rajab Urges U.S. to Stop Backing Regime's Crackdown

Mon 07 46 AM

Nabeel Rajab, head of the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights, joins us after nearly two years behind bars for his role in pro-democracy protests. With the critical backing of the U.S. and neighboring Gulf states, the Bahraini government has waged a crackdown on opposition protesters since an uprising broke out in February 2011. "We have been abandoned by the American government, we have been ignored completely," Rajab says. "They support a dictatorship here... no one can change their policy except the American people." We are also joined by Human Rights Watch’s Josh Colangelo, author of a new report that finds Bahrain’s courts have played a key role in maintaining the country’s highly repressive political order, routinely sentencing peaceful protesters to lengthy prison terms.

Remembering Maya Angelou: Bill Clinton, Michelle Obama, Oprah Winfrey Pay Tribute to Legendary Poet

Mon 07 11 AM

The writer and activist Maya Angelou was remembered Saturday at a memorial service in North Carolina. Angelou died last month at the age of 86. Born in the Jim Crow South, Angelou rose to become one of the world’s most celebrated writers. After becoming an accomplished singer and actress, Angelou was deeply involved in the 1960s civil rights struggle, working with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X. Encouraged by the author James Baldwin, among others, to focus on her writing, Angelou penned "I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings," her first of seven autobiographies. The book launched the phenomenal career for which she is known around the world as an award-winning author and poet. First Lady Michelle Obama, former President Bill Clinton and media mogul Oprah Winfrey were among the dignitaries to honor Angelou at Winston-Salem’s Wake Forest University, where she taught for three decades. "She showed us that eventually, if we stayed true to who we are, then the world would embrace us," Obama said. "And she did this not just for black women but for all women. For all human beings. She taught us all that it is okay to be your regular old self, whatever that is. Your poor self, your broken self, your brilliant, bold, phenomenal self. That was Maya Angelou’s reach."

As U.S. Frees Five Taliban Members, Questions Remain Over Future of Guantánamo

Fri 07 46 AM

The Obama Administration is defending its controversial prisoner-swap deal that saw five members of Taliban released from the Guantánamo Bay prison in exchange for the release of U.S. Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl by the Taliban. On Thursday, State Department Deputy Spokeswoman Marie Harf disputed some Republicans’ claims that the released detainees were the "worst of the worse." We speak to civil rights attorney Frank Goldsmith who represents one of the freed Guantánamo prisoners, Khairullah Khairkhwa. We also speak to reporter Andy Worthington, who recently wrote an article called, "Missing the Point on the Guantánamo Taliban Prisoner Swap and the Release of Bowe Bergdahl."

The Inside Story of Bowe Bergdahl: Afghan War Vet Matthew Farwell on "America's Last POW"

Fri 07 12 AM

As the controversy over the prisoner swap grows, new information has emerged about Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl’s time in Afghanistan. On Thursday, administration officials said Bergdahl’s life could have been in danger if details of the prisoner swap had been leaked. While some in the media have speculated that Bergdahl became sympathetic to his captors, new reports reveal Bergdahl actually escaped from his captors on at least two occasions, once in the fall of 2011 and again sometime in 2012. In another development, the New York Times reveals a classified military report concluded Bergdahl most likely walked away from his Army outpost in June 2009 on his own free will, but it stops short of concluding that there is solid evidence that he intended to permanently desert. The report also revealed that Bergdahl had wandered away from assigned areas while in the Army at least twice before prior to the day he was captured, including once in Afghanistan. We speak to Matthew Farwell, a journalist and veteran of the Afghan war who has been following the Bergdahl story for years. He helped the late Michael Hastings write his 2012 Rolling Stone article, "America’s Last Prisoner of War." Farwell came to know Bergdahl’s parents after they attended the funeral of his brother who served and in Iraq and Afghanistan and died in a helicopter accident in Germany.

EPA Moves to Cut Coal Pollution, But Critics Say Plan Falls Short on Real Emissions Reduction

Thu 07 51 AM

New environmental regulations unveiled this week are being described as the U.S. government’s most sweeping effort to date in curbing the emissions that cause global warming. The Environmental Protection Agency is seeking a 30-percent reduction of carbon emissions from 2005 levels at coal-fired power plants by the year 2030. But many environmentalists are urging the United States to take greater action on cutting greenhouse gas emissions. The Guardian reports some of the most coal-heavy states, including West Virginia, Kentucky and Ohio, will be allowed to maintain, or even increase, their emissions under the EPA plan. Meanwhile, the European Union said the United States must "do even more" to help keep global temperatures from rising more than 2 degrees Celsius. We are joined by Janet Redman, director of the Climate Policy Program at the Institute for Policy Studies.

Seattle’s Socialist City Council Member Kshama Sawant Hails Historic Vote For $15/Hour Minimum Wage

Thu 07 41 AM

Seattle made history this week by passing the $15-an-hour minimum wage — the highest rate in the country for a major city, and more than twice the federal minimum. The raise will be phased in over time. Seattle businesses will have three to seven years to implement it, depending on their size. The plan also includes several loopholes for businesses, which were fought until the last minute by Seattle City Council Member Kshama Sawant, the first socialist to be elected to the council in a century. Sawant ran for City Council last year on a platform of raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour. She join us from Seattle.

Veteran: Politicians Using Freed POW Bowe Bergdahl as "Chess Piece to Win Political Matches"

Thu 07 22 AM

The Obama administration is seeking to contain a congressional backlash over a prisoner exchange that saw the release of American soldier Bowe Bergdahl for five Taliban leaders. On Wednesday, top intelligence and military officials held a closed-door briefing for the entire Senate showing them a recent video of Bergdahl in declining health. The administration says the video helped spur action to win his release over fears his life was in danger. Opponents of the deal say the White House failed to give Congress proper notice, and may have endangered American lives by encouraging the capture of U.S. soldiers. The criticism has exploded as news spread through right-wing media that Bergdahl may have left his base after turning against the war. We are joined by Brock McIntosh, a member of Iraq Veterans Against the War who served in Afghanistan from November 2008 to August 2009. McIntosh applied for conscientious objector status and was discharged last month.

Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl's Idaho Hometown Cancels "Welcome Home" Celebration as Backlash Grows

Thu 07 09 AM

The backlash over the prisoner swap involving U.S. soldier Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl and five members of the Taliban continues to grow. In Bergdahl’s hometown of Hailey, Idaho, community members have a canceled a celebration of his release over public safety concerns. In recent days, angry phone calls and emails poured into Hailey city hall and local organizations over the town’s support for the soldier. Bergdahl was captured by the Taliban in 2009 shortly after he left his military outpost in Afghanistan. Some of Bergdahl’s fellow soldiers have described him as a deserter. They have also said at least six soldiers died while searching for him, a claim the Pentagon rejects. We discuss the Bergdahl controversy and its local impact in Idaho with Larry Schoen, a county commissioner in Blaine County.

5 Years After Dr. George Tiller’s Murder, A Doctor Braves Threats to Continue Abortions in Wichita

Wed 07 44 AM

As Oklahoma enacts a law that could close all but one abortion clinic in the state — and Louisiana is poised to follow suit — we look at the legacy of Dr. George Tiller, who was assassinated five years ago this past weekend. Tiller was one of a handful of doctors providing abortions in the third trimester of pregnancy. He braved constant threats, a firebombing at his clinic and an assassination attempt that left him with gunshot wounds to both arms. On May 31, 2009, anti-choice extremist, Scott Roeder, entered Tiller’s church in Wichita, Kansas, and shot him dead. We remember Tiller by speaking with Dr. Cheryl Chastine, who travels from Chicago to Wichita each week to provide abortions at Tiller’s former clinic, which reopened last year. Chastine discusses the obstacles to abortion access in Kansas and responds to the threats and harassment she and her colleagues face. "I get up in the morning and there are patients that need me," Chastine says. "If I allow myself to be deterred from doing this work, then I am allowing a victory for terrorism."

Is Bowe Bergdahl a Deserter? If Freed POW Left Post, He Joins Ranks of Soldiers Moved by Conscience

Wed 07 30 AM

With freed American prisoner of war Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl now facing an Army probe into potential desertion, we are joined by Charles Glass, a historian and former ABC News chief Middle East correspondent. Glass’ book, "The Deserters: A Hidden History of the Second World War," tells the story of three men whose lives dramatize how the strain of war can push a soldier to the breaking point. They are among some 50,000 American soldiers who deserted in the European theater during World War II. "We have to understand what [Bergdahl] was going through," Glass says. "The young person at the front line, having believed in his country’s mission in Afghanistan and discovering it was not at all what he was told it was, and saw himself as part of the mechanism of oppression, of killing people, of going into villages, and when trying to take out enemy combatants was killing families. I hope that we’ll understand what he went through and have compassion for him and his family."

"There Were No Good Options": Bergdahl Should Get Honorable Discharge, Says Lawyer for Deserters

Wed 07 12 AM

The Taliban has released a video showing the hand over of Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl to U.S. Special Operations Forces in the deal that saw the U.S. exchange five high-ranking Taliban militants held at Guantánamo bay. Despite winning the freedom of the only known U.S. prisoner of war, the deal has come under Republican attack amidst reports Bergdahl voluntarily left his base after growing opposed to the war in Afghanistan. Army officials say they will investigate whether Bergdahl engaged in misconduct, and several of the soldiers who served with him have taken to the media to call him a deserter. "[Bergdahl] is speaking as someone who has seen firsthand what the American imperial machine is all about … and is responding from a very core, visceral place," says James Branum, a lawyer who specializes in representing U.S. military deserters and conscientious objectors. "One can’t help be moved by that." Branum adds that most other soldiers convicted of desertion, including many of his clients, have received six to 24 month sentences. "[Bergdahl] has already effectively served more jail time than anyone ever has in the modern era for desertion, in his time as a POW. Given that, there is no reason to punish him."

After Supreme Court Rejects Appeal, Will Obama Jail New York Times Reporter James Risen?

Tue 07 49 AM

In one of the most significant press freedom cases in decades, the U.S. Supreme Court has turned down the appeal of a New York Times reporter who faces prison for refusing to reveal a confidential source. James Risen had asked the court to overturn a ruling forcing him to testify in the criminal trial of ex-CIA analyst Jeffrey Sterling. Prosecutors believe Sterling gave Risen information on the CIA’s role in disrupting Iran’s nuclear program. Risen vowed to go to prison rather than testify and was hoping for Supreme Court intervention. But on Monday, the Supreme Court refused to weigh in, effectively siding with the government. The Obama administration must now decide if it will try to force Risen’s testimony and risk sending one of the nation’s most prominent national security journalists to jail. We are joined by two guests: Trevor Timm, executive director of the Freedom of the Press Foundation and a columnist at The Guardian; and Matthew Cooper, a veteran Washington correspondent who was held in contempt of court during the Bush administration leak case that led to the outing of Valerie Plame as a CIA agent.