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: 6 hours 5 min ago

Why Did the FBI Label Ryan Shapiro's Dissertation on Animal Rights a Threat to National Security?

Tue 07 42 AM

Over the past decade, Ryan Shapiro has become a leading freedom of information activist, unearthing tens of thousands of once-secret documents. His work focuses on how the government infiltrates and monitors political movements, in particular those for animal and environmental rights. Today, he has around 700 Freedom of Information Act requests before the FBI, seeking around 350,000 documents. That tenacity has led the Justice Department to call him the "most prolific" requester there is — in one year, two requests per day. It has also led the FBI to claim his dissertation research at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology would "irreparably damage national security." Shapiro discusses his methodology in obtaining government documents through FOIA requests, and the details that have emerged therein about the crackdown on animal rights activists.

Why Did FBI Monitor Occupy Houston, and Then Hide Sniper Plot Against Protest Leaders?

Tue 07 35 AM

Transparency activist Ryan Shapiro discusses a growing controversy over the FBI’s monitoring of Occupy Houston in 2011. The case centers on what the FBI knew about an alleged assassination plot against Occupy leaders and why it failed to share this information. The plot was first revealed in a heavily redacted document obtained by the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund through a FOIA request. The document mentioned an individual "planned to engage in sniper attacks against protesters in Houston, Texas." When Shapiro asked for more details, the FBI said it found 17 pages of pertinent records and gave him five of them, with some information redacted. Shapiro sued, alleging the FBI had improperly invoked FOIA exemptions. Last week, Federal District Judge Rosemary Collyer agreed with Shapiro, ruling the FBI had to explain why it withheld the records.

Exclusive: NSA, FBI, DIA Sued over Refusal to Disclose U.S. Role in Imprisonment of Nelson Mandela

Tue 07 12 AM

In a Democracy Now! exclusive, one of the nation’s most prolific transparency activists, Ryan Shapiro, reveals he is suing the NSA, FBI and Defense Intelligence Agency in an attempt to force them to open their records on one of the country’s greatest secrets: how the U.S. helped apartheid South Africa capture Nelson Mandela in 1962, leading to his 27 years in prison. The U.S. has never confirmed its involvement, but details have leaked out over the years. Shapiro already has a pending suit against the CIA over its role in Mandela’s capture and to find out why it took until 2008 for the former South African president to be removed from the U.S. terrorist watch list. The NSA has already rejected one of Shapiro’s requests for its information on Mandela, citing "national defense."

Dear White People: Film Tackles Racial Stereotypes on Campus & Being a "Black Face in a White Space"

Mon 07 12 AM

As colleges across the country, from Harvard to University of Mississippi, continue to witness racism on campus, we look at a new film that tackles the issue through comedy and satire. "Dear White People" follows a group of black students at a fictional, predominantly white, Ivy League school. One of the main characters, Sam, hosts the campus radio show "Dear White People," where she confronts the racist stereotypes and dilemmas faced by students of color. Racial tensions on campus come to a head when a group of mostly white students throw an African-American-themed party, wearing blackface and using watermelons and fake guns as props. We speak to actor Marque Richardson and award-winning, first-time director Justin Simien.

As Wells Fargo is Accused of Fabricating Foreclosure Papers, Will Banks Keep Escaping Prosecution?

Fri 07 43 AM

A new internal report says the Justice Department massively overstated its successes in targeting mortgage fraud while in fact ranking it as a low priority for investigation. The Justice Department’s inspector general says despite playing a central role in the nation’s financial crisis, mortgage fraud was deemed either a low priority or not a priority at all. This comes as a recently revealed internal Wells Fargo document appears to guide lawyers step by step on how to fabricate missing documents to foreclose on homeowners. Wells Fargo is the country’s largest mortgage servicer and services some nine million home loans.

Scott Olsen, U.S. Vet Nearly Killed by Police Beanbag at Occupy Oakland, Settles Lawsuit with City

Fri 07 33 AM

Scott Olsen survived two tours in Iraq but almost died when he was hit with a police projectile at an Occupy Oakland protest in 2011. He was hospitalized in critical condition with a fractured skull, a broken neck vertebrae and brain swelling. At the time of the shooting, Olsen was wearing fatigues and a Veterans for Peace T-shirt. Moments after he was shot, police fired a bright flash grenade at a group of Occupy protesters who attempted to help treat him. Soon after that, protesters carried Olsen away as blood streamed down his face. Scott was later released from the hospital and sued the Oakland Police Department. He announced today on Democracy Now! he had reached a seven-figure settlement.

As Surveillance Costs Fall, Could the NSA Gain Ability to Record & Replay Every Call, Everywhere?

Fri 07 12 AM

The latest disclosures from Edward Snowden show the National Security Agency is recording every single phone call made in an undisclosed foreign country. A surveillance system called MYSTIC stores the billions of phone conversations for up to 30 days. Agents are able to rewind and review any conversation within the previous month using a tool codenamed RETRO. One senior manager for the program compared it to a time machine. We speak to Ashkan Soltani, who co-wrote the Washington Post exposé on MYSTIC and has closely studied the cost of surveillance. He has co-written a series of other exposés for the Post that revealed how the NSA uses Google cookies to pinpoint targets for hacking and how the NSA secretly broke into the main communications links that connect Yahoo and Google data centers around the world.

"Team Pentobarbital": OK Officials Joked About Seeking Football Tix for Help with Execution Drugs

Thu 07 50 AM

Texas has executed death row prisoner Ray Jasper after obtaining a new supply of pentobarbital, the drug it uses for executions, just days before its current batch was set to expire. Meanwhile, Oklahoma has postponed two executions because it lacks the drugs required to put prisoners to death. As death penalty drugs become scarce, the assistant Oklahoma attorney general has joked with a Texas colleague that he might be able to help Texas get the drugs in exchange for 50-yard-line tickets for a top college football game between the University of Oklahoma and the University of Texas. The exchange is revealed in email obtained by The Colorado Independent, which also exposed how Oklahoma injected leftover lethal drugs into the bodies of dead prisoners. We are joined by Susan Greene, editor of The Colorado Independent.

Georgia Activists Confront GOP Rejection of Medicaid as Moral Mondays Spread Across South

Thu 07 33 AM

"Medicaid expansion now!" was the rallying cry this week of a rising grassroots movement spreading across the South. Nearly 40 people were arrested at the Georgia State Senate on Tuesday protesting a bill that would bar the expansion of Medicaid. Georgia has the fifth-highest number of uninsured people of any state in the country. Under the Affordable Care Act, an estimated 650,000 additional residents would be eligible for Medicaid. But Georgia is one of a number of Republican-led states that have opted out of such Medicaid expansion. The protest at the Georgia State Senate was the largest to date by Moral Monday Georgia, an outgrowth of the Moral Monday movement that began in North Carolina. We are joined by Reverend Dr. Raphael Warnock, senior pastor of the Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, Georgia, which was the spiritual home of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Rev. Warnock was among the protesters arrested for nonviolent civil disobedience on Tuesday. "Dr. King said that the time comes when silence is betrayal," Rev. Warnock says. "That time is now. The issue is affordable healthcare for all in the richest country in the world."

DREAM Act Narrowly Fails in NY Senate After Gov. Andrew Cuomo Failed to Push Passage

Thu 07 30 AM

The New York State Senate has rejected a bill that would have provided tuition assistance to undocumented immigrant college students. The defeated bill, known as the DREAM Act, would affect some 8,000 college-age immigrants who were brought to this country as children by their parents. Last night, students protested the vote in New York City. Some of them were upset at Democratic State Senator Jeff Klein of the Bronx for bringing the bill to a vote before he had the necessary support.

Former U.S. Ambassador: Behind Crimea Crisis, Russia Responding to Years of "Hostile" U.S. Policy

Thu 07 09 AM

The standoff over Ukraine and the fate of Crimea has sparked the worst East-West crisis since the end of the Cold War. The U.S. has imposed sanctions on top Russian officials while announcing new military exercises in Baltic states. Meanwhile in Moscow, the Russian government says it is considering changing its stance on Iran’s nuclear talks in response to newly imposed U.S. sanctions. As tensions rise, we are joined by Jack Matlock, who served as the last U.S. ambassador to the Soviet Union. Matlock argues that Russian President Vladimir Putin is acting in response to years of perceived hostility from the U.S., from the eastward expansion of NATO to the bombing of Serbia to the expansion of American military bases in eastern Europe.

Fukushima Fallout: Ailing U.S. Sailors Sue TEPCO After Exposure to Radiation 30x Higher Than Normal

Wed 07 29 AM

Three years after the triple meltdown at the Fukushima nuclear power plant, scores of U.S. sailors and marines are suing the plant’s operator, the Tokyo Electric Power Company, for allegedly misleading the Navy about the level of radioactive contamination. Many of the servicemembers who provided humanitarian relief during the disaster have experienced devastating health ailments since returning from Japan, ranging from leukemia to blindness to infertility to birth defects. We are joined by three guests: Lieutenant Steve Simmons, a U.S. Navy sailor who served on board the USS Ronald Reagan and joined in the class action lawsuit against TEPCO after suffering health problems; Charles Bonner, an attorney for the sailors; and Kyle Cleveland, sociology professor and associate director of the Institute for Contemporary Asian Studies at Temple University’s Japan campus in Tokyo. Cleveland recently published transcripts of the Navy’s phone conversations about Fukushima that took place at the time of the disaster, which suggest commanders were also aware of the risk faced by sailors on the USS Ronald Reagan.

Black, Latino Firefighters in New York City Settle Long-Running Suit over Racial Discrimination

Wed 07 14 AM

Some 1,500 Black and Latino applicants to the Fire Department of New York have settled a long-running lawsuit with the city and the Justice Department over racially discriminatory hiring practices at the nation’s largest fire department. The agreement grants almost $100 million in back pay to those impacted. When the case was filed in 2007, the Fire Department was 90 percent white, even though African Americans and Latinos totaled half the city’s population. Under the new agreement, the Fire Department will be required to change its recruiting policies in order to increase diversity and make the department more representative of the city’s population. We discuss the settlement with two guests: Paul Washington, past president of the black firefighters’ group, the Vulcan Society of Black Firefighters, and captain of Engine 234 in Crown Heights, Brooklyn; and Richard Levy, the case’s lead attorney.

A Sliver of Light: Freed U.S. Hikers on Captivity in Iran & Activism Against Solitary Confinement

Tue 07 08 AM

In a Democracy Now! special, Sarah Shourd, Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal recall their harrowing ordeal as American hikers imprisoned in Iran. Detained after setting out on a hike in the summer of 2009 in Iraq’s Kurdish region near the Iranian border, Bauer and Fattal were held for 26 months, while Shourd — now married to Bauer — was held for 13 months, much of it in solitary confinement. The three tell their story in a new memoir, "A Sliver of Light: Three Americans Imprisoned in Iran."