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: 46 min 30 sec ago

Ferguson Residents Challenge "Modern Debtors' Prison Scheme" Targeting Blacks with Fines, Arrests

Tue 07 44 AM

Monday marked six months since a white police officer killed unarmed black teenager Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. The shooting sparked protests over Brown’s death and the broader racial divide it came to symbolize. Now, half a year later, a major legal action is taking that divide head-on. On Sunday, more than a dozen St. Louis-area residents filed class-action lawsuits against Ferguson and another suburb, Jennings. The residents accuse local officials of creating a "modern debtors’ prison scheme" that targets African Americans with arrests and fines and then locks them up when they cannot pay. A study last year by the ArchCity Defenders found a large part of the revenue for several St. Louis counties comes from fines paid by African-American residents disproportionately targeted for traffic stops and other low-level offenses. In Ferguson, fines and fees were the city’s second-largest source of income in fiscal year 2014. Ferguson issued on average nearly three warrants per household last year — the highest number of warrants in the state, relative to its size. We speak to Michael-John Voss, managing attorney at ArchCity Defenders, one of the groups that has filed a lawsuit against Ferguson and Jennings. We are also joined by Allison Nelson and Herbert Nelson Jr., two of the plaintiffs in the class-action lawsuits.

What Was Netanyahu Thinking? Criticism Swirls over Pre-Election Speech to U.S. Congress on Iran

Tue 07 39 AM

Controversy is mounting around Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s planned address to the U.S. Congress next month about Iran ahead of Israel’s election. Reuters is reporting Israeli officials are now considering whether Netanyahu should speak to a closed-door session of Congress, rather than in a prime-time television speech. Netanyahu was invited by Republican House Speaker John Boehner. President Obama has said he will not meet with Netanyahu so close to Israel’s election. We get analysis from retired Air Force general Charles Wald, the former deputy commander of U.S. European Command, and University of Chicago professor John Mearsheimer, author of "The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy."

Playing with Fire? A Debate on U.S. Arming Ukraine & NATO Expansion to Russia's Border

Tue 07 12 AM

As fighting continues in Ukraine, President Obama said Monday he has not ruled out arming the Ukrainian military against Russian-backed rebels. Meeting with Obama at the White House, German Chancellor Angela Merkel reiterated her opposition to arming Ukraine, saying the conflict could not be resolved militarily. Merkel is set to hold talks in Minsk on Wednesday with the leaders of Russia, Ukraine and France in a bid to end the crisis that has killed thousands and displaced 1.5 million people over the past year. Should the United States escalate its role in the conflict by arming Ukraine? We host a debate between retired Air Force general Charles Wald, the former deputy commander of U.S. European Command, and University of Chicago professor John Mearsheimer.

Exclusive: Freed CIA Whistleblower John Kiriakou Says "I Would Do It All Again" to Expose Torture

Mon 07 14 AM

In a broadcast exclusive interview, we spend the hour with John Kiriakou, a retired CIA agent who has just been released from prison after blowing the whistle on the George W. Bush administration’s torture program. In 2007, Kiriakou became the first CIA official to publicly confirm and detail the agency’s use of waterboarding. In January 2013, he was sentenced to two-and-a-half years in prison. Under a plea deal, Kiriakou admitted to a single count of violating the Intelligence Identities Protection Act by revealing the identity of a covert officer involved in the torture program to a freelance reporter, who did not publish it. In return, prosecutors dropped charges brought under the Espionage Act. Kiriakou is the only official to be jailed for any reason relating to CIA torture. Supporters say he was unfairly targeted in the Obama administration’s crackdown on government whistleblowers. A father of five, Kiriakou spent 14 years at the CIA as an analyst and case officer, leading the team that found high-ranking al-Qaeda member Abu Zubaydah in 2002. He joins us from his home in Virginia, where he remains under house arrest for three months while completing his sentence. In a wide-ranging interview, Kiriakou says, "I would do it all over again," after seeing the outlawing of torture after he came forward. Kiriakou also responds to the details of the partially released Senate Committee Report on the CIA’s use of torture; argues NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden did a "great national service," but will not get a fair trial if he returns to the United States; and describes the conditions inside FCI Loretto, the federal prison where he served his sentence and saw prisoners die with "terrifying frequency" from lack of proper medical care.

Exclusive: Deported Palestinian Scholar Sami Al-Arian on His Chilling Post-9/11 Prosecution

Fri 07 30 AM

Days after his deportation from the United States, the Palestinian activist and professor Sami Al-Arian discusses the end of his ordeal as the target of one of the most controversial prosecutions of the post-9/11 era. Sami was accused of ties to a militant group, but a Florida jury failed to return a single guilty verdict on any of the 17 charges against him. After prosecutors refiled charges, Sami chose jail time and deportation rather than face a second trial. For much of the three years following his arrest in 2003, he was imprisoned in solitary confinement and reportedly abused by prison staff under conditions Amnesty International called "gratuitously punitive." In a broadcast exclusive, Sami joins us from Turkey for his first broadcast interview since being deported. We are also joined by his daughter Laila Al-Arian, a Peabody Award-winning journalist based in Washington, D.C.

FCC's Net Neutrality Shift a Victory for Open Internet & Grassroots Activism Against Cable Giants

Fri 07 18 AM

After much anticipation, the chair of the Federal Communications Commission has unveiled what he calls "the strongest open internet protections ever proposed by the [agency]." Tom Wheeler backed the regulation of Internet service like a public utility in order to uphold net neutrality, the principle of a free and open Internet. The new rules would prevent Internet service providers like Comcast from blocking access to websites, slowing down content, or providing paid fast lanes for Internet service. It would also extend such protections to Internet service on cell phones and tablets. The proposal comes after the FCC received a record-setting number of public comments — nearly four million, almost all in support of strong protections. President Obama also released public statements in support of Internet protections. The FCC will vote on the plan February 26, ahead of an influx of lobbying by the telecom industry, which has also threatened to sue if the measure passes. We are joined by Tim Karr, senior director of strategy for Free Press, one of the main organizers of the Internet Countdown campaign leading up to the FCC’s net neutrality vote.

Juan González: Overhaul of NYC's 911 System Woefully Mismanaged & Nearly $1 Billion Over Budget

Fri 07 15 AM

In a front-page report for the New York Daily News, Democracy Now! co-host Juan González exposes the troubles plaguing New York City’s overhaul of its 911 communications system. The NYC Department of Investigation found the administration of former Mayor Michael Bloomberg mismanaged the upgrade with multiple layers of unaccountable private consultants and vendors, putting the project nearly $1 billion over budget and 10 years behind schedule.

Inside the Vaccine War: Measles Outbreak Rekindles Debate on Autism, Parental Choice & Public Health

Thu 07 13 AM

The federal government has confirmed more than 100 people across 14 states have now developed measles. Public health officials suspect the outbreak, which is concentrated in California, began when an infected person visited Disneyland in Anaheim in December. In recent years, a growing number of parents have opted not to have their children vaccinated, claiming a link between vaccines and autism. The prestigious medical journal Lancet published a study in 1998 showing such a link, but the study was later retracted and has been widely discredited. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one in 12 children born in the United States is not receiving their first dose of MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) vaccine on time. Several potential Republican presidential candidates have weighed in on the debate. Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, an ophthalmologist, said he had heard of instances where vaccines caused "mental disorders." New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said vaccinating kids is a matter of "parental choice."

We spend the hour discussing the vaccine debate and public health with three guests: Dorit Rubinstein Reiss is a professor at the University of California, Hastings College of the Law, and co-author of the report, "Funding the Costs of Disease Outbreaks Caused by Non-Vaccination"; Mary Holland is the mother of a child with regressive autism who, she believes, was injured by the MMR vaccine. She is also a research scholar at New York University School of Law and co-editor of the book, "Vaccine Epidemic: How Corporate Greed, Biased Science, and Coercive Government Threaten Our Human Rights, Our Health, and Our Children"; and Dr. Paul Offit is chief of the division of infectious diseases at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and a professor of pediatrics at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. He is author of "Autism’s False Prophets: Bad Science, Risky Medicine, and the Search for a Cure" and "Deadly Choices: How the Anti-Vaccine Movement Threatens Us All."

Johann Hari: Everything We Know About the Drug War & Addiction is Wrong

Wed 07 38 AM

As President Obama seeks $27.6 billion for federal drug control programs in his new budget, we talk to British journalist Johann Hari about the century-old failed drug war and how much of what we know about addiction is wrong. Over the past four years Hari has traveled to the United States, Mexico, Canada, Uruguay and Portugal to research his new book, "Chasing the Scream: The First and Last Days of the War of Drugs." His findings may surprise you — from the U.S. government’s persecution of Billie Holiday, to Vancouver’s success in addressing its heroin epidemic, to Portugal’s experiment with full decriminalization of all drugs.

Dean Baker: New Leftist Greek Leaders Being "Very Smart" to Challenge German-Imposed Austerity

Wed 07 31 AM

Economist Dean Baker discusses last month’s victory of the left-wing Syriza party in Greece. This marked the first election victory in Europe of an anti-bailout party bent on reversing deep cuts demanded by international lenders. Baker praises the initial moves by the new government but warns Greece needs an "exit option" to leave the European Union.

An End to "Mindless Austerity": Obama Pushes for Taxing the Rich to Fund New Spending Programs

Wed 07 12 AM

President Obama has unveiled a $4 trillion budget proposal for next year Congress that calls for raising taxes on the wealthy and corporations in order to help fund education and fix crumbling infrastructure. The plan includes tax cuts for some poor and middle-class families. It also seeks to recoup losses from corporations that stash an estimated $2 trillion overseas by taxing such earnings at 14 percent, still less than half of the 35 percent rate for profits made in the United States. Obama’s proposed budget also takes aim at the high cost of prescription drugs, proposes a new agency to regulate food safety, and seeks $1 billion to curb immigration from Central America. It also calls for a 4.5 percent increase in military spending, including a $534 billion base budget for the Pentagon, plus $51 billion to fund U.S. involvement in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan. Speaking at the Department of Homeland Security, Obama said across-the-board cuts known as sequestration would hurt the military. We speak to economist Dean Baker, co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research and author of "Getting Back to Full Employment: A Better Bargain for Working People."

The New Arab Cold War: U.S. Policy Sows Conflict, Unrest Across the Middle East and North Africa

Tue 07 42 AM

As the United States weighs a major escalation with potential military aid to Ukraine, we look at how American policy is sowing conflict across North Africa and the Middle East. Libya is run by two different governments, and the United Nations has warned of "total chaos" if ongoing unity talks fail. The U.S.-backed regime in Egypt continues a crackdown on political opponents, recently carrying out its worst killing of protesters since General Abdel Fattah el-Sisi became president last June. Iraq is coming off its deadliest month in years, while outgoing Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has said the U.S. might need to send noncombat ground troops for the ongoing campaign against the Islamic State. In Syria, the world’s worst current humanitarian crisis, the U.S. has backed off its calls for the ouster of President Bashar al-Assad. In Lebanon, Hezbollah and Israel exchanged fire last week in one of their most violent clashes since the 2006 war. The incident was followed days later by a Washington Post report that the CIA and its Israeli counterpart, the Mossad, assassinated a senior Hezbollah leader seven years ago this month. Now a dispute over Iran has brought relations between President Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to their lowest point so far. Following the death of King Abdullah last month, Obama led a large delegation to Saudi Arabia in a major display of U.S. support for the new repressive regime. And in Yemen, uncertainty prevails after last month’s resignation of President Abdu Hadi, with Houthi rebels now threatening to seize power. We discuss the state of the Middle East and North Africa — and the U.S. role in ongoing conflicts — with Vijay Prashad, professor of international studies at Trinity College.

Is Ukraine a Proxy Western-Russia War? U.S. Weighs Arming Kiev as Violence Soars

Tue 07 14 AM

The United Nations has raised the death toll from fighting in eastern Ukraine to more than 5,300 people since last April following the ouster of Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych one year ago this month. Another 1.5 million people have been displaced. As fighting intensifies, the Obama administration is now considering directly arming Ukrainian forces against Russian-backed rebels. Washington already supplies nonlethal military equipment to Ukraine, but top officials are reportedly leaning toward sending arms, from rifles to anti-tank weapons. The role of the U.S. and European allies in Ukraine has prompted former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev to accuse the West of dragging Russia into a new Cold War. We are joined by Stephen Cohen, professor emeritus of Russian studies and politics at New York University and Princeton University.