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: 10 hours 27 min ago

Al Jazeera News Director: Prison Terms for Journalists in Egypt are Chilling Start to Sisi Era

Mon 07 42 AM

It was six months ago Sunday when Egyptian authorities raided a hotel room in Cairo used by reporters at the global TV network Al Jazeera. The journalists Peter Greste, Mohamed Fahmy and Baher Mohamed were arrested December 29, and they have been held in jail ever since. Last week they were sentenced to between seven and 10 years in prison for allegedly "spreading false news" in support of the Muslim Brotherhood, deemed by the government a "terrorist group." The sentence has shocked journalists and supporters of press freedom around the world. And the Al Jazeera reporters are not alone. According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, Egypt is currently holding at least 11 other journalists in prison. We are joined by Salah Negm, director of news at Al Jazeera English. "We were reporting in Egypt objectively and accurately," Negm says. "Throughout the trial there was not one piece of evidence against them of falsifying information or supporting any group which is outlawed. That was all false. The sentence came as a real shock."

Snowden Asylum in Germany? Support Grows for NSA Whistleblower After Merkel Cancels Verizon Contract

Mon 07 12 AM

Revelations by Edward Snowden about U.S. surveillance continue to shake Germany more than one year after he came forward as an National Security Agency whistleblower. Reports based on Snowden’s leaks revealed vast NSA spying in Germany, including on Chancellor Angela Merkel’s cellphone. Last week the German government canceled its contract with the U.S. telecommunications firm Verizon. Verizon has been providing network infrastructure for the German government’s Berlin-Bonn network, used for communication between government ministries, since 2010. Meanwhile, the German Parliament is continuing to conduct an inquiry into spying by the NSA and German secret services. Some German lawmakers are calling on Merkel’s government to grant Snowden asylum. We are joined by Snowden’s European lawyer, Wolfgang Kaleck, founder and general secretary for the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights.

"Counter-Revolution of 1776": Was U.S. Independence War a Conservative Revolt in Favor of Slavery?

Fri 07 37 AM

As the United States prepares to celebrate Independence Day, we look at why July 4 is not a cause for celebration for all. For Native Americans, it may be a bitter reminder of colonialism, which brought fatal diseases, cultural hegemony and genocide. Neither did the new republic’s promise of "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness" extend to African Americans. The colonists who declared their freedom from England did not share their newly founded liberation with the millions of Africans they had captured and forced into slavery. We speak with historian Gerald Horne, who argues the so-called Revolutionary War was actually a conservative effort by American colonists to protect their system of slavery. He is the author of two new books: "The Counter-Revolution of 1776: Slave Resistance and the Origins of the United States of America" and "Race to Revolution: The U.S. and Cuba During Slavery and Jim Crow." Horne is professor of history and African American studies at the University of Houston.

Journalist Allan Nairn Threatened for Exposing Indonesian Pres. Candidate's Role in Mass Killings

Fri 07 16 AM

A former military strongman is running for president in Indonesia. The U.S.-trained Prabowo Subianto has been accused of extensive human rights abuses that took place in the 1990s when he was head of the country’s special forces. He was dismissed from the army in 1998 following accusations he was complicit in the abduction and torture of activists during political unrest in Jakarta that led to the ouster of longtime dictator Suharto. We go to Indonesia to speak with journalist and activist Allan Nairn, who is there to reveal the former general’s role in mass killings of civilians. In a new article that has caused an uproar in the county and prompted death threats, Nairn quotes from a 2001 interview he conducted with Prabowo, who said then, "You don’t massacre civilians in front of the world press. … Indonesia is not ready for democracy." He argued Indonesia needed "a benign authoritarian regime,” and added, "Do I have the guts? Am I ready to be called a fascist dictator?" This coincides with outrage over the release of a music video made by Prabowo supporters showing them in Nazi-like uniforms.

New York City Approves Municipal ID Cards for Undocumented Immigrants

Fri 07 13 AM

The New York City Council has approved the use of municipal identification cards that will provide its nearly half a million undocumented residents with a way to prove their identity. Democracy Now! co-host and New York Daily News columnist Juan González says the progressive initiative is a big step forward for the immigrant community. He also discusses one of the Democrats’ most closely watched races. This week, 84-year-old Rep. Charles Rangel of New York declared victory over State Sen. Adriano Espaillat in a rematch of their 2012 primary, and secured his 23rd term in office.

50 Years After Freedom Summer, U.S. Faces Greatest Curbs on Voting Rights Since Reconstruction

Thu 07 50 AM

In a week marking the 50th anniversary of Freedom Summer, Mississippi was in the news when African-American voters crossed party lines to help Republican Sen. Thad Cochran narrowly defeat a tea party challenger to win his party’s nomination. It was just a year ago that Cochran praised a Supreme Court decision that gutted the heart of the Voting Rights Act. We are joined by three guests: Jerry Mitchell, investigative reporter for The Clarion-Ledger in Jackson, Mississippi, whose work helped put four Klansmen behind bars, including the man who orchestrated the Klan’s 1964 killings of three civil rights activists; Ari Berman, who covers voting rights for The Nation, author of a forthcoming book to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act; and David Goodman, brother of slain civil rights activist Andrew Goodman.

Mississippi Burning at 50: Relatives of Civil Rights Workers Look Back at Murders that Shaped an Era

Thu 07 26 AM

This week marks the 50th anniversary of the murders of three young civil rights workers who traveled to Mississippi for Freedom Summer, the historic campaign to register African-American voters. On June 21, 1964, James Chaney, Andy Goodman and Michael Schwerner went missing after they visited a church in Neshoba County, Mississippi, which the Ku Klux Klan had bombed because it was going to be used as a Freedom School. Forty-four days after the trio’s disappearance, FBI agents found their bodies buried in an earthen dam. During the six-week search, the bodies of nine black men were also dredged out of local swamps. The murders in Mississippi outraged the nation and propelled the passage of the Voting Rights Act in 1965. We are joined by family members of two of the victims: Rev. Julia Chaney-Moss, who was 17 years old when her brother was killed; Angela Lewis, Chaney’s daughter, born just 10 days before his death; and David Goodman, president of the Andrew Goodman Foundation, named after his brother.

Supreme Court Says Warrants Needed to Search Cellphones, But are "Stingrays" a Police Workaround?

Thu 07 13 AM

The Supreme Court delivered a resounding victory for privacy rights in the age of smartphones Wednesday when it ruled unanimously that police must obtain a warrant before searching the cellphones of people they arrest. The ruling likely applies to other electronic devices, such as laptop computers, which, like cellphones, can store vast troves of information about a person’s private life. The ruling makes no reference to the National Security Agency and its vast web of cellphone spying. But some NSA critics say it signals a greater understanding by the court of today’s technology and its implications for privacy. We get reaction to the ruling from Nathan Freed Wessler, staff attorney with the Speech, Privacy, and Technology Project at the American Civil Liberties Union. He also discusses police use of "Stingray" spy devices, which mimic cell towers and intercept data from all cellphones in a certain radius.

50 Years After U.S. Launched Secret War on Laos, Unexploded Bombs Still Killing Civilians

Wed 07 45 AM

Fifty years ago this month, the United States began raining down bombs on Laos, in what would become the largest bombing campaign in history. From June 1964 to March 1973, the United States dropped at least two million tons of bombs on the small, landlocked Southeast Asian country. That is the equivalent of one planeload every eight minutes, 24 hours a day, for nine years — more than was dropped on Germany and Japan during World War II. The deadly legacy of the Vietnam War lives on today in the form of unexploded cluster bombs, which had about a 30 percent failure rate when they fell from American planes over large swaths of Laos. Experts estimate that Laos is littered with as many as 80 million "bombies," or bomblets — baseball-sized bombs found inside cluster bombs. Since the bombing stopped four decades ago, tens of thousands of people have been injured or killed as a result. We are joined by Karen Coates and Jerry Redfern, co-authors of "Eternal Harvest: The Legacy of American Bombs in Laos."

"Trans Healthcare Now!" Lawsuit Seeks End to Healthcare Discrimination for Transgender New Yorkers

Wed 07 32 AM

In New York, and in most other states, a transgender person with Medicaid cannot obtain coverage for hormone therapy, which non-transgender women routinely obtain in the form of birth control. The Sylvia Rivera Law Project and other groups have filed a lawsuit challenging a 1998 regulation which prevents Medicaid recipients in New York from accessing sex reassignment surgery, hormones and other forms of care. The lawsuit follows a number of recent victories for transgender healthcare. Last month, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services overturned Medicare’s blanket ban on sex reassignment surgery, meaning recipients of Medicare will no longer have their claims for coverage of surgery automatically denied. Just last week, Massachusetts became the third state in the country to cover transgender healthcare under Medicaid. All this comes as activists prepare to mark the 45th anniversary of the Stonewall uprising in New York City on June 28, 1969, a seminal event that helped launch the modern LGBT movement. We speak with Pooja Gehi, staff attorney at the Sylvia Rivera Law Project, which filed the class-action lawsuit over Medicaid coverage in New York, and Angie Milan-Cruz, a plaintiff in the lawsuit.

#FreeAJStaff: Al Jazeera Reporter Sentenced in Absentia Decries Egypt's Imprisonment of 3 Colleagues

Wed 07 10 AM

Protests are continuing across the globe calling for Egypt to release three Al Jazeera journalists sentenced to between seven and 10 years in prison. Peter Greste, Mohamed Fahmy and Baher Mohamed were convicted on Monday of "spreading false news" in support of the Muslim Brotherhood, deemed by the government a "terrorist group." The sentencing came down one day after Secretary of State John Kerry visited Cairo to meet with Egypt’s new president, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, and herald the resumption of stalled U.S. military aid. According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, Egypt is holding at least 11 other journalists in prison, placing Egypt among the world’s worst repressors of media freedom. We are joined by Al Jazeera correspondent Sue Turton, who was among nine journalists sentenced in absentia to 10 years in prison during the same trial. We also hear from PBS NewsHour chief foreign correspondent Margaret Warner on how Fahmy saved her life.

Water is a Human Right: Detroit Residents Seek U.N. Intervention as City Shuts Off Taps to Thousands

Tue 07 47 AM

Activists in Detroit have appealed to the United Nations over the city’s move to shut off the water of thousands of residents. The Detroit Water and Sewerage Department says half of its 323,000 accounts are delinquent and has begun turning off the taps of those who do not pay bills that total above $150 or that are 60 days late. Since March, up to 3,000 account holders have had their water cut off every week. The Detroit water authority carries an estimated $5 billion in debt and has been the subject of privatization talks. In a submission to the United Nations special rapporteur on the human right to safe drinking water and sanitation, activists say Detroit is trying to push through a private takeover of its water system at the expense of basic rights. We speak to Maureen Taylor of the Michigan Welfare Rights Organization and Meera Karunananthan, international water campaigner for the Blue Planet Project.

Photo Credit: flickr.com/ifmuth

Can the President Strike an American Anywhere in the World?: Drone Memo Raises Troubling Questions

Tue 07 35 AM

During a three-month span in 2011, U.S. drones killed four American citizens overseas. On September 30, cleric Anwar al-Awlaki and Samir Khan were killed in a drone strike in Yemen. Two weeks later, another U.S. drone killed Anwar’s 16-year-old son, Abdulrahman, in Yemen. A month later, a U.S. citizen named Jude Kenan Mohammad was killed in Pakistan. For the past two-and-a-half years, the Obama administration has refused to release its legal rationale for killing American citizens overseas. That changed on Monday when a federal court released a heavily redacted 41-page memo. It concludes the 2001 Authorization to Use Military Force gave the U.S. government the authority to target Anwar al-Awlaki, who the Obama administration claims had joined al-Qaeda. On Capitol Hill, Sen. Ron Wyden praised the release of the memo but said it raises many questions. Wyden asked, "How much evidence does the president need to determine that a particular American is a legitimate target for military action? Can the president strike an American anywhere in the world?" Questions also remain over when the United States can kill non-U.S. citizens. We speak to Hina Shamsi, director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s National Security Project.

Should Obama Go to Tehran? How a U.S.-Iran "Grand Bargain" Could Help the Crisis in Iraq

Tue 07 13 AM

As the United Nations reveals more than 1,075 Iraqis have been killed so far this month, the Obama administration has promised Iraq "intense and sustained" support against the Sunni uprising overtaking large parts of the country. Secretary of State John Kerry made the pledge in a surprise visit to Baghdad while imploring Iraqi leaders to adopt inclusiveness in forming a new government by a July 1 deadline. Kerry’s visit to Baghdad followed stops in Egypt and Jordan, followed by Brussels and Paris in the coming days. But our guest Phyllis Bennis argues Kerry’s travel calendar ignores the most important stop he could make: Tehran. The United States and Iran are fighting a common enemy in Iraq’s Sunni militants. But despite much speculation and ongoing nuclear talks, there is little sign the two sides are approaching meaningful engagement on Iraq and the threat of regional conflict it is inflaming. A senior fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies, Bennis is the author of the article, "Don’t Go Back to Iraq! Five Steps the U.S. Can Take in Iraq Without Going Back to War," and of several books, including "Ending the Iraq War: A Primer."

Pressuring Israel, Presbyterian Church Divests from Firms Tied to Occupation of Palestinian Land

Mon 07 46 AM

In what is being hailed as a major milestone for the global campaign to boycott and divest from Israel over its treatment of Palestinians, the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) voted to divest from three companies that it says supply Israel with equipment used in the occupation of Palestinian territory. According to the church, the three firms — Motorola Solutions, Caterpillar and Hewlett-Packard — profit from the Israeli occupation of Palestinian land by selling bulldozers, surveillance technology and other similar products. The decision passed by seven votes, 310 to 303, making the Presbyterian Church the largest religious group to vote for divestment. We are joined by two guests: Dr. Nahida Gordon, a Palestinian-American professor who is a member of the steering committee of the Israel/Palestine Mission Network in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.); and Rabbi Alissa Wise, director of organizing at Jewish Voice for Peace.