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: 2 hours 6 min ago

Secret History of U.S.-Cuba Ties Reveals Henry Kissinger Plan to Bomb Havana for Fighting Apartheid

Thu 07 34 AM

In the new book, "Back Channel to Cuba: The Hidden History of Negotiations between Washington and Havana," authors Peter Kornbluh and William LeoGrande use recently declassified documents to expose the secret history of dialogue between the United States and Cuba. Among the revelations are details of how then-U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger considered launching airstrikes against Cuba after Fidel Castro sent troops to support independence fighters in Angola in 1976. In the years that followed, top-secret U.S. emissaries, including former President Jimmy Carter and Nobel Prize-winning author Gabriel García Márquez, worked to normalize relations with Cuba. The book’s release comes as Cuban leader Raúl Castro is set to participate for the first time in next year’s Summit of the Americas in Panama. Cuba recently denounced the Obama administration for extending the more than 50-year embargo for another year in a little-noticed move in September.

After U.S. Sanctions & Wars Tore Iraq Apart, Can American-Led Strikes Be Expected to Save It?

Thu 07 10 AM

Islamic State militants have reportedly made advances in both Iraq and Syria despite an escalating U.S.-led bombing. In Iraq, militants are said to have seized control of the town of Heet in Anbar province. In Syria, militants have advanced on Kurdish towns near the Turkish border, forcing tens of thousands of Syrian Kurds to flee in recent days. The United Nations says more than 1,100 Iraqis were killed in violence last month. The actual toll is far higher because it does not include deaths in areas controlled by the Islamic State. The United Nations says the Islamic State has carried out mass executions, abducted women and girls as sex slaves, and used children as fighters. The United Nations also says airstrikes by the Iraqi government have caused "significant civilian deaths and injuries." This comes as the White House has confirmed it has relaxed standards aimed at preventing civilian deaths for the U.S. airstrikes in Iraq and Syria. We discuss the developing situation with Sinan Antoon, an Iraqi poet, novelist and translator. A professor at New York University, Antoon is co-founder and co-editor of Jadaliyya ezine.

Mississippi County Sued for Indefinitely Holding Prisoners Without Charge or Access to Lawyer

Wed 07 53 AM

The American Civil Liberties has filed a federal lawsuit against Scott County, which is about 25 miles from the capital of Jackson, over allegations that it has held prisoners for nearly a year without formal charge or access to an attorney. The two plaintiffs in the case are Octavious Burks, held for more than 10 months without formal charge, and Joshua Bassett, held for eight months. Burks was arrested for armed robbery, and Bassett for grand larceny and possession of methamphetamine. Overall, the ACLU estimates at least 50 people are being held in the Scott County in a similar situation — no indictment and no access to a lawyer. We are joined by Brandon Buskey, staff attorney with the Criminal Law Reform Project at the ACLU and lead attorney on the case in Scott County, Mississippi.

Accused of Stealing a Backpack, High School Student Jailed for Nearly Three Years Without Trial

Wed 07 28 AM

We look at the incredible story of how a 16-year-old high school sophomore from the Bronx ended up spending nearly three years locked up at the Rikers jail in New York City after he says he was falsely accused of stealing a backpack. Kalief Browder never pleaded guilty and was never convicted. Browder maintained his innocence and requested a trial, but was only offered plea deals while the trial was repeatedly delayed. Near the end of his time in jail, the judge offered to sentence him to time served if he entered a guilty plea, and warned him he could face 15 years in prison if he was convicted. But Browder still refused to accept the deal, and was only released when the case was dismissed. During this time, Browder spent nearly 800 days in solitary confinement, a juvenile imprisonment practice that the New York Department of Corrections has now banned. We are joined by reporter and author Jennifer Gonnerman, who recounts Browder’s story in the current issue of The New Yorker. We also speak with Browder’s current attorney, Paul Prestia, who has filed a lawsuit against the City of New York, the New York City Police Department, the Bronx District Attorney, and the Department of Corrections, on Browder’s behalf.

After Censorship of History Course, Colorado Students & Teachers Give a Lesson in Civil Disobedience

Wed 07 12 AM

After a county school board in Colorado proposed to rewrite the district’s high school U.S. history curriculum to stop teaching about civil disobedience, students and teachers have responded with acts of civil disobedience of their own. Classes have been canceled twice in Jefferson County as teachers stage mass sick-outs and students walk out of classes. At a protest last week, hundreds of Denver-area high school students held cardboard signs with slogans including, "Don’t make history a mystery" and "Keep your politics out of my education." The protests began after the school board announced it was considering reviewing the curriculum of Advanced Placement history courses and adding more material to "promote citizenship, patriotism, essentials and benefits of the free-market system, respect for authority and respect for individual rights." The proposed changes also call for the removal of classroom materials that "encourage or condone civil disorder, social strife or disregard of the law." In addition, teachers are protesting a pay-grade system that ties their salaries to performance reviews. We are joined by two guests: John Ford, president of the Jefferson County Education Association and a social studies teacher at Moore Middle School, and Ashlyn Maher, a Chatfield High School senior and one of the students protesting the proposed curriculum changes.

As U.S.-Afghanistan Sign Troop Deal, CIA-Backed Warlord Behind Massacre of 2,000 POWs Sworn-In as VP

Tue 07 27 AM

Afghanistan has inaugurated its first new president in a decade, swearing in Ashraf Ghani to head a power-sharing government. Joining him on stage Monday was Abdul Rashid Dostum, Afghanistan’s new vice president. Dostum is one of Afghanistan’s most notorious warlords, once described by Ghani himself as a "known killer." Dostum’s rise to the vice presidency comes despite his involvement in a 2001 massacre that killed up to 2,000 Taliban prisoners of war. The victims were allegedly shot to death or suffocated in sealed metal truck containers after they surrendered to Dostum and the U.S.-backed Northern Alliance. The dead prisoners — some of whom had been tortured — were then buried in the northern Afghan desert. Dostum, who was on the CIA payroll, has been widely accused of orchestrating the massacre and tampering with evidence of the mass killing. For more than a decade, human rights groups have called on the United States to conduct a full investigation into the massacre including the role of U.S. special forces and CIA operatives. We speak to Jamie Doran, director of the 2002 documentary "Afghan Massacre: The Convoy of Death," and Susannah Sirkin, director of international policy at Physicians for Human Rights, the group that discovered the site of the mass graves of the Taliban POWs.

Umbrella Revolution: Hong Kong's Biggest Protests in Decades Challenge China on Political Freedom

Tue 07 09 AM

Hong Kong is facing its biggest political unrest in decades as tens of thousands of protesters defy a police crackdown to demand greater freedom from China. The new round of protests began last week when thousands of college students launched a boycott to oppose China’s rejection of free elections in 2017. The protesters want an open vote, but China’s plan would only allow candidates approved by Beijing. After a three-day sit-in, police used tear gas and pepper spray to disperse the crowds. But that only fueled a public outcry which brought even more into the streets, with estimates reaching up to 200,000 people. Protest leaders have vowed to remain until the resignation of Hong Kong city leader, Leung Chun-ying, and a free vote for his successor. Originally organized by the group "Occupy Central," the protests have been dubbed Umbrella Revolution, for the umbrellas protesters have used to hide from the tear gas. The police crackdown is the harshest since China retook control of Hong Kong in 1997 after 150 years of British rule. The crackdown is being felt in mainland China, where the government has blocked the mobile photo-sharing app Instagram and heavily censored references to Hong Kong on social media. We are joined from Hong Kong by journalist Tom Gundy, who has been covering the protests.

Ferguson Unrest Continues as Police Accused of Incitement & Michael Brown's Killer Remains Free

Mon 07 48 AM

Protests continue in Ferguson, Missouri, calling for the arrest of Darren Wilson, the officer who killed the unarmed African-American teenager Michael Brown. On Friday, officers dismantled an encampment where activists had been living in the weeks since Brown’s death. Some accused police of excessive force. More protests took place over the weekend, including one outside the Ferguson Police Department Sunday night. Two officers were wounded in separate shootings, but police say they were unrelated. The Justice Department has ordered local police to stop wearing bracelets in support of the officer who shot Michael Brown, which read "I Am Darren Wilson." Ferguson officers have also been instructed to stop hiding their identity through obscured nametags or not wearing them at all, saying it conveys a message that "officers may seek to act with impunity." We are joined by Patricia Bynes, Democratic committeewoman of Ferguson Township.

Soldier's Heart: Remembering Jacob George, Afghan War Vet Turned Peace Activist Who Took Own Life

Mon 07 44 AM

We air a remembrance of Jacob George, an Afghanistan War veteran and peace activist who took his own life on September 17. He was 32 years old. George co-founded the Afghan Veterans Against the War Committee, part of Iraq Veterans Against the War. George was also a musician who biked around the country playing music for peace, a campaign he called "A Ride Till the End." In 2012, at the NATO summit in Chicago, he was among the veterans who hurled their military medals toward the summit gates in an act of protest against the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. George spoke openly about his struggles with post-traumatic stress disorder and with getting Veterans Affairs counselors to understand what he saw as a "moral injury" from his time in Afghanistan. In a storybook that accompanied his musical album "Soldier’s Heart," George wrote: "A wise medicine woman from Arkansas once told me that grief is pain trying to leave the body. If you don’t allow yourself to grieve, it gets stuck. But once you grieve, the body can heal itself. I won’t lie, some of this stuff is heavy. But telling my story is a part of my healing process. And it’s not just veterans who need to heal: all of us need to heal from war and the roster of ailments produced by a nation at war." Hear George playing the banjo and singing his song, "Soldier’s Heart."

"War Has Failed Miserably": Could U.S. Strikes Unite Extremists at Odds in Syria?

Mon 07 36 AM

In an interview with CBS’s 60 Minutes on Sunday, President Obama acknowledged the United States has underestimated the rise of the Islamic State. With the U.S. military operation in Iraq and Syria now expanding, we are joined by Raed Jarrar, Iraqi-American blogger, political analyst, and policy impacts coordinator at the American Friends Service Committee. "The U.S. military force to deal with extremist groups has been tried before, and it has failed miserably," Jarrar says. "The U.S. military intervention is delaying and making a political solution harder."

After Civilian Deaths, Human Rights Watch Says U.S. Strikes on Syria May Violate Laws of War

Mon 07 26 AM

As U.S. strikes on Syria expand, Human Rights Watch says a bombing last week on the town of Idlib should be investigated for possible violations of the laws of war. The strikes killed at least seven civilians, including five children, in the early morning hours of September 23 in the village of Kafr Deryan in northern Idlib province. Local activists at the scene of the attack collected and videotaped the remnants from the weapons used in the strikes. Human Rights Watch reviewed the footage and identified the remnants as debris of a turbofan engine from a Tomahawk cruise missile, a weapon that only the U.S. and British governments possess. "Witness accounts suggest that the attack on the village harmed civilians but did not strike a military target, violating the laws of war by failing to discriminate between combatants and civilians, or that it unlawfully caused civilian loss disproportionate to the expected military advantage," HRW details. The group has called on the U.S. government to investigate the allegations and publish its findings. We are joined by Nadim Houry, Human Rights Watch senior researcher for Lebanon and Syria.

How the U.S. Concocted a Terror Threat to Justify Syria Strikes, and the Corporate Media Went Along

Mon 07 17 AM

As the U.S. expands military operations in Syria, we look at the Khorasan group, the shadowy militant organization the Obama administration has invoked to help justify the strikes. One month ago, no one had heard of Khorasan, but now U.S. officials say it poses an imminent threat to the United States. As the strikes on Syria began, U.S. officials said Khorasan was "nearing the execution phase" of an attack on the United States or Europe, most likely an attempt to blow up a commercial plane in flight. We are joined by Murtaza Hussain of The Intercept, whose new article with Glenn Greenwald is "The Khorasan Group: Anatomy of a Fake Terror Threat to Justify Bombing Syria."

"We Deserve To Do More Than Just Survive": Marshall Islands Poet's Plea to the U.N. Climate Summit

Fri 07 55 AM

We end today’s show with one of the most memorable speeches at the one-day United Nations climate summit this week. On Tuesday, Kathy Jetnil-Kijiner from the Marshall Islands read a poem to world leaders, written as a letter to her child. "Even though there are those hidden behind platinum titles who like to pretend that we don’t exist," she writes, "that the Marshall Islands, Tuvalu, Kiribati, Maldives and Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines and floods of Pakistan, Algeria, and Colombia and all the hurricanes, earthquakes, and tidalwaves didn’t exist. Still there are those who see us hands reaching out."

Eric Holder's Complex Legacy: Voting Rights Advocate, Enemy of Press Freedom, Friend of Wall Street

Fri 07 12 AM

Attorney General Eric Holder announced his plan to resign Thursday after nearly six years as head of the Justice Department. He will remain in office until a successor is nominated and confirmed. Assessments of Holder’s legacy as attorney general have been mixed. The NAACP Legal Defense Fund hailed Holder as one of the finest attorneys general in the nation’s history in part for his role in transforming the Civil Rights Division of the Justice Department and his leadership on voting rights. Meanwhile, the American Civil Liberties Union criticized Holder’s record on national security issues. The ACLU notes that during Holder’s time in office, the Justice Department approved the drone killing of an American in Yemen, approved the National Security Agency’s mass surveillance programs, failed to prosecute any Bush administration officials for torture, and presided over more leak prosecutions than all previous Justice Departments combined. We speak to Georgetown University professor Michael Eric Dyson, Robert Weissman of Public Citizen, Leslie Proll of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund and Baher Azmy of the Center for Constitutional Rights.

Listen to the People, Not the Polluters: Kumi Naidoo of Greenpeace on the Global Climate Uprising

Thu 07 47 AM

The People’s Climate March, which saw hundreds of thousands around the world take to the streets for action on global warming in New York City, was followed this week by a United Nations climate summit in which world leaders advanced an agenda devoid of binding commitments. We discuss this global climate week and what comes next with Kumi Naidoo, executive director of Greenpeace International. On the eve of the climate summit, Greenpeace projected the message "Listen to the People, Not the Polluters!" on the side of the U.N. building. Much of Greenpeace’s focus here has been on the need to protect the Arctic. During a meeting with U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, the group handed over a petition with six million signatures calling for its long-term protection. With scientists reporting the region is warming more than twice as fast as the global average, Greenpeace and other groups are calling for a ban on oil exploration of the area. Watch Part 2 of this interview.