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: 10 hours 22 min ago

The Endless War Grows: Obama Sends U.S. Forces to Syria, Reversing Pledge of No Boots on the Ground

Mon 07 13 AM

The White House has announced a team of special operations forces numbering less than 50 will be sent to Syria. This marks the first sustained U.S. troop presence in Syria since President Obama launched a bombing campaign against the self-proclaimed Islamic State in September 2014. It’s also a reversal of Obama’s repeated promise of no U.S. boots on the ground in Syria, a pledge he also violated in Iraq. One day after the announcement, the United Nations and International Committee of the Red Cross made what they called an "unprecedented joint warning" for states to end wars, respect international law and aid the 60 million refugees made homeless from recent conflicts. We are joined by Phyllis Bennis of the Institute for Policy Studies, author of several books, including "Understanding ISIS and the New Global War on Terror."

Resolved: Debate Win for Inmates Against Harvard Shows Benefits of Higher Education Behind Bars

Fri 06 50 AM

Despite their stellar record, a loss by the Harvard University debate team wouldn’t normally be national, let alone international, news. But one match last month wasn’t your typical sparring contest. Three members of the Harvard team squared off with opponents not from a rival university, but a maximum security New York prison. The topic was whether U.S. public schools should be able to deny enrollment to undocumented students. Despite being forced to advocate a position they don’t agree with, the prison team was declared the winner. The story went viral across the United States and around the world. The prisoners were debating as representatives of the Bard Prison Initiative, a program that offers inmates a college-level liberal arts education. Since its founding in 2001, more than 300 alumni have earned degrees while behind bars. We are joined by Max Kenner, founder and executive director of the Bard Prison Initiative.

"How the Other Half Banks": Author Says America's Two-Tiered Banking System is a Threat to Democracy

Fri 06 37 AM

The nation’s financial crisis taught us that when it comes to Wall Street giants, political leaders consider some banks "too big to fail." After initial misgivings, Democrats and Republicans joined together to commit over $700 billion to rescue major firms from collapse. Now a new book looks at the inverse of this policy: when it comes to serving communities on the local level, some banks are just too small to rescue. In "How the Other Half Banks: Exclusion, Exploitation, and the Threat to Democracy," University of Georgia law professor Mehrsa Baradaran explores how poor communities have been denied the normal banking opportunities that help sustain households and grow economies.

We Won't Torture Anymore: APA Tells U.S. to Withdraw Psychologists from Nat. Sec. Interrogations

Fri 06 33 AM

The American Psychological Association has officially notified the U.S. government of its new policy barring psychologists from participating in national security interrogations. The new rules were approved in August after an independent investigation documented how the APA leadership actively colluded with the Pentagon and the CIA torture programs. In a new letter to the White House and top federal officials, the APA asks the government to withdraw psychologists from any interrogation or prison setting that could put them in violation of the new ethics policy. We get reaction from Widney Brown, director of programs at Physicians for Human Rights, who says the changes are key to protecting health professionals from military prosecution "when they stand by those ethical codes of conduct and refuse to engage in what is patently unlawful behavior."

Freedom for Shaker Aamer: After 13 Years Behind Bars, British Prisoner Released from Guantánamo

Fri 06 31 AM

British resident Shaker Aamer has been freed from Guantánamo after more than 13 years behind bars. Aamer had been cleared for release since 2007, but the Pentagon kept him locked up without charge. During his time in captivity, Aamer claims he was subjected to abuses including torture, beatings and sleep deprivation. At one point, he lost half his body weight while on a hunger strike. Aamer is en route to London where he’ll rejoin his wife and four children. "If you think about how much our world has changed, it’s like they’re dropping them into a completely different place with very little support, and there’s no right to a remedy for the allegations of torture—which are absolutely credible—for the prolonged arbitrary detention and for any of the other violations that happened," says our guest Widney Brown, director of programs at Physicians for Human Rights.

While Condemning Assad, U.S. Bombs Afghan Hospital & Backs Devastating Saudi War on Yemen

Fri 06 25 AM

The latest figures from Doctors Without Borders (MSF) show the U.S. airstrike on its hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan, earlier this month killed 30 people—13 workers, 10 patients and seven others who remain unidentified. Another 27 staffers were injured, along with an unknown number of patients and caretakers. The bombing left the 94-bed trauma center in ruins and hundreds of thousands of Afghans without a critical surgical facility. Doctors Without Borders has accused the U.S. of a "war crime" and demanded an independent international probe. Just three weeks later, another MSF hospital was destroyed in Yemen, this time by the U.S.-backed, Saudi-led coalition that has waged war there since March. Doctors Without Borders says the attack will leave 200,000 people without access to medical care. "The U.S. has been very strong at condemning the Syrian attacks on hospitals in Syria, yet it is backing the Saudis in Yemen, supplying them with weaponry—just like Russia is in Syria—and ignoring the fact the Saudis are doing in Yemen everything the U.S. government is accusing the Syrian government of doing in Syria," says Widney Brown of Physicians for Human Rights.

Russia's Entry into Syria Worsens Killings of Medical Workers on War's Front Lines

Fri 06 08 AM

As global talks on Syria take place in Vienna, we look at the dangers to medical workers on the front lines of the world’s deadliest conflict. Nearly 700 medical personnel have been killed in Syria since the war erupted in March 2011. The group Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) says there have been more than 300 attacks on health facilities—with the Syrian regime responsible 90 percent of the time. According to Doctors Without Borders, airstrikes in Syria have killed at least 35 patients and medical staff since an escalation in bombings late last month. Russian airstrikes have damaged six Syrian health facilities this month, killing at least four civilians and wounding six medical staffers. We are joined by PHR’s Widney Brown and a Syrian doctor who fled his country under the cover of night.

Do Black Lives Matter to GOP? Christie Slams Obama for Backing Movement Against Police Bias

Thu 06 55 AM

At Wednesday’s Republican presidential debate, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie seized on comments by FBI Director James Comey that added scrutiny and criticism of police officers has fueled an increase in crime. Christie also criticized President Obama for his comments last week in support of Black Lives Matter. "We need to make it so that this country — Americans, police, the government — values black lives but also realizes that black people aren’t saying that only our lives matter, but that our lives matter, as well," says Imani Gandy, senior legal analyst at RH Reality Check and co-host of the podcast This Week in Blackness.

John Nichols on Paul Ryan: The GOP's Best Actor Since Ronald Reagan

Thu 06 49 AM

Republican Congressmember Paul Ryan is set to become House speaker after winning his party’s backing. Ryan replaces John Boehner, who announced his resignation last month after a lengthy dispute with far-right members of his own party. The tea party "Freedom Caucus" had threatened to hold a no-confidence vote amid disagreements with Boehner over negotiating with Democrats and how to use the Republicans’ House majority. Boehner was pressured to take a more confrontational approach with the White House and congressional Democrats over issues including government spending, immigration reform, Obamacare and abortion. Ryan is known for crafting sweeping budget proposals that target public spending, cut taxes for the wealthy and impose deep budget cuts. We speak to journalists David Cay Johnston and John Nichols.

"Donald Creates His Own Reality": David Cay Johnston on Trump Rewriting History at 3rd GOP Debate

Thu 06 47 AM

At Wednesday’s Republican debate in Boulder, Donald Trump denied making several statements only to be shown the source of the claims came from his website. "You have to understand Donald creates his own reality," says Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative reporter David Cay Johnston. "Whatever Donald says at the moment is, to Donald, the truth."

Is Jeb Bush Finished? Establishment-Backed Dynasty Candidate Might Not Overcome Family Ties

Thu 06 38 AM

Initially viewed as a GOP front-runner and backed by over $130 million from wealthy donors, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush is struggling in fourth place. Highlighting his fading chances, Bush spoke less than any other candidate at Wednesday’s debate and failed to seize opportunities to revive his campaign. "I think Donald Trump has very possibly finished off Jeb Bush by wrapping George W. Bush around him," says John Nichols, political writer for The Nation.

Flat Taxes, Ending Medicare-Medicaid, Banning All Abortions: Meet New GOP Front-Runner Ben Carson

Thu 06 26 AM

Retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson has surpassed Donald Trump in most polls to become the new Republican front-runner. Carson’s proposals include a 10 percent flat tax, replacing Medicare and Medicaid with private health savings accounts, and banning abortion in all cases, including rape and incest. We assess Carson’s background and policy platform with New Republic editor Jamil Smith, Imani Gandy of RH Reality Check and This Week in Blackness, and Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative reporter David Cay Johnston.

"We're on the Verge of Picking Someone Who Can't Do the Job": Fraying GOP Holds 3rd Primary Debate

Thu 06 12 AM

With the campaign at roughly the halfway point between its opening summer debate and the Iowa caucus next year, Wednesday’s Republican debate was the first with business mogul Donald Trump no longer leading the polls. Retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson has surpassed Trump in recent days, though the two are still way ahead in the crowded Republican field. The surge of these two relative outsiders has thrown the Republican Party into turmoil. The more established political candidates are scrambling to gain ground as party leaders grapple with Trump and Carson’s outlandish views—and the potential that one of them might end up the nominee. We assess the debate and the state of the GOP field with four guests: John Nichols of The Nation, New Republic editor Jamil Smith, Imani Gandy of RH Reality Check and This Week in Blackness, and Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative reporter David Cay Johnston.

The Armor of Light: New Documentary Makes the Evangelical Case for Gun Control

Wed 06 45 AM

A new documentary opening this week focuses on two individuals who form an unlikely alliance to address gun violence in the United States. "The Armor of Light,” by Abigail Disney, follows the evangelical minister Rev. Rob Schenck, an evangelical known for his anti-choice activism, and Lucia McBath, the mother of Jordan Davis, the African-American teenager who was shot to death by a middle-aged white man in a gas station parking lot in 2012 after a dispute over loud music. The shooter, Michael Dunn, was later sentenced to life without parole. Schenck describes how McBath inspired him to begin speaking out about gun violence. "It was her passion in the wake of that pain and horror of losing a son to murder that was really what pulled me across the threshold of decision to start speaking to this, even though for me it is at great personal risk," Schenck says. "In our community, when you break with a kind of orthodoxy on social issues — guns being one of them — you are seen as a renegade or as a defector."

Criminalizing the Classroom: Inside the School-to-Prison Pipeline

Wed 06 30 AM

New York City has more than 5,000 police officers patrolling the city’s schools—that’s more than the combined number of school guidance counselors and social workers. Nationwide, more than 17,000 officers work in the school. What happens when students are arrested in the classroom? We look at what many experts call the "school-to-prison pipeline."

Texas Student Spent 52 Days in Coma After Being Tased by Police at School

Wed 06 24 AM

In one of the most shocking cases of police brutality inside a school, 17-year-old Noe Niño de Rivera spent 52 days in a medically induced coma after police tased him at school in November 2013. He was permanently brain injured. Last year Bastrop County in Texas settled a federal lawsuit for $775,000 with his family. We speak to his attorney, Adam Loewy.

Cops in the Classroom: South Carolina Incident Highlights Growing Police Presence in Schools

Wed 06 10 AM

We turn now to shocking new videos that have surfaced from inside a South Carolina high school where a police officer has been caught on camera slamming a teenage girl to the ground and dragging the student out of the classroom. The videos, which went viral on Monday, appear to show Deputy Sheriff Ben Fields approaching the student, who is seated at her desk, then wrapping his arm around her neck and flipping her and her desk to the ground. He then appears to drag her out of the classroom. The student was arrested. Another student who filmed the assault was also arrested and held on a $1,000 bail. The incident reportedly began when the student refused to give her teacher her phone. The incident is the latest in a series of cases of police officers in schools using excessive force against students.

Update: South Carolina authorities have announced the officer, Ben Fields, has been fired from his position.