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: 4 hours 49 min ago

As Saudi Arabia Executes Sheikh al-Nimr, Will U.S. Respond by Cutting $50 Billion in Weapons Sales?

Mon 07 25 AM

After Saudi Arabia executed Shiite cleric Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr on Saturday along with 46 others, protesters in the Iranian capital of Tehran responded by torching part of the Saudi Embassy. On Sunday, Saudi Arabia responded by severing ties with Iran. With Saudi Arabia and Iran backing opposing groups in Syria and Iraq, and on opposite sides of the conflict in Yemen, we examine how this will impact both regional tensions and the U.S. relationship with Saudi Arabia. Under the Obama administration, the United States has entered a record $50 billion in new arms sales agreements with the Saudis. "If the Obama administration wants to show its displeasure with this execution and try to bring an end to the war in Yemen, there’s got to be a distancing from Saudi Arabia, beginning with cutting off some of these arms supplies,” says William Hartung, senior adviser to the Security Assistance Monitor and director of the Arms and Security Project at the Center for International Policy. We also speak with Toby Jones, an associate professor of history and director of the Center for Middle Eastern Studies at Rutgers University and author of "Desert Kingdom: How Oil and Water Forged Modern Saudi Arabia," and with Ali al-Ahmed, the founder and director of the Institute for Gulf Affairs.

Friend of Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr: Shiite Cleric's Execution "Will Not End Well" for Saudi Monarchy

Mon 07 13 AM

As protests erupt across the Middle East after Saudi Arabia’s execution of prominent Shia religious leader Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr, we speak with his friend Ali al-Ahmed, founder and director of the Institute for Gulf Affairs. "He said we should support the oppressed against the oppressor," says al-Ahmed. He notes Sheikh al-Nimr was a small-town religious leader that relatively few had heard of before he was put to death, but since his execution memorial services have been held for him around the world. The Saudi government accused Nimr of calling for the overthrow of the Saudi royal family. He had been arrested multiple times, including in 2012 for his involvement in protests after the Arab Spring uprising. Ali al-Ahmed was one of Saudi Arabia’s youngest political prisoners when he was detained at age 14.

Former ISIS Hostage Nicolas Hénin: Welcoming Refugees is the Best Strategy Against ISIS

Fri 07 39 AM

French journalist and author Nicolas Hénin spent 10 months as an ISIS hostage in Syria, where he was held by Mohammed Emwazi. We spoke with him about the growing move among Western countries to close their doors to refugees. "Welcoming refugees is not a terror threat to our countries; it’s like a vaccine to protect us from terrorism, because the more interactions we have between societies, between communities, the less there will be tensions," Hénin says. "The Islamic State believes in a global confrontation. What they want eventually is civil war in our countries, or at least large unrest, and in the Middle East, a large-scale war. This is what they look for. This is what they struggle for. So we have to kill their narrative and actually to welcome refugees, totally destroy their narrative."

Airstrikes Against Syria are a Trap, Warns Former ISIS Hostage Nicolas Hénin

Fri 07 30 AM

As the United States expands airstrikes in Syria, we speak with French journalist Nicolas Hénin, who was held hostage by ISIS inside Syria for 10 months, spending much of the time locked up in a dungeon. He was held alongside U.S. journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff, who were later beheaded. Their deaths were videotaped and aired across the world. While he was held hostage, Hénin also briefly met American aid worker Kayla Mueller, who also died in captivity, possibly from a U.S.-led coalition airstrike. Hénin, who was released in April 2014 along with three other French journalists, makes an impassioned plea against bombing Syria. "All these bombings have a terrible effect," says Hénin. "We are pushing the Syrian people into the hands of ISIS."

"I Don't Want to Die. This War Is Not My War": A Syrian in France's Largest Refugee Camp Speaks Out

Fri 07 01 AM

In December, Democracy Now! headed to the city of Calais, site of France’s largest refugee camp. Six to seven thousand people are camped out in makeshift tents. Their goal is to reach Britain, and each night members of the camp set out along the highway to the Channel Tunnel, where they attempt to cross into Britain by jumping on top of or inside trucks or lorries. We meet Majd, a 21-year-old Syrian man, one of thousands stranded in the the camp. He describes how a Sudanese man named Joseph was recently killed when he was run over by a car on the highway. While we were there, camp residents protested that the police hadn’t stopped the driver, and held signs reading "We are humans, not dogs" and "What do the survivors of war have to do to live in peace?" This comes as the world faces the greatest exodus of people since World War II. The United Nations has appealed for $20 billion in additional aid money, saying that at present funding levels, the U.N. is "not able to provide even the very minimum in core protection and lifesaving assistance." U.N. officials cited the wars in Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq, Yemen and South Sudan as one of the major reasons there are nearly 60 million people forcibly displaced worldwide. The largest single displaced community is Syrians, with 4 million refugees forced outside Syria’s borders by the ongoing conflict.

The People vs. Exxon: As Fossil Fuel Cover-Up Exposed, Activists Try Oil Giant for "Climate Crimes"

Thu 07 27 AM

The revelations that Exxon concealed its early findings that fossil fuels cause global warming have sparked a criminal investigation by New York’s attorney general and calls for a federal probe like the one against Big Tobacco. But some aren’t waiting for the justice system to act. During the recent U.N. climate summit in Paris, environmental activists held a "mock trial" charging Exxon with "climate crimes." Hundreds from around the world—including participants in COP21—packed into a large warehouse-like cultural space to hear a stirring indictment of Exxon. A tribunal of judges heard testimony from witnesses that included scientists, energy experts and residents of frontline communities threatened by climate change. The witnesses were questioned by two leading environmentalists acting as chief prosecutors: Bill McKibben, co-founder of 350.org, and journalist Naomi Klein.

Exxon's Climate Cover-Up Just Got Bigger: Docs Suggest All Major Oil Giants Have Lied Since 1970s

Thu 07 12 AM

2015, the hottest on record, was also the year ExxonMobil was caught in a more than three-decade lie. Internal documents revealed Exxon knew that fossil fuels cause global warming in the 1970s, but hid that information from the public. Now it turns out that Exxon isn’t alone. A new exposé from InsideClimate News reveals nearly every major U.S. and multinational oil and gas company was likely aware of the impact of fossil fuels on climate change at the same time as Exxon. We are joined by Neela Banerjee, the InsideClimate News reporter who broke this story.

Erin Brockovich: California Methane Gas Leak is Worst U.S. Environmental Disaster Since BP Oil Spill

Wed 07 47 AM

In the nation’s biggest environmental disaster since the BP oil spill, a runaway natural gas leak above Los Angeles has emitted more than 150 million pounds of methane. Thousands of residents in the community of Porter Ranch have been evacuated and put in temporary housing. The fumes have caused headaches and nosebleeds. The company responsible, Southern California Gas Company, says it could take three to four months to stop the breach. We are joined by two guests: renowned consumer advocate and legal researcher Erin Brockovich, who helped win the biggest class action lawsuit in American history and is now working to seek justice for victims of the Porter Ranch gas leak, and David Balen, president of Renaissance Homeowners Association, located just outside of the breached well site.

As Puerto Rico Nears Record Default, Island Complains to U.N. That U.S. Violating Sovereignty Rights

Wed 07 30 AM

Puerto Rico is just days away from the biggest municipal bond default in U.S. history, and Congress is doing nothing to stop it. The U.S. territory faces a January 1 deadline to pay bondholders around $1 billion, a fraction of the $72 billion it owes overall. Puerto Rico has warned it will be unable to make at least some of its upcoming payment, and what it can pay could be drawn from funds it doesn’t actually have. Congress could have prevented a default, but passed on their opportunity earlier this month. The governor of Puerto Rico has complained to the United Nations that the United States is backtracking on its promises of self-government on the island. We are joined by Edwin Meléndez, professor of urban affairs and planning at Hunter College and the director of the Center for Puerto Rican Studies, as well as Democracy Now! co-host and New York Daily News columnist Juan González, who has extensively covered the Puerto Rico debt crisis.

Cleared for Release, Pentagon Obstruction Prolongs Hunger-Striking Gitmo Prisoner's Nightmare

Wed 07 19 AM

A new Reuters exposé shows the Pentagon has thwarted the Obama administration’s efforts to close Guantánamo by imposing bureaucratic hurdles to delay or derail prisoners’ release. The Pentagon has even meddled with the effort to enlist other countries in accepting freed prisoners. In one case, the Pentagon refused to release medical records for a hunger-striking Yemeni prisoner to a delegation from a country that was considering taking him in. The prisoner, Tariq Ba Odah, remains at Guantánamo today—five years after he was cleared for release. We discuss Ba Odah’s ordeal with his lawyer, Omar Farah, an attorney with the Center for Constitutional Rights; and Charles Levinson, the Reuters reporter who broke the story.

"Groundbreaking" Exposé Shows Pentagon Thwarting Obama's Bid to Transfer Guantánamo Prisoners

Wed 07 10 AM

In the nearly seven years since President Obama ordered Guantánamo’s closure, Republicans have blocked him at every turn. Now a new report sheds light on another obstacle in Obama’s way: his own Pentagon. According to Reuters, military brass have imposed bureaucratic hurdles to keep prisoners locked up and prevent foreign governments from taking them in. Scores of prisoners cleared for release have remained imprisoned for years as a result. We are joined by two guests: Charles Levinson, the Reuters reporter who broke this story, and Omar Farah, the lawyer for a Yemeni prisoner who was cleared for release five years ago but remains behind bars due to Pentagon interference.

Connecticut Reporter Resigns After Boss "Pimps Out Paper" to Billionaire GOP Donor Sheldon Adelson

Tue 07 50 AM

A Connecticut newspaper reporter has resigned after alleging gross misconduct by ownership on behalf of billionaire Republican donor Sheldon Adelson. Steve Collins has worked at The Bristol Press for more than two decades. But on Christmas Eve, he announced he’s stepping down after it was revealed the paper’s owner, Michael Schroeder, ran a plagiarized article under a fake name that criticized a Nevada judge who had challenged Adelson’s business dealings. Schroeder is the manager of News + Media Capital Group LLC, an Adelson shell company that recently bought a different paper, the Las Vegas Review-Journal. In a Facebook post, Steve Collins wrote: "The owner of my paper is guilty of journalistic misconduct of epic proportions. … Journalism is nothing if we reporters falter and fade. We are doing something important and men such as Mr. Schroeder and Mr. Adelson—no matter how much money they can toss around—cannot have their way with us." Steve Collins joins us to discuss his ordeal and his decision to resign. "It felt like my boss was pimping out our paper to serve the interest of a billionaire out in Las Vegas," he says.

When Will the Killings Stop? Calls for Justice as Tamir Rice Joins List of Unpunished Police Deaths

Tue 07 42 AM

Tamir Rice was the youngest victim in a series of well-known cases of police killings of unarmed African Americans—and the latest whose death led to no charges against the officers involved. "There needs to be a complete recall of the distribution of resources that provide police the opportunity to continue to wreak havoc in the lives of black individuals," says Elle Hearns, an organizer with Black Lives Matter Cleveland. "This cannot consistently be where we are—week after week, month after month, year after year—with no accountability for these officers, no accountability by the city officials, no accountability by the federal government."

Prosecutors in Tamir Rice Case Accused of Rigging Grand Jury to Clear 2 Officers with Troubled Past

Tue 07 32 AM

After the grand jury’s decision not to indict, Tamir Rice’s mother Samaria Rice accused the prosecutor of "deliberately sabotag[ing] the case, never advocating for my son, and acting instead like the police officers’ defense attorney." Attorneys for the Rice family have asked the Justice Department to intervene over what they call "extreme bias" and "a charade process aimed at exonerating the officers." Questions have also been raised about the officers’ past. In a previous stint at a different Ohio police department, Timothy Loehmann, who fatally shot Tamir, had been declared unfit for duty and "dismal" with his handgun. His fellow responding officer, Frank Garmback, also has a troubled history, with Cleveland paying $100,000 to a city resident who accused him of excessive force. We discuss the officers’ past and the prosecutors’ conduct with Rice family attorney Billy Joe Mills.

Tamir Rice Family "In Shock" After Grand Jury Clears Police for Fatally Shooting Boy Holding Toy Gun

Tue 07 14 AM

An Ohio grand jury has decided there will be no charges in the fatal shooting of 12-year-old African-American boy Tamir Rice. On November 22, 2014, Tamir Rice was playing with a toy pellet gun in a Cleveland park. A 911 caller reported seeing him with a weapon but noted it was "probably fake" and that the individual was "probably a juvenile"—that information was not relayed to the responding officers. After their police cruiser pulled up in front of Tamir, Officer Timothy Loehmann shot him within two seconds. Neither Loehmann nor his partner, Frank Garmback, administered any first aid to try to save Tamir’s life. They then tackled Tamir’s 14-year-old sister to the ground as she ran to her brother’s side, and handcuffed and put her in their cruiser as the boy lay dying on the ground. Tamir died of his injuries the following day. After a more than year-long investigation, the grand jury returned a decision Monday not to indict. "We are in shock," says Tamir Rice’s cousin, Latonya Goldsby. "We can’t believe this decision came down the way it did."

Haskell Wexler Dead at 93: Legendary Cinematographer, Activist Captured the Struggles of Our Times

Mon 07 51 AM

The legendary cinematographer and director Haskell Wexler has died at the age of 93. Wexler is perhaps best known for his 1969 film, "Medium Cool," which captures the upheaval surrounding the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago. He won two Academy Awards for cinematography in "Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" and "Bound for Glory," about folk singer Woody Guthrie. His documentaries tackled political issues including the Southern Freedom Riders of the 1960s, the U.S. government’s destabilization of Nicaragua, U.S. atrocities in Vietnam, and torture under the U.S.-backed junta in Brazil. We remember Haskell Wexler with Pamela Yates, director of "Rebel Citizen," a documentary about his life.