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: 7 hours 2 min ago

Abortion as a Social Good: Author Katha Pollitt Pens New Vision for Pro-Choice Movement

Thu 06 45 AM

We look at a book out this week that offers a new vision for the pro-choice movement. In "Pro: Reclaiming Abortion Rights," Nation columnist Katha Pollitt dissects the logic behind the hundreds of abortion restrictions enacted over the past few years and shows that, at their core, they are not about safety, but about controlling women. In order to reverse the tide of eroding access, Pollitt concludes, the pro-choice movement must end the "awfulization" of abortion. She writes, "I want us to start thinking of abortion as a positive social good and saying this out loud."

A Little Shout of Joy: Supreme Court Lets Abortion Clinics Reopen, Easing Crisis of Access in Texas

Thu 06 41 AM

Texas abortion clinics shuttered by a recent court ruling have been allowed to reopen after the U.S. Supreme Court blocked part of an anti-choice law that would have required abortion clinics to meet the standards of hospital-style surgery centers. Earlier this month, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals allowed the rule to take immediate effect, essentially gutting access to abortion overnight. Thirteen clinics were forced to close, leaving just eight in all of Texas. The latest Supreme Court ruling will allow the clinics to continue providing care while the appeals court considers the law. At least eight have reportedly already opened their doors again. Texas previously had more than 40 clinics, but many remain closed under another of the law’s provisions which requires abortion providers to obtain admitting privileges at a nearby hospital. In its decision Tuesday, the Supreme Court also blocked that requirement as it applies to two clinics in the isolated communities of El Paso and McAllen. We are joined by Amy Hagstrom Miller, CEO of Whole Woman’s Health in McAllen, the only abortion clinic open south of San Antonio. It will begin seeing patients again on Friday.

An Unprofitable Disease: In the Political Economy of Ebola, Who Lives and Who Dies?

Thu 06 27 AM

We look at the political and economic circumstances of the spread of Ebola with science writer Leigh Phillips, who calls for a socialization of pharmaceutical research and production. Phillips says that using revenues from profitable drugs to subsidize research for unprofitable drugs would reduce the costs of vaccines and their development. He also argues the decimation of the healthcare infrastructure is linked to the same free market policies and austerity measures pushed by Western countries and the International Monetary Fund that impoverished the West African countries where the Ebola outbreak has occurred. "We need to begin to ask whether capitalism itself is not pathogenic," says Phillips, whose recent article for Jacobin magazine is "The Political Economy of Ebola."

A U.S. Nurse Witnesses Ebola's Ravages in Sierra Leone, Where Horrific Conditions Claim Lives Daily

Thu 06 11 AM

As the infections of two Dallas nurses fuel concerns about Ebola in the United States, the death toll in West Africa is approaching 5,000. The World Health Organization has warned there could be up to 10,000 new Ebola cases per week in the coming months, up from the current 1,000. We are joined by Michelle Dynes, a nurse and epidemiologist at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention who has returned from Sierra Leone. Dynes spent the past several weeks responding to the Ebola epidemic in the country’s Kenema district. "It’s a strange situation to see that much pain and suffering and not be able to provide a hug, or comfort," Dynes says.

Mexico's Missing Students: Were 43 Attacked by Cartel-Linked Police Targeted for Their Activism?

Wed 06 48 AM

Protests continue in the southern Mexican state of Guerrero over the disappearance of 43 teachers’ college students missing for more than two weeks following a police ambush. More than 20 police have been detained and accused of collaborating with a drug gang, Guerreros Unidos, that has ties to the city’s mayor, who has fled. Fears over the students’ fate have escalated following the discovery of 10 mass graves. But on Tuesday, Mexican Attorney General Jesús Murillo said DNA tests showed none of the 28 bodies tested so far belong to the missing students. "This particular attack reflects … decades of criminalization of these schools, and a situation where in the current Mexican government it is really hard to tell where the state begins, and where drug cartels end," says Tanalís Padilla, associate professor of Latin American history at Dartmouth College, who is writing a book on the history of rural normal schools in Mexico. Padilla says the schools offer education to low-income students unserved by the public school system, and have a legacy of political radicalism that has prompted political crackdowns in the past. We are also joined by Valeria Hamel, an activist and law student at Mexico City, where students have launched a 48-hour strike, calling for the students to be returned alive. "These students were politically involved in their communities, so that makes us think this is political," Hamel says.

Infected Workers, Slow Deployment, No Vaccines: Ebola Response Shows Pitfalls of Privatized Health

Wed 06 29 AM

Although the rate of new Ebola infections has slowed in some areas, the World Health Organization says it would be premature to read that as a success. New WHO projections suggest there could be between 5,000 and 10,000 new cases a week by December. The head of the United Nations Mission for Ebola Emergency Response told the U.N. Security Council that the steps implemented by the international community are not enough to halt the advance of the fatal disease. "This is an international humanitarian and health crisis," says Lawrence Gostin, university professor and faculty director at the O’Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law at Georgetown University. Gostin says privatized healthcare has undermined the U.S. response to Ebola, with a lack of available vaccines and access to proper care. "Much of our innovation is driven by the private sector, and from their point of view, Ebola was not a predictable disease and those who got Ebola were too poor to pay for it." We are also joined by Karen Higgins, co-president of National Nurses United.

As Second Dallas Nurse Diagnosed with Ebola, Are U.S. Hospitals Failing Healthcare Workers?

Wed 06 13 AM

As a second healthcare worker at Dallas’ Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital tests positive for Ebola after caring for patient Thomas Eric Duncan, the Centers for Disease Control has identified what it calls a "large group" of other workers who may still be at risk. Ebola patients are also being treated at the Nebraska Medical Center and the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, but so far no workers there have contracted the virus. This comes as the country’s largest nurses union, National Nurses United, says hospitals across the country are largely unready to take in Ebola patients and have failed to adequately train healthcare workers and provide necessary protective gear. In a conference call Tuesday, the union’s co-president Deborah Burger said nurses at the Dallas hospital described having to use medical tape to secure openings in their flimsy garments, and were worried that their necks and heads were exposed as they cared for a patient with explosive diarrhea and projectile vomiting. We are joined by the co-president of National Nurses United, Karen Higgins, who works as an intensive care unit nurse in Boston, and hear from Democracy Now! co-host Juan González, who reports on the nurses’ concerns in his latest column for the New York Daily News.

James Risen on NSA Whistleblower Edward Snowden: He Sparked a New National Debate on Surveillance

Tue 06 54 AM

New York Times investigative reporter James Risen faces jail time if he refuses to name a whistleblowing source, but he insists the actual whistleblowers, including Edward Snowden, are “much more courageous that we reporters are." Risen won a Pulitzer Prize for his reporting about warrantless wiretapping of Americans by the National Security Agency. "We revealed the framework for … how the Bush administration turned the NSA on the American people," Risen says. He argues Snowden revealed that "under Obama and in the years since we had first written about it, the American people had become much more of an online citizenry … as a result, the NSA had grown dramatically in their ability to watch the online presence of Americans."

James Risen Prepared to "Pay Any Price" to Report on War on Terror Amid Crackdown on Whistleblowers

Tue 06 15 AM

We spend the hour with veteran New York Times investigative reporter James Risen, the journalist at the center of one of the most significant press freedom cases in decades. In 2006, Risen won a Pulitzer Prize for his reporting about warrantless wiretapping of Americans by the National Security Agency. He has since been pursued by both the Bush and Obama administrations in a six-year leak investigation into that book, "State of War: The Secret History of the CIA and the Bush Administration." Risen now faces years in prison if he refuses to testify at the trial of a former CIA officer, Jeffrey Sterling, who is accused of giving him classified information about the agency’s role in disrupting Iran’s nuclear program, which he argues effectively gave Iran a blueprint for designing a bomb. The Obama administration must now decide if it will try to force Risen’s testimony, despite new guidelines issued earlier this year that make it harder to subpoena journalists for their records. Risen’s answer to this saga has been to write another book, released today, titled "Pay Any Price: Greed, Power, and Endless War." "You cannot have aggressive investigative reporting in America without confidential sources — and without aggressive investigative reporting, we can’t really have a democracy," Risen says. "I think that is what the government really fears more than anything else." Risen also details revelations he makes in his new book about what he calls the "homeland security-industrial complex."

Campaigners Call for "One Fair Wage" to Help End Sexual Harassment for Tipped Restaurant Workers

Mon 06 46 AM

A new report finds up to 90 percent of women working restaurant jobs that depend on tips have experienced workplace sexual harassment. More than 70 percent of tipped workers are women, and female restaurant workers are especially vulnerable to harassment in states where tipped workers earn a federal minimum wage of $2.13 per hour. Today, just seven states require employers pay a regular minimum wage before tips. We speak with Saru Jayaraman, co-director and co-founder of Restaurant Opportunities Center United, which has released a new report, "The Glass Floor: Sexual Harassment in the Restaurant Industry." Jayaraman is director of the Food Labor Research Center at University of California, Berkeley, and is the author of "Behind the Kitchen Door." We also speak with restaurant worker, Ashley Ogogor, and with former waitress, Eve Ensler, the award-winning playwright and author of The Vagina Monologues. She helped create V-Day, a global movement to stop violence against women and girls, and the One Billion Rising campaign, which is now in its third year.

Socialist City Councilmember on Nobel Prize Winner Malala Yousafzai: "Socialism is the Only Answer"

Mon 06 39 AM

We speak to Socialist Seattle City Councilmember Kshama Sawant about the awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize to Pakistani education activist Malala Yousafzai, who has expressed support for socialism. In 2012, Yousafzai was shot in the head by a Taliban gunman who boarded her school bus, but she survived and continued to campaign for the rights of girls to go to school. While she was recovering in England, she sent a message to a meeting of Pakistani Marxists in Lahore that "I am convinced Socialism is the only answer and I urge all comrades to take this struggle to a victorious conclusion. Only this will free us from the chains of bigotry and exploitation." "I think she’s right on the mark," Sawant responds. "All the places which have been the target of brutal imperialism from the West … where is the solution to all of this? The only solution can be on the basis of rejecting capitalism." Sawant also comments on the Indian child labor rights Kailash Satyarthi, who was jointly awarded this year’s Nobel Peace Prize with Yousafzai.

Seattle Marks Indigenous Peoples' Day Amid Calls to End Federal Holiday Celebrating Columbus

Mon 06 27 AM

Today marks Columbus Day, a federal holiday to commemorate the arrival of Christopher Columbus to the so-called "New World" in 1492. But the holiday has long evoked sadness and anger among Native Americans, who object to honoring a man who opened the door to European colonization, the exploitation of native peoples, and the slave trade. Last Monday, the Seattle City Council unanimously adopted a resolution to celebrate the second Monday in October as Indigenous Peoples’ Day at the encouragement of indigenous activists — joining many other cities and states with non-Columbus Day holidays. "We’re making sure that we acknowledge the absolute horrors of colonization and conquering that happened in the Americas at the hands of the European so-called explorers, and Columbus was one of the primary instigators," says Socialist City Councilmember Kshama Sawant, one of the sponsors of the resolution to celebrate Indigenous Peoples’ Day. She is a member of Socialist Alternative, a nationwide organization of social and economic justice activists.

Ferguson October: Thousands March in St. Louis for Police Reform & Arrest of Officer Darren Wilson

Mon 06 11 AM

Since the killing of unarmed black teenager Michael Brown two months ago, protesters in Ferguson, Missouri, have defied a militarized crackdown and taken to the streets to call for the arrest of police officer Darren Wilson, who shot him. Their efforts have made Ferguson the ground zero for the movement against police brutality and racial bias. Democracy Now! was there this weekend when thousands of people traveled to St. Louis to take part in "Ferguson October," four days of action calling for justice in Brown’s case and the reform of police practices nationwide. “Everybody that we know and love is held accountable for breaking the law,” says activist and actor Jesse Williams, star of the TV show, “Grey’s Anatomy.” “So those who break the law, if they happen to be wearing a blue shirt with a button-up that we paid for, they should probably be held accountable also.” We hear from residents of St. Louis, and from many of the protesters who traveled to Ferguson from around the country. “Everybody here is representing a family member or someone that’s been hurt, murdered, killed, arrested, deported,” notes Richard Wallace, with the Chicago Workers’ Collaborative. Over the weekend, 17 people were arrested in a sit-in at a gas station near the St. Louis neighborhood of Shaw, where protests have broken out since last week when police fatally shot Vonderrit Myers, an 18-year-old African American. Police say Myers fired at them and that they recovered a gun at the scene. But his family claims he was unarmed, holding only a sandwich he had bought minutes before. On Sunday night, Myers’ parents led a march to Saint Louis University, where they held a four-minute moment of silence for their son. Ferguson October organizers say more nonviolent civil disobedience is planned for today.

"I Am Coming to the End of a Long Journey": Legendary Detroit Activist Grace Lee Boggs in Hospice

Fri 06 55 AM

As we broadcast from Detroit, Michigan, we get an update on Grace Lee Boggs, the 99-year-old activist, author and philosopher based in Detroit. She is considered a legendary figure in the struggle for justice in America. Throughout her life, Boggs has participated in all of the 20th century’s major social movements — for civil rights, women’s rights, workers’ rights, and has inspired generations of local activists. In 1994, she co-founded Detroit Summer, "a multi-racial, inter-generational collective" that functions as a training ground for activists, attracting young people across the country each year. Boggs has been in hospice care at her Detroit home, largely bedridden after taking a bad fall last month. She recently posted a statement on her website that read in part, "I am coming to the end of a long journey — a journey that began over 70 years ago at the beginning of World War II." We broadcast an excerpt from our 2011 interview with Boggs, and speak with her longtime friend, Alice Jennings, who is one of two people in charge of her care.

Detroit Faces "Humanitarian Crisis" as City Shuts Off Water Access for Thousands of Residents

Fri 06 46 AM

We are on the road in Detroit, broadcasting from the "Great Lakes State" of Michigan, which has one of the longest freshwater coastlines in the country. But its residents are increasingly concerned about their access to affordable water. A judge overseeing Detroit’s bankruptcy recently ruled the city can continue shutting off water to residents who have fallen behind on payments after a judge concluded there is no "enforceable right" to water. The city began cutting off water to thousands of households several months ago, prompting protests from residents and the United Nations. Today, some 350 to 400 customers reportedly continue to lose water service daily in Detroit, where poverty rate is approximately 40 percent, and people have seen their water bills increase by 119 percent within the last decade. Most of the residents are African-American. Two-thirds of those impacted by the water shutoffs involve families with children. We speak with Alice Jennings, the lead attorney for residents who have lost their water access. "What’s happening here is nothing short of a humanitarian crisis," Jennings says. "In a military way, the truck would start at one end of the street, and by the time it reached the other end maybe 50 percent of the homes were shut off."