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: 56 min 31 sec ago

A Deadly U-Turn: Did Miriam Carey Need to Die After Wrong Car Move at White House Checkpoint?

Tue 07 45 AM

As new details have emerged about two Secret Service agents accused of drunk driving into a White House security barricade, we look back to another Secret Service scandal — the shooting of Miriam Carey. On October 3, 2013, the African-American mother drove to Washington, D.C., from Connecticut with her infant daughter. A U-turn at a checkpoint, followed by a car chase, led to Secret Service agents and Capitol Police firing 26 bullets at her car, eventually killing Carey. While the shooting deaths of Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown have sparked nationwide protest against police brutality, Carey’s case remains shrouded in a fog of misinformation. Initial reports claimed she "rammed" White House and Capitol "barriers" — and that she tried to breach two security perimeters. Those reports have since been proven false. We speak with three guests: Miriam’s sister, Valarie Carey, who is a retired New York police sergeant; the family’s attorney Eric Sanders; and David Montgomery, a staff reporter for The Washington Post. Last year, he authored an investigation for The Washington Post Sunday Magazine called, "How Miriam Carey’s U-Turn at a White House Checkpoint Led to Her Death."

Click here to watch Part 2 of this discussion.

A Double Standard on Leaks? As Whistleblowers Jailed, Petraeus Escapes Prison & Advises White House

Tue 07 14 AM

With prosecutions of whistleblowers like Chelsea Manning, Edward Snowden, Thomas Drake, John Kiriakou and several others, the Obama administration is by far the most aggressive in history when it comes to punishing leaks. But is there a double standard when it comes to who is punished and who walks free? That is the question being raised after a lenient plea deal for David Petraeus, the retired four-star general and former head of the CIA. Unlike the others, Petraeus did not release information to expose perceived government wrongdoing. Instead, Petraeus gave classified material to his girlfriend, Paula Broadwell, who was writing his biography. Petraeus let Broadwell access his CIA email account and other sensitive material, including the names of covert operatives in Afghanistan, war strategies, and quotes from White House meetings. Earlier this month, he reached a plea deal, admitting to one count of unauthorized removal and retention of classified information. Prosecutors will not seek prison time, but instead two years probation and a fine. He remains an administration insider, advising the White House on the war against ISIS. We speak to Jesselyn Radack, National Security & Human Rights director at the Government Accountability Project. A former ethics adviser to the U.S. Department of Justice, Radackis the lawyer for Edward Snowden, Thomas Drake and John Kiriakou — three whistleblowers all charged under the Espionage Act. She recently wrote an article for Foreign Policy magazine, "Petraeus, Snowden, and the Department of Two-Tiered Justice."

After Swedish Prosecutors Back Down, Is WikiLeaks Founder Julian Assange Close to Freedom?

Mon 07 48 AM

Today marks the 1,000th day WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has spent in political asylum inside Ecuador’s London embassy. For the first time, Swedish prosecutors have opened the door to Assange’s departure with a request to question him in London. Assange has never been charged over allegations of sexual assault, but has been holed up in the embassy since 2012, fearing a Swedish arrest warrant could lead to his extradition to the United States. We speak with Assange attorney, Michael Ratner, who says an interview with the prosecutor may result in no charges, and even if Assange were convicted of these allegations, “he has done all the time he would have to do... so the whole case is essentially a bogus way of keeping him in that embassy."

As U.N. Backs Fossil Fuel Divestment, Bill McKibben on Vanuatu, Oxford Vote, California Water Crisis

Mon 07 26 AM

As the Pacific Island nation of Vanuatu is devastated by Cyclone Pam, 350.org co-founder Bill McKibben links the storm to global warming and responds to the new decision by the the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change to back the fast-growing divestment campaign to persuade investors to sell off their fossil fuel assets. This comes as University of Oxford alumni, donors and students are watching a vote set for today on whether the school will divest its endowment from the top 200 companies involved in exploring or extracting fossil fuels. McKibben also discusses news from NASA that California’s water supply could be exhausted by next year. Meanwhile, the environmentalist and former Maldives President Mohamed Nasheed has been sentenced to 13 years in prison after he was found guilty of ordering the arrest of a judge while in office. Nasheed became famous in 2009 for holding a cabinet meeting underwater to show the threat of climate change to his island nation. McKibben is the author of several books, including "Eaarth: Making a Life on a Tough New Planet." 350.org has been posting updates about the situation in Vanuatu on its live blog at 350.org.

Vanuatu Blames Global Warming as Cyclone Causes Nation's Worst Climate Disaster in Recent Memory

Mon 07 15 AM

About half the population of the South Pacific Island state of Vanuatu has been left homeless by a devastating category 5 cyclone that flattened buildings and washed away roads and bridges. Aid agencies say Cyclone Pam killed at least eight people, with the death toll expected to rise as rescuers reach more far-flung areas. Vanuatu has a population of about 250,000 and is made up of more than 80 islands. Disaster relief officials and relief workers are still trying to establish contact with remote islands that bore the brunt of winds of more than 185 miles per hour. We are joined by Alex Mathieson, former Vanuatu country director for the aid group Oxfam.

Data and Goliath: Bruce Schneier on the Hidden Battles to Collect Your Data and Control Your World

Fri 07 42 AM

Leading security and privacy researcher Bruce Schneier talks about about the golden age of surveillance and his new book, "Data and Goliath: The Hidden Battles to Collect Your Data and Control Your World." The book chronicles how governments and corporation have built an unprecedented surveillance state. While the leaks of Edward Snowden have shed light on the National Security Agency’s surveillance practices, less attention has been paid to other forms of everyday surveillance — license plate readers, facial recognition software, GPS tracking, cellphone metadata and data mining.

Should McDonald's & Monsanto Have the Same Rights as People? A Debate on Corporate Personhood

Fri 07 14 AM

Five years ago, the U.S. Supreme Court handed down its Citizens United v. FEC decision striking down the prohibition on corporate expenditures in federal elections. In a 5-to-4 decision, the Supreme Court ruled that corporations are people, with the same right to influence politics as voters. Meanwhile, many corporations including McDonald’s, Monsanto and Peabody Energy have cited the principle of corporate constitutional rights in recent efforts to fight back against new laws. McDonald’s and other franchises are suing the city of Seattle over its new $15-an-hour minimum wage law, arguing it violates its corporate personhood rights. They are basing their case on the 14th Amendment, a constitutional provision written to protect newly freed slaves after the Civil War and ensure equal rights for all people. Monsanto is challenging Vermont’s recently passed GMO-labeling law under the First Amendment, claiming that it forces them to "speak" against their will. We host a debate on the movement to draft a constitutional amendment to overturn the doctrine of corporate constitutional rights with two guests: Ron Fein, legal director at Free Speech for People, and Kent Greenfield, professor of law and Dean’s Research Scholar at Boston College Law School.

Univ. of Oklahoma Students Mobilize Against Racism as 2 Fraternity Members Expelled for Hate Video

Thu 07 51 AM

The University of Oklahoma has expelled two student fraternity members it says led a racist song caught on video. Members of Sigma Alpha Epsilon are seen on a bus singing a song that includes a racial slur and a vow that no black people will ever join their group. The school says the two students who allegedly led the song were expelled for creating "a hostile learning environment" and that all those involved "will learn … it is wrong to use words to hurt, threaten, and exclude." Hundreds of students have marched at the school in a show of protest against racism. We are joined by Rashid Campbell, a senior at the University of Oklahoma who has been participating in the protests against the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity; and Tracie Washington, president and CEO of The Louisiana Justice Institute.

Eyewitness to Ferguson Police Shooting: Gunfire Did Not Come from Area of Nonviolent Protest

Thu 07 36 AM

Two police officers have been shot during a protest outside the Ferguson police headquarters early this morning. Both of the wounded officers have serious injuries. The shooting came just hours after Police Chief Thomas Jackson quit following last week’s Justice Department reports finding widespread racial bias in the city’s criminal justice system. Jackson is the sixth Ferguson official to be forced out in the wake of the report, including the city manager and the top municipal judge. We are joined from Ferguson by Rev. Osagyefo Sekou, who witnessed last night’s shooting, and Vincent Warren, executive director of the Center for Constitutional Rights, which is part of the Ferguson Legal Defense Committee.

Ex-U.S. Official: With Iran Letter, "Reckless" GOP Places Middle East Hegemony over Security

Thu 07 09 AM

As nuclear talks advance before a March 31 deadline, we look at the fallout from the Republican open letter warning Iran against reaching an agreement with the United States. On Monday, a group of 47 Senate Republicans told Iran the deal could be nixed by a Republican-led Congress or future Republican president. "We will consider any agreement regarding your nuclear-weapons program that is not approved by the Congress as nothing more than an executive agreement between President Obama and Ayatollah Khamenei," they wrote. We discuss the fallout from this unprecedented letter with two guests: Hillary Mann Leverett, a former official at the National Security Council who served as a U.S. negotiator with Iran and co-authored the book "Going to Tehran: Why America Must Accept the Islamic Republic of Iran"; and Ali Gharib, a contributor to The Nation magazine.

Gateway to Freedom: Historian Eric Foner on the Hidden History of the Underground Railroad

Wed 07 35 AM

As tens of thousands gather in Selma, Alabama, to mark the 50th anniversary of the historic voting rights marches of 1965, we go back 150 years to look at another chapter of the freedom struggle of African Americans. Between 1830 and 1860, more than 3,000 fugitive slaves reached freedom thanks to networks of anti-slavery resistance — commonly known as the underground railroad. Pulitzer Prize-winning historian and Columbia University professor Eric Foner is out with a new book, "Gateway to Freedom: The Hidden History of the Underground Railroad." The book uses newly discovered, detailed records of slave escapes secretly kept by a leading abolitionist. In his "Record of Fugitives," Sydney Howard Gay, the editor of the American Anti-Slavery Society’s newspaper, chronicled more than 200 escapes, some of whose stories Foner tells in this sweeping account, listing the identities of escaped slaves, where they came from, who their owners were, how they escaped and who helped them on their way to the North.

Click here to watch part 2 of this interview.

Is Venezuela Really an "Extraordinary Threat"? U.S. Sanctions Top Officials as Tensions Grow

Wed 07 14 AM

Tensions between the United States and Venezuela are increasing after the Obama administration declared Venezuela to be an "unusual and extraordinary threat to national security" and slapped sanctions on seven top officials for alleged human right violations and corruption. On Tuesday, Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro asked the National Assembly for increased power to protect the country’s integrity and sovereignty from what he described as "imperialist aggression." Relations between the United States and Venezuela have been decaying for the past few months. In December, President Obama signed legislation to impose sanctions on Venezuelan government officials accused of violating protesters’ rights during demonstrations last year when 43 people died, including demonstrators, government supporters and security officials. On February 19, the mayor of Caracas, Antonio Ledezma, was arrested for allegedly being involved in a U.S.-backed coup plot. Days later, Venezuela announced it had arrested an unspecified number of Americans for engaging in espionage and recruitment activities. Venezuela also announced a series of measures, including visa requirements for U.S. citizens and restrictions and the downsizing of the U.S. Embassy in Caracas. This all comes as Venezuela faces an economic crisis in part because of the plummeting price of oil. We are joined by Miguel Tinker Salas, professor at Pomona College and author of the forthcoming book, "Venezuela: What Everyone Needs to Know."

New York Hedge Funds Pour Millions of Dollars into Cuomo-Led Bid to Expand Charter Schools

Wed 07 10 AM

In his latest column for the New York Daily News, Democracy Now! co-host Juan González reports on the tens of millions of dollars in hedge fund donations behind the push for charter schools in New York state. Gov. Andrew Cuomo is the single biggest recipient, hauling in $4.8 million. After winning approval for up to $2,600 more per pupil for charter school facilities, Cuomo is calling on the state Legislature to increase the state limit on charter schools.

First Wedded Same-Sex Couple in Montgomery, Alabama, on Fight for Marriage Equality & Civil Rights

Tue 07 55 AM

We end today’s show looking at another fight for civil rights in Alabama: marriage equality. On Monday, Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange asked a federal judge to keep legalizing same-sex marriage in the state on hold until the U.S. Supreme Court rules later this year. Last month, Alabama became the 37th state to allow same-sex marriage, but the Alabama Supreme Court directed probate judges to stop giving licenses to same-sex couples. In Selma on Sunday, Amy Goodman spoke to Tori and Shanté Wolfe-Sisson, the first same-sex couple to marry in Montgomery, Alabama.