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

When We Fight, We Win: New Book Showcases Social Movements & Activists Transforming the World

Tue 07 48 AM

What do immigration raids and police brutality have in common? They’ve both sparked growing social movements demanding justice. Those linkages are examined in the new book, "When We Fight, We Win!: Twenty-First Century Social Movements and the Activists That Are Transforming Our World." The book looks at movements ranging from immigration to Black Lives Matter, to the Fight for 15, to LGBTQ rights. We speak with the book’s author, education activist Greg Jobin-Leeds; the book’s art director Deymirie Hernández; and two of the activists featured in the book—Jitu Brown, national director of the Justice Alliance in Chicago, and Isabel Sousa-Rodriguez, Ph.D. student at the CUNY Graduate Center and immigration activist.

"We Have Been Betrayed": Activist Who Refused to Shake Obama's Hand Decries Latest Immigration Raids

Tue 07 38 AM

The Obama administration has begun conducting raids and detaining families as part of an effort to deport Central Americans who have fled violence in their home countries. At least 121 people have been detained so far. At one home in Georgia, Ana Lizet Mejia, a Honduran woman who fled the country after her brother was murdered by gangs, was taken into custody along with her 9-year-old son after an early-morning raid. "In the same way that we fled a country where people were disappearing in the middle of the night and being taken by members of the government, by armed individuals, the same things are happening today in this country, and it is terrifying," said Isabel Sousa-Rodriguez, a Ph.D. student at the CUNY Graduate Center and former youth organizer with the Florida Immigrant Coalition. "And it is the reason why we stand up and fight, because we refuse to be dehumanized any longer." We speak with Sousa-Rodriguez, who, in June 2010, was invited by President Obama to the White House to discuss immigration policy and prospects for immigration reform and refused to shake the president’s hand.

These Aren't the First Armed Whites to Take Over That Oregon Land: Just Ask the Native Paiute People

Tue 07 33 AM

The armed militia members occupying a federally owned wildlife outpost in eastern Oregon have demanded that the land be "returned" to them. But who really has claim to this forest? We speak with Jacqueline Keeler, a writer and activist of Dineh and Yankton Dakota heritage who wrote about the 2014 Bundy ranch standoff for The Nation and is now working on a new piece which in part examines the history of the Paiute tribe’s treaty rights to the forest currently occupied by the nearly all-white militia.

Language Matters: #BlackLivesMatter Called "Thugs"; Why Aren't Oregon Militants Called "Terrorists"?

Tue 07 19 AM

Critics are raising questions about what they say is the unique treatment that armed militia members have received in the mainstream press, including coverage that described the members of the group occupying a federally owned wildlife outpost in eastern Oregon as "peaceful" protesters. The Associated Press ran the headline, "Peaceful Protest Followed by Oregon Wildlife Refuge Action," but later removed the word "peaceful." CNN law enforcement analyst Art Roderick said the militants were being treated differently than Black Lives Matter protesters because "they’re not looting anything." We speak with Washington Post political reporter Janell Ross, whose recent article is "Why aren’t we calling the Oregon occupiers 'terrorists'?" "It’s certainly … very hard to imagine that the same kind of deliberate, slow, careful, methodical use of language would happen were there a group of, say, black protesters who had decided to take over a courthouse while armed and threatening to fight to the death," Ross says.

Amid Armed Oregon Standoff, Report Finds "Skyrocketing" Number of Anti-Gov't Militia Groups

Tue 07 11 AM

The armed occupation of a federally owned wildlife outpost in remote Oregon has entered its fourth day. A self-styled right-wing antigovernment militia calling itself the Citizens for Constitutional Freedom took over the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge on Saturday in support of two ranchers sentenced to prison for setting fires that burned federal land. The wildlife refuge is located outside the town of Burns, Oregon, about 300 miles southeast of Portland. Leaders of the occupation include Ammon and Ryan Bundy, the sons of Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy, who refused to pay decades’ worth of cattle grazing fees, prompting a standoff with federal rangers in 2014 in Nevada, during which an armed militia rallied to his support. Cliven Bundy declared victory after the federal government backed down and released cattle they had seized from him. The Oregon occupation also stems from a fight over public lands in the West and comes as a new report by the Southern Poverty Law Center found the number of militias in the United States jumped 37 percent over the past year. We speak with Richard Cohen, president of the Southern Poverty Law Center.

Lori Berenson After Being Held 20 Years in Peru: "My Objectives Were to Achieve a More Just Society"

Mon 07 35 AM

The once-imprisoned U.S. activist Lori Berenson has returned home nearly two decades after being tried and convicted of collaborating with the Túpac Amaru Revolutionary Movement in Peru. Berenson is a former student at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology who left school to become an activist in the 1980s in El Salvador during the Reagan years and then moved on to Peru. In 1996, she was tried by a hooded military judge while prosecutors used secret evidence against her, and was ultimately convicted to a 20-year sentence. For three years, she was held in the frigid Yanamayo prison in the Andes mountains in an unheated, open-air cell without running water. After a major outcry, she was later transferred to the Socabaya prison in Arequipa, Peru. Berenson was released on parole in 2010 but was barred from leaving Peru for good until her sentence expired a few weeks ago. Democracy Now! was the first to interview Berenson in the Socabaya prison and broadcast her voice to the U.S. public after she was sentenced, and has long covered her case. She now joins us for her first television interview as a free woman back home.

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.