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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: 2 hours 40 min ago

Shocking UN Report Warns up to a Million Species are at Risk of Extinction Due to Human Activity

Thu, 05/09/2019 - 08:45

An alarming new report by a panel of leading scientists warns that human activity is causing the disappearance and deterioration of wildlife at a rate that could represent an existential threat to humanity within our lifetimes. The United Nations’ Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services released its conclusions earlier this week, and found that one million plant and animal species could go extinct in the foreseeable future unless current trends are reversed. The study estimates the global extinction rate is “already at least tens to hundreds of times higher than it averaged over the past 10 million years.” It is the largest and most comprehensive global study of biodiversity ever. It took three years to complete and is based on 15,000 scientific papers. The landmark report singled out industrial farming and fishing as major drivers of the crisis and called for “transformative change” to arrest present trends of biodiversity loss and species extinction. We speak with Kate Brauman, one of the coordinating lead authors of the UN report. She is an environmental scientist at the University of Minnesota. And we speak with Ashley Dawson, a professor of post-colonial studies at the City University of New York Graduate Center and College of Staten Island. His books include “Extreme Cities: The Peril and Promise of Urban Life in the Age of Climate Change” and “Extinction: A Radical History.”

Gig Economy Drivers Strike: Uber Has Built Its $90 Billion Empire on an Anti-Worker Model

Thu, 05/09/2019 - 08:36

The New York Taxi Workers Alliance helped organize the Uber and Lyft strike in New York City on Wednesday. We speak to the group’s executive director Bhairavi Desai.

Striking Driver Speaks Out: Uber & Lyft Are "Slave Systems" That Exploit Workers

Thu, 05/09/2019 - 08:31

Uber and Lyft drivers in cities around the world went on strike Wednesday to protest low wages and poor treatment of workers just days before Uber’s initial public offering, which could value the company at up to $90 billion dollars. But while Uber prepares for what could be one of the biggest IPOs in history and executives plan to take home millions, drivers say their conditions are worse than ever. Drivers in Los Angeles, London, Melbourne, São Paulo, New York and other cities temporarily halted work Wednesday to demand Uber and other rideshare companies like Lyft treat drivers like full-time employees rather than independent contractors, guarantee a livable income and end deactivations for drivers without explanation, among other demands. On Wednesday, striking Uber and Lyft drivers gathered on Wall Street to call out the practices of the ride-sharing companies. Democracy Now! producer Libby Rainey spoke with Inder Parmar, an Uber driver who says he has lost two-thirds of his income as the company has slashed compensation.

The Gig Is Up: Rep. Deb Haaland Introduces Bill to Make Uber & Lyft Pay Their Fair Share of Taxes

Thu, 05/09/2019 - 08:25

As Uber and Lyft drivers staged a strike on Wednesday, Rep. Deb Haaland (D-NM) announced legislation that would require Uber and Lyft to pay for drivers’ Social Security and Medicare costs. Because drivers are considered “independent contractors,” they are currently required to pay Social Security & Medicare costs themselves. Haaland’s legislation would place that burden entirely on Lyft, Uber, and other multinational corporations employing large numbers of so-called independent contractors in the gig economy. Rep. Deb Haaland said in a statement “The gig is up.” She joins us from Capitol Hill.

A Constitutional Crisis? House Panel Holds AG Barr in Contempt as Trump Claims Executive Privilege

Thu, 05/09/2019 - 08:10

The House Judiciary Committee has voted to hold Attorney General William Barr in contempt of Congress over his refusal to turn over the unredacted Mueller report and the underlying evidence to lawmakers. Meanwhile, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff has issued a subpoena to the Justice Department for the unredacted report. This all came after the White House invoked executive privilege to prevent the full report’s release to Congress and to bar former White House counsel Don McGahn from providing documents to Congress related to the Mueller probe. We speak with Ian Millhiser, a columnist for ThinkProgress whose recent piece is headlined “Trump’s claim that the Mueller report is protected by executive privilege is hot garbage.”

New Era for the ERA? 35 Years Later, Will Equal Rights Amendment Finally be Ratified?

Wed, 05/08/2019 - 08:45

Activists and lawmakers testified last week before a House Judiciary subcommittee in the first congressional hearings on the Equal Rights Amendment in more than 35 years. The constitutional amendment was approved by Congress in 1972, and was ratified by 35 states over the next decade — three states short of the required total needed by a 1982 deadline. Nevada and Illinois have since ratified the amendment. A bill by Rep. Jackie Spear would eliminate the 1982 deadline, leaving the ERA just one state away from becoming a part of the U.S. Constitution. We speak with co-presidents and CEOs of the ERA Coalition/Fund for Women’s Equality: Carol Jenkins and Jessica Neuwirth. Neuwirth is also the author of the book “Equal Means Equal: Why the Time for an Equal Rights Amendment is Now.”

Cecile Richards: Georgia’s New "Fetal Heartbeat" Bill Criminalizes Women Who Seek Abortions

Wed, 05/08/2019 - 08:35

Georgia’s Republican Governor Brian Kemp signed into law Tuesday a six-week abortion ban, or so-called “fetal heartbeat law” that bans abortions once a fetal heartbeat can be detected—something that typically happens just six weeks into a pregnancy and before many women realize they’re pregnant. It is now one of the country’s most restrictive abortion laws. “It doesn’t just make abortion illegal,” says
Cecile Richards, former head of Planned Parenthood. “It basically would allow women to be convicted and either sentenced to death or to life imprisonment in Georgia.” She notes the real medical crisis for women in Georgia and nationwide is maternal mortality.

Supermajority: Cecile Richards Teams With Alicia Garza & Ai-jen Poo to Mobilize Women Voters in 2020

Wed, 05/08/2019 - 08:25

As the 2020 primary and general election season heats up, we speak with former Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards about Supermajority, the new political action group she helped launch that aims to train a new generation of women activists to take on grassroots campaigns and electoral politics. “Women are the majority of voters … the volunteers, we’re increasingly the donors, increasingly the candidates, and it’s time for political equity,” says Richards. “We want to build a multi-racial, intergenerational movement to increase women’s power.” Supermajority was co-founded by Black Lives Matter co-founder Alicia Garza and Ai-jen Poo, the executive director of the National Domestic Workers Alliance. Richards says since their launch a week ago, more than 80,000 people have signed up, and adds: “There’s a real need and interest in the country.”

Billion Dollar Loser: NYT Report on Trump’s Taxes & Massive Losses May Prompt Fraud Investigation

Wed, 05/08/2019 - 08:13

We look at a major exposé from The New York Times, which obtained tax information on Donald Trump that shows his businesses lost $1.17 billion from 1985 to 1994. While Trump continues to refuse to release his tax returns, printouts from his official IRS tax transcripts for a 10 year period ending in 1994 show that in multiple years during that stretch, Trump appears to have lost more money than nearly any other individual taxpayer in the country and paid no federal income taxes for eight of the 10 years. “Almost every two cents of every dollar reported as losses one year, by everyone in the United States, were recorded by Donald Trump,” notes our guest, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist David Cay Johnston, an investigative reporter previously with the Times, now founder and editor of DC Report.org.. He has been reporting on Donald Trump since the 1980s and his new piece for the Daily Beast is headlined “Trump’s Tax Leak Hints at Potential Fraud Investigations.”

After Florida Re-enfranchises 1.4 Million, Republicans Push New "Poll Tax" For Formerly Incarcerated

Tue, 05/07/2019 - 08:51

Civil rights groups are decrying what they say is a new poll tax after the Florida Senate passed a bill Friday that would require formerly incarcerated people with felony convictions to repay all fines and fees to courts before their voting rights are restored. This comes six months after voters in Florida approved a measure to restore voting rights to 1.4 million people with nonviolent felonies who have fully completed their sentences, overturning a Jim Crow-era law aimed at keeping African Americans from voting. Nearly 65 percent of voters approved the constitutional amendment to re-enfranchise people with former felony convictions in November. It was hailed as the biggest win for voting rights in decades, with the potential to sway the 2020 election and beyond. But the Florida legislature’s vote threatens to keep tens of thousands from the ballot boxes. We speak with Desmond Meade, president of the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition and chairman of Floridians for a Fair Democracy. He spearheaded Amendment Four, which has re-enfranchised 1.4 million Floridians, including himself.

Joe Biden's Son Hunter Is Invested in China's Mass Surveillance Program Used to Monitor Uyghurs

Tue, 05/07/2019 - 08:37

As the United Nations accuses the Chinese government of setting up massive camps in the far-west Xinjiang province to imprison an unknown number of ethnic Uyghurs and other Muslims, Human Rights Watch reports that China is carrying out mass surveillance there using a mobile app that lets authorities monitor the Muslim population. We speak with investigative reporter Lee Fang about an unexpected investor in Chinese surveillance: Hunter Biden, Joe Biden’s son. And we speak with Human Rights Watch China director Sophie Richardson.

As Countries Seek Trade With China, Imprisoned Uyghur Community Has Become "Collateral Damage"

Tue, 05/07/2019 - 08:22

China’s top trade negotiator is traveling to Washington this week as tension over trade intensifies between the two nations. President Trump is threatening to impose a 25 percent tariff on nearly all Chinese imports after the U.S. accused China of backtracking on trade commitments. Talks are expected to resume on Thursday, but the Trump administration is facing criticism for refusing to address China’s human rights record as part of the negotiations. The United Nations and a number of human rights groups have accused the Chinese government of setting up massive camps in the far-west Xinjiang province to hold an unknown number of ethnic Uyghurs and other Muslims. Estimates of the population of the camps range from hundreds of thousands to more than a million. China says the camps have been built as re-education and training centers and are needed to combat extremism in the region. The New York Times reports the Trump administration has shelved proposed targeted sanctions over the mass detentions out of fear it could derail a potential trade deal. Last week, Human Rights Watch revealed new details about how China is carrying out mass surveillance in Xinjiang in part thanks to a mobile app that lets authorities monitor the Muslim population. We speak with Human Rights Watch’s China director Sophie Richardson and Rushan Abbas, a Uyghur-American activist and founder of Campaign for Uyghurs.

Trita Parsi: John Bolton Has Wanted War With Iran for 20 Years. Now Could Be His Best Chance

Tue, 05/07/2019 - 08:11

Iran is accusing the United States of “psychological warfare” after National Security Advisor John Bolton announced the U.S. is deploying a carrier strike group and a bomber task force to the region. In a statement on Sunday night, Bolton said the move was intended to “send a clear and unmistakable message to the Iranian regime that any attacks on United States interests or on those of our allies will be met with unrelenting force.” On Monday acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan said the deployment was made because of a “credible threat by Iranian regime forces” but he offered no details. Axios is reporting the threat is based on information passed on from Israel. The Trump administration has been ratcheting up pressure against Iran following Washington’s withdrawal from the landmark Iran nuclear deal last year. Last month, the U.S. designated Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guard as a terrorist organization. The Trump administration also said it will end a waiver program that allowed some nations to circumvent U.S. sanctions and continue buying Iranian oil without suffering penalties. We speak with Trita Parsi in Washington, D.C., author of “Losing an Enemy: Obama, Iran, and the Triumph of Diplomacy.” He is the founder and former president of the National Iranian American Council, and an adjunct associate professor in the Center for Security Studies at Georgetown University.

Ex-Blackwater CEO Erik Prince Makes a Comeback Under Trump Selling Mercenary Armies Around the World

Mon, 05/06/2019 - 08:46

The House Intelligence Committee has sent a criminal referral to the Justice Department for Erik Prince, founder of the mercenary firm Blackwater. House Democrats are accusing Prince of lying to Congress during his November 2017 testimony before the Committee, when he described a meeting in the Seychelles with a Russian banker before Donald Trump’s inauguration as a chance encounter. According to the Mueller report, the meeting was an attempt to establish a backchannel between the incoming Trump administration and Russia, and may have been arranged by the Trump team. The move is one of the latest actions placing Erik Prince in the spotlight after more than a decade of largely working in the shadows after Blackwater shut down. In a major new report, The Intercept looks at Prince’s latest actions, including his pitch to privatize the war in Afghanistan; his creation of a mercenary army for the United Arab Emirates; a history of mismanaged projects that have soured his relationships with leaders around the world; and his comeback, made possible with the help of the Trump administration. We speak with Matthew Cole, the investigative journalist who wrote the story. It’s titled “The Complete Mercenary: How Erik Prince Used the Rise of Trump to Make an Improbable Comeback.”

The Occupation is a Crime of Aggression: Gazans React After 25 Palestinians, 4 Israelis Die

Mon, 05/06/2019 - 08:15

Leaders in Israel and Gaza have reportedly reached a ceasefire agreement after an intense three days of fighting left 25 Palestinians and four Israelis dead. Palestinian authorities said the dead in Gaza included two pregnant women, a 14-month-old girl and a 12-year-old boy. The latest round of violence began on Friday. According to the Washington Post, Israeli forces shot dead two Palestinian protesters taking part in the weekly Great March of Return which began 13 months ago. Palestinians then reportedly shot and wounded two Israeli soldiers near the border. In response, Israel carried out an airstrike on a refugee camp killing two Palestinian militants. The heaviest combat took place on Saturday and Sunday as militants in Gaza fired about 700 rockets into Israel while Israel launched airstrikes on over 350 targets inside Gaza. The weekend has been described as the heaviest combat in the region since the 2014 Israeli assault on Gaza. Residents in Gaza fear the ceasefire will not last. We go to Gaza City to speak with Raji Sourani, award-winning human rights lawyer and the director of the Palestinian Center for Human Rights. We also speak with Jehad Abusalim, a scholar and policy analyst from Gaza who works for the American Friends Service Committee’s Gaza Unlocked Campaign.

"We Shall Overcome": Remembering Folk Icon Pete Seeger on What Would Have Been His 100th Birthday

Fri, 05/03/2019 - 08:55

It was 100 years ago today that the late folk singer and activist Pete Seeger was born. In 2004, Seeger came into our Firehouse studio for an in-depth interview. We play an excerpt to mark his centennial celebration, in which he recalls how he learned about the classic civil rights anthem “We Shall Overcome,” that he helped to popularize. Watch the full interview and our full archive of interviews with Seeger.

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