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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: 51 min 55 sec ago

4 Years Seeking Justice: Daughter of Slain Indigenous Environmental Leader Berta Cáceres Speaks Out

Fri, 01/17/2020 - 08:22

In Honduras, a new report by the Violence Observatory at the Honduran National Autonomous University says that at least 15 women have been murdered in the first 14 days of this year. Violence against women, LGBTQ people, indigenous leaders and environmental activists has skyrocketed in Honduras under the U.S.-backed government of President Juan Orlando Hernández. The report comes nearly four years after the Honduran indigenous environmental activist Berta Cáceres was shot dead inside her home in La Esperanza, Honduras, by hired hitmen. Last month in the capital of Tegucigalpa, seven men were sentenced to up to 50 years in prison for her killing in March 2016. At the time of her assassination, Cáceres had been fighting the construction of a major hydroelectric dam on the Gualcarque River on sacred Lenca land in southwestern Honduras. In November 2018, a court ruled that Cáceres’s killing was ordered by executives of the Honduran company behind the Agua Zarca dam, known as DESA, who hired the convicted hitmen. Cáceres won the Goldman Environmental Prize for her work protecting indigenous communities and for her environmental justice campaign against the massive dam in 2015. In December, we sat down with one of her daughters, Laura Zúñiga Cáceres, in Madrid, Spain, where she was receiving a human rights award. “This is a late conviction. It has been almost four years of seeking justice. It is the product of a rather difficult and painful process that has been putting us as victims in direct dispute with a murderous and aggressive state, and they produced the minimum consequences that the state could have given,” Zúñiga Cáceres says.

"They Must Conduct a Full and Fair Trial": Senators Sworn in for Historic Trump Impeachment Trial

Fri, 01/17/2020 - 08:09

For just the third time in history, the U.S. Senate has opened a trial to determine if a sitting president should be removed from office. The Senate trial comes a month after the House impeached President Trump for pressuring Ukraine to investigate his political rival Joe Biden. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts, who will preside over the impeachment trial in the Senate, later swore in senators who will serve as jurors when the trial officially begins on Tuesday. This comes as more information is coming to light about the actions of President Trump and his associates. On Thursday, the nonpartisan Government Accountability Office said the White House Office of Management and Budget violated federal law by withholding $400 million in aid money to Ukraine even though the funds had been allocated by Congress. We speak with attorney John Bonifaz, co-founder and president of Free Speech for People and co-author of “The Constitution Demands It: The Case for the Impeachment of Donald Trump.”

Tanks & AR-15s: Moms 4 Housing Speaks Out After Militarized Eviction from Vacant Oakland House

Thu, 01/16/2020 - 08:48

We look at the fight for affordable housing in the Bay Area with Moms 4 Housing, the unhoused and insecurely housed mothers who were evicted Tuesday by a militarized police force from a vacant home they had been occupying in Oakland, California. The action ended a two-month standoff between the mothers and real estate developer Wedgewood Properties when sheriff’s deputies arrested two mothers and two of their supporters. All four were released on bail Tuesday afternoon. We speak to Misty Cross, one of the moms who was arrested, and her daughter Destiny Johnson. “It was never about trying to stay in that house,” says Cross. “The message we were trying to send out was to get people aware of policies and things that are in place that are making us not move forward in life.” We also speak to Carroll Fife, the director of the Oakland office for Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment.

We Can't Be Silent Anymore: Rev. Barber & Poor People's Campaign Push Presidential Debate on Poverty

Thu, 01/16/2020 - 08:33

As the final Democratic debate ahead of the Iowa caucuses took place Tuesday night in Des Moines, Iowa, more than 100 protesters gathered outside the debate venue at Drake University to demand a televised presidential debate on poverty. Led by Reverend William Barber, demonstrators carried a coffin to honor the 250,000 people who die every year from the impacts of poverty. According to the Poor People’s Campaign, 140 million Americans — over 43% of the population — can’t pay basic living expenses. In Iowa, 630,000 workers — 45% of the state’s workforce — make less than $15 an hour. We’re joined by Reverend William Barber, co-chair of the Poor People’s Campaign and president of Repairers of the Breach. Last night, he and the Poor People’s Campaign hosted a mass meeting on poverty in Des Moines. “We cannot enliven the electorate as long as we keep having dead silence on poverty,” Barber says. “We’ve had nearly 30 debates since 2016 alone, and not one of them have focused on poverty.”

Putin Proposes Sweeping Changes to Russian Constitution, Possibly Prolonging His Grip on Power

Thu, 01/16/2020 - 08:25

In Russia, Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev resigned Wednesday along with his entire Cabinet in a move that surprised many in Moscow and abroad. The move came as Russian President Vladimir Putin proposed sweeping constitutional changes to expand the power of the parliament and the State Council while weakening the presidency. Critics of Putin say the proposals could help him keep power after his final presidential term ends in 2024. The Russian parliament is expected to vote today to confirm Putin’s pick for new prime minister, Mikhail Mishustin, a bureaucrat who runs Russia’s tax service. The Russian newspaper Kommersant has described the recent political shake-up as “the January revolution.” We are joined by Tony Wood, author of “Russia Without Putin: Money, Power and the Myths of the New Cold War.” Wood is a member of the New Left Review editorial board. He is also the author of “Chechnya: The Case for Independence.”

Trump Becomes Just Third U.S. President to Face Impeachment Trial as Case Moves to the Senate

Thu, 01/16/2020 - 08:11

In a historic move, the House of Representatives presented articles of impeachment against President Trump to the Senate Wednesday. It marks only the third presidential impeachment trial in all of U.S. history. Earlier Wednesday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi held a news conference with the seven impeachment managers. The House vote to send articles of impeachment to the Senate comes as The Washington Post reports explosive new information at the center of the impeachment inquiry. New material released by House Democrats shows text messages between former Giuliani associate Lev Parnas and Robert Hyde, a Republican congressional candidate from Connecticut, in which the two have threatening exchanges about Marie Yovanovitch, the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine. In the text messages, Parnas and Hyde discuss how Yovanovitch was under surveillance. Yovanovitch has repeatedly said she felt threatened by Trump, who called her “bad news” in his now-infamous July 25 call with Ukrainian President Zelensky. For more, we’re joined by Elie Mystal, justice correspondent for The Nation. “Pelosi at least thinks or hopes that there will be witnesses, there will be cross-examination, and this will be something more approaching a real trial situation as opposed to kind of just a show,” Mystal says.

Democrats Debate Wealth Tax, Free Public College & Student Debt Relief as Part of New Economic Plan

Wed, 01/15/2020 - 08:53

At Tuesday’s Democratic debate, former South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg repeated his criticism of plans for tuition-free public college and wiping out student debt, supported by both Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders. Activist and Truthout contributor Alexis Goldstein says the dispute highlights a philosophical split within the Democratic Party. “We essentially have a disagreement between the progressive candidates and the moderate candidates about whether or not we want to pursue a universal benefit for higher education and make it a public good, much in the way that K-12 education is treated as a public good,” Goldstein says.

A Modest Improvement or a Deal to be Rejected? Warren & Sanders Debate New NAFTA Rewrite

Wed, 01/15/2020 - 08:49

Progressive Democatic presidential candidates Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders clashed over their trade policy disagreements as they zeroed in on the U.S., Mexico and Canada trade agreement that is meant to replace the North American Free Trade Agreement. Sanders said the government can do much better. “The heart and soul of our disastrous trade agreements — and I’m the guy who voted against NAFTA and against permanent normal trade relations with China — is that we have forced American workers to compete against people in Mexico, in China, elsewhere, who earn starvation wages, $1 or $2 an hour,” Sanders said. “Second of all, every major environmental organization has said no to this new trade agreement because it does not even have the phrase 'climate change' in it.” Meanwhile, Warren argued the USMCA “will give some relief” to U.S. farmers and workers. “I believe we accept that relief, we try to help the people who need help, and we get up the next day and fight for a better trade deal,” she said. We speak with Julian Brave NoiseCat, journalist and vice president of policy and strategy at the think tank Data for Progress.

In First All-White Democratic Debate, CNN Didn't Ask a Single Question About Immigration

Wed, 01/15/2020 - 08:45

As the federal government plans to divert an additional $7.2 billion from the military budget for the construction of President Trump’s promised border wall, and tens of thousands of asylum seekers from Central America, the Caribbean and other regions are stranded throughout the U.S.-Mexico border, CNN moderators failed to question Democratic presidential candidates on border and immigration issues. We speak to Julio Ricardo Varela, co-host of the Latinx political podcast “In the Thick” and founder of Latino Rebels. “Anyone who thinks that a wall is going to protect us, the statistics aren’t there. … But that is what the American people are led to believe,” Varela says. “The only way you fight against this is that you challenge that propaganda, because that is what it’s becoming. It has become propaganda. And political journalists need to do a better job in challenging what the president says.”

Sanders and Warren Openly Spar as Some Progressives Fear Fighting Could Help Moderate Democrats

Wed, 01/15/2020 - 08:28

At Tuesday night’s Democratic presidential debate in Des Moines, Iowa, Senators Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren openly sparred for the first time when asked about Warren’s claim that Sanders told her in a private 2018 meeting that a woman could not win the presidential election. Sanders again denied the accusation when asked about it by CNN’s Abby Phillip. Warren maintained her claim. At the end of the night, Warren also apparently refused to shake Sanders’s hand. We speak with journalist Julian Brave NoiseCat, activist and Truthout contributor Alexis Goldstein and Larry Hamm of People’s Organization for Progress.

Phyllis Bennis on Dem Debate: Support for Combat Troop Withdrawal is Not Enough to Stop Endless Wars

Wed, 01/15/2020 - 08:12

Six Democratic presidential candidates sparred on Tuesday night in Des Moines, the last debate before the crucial Iowa caucuses. The debate, hosted by CNN and The Des Moines Register, focused heavily on foreign policy and rising tensions with Iran following the U.S. assassination of that country’s top military commander, Qassem Soleimani. As the presidential field continues to narrow, the U.S. Senate is preparing for the historic impeachment trial of President Trump, for which Senators Sanders, Warren and Klobuchar are all expected to leave the campaign trail to serve their role as jurors.

“Floaters”: Martín Espada Pays Tribute to Salvadoran Father & Daughter Who Drowned at U.S. Border

Tue, 01/14/2020 - 08:52

Acclaimed poet Martín Espada pays tribute to Óscar Alberto Martínez Ramírez and his 23-month old daughter Angie Valeria, who drowned in the Rio Grande river in June 2019 trying to cross into the United States. A photo of the drowned Salvadoran father and daughter caused widespread outrage at the humanitarian crisis at the U.S. southern border and also raised questions about the ethics of exploiting such images in the press. Espada’s poem “Floaters” meditates on their passing and its aftermath.

"Morir Soñando”: Martín Espada Reads Poem About Luis Garden Acosta, Young Lord & Community Activist

Tue, 01/14/2020 - 08:41

Last week marked the first anniversary of the passing of Luis Garden Acosta, the founder and longtime president of the nationally known El Puente youth and community leadership program in Brooklyn. Long regarded as one of New York City’s foremost human rights and Latino community activists, Garden Acosta died last January at the age of 72. A former seminarian who had been active in the Catholic antiwar movement, Garden Acosta joined the Young Lords Party in 1970 and later founded that group’s Massachusetts chapter while he was still a student at Harvard Medical School. He went on to pioneer successful nonviolent direct action campaigns against segregated public schools and against environmental racism in New York City. In his later years, together with his wife Frances Lucerna, Garden Acosta created an alternative public high school geared toward human rights activism, the El Puente Academy for Peace and Justice. To honor his legacy, we speak with the renowned poet Martín Espada. He is a professor of English at the University of Massachusetts Amherst and the author of more than 20 books. His latest collection of poems is called “Vivas to Those Who Have Failed.”

Moms 4 Housing: Meet the Oakland Mothers Facing Eviction After Two Months Occupying Vacant House

Tue, 01/14/2020 - 08:19

In Oakland, California, a group of mothers fighting homelessness is waging a battle against real estate speculators and demanding permanent solutions to the Bay Area housing crisis by occupying a vacant house with their children. The struggle began in November, when working mothers in West Oakland moved into 2928 Magnolia Street, a vacant house owned by real estate investment firm Wedgewood Properties. The firm tried to evict them, claiming they were illegally squatting on private property, but the mothers went to court and filed a “right to possession” claim, saying housing is a human right. Their name is Moms 4 Housing. The battle for the house came to a head last week when an Alameda County judge ruled in favor of Wedgewood Properties and ordered the mothers to vacate the house. But Moms 4 Housing has stayed to fight eviction. Monday night, hundreds of protesters gathered at the house after receiving a tip that the Sheriff’s Office was coming to evict the families — a show of support that led the sheriff to abandon the eviction attempt. We speak with Carroll Fife, director of the Oakland office for the Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment, and Dominique Walker, a member of Moms 4 Housing who has been living at the house with her family. Our interview was interrupted by news of another possible eviction attempt.

GOP Debate on Impeachment Witnesses Intensifies as Pelosi Prepares to Send Articles to Senate

Tue, 01/14/2020 - 08:09

The impeachment trial of President Trump is anticipated to proceed this week, as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is expected to send the two articles of impeachment to the Senate as early as Wednesday. The House impeached Trump in December for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress related to Trump’s effort to pressure Ukraine to investigate his political rival Joe Biden. A growing number of Republican senators are pushing for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to hold a vote on whether to allow witnesses to speak at the Senate trial. The timing of the Senate impeachment trial could impact the 2020 presidential race. Three Democratic candidates — Senators Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren and Amy Klobuchar — will have to leave the campaign trail for the trial, which could begin this week. On Monday, Senator Cory Booker dropped out of the race in part because of the time demands of the impeachment trial. We speak with Dahlia Lithwick, senior editor at Slate.com, where she is their senior legal correspondent and Supreme Court reporter. Dahlia also hosts the podcast “Amicus.”

"Stop the Money Pipeline": 150 Arrested at Protests Exposing Wall Street's Link to Climate Crisis

Mon, 01/13/2020 - 08:44

Nearly 150 people were arrested on Capitol Hill Friday in a climate protest led by Academy Award-winning actor and activist Jane Fonda. Fonda has been leading weekly climate demonstrations in Washington, D.C., known as “Fire Drill Fridays,” since October. For her last and 14th protest, actors Martin Sheen and Joaquin Phoenix, indigenous anti-pipeline activist Tara Houska, journalist Naomi Klein and dozens more lined up to get arrested as they demanded a mass uprising and swift political action to thwart the climate crisis. Fonda then marched with supporters down Pennsylvania Avenue to a Chase Bank branch where environmentalist Bill McKibben and dozens of others were occupying the space to draw attention to the bank’s ties to the fossil fuel industry. Ten, including McKibben, were arrested. The day of action was the launch of “Stop the Money Pipeline,” a campaign to halt the flow of cash from banks, investment firms and insurance companies to the fossil fuel industry. “Let us remember that we are not the criminals,” Naomi Klein told a crowd of protesters. “The criminals are the people who are letting this world burn for money.”

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