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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 53 min ago

"America Exists Today to Make War": Lawrence Wilkerson on Endless War & American Empire

Mon, 01/13/2020 - 08:27

Retired U.S. Army Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson, who served as Secretary of State Colin Powell’s chief of staff from 2002 to 2005, says the escalation of tensions between the U.S. and Iran today is a continuation of two decades of U.S. policy disasters in the Middle East, starting with the 2003 run-up to war with Iraq under the Bush administration. “America exists today to make war. How else do we interpret 19 straight years of war and no end in sight? It’s part of who we are. It’s part of what the American Empire is,” says Wilkerson. “We are going to cheat and steal to do whatever it is we have to do to continue this war complex. That’s the truth of it. And that’s the agony of it.”

"A System Failure": Iran Admits to Downing Airplane, Sparking Renewed Anti-Government Protests

Mon, 01/13/2020 - 08:13

Iranian protesters have taken to the streets for a third day, after the Iranian military acknowledged it accidentally shot down a Ukrainian airliner last week, killing all 176 people on board, including 82 Iranians and 57 Canadians. Iran initially denied downing the plane, but Iran’s Revolutionary Guard took responsibility for what authorities now describe as a “disastrous mistake.” The plane was downed hours after Iranian forces fired 22 rockets at military bases in Iraq housing U.S. troops, in retaliation for the U.S. assassination of Iranian General Qassem Soleimani. Millions of Iranians took to the streets last week to pay tribute to Soleimani, but this week anti-government protests resumed in at least a dozen cities. There are reports of Iranian forces firing live ammunition and tear gas to disperse the protesters. Meanwhile, in Washington, Defense Secretary Mark Esper has publicly contradicted President Trump’s assertion that Soleimani was planning to attack four U.S. embassies at the time of his assassination. Esper said he had not seen evidence supporting Trump’s claim. For more on the Iranian protests, we speak with Ali Kadivar, assistant professor of sociology and international studies at Boston College. Kadivar grew up in Iran during the Iran-Iraq War and completed his undergraduate and first graduate degree at the University of Tehran, where he was active in the student movement.

The Weaponization of Data: Cambridge Analytica, Information Warfare & the 2016 Election of Trump

Fri, 01/10/2020 - 08:38

We continue our conversation with the directors of “The Great Hack,” Jehane Noujaim and Karim Amer, as well as former Cambridge Analytica employee Brittany Kaiser and propaganda researcher Emma Briant, about Cambridge Analytica’s parent company SCL Group’s history as a defense contractor. “We’re in a state of global information warfare now,” Briant says. “How do we know if our militaries develop technologies and the data that it has gathered on people, for instance, across the Middle East … how do we know when that is turning up in Yemen or when that is being utilized by an authoritarian regime against the human rights of its people or against us? How do we know that it’s not being manipulated by Russia, by Iran, by anybody who’s an enemy, by Saudi Arabia, for example, who SCL were also working with? We have no way of knowing, unless we open up this industry and hold these people properly accountable for what they’re doing.”

"Democracy For Sale": Cambridge Analytica & Big Tech's History of Manipulating Elections

Fri, 01/10/2020 - 08:09

A longtime Facebook executive has admitted the company’s platform helped Donald Trump win the 2016 election, and it may happen again this year. In an internal memo, Facebook Vice President Andrew Bosworth wrote, “So was Facebook responsible for Donald Trump getting elected? I think the answer is yes.” Bosworth, who was a backer of Hillary Clinton in 2016, went on to write that the company should not change its policies in an effort to hurt Trump’s re-election chances. In his memo, Bosworth referenced the role of the shadowy data firm Cambridge Analytica but downplayed its significance. However, a new Oscar-shortlisted documentary called “The Great Hack” argues Cambridge Analytica has played a significant role not just in the U.S. election but in elections across the globe. The company harvested some 87 million Facebook profiles without the users’ knowledge or consent and used the data to sway voters during the 2016 campaign. We speak with the directors of “The Great Hack,” Jehane Noujaim and Karim Amer, as well as former Cambridge Analytica employee Brittany Kaiser and propaganda researcher Emma Briant.

Uyghurs & Other Muslim Minorities Forced into Labor Programs to Staff Chinese Factories

Thu, 01/09/2020 - 08:47

In China, a shocking new exposé has revealed that Chinese authorities are systematically forcing Muslims — mostly Uyghurs and Kazakhs — into labor programs to supply Chinese factories with a cheap and compliant workforce. The New York Times investigation, based on official documents, interviews and visits to the far-western region of Xinjiang, reveals a sweeping program to push poor farmers, villagers and small traders into sometimes months-long training courses before assigning them to low-wage factory work. The programs work in tandem with indoctrination camps where an estimated 1 million adults from the Uyghur community are being imprisoned. China claims its labor programs are “vocational training centers” designed to combat extremism and alleviate poverty, while Uyghur activists say they are part of China’s ongoing campaign to strip them of their language and community and to carry out cultural genocide. We speak with Austin Ramzy, a New York Times reporter who co-authored the recent exposé, and Nury Turkel, a Uyghur-American attorney and board chair at the Uyghur Human Rights Project.

Andrew Bacevich: The U.S. Needs to Abandon "Militarized Approach" to Middle East and Build Peace

Thu, 01/09/2020 - 08:26

We continue our conversation with Andrew Bacevich, president and co-founder of the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft. He is a retired colonel, Vietnam War veteran and author of, most recently, of “The Age of Illusions: How America Squandered Its Cold War Victory.” Bacevich says the crisis with Iran, sparked by President Trump’s assassination of top general Qassem Soleimani, is just the latest in a long series of ill-advised American actions in the Middle East. “The only conceivable way for us to begin to extricate ourselves from this terrible mess in the region … is to abandon this militarized approach and to take a more balanced position with regard to the rivalries in the region,” Bacevich says.

Andrew Bacevich: Trump Sparked "Unnecessary Crisis" by Killing Soleimani, Barely Avoiding War

Thu, 01/09/2020 - 08:11

President Trump vowed on Wednesday to hit Iran with new sanctions but appeared to pull back from taking any new military action. Tension between the two countries soared after the U.S. assassinated Iranian commander Qassem Soleimani at the Baghdad International Airport last week. Early on Wednesday, Iran retaliated by firing 22 ballistic missiles at military bases in Iraq housing U.S. forces, but no one was injured in the attack. Iran had warned the Iraqi government about the strike in advance. Two small rockets also later hit the Green Zone near the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad. During a televised address on Wednesday, Trump urged NATO to become more involved in the Middle East and called for countries to pull away from the Iran nuclear deal. We speak with Andrew Bacevich, president and co-founder of the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft. He is a retired colonel and Vietnam War veteran and author of, most recently, “The Age of Illusions: How America Squandered Its Cold War Victory.”

Deadly Earthquake Rocks Puerto Rico, Causing Mass Power Outages and "Infrastructural Aftershocks"

Wed, 01/08/2020 - 08:51

A 6.4 magnitude earthquake rocked Puerto Rico early Tuesday, killing at least one person and plunging nearly the entire population into darkness in a mass power outage. It is the largest earthquake to hit the island in more than 100 years and follows a series of strong quakes that have rattled the island in recent days. A 5.8 magnitude quake struck on Monday, damaging the coastal town of Guánica. Damage from the earthquakes has left nearly 350 people homeless and at least 300,000 without drinking water. Governor Wanda Vázquez declared a state of emergency Tuesday. The devastation comes as Puerto Rico continues to reckon with the fallout from Hurricane Maria in 2017, which killed at least 3,000 and left Puerto Rico in the dark for months in the longest blackout in U.S. history — and the second-longest blackout in world history. We speak with Yarimar Bonilla, a political anthropologist and professor at Hunter College. She is the co-editor of the anthology “Aftershocks of Disaster: Puerto Rico Before and After the Storm” and the founder of Puerto Rico Syllabus, a guide for understanding the economic crisis in Puerto Rico. She says the word “aftershock” takes on a new meaning as delays in infrastructure repairs and electricity revival continue. The “infrastructural aftershocks … are not just about the earth shaking, but really about a lack of preparedness on the part of the government,” Bonilla says.

Iranian-American Lawmaker Warns of Rising Xenophobia as U.S.-Iran Tension Escalates

Wed, 01/08/2020 - 08:46

In the midst of escalating U.S.-Iran tensions, Border Patrol has been detaining Iranian Americans at the U.S.-Canada border. At least 100 people were delayed at ports of entry along the border over the weekend, following the U.S. assassination of Qassem Soleimani on January 3. For response, we speak with Anna Eskamani, Florida Democratic state representative of Orlando. She is the first Iranian American to be elected to any public office in Florida. “The reality is that when we see the potential war rise in countries like Iran … we’ll see xenophobia rise right here locally” in the U.S., Eskamani says.

Blowback? U.S. Assassination of Soleimani May Weaken Growing Protest Movement in Iran

Wed, 01/08/2020 - 08:39

Protests broke out in Iran in November in response to high fuel prices, leading to demonstrations in dozens of cities around the country. The protesters have demanded economic relief and denounced corruption. More than 1,000 people have been killed since the outbreak of the protests and a violent crackdown by security forces. The rise in tensions between Iran and the United States, triggered by the U.S. assassination of top Iranian general Qassem Soleimani, could weaken that protest movement, says Ali Kadivar, assistant professor of sociology and international studies at Boston College who was active in Iran’s student movement while studying at the University of Tehran.

Juan Cole: U.S.-Iran Conflict Enters Unprecedented Territory with Assassinations & Military Attacks

Wed, 01/08/2020 - 08:28

Iran’s retaliatory missile strikes on bases in Iraq housing U.S. troops, following the U.S. assassination of top Iranian general Qassem Soleimani, have dramatically raised tensions in the Middle East. Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei called the missile strike a “slap in the face” of the Americans and called for U.S. troops to leave the Middle East. The Iranian missile strikes come just days after the Iraqi Parliament voted to expel all foreign military forces from Iraq. We speak with Juan Cole, professor of history at the University of Michigan.

A View from Tehran: Iranian Professor Condemns U.S. Aggression & Warns U.S.-Backed Gulf States

Wed, 01/08/2020 - 08:10

Iranian forces fired 22 ballistic missiles at U.S. forces in Iraq early Wednesday in what Iran described as “fierce revenge” for the U.S. assassination of Iranian commander Qassem Soleimani, who was killed in a U.S. drone strike last week at the Baghdad airport. The Iranian missiles targeted the Al Asad Airbase in Anbar province and a base in Erbil. There were no initial reports of U.S. or Iraqi casualties. Shortly after the attacks, Iran’s Foreign Minister Javad Zarif tweeted, “We do not seek escalation or war, but will defend ourselves against any aggression.” Earlier today, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei called the missile strike a “slap in the face” of the Americans and called for U.S. troops to leave the Middle East. After the strikes, President Trump tweeted, “All is well! Missiles launched from Iran at two military bases located in Iraq. Assessment of casualties & damages taking place now. So far, so good! We have the most powerful and well equipped military anywhere in the world, by far! I will be making a statement tomorrow morning.” The Iranian missile strikes come just days after the Iraqi Parliament voted to expel all foreign military forces from Iraq. We speak with Mohammad Marandi in Tehran, where he is professor of English literature and Orientalism at the University of Tehran. He was part of the nuclear deal negotiations in 2015.

Propaganda Machine: The Military Roots of Cambridge Analytica's Psychological Manipulation of Voters

Tue, 01/07/2020 - 08:44

We continue our discussion of data harvesting, targeted advertising and voter manipulation — practices used by firms like Cambridge Analytica. The secretive data firm collapsed in May 2018 after The Observer newspaper revealed the company had harvested some 87 million Facebook profiles without the users’ knowledge or consent to sway voters to support Trump during the 2016 campaign. A new trove of internal Cambridge Analytica documents and emails are being posted on Twitter detailing the company’s operations, including its work with President Trump’s former national security adviser John Bolton. We speak with Jehane Noujaim and Karim Amer, co-directors of the Oscar-shortlisted documentary “The Great Hack”; Brittany Kaiser, the Cambridge Analytica whistleblower featured in “The Great Hack” and author of “Targeted: The Cambridge Analytica Whistleblower’s Inside Story of How Big Data, Trump, and Facebook Broke Democracy and How It Can Happen Again”; and Emma Briant, a visiting research associate in human rights at Bard College. Her upcoming book is titled “Propaganda Machine: Inside Cambridge Analytica and the Digital Influence Industry.”

"The Great Hack": Big Data Firms Helped Sway the 2016 Election. Could It Happen Again in 2020?

Tue, 01/07/2020 - 08:26

The documentary “The Great Hack,” which was shortlisted for the Oscars, explores how the data firm Cambridge Analytica came to symbolize the dark side of social media in the wake of the 2016 U.S. presidential election. Cambridge Analytica collapsed in May 2018 after The Observer newspaper revealed the company had harvested some 87 million Facebook profiles without the users’ knowledge or consent. Cambridge Analytica then used the data to sway voters to support President Trump during the 2016 campaign. We speak with “The Great Hack” co-directors Karim Amer and Jehane Noujaim, as well as Cambridge Analytica whistleblower Brittany Kaiser.

Meet Brittany Kaiser, Cambridge Analytica Whistleblower Releasing Troves of New Files from Data Firm

Tue, 01/07/2020 - 08:15

New details are emerging about how the shadowy data firm Cambridge Analytica worked to manipulate voters across the globe, from the 2016 election in the United States to the Brexit campaign in Britain and elections in over 60 other countries, including Malaysia, Kenya and Brazil. A new trove of internal Cambridge Analytica documents and emails are being posted on Twitter detailing the company’s operations, including its work with President Trump’s former national security adviser John Bolton. The documents come from Cambridge Analytica whistleblower Brittany Kaiser, who worked at the firm for three-and-a-half years before leaving in 2018. We speak with Jehane Noujaim and Karim Amer, co-directors of the Oscar shortlisted documentary “The Great Hack”; Brittany Kaiser, the Cambridge Analytica whistleblower featured in “The Great Hack” and author of “Targeted: The Cambridge Analytica Whistleblower’s Inside Story of How Big Data, Trump, and Facebook Broke Democracy and How It Can Happen Again”; and Emma Briant, a visiting research associate in human rights at Bard College whose upcoming book is titled “Propaganda Machine: Inside Cambridge Analytica and the Digital Influence Industry.”

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