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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: 25 min 2 sec ago

"Bedlam": Film Shows How Decades of Healthcare Underfunding Made Jails "De Facto Mental Asylums"

Fri, 12/27/2019 - 08:10

Are prisons and jails America’s “new asylums”? A new documentary looks at how a disproportionate number of underserved people facing mental health challenges have been swept into the criminal justice system, where they lack adequate treatment. Nearly 15% of men and more than 30% of women in jails have a serious mental illness, such as schizophrenia, major depression or bipolar disorder. For many of them, jail is their first point of entry into mental health treatment. The documentary “Bedlam” was filmed over five years in Los Angeles County’s overwhelmed and vastly under-resourced Emergency Psychiatry Services, a jail warehousing thousands of psychiatric patients, and the homes — and homeless encampments — of people who are living with severe mental illness. The film premiered at the Sundance Film Festival and will air on PBS “Independent Lens” this April. The film features many people, including Black Lives Matter co-founder Patrisse Cullors, who share their personal experiences with family members’ chronic psychiatric conditions that have pushed them into the path of police officers, ER doctors and nurses, lawyers and prison guards. We speak with Cullors, who shares her experience with seeking help for her brother Monte, who has lived with schizoaffective disorder since he was a teenager, and director Ken Rosenberg, an addiction psychiatrist affiliated with Weill Cornell Medical Center in New York City whose own sister struggled with schizophrenia.

Michael Moore: Americans Pay More for Healthcare Than Others, But "We Don't Call It a Tax"

Thu, 12/26/2019 - 08:48

We continue our interview with Academy Award-winning filmmaker Michael Moore about election 2020 and some of the major issues for voters. Long before Medicare for All became a rallying cry in the Democratic Party, Moore’s 2007 film “Sicko” diagnosed the shortcomings of the for-profit American healthcare system and called for a system of universal healthcare. “The real question never gets asked. They always want to pin them on how much is it going to cost in taxes,” Moore says of debate moderators who ask whether Democratic presidential candidates will raise taxes to pay for Medicare for All.

Michael Moore: Republicans Who Oppose Impeachment Are "Dying Dinosaurs," But Trump Could Win in 2020

Thu, 12/26/2019 - 08:10

As the Senate attempts to set rules for President Trump’s impeachment trial, at least one Republican is expressing concern about the proceedings. Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska said in an interview Tuesday that she was disturbed by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s promise of “total coordination” with the White House. Murkowski’s comments mark a rare instance of dissent for the Republican Party, which has been unified behind President Trump until now. McConnell needs 51 votes to set the rules for the hearing. Republicans have a thin majority of 53 seats in the Senate. Last week, Oscar-winning filmmaker Michael Moore witnessed the historic vote to impeach the president from the front row of the House gallery. He joins us for the hour to discuss the impeachment process, the 2020 election and why he thinks Trump would win re-election today.

Celebrating the Life of Toni Morrison with Oprah Winfrey, Angela Davis, Ta-Nehisi Coates & More

Wed, 12/25/2019 - 08:30

In special broadcast, we spend the hour remembering Toni Morrison, one of the nation’s most influential writers, who died in August at the age of 88 from complications of pneumonia. In 1993, Toni Morrison became the first African-American woman to receive the Nobel Prize for Literature. She also won a Pulitzer Prize in 1988 for her classic work “Beloved.” Toni Morrison was born in Lorain, Ohio, in 1931. She did not publish her first novel, “The Bluest Eye,” until she was 39 years old. She wrote it while taking care of her two young sons as a single mother and juggling a day job as a book editor at Random House. As an editor, she is widely credited with helping widen the literary stage for African Americans and feminists. Much of Morrison’s writing focused on the female black experience in America. Her work was deeply concerned with race and history, especially the sin of transatlantic slavery and the potentially restorative power of community. In 2012, President Obama awarded Morrison the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Upon her death, he said, “Toni Morrison was a national treasure. Her writing was not just beautiful but meaningful — a challenge to our conscience and a call to greater empathy.” Today we remember Toni Morrison through those who knew and loved her — editors, writers, musicians — with highlights from a celebration of her life on November 21 at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York. We hear from Oprah Winfrey, Erroll McDonald, Edwidge Danticat, Angela Davis, Fran Lebowitz, Ta-Nehisi Coates, Kevin Young and David Remnick.

"Becoming a Dangerous Woman": Media Legend Pat Mitchell on Embracing Risk to Change the World

Tue, 12/24/2019 - 08:44

Media legend Pat Mitchell is the author of a new book, “Becoming a Dangerous Woman: Embracing Risk to Change the World.” In it, she shares her life story, rising from her grandparents’ small cotton farm with no electricity to become the first woman president of PBS, CNN Productions and the Paley Center for Media. Mitchell includes in her book the voices of other “dangerous” women: Stacey Abrams, Ai-jen Poo, Ava DuVernay, Mary Robinson, Abigail Disney, Christine Schuler Deschryver, Kimberlé Crenshaw, Zoya, Monique Wilson, Laura Flanders, Jacqueline Novogratz, Sandi Toksvig, Ruth Ann Harnisch and Meagan Fallone. Pat Mitchell speaks with us from Atlanta, Georgia. “Our single most dangerous act, actually, is preparing each other, supporting each other, showing up for each other, sponsoring, mentoring, championing each other,” Mitchell says. “We are living in dangerous times, and such times require of us to become more dangerous to meet those challenges.”

Jane Fonda Arrested: We Are in a Climate Emergency. I Have No Choice But to Put My Body on the Line

Tue, 12/24/2019 - 08:10

A new round of protests, Fire Drill Fridays, led by actress Jane Fonda are calling for action to address the climate crisis, as bushfires fueled by a historic heat wave threaten Australia, high tides threaten to flood Venice, and the Philippines prepares for a Christmas typhoon. Last Friday, a day before Jane Fonda’s 82nd birthday, the longtime political activist, feminist and two-time Academy Award winner was arrested for the fifth time, as she has been nearly every Friday in Washington since she started Fire Drill Fridays, inspired in part by the Swedish youth climate activist Greta Thunberg. She was arrested along with more than 140 others inside the Hart Senate Office Building, and demonstrators sang “Happy Birthday” to her as she was taken outside. This month Jane Fonda wrote an op-ed in The New York Times headlined “We Have to Live Like We’re in a Climate Emergency. Because We Are.” In it, she writes, “It should come as no surprise that I believe in the power of protest. That’s why I moved to Washington to start what I call Fire Drill Fridays, joining the millions of young people around the world who turned out in the fall for protests to demand that our leaders act to save their futures.” We speak with Jane Fonda about her climate activism and why she started Fire Drill Fridays.

"The First Cell": Dr. Azra Raza on Why the "Slash-Poison-Burn Approach" to Cancer Has Failed

Mon, 12/23/2019 - 08:12

Slash, poison, burn. That’s what a leading cancer doctor calls the protocol of surgery, chemotherapy and radiation. We spend $150 billion each year treating cancer, yet a patient with cancer is as likely to die of it today — with a few exceptions — as one was 50 years ago. Today we spend the hour with renowned cancer doctor, Dr. Azra Raza, author of the new book, “The First Cell: And the Human Costs of Pursuing Cancer to the Last.” She argues that experiments and the funding for eradicating cancer look at the disease when it is in its later stages, when the cancer has grown and spread. Instead, she says, the focus should be on the very first stages — the first cell, as her book is titled. She says this type of treatment would be more effective, cheaper and less toxic.

"Wine Cave Full of Crystals": Warren & Buttigieg Spar over Donors, But Poverty Is Left Out of Debate

Fri, 12/20/2019 - 08:43

During Thursday’s Democratic debate, Senator Elizabeth Warren and Mayor Pete Buttigieg sparred over money’s role in politics and who funds their campaigns. The main difference between their approaches to taking funding is that Warren’s policies have been consistently clear on issues of inequality, while Buttigieg is “more of a cipher,” says Heather McGhee, distinguished senior fellow and former president of Demos. Meanwhile, moderators did not ask candidates about their platforms to tackle poverty in the U.S. “The word 'poverty' has yet to be mentioned by a moderator, and this is not a matter just of semantics,” adds guest Alan Minsky with the Progressive Democrats of America. “It’s a complete erasure of the reality of the lives of tens of millions of Americans.”

Joe Biden Criticized at Democratic Debate over Iraq, Afghanistan Wars & Failure to Close Gitmo

Fri, 12/20/2019 - 08:28

Former Vice President Joe Biden sparred with Senator Bernie Sanders about his support for the Iraq and Afghanistan wars and faced scrutiny over his failure to close Guantánamo Bay during President Obama’s tenure in the White House at Thursday night’s Democratic presidential debate in Los Angeles. We look at the candidates’ foreign policy stances with award-winning investigative reporter Azmat Khan, a New York Times Magazine contributing writer and a Future of War fellow at the New America Foundation.

Activists Demand a Migrant Justice Platform as Democratic Candidates Discuss Immigration in Debate

Fri, 12/20/2019 - 08:21

Protesters for immigrant rights demonstrated outside the Democratic debate Thursday in Los Angeles, displaying a banner that read “Migrant Justice on Day One” and demanding a moratorium on deportations and immigrant worker protections. We look at how the candidates responded, with Erika Andiola, chief advocacy officer for RAICES, the Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services. “I’m really happy that immigration came up this time around,” she notes. “In the past few debates, the issue didn’t even come up.”

As Democratic Field Gets Whiter, DNC Should "Press Pause" & Fix Process Shutting Out People of Color

Fri, 12/20/2019 - 08:10

Within a day of President Trump’s impeachment, the Democratic presidential candidates held their final debate of the year at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles. On the stage were Senators Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren and Amy Klobuchar, along with Mayor Pete Buttigieg, former Vice President Joe Biden, billionaire Tom Steyer and Andrew Yang. Amna Nawaz, the first Pakistani American and first Muslim American to moderate a presidential primary debate, questioned Yang about being the only nonwhite candidate on the stage. We get response from Kristen Clarke, president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, and Erika Andiola, chief advocacy officer for RAICES, the Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services.

FBI Surveillance of Trump Aide Reflects Flaws in Secretive FISA System That Mostly Targets Muslims

Thu, 12/19/2019 - 08:48

Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz said Wednesday the FBI should have considered halting its surveillance of Trump’s campaign aide Carter Page months before it did, after it was revealed that accusations against him may not be credible. Horowitz made the comments while testifying to the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, saying the FBI used false information to obtain approval to wiretap Trump campaign adviser Carter Page and raising wider concerns about the agency’s use of surveillance. He testified a day after the highly secretive Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court — known as the FISA Court — issued a public order accusing the FBI of misleading the court to gain approval to wiretap Page, and ordering the FBI to propose changes in how its investigators seek permission for domestic surveillance of U.S. citizens by January. Last week, Horowitz issued a first report finding a series of inaccuracies and omissions in the FBI’s surveillance application process. We speak with Ashley Gorski, staff attorney with the National Security Project at the American Civil Liberties Union.

After House Impeachment Vote, Trump's Case Headed for Possible "Kangaroo Court" in Senate

Thu, 12/19/2019 - 08:41

The trial to impeach President Trump could soon head to the Republican-controlled Senate, which requires a two-thirds supermajority vote to convict. Senate Majority Leader Republican Mitch McConnell has said he is not an “impartial juror” and that he would closely coordinate a Senate impeachment trial with the White House Counsel’s Office, leading Democrats to accuse McConnell of trying to preside over a sham trial. We speak with John Bonifaz, who spearheaded the push for impeachment with his group, Free Speech for People. Bonifaz says that despite the low chance of conviction in the Senate, Wednesday’s impeachment vote was important in holding “this lawless president” accountable. “I do agree that we need to demand a full and fair trial out of the United States Senate and that we cannot allow the kangaroo court that Mitch McConnell appears to be preparing for,” he says.

"We Have to Hold This President Accountable": In Historic Vote, House Impeaches President Trump

Thu, 12/19/2019 - 08:14

President Donald Trump was impeached by the House of Representatives in a historic vote Wednesday, making him only the third president to be formally charged with high crimes and misdemeanors under the Constitution. By a vote of 230 to 197, the House passed the first article of impeachment, which accuses President Trump of abuse of power. The House also approved the second article, which charges him with obstructing Congress by refusing to cooperate with the impeachment investigation. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi now says she will hold the articles back from being sent to the Republican-controlled Senate for a trial until Democrats are convinced it will be fair. “If we do not hold this president accountable for his abuses of power, we essentially watch democracy die,” says our guest Rep. Pramila Jayapal, Democratic congressmember from Washington. “That’s not going to happen on our watch.”