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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: 1 hour 28 min ago

Meet Victorina Morales, an Undocumented Immigrant Who Spent Five Years as Trump's Housekeeper

Thu, 02/07/2019 - 08:34

Democratic Senator Bob Menendez of New Jersey is calling on the FBI and Department of Homeland Security to investigate whether employees at Trump National Golf Club broke the law by helping undocumented employees obtain fake work papers amid news reports that the Trump company has fired at least 18 undocumented workers from five golf courses in New York and New Jersey in the past two months. On Monday, Menendez called on the federal government to allow former undocumented employees of the Trump properties to remain in the country while the investigation proceeds. We speak with an undocumented housekeeper from Guatemala named Victorina Morales, who helped expose what was happening on the Trump properties by speaking on the record to The New York Times. Morales spent years making Donald Trump’s bed and performing other duties at his New Jersey club, even though she was undocumented. She attended the State of the Union as a guest of Democratic Representative Bonnie Watson Coleman of New Jersey. We speak with Morales, Watson Coleman and Morales’s lawyer, Anibal Romero.

Political Scientist: Blackface Is a National Problem & Virginia's Top Officials Must Step Down

Thu, 02/07/2019 - 08:13

A reckoning about racism and sexual assault has left Virginia’s government in disarray, with the state’s top three elected officials—all Democrats—facing political crises that threaten to upend their careers and the state’s leadership. The controversy that has enveloped Virginia since Governor Ralph Northam admitted last week to wearing blackface took a shocking turn Wednesday, when Attorney General Mark Herring also admitted to wearing blackface at a college party. Just days prior, Herring—who is second in line for Virginia’s governorship—had called for Governor Northam to resign. The first in line, Virginia Lieutenant Governor Justin Fairfax, is also embroiled in scandal after a woman who’s accused him of sexual assault came forward Wednesday with details of the encounter. Governor Northam has refused to step down since a racist photo from his 1984 medical school yearbook page emerged featuring a man wearing blackface posing next to a man wearing a Ku Klux Klan outfit. If all three of the Democratic politicians resign, Republican House Speaker Kirk Cox is next in line to become governor. We speak with Khalilah Brown-Dean, an associate professor of political science at Quinnipiac University, who is from Lynchburg, Virginia, and a graduate of the University of Virginia. Her forthcoming book is titled “Identity Politics in the United States.”

Ana Maria Archila: Brett Kavanaugh's Presence at SOTU Represented Failure of U.S. Democracy

Wed, 02/06/2019 - 08:53

As we continue to discuss President Trump’s State of the Union, we are joined by Ana María Archila, co-executive director of the Center for Popular Democracy. She attended the address as a guest of New York Congressmember Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. In September, Archila made headlines when she, along with another woman, Maria Gallagher, confronted Republican Sen. Jeff Flake of Arizona in an elevator after he announced his support for Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court. Shortly after the confrontation, Sen. Flake called for a delay of the Senate vote pending a limited FBI investigation.

Puerto Rico: Vulture Funds to Make a Killing as Judge Approves Deal to Restructure Island's Debt

Wed, 02/06/2019 - 08:46

A federal judge has approved a plan for Puerto Rico to restructure a portion of its debt which would require Puerto Rico to pay $32 billion over 40 years. Critics say the deal will allow vulture funds to make huge profits by buying up those debts. Several of those vulture funds include public employee pension funds and the investment funds of Harvard, Princeton and Yale. Judge Laura Taylor Swain, who held a hearing on the proposed deal last month, echoed critics’ concerns about Puerto Rico’s ability to make the payments and the likely effects on public services. However, she said in her decision, “[T]he Court is not free to impose its own view of what the optimal resolution of the dispute could have been.”

"Liar-in-Chief": Rep. Ilhan Omar Slams Trump's SOTU Remarks on Border, Venezuela, Israel & More

Wed, 02/06/2019 - 08:14

In his State of the Union address on Tuesday night, President Trump called for bipartisan unity while he attacked Democrats and the Robert Mueller investigation, denounced efforts to expand abortion rights in Virginia and New York, attacked immigrants and reiterated his demand for a border wall—with no mention of the longest government shutdown in U.S. history, which delayed his address by a week. Women in Congress wore all white to the speech in a nod to the movement for women’s suffrage. After the address, former Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams made history, becoming the first African-American woman to give the Democratic response. We’re joined by Rep. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, the first Somali American elected to the House of Representatives and one of the first Muslim women in Congress. Her guest at last night’s presidential address was a Liberian woman who fled to Minnesota in 2000 due to civil war and is now facing the threat of deportation from the United States.

Trial of El Chapo Highlights Failure of U.S. War on Drugs, But Will U.S. Ever Be Held to Account?

Tue, 02/05/2019 - 08:44

Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán, the notorious Mexican drug kingpin, has been on trial in New York City for 11 weeks. A federal jury headed into deliberations yesterday after more than 200 hours of testimony at the Federal District Court in Brooklyn revealing the inner workings of the Sinaloa Cartel, the major drug trafficking organization run by El Chapo. Fifty-six witnesses took to the stand with stories of murder, violence, spying, widespread corruption and even one tale of the drug lord escaping arrest in 2014 by climbing naked through a sewer alongside a former lover. El Chapo faces 10 charges, including leading a criminal enterprise, and could receive life in prison in the U.S. if convicted. The trial concludes as Donald Trump continues to call for a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border, which he claims will help combat drug trafficking. However, government data shows most of the hard narcotics seized by Customs and Border Protection come at legal ports of entry, not from people trying to secretly cross the southern border. We speak with Christy Thornton, an assistant professor of sociology and Latin American studies at Johns Hopkins University, who says El Chapo’s sensational trial is obscuring the truth about the so-called war on drugs.

What's Next for Venezuela as U.S. & Opposition Reject Negotiations Aimed to End Crisis Peacefully?

Tue, 02/05/2019 - 08:13

Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro has reached out to Pope Francis, asking for his help to bring about a peaceful solution to the crisis in Venezuela. Maduro is facing increasing international pressure to resign from office two weeks after opposition leader Juan Guaidó declared himself to be Venezuela’s interim president. Guaidó made the announcement on January 23 after speaking to U.S. Vice President Mike Pence, who offered support from the Trump administration. Since then, a growing number of countries have openly recognized Guaidó’s claim to the presidency, including Austria, Britain, Denmark, France, Germany, Spain and Sweden. Italy has blocked a European Union statement recognizing Guaidó, and Ireland and Greece have called for new elections but have not recognized Guaidó’s claim to the presidency. Meanwhile, the Venezuelan opposition and the United States have rejected an offer by Mexico and Uruguay to host talks between the two sides. We speak to David Smilde, senior fellow at the Washington Office on Latin America and professor of sociology at Tulane University. And in California, we speak to Miguel Tinker Salas, professor at Pomona College and author of The Enduring Legacy: Oil, Culture, and Society in Venezuela and Venezuela: What Everyone Needs to Know.

Lights Back On at NYC Jail After Hundreds Protest, But Prisoners Still Without Heat in Winter

Mon, 02/04/2019 - 08:50

More than 1,600 prisoners at a Brooklyn federal detention center were forced to endure freezing temperatures during last week’s polar vortex, with no heat, no light, no hot water for showers and no hot meals. Demonstrators rallied throughout the weekend to protest the conditions at the Metropolitan Detention Center, which is run by the Bureau of Prisons. Prisoners communicated with protesters by banging on the jail windows. On Sunday afternoon, some of the protesters, including family members of those incarcerated, were pepper-sprayed by guards. Democracy Now! was there on the ground. By 6:30 p.m., officials said electricity was restored. We speak with Brad Lander, a New York city councilmember who spoke with prisoners and prison officials this weekend.

Historian: Americans Must Face Violent History of Blackface Amid Virginia Gov. Racist Photo Scandal

Mon, 02/04/2019 - 08:36

We discuss the history behind calls for Democratic Virginia Governor Ralph Northam to resign after a photo surfaced on his 1984 Eastern Virginia Medical School yearbook page showing a man wearing blackface posing next to a man wearing a Ku Klux Klan outfit. The yearbook also features an image of a white man in a wig, dress and black face. The photo’s caption reads, “'Baby Love,' who ever thought Diana Ross would make it to Medical School!” Another photo in the yearbook shows three men in blackface. We are joined by Rhae Lynn Barnes, assistant professor of American cultural history at Princeton University and author of the forthcoming book “Darkology: When the American Dream Wore Blackface.” Her new article for The Washington Post is headlined “The troubling history behind Ralph Northam’s blackface Klan photo.”

As Virginia Governor Waffles on Blackface Yearbook Photo, NAACP Leader Calls His Apology "Invalid"

Mon, 02/04/2019 - 08:26

Democratic Virginia Governor Ralph Northam is facing calls to resign after a photo surfaced on his 1984 Eastern Virginia Medical School yearbook page showing a man wearing blackface posing next to a man wearing a Ku Klux Klan outfit. Northam apologized for the photo on Friday, but walked back his statements on Saturday, claiming neither of the men in the photo was him. He did admit to using blackface to portray Michael Jackson at a dance contest. We speak with Reverend Kevin Chandler, president of the Virginia State Conference of the NAACP.

Virginia Legislative Black Caucus: Governor Northam Must Resign over Blackface Yearbook Photo

Mon, 02/04/2019 - 08:13

Calls are mounting for Democratic Virginia Governor Ralph Northam to resign after a photo surfaced from his medical school yearbook page showing a man wearing blackface posing next to a man wearing a Ku Klux Klan outfit. On Friday, Northam apologized for the photo in his 1984 Eastern Virginia Medical School yearbook. However, on Saturday, he reversed course and claimed neither of the men in the racist yearbook photo was him as he initially thought. As Northam resisted growing calls for his resignation, he admitted to a separate instance of blackface: darkening his face to imitate Michael Jackson in a 1984 dance contest. Meanwhile, a separate 1981 yearbook from the Virginia Military Institute has surfaced revealing Northam was known by the racist nickname “Coonman” as an undergraduate student there. We get response from Lamont Bagby, chair of the Virginia Legislative Black Caucus, who is calling for Governor Northam to step down.

A Modern-Day Lynching?: "Always in Season" Looks at 2014 Hanging in NC & Legacy of Racial Terrorism

Fri, 02/01/2019 - 08:38

As we mark the beginning of Black History Month, we look at “Always in Season,” a disturbing new documentary that examines lynching in the United States both past and present. It interviews Bryan Stevenson, founder of the Equal Justice Initiative, which built the National Memorial for Peace and Justice in Montgomery to remember the more than 4,000 African Americans lynched in the United States. It also looks closely at the case of Lennon Lacy, a 17-year-old African-American high school student who, on August 29, 2014, was found hanging from two belts attached to a wooden swing set in a largely white trailer park in Bladenboro, North Carolina. At the time of his death, Lacy was dating an older white woman. Local authorities quickly determined his death to be a suicide, but Lacy’s family and local civil rights activists feared authorities may have been covering up a lynching. We speak with Lacy’s mother, Claudia Lacy, and Jacqueline Olive, the director of “Always in Season.”

"Do We as a Society Have a Right to Kill?": Chinonye Chukwu’s Film "Clemency" Examines Death Penalty

Fri, 02/01/2019 - 08:12

As the state of Texas this week carried out the nation’s first execution of the year, we look at “Clemency,” a new film starring Alfre Woodard that examines the death penalty from the perspective of those who have to carry out executions as well as the condemned. Woodard portrays prison warden Bernadine Williams as she prepares to oversee what would be her 12th execution as warden in the aftermath of one that was horribly botched. As her life seems to unravel, Williams, for the first time, grapples with what it means to be part of a system of state-sanctioned murder, as the execution date for Anthony Woods, played by Aldis Hodge, gets closer. The film premiered at the Sundance Film Festival. We speak with Nigerian-American writer-director Chinonye Chukwu, who says she was inspired to take on the subject after the execution of Troy Anthony Davis, who was put to death by the state of Georgia on September 21, 2011. Davis’s execution was carried out despite major doubts about evidence used to convict him of killing police officer Mark MacPhail, and his death helped fuel the national movement to abolish the death penalty.

"RBG" Documentary Nominated for Academy Award as Supreme Court Justice Recovers from Lung Surgery

Thu, 01/31/2019 - 08:51

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg recently missed oral arguments as she continues to recover after having two tumors removed from her lung last month. But the Supreme Court has said she is cancer-free and that the 85-year-old, now three-time cancer-surviving justice, has been reviewing arguments and weighing in on cases from home. Meanwhile, the documentary ”RBG” about her life has been nominated for an Academy Award. At the Sundance Film Festival, we speak with Julie Cohen, one of the film’s directors.

Tessa Thompson & Time's Up Call on Hollywood to Work with More Women Directors in #4PercentChallenge

Thu, 01/31/2019 - 08:41

Acclaimed actor Tessa Thompson joins us at the Sundance Film Festival to talk about the Me Too movement and the Time’s Up initiative, which is pushing Hollywood studios and actors to commit to work with women directors in its new #4PercentChallenge. Time’s Up is about “addressing safety in the workplace,” says actor Thompson. “It’s really looking at imbalance of power.”

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