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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 39 min ago

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.

We Can’t Back People Who Hate Our Kids: Kentucky & Minnesota Teachers of Year Boycott Trump Meeting

Fri, 05/03/2019 - 08:43

We speak with two award-winning teachers who are trying to teach Trump a lesson. On Monday, Jessica Dueñas, the 2019 Kentucky Teacher of the Year, and Kelly Holstine, the 2019 Minnesota Teacher of the Year, boycotted a White House ceremony honoring them and other state winners of the award in protest of the Trump administration’s education policies. But Dueñas and Holstine skipped the event to register their opposition to Trump’s policies on immigration, education and LGBTQ rights, saying many of the White House policies directly impact their immigrant and refugee students.

Roger Waters on Palestine: "You Have to Stand Up for People's Human Rights All Over the World"

Fri, 05/03/2019 - 08:25

After a judge ruled a panel can move forward Saturday at the University of Massachusetts Amherst on “Israel, Free Speech, and the Battle for Palestinian Human Rights,” we speak with one of the event’s scheduled participants: Roger Waters, co-founder of Pink Floyd, one of the most popular rock bands of all time. He says he welcomes the lawsuit that challenged the event, because “what it does is it serves to shine a light on the predicament of the Palestinian people.”

Mass. Judge Refuses to Halt Pro-Palestinian Event at UMass Featuring Roger Waters & Linda Sarsour

Fri, 05/03/2019 - 08:15

“Not Backing Down: Israel, Free Speech, and the Battle for Palestinian Human Rights.” That’s the title of an event set to take place Saturday at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. After three anonymous UMass students filed a lawsuit to stop the event, a judge ruled Thursday the event can proceed, saying, “There’s nothing that comes even close to a threat of harm or incitement to violence or lawlessness.” We get an update from Sut Jhally, event organizer and professor of communication at the University of Massachusetts, and Rachel Weber, attorney and member Jewish Voice for Peace, Western Massachusetts chapter.

Headlines for May 3, 2019

Fri, 05/03/2019 - 08:00

George Monbiot on U.K. Climate Emergency & the Need for Rebellion to Prevent Ecological Apocalypse

Thu, 05/02/2019 - 08:46

On Wednesday, the House of Commons became the first parliament in the world to declare a climate emergency. The resolution came on the heels of the recent Extinction Rebellion mass uprising that shut down Central London last month in a series of direct actions. Activists closed bridges, occupied public landmarks and even superglued themselves to buildings, sidewalks and trains to demand urgent action to combat climate change. Police arrested more than 1,000 protesters. Labour Party Leader Jeremy Corbyn told Parliament, “We are witnessing an unprecedented upsurge of climate activism, with groups like Extinction Rebellion forcing the politicians in this building to listen. For all the dismissive and defensive column inches the processes have provoked, they are a massive and, I believe, very necessary wake-up call. Today we have the opportunity to say, 'We hear you.'” We speak with George Monbiot, British journalist, author and columnist with The Guardian. His recent piece for The Guardian is headlined “Only rebellion will prevent an ecological apocalypse.” Monbiot says capitalism “is like a gun pointed at the heart of the planet. … It will essentially, necessarily destroy our life support systems. Among those characteristics is the drive for perpetual economic growth on a finite planet.”

A Debate on Maduro: Two Venezuelans Oppose U.S. Intervention But Differ on Steps Ahead

Thu, 05/02/2019 - 08:10

Competing pro- and anti-government rallies were held Wednesday as President Nicolás Maduro accused the United States of backing Tuesday’s failed coup led by opposition leader Juan Guaidó. Speaking to a massive crowd of supporters outside the presidential palace of Miraflores, Maduro said the United States had been tricked into believing that several top Venezuelan officials were ready to break with his government. In Washington, the National Security Council held a principals’ meeting on Wednesday to discuss Venezuela. The Washington Post reports the staff of national security adviser John Bolton clashed with a top general during the meeting for not presenting sufficient military options on Venezuela. This came as acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan canceled a planned overseas trip to focus on Venezuela. Meanwhile, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov to urge an end to Russian involvement in Venezuela. Lavrov reportedly responded by warning the United States should not take any more “aggressive steps” in Venezuela. We go to Caracas for a debate between Venezuelan Vice-Minister of Foreign Relations for North America Carlos Ron and Edgardo Lander, a Venezuelan sociologist who is part of the Citizen’s Platform in Defense of the Constitution.

"It Is About Time": Rep. Ilhan Omar on Supporting Impeachment of Trump & Medicare for All

Wed, 05/01/2019 - 08:48

Congress held a historic hearing on Medicare for all on Tuesday, opening with an emotional testimony from activist and lawyer Ady Barkan, who is dying of terminal ALS. We speak to Representative Ilhan Omar about yesterday’s hearing and her support for overhauling the country’s healthcare system in favor of Medicare for all. We also talk to her about ongoing efforts to impeach President Donald Trump, which she says she supports.

Hands Off Ilhan Omar: Angela Davis & Black Women Leaders Defend Congresswoman from Right-Wing Attacks

Wed, 05/01/2019 - 08:39

African-American women leaders gathered on Capitol Hill Tuesday in defense of Congresswoman Ilhan Omar, one of the first two Muslim congresswomen in history and the first member of Congress to wear a hijab. Omar has been the target of numerous right-wing attacks since taking office, including by President Donald Trump himself. Omar says death threats against her have spiked in number since President Trump tweeted a video juxtaposing her image with footage of the 9/11 attacks. Congresswomen Ayanna Pressley and Rashida Tlaib, civil rights icon Angela Davis and others addressed the crowd Tuesday to urge Congress to censure President Trump—to whom they referred simply as the “occupant of the White House”—for his attacks on Omar and to send a message to both political parties: “Hands off Ilhan Omar!”

Ilhan Omar Speaks Out Against U.S. Sanctions & Bipartisan Support for Regime Change in Venezuela

Wed, 05/01/2019 - 08:32

Amid an ongoing coup attempt in Venezuela, we speak with Rep. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, who questioned U.S. special envoy to Venezuela Elliott Abrams on Capitol Hill in February about his record. Abrams is a right-wing hawk who was linked to the 2002 coup attempt in Venezuela that tried to topple Hugo Chávez. In the 1980s, Abrams defended Guatemalan dictator General Efraín Ríos Montt as he oversaw a campaign of mass murder and torture of indigenous people. Ríos Montt was later convicted of genocide. Rep. Ilhan Omar says that there is a direct correlation between this type of detrimental U.S. foreign policy in Latin America and “the kind of mass migration that we’re noticing right now from Central America and South America to the U.S.”

Economist Jeffrey Sachs: U.S. Sanctions Have Devastated Venezuela & Killed Over 40,000 Since 2017

Wed, 05/01/2019 - 08:22

More than 40,000 people have died in Venezuela since 2017 as a result of U.S. sanctions, according to a new report by the Center for Economic and Policy Research co-authored by economists Jeffrey Sachs and Mark Weisbrot. The report examines how U.S. sanctions have reduced the availability of food and medicine in Venezuela and increased disease and mortality. We speak with Jeffrey Sachs in our New York studio. In the report, he writes, “American sanctions are deliberately aiming to wreck Venezuela’s economy and thereby lead to regime change. It’s a fruitless, heartless, illegal, and failed policy, causing grave harm to the Venezuelan people.”

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