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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 51 min ago

Climate Denier to Head New Trump Panel Despite Once Comparing Climate Scientists to Nazis

Thu, 02/21/2019 - 08:35

The White House is reportedly organizing a new committee to examine whether climate change poses a threat to national security, to be led by notorious climate change denier, Princeton University professor emeritus William Happer. Observers say his involvement in the “Presidential Committee on Climate Security” indicates the Trump administration wants to undermine findings within the national security community that climate change poses a severe threat to human safety. William Happer is a National Security Council senior director who has long claimed increasing the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere will actually benefit humans. He has compared the fight against climate change to the Holocaust, saying, “The demonization of carbon dioxide is just like the demonization of the poor Jews under Hitler.” We speak with journalist David Wallace-Wells, deputy editor and climate columnist for New York magazine. His new book is titled “The Uninhabitable Earth: Life After Warming.”

Ending the Punishment of Poverty: Supreme Court Rules Against High Fines & Civil Asset Forfeiture

Thu, 02/21/2019 - 08:16

In a major victory for civil liberties advocates, the Supreme Court has unanimously ruled to limit the practice of civil asset forfeiture—a controversial practice where police seize property that belongs to people suspected of crimes, even if they are never convicted. On Wednesday, the court ruled the Eighth Amendment protects people from state and local authorities imposing onerous fines, fees and forfeitures to generate money. The case centered on an Indiana man named Tyson Timbs, whose Land Rover was seized when he was arrested for selling drugs. The vehicle was worth $42,000—more than four times the $10,000 maximum fine Timbs could receive for his drug conviction under state law. On Wednesday, the Supreme Court unanimously ruled in Timbs’s favor. Writing on behalf of the justices, Ruth Bader Ginsburg said, “The historical and logical case for concluding that the 14th Amendment incorporates the Excessive Fines Clause is overwhelming.” We speak with Lisa Foster, co-director of the Fines and Fees Justice Center. Her organization filed an amicus brief in the Supreme Court case. Foster is a retired California judge. She served in the Justice Department during the Obama administration and led the department’s efforts to address excessive fines and fees.

Saudis Facing Criminal Charges in the U.S. Keep Disappearing. Is the Kingdom Helping Them Escape?

Wed, 02/20/2019 - 08:46

A growing number of Saudi students are vanishing while facing serious criminal charges in the U.S. Federal law enforcement officials are now launching an investigation into the suspicious disappearances to probe if the Saudi government was involved and how. We speak with Shane Dixon Kavanaugh, The Oregonian reporter who broke the story about the spate of Saudi student disappearances. He found that in at least four cases the Saudi government paid a defendant’s bail and legal fees before he disappeared. In one case, police believe Saudi officials snuck a Saudi national out of the country on a private plane using a fake passport so he could avoid being tried for killing a 15-year-old Portland teenager in a hit-and-run.

Saudi Scholar: My Father Faces the Death Penalty in Saudi Arabia for Supporting Human Rights

Wed, 02/20/2019 - 08:29

While the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi inside the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul in October sparked international outrage, far less attention has been paid to the ongoing Saudi repression at home. We speak with Abdullah Alaoudh, whose father has been locked up in solitary confinement in Saudi Arabia for his political activism since September 2017. Prior to his arrest, prominent Islamic scholar Salman Alodah had been a vocal critic of the Saudi monarchy who had called for elections with 14 million Twitter followers. But for the past 17 months, Salman Alodah has been silenced. He was one of dozens of religious figures, writers, journalists, academics and civic activists arrested as part of a crackdown on dissent in 2017 overseen by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. We speak with Alodah’s son Abdullah Alaoudh. He is a senior fellow at Georgetown University in the Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding.

Trump Admin's Secretive Talks to Sell Saudi Arabia Nuclear Technology Spark New Fear of Arms Race

Wed, 02/20/2019 - 08:13

House Democrats are accusing the Trump administration of moving toward transferring highly sensitive nuclear technology to Saudi Arabia in potential violation of U.S. law. Critics say the deal could endanger national security while enriching close allies of President Trump. Saudi Arabia is considering building as many as 16 nuclear power plants by 2030, but many critics fear the kingdom could use the technology to develop nuclear weapons and trigger a nuclear arms race in the Middle East. We speak with Democratic Congressmember Ro Khanna of California and Isaac Arnsdorf, a reporter with ProPublica. Arnsdorf first wrote about the intense and secretive lobbying effort to give nuclear technology to Saudi Arabia in 2017. His reporting was cited in the House report.

Amazon's Defeat in NYC Galvanizes Movement to End Billion-Dollar Corporate Welfare

Tue, 02/19/2019 - 08:46

New York City is still reeling since Amazon announced last week that it was scrapping plans to build a major office facility in Queens. The decision came under mounting pressure from grassroots activists and local politicians who opposed the deal. Amazon had announced the project in November after New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio offered Amazon nearly $3 billion in tax subsidies to come to the city. But local politicians and community organizers rallied against the tech giant and won. The lawmakers who took down Amazon say their victory is just the beginning of a major fight against tax subsidies for huge companies—which they call “corporate welfare.” We speak with New York State Assemblymember Ron Kim, who helped fight Amazon and introduced the End of Corporate Welfare Act to the state Legislature earlier this month.

Venezuela in Crisis: As U.S. Pushes Regime Change, Fear Grows of Civil War & Famine

Tue, 02/19/2019 - 08:14

President Trump called for regime change in Venezuela, Cuba and Nicaragua on Monday, in a major speech urging the Venezuelan military to abandon its support for President Nicolás Maduro and to support self-proclaimed Venezuelan president Juan Guaidó. During the speech, Trump said the U.S. seeks a peaceful transition of power in Venezuela, but that all options remain on the table. This comes as a new book out by former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe reveals Trump privately discussed going to war with Venezuela in 2017. Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro responded to Trump’s speech in Miami by accusing him of engaging in Nazi-like discourse. We speak with Venezuelan economist Francisco Rodríguez, who headed the Venezuelan National Assembly’s Economic and Financial Advisory Office under Hugo Chávez. We also speak with Vijay Prashad, director of Tricontinental: Institute for Social Research and chief editor of LeftWord Books. He is the author of several books, including “The Poorer Nations: A Possible History of the Global South.”

Birmingham Civil Rights Group Reoffers Award to Angela Davis—But She Says Community Should Decide

Mon, 02/18/2019 - 08:42

The Birmingham Civil Rights Institute sparked international outrage in January when it rescinded the Fred L. Shuttlesworth award for civil rights icon Angela Davis, soon after the Birmingham Holocaust Education Center sent a letter urging the board to reconsider honoring her due to her support of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement. Facing swift and widespread outcry, the institute then reversed its decision and reinstated the award, but Davis has yet to accept it. Democracy Now! spoke with the president and CEO of the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute, Andrea Taylor, on Saturday, before an alternate event celebrating Angela Davis hosted by the Birmingham Committee for Truth and Reconciliation. We also spoke with DeJuana Thompson, founder of Woke Vote and a chair of the Birmingham Committee for Truth and Reconciliation.

Angela Davis Returns to Birmingham, Reflecting on Palestinian Rights & Fight for Freedom Everywhere

Mon, 02/18/2019 - 08:26

Civil rights icon and scholar Angela Davis returned to her hometown of Birmingham, Alabama, over the weekend. She originally planned the visit to receive the Fred L. Shuttlesworth Human Rights Award from the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute, but the institute withdrew the award last month, soon after the Birmingham Holocaust Education Center sent a letter urging the board to reconsider honoring Davis due to her support of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement targeting the Israeli government and Israeli institutions. Facing swift and widespread outcry, the institute then reversed its decision and reinstated the award. But Angela Davis has yet to say if she will accept it. More than 3,000 people gathered Saturday evening for an alternative event to honor Davis hosted by the Birmingham Committee for Truth and Reconciliation. The event featured a conversation between Davis and Princeton professor Imani Perry, who is also from Birmingham.

Jewish Activists Hold Solidarity Shabbat Defending Angela Davis in Birmingham & Across U.S.

Mon, 02/18/2019 - 08:11

Jewish supporters of Angela Davis across the nation held solidarity Shabbat on Friday evening, the night before the civil rights icon had been expected to receive the Fred L. Shuttlesworth Human Rights Award from the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute. The institute rescinded the honor in January due to Davis’ support of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement targeting the Israeli government and Israeli institutions. The institute later reversed this decision after international outcry, but Davis has yet to accept the award. Democracy Now! was in Birmingham on Friday and attended a Shabbat in support of Angela Davis.

Ibram X. Kendi on Surviving Cancer & His Anti-Racist Reading List for Virgina Gov. Northam

Fri, 02/15/2019 - 08:48

As we celebrate the remarkable life and legacy of Frederick Douglass on his 201st birthday, we are joined by Ibram X. Kendi, a professor of history and international relations and founding director of the Antiracist Research and Policy Center at American University. Kendi spoke Thursday night at the Library of Congress at an event honoring Frederick Douglass. He is the National Book Award-winning author of “Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America” and a contributing editor at The Atlantic.

"Agitate, Agitate, Agitate!": Great-Great-Great-Grandson Echoes Frederick Douglass on 201st Birthday

Fri, 02/15/2019 - 08:37

This month marks the 201st birthday of the renowned abolitionist Frederick Douglass. Frederick Douglass was born into slavery around 1818. He died a free man in 1895. Thursday night, leaders from around the country gathered at the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C., to honor the life and legacy of Frederick Douglass as part of a ceremony culminating a year of events marking the bicentennial of the birth of the celebrated abolitionist, politician, writer, feminist, educator, entrepreneur and diplomat. We are joined by Kenneth Morris Jr., Frederick Douglass’s great-great-great-grandson, president of the Frederick Douglass Family Initiatives, and also the great-great-grandson of Booker T. Washington. He says the lesson he hopes young activists will take from his great-great-great-grandfather Frederick Douglass is: “Agitate. Agitate. Agitate. … It’s really important that activists and young people understand that they can lift their voices and agitate.”

Asylum Seekers Are Being Imprisoned in an Abandoned Factory in Mexico Under Trump Admin Policy

Fri, 02/15/2019 - 08:32

As Trump plans to declare a national emergency, we look at what some have called the real humanitarian crisis at the border. Riot police in northern Mexico blocked hundreds of desperate Central American migrants Wednesday as they tried to escape an abandoned factory complex where they’ve been imprisoned while waiting for the U.S. to process their asylum claims. More than 1,700 migrants have been held in the maquiladora in the Mexican border town of Piedras Negras since February 5, after they arrived in a caravan of people seeking asylum in the U.S. The vast majority have remained prisoners at the site, after the Trump administration adopted a “Remain in Mexico” policy for asylum seekers—processing just 15 asylum applications per day at the nearby Eagle Pass border crossing. We hear from a migrant adult and child who spoke with the Texas-based immigrant rights group RAICES, and get an update from Erika Andiola, chief advocacy officer for RAICES, the Texas-based Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services.

Immigrant Activists: Democrats Are Capitulating to Trump by Approving Border, DHS Funding

Fri, 02/15/2019 - 08:29

President Trump is expected to declare a national emergency today to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border despite opposition from Congress, after he signs the latest spending bill, which includes nearly $1.4 billion to build 55 miles of new border barriers out of steel, far less than the $5.7 billion he requested. Congressmembers Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, Ayanna Pressley and Rashida Tlaib issued a statement that they voted against the bill because it gives more funding to Immigration and Customs Enforcement. “That is the right thing to do. We’ve been pushing for Democrats to do the right thing, to stop playing [Trump’s] games,” says our guest Erika Andiola, chief advocacy officer for RAICES, the Texas-based Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services.

New Interior Sec. David Bernhardt May Violate Trump's Ethics Rule on Lobbyists in His Administration

Fri, 02/15/2019 - 08:24

According to an ethics complaint Public Citizen filed recently with the Interior Department’s ethics official and inspector general, President Trump’s selection of David Bernhardt as secretary of the Interior Department appears to have violated Trump’s executive order barring officials from working on any issues they had lobbied on in the two years prior to joining the administration. The complaint notes Bernhardt lobbied extensively on the Endangered Species Act, most recently on behalf of the Westlands Water District in 2016, when he reported lobbying on “potential legislation regarding the Bureau of Reclamation and the Endangered Species Act.” We speak with Public Citizen President Robert Weissman.

Public Citizen: Trump’s National Emergency Declaration Paves Way for Sweeping Authoritarianism

Fri, 02/15/2019 - 08:16

With one day left to pass a government spending bill before today’s midnight deadline to avert another government shutdown, both the House and Senate passed the measure Thursday that came out of the bipartisan conference committee earlier this week. The bill includes nearly $1.4 billion to build 55 miles of new border barriers out of steel, far less than the $5.7 billion requested by President Trump. Democrats quickly condemned the news, and consumer rights nonprofit Public Citizen vowed legal action against him. We speak with Public Citizen President Robert Weissman.

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