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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 54 min ago

Trump's Expansive Claims of Executive Privilege Pose "Very Serious Constitutional Crisis"

Tue, 01/28/2020 - 08:12

During eight hours of oral arguments at the president’s impeachment trial on Monday, President Trump’s legal team repeatedly said that he has done nothing wrong, and largely ignored the explosive revelations made by Trump’s former national security adviser. The president’s case was made on Monday by a team of lawyers including Harvard University law professor Alan Dershowitz and former independent counsel Kenneth Starr, whose probe led to the impeachment of Bill Clinton. In an upcoming book, former national security adviser John Bolton says Trump told him the withholding of $391 million in military aid to Ukraine was linked to his push for investigations into his political rivals, including Joe Biden. The withholding of congressionally approved military aid to Ukraine is at the center of the impeachment trial. On Monday, Republican Senators Susan Collins of Maine and Mitt Romney of Utah said the Bolton revelations underscore their case for allowing witnesses in the impeachment trial.

For more, we speak with Claire Finkelstein, a professor of law and philosophy, and the faculty director of the Center for Ethics and the Rule of Law at the University of Pennsylvania. “This is a moment of very serious constitutional crisis for our democracy,” she says, “because we have a Senate that is unable to act to remove the president because they are unable to push back on the president’s own obstruction of the process involved in impeachment.”

"Ours to Tell": New Film Highlights Personal Stories About the Importance of Abortion Access

Mon, 01/27/2020 - 08:53

As Roe v. Wade faces unprecedented attacks, the new short film “Ours to Tell” puts a human face to the fight for reproductive justice and highlights those whose stories are often sidelined by the media: LGBTQ communities and communities of color. The film focuses on Ylonda, Nick, Hannah and Brittany, four people who discuss how having access to abortion shaped their lives. The film was directed by Rayka Zehtabchi and was created by Planned Parenthood and We Testify. For more on the film, as well as the state of reproductive rights in the United States, we speak with Renee Bracey Sherman, founder and executive director of We Testify and the executive producer of “Ours to Tell.”

Under Pressure in Impeachment Trial, Trump Steps Up Attacks on Reproductive Rights

Mon, 01/27/2020 - 08:43

Donald Trump on Friday became the first sitting president in U.S. history to attend the so-called March for Life, the annual anti-abortion rally held in Washington, D.C., that draws thousands of participants. President Trump — who once described himself as “pro-choice in every respect” — accused Democrats of infanticide and falsely stated that Virginia Governor Ralph Northam supports an abortion bill that would “execute a baby after birth.” The March for Life began in 1974 in response to the landmark 1973 Supreme Court ruling in Roe v. Wade, which guaranteed the constitutional right to abortion. Past U.S. presidents who opposed abortion considered the march too extreme and divisive to attend, and instead sent surrogates or recorded video messages. The same day that Trump addressed anti-abortion activists in Washington, his administration threatened to cut off federal funding for some health programs in California unless the state ends its requirement that private health insurers cover abortions. California Governor Gavin Newsom said the state would not change its policy. Trump’s Education Secretary Betsy DeVos also recently compared anti-abortion activism to the fight to end slavery. We speak with Fatima Goss Graves, president and CEO of the National Women’s Law Center.

Kobe Bryant Dead at 41: Remembering Basketball Star’s Legacy On and Off The Court

Mon, 01/27/2020 - 08:32

Basketball superstar Kobe Bryant died Sunday in a helicopter crash near Los Angeles at the age of 41. The crash killed all nine people on board, including Bryant’s 13-year-old daughter Gianna and beloved college baseball coach John Altobelli, his wife Keri and their 13-year-old daughter Alyssa. They were heading to a youth basketball game. Bryant won five NBA championships, two Olympic gold medals and was crowned an All-Star 18 times. He played for the L.A. Lakers for 20 years before retiring in 2016. Gianna Bryant reportedly hoped to one day play for the University of Connecticut women’s basketball team. Tributes continue to pour in on social media from fans, athletes and other public figures. But some are also calling on the media and supporters not to forget a sexual assault allegation from early in his career. We speak with Dave Zirin, sports editor for The Nation and host of the Edge of Sports podcast, and Fatima Goss Graves, president and CEO of the National Women’s Law Center.

Explosive Bolton Book Allegations Spark New Calls For Witnesses to Testify at Impeachment Trial

Mon, 01/27/2020 - 08:13

Calls are growing for the Senate to call witnesses in President Trump’s impeachment trial, after The New York Times published details about former national security adviser John Bolton’s forthcoming book. In the book, Bolton writes that President Trump personally told him in August that he wanted to maintain a freeze on $391 million in security assistance to Ukraine until Ukraine turned over materials related to former Vice President Joe Biden and supporters of Hillary Clinton in Ukraine. The New York Times broke the story on Sunday, one day after President Trump’s legal team began its defense of the president. During Saturday’s opening arguments, White House deputy counsel Mike Purpura claimed the Democratic case for impeachment is based on assumptions, and Trump’s attorney Pat Cipollone accused the Democrats of attempting to overturn an election. Trump’s lawyers will continue their opening arguments Monday, after the Democratic House impeachment managers wrapped up their three days of opening arguments on Friday. We speak with Dan Friedman, a reporter in the D.C. bureau of Mother Jones who focuses on foreign influence and national security.

Oakland Moms Who Occupied Vacant Property to Highlight Housing Crisis Celebrate Unexpected Victory

Fri, 01/24/2020 - 08:48

In Oakland, California, a months-long struggle between a group of unhoused mothers occupying a vacant home and the real estate firm that owned it ended with an unexpected offer to purchase the property earlier this week. The major win in the mothers’ fight against homelessness and real estate speculation comes just a week after Wedgewood Properties forcibly evicted the families — known as Moms 4 Housing — from the home they were living in for more than two months. Two mothers and two of their supporters were arrested in the early-morning eviction after armed police officers battered down the door. The heavily militarized action sparked widespread outrage and condemnation, and left the mothers and their families homeless once again. But on Monday — Martin Luther King Jr. Day — Wedgewood announced, under growing public pressure, that it would sell the property at a fair price through the Oakland Community Land Trust. The moms will then be able to purchase the house through the trust. We speak with Misty Cross, one of the members of Moms 4 Housing, and Carroll Fife, longtime organizer and director of the Oakland office for Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment. “People are invested in a system that is broken,” Fife says. “It’s incumbent upon our legislators to listen to the moms, to listen to the people who have been part of these programs that are just broken, so we can do something different.”

International Court of Justice Orders Burmese Authorities to Protect Rohingya Muslims from Genocide

Fri, 01/24/2020 - 08:39

In a major ruling, the U.N. International Court of Justice at The Hague has ordered Burma to “take all measures within its power” to protect Rohingya Muslims from genocide. The court issued the ruling Thursday, calling the 600,000 Rohingya remaining in Burma, also known as Myanmar, “extremely vulnerable” to military violence. The court ordered Burma to report regularly to the tribunal about its progress. The ruling is a sharp rebuke of Burma’s de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi, who last month asked the court to drop the genocide case against Burma. Suu Kyi is a Nobel Peace Prize winner who spent over a decade fighting against the Burmese military that she is now defending. For more on the ICJ ruling, we speak with Reed Brody, counsel and spokesperson for Human Rights Watch. “This is the most important court in the world intervening in one of the worst mass atrocity situations of our time while the atrocities are still happening,” says Brody. “It doesn’t really get more significant than that.”

Law Professor: Trump Could Also Have Been Impeached for War Crimes, Assassinations & Corruption

Fri, 01/24/2020 - 08:15

Democratic lawmakers are continuing to lay out their case for removing the president from office in the final day of opening arguments by Democrats in the historic impeachment trial of President Trump. Republicans will begin their opening arguments on Saturday. The Senate trial comes a month after the House impeached Trump for withholding congressionally approved military aid to Ukraine as part of an effort to pressure the Ukrainian president to investigate Trump’s political rival, Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden. On Thursday, House impeachment manager Jerrold Nadler made the case that a president can be impeached for noncriminal activity. During another part of Thursday’s proceedings, House impeachment manager Congressmember Sylvia Garcia relied on polls by Fox News to make the case that President Trump decided to target Joe Biden after polls showed the former vice president could beat Trump in 2020. For more on the impeachment trial, we’re joined by Marjorie Cohn, professor emerita at Thomas Jefferson School of Law and the former president of the National Lawyers Guild. Her most recent book is “Drones and Targeted Killing: Legal, Moral, and Geopolitical Issues.”

"Dark Waters": Meet the Lawyer Whose 20-Year Fight Against DuPont Inspired the New Film

Thu, 01/23/2020 - 08:48

The new film “Dark Waters” tells the story of attorney Rob Bilott’s 20-year battle with DuPont over contaminated drinking water in West Virginia from toxic chemicals used to make Teflon. The Environmental Working Group credited Billot with “uncovering the most heinous corporate environmental conspiracy in history,” and the issue of contaminated water from the plastics industry continues to devastate areas across the country. On Wednesday, the Environmental Working Group released a shocking report about how toxic fluorinated chemicals known as PFAS have been found in the drinking water of dozens of U.S. cities, including major metropolitan areas including Miami, Washington, D.C., and Philadelphia. The so-called forever chemicals are linked to cancer, high cholesterol and decreased fertility, and they do not break down in the environment. We speak with attorney Robert Bilott, who has just published a new book titled “Exposure: Poisoned Water, Corporate Greed, and One Lawyer’s Twenty-Year Battle Against DuPont.” He is portrayed by Mark Ruffalo in the Hollywood film “Dark Waters.” We’re also joined by Tim Robbins, Academy Award-winning actor and director, who plays Bilott’s boss at his law firm in “Dark Waters.”

Tim Robbins: Bernie Sanders Is the Best Shot We Have to Defeat Donald Trump

Thu, 01/23/2020 - 08:44

We continue our conversation with Academy Award-winning actor and director Tim Robbins, whose recent projects include the new film “Dark Waters” and a play about immigration called “The New Colossus.” He recently endorsed Vermont senator and Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders for president. “I believe he is the only one of them that can defeat Trump,” Robbins says.

“The New Colossus”: In New Play, Tim Robbins Tackles Immigration & Xenophobia

Thu, 01/23/2020 - 08:31

President Trump said Wednesday that he would expand his highly controversial travel ban, which already bars citizens from seven countries, most of which have Muslim-majority populations — Libya, Iran, Somalia, Syria, Yemen, North Korea and Venezuela — from entering the United States. Politico reports that the expanded ban could implement immigration restrictions on seven more countries: Belarus, Burma, Eritrea, Kyrgyzstan, Nigeria, Sudan and Tanzania, according to two sources. We speak with acclaimed actor, director and activist Tim Robbins, whose recent work has focused on immigration to the United States. He has starred in many movies, including “The Shawshank Redemption,” “Mystic River” and “Dark Waters.” He also wrote and directed the highly acclaimed film “Dead Man Walking.” He is the director of a new play about immigration called “The New Colossus,” with the play’s title borrowed from the 1883 Emma Lazarus sonnet that is inscribed on the Statue of Liberty.

Trump Brags About Withholding Evidence as Democratic Impeachment Managers Lay Out Case in the Senate

Thu, 01/23/2020 - 08:13

During the opening day of oral arguments in the impeachment trial, President Trump was accused of abusing his office to “cheat an election.” House impeachment managers spent about eight hours on Wednesday laying out their case for why President Trump should be removed from office. The Senate trial comes a month after the House impeached Trump for withholding congressionally approved military aid to Ukraine as part of an effort to pressure the Ukrainian president to investigate Trump’s political rival, Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden. While the impeachment trial was taking place in the Senate, President Trump was across the Atlantic at the World Economic Forum in Davos, where he tweeted more than 140 times and dismissed the impeachment trial as a hoax. Trump also appeared to boast about having withheld evidence from the impeachment process, saying, “We have all the material; they don’t have the material.” For more on the historic impeachment trial, we speak with Dahlia Lithwick, senior editor and Supreme Court reporter at Slate.com.

Criminalizing Reporting: Glenn Greenwald Faces Cybercrime Complaint After Exposing Scandal in Brazil

Wed, 01/22/2020 - 08:48

In Brazil, federal prosecutors have filed a criminal complaint against journalist and Intercept co-founder Glenn Greenwald in connection to a major investigation he spearheaded that exposed misconduct among federal prosecutors and a former judge. Called “The Secret Brazil Archive,” the series of pieces published in The Intercept and The Intercept Brasil used a trove of documents to offer new and damning insight into the sweeping anti-corruption campaign that brought down former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva and paved the way for the election of right-wing President Jair Bolsonaro. The investigation used previously undisclosed private chats, audio recordings, videos and other information provided by an anonymous source to expose the wrongdoing of top officials, including Justice Minister Sérgio Moro, who oversaw the anti-corruption crusade known as “Operation Car Wash.” On Tuesday, a justice minister filed a denunciation of Glenn Greenwald, claiming he “directly assisted, encouraged and guided” individuals who allegedly accessed online chats related to Operation Car Wash. A judge will now decide whether to press charges. The move has sparked international outrage at what many are condemning as an attack on the free press in Brazil. We speak with Andrew Fishman, managing editor of The Intercept Brasil and reporter for The Intercept.

A Torturer Meets His Victims: CIA Psychologist Defends Brutal Methods at Guantánamo Military Hearing

Wed, 01/22/2020 - 08:39

On Tuesday, the psychologist identified as the “architect” of the CIA’s torture program testified for the first time to the war court at Guantánamo Bay. James Mitchell was in the courtroom for a pretrial hearing for five 9/11 suspects who had been subject to torture, euphemistically called “enhanced interrogation techniques.” Mitchell and his partner, Dr. Bruce Jessen, were paid $81 million to help design the CIA’s torture methods, including some of the agency’s most abusive tactics. The pair had no prior experience in interrogation. At the hearing, Mitchell reportedly told defense lawyers he only came to Guantánamo to testify in person before the families of the 9/11 victims, and at one point told the torture survivors, “You folks have been saying untrue and malicious things about me and Dr. Jessen for years.” In 2014, James Mitchell confirmed to Vice News that he personally waterboarded alleged 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. Mitchell also reportedly waterboarded Abu Zubaydah at a secret CIA black site in Thailand. Earlier this month, protesters marked the 18th anniversary of Guantánamo by donning orange jumpsuits and lining up in front of the White House. They later held a mock funeral at Trump International Hotel for those who died at the U.S. detention facility. We speak with Baher Azmy, legal director of the Center for Constitutional Rights.

"The Senate Voted for a Cover-Up": GOP Senators Tilt Impeachment Trial in Trump's Favor

Wed, 01/22/2020 - 08:32

After the first marathon day leading up to President Trump’s impeachment trial, we speak with Vince Warren and Baher Azmy, executive director and legal director, respectively, of the Center for Constitutional Rights. In a 13-hour session, the Republican-controlled U.S. Senate approved rules for the impeachment trial that Vince Warren says are tantamount to a “cover-up.” Under the rules, each side will be given 24 hours over a three-day period for opening arguments. Senators also agreed to automatically admit evidence from the House inquiry into the trial record. Republicans rejected 11 amendments from Democrats to subpoena witnesses and documents at this stage in the trial.

"Andrew Johnson Was a Lot Like Trump": Echoes of 1868 in Trump's Impeachment Trial

Wed, 01/22/2020 - 08:13

After a nearly 13-hour marathon session, the U.S. Senate approved by a party-line vote the rules for the impeachment trial of President Trump. This marks just the third presidential impeachment trial in U.S. history. The Senate trial comes a month after the House impeached Trump for pressuring Ukraine to investigate his political rival Joe Biden. Under the rules, each side will be given 24 hours over a three-day period for opening arguments. Senators also agreed to automatically admit evidence from the House inquiry into the trial record. Republicans rejected 11 amendments from Democrats to subpoena witnesses and documents at this stage in the trial. Democrats were attempting to subpoena documents from the White House, the State Department and the Office of Management and Budget. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer spoke early on Tuesday laying out the Democrats’ case for impeachment. “President Trump is accused of coercing a foreign leader into interfering in our elections to benefit himself, and then doing everything in his power to cover it up,” Schumer said. “If proved, the president’s actions are crimes against democracy itself. It’s hard to imagine a greater subversion of our democracy than for powers outside our borders to determine the elections from within.” For more, we speak with Manisha Sinha, professor of American history at the University of Connecticut and author of “The Slave’s Cause: A History of Abolition.”

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