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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.
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U.S. Prisons Have a Mental Health Crisis. This Story of A New York Prisoner's Death Helps Reveal Why

Tue, 11/27/2018 - 08:48

A major new Marshall Project investigation looks at the the mental health crisis in U.S. prisons by diving deep into the story of Karl Taylor, a prisoner who died at a maximum-security prison in the Catskills of New York after an altercation with prison guards in 2015. Karl Taylor was serving out a minimum 27-year sentence for a rape conviction when his life came to a sudden end at the Sullivan Correctional Facility in April of 2015. The African-American prisoner had been diagnosed with delusional disorder and paranoid personality disorder when he was taken into custody in 1995. By April of 2015, Taylor was housed in a special unit at Sullivan for prisoners classified as mentally ill. He had spent nearly ten years in solitary confinement. That’s when he got into what would turn out to be a fatal altercation with a prison guard. We speak with investigative reporter Tom Robbins, author of “Why Is Karl Taylor Dead?”

How a Climate Change-Fueled Drought & U.S.-Fed Violence Are Driving Thousands from Central America

Tue, 11/27/2018 - 08:39

President Trump is urging Mexico to deport the thousands of Central American migrants who are at or approaching the U.S. border in an attempt to seek asylum, days after U.S. border authorities fired tear gas into a crowd of asylum seekers as some tried to push their way through the heavily militarized border near San Diego. Trump tweeted, “Mexico should move the flag waving Migrants, many of whom are stone cold criminals, back to their countries. Do it by plane, do it by bus, do it anyway you want, but they are NOT coming into the U.S.A. We will close the Border permanently if need be. Congress, fund the WALL!” This comes just days before Andrés Manuel López Obrador is sworn in as Mexico’s new president. López Obrador’s incoming government has denied it made any deal with the Trump administration to force asylum seekers to remain in Mexico while their U.S. asylum claims are processed. We speak with John Carlos Frey, Emmy Award-winning investigative reporter and PBS NewsHour special correspondent. He recently returned from reporting trips in Guatemala, Mexico City and Tijuana, where he was documenting the migrant caravan.

Border Patrol Officer Who Shot Unarmed Teenager on Mexican Soil Is Acquitted of Manslaughter Charges

Tue, 11/27/2018 - 08:29

Last week, a jury found Border Patrol agent Lonnie Swartz not guilty of involuntary manslaughter for shooting and killing 16-year-old José Antonio Elena Rodríguez through the U.S.-Mexico border fence in 2012. The jury hung on whether to bring a charge of voluntary manslaughter, leaving it unclear whether prosecutors would seek to try Swartz a third time. A previous jury acquitted Swartz on murder charges but deadlocked on lesser manslaughter charges. Authorities claim José Elena Rodríguez was throwing rocks at agents over the border fence before Swartz opened fire. But medical examiners say José was shot as many as 11 times, with all but one of the bullets striking from behind, leading them to conclude the teen was shot in the back as he lay on the ground. We speak with John Carlos Frey, Emmy Award-winning investigative reporter and PBS NewsHour special correspondent. He has reported extensively on the killing of José Antonio Elena Rodríguez.

Witness: "No Warning" Before U.S. Border Patrol Started Tear Gassing Central American Asylum Seekers

Tue, 11/27/2018 - 08:14

The Mexican government is demanding a full investigation after U.S. border authorities fired tear gas Sunday into a crowd of Central American asylum seekers as they tried to push their way through the heavily militarized border near San Diego. Among those attacked were mothers and small children, who were left gagging and screaming as tear gas spread. The migrants are mostly from Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador, and are fleeing widespread violence, poverty and mass unemployment. The Border Patrol’s use of tear gas has been widely condemned. Trump is now urging Mexico to deport the thousands of Central American migrants who are at or approaching the U.S. border in an attempt to seek asylum. We go to San Diego to speak with Pedro Rios, the director of the American Friends Service Committee’s U.S./Mexico Border Program. He witnessed U.S. border agents using tear gas on Central American migrants on the U.S.-Mexico border on Sunday.

Bill McKibben: New Report Reconfirms Climate Change is Shrinking Inhabitable Parts of the Planet

Mon, 11/26/2018 - 08:48

On the heels of yet another alarming climate change report—this time released by a White House that openly denies global warming—we speak with co-founder Bill McKibben and public health scholar Kristie Ebi about President Trump’s environmental policies, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s Green New Deal and what it will take to fight the growing threat of climate change.

Trump Admin Tries to Bury 1,656-Page Climate Report Warning of Devastating Health Impacts of Warming

Mon, 11/26/2018 - 08:42

The White House released an alarming climate change report on Black Friday, attempting to bury a 1,656-page government assessment that directly contradicts President Trump’s history of climate change denial. The damning report, known as the National Climate Assessment, says that the consequences of climate change will leave no part of the U.S. untouched and that the warming climate will increase wildfires, crumble infrastructure, worsen air quality, destroy crops and lead to more frequent disease outbreaks. It also finds that global warming could shrink the U.S. economy by as much as 10 percent by the end of the century. The findings are a sharp rebuke to the Trump administration’s insistence that environmental regulations hurt jobs and hinder economic growth. We speak with Kristie Ebi, a professor of global health at the University of Washington in Seattle and the lead author of the report’s chapter on the human health impacts of climate change.

Rev. William Barber: Tear Gassing Central American Migrants is Inhumane, Unconstitutional, Immoral

Mon, 11/26/2018 - 08:31

U.S. border patrol officers fired tear gas into a crowd of desperate Central American asylum-seekers Sunday in Tijuana, Mexico as some tried to push their way through the heavily militarized border with the United States. Mothers and small children were left gagging and screaming as the tear gas spread. The migrants are from Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador, and are fleeing widespread violence, poverty and mass unemployment. We speak with Rev. Dr. William Barber, co-chair of the Poor People’s Campaign and president and senior lecturer of Repairers of the Breach.

Rev. Barber: MS Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith Jokes About Hangings, But Her Policies Will Strangle the Poor

Mon, 11/26/2018 - 08:14

Mississippi voters will head to the polls Tuesday in the state’s hotly contested runoff senate election, as incumbent Republican Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith faces off against Democrat Mike Espy. In a state that Donald Trump won by 20 percentage points two years ago, Espy is attempting to become Mississippi’s first African-American senator since Reconstruction. His opponent, incumbent Sen. Hyde-Smith, attended and graduated from an all-white segregationist high school and recently posed for photos with a Confederate Army cap and other Confederate artifacts. Earlier this month, a viral video showed Hyde-Smith praising a campaign supporter, saying, “If he invited me to a public hanging, I’d be on the front row.” Mississippi was once considered the lynching capital of the United States. We speak with Rev. Dr. William Barber, co-chair of the Poor People’s Campaign and president and senior lecturer of Repairers of the Breach. He recently traveled to Mississippi to get out the vote.

Four Days in Occupied Western Sahara—A Rare Look Inside Africa's Last Colony

Fri, 11/23/2018 - 08:01

In this special rebroadcast of a Democracy Now! exclusive documentary, we break the media blockade and go to occupied Western Sahara in the northwest of Africa to document the decades-long Sahrawi struggle for freedom and Morocco’s violent crackdown. Morocco has occupied the territory since 1975 in defiance of the United Nations and the international community. Thousands have been tortured, imprisoned, killed and disappeared while resisting the Moroccan occupation. A 1,700-mile wall divides Sahrawis who remain under occupation from those who fled into exile. The international media has largely ignored the occupation—in part because Morocco has routinely blocked journalists from entering Western Sahara. But in late 2016 Democracy Now! managed to get into the Western Saharan city of Laayoune, becoming the first international news team to report from the occupied territory in years.

Noam Chomsky on Pittsburgh Attack: Revival of Hate Is Encouraged by Trump's Rhetoric

Thu, 11/22/2018 - 08:40

It’s been less than a month since a gunman stormed the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh, killing 11 Jewish worshipers. The massacre has been described as the worst anti-Semitic attack in U.S. history. After the shooting, we spoke with Noam Chomsky, the world-renowned professor, linguist and dissident, about Pittsburgh, Israel’s policies toward Gaza and other recent white supremacist and right-wing attacks in the U.S.

Noam Chomsky: The Future of Organized Human Life Is At Risk Thanks to GOP's Climate Change Denial

Thu, 11/22/2018 - 08:32

As the death toll from the climate change-fueled Camp Fire in California continues to rise and hundreds remain missing, we rebroadcast our conversation about climate change with world-renowned political dissident, linguist and author Noam Chomsky from October. He says Republican Party leaders are dedicated to “enriching themselves and their friends” at the cost of the planet, and warns: “We have to make decisions now which will literally determine whether organized human life can survive in any decent form.”

A March to Disaster: Noam Chomsky Condemns Trump for Pulling Out of Landmark Nuclear Arms Treaty

Thu, 11/22/2018 - 08:24

President Donald Trump recently announced plans to pull the United States out of a landmark nuclear arms pact with Russia, in a move that could spark a new arms race. President Ronald Reagan and former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev signed the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, or INF, in 1987. The INF banned all nuclear and non-nuclear missiles with short and medium ranges. The treaty helped to eliminate thousands of land-based missiles. We spoke with world-renowned political dissident, linguist and author Noam Chomsky in October about the significance of the INF treaty and the impact of Trump’s plan to pull out.

Noam Chomsky: Members of Migrant Caravan Are Fleeing from Misery & Horrors Created by the U.S.

Thu, 11/22/2018 - 08:15

Days after a federal judge in California temporarily halted Trump’s asylum ban, we revisit our conversation with world-renowned professor, linguist and dissident Noam Chomsky about U.S. foreign policy in Central America. He joins us in Tucson, Arizona, where he teaches at the University of Arizona. Chomsky is also institute professor emeritus at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he has taught for 50 years. We ask him about the Central American caravan and national security adviser John Bolton declaring Venezuela, Cuba and Nicaragua to be part of a “troika of tyranny” and a “triangle of terror” earlier this month.

After Visiting Brazil's Lula in Prison, Noam Chomsky Warns Against "Disaster" Under Jair Bolsonaro

Thu, 11/22/2018 - 08:01

As Brazil’s President-elect Jair Bolsonaro prepares to take office in January, we return to our conversation with world-renowned political dissident, linguist and author Noam Chomsky shortly after the election. Bolsonaro’s impending presidency marks the most radical political shift Brazil since military rule ended more than 30 years ago. Bolsonaro is a former Army officer who has praised Brazil’s former military dictatorship, spoken in favor of torture and threatened to destroy, imprison or banish his political opponents. Bolsonaro has also encouraged the police to kill suspected drug dealers, and once told a female lawmaker she was too ugly to rape. Noam Chomsky calls Bolsonaro a “disaster for Brazil.”

Costs of War: 17 Years After 9/11, Nearly Half a Million People Have Died in Global "War on Terror"

Wed, 11/21/2018 - 08:49

Nearly half a million people have died from violence in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan since George W. Bush declared a “war on terror” in the wake of 9/11, according to a major new report from Brown University’s Costs of War Project. More than 17 years later, the war in Afghanistan is the longest war in U.S. history. Costs of War reports that more than 480,000 people have died from violence in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan—including soldiers, militants, police, contractors, journalists, humanitarian workers and civilians. Several times as many people have died indirectly because of water loss, sewage and other infrastructural problems, and war-related disease. The wars have uprooted 21 million Afghan, Iraqi, Pakistani and Syrian people who are now refugees of war or internally displaced. The cost of the global so-called war on terror will soon surpass $6 trillion. We speak with Neta Crawford, director of the Costs of War Project. She is a professor and department chair of political science at Boston University.

Did Israel Kill Yasser Arafat? Stunning Investigation Exposes Israel's Secretive Assassination Program

Wed, 11/21/2018 - 08:30

Israeli intelligence officials desperately tried to prevent Ronen Bergman from writing “Rise and Kill First: The Secret History of Israel’s Targeted Assassinations,” a stunning book exposing the details of Israel’s extrajudicial killing program. Israel even changed and extended secrecy laws to prevent Bergman from gaining access to historical documents. Despite this, Bergman gained unprecedented access while writing the book, scouring thousands of documents and meeting with some 1,000 sources. The result is a stunning investigation that dives deep into the targeted killing programs of Israel, which has assassinated more people than any other country in the Western world since World War II. We speak with Ronen Bergman about Israel’s many attempts to kill the former chair of the Palestine Liberation Organization, Yasser Arafat, and the possibility that they succeeded.

Trump Chooses "Relationship with Saudi Arabia" over Accountability for Jamal Khashoggi's Murder

Wed, 11/21/2018 - 08:15

Despite overwhelming evidence that Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi was assassinated at the order of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, President Trump stood by Saudi Arabia Tuesday in an extraordinary written statement riddled with exclamation points and subtitled “America First,” writing, “It could very well be that the crown prince had knowledge of this tragic event — maybe he did and maybe he didn’t! That being said, we may never know all of the facts surrounding the murder of Mr. Jamal Khashoggi. In any case, our relationship is with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.” Trump’s statement came even after The Washington Post reported last Friday that the CIA has “high confidence” that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman ordered Jamal Khashoggi’s murder. Saudi officials have tried to dismiss Khashoggi’s death as a rare, unauthorized killing, but a recent New York Times report suggests the kingdom has sought out private companies to assassinate perceived enemies since the beginning of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s rule. We speak with the Israeli investigative reporter who helped break the story, Ronen Bergman, author of “Rise and Kill First: The Secret History of Israel’s Targeted Assassinations.” Ronen Bergman is a staff writer for The New York Times Magazine and the senior national security correspondent for Yedioth Ahronoth. His piece in The New York Times is titled “Saudis Close to Crown Prince Discussed Killing Other Enemies a Year Before Khashoggi’s Death.”