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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 44 min ago

Allan Nairn: Impeachment Inquiry Should Focus on Trump’s Actual Atrocities, Not a Russia Plot

Thu, 05/23/2019 - 08:19

As a growing number of House Democrats are backing the impeachment of President Trump, we speak with investigative journalist Allan Nairn. He says an impeachment inquiry should focus on “the atrocities that Trump is committing daily”—from the death of children on the border to the gutting of environmental protections.

Allan Nairn: Deadly Protests Erupt in Indonesia as U.S.-Trained Generals Wage a War on Democracy

Thu, 05/23/2019 - 08:09

In Indonesia, at least six people have died and hundreds have been injured after supporters of former military commander Prabowo Subianto took to the streets to protest his election defeat. The protests began after authorities announced President Joko Widodo—who is known as Jokowi—had won re-election after receiving 55% of the vote. Prabowo has refused to concede and is preparing to challenge the results. We speak to journalist Allan Nairn, who recently returned from Indonesia.

"Modern-Day Indentured Servitude": How Predatory Lenders Devastated New York City's Taxi Drivers

Wed, 05/22/2019 - 08:50

A new investigation by The New York Times has exposed the financial schemes at the root of the New York City taxi driver crisis. While the advent of apps like Uber and Lyft contributed to a loss of income for licensed taxi drivers, the exposé finds that a taxi medallion bubble helped lay the groundwork for their economic devastation. A group of industry leaders artificially inflated the cost of taxi medallions and orchestrated a predatory lending scheme, collecting millions of dollars in the process and putting many drivers into debilitating debt. City agencies did little to curb the system, which a Harvard professor called “modern-day indentured servitude.” In response to the report, Mayor Bill de Blasio said the city would launch an investigation into the predatory practices of taxi medallion brokers. New York state Attorney General Letitia James announced her office is also initiating an investigation. At least eight drivers have died by suicide—including three taxi medallion owners—since the start of 2018, with at least some of the drivers linking the decision to their crushing debt. We speak with investigative reporter Brian Rosenthal, who wrote the report.

How ICE Is Using Solitary Confinement to Punish Asylum Seekers, Including LGBT & Disabled Immigrants

Wed, 05/22/2019 - 08:34

Since 2012, ICE has used solitary confinement as a routine punishment for thousands of immigrants and asylum seekers locked up in immigration jails across the country. We look at a new, damning investigation by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists that has revealed this widespread abusive use of solitary confinement in immigration jails overseen by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. The United Nations special rapporteur on torture says solitary confinement should only be used in exceptional circumstances, and defines extended use of solitary as “inhuman and degrading treatment.” Despite this, a review of more than 8,400 reports of solitary confinement in ICE detention found that immigration officers repeatedly used isolation cells to punish gay, transgender and disabled immigrants for their identities and to target other jailed immigrants for actions like kissing consensually or hunger striking. Almost a third of the people held in solitary confinement suffered from mental illness. In at least 373 cases, immigrants were put in isolation for being potentially suicidal. In nearly 200 instances, immigrants were held in solitary confinement for more than six months. The investigation is called “Solitary Voices.” We speak to one of its lead authors, Spencer Woodman.

"We Don't Want a Monarchy": Rep. Al Green Says Democrats Have No Choice But to Impeach Trump

Wed, 05/22/2019 - 08:14

A growing number of House Democrats are calling on Speaker Nancy Pelosi to launch an impeachment inquiry against President Trump. Pelosi has called for a closed-door special caucus meeting this morning to discuss the impeachment question, which has deeply divided House Democrats. The House speaker has long opposed opening an impeachment inquiry, arguing that focusing on impeachment could hurt the chances of Democrats winning in the 2020 election. But she is facing growing pushback from other members of the House as President Trump continues to block congressional oversight efforts by refusing to hand over documents and by barring officials from testifying. On Tuesday, former White House counsel Don McGahn defied a congressional subpoena and skipped a House Judiciary Committee hearing at the request of the White House. Earlier this month, Attorney General William Barr also skipped a House Judiciary Committee hearing. We go to Capitol Hill to speak with Democratic Congressmember Al Green of Texas. In 2017, he became the first member of Congress to call for President Trump’s impeachment.

Family of Jailed Saudi Feminist Loujain Al-Hathloul: She Was Waterboarded, Flogged & Electrocuted

Tue, 05/21/2019 - 08:42

It’s been a year since women’s right activist Loujain al-Hathloul was detained and jailed in Saudi Arabia for leading a movement to lift the kingdom’s ban on female drivers and overhaul its male “guardianship” system. Despite international outcry, she’s been imprisoned ever since. During that time, her family says, she’s been held in solitary confinement and faced abuse, including electric shocks, flogging and threats of sexual violence. The Saudi government has resisted calls from human rights groups and lawmakers from around the world to release Loujain and the other jailed activists. We speak with two of Loujain’s siblings, Walid and Lina al-Hathloul.

Jennifer Harbury: Deaths of Guatemalan Children at Border Have Roots in Decades of U.S.-Backed Genocide

Tue, 05/21/2019 - 08:30

Five Guatemalan children have died after being apprehended by U.S. Border Patrol since December. We look at the humanitarian crisis unfolding on the border and its ties to decades of bloody U.S. intervention in Latin America with human rights attorney Jennifer Harbury. Her husband, Efraín Bámaca Velásquez, was a Mayan comandante and guerrilla who was disappeared after he was captured by the Guatemalan army in the 1980s. After a long campaign, she found there was U.S. involvement in the cover-up of her husband’s murder and torture. “We trained them. We taught them torture techniques. We funded them, and we armed them,” Harbury says of the Guatemalan military. “They’re devouring the country using the same techniques of torture and the terror that they used before. Once again, everyone is roaring north.” We also speak with Fernando Garcia, the founding director of the Border Network for Human Rights, an advocacy organization based in El Paso.

Detained, Abused & Denied Medical Care: How Trump Immigration Policies Led to Child Deaths at Border

Tue, 05/21/2019 - 08:16

A 16-year-old Guatemalan boy died in U.S. custody Monday after spending a week in immigration jail. Carlos Gregorio Hernandez Vasquez was found dead at a Border Patrol station at Weslaco, Texas, just one day after being diagnosed with the flu. He was not hospitalized. This marks the fifth death of a Guatemalan child apprehended by Border Patrol since December. Before last year, it had been more than a decade since a child died in the custody of U.S. immigration officials. We speak with Fernando Garcia, the founding director of the Border Network for Human Rights, an advocacy organization based in El Paso, and Jennifer Harbury, a longtime human rights lawyer based in the Rio Grande Valley, Texas.

Bottle of Lies: How Poor FDA Oversight & Fraud in Generic Drug Industry Threaten Patients’ Health

Mon, 05/20/2019 - 08:30

Generic drugs amount to 90% of all prescriptions filled in the U.S., most of them made in plants in India and China. Generic drugs can be more affordable, but in her new explosive book “Bottle of Lies: The Inside Story of the Generic Drug Boom,” investigative journalist Katherine Eban works with two industry whistleblowers to expose how some manufacturers are cutting corners at the cost of quality and safety. This comes as the U.S. Food and Drug Administration just issued its own update on the state of pharmaceutical quality that found the drug quality of factories in India and China scored below the world average. FDA officials say that’s because more robust inspections have uncovered problems and that “the quality of the drug supply has never been higher.”

Immigrant Activists Maru Mora-Villalpando & Ravi Ragbir Keep Speaking Out Despite Deportation Threat

Fri, 05/17/2019 - 08:45

President Trump has unveiled plans for a new, so-called “merit-based” immigration system that would prioritize “highly-skilled” and English-speaking workers, while further restricting asylum seekers and immigrants who have family living in the United States. Although no legislative details for the plan have been revealed, Trump’s proposal is likely to hit a wall in Congress, where the Democratically-led House has repeatedly clashed with the Trump administration over immigration policy. Trump’s immigration policies have led to dire conditions for asylum seekers to the U.S. On Wednesday, a two-and-a-half year-old migrant boy died in U.S. custody, three days after he and his family were detained by Customs and Border Protection. Immigrant communities already established in the U.S. are also being targeted by Immigration and Customs Enforcement, with activists claiming they have been targeted for speaking out against the Trump administration. We speak with two prominent and outspoken immigration activists who are fighting their own deportation and have been targeted for their activism: Maru Mora-Villalpando and Ravi Ragbir. Mora-Villalpando is an activist with La Resistencia and Mijente and Ragbir is executive director of the New Sanctuary Coalition. Last month, a federal appeals court ruled in favor of Ragbir in a free speech case, saying the First Amendment bars ICE from targeting activists for deportation based on their political speech.

What Does a Post-Roe America Look Like? As Anti-Choice Laws Multiply, Many Already Are Living In It

Fri, 05/17/2019 - 08:37

Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer issued what many considered a dire warning from the bench this week, implying that Roe v. Wade — the landmark ruling that recognizes the constitutional right to an abortion — is in danger. He wrote the comments in a dissent for an unrelated case in which the court voted to overturn a 40 year-old precedent. Breyer wrote “Today’s decision can only cause one to wonder which cases the Court will overrule next.” We speak to journalist Robin Marty about what a post-Roe America would look like, and how many people are already cut off from abortion access across the country.

Meet The Alabama Doctor Who Could Face 99 Years In Prison For Providing Abortions Under New Law

Fri, 05/17/2019 - 08:11

Alabama Governor Kay Ivey signed the nation’s most restrictive abortion ban into law on Wednesday, effectively banning the procedure except in cases where a pregnant person’s life is at serious risk. The law does not make exceptions in cases of rape or incest and doctors could face 99 years in prison for performing abortions. We speak with Dr. Yashica Robinson, the medical director of the Alabama Women’s Center for Reproductive Alternatives, one of only three clinics left in the state that offer patients abortion services. She is one of only two abortion providers living and working in Alabama. Under the new Alabama law, she could spend the rest of her life in prison for doing her job.

The World Just Took a Major Step To Curb Plastic Pollution, But the U.S. Refused to Join Effort

Thu, 05/16/2019 - 08:49

Nearly every country in the world except the United States took a historic step to curb plastic waste last week, when more than 180 nations agreed to add plastic to the Basel Convention, a treaty that regulates the movement of hazardous materials between countries. The U.S. is one of just two countries that has not ratified the 30 year-old treaty. During negotiations last week in Geneva, the Environmental Protection Agency and State Department joined the plastics industry in trying to thwart the landmark, legally-binding agreement. Despite this, the United States will still be affected by the agreement, because countries will be able to block the dumping of mixed or unrecyclable plastic wastes from other nations. The amended treaty will make it much more difficult for wealthy countries to send their plastic waste to poorer nations by prohibiting countries from exporting plastic waste that is not ready for recycling. The U.N. estimates there are 100 million tons of plastic waste in the world’s oceans. We speak with Pam Miller, co-chair of the International Pollutants Elimination Network and executive director of Alaska Community Action on Toxics.

As EPA Insists Weed Killer Roundup is Safe, a Jury Orders Monsanto to Pay $2B to Couple With Cancer

Thu, 05/16/2019 - 08:40

U.S. agribusiness giant Monsanto has been ordered to pay its highest damages yet in a massive lawsuit over the popular weedkiller Roundup. A jury ordered Monsanto to pay more than $2 billion in punitive damages to Alva and Alberta Pilliod, a couple who were both diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma cancer after using Roundup on their properties for decades. Monsanto is owned by German pharmaceutical giant Bayer. The main ingredient in the weed killer Roundup, glyphosate, is said to cause the cancer. Attorneys estimate that there are thousands of similar cases against Roundup pending in courts around the country. Last year, a jury in California ordered Monsanto to pay $289 million in damages to a school groundskeeper who developed cancer after regularly using Roundup. The 46-year-old man, Dewayne Johnson, also has non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. The EPA says that glyphosate is not carcinogenic, but other scientific studies and the World Health Organization have found that human exposure can in fact lead to cancer. We speak with attorney Brent Wisner, co-lead trial counsel for Alva and Alberta Pilliod.

“Inside Syria’s Secret Prisons": A Harrowing Account of How Assad's Torture Machine Crushed Dissent

Thu, 05/16/2019 - 08:14

A shocking exposé by the New York Times looks at how Bashar al-Assad’s government has jailed and tortured tens of thousands of Syrians since the uprising began in 2011. According to the Syrian Network for Human Rights, nearly 128,000 people have disappeared. They are presumed to be either dead or still in custody. The group estimates almost 14,000 individuals have died under torture. The detentions are continuing even as the fighting winds down. More than 5,600 Syrians were reportedly arbitrarily detained last year in a 25 percent jump from the previous year. While the Syrian government has denied running a secret torture and detention program, more evidence — including internal Syrian government documents — has emerged showing the extent of the torture program. A United Nations panel has said the conditions in the prison —including the paucity of toilet facilities, rampant illness, minimal and rotten food, and the absence of medical treatment — are tantamount to “extermination.” We speak with the report’s author Anne Barnard. She’s a reporter at The New York Times and a fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations.