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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 24 min ago

Inappropriate, Not Impeachable: Key GOP Senator's "Astonishing" Statement Clears Way for Acquittal

Fri, 01/31/2020 - 08:09

The Republican-led Senate appears poised to acquit President Trump as early as today in his historic impeachment trial. On Thursday night, Republican Senator Lamar Alexander of Tennessee announced he would vote against calling witnesses. Alexander said it was “inappropriate” for Trump to ask a foreign leader to investigate a political rival, but he went on to say “there is no need for more evidence to prove something that has already been proven and that does not meet the United States Constitution’s high bar for an impeachable offense.” Democrats need four Republican senators to support calling for witnesses, but it appears they will fall short. Republican Senators Susan Collins and Mitt Romney have said they will vote yes. If Lisa Murkowski of Alaska votes with them, it will result in a 50-50 tie, meaning no witnesses will be called unless Chief Justice John Roberts casts a tiebreaking vote. If the vote to call witnesses fails, the Republican leadership is expected to move quickly to end the trial and vote to acquit the president. Democrats have been demanding that former Trump national security adviser John Bolton testify in the trial. In an upcoming book, Bolton writes that Trump personally told him that $391 million in military aid to Ukraine was held up in order to pressure that country into launching investigations into Trump’s political rivals, including Joe Biden. We speak with Dahlia Lithwick, senior editor at Slate magazine, where she is the senior legal correspondent and Supreme Court reporter, as well as host of the legal podcast “Amicus.”

"Coded Bias": New Film Looks at Fight Against Racial Bias in Facial Recognition & AI Technology

Thu, 01/30/2020 - 08:39

A new documentary looks at the dangers of artificial intelligence and its increasing omnipresence in daily life, as new research shows that it often reflects racist biases. Earlier this month, Cambridge, Massachusetts, became the latest major city to ban facial recognition technology, joining a growing number of cities, including San Francisco, to ban the artificial intelligence, citing flawed technology and racial and gender bias. A recent study also found that facial recognition identified African-American and Asian faces incorrectly 10 to 100 times more than white faces. The film “Coded Bias” begins with Joy Buolamwini, a researcher at the MIT Media Lab, discovering that most facial recognition software does not recognize darker-skinned or female faces. She goes on to uncover that artificial intelligence is not in fact a neutral scientific tool; instead, it internalizes and echoes the inequalities of wider society. For more on the film, we speak with Joy Buolamwini, a researcher who uses art to raise awareness on the implications of artificial intelligence and is featured in the documentary “Coded Bias,” which just premiered at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival. We also speak with Shalini Kantayya, director of “Coded Bias.”

Ex-Solicitor General: Alan Dershowitz Is Wrong. Trump Is Not Above the Law & Should Be Impeached

Thu, 01/30/2020 - 08:10

President Trump’s legal team offered an extraordinary new defense during Trump’s impeachment trial on Wednesday. Attorney Alan Dershowitz said that a sitting president could take any action to boost his re-election chances if he felt his re-election was in the public interest. “If a president does something which he believes will help him get elected in the public interest, that cannot be the kind of quid pro quo that results in impeachment,” Dershowitz said. Trump was impeached by the House last month for freezing military aid to Ukraine in an effort to pressure Ukraine to open an investigation of Trump’s political rival, Joe Biden. Dershowitz’s claim came during a portion of the trial where senators were given a chance to submit written questions to Trump’s legal team and the House impeachment managers. The question-and-answer period continues today. The impeachment trial could end as soon as Friday if the Senate Republican leadership succeeds in blocking Democrats from calling any witnesses. Democrats are hoping to secure enough votes to get Trump’s former national security adviser John Bolton to testify. For more on President Trump’s ongoing impeachment trial in the Senate, we speak with Neal Katyal, former acting U.S. solicitor general in the Obama administration, a Supreme Court lawyer and a Georgetown University law professor. Katyal is the author of “Impeach: The Case Against Donald Trump.”

South Dakota May Criminalize Lifesaving Healthcare for Trans Youth in Latest Attack on LGBTQ Rights

Wed, 01/29/2020 - 08:40

The South Dakota Legislature is expected to debate a bill today that would criminalize gender-affirming surgery for transgender youth. If passed, House Bill 1057 would make it a felony for doctors to provide anyone under the age of 16 with puberty blockers, hormones and other transition-related healthcare. Medical professionals who provide this care could face up to 10 years in prison under the terms of the Republican-backed bill, which was passed in committee last week. On Tuesday, South Dakota introduced another anti-trans bill that would authorize parents to deny gender-affirming treatment to their children. It’s the third bill targeting trans youth introduced in South Dakota this year alone and one of more than 25 anti-LGBTQ bills introduced around the country. We speak with Chase Strangio, deputy director for transgender justice with the ACLU’s LGBT & HIV Project, and the award-winning director Yance Ford, who became the first openly transgender director nominated for an Academy Award for his film “Strong Island” in 2018. “It never ceases to amaze me how determined people are to erase trans people — even when they’re children,” Ford says.

Mehdi Hasan: The Impeachment Trial Has Been a Farce Since Day One Filled with GOP Lies

Wed, 01/29/2020 - 08:32

At the Senate impeachment trial of President Trump, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told fellow Republican senators in a private meeting Tuesday that he does not yet have enough votes to block Democrats from calling impeachment witnesses. Democrats have pushed for former national security adviser John Bolton to testify. On Sunday night, The New York Times published details about a draft of Bolton’s forthcoming book, in which he claims Trump personally told him in August he wanted to maintain a freeze on $391 million in military aid to Ukraine until Ukraine turned over materials related to former Vice President Joe Biden. On Tuesday, Trump’s defense team wrapped up their opening arguments. We speak with Mehdi Hasan, senior columnist at The Intercept and host of “UpFront” on Al Jazeera English. John Bolton’s role in the impeachment trial is “hugely ironic, because we’ve always known that John Bolton wanted regime change around the world; I just didn’t realize he wanted regime change in Washington, D.C.,” Hasan says.

Mehdi Hasan: Trump's Middle East Plan Is a Policy of Apartheid & Settler Colonialism

Wed, 01/29/2020 - 08:22

We continue our discussion of President Trump’s long-awaited Middle East plan to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which he has described as the “deal of the century.” The plan was drafted by Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner without any input from Palestinians and would give Israel sovereignty over large areas of the occupied West Bank, control over all of Jerusalem, and keep all illegal settlements built in the occupied West Bank. We speak with Mehdi Hasan, senior columnist at The Intercept, and Rashid Khalidi, the Edward Said professor of modern Arab studies at Columbia University. Khalidi’s latest book is titled “The Hundred Years’ War on Palestine.”

"Yet Another Declaration of War on Palestinians": Rashid Khalidi on Trump's Middle East "Peace" Plan

Wed, 01/29/2020 - 08:09

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has announced plans to annex about 30% of the occupied West Bank, after Israel was given the green light to do so by the United States. On Tuesday, President Trump — with Netanyahu by his side — unveiled a so-called Middle East peace plan that was drafted by Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner without any input from Palestinians. Under the plan, Israel will gain sovereignty over large areas of the occupied West Bank, Jerusalem would be under total Israeli control, and all Jewish settlers in the occupied territory will be allowed to remain in their homes. The plan also calls for a four-year settlement freeze and the possible creation of a truncated Palestinian state, but only if a number of conditions are met. Palestinians responded to the U.S. plan with protests in the West Bank and Gaza. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas rejected the deal. Only hours before the plan was announced, Netanyahu was indicted for corruption, marking the first time in Israel’s history that a sitting prime minister will face criminal charges. We speak with Mehdi Hasan, senior columnist at The Intercept, and Rashid Khalidi, the Edward Said professor of modern Arab studies at Columbia University. Khalidi’s latest book is titled “The Hundred Years’ War on Palestine.”

Chinese Artist & Filmmaker Ai Weiwei on State Violence from Mexico to Hong Kong to Xinjiang

Tue, 01/28/2020 - 08:37

In 2014, 43 students from Ayotzinapa Rural Teachers’ College disappeared after they were abducted in Iguala, Mexico. More than five years after their disappearance, the families of the students are still fighting for justice. The story is the subject of a stunning new documentary by the world-renowned Chinese artist and activist Ai Weiwei. The film, “Vivos,” follows the families of the disappeared students in their daily lives as they grapple with the absence of their loved ones and attempt to hold the Mexican government accountable for their disappearance. We sat down with Ai Weiwei earlier this week at the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah, to speak with him about “Vivos,” why his next project will focus on Hong Kong, and more.

Murder of Mexican Artist Isabel Cabanillas Highlights Endemic Issue of Femicide in Ciudad Juárez

Tue, 01/28/2020 - 08:30

Isabel Cabanillas, a 26-year-old beloved feminist activist and artist, was recently assassinated in Ciudad Juárez, resurfacing the border city’s painful legacy of femicides and violence against women. Cabanillas was reported missing on social media by her friends on Saturday, January 18, after she never returned home. On that same day, she was found shot to death on a sidewalk next to her bicycle in downtown Juárez. We speak with Nana Rebell, a feminist activist in Ciudad Juárez and a member of the Juárez feminist collective Hijas de su Maquilera Madre, about Cabanillas’s life and the endemic issue of femicide in the region.

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.”