Democracy Now

Democracy Now!
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: 9 hours 55 min ago

Alison Bechdel's "Fun Home": The Coming-Out Memoir That Became a Hit Broadway Musical

12 hours 52 min ago

In a Democracy Now! special, we look at the acclaimed Broadway musical "Fun Home," which swept the Tony Awards last month. Composer Jeanine Tesori and lyricist Lisa Kron made history as the first female duo to win a Tony Award for Best Original Score. "Fun Home" is also the first-ever Broadway musical to feature a lesbian protagonist. The musical is based on the 2006 best-selling graphic memoir by Alison Bechdel, "Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic." The memoir is a poignant exploration of family, memory, first love, coming out and a daughter’s relationship with her father. The title comes from the Bechdels’ nickname for their family business: a funeral parlor. Throughout the memoir, Bechdel — the artist and protagonist — sketches out her hazy memories of growing up in rural Pennsylvania and coming to terms with her sexuality as she tries to make sense of her father’s suicide. Her father was secretly gay and took his life shortly after Bechdel came out as a lesbian. We speak to Bechdel, Kron and Tesori, and air highlights from the Broadway musical.

Rappel Shell? Activists in Oregon Suspend Themselves from Bridge to Block Arctic-Bound Oil Ship

Wed 07 55 AM

Climate justice activists — including a group of "kayaktivists" — are gathering in Portland to blockade a ship commissioned by oil giant Shell to break up Arctic ice in order to pave the way for Arctic drilling in the Chukchi Sea. Early this morning, activists with Greenpeace rappelled from the St. Johns Bridge in Portland to create an "aerial blockade" of the vessel. We speak to Annie Leonard, executive director of Greenpeace USA, as she stands under the bridge.

This is Child Abuse: Social Worker Breaks Silence over Conditions Inside Immigrant Detention Center

Wed 07 45 AM

Olivia López, a longtime social worker, began working at the Karnes County Residential Center in Texas last October but decided to leave her position in April after she says it was clear she had been hired to give the appearance of a well-supported medical unit. She says her efforts to improve documentation of the mothers’ care and concerns were repeatedly blocked. "Based on my experience there, I’ve come to that conclusion, that it was child abuse to separate a child from his or her mother," López says. She testified Tuesday at a hearing organized by the Congressional Progressive Caucus and Democrats from the House Judiciary Committee.

"Deplorable": Federal Judge Condemns For-Profit Texas Detention Centers for Immigrant Families

Wed 07 31 AM

In what could be a major victory for human rights advocates here in the United States, a federal judge has issued a harsh condemnation of the mass detention of immigrant women and children, calling conditions in the privately run prisons "deplorable." The ruling by U.S. District Judge Dolly Gee gives the Obama administration 90 days either to release the more than 2,000 women and children being held in two Texas facilities or to show just cause to continue holding them. Immigration lawyers say the ruling has already had a "groundbreaking" impact as Texas judges have started ordering women and children’s release without bond, though many have been forced to wear electronic ankle monitors. Republicans are calling on the Obama administration to appeal the ruling. We speak to longtime immigration lawyer Barbara Hines, who represents many clients who are detained in the Karnes and Dilley detention centers in Texas.

Fighting Both Sides of the Same War: Is Turkey Using Attacks on ISIL as Cover for Assault on Kurds?

Wed 07 15 AM

Turkish jets have reportedly launched their heaviest assault on Kurdish militants in northern Iraq since airstrikes began last week, effectively ending a two-year truce. Over the past week, the Turkish military has launched combat operations on two fronts: one against the self-proclaimed Islamic State in Syria and another against Kurds inside Turkey and in northern Iraq, where Kurdish groups have been fighting against the Islamic State. This means Turkey is now essentially bombing both sides of the same war. During an emergency session of NATO in Brussels Tuesday, the body offered support for Turkey’s military campaigns, although some member states expressed unease over the crackdown against the Kurds. Turkey’s attacks on the Kurds come just a month after the pro-Kurdish opposition People’s Democratic Party won 13 percent of the vote, helping to deprive President Tayyip Erdogan’s AKP party of a majority in the Parliament for the first time since 2002. Over the past week, Turkey has detained more than 1,000 people in a series of raids, many targeting members of Kurdish groups. We speak to Kani Xulam, director of the American Kurdish Information Network.

Clinton & the Coup: Amid Protests in Honduras, Ex-President on Hillary's Role in His 2009 Ouster

Tue 07 44 AM

In Honduras, as many as 25,000 people marched Friday demanding the resignation of Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernández. The protests come six years after a coup ousted Honduras’s democratically elected President Manuel Zelaya. In an exclusive interview, Zelaya talks about the new protest movement, the fallout from the 2009 coup, and Hillary Clinton’s role in his ouster. "On the one hand, [the Obama administration] condemned the coup, but on the other hand, they were negotiating with the leaders of the coup," Zelaya said. "And Secretary Clinton lent herself to that, maintaining that ambiguity of U.S. policy to Honduras, which has resulted in a process of distrust and instability of Latin American governments in relation to U.S. foreign policies." While the United States publicly supported Zelaya’s return to power, newly released emails show Clinton was attempting to set up a back channel of communication with Roberto Micheletti, who was installed as Honduran president after the coup. In one email, Clinton referenced lobbyist and former President Clinton adviser Lanny Davis. She wrote, "Can he help me talk w Micheletti?" At the time, Davis was working for the Honduran chapter of the Business Council of Latin America, which supported the coup. In another email, Thomas Shannon, the State Department’s lead negotiator for the Honduras talks, refers to Manuel Zelaya as a "failed" leader.

438 Days Imprisoned in Ethiopia: Journalist Recounts Facing Arrest, Mock Execution & Terror Charges

Tue 07 23 AM

While President Obama visited Ethiopia on Monday, he made a passing reference to press freedom, calling on the Ethiopian government to "open additional space for journalists, for media, for opposition voices." The Committee to Protect Journalists has described Ethiopia as one of the leading jailers of journalists on the continent. At least 11 journalists and bloggers are currently in prison. Six others were released just before Obama’s visit. We look at the remarkable story of two Swedish journalists who traveled to Ethiopia in 2011 to report on the actions of the Swedish oil company Lundin Oil in the Ogaden region, where there has been a fight for independence since the 1970s. Five days after crossing the border from Somalia to Ethiopia, the journalists Martin Schibbye and Johan Persson were shot and captured by the Ethiopian army. "We were both shot during the arrest. We were kept in the desert,” Schibbye said. "They brought in some Steven Spielberg figure, who turned out to be the vice president of the region, who made a mockumentary about what happened when we were arrested. They brought in fake rebels, who they gave guns, and it was a total surreal episode where we, under gunpoint, had to participate in the movie that was supposed to be shown on Ethiopian state television and also used in court to sentence us for support of terrorism." Schibbye and Persson ended up spending over a year in prison, which they chronicle in their book, "438 Days: How Our Quest to Expose the Dirty Oil Business in the Horn of Africa Got Us Tortured, Sentenced as Terrorists and Put Away in Ethiopia’s Most Infamous Prison."

In Ethiopia, Obama Hails Democracy Despite Recent Election Where Ruling Party Won 100% of Seats

Tue 07 10 AM

On Monday, President Obama made history by becoming the first sitting U.S. president to visit Ethiopia. But he is facing criticism after twice describing Ethiopia as having a democratically elected government despite the fact human rights groups have denounced Ethiopia’s democracy as a "sham." In a recent election, for example, Ethiopia’s ruling party won 100 percent of the country’s 547 Parliament seats. Human Rights Watch criticized the government in a recent report, writing, "Authorities use arbitrary arrests and politically motivated prosecutions to silence journalists, bloggers, protesters, and perceived supporters of opposition political parties." We speak with Horace Campbell, professor of African-American studies and political science at Syracuse University. He has written extensively on African politics. His new piece for CounterPunch is called "Obama in Kenya."

Obama Visits Ethiopia and Kenya, Land of His Father, to Discuss Counterterrorism, Gay Rights, Jobs

Mon 07 41 AM

President Obama arrived Sunday in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, for talks with leaders on counterterrorism efforts against al-Shabab in Somalia, and human rights abuses and looming famine in neighboring South Sudan. His visit marks the first by a sitting U.S. president to Ethiopia, which is home to the African Union, and also to Kenya, his father’s birthplace. In a major speech Sunday in the capital of Nairobi, Obama referred to himself as a "Kenyan American" and joked about critics who said he was there to look for his birth certificate. We go to Nairobi for an update from Aggrey Mutambo, a reporter at the Daily Nation, the principal English-language newspaper in Kenya. He covered Obama’s visit for the paper. We are also joined by Salim Lone, a Kenyan journalist, political adviser and former director of the News and Media Division of the United Nations. From 2005 to 2012, he was the spokesperson for then-Prime Minister Raila Odinga of Kenya.

"Collective Healing" at Nat'l Black Lives Matter Convergence Ends with Police Pepper-Spraying Teen

Mon 07 35 AM

More than a thousand Black Lives Matter supporters converged in Cleveland, Ohio, this weekend for a historic conference to raise national attention about police brutality and other pressing issues, including immigration rights, economic justice and LGBTQ rights. During the opening ceremony, family members of more than 20 African Americans killed by police took to the stage to speak about why they continue to fight for justice. Democracy Now!’s Messiah Rhodes was on the ground in Cleveland, Ohio, and spoke to several conference participants who say it was "a learning space, a healing space, a politicizing space, a radicalizing space." The event ended with a stark reminder of how much work remains to be done. On Sunday, a crowd of participants witnessed a police officer attempting to arrest a 14-year-old boy for alleged intoxication. The Black Lives Matter participants blocked the squad car and tried to get the child out. One of the officers then began pepper-spraying the crowd. The video has since gone viral.

"I Was Almost Another Dead Black Male": Denver Teen Recalls Police Beating After 2009 Traffic Stop

Mon 07 32 AM

We feature a video just released by the oral history project StoryCorps called "Traffic Stop," in which Alex Landau, an African-American man, recalls how he was raised by his adoptive white parents to believe that skin color didn’t matter. But when he was pulled over by Denver police officers in 2009, he lost his belief in a color-blind world when he was nearly beaten to death. Alex and his white adoptive mother, Patsy Hathaway, discuss what happened that night and how it continues to affect him. Landau has since become involved in efforts to curb use of excessive force by police and to foster transparency and accountability by police officers, including the use of body cameras.

Sandra Bland Laid to Rest; First Black Judge in Waller County Demands Sheriff Resign over Her Death

Mon 07 12 AM

Hundreds gathered Saturday to remember Sandra Bland at the suburban Chicago church she attended for decades before moving to Waller County, Texas, where she was set to begin a new job but was then discovered dead in her jail cell after a traffic stop escalated into an arrest. The 28-year-old African-American woman’s family members stood before her open casket as they continued to dispute law enforcement claims she hung herself with the liner of a trashcan. Illinois Senator Dick Durbin and Congressman Bill Foster have sent letters to U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch calling for a federal investigation into Bland’s death. We go to Texas to discuss the history of racial profiling in Waller County, and police relations with the African-American community, with DeWayne Charleston, who served as the first African-American judge in Waller County, Texas. He also responds to how Bland was arrested and the investigation into her death has been handled, and calls on Sheriff Glenn Smith to resign. Charleston is the author of "The United States v. Waller County, Then Me."

"I Don't Believe Sandy Committed Suicide": #BlackLivesMatter Co-Founders Speak Out on Sandra Bland

Fri 07 37 AM

As a Movement for Black Lives Convening is set to take place this weekend in Cleveland, we discuss the case of Sandra Bland and many others who have died in the custody of law enforcement with the three founders of the Black Lives Matter movement. Patrisse Cullors is the director of Truth and Reinvestment at the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights in Oakland, California, and the founder of Dignity and Power Now, a grassroots organization in Los Angeles fighting for the dignity and power of incarcerated people and their families. Alicia Garza is special projects director for the National Domestic Workers Alliance. And Opal Tometi is executive director of the Black Alliance for Just Immigration.

Sandra Bland's Sister Responds to Suicide Allegations, Lawyer Says Waller County Withholding Details

Fri 07 10 AM

Law enforcement officials in Waller County, Texas, have concluded that the cause of Sandra Bland’s death in police custody was suicide. But Bland’s family and friends dispute claims she was suicidal, and say there is no evidence she previously tried to kill herself before her traffic stop escalated into an arrest. We are joined by Sharon Cooper, who is Sandra Bland’s sister. Also with us is Cannon Lambert, the attorney representing Sandra Bland’s family. He says authorities have given the family only "piecemeal information" from the autopsy they conducted, and disputes the relevance of tests showing marijuana in her system. Cooper says Bland should be remembered as "someone who was unapologetically confident — and that’s OK in today’s world — as somebody who was assertive and somebody who truly stood for what she believed in.”

Theodore Bikel Remembered: Fiddler on the Roof Actor and Activist Speaks Out on Israel and Palestine

Thu 07 08 AM

We spend the hour remembering the renowned actor, musician, composer and activist Theodore Bikel, who died Tuesday at the age of 91. Bikel was known for creating the role of Baron von Trapp in "The Sound of Music" on Broadway and for the role of Tevye in "Fiddler on the Roof," which he played more than 2,000 times. He was also a beloved folk singer who co-founded the Newport Folk Festival with Pete Seeger and could accompany himself on guitar, mandolin, balalaika and harmonica. He made more than 20 albums, many of them in Hebrew and Yiddish. But Theodore Bikel, a man so closely identified with Israel and with Jewish life, was also an outspoken critic of Israeli policy, especially a pending measure to forcibly relocate some 40,000 Bedouin Arabs from their ancestral lands. "One thing that is absolutely clear in my mind is that human beings cannot be treated like cattle," Bikel says in a 2014 extended interview. "Human beings must be given the dignity and the respect that all human beings deserve, especially by a people who themselves—Jews—have experienced such deprivation in the past."