Democracy Now

Democracy Now!
A daily TV/radio news program, hosted by Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez, airing on over 1,100 stations, pioneering the largest community media collaboration in the United States.
Updated: 11 hours 59 min ago

Wallace Shawn on Artistic Solidarity: As Glenn Greenwald Can't Return to U.S., I Took My Play to Him

Fri 08 46 AM

The renowned playwright and actor Wallace "Wally" Shawn has just returned from Brazil, where he gave a special performance of his play, "The Designated Mourner," to journalist Glenn Greenwald, who first broke the story about National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden. The play was staged at the Public Theater in New York City last year, but Greenwald could not attend because of fears that he would be prosecuted upon returning to the United States. Just this week, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper suggested journalists could be considered accomplices of Snowden. Through three characters, Shawn’s play reveals the claustrophobia of a shrinking political landscape in a formerly liberal land. Shawn has written numerous plays in addition to "The Designated Mourner," including "The Fever," "Aunt Dan and Lemon" and "Grasses of a Thousand Colors.” Shawn has also had celebrated acting roles in several films, including "The Princess Bride," "Toy Story" and the 1981 cult classic, "My Dinner with Andre," which he also co-wrote.

"We Will Not Break the Law to Enforce the Law": NYC to Reform Stop & Frisk, End Racial Profiling

Fri 08 14 AM

New York City’s newly elected Mayor Bill de Blasio has announced the city will drop its appeal of a ruling by a U.S. district court that found the New York City Police Department’s controversial "stop-and-frisk" program unconstitutional and settle an ongoing lawsuit. In August, Judge Shira Scheindlin criticized the police for relying on a "policy of indirect racial profiling" that led officers to routinely stop "blacks and Hispanics who would not have been stopped if they were white." De Blasio announced the news on Thursday at a press conference with allies, including the Center for Constitutional Rights and the American Civil Liberties Union. "We’re here today to turn the page on one of the most divisive problems in our city," de Blasio said. "We believe in ending the overuse of stop-and-frisk that has unfairly targeted young African-American and Latino men." We air clips from de Blasio, new NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton and stop-and-frisk victim Nicholas Peart. We are joined by Baher Azmy, legal director of the Center for Constitutional Rights and counsel on their lawsuit against New York City.

Debate: Is Ukraine's Opposition a Democratic Movement or a Force of Right-Wing Extremism?

Thu 08 36 AM

Ukrainian anti-government protesters have rejected an amnesty bill aimed at ending the country’s political unrest, refusing to vacate occupied government buildings and dismantle their street blockades in exchange for the release of jailed activists. The demonstrations in the Ukraine are collectively referred to as "Euromaidan." They began in late November after President Viktor Yanukovych reversed his decision to sign a long-awaited trade deal with the European Union to forge stronger ties with Russia instead. While the Ukrainian opposition has been hailed in the West as a democratic, grassroots movement, we host a debate on whether the rush to back opponents of Russian President Vladimir Putin obscures a more complex reality beneath the surface. We are joined by two guests: Stephen Cohen, professor emeritus of Russian studies and politics at New York University and Princeton University; and Anton Shekhovtsov, a Ukrainian citizen and University College London researcher who has just returned from observing the protests in Kiev.

Sharif Abdel Kouddous: 3 Years After Revolution, Egypt Faces Deadly Polarization & Growing Militancy

Thu 08 24 AM

More than 60 people were killed in Egypt this weekend in clashes surrounding the third anniversary of the uprising that ousted Hosni Mubarak. Thousands of people turned out in Cairo’s Tahrir Square, the epicenter of the revolution. But fighting broke out between supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood and state forces, as well as backers of the military government that ousted the Brotherhood from power last year. Some 1,000 people were detained. In a sign of growing activity by militants, an Egyptian army helicopter was shot down in the Sinai desert, killing all five soldiers on board. We go to Cairo to speak with Democracy Now! correspondent Sharif Abdel Kouddous. He notes there has been an estimated 21,000 people arrested since Morsi’s ouster.

From Al Jazeera on Trial to Bloggers Behind Bars, Army-Run Egypt Sees Growing "Silencing of Dissent"

Thu 08 12 AM

The Egyptian military government has announced 20 Al Jazeera journalists will face trial for conspiring with a terrorist group and broadcasting false images. The military has accused Al Jazeera of supporting the Muslim Brotherhood, which has been protesting against the government since the army toppled President Mohamed Morsi in July. "This comes amidst a widening assault on journalists in the streets," says Democracy Now!’s Sharif Abdel Kouddous from Cairo. "On the anniversary of the revolution on the 25th of January, we saw over a dozen journalists attacked in Tahrir Square. Journalists are frequently accused when they are assaulted of belonging to Al Jazeera. And this is a direct result of a demonization campaign of Al Jazeera that has gone on for months now in the state and private media channels.”

"Dirty Wars" Filmmaker Jeremy Scahill on the "Drone President" & Obama's Whitewashing of NSA Spying

Wed 08 51 AM

In his State of the Union address, President Obama called on the United States to "move off a permanent war footing," citing his recent limits on the use of drones, his withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq and Afghanistan, and his effort to close the military prison at Guantánamo Bay. Obama also vowed to reform National Security Agency surveillance programs to ensure that "the privacy of ordinary people is not being violated." Jeremy Scahill, whose Oscar-nominated film "Dirty Wars" tackles the U.S. drone war and targeted killings abroad, says Obama has been a "drone president" whose operations have killed large numbers of civilians. On NSA reform, Scahill says "the parameters of the debate in Washington are: Should we figure out a way to streamline this and sell it to the American people, or should we do more surveillance?"

Five Years of the "Same Rhetoric": Immigration Activist Faults Obama's SOTU, Deportation Policy

Wed 08 39 AM

At last night’s State of the Union, a DREAM activist was among the guests invited by first lady Michelle Obama. Twenty-three-year-old Cristian Ávila of Arizona fasted for 22 days to push for immigration reform as part of the "Fast for Families" campaign, which took place on the National Mall. But Obama made no reference to Ávila and limited his remarks on immigration to a short passage. "This has been the same rhetoric that we’ve been hearing for the last five years," says Lorella Praeli, director of advocacy and policy at the United We Dream coalition. "For us, we don’t need to give any room to the president on deportations, and we don’t need to give any more room to Republicans on immigration either. We have been waiting and fighting to get something done. The president’s remarks could have gone in deeper and set some legislative markers as well."

"A Silent Coup": Jeremy Scahill & Bob Herbert on Corporate, Military Interests Shaping Obama's SOTU

Wed 08 24 AM

On issues from domestic inequality to foreign policy, President Obama delivered his fifth State of the Union with a vow to take action on his own should Congress stonewall progress on his agenda. But will Obama’s policies go far enough? We host a roundtable with three guests: Jeremy Scahill, producer and writer of the Oscar-nominated documentary "Dirty Wars: The World is a Battlefield" and senior investigative reporter at First Look Media, which will launch in the coming months; Bob Herbert, distinguished senior fellow with Demos; and Lorella Praeli, director of advocacy and policy at the United We Dream coalition.

In SOTU, Obama Tells Divided Congress to Expect Executive Action in Face of Continued Obstruction

Wed 08 12 AM

In his fifth State of the Union address, President Obama vowed to bypass a divided Congress and take action on his own using his executive power. Obama announced a wage hike for federal contract workers, the creation of a "starter savings account" to help millions of people save for retirement, and plans to establish new fuel efficiency standards for trucks. On foreign policy, President Obama pledged to veto new sanctions on Iran while the interim nuclear deal is in effect and renewed his call for the closure of Guantánamo Bay. On Afghanistan, President Obama said this year would see the end of the U.S. war, but he acknowledged some U.S. forces would remain in the country to train Afghan troops and carry out counterterrorism attacks. We get reaction to Obama’s speech from three guests: "Dirty Wars" film producer and writer Jeremy Scahill; former New York Times columnist Bob Herbert of Demos; and Lorella Praeli of the United We Dream coalition. "The State of the Union address, historically, is sort of propaganda," Scahill says. "On the issue of foreign policy, there is a radical disconnect between what the president was publicly projecting with his remarks and what his policies actually amount to on the ground."

"We Shall Overcome": Remembering Folk Icon, Activist Pete Seeger in His Own Words & Songs

Tue 08 10 AM

The legendary folk singer and activist Pete Seeger died Monday at the age of 94. For nearly seven decades, Seeger was a musical and political icon who helped create the modern American folk music movement. We air highlights of two appearances by Seeger on Democracy Now!, including one of his last television interviews recorded just four months ago. Interspersed in the interviews, Seeger sings some of his classic songs, "We Shall Overcome," "If I Had a Hammer" and "Where Have All the Flowers Gone." He also talks about what has been described as his “defiant optimism.” "Realize that little things lead to bigger things. That’s what [the album] 'Seeds' is all about," Seeger said. "And there’s a wonderful parable in the New Testament: The sower scatters seeds. Some seeds fall in the pathway and get stamped on, and they don’t grow. Some fall on the rocks, and they don’t grow. But some seeds fall on fallow ground, and they grow and multiply a thousandfold. Who knows where some good little thing that you’ve done may bring results years later that you never dreamed of."

Seeger led an illustrious musical career. In the 1940s, he performed in The Almanac Singers with Woody Guthrie. Then he formed The Weavers. In the 1950s, he was blacklisted after he opposed Senator Joseph McCarthy’s political witch hunt and was almost jailed for refusing to answer questions before the House Un-American Activities Committee. Seeger became a prominent civil rights activist and helped popularize the anthem "We Shall Overcome." In the 1960s, he was a vocal critic of the Vietnam War and inspired generations of protest singers. He was later at the center of the environmental and anti-nuclear movements. With his wife Toshi, Pete helped found Clearwater, a group to clean up the Hudson River. Toshi died last year just weeks before their 70th wedding anniversary. In 2009, he and Bruce Springsteen performed Guthrie’s "This Land is Your Land" on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial at an inaugural concert for Barack Obama.

Bill Moyers on Dark Money, the Attack on Voting Rights & How Racism Stills Drives Our Politics

Mon 08 40 AM

Legendary broadcaster Bill Moyers joins us to discuss his latest investigation, which explores how the influence of large, untraceable political donations known as "dark money" have become the greatest threat to democracy in the United States. In "State of Conflict: North Carolina," Moyers and his team explore how wealthy right-wing donors are greatly influencing state politics. "This is more than North Carolina," Moyers says. "It’s a harbinger of how organized money is the greatest threat to democracy because it unbalances the equilibrium. Democracy is supposed to check the excesses of private power and private greed, and if money disestablishes that equilibrium, we’re in trouble." Moyers, the host of "Moyers & Company," also talks about the long fight to secure voting rights. Fifty years ago, he was serving in President Lyndon B. Johnson’s administration at the time of the "Freedom Summer" campaign in 1964 and the formation of the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party. Moyers has won more than 30 Emmy Awards. He also was a founding organizer of the Peace Corps, served as press secretary for President Lyndon Johnson, and was a publisher of Newsday and senior correspondent for CBS News.

State of Conflict: Bill Moyers on North Carolina's Right-Wing Takeover & the Citizens Fighting Back

Mon 08 11 AM

In 2013, more than 1,000 people were arrested in North Carolina taking part in a series of protests called "Moral Mondays." For 13 weeks, demonstrators rallied in the state capital of Raleigh to fight moves by Republican lawmakers to attack voting rights, education, the environment, healthcare and women’s rights. Now organizers are planning their largest protest yet — the Moral March on Raleigh, scheduled for February 8. The protests in North Carolina are the focus of a recent special on Bill Moyers’ show "Moyers & Company." The documentary, "State of Conflict: North Carolina," reveals how untraceable political donations called "dark money" have pushed North Carolina far to the right politically and how citizen protesters are fighting back. We air an extended excerpt of Moyers’ report.

Moyers joins us in studio to talk about this investigation and much more. Click here to watch.

Romantic Comedy "Obvious Child" Offers Groundbreaking Cinematic Take on Abortion

Fri 08 46 AM

The romantic comedy "Obvious Child" is one of the most talked-about films at this year’s Sundance Film Festival in Utah. The film stars former Saturday Night Live cast member Jenny Slate as Donna Stern, a Brooklyn comedian who speaks openly about sexuality and other taboo topics on stage. When Donna gets pregnant, she decides to have an abortion. While one in three women in the United States will have an abortion, the topic is rarely dealt with in films. "Obvious Child" has been hailed as the first romantic comedy about abortion, but it is much more than that. In a week that marks the 41st anniversary of Roe v. Wade, we are joined by director Gillian Robespierre.

We Are the Giant: Bahrain's Top Family of Activists Pays Heavy Price for Challenging US-Backed Gov't

Fri 08 33 AM

Reconciliation talks between Bahrain’s ruling monarchy and opposition groups have resumed amidst a continued crackdown on dissidents. The Bahraini government has waged a crackdown on pro-democracy protesters since an uprising broke out in February 2011. The U.S.-backed monarchy is home to the U.S. Navy’s 5th Fleet, which is responsible for all naval forces in the Gulf. Bahrain is a key strategic asset in the region because it directly faces Iran. "We are the Giant," a new documentary premiering at the Sundance Film Festival, looks at the situation in Bahrain through the lens of a prominent family of activists, the Alkhawajas. The well-known human rights attorney Abdulhadi Alkhawaja is serving a life sentence, while his outspoken daughter, Zainab, is also behind bars. We are joined by Maryam Alkhawaja, who currently serves as acting president the Bahrain Center for Human Rights, while living in forced exile.

South Sudan Reaches Ceasefire, But Will Nascent State Survive Oil-Fueled Neocolonialism?

Fri 08 12 AM

After more than a month of violence that left thousands dead, rivals in South Sudan have reached a ceasefire agreement. The clashes began as a political dispute between President Salva Kiir and his former vice president, but quickly escalated into ethnic clashes that raised fears of a civil war. We turn to a new documentary that shows how South Sudan has become ground zero for contemporary colonialism in Africa. Director Hubert Sauper’s "We Come as Friends" provides an aerial view of the conflict in Sudan from a shaky, handmade two-seater plane. The film depicts American investors, Chinese oilmen, U.N. officials and Christian missionaries struggling to shape Sudan according to their own visions, while simultaneously applauding the alleged "independence" of the world’s newest state. What emerges is a devastating critique of the consequences of cultural and economic imperialism. We speak with Sauper about the film, which just premiered at the Sundance Film Festival.