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: 3 hours 10 min ago

Kids For Cash: Inside One of the Nation's Most Shocking Juvenile Justice Scandals

Tue 08 07 AM

Today a special on "kids for cash," the shocking story of how thousands of children in Pennsylvania were jailed by two corrupt judges who received $2.6 million in kickbacks from the builders and owners of private prison facilities. We hear from two of the youth: Charlie Balasavage was sent to juvenile detention after his parents unknowingly bought him a stolen scooter; Hillary Transue was detained for creating a MySpace page mocking her assistant high school principal. They were both 14 years old and were sentenced by the same judge, Judge Mark Ciavarella, who is now in jail himself — serving a 28-year sentence. Balasavage and Transue are featured in the new documentary, "Kids for Cash," by filmmaker Robert May, who also joins us. In addition, we speak to two mothers: Sandy Fonzo, whose son Ed Kenzakoski committed suicide after being imprisoned for years by Judge Ciavarella, and Hillary’s mother, Laurene Transue. Putting their stories into context of the larger scandal is attorney Robert Schwartz, executive director of the Juvenile Law Center. The story is still developing: In October, the private juvenile-detention companies in the scandal settled a civil lawsuit for $2.5 million.

One Billion Rising: Eve Ensler & Kimberle Crenshaw on Global Movement to End Violence Against Women

Mon 08 47 AM

A movement is growing worldwide to stop violence against women and girls. One Billion Rising for Justice will take place on February 14, Valentine’s Day, in more than 200 countries worldwide, focusing on the issue of justice for all survivors of gender violence and the impunity that protects perpetrators all over the world. The One Billion Rising and V-Day campaigns were launched by playwright Eve Ensler, creator of "The Vagina Monologues," and highlights the startling statistic that one in every three women on the planet will be raped or beaten in her lifetime. We speak to Eve Ensler and Kimberlé Crenshaw, co-founder of the African American Policy Forum. "Women are putting their bodies at the site where vulnerabilities intersect," Crenshaw says. "By that I mean where vulnerability to gender violence, vulnerability to economic exploitation, vulnerability to the drug war — all these things come together to create unique risks, many times risks that poor women, marginalized women, women of color face."

Michigan Activists Face Up to 2 Years in Prison for Protesting Oil Pipeline Behind 2010 Spill

Mon 08 39 AM

Three environmentalists have just been convicted for their role in nonviolently protesting the construction of tar sands pipelines in Michigan. Last summer, they tied themselves to excavators at an Enbridge Inc. construction site to stall work on a pipeline that had ruptured in 2010 and dumped about 800,000 gallons of crude oil into a tributary of the Kalamazoo River. On Friday, the protesters — Barbara Carter, Vicci Hamlin and Lisa Leggio — were found guilty of misdemeanor trespassing, as well as resisting and obstructing police, which carries a maximum two-year felony. We are joined from Grand Rapids, Michigan, by Christopher Wahmhoff of the Michigan Coalition Against Tar Sands. In June, Wahmhoff protested the Enbridge pipeline by skateboarding deep inside the pipe and refusing to come out.

Environmental Groups "Shocked" by Reports of NSA Spying of U.N. Climate Talks

Mon 08 35 AM

In one of the latest revelations based on the leaks of Edward Snowden, the National Security Agency spied on foreign governments before and during the 2009 U.N. climate summit in Copenhagen. An internal NSA document says its analysts and foreign partners briefed U.S. negotiators on other countries’ "preparations and goals," saying, "signals intelligence will undoubtedly play a significant role in keeping our negotiators as well informed as possible throughout the two-week event." We speak to Erich Pica, president of Friends of the Earth.

Debate: State Dept Moves Keystone XL Closer to Approval, But Does Conflict of Interest Taint Report?

Mon 08 11 AM

A long-awaited report from the State Department has dealt a potential major blow to efforts to stop the Keystone XL oil pipeline. An impact assessment released Friday says the pipeline’s northern leg would not have a major impact on climate change. In a speech last year, President Obama said his approval of the project will be contingent upon assuring it "does not significantly exacerbate the problem of carbon pollution." The proposed pipeline would transport 83,000 barrels of crude every day from Alberta’s oil sands to refineries on the U.S. Gulf Coast, which opponents say will have a devastating impact on the planet. The White House says it has yet to make a decision and will await additional feedback from federal agencies. Should the Obama administration approve the Keystone XL pipeline? We host a debate between Erich Pica of Friends of the Earth and Cindy Schild of the American Petroleum Institute.

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."