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: 34 min 8 sec ago

Noam Chomsky: Sabra & Shatila Massacre That Forced Sharon's Ouster Recalls Worst of Jewish Pogroms

Mon 08 37 AM

We look at one of the most shocking incidents in the career of the late former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon: the Sabra and Shatila massacre. Up to 2,000 Palestinians died on Sept. 16-17, 1982, when the Israeli military allowed a Christian militia to attack the camp. Then-Defense Minister Ariel Sharon was forced to resign after a special Israeli investigative panel declared him to be "personally responsible" for the massacre. We air a description of the killings by Ellen Siegel, a Jewish-American nurse who was working at Gaza Hospital at the Sabra camp at the time of the attacks, and speak with Rashid Khalidi, Edward Said Professor of Arab Studies at Columbia University, and Noam Chomsky, world-renowned political dissident, linguist, author and Institute Professor Emeritus at Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Noam Chomsky on the Legacy of Ariel Sharon: Not Speaking Ill of the Dead "Imposes a Vow of Silence"

Mon 08 13 AM

Former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon died Saturday at the age of 85 after eight years in a coma. Sharon was one of the most dominant political figures in Israel’s history, involved in each of Israel’s major wars dating back to its founding in 1948. Among Palestinians, Sharon was one of the most reviled political figures in the history of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. He is seen as father of the settlement movement and an architect of the Israeli invasion of Lebanon that killed a reported 20,000 Palestinian and Lebanese. We discuss Sharon’s legacy with three guests: Noam Chomsky, world-renowned political dissident, linguist, author and Institute Professor Emeritus at Massachusetts Institute of Technology; Rashid Khalidi, Edward Said Professor of Arab Studies at Columbia University; and Avi Shlaim, Emeritus Professor of International Relations at Oxford University, widely regarded as one of the world’s leading scholars on the Israeli-Arab conflict. "There is a convention that you’re not supposed to speak ill of the recently dead, which unfortunately imposes a kind of vow of silence, because there is nothing good to say," Chomsky says. "He was a brutal killer; he had one fixed idea in mind which drove him all his life: a greater Israel, as powerful as possible, as few Palestinians as possible. ... He doubtless showed courage and commitment to pursuing this ideal, which is an ugly and horrific one."

Amiri Baraka (1934-2014): Poet-Playwright-Activist Who Shaped Revolutionary Politics, Black Culture

Fri 08 12 AM

We spend the hour looking at the life and legacy of Amiri Baraka, the poet, playwright and political organizer who died Thursday at the age of 79. Baraka was a leading force in the Black Arts Movement of the 1960s and 1970s. In 1963 he published "Blues People: Negro Music in White America," known as the first major history of black music to be written by an African American. A year later he published a collection of poetry titled "The Dead Lecturer" and won an Obie Award for his play, “Dutchman." After the assassination of Malcolm X in 1965, he moved to Harlem and founded the Black Arts Repertory Theatre. In the late 1960s, Baraka moved back to his hometown of Newark and began focusing more on political organizing, prompting the FBI to identify him as "the person who will probably emerge as the leader of the pan-African movement in the United States." Baraka continued writing and performing poetry up until his hospitalization late last year, leaving behind a body of work that greatly influenced a younger generation of hip-hop artists and slam poets. We are joined by four of Baraka’s longtime comrades and friends: Sonia Sanchez, a renowned writer, poet, playwright and activist; Felipe Luciano, a poet, activist, journalist and writer who was an original member of the poetry and musical group The Last Poets; Komozi Woodard, a professor of history at Sarah Lawrence College and author of "A Nation Within a Nation: Amiri Baraka and Black Power Politics"; and Larry Hamm, chairman of the People’s Organization for Progress in Newark, New Jersey. Watch Part 2 of this interview.

As U.S. Rushes Weapons to Iraq, New Assault on Fallujah Threatens Explosion of Sectarian Conflict

Thu 08 47 AM

Iraqi forces have surrounded Fallujah in preparation for a potential assault to retake the city from Sunni militants who have also seized parts of Ramadi. Thousands of Fallujah residents have fled to avoid being trapped in the crossfire. This comes as the United States is ramping up its delivery of Hellfire missiles and surveillance drones as part of a "holistic" strategy to oust the militant group known as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. We speak to two guests: Feurat Alani, a French-Iraqi journalist who was based in Baghdad from 2003 to 2008 and has made several documentaries, including "Roadtrip Iraq" and "Fallujah: A Lost Generation?"; and Peter Van Buren, a 24-year State Department veteran who served in Iraq and later wrote a book critical of U.S. policy there, titled "We Meant Well: How I Helped Lose the Battle for the Hearts and Minds of the Iraqi People." Van Buren faced dismissal after criticizing U.S. reconstruction efforts in Iraq.

50 Years After LBJ's "War on Poverty," a Call for a New Fight Against 21st Century Inequality

Thu 08 25 AM

Fifty years ago this week, President Lyndon B. Johnson launched his "war on poverty," which led to many of the federal and state initiatives low-income Americans rely on today — Medicaid, Medicare, subsidized housing, Head Start, legal services, nutrition assistance, raising the minimum wage, and later, food stamps and Pell grants. Five decades later, many say another war on poverty is needed. We are joined by Peter Edelman, author of "So Rich, So Poor: Why It’s So Hard to End Poverty in America." A faculty director at the Center on Poverty, Inequality and Public Policy at Georgetown University, Edelman was a top adviser to Senator Robert F. Kennedy and a member of President Bill Clinton’s administration until he resigned in protest after Clinton signed the 1996 welfare reform law that threw millions of people off the rolls.

In New York City's Transformed Political Era, Progressives Take Major Posts Under Mayor de Blasio

Thu 08 20 AM

One week after the inauguration of new mayor Bill de Blasio, Melissa Mark-Viverito has been elected speaker of the New York City Council. Democracy Now! co-host and New York Daily News columnist Juan González says Mark-Viverito’s election cements a new political era in New York City where progressives have now filled several major posts, from the mayor on down.

Will New Jersey's Traffic Scandal Jam Gov. Christie's Presidential Hopes for 2016?

Thu 08 12 AM

A political controversy surrounding New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has grown into a scandal after it emerged a top aide deliberately ordered traffic delays to exact political revenge. Newly released documents show Christie’s Deputy Chief of Staff Bridget Anne Kelly personally ordered the closure of lanes leading to the George Washington Bridge, which connects New Jersey to New York City, to punish the mayor of Fort Lee for declining to endorse Christie’s bid for re-election. In an email to another Christie appointee and high school friend, David Wildstein, Kelly wrote: "Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee." The closures caused massive traffic jams with just one lane operational over a four-day period. In a statement, Christie denied involvement, saying he was "outraged and deeply saddened" by his deputy’s actions. Amy Goodman and Juan González discuss how the scandal could threaten Christie’s expected candidacy for the Republican presidential nomination in 2016.

"It Was Time to Do More Than Protest": Activists Admit to 1971 FBI Burglary That Exposed COINTELPRO

Wed 08 11 AM

One of the great mysteries of the Vietnam War era has been solved. On March 8, 1971, a group of activists — including a cabdriver, a day care director and two professors — broke into an FBI office in Media, Pennsylvania. They stole every document they found and then leaked many to the press, including details about FBI abuses and the then-secret counter-intelligence program to infiltrate, monitor and disrupt social and political movements, nicknamed COINTELPRO. They called themselves the Citizens’ Commission to Investigate the FBI. No one was ever caught for the break-in. The burglars’ identities remained a secret until this week when they finally came forward to take credit for the caper that changed history. Today we are joined by three of them — John Raines, Bonnie Raines and Keith Forsyth; their attorney, David Kairys; and Betty Medsger, the former Washington Post reporter who first broke the story of the stolen FBI documents in 1971 and has now revealed the burglars’ identities in her new book, "The Burglary: The Discovery of J. Edgar Hoover’s Secret FBI."

Click here to watch the one-hour Part 2 of this interview.

From Funding Climate Deniers to Shadowy Groups, Koch Brothers Network Spent $400 Million in 2012

Tue 08 45 AM

The Washington Post and the Center for Responsive Politics have just published an exposé revealing how a labyrinth of 17 tax-exempt groups and limited liability companies tied to the billionaire Koch Brothers raised at least $407 million during the 2012 campaign. The staggering amount is equivalent to the combined spending of all unions in state, federal and local races — it dwarfs nearly all other sources of political spending in 2012. The groups were designed to help conceal the sources of the money, much of which went to voter mobilization and television ads attacking President Obama and congressional Democrats. For more, we are joined by Lisa Graves, executive director of the Center for Media and Democracy, and publisher of PRWatch.org and ALECExposed.org.

From Sandy to Haiyan, Year of Extreme Weather Brings More Coverage of Climate Change

Tue 08 32 AM

A new survey of global climate change coverage in 2013 has found a 30 percent increase in the number of mainstream news articles and editorials on the topic. The website The Daily Climate compiles such stories on a daily basis, and their results showed that for the first time since 2009 there was an increase in global warming reporting. Some 24,000 reports were filed on the topic last year compared to about 18,000 the year before, in 2012. Reuters, the Associated Press and The Guardian each filed more than 1,000 stories. The New York Times was the only major publication to see its climate coverage drop in 2013. Meanwhile, the climate coverage on Fox News continued to feature pundits who argue climate change is a hoax. We’re joined by Peter Dykstra, publisher of The Daily Climate, which just published its annual survey and found that "Climate coverage soared in 2013, spurred by energy, and weather." Dykstra is a former journalist, spending 17 years at CNN where he covered the environment and weather.

Weather Whiplash: As Polar Vortex Brings Deep Freeze, Is Extreme Weather Linked to Climate Change?

Tue 08 23 AM

Record cold temperatures are being recorded across the Midwest and Eastern United States again today as a so-called polar vortex of dense, frigid air has descended as far south as Texas and Florida. According to the National Weather Service, temperatures are 20 to 40 degrees Fahrenheit below average in parts of Montana, North and South Dakota, Minnesota, Iowa, Wisconsin, Michigan and Nebraska. In Brimson, Minnesota, the temperature fell to minus 40 degrees Fahrenheit. Fargo, North Dakota, recorded temperatures as low as 32 degrees below zero. In Illinois, motorists are being urged to stay off the roads for a second day, and schools remain closed in Chicago and other cities. In New York, the temperature dropped by nearly 50 degrees over a few hours on Monday. We are joined by Jeff Masters, director of meteorology at the Weather Underground.

Court Ruling on Gay Marriage Ban Makes Utah an Unlikely New Front in Struggle for LGBT Equality

Tue 08 11 AM

Nearly 1,000 same-sex couples have tied the knot in Utah since a federal judge struck down the state’s ban on gay marriage late last month. The ruling by District Judge Robert Shelby had been the first to overturn a state’s gay marriage ban since the Supreme Court’s landmark decisions against the Defense of Marriage Act and California’s same-sex marriage ban last June. Over the past few weeks, Utah courthouses have been the scenes of jubilation for LGBT couples and the movement for marriage equality. But those unions are now in limbo. On Monday, the Supreme Court granted Utah’s request to block same-sex marriages while the ruling is appealed. The case now goes before a federal appeals court in Denver, but many expect it to find its way to the Supreme Court. A Supreme Court decision could have major repercussions across the country: If Utah’s ban is overturned, the same could happen for same-sex marriage bans in nearly 30 other states. We are joined from Utah by Derek Kitchen and Moudi Sbeity, one of three couples who are plaintiffs in the lawsuit challenging Utah’s ban on same-sex marriage.

A Socialist Elected in Seattle: Kshama Sawant on Occupy, Fight for 15, Boeing's "Economic Blackmail"

Mon 08 47 AM

Seattle has elected its first Socialist to city office in generations. Kshama Sawant’s election to the Seattle City Council made her one of a few Socialists to hold elected office in the country. Sawant is an economics teacher and former Occupy Wall Street activist who ran on a campaign to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour. "The important thing about running as a Socialist is, for one, to show that there is a definite openness for clear alternatives, not only to the big business parties, but the system that they represent, the capitalist system," Sawant says. Seattle’s new mayor, Ed Murray, has announced plans to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour for all city employees. Meanwhile, voters in the nearby community of SeaTac recently increased the minimum wage for many local workers to $15. The vote suffered a setback when a judge ruled last month that the raise does not apply to workers at the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, the area’s largest employer. That ruling has been appealed. Murray and Sawant are being sworn in today with record crowds expected at City Hall.

"Drugs Aren't the Problem": Neuroscientist Carl Hart on Brain Science & Myths About Addiction

Mon 08 23 AM

As we continue our conversation on the nationwide shift toward liberalizing drug laws, we are joined by the groundbreaking neuropsychopharmacologist Dr. Carl Hart. He is the first tenured African-American professor in the sciences at Columbia University, where he is an associate professor in the psychology and psychiatry departments. He is also a member of the National Advisory Council on Drug Abuse and a research scientist in the Division of Substance Abuse at the New York State Psychiatric Institute. However, long before he entered the hallowed halls of the Ivy League, Hart gained firsthand knowledge about drug usage while growing up in one of Miami’s toughest neighborhoods. He recently wrote a memoir titled "High Price: A Neuroscientist’s Journey of Self-Discovery That Challenges Everything You Know About Drugs and Society." In the book, he recalls his journey of self-discovery, how he escaped a life of crime and drugs and avoided becoming one of the crack addicts he now studies.

Rethinking Marijuana: As Colorado Opens World's First Pot Retail Stores, NY to Allow Medical Usage

Mon 08 13 AM

New York state is poised to become the latest state to loosen restrictions on marijuana usage. This week, Gov. Andrew Cuomo will reportedly announce a plan to use his executive power to allow 20 hospitals across the state to prescribe marijuana to certain patients. The governor’s surprise reversal on medical marijuana is part of a nationwide shift in drug laws. Last week, the world’s first state-licensed marijuana retail stores opened in Colorado to long lines of customers. Possession and private use of marijuana has been legal in Colorado over the past year, but it will now be legally produced and sold, as well. Around three dozen stores have been licensed to sell to customers. We speak to Gabriel Sayegh, the director of the Drug Policy Alliance’s New York policy office.