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: 4 hours 17 min ago

San Antonio's Esperanza Peace and Justice Center Campaigns Against Fracking and Militarization

Wed 06 53 AM

Broadcasting from Trinity University, we speak with Graciela Sánchez, director of the Esperanza Peace and Justice Center, which is going on its 28th year as a community gathering space in San Antonio, Texas. The center recently hosted an exhibit on fracking, "Frack-aso! Portraits of Extraction in Eagle Ford and Beyond." The Eagle Ford Shale is the site of a massive fracking project in the local area — the flares burning off excess natural gas can be seen by satellite at night. Sánchez also talks about grassroots efforts to demilitarize their community.

Migrant Women, Children Allege Harsh Conditions, Sexual Assault at For-Profit Texas Immigration Jail

Wed 06 34 AM

Broadcasting from San Antonio, we look at a new family detention center just south of the city that holds more than 500 immigrant women and their children as they await deportation. The for-profit Karnes County Residential Center is owned by the GEO Group, the second-largest private prison company in the United States. Many women imprisoned at the Karnes facility have accused guards of sexually assaulting them. A federal complaint filed last week says guards are promising the women help with their immigration cases in return for sexual favors. Many of the detainees came to the United States seeking asylum from violence in their home countries of Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador. But the Obama administration says it is detaining them in order to discourage more migrants from coming. We hear from one of the facility’s few detainees to be released since a wave of migrants arrived in August, an El Salvador national who came with her 7-year-old daughter, who suffers from brain cancer. We also speak to Javier Maldonado, an immigration attorney involved in the detainees’ case alleging sexual assault and poor conditions, and Cristina Parker, the immigration projects coordinator for Grassroots Leadership and co-author of their new report, "For-Profit Family Detention: Meet the Private Prison Corporations Making Millions by Locking Up Refugee Families."

Bad Policy, Bad Medicine: Anti-Choice Law Leaves Vast Swaths of Texas with No Abortion Provider

Wed 06 13 AM

We broadcast from San Antonio, which is now the last outpost for legal abortion in southern Texas. Last week, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals allowed a provision requiring abortion providers to meet hospital-style building requirements to come into immediate effect, effectively gutting abortion access overnight. The move shuttered 13 clinics and left just eight open in a state that once had more than 40 facilities. On Monday, a number of abortion providers filed an emergency application asking the Supreme Court to intervene. The provision is part of HB2, a sweeping anti-choice law passed last summer after it was initially blocked by a people’s filibuster and an 11-hour stand from Texas State Sen. Wendy Davis. We speak with two guests: Jeffrey Hons, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood South Texas, which is building a new facility in San Antonio that meets the new regulations, and Lindsay Rodriguez, president of the Lilith Fund, which provides grants to Texans who need abortions but cannot afford them.

Being Mortal: Dr. Atul Gawande on How U.S. Healthcare Fails to Handle the End of Life

Tue 06 28 AM

Despite our advances in medicine, a new book calls for a radical transformation in how we approach the end of life. In "Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End," the physician and best-selling author Dr. Atul Gawande argues that a rigid focus on prolonging life can often undermine what is best for a dying patient. "Medical science has rendered obsolete centuries of experience, tradition, and language about our mortality," Gawande writes. "Our reluctance to honestly examine the experience of aging and dying has increased the harm we inflict on people and denied them the basic comforts they most need." A surgeon at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, Gawande is an acclaimed staff writer at The New Yorker and a professor at Harvard Medical School. "Being Mortal" is his fourth book, following the best-selling "The Checklist Manifesto: How to Get Things Right."

Dr. Atul Gawande: Ebola is "Eminently Stoppable," But Global Response Has Been "Pathetic"

Tue 06 13 AM

Sierra Leone is pleading for more international help to fight the Ebola outbreak in West Africa. On Saturday, the country recorded 121 deaths in one of the single deadliest days since the disease appeared there more than four months ago. At least 678 people have now died in Sierra Leone, with the official toll for West Africa topping 3,400. On Monday, President Obama said his administration is working on additional protocols for screening airplane passengers to identify people who might have Ebola, but ruled out a travel ban on West Africa. Meanwhile, the first patient diagnosed with the disease on U.S. soil, Thomas Eric Duncan, remains in critical condition at a Dallas hospital. The handling of Duncan’s case has raised questions about the how U.S. hospitals are prepared to handle a domestic Ebola outbreak. We are joined by Dr. Atul Gawande, a surgeon and best-selling author, regarded as one of the most influential healthcare policy writers in the country. "Our response was pathetic," Gawande says. "We simply mounted no substantial response. It might have been the best thing that has happened that the first case to leave the African continent came to America, because it brought our mobilization to realize that what happens there matters to us here. This is a disease that is eminently stoppable with basic public health measures."

Black Prophetic Fire: Cornel West on the Revolutionary Legacy of Leading African-American Voices

Mon 06 38 AM

The renowned scholar, author and activist Dr. Cornel West, joins us to discuss his latest book, "Black Prophetic Fire." West engages in conversation with the German scholar and thinker Christa Buschendorf about six revolutionary African-American leaders: Frederick Douglass, W. E. B. Du Bois, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Ella Baker, Malcolm X and Ida B. Wells. Even as the United States is led by its first black president, West says he is fearful that we may be "witnessing the death of black prophetic fire in our time."

Click here to watch part 2 of this interview

Death of U.S.-Backed Ex-Dictator "Baby Doc" Duvalier Won’t End Haitian Victims' Quest for Justice

Mon 06 11 AM

The former U.S.-backed dictator of Haiti, Jean-Claude Duvalier, known as "Baby Doc," has died at 63. Duvalier ruled Haiti from 1971 to 1986, taking power after the death of his father who had ruled since 1957. Baby Doc’s death came just months after a Haitian court ruled that he could be charged with crimes against humanity under international law, and that he could also be held responsible for abuses by the army and paramilitary forces under his rule. Under his regime, hundreds of political prisoners held in a network of prisons died from their extraordinarily cruel treatment. Baby Doc’s government repeatedly closed independent newspapers and radio stations. Journalists were beaten, in some cases tortured, jailed and forced to leave the country. Despite his human rights record, Baby Doc was a close ally of the United States. After years of exile in France, he returned to Haiti in 2011 and became an ally of Haiti’s current president Michel Martelly. We are joined by Haitian activist and writer Jean Saint-Vil and journalist Amy Wilentz, author of "The Rainy Season: Haiti Since Duvalier."

Jeremy Scahill on Obama's Orwellian War in Iraq: We Created the Very Threat We Claim to be Fighting

Fri 06 41 AM

As Vice President Joe Biden warns it will take a "hell of a long fight" for the United States to stop militants from the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, we speak to Jeremy Scahill, author of the book, "Dirty Wars: The World is a Battlefield." We talk about how the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003 that helped create the threat now posed by the Islamic State. We also discuss the role of Baathist forces in ISIS, Obama’s targeting of journalists, and the trial of four former Blackwater operatives involved in the 2007 massacre at Baghdad’s Nisoor Square.

Iraq Veterans Against the War: Decade-Old Group Grapples with New War, PTSD Epidemic, VA Failures

Fri 06 15 AM

Ten years ago, six members of the U.S. military came together to break their silence over what they had witnessed during the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq. They banded together and formed the organization Iraq Veterans Against the War, or IVAW. Over time, they gathered like-minded veterans across the United States to form a contemporary GI resistance movement. Celebrated its tenth anniversary, IVAW members say it is a bittersweet moment as the United States has resumed bombing in Iraq. Today, IVAW chapters are in 48 states and numerous bases overseas. The group has called for reparations for the people of Iraq and Afghanistan — for both human and infrastructural damages caused by the U.S.-led invasion. They have also called for adequate healthcare to be provided at VA facilities, including mental healthcare, for all returning veterans. We host a roundtable with three IVAW members: co-founder Kelly Dougherty, who was deployed to Kuwait and Iraq from 2003-2004; Brock McIntosh, who served in Afghanistan and applied for conscientious objector status; and Scott Olsen, a former marine who served two tours in Iraq and was critically wounded after being shot in the head by a police projectile at an Occupy Oakland protest.

Secret History of U.S.-Cuba Ties Reveals Henry Kissinger Plan to Bomb Havana for Fighting Apartheid

Thu 06 34 AM

In the new book, "Back Channel to Cuba: The Hidden History of Negotiations between Washington and Havana," authors Peter Kornbluh and William LeoGrande use recently declassified documents to expose the secret history of dialogue between the United States and Cuba. Among the revelations are details of how then-U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger considered launching airstrikes against Cuba after Fidel Castro sent troops to support independence fighters in Angola in 1976. In the years that followed, top-secret U.S. emissaries, including former President Jimmy Carter and Nobel Prize-winning author Gabriel García Márquez, worked to normalize relations with Cuba. The book’s release comes as Cuban leader Raúl Castro is set to participate for the first time in next year’s Summit of the Americas in Panama. Cuba recently denounced the Obama administration for extending the more than 50-year embargo for another year in a little-noticed move in September.

After U.S. Sanctions & Wars Tore Iraq Apart, Can American-Led Strikes Be Expected to Save It?

Thu 06 10 AM

Islamic State militants have reportedly made advances in both Iraq and Syria despite an escalating U.S.-led bombing. In Iraq, militants are said to have seized control of the town of Heet in Anbar province. In Syria, militants have advanced on Kurdish towns near the Turkish border, forcing tens of thousands of Syrian Kurds to flee in recent days. The United Nations says more than 1,100 Iraqis were killed in violence last month. The actual toll is far higher because it does not include deaths in areas controlled by the Islamic State. The United Nations says the Islamic State has carried out mass executions, abducted women and girls as sex slaves, and used children as fighters. The United Nations also says airstrikes by the Iraqi government have caused "significant civilian deaths and injuries." This comes as the White House has confirmed it has relaxed standards aimed at preventing civilian deaths for the U.S. airstrikes in Iraq and Syria. We discuss the developing situation with Sinan Antoon, an Iraqi poet, novelist and translator. A professor at New York University, Antoon is co-founder and co-editor of Jadaliyya ezine.

Mississippi County Sued for Indefinitely Holding Prisoners Without Charge or Access to Lawyer

Wed 06 53 AM

The American Civil Liberties has filed a federal lawsuit against Scott County, which is about 25 miles from the capital of Jackson, over allegations that it has held prisoners for nearly a year without formal charge or access to an attorney. The two plaintiffs in the case are Octavious Burks, held for more than 10 months without formal charge, and Joshua Bassett, held for eight months. Burks was arrested for armed robbery, and Bassett for grand larceny and possession of methamphetamine. Overall, the ACLU estimates at least 50 people are being held in the Scott County in a similar situation — no indictment and no access to a lawyer. We are joined by Brandon Buskey, staff attorney with the Criminal Law Reform Project at the ACLU and lead attorney on the case in Scott County, Mississippi.

Accused of Stealing a Backpack, High School Student Jailed for Nearly Three Years Without Trial

Wed 06 28 AM

We look at the incredible story of how a 16-year-old high school sophomore from the Bronx ended up spending nearly three years locked up at the Rikers jail in New York City after he says he was falsely accused of stealing a backpack. Kalief Browder never pleaded guilty and was never convicted. Browder maintained his innocence and requested a trial, but was only offered plea deals while the trial was repeatedly delayed. Near the end of his time in jail, the judge offered to sentence him to time served if he entered a guilty plea, and warned him he could face 15 years in prison if he was convicted. But Browder still refused to accept the deal, and was only released when the case was dismissed. During this time, Browder spent nearly 800 days in solitary confinement, a juvenile imprisonment practice that the New York Department of Corrections has now banned. We are joined by reporter and author Jennifer Gonnerman, who recounts Browder’s story in the current issue of The New Yorker. We also speak with Browder’s current attorney, Paul Prestia, who has filed a lawsuit against the City of New York, the New York City Police Department, the Bronx District Attorney, and the Department of Corrections, on Browder’s behalf.

After Censorship of History Course, Colorado Students & Teachers Give a Lesson in Civil Disobedience

Wed 06 12 AM

After a county school board in Colorado proposed to rewrite the district’s high school U.S. history curriculum to stop teaching about civil disobedience, students and teachers have responded with acts of civil disobedience of their own. Classes have been canceled twice in Jefferson County as teachers stage mass sick-outs and students walk out of classes. At a protest last week, hundreds of Denver-area high school students held cardboard signs with slogans including, "Don’t make history a mystery" and "Keep your politics out of my education." The protests began after the school board announced it was considering reviewing the curriculum of Advanced Placement history courses and adding more material to "promote citizenship, patriotism, essentials and benefits of the free-market system, respect for authority and respect for individual rights." The proposed changes also call for the removal of classroom materials that "encourage or condone civil disorder, social strife or disregard of the law." In addition, teachers are protesting a pay-grade system that ties their salaries to performance reviews. We are joined by two guests: John Ford, president of the Jefferson County Education Association and a social studies teacher at Moore Middle School, and Ashlyn Maher, a Chatfield High School senior and one of the students protesting the proposed curriculum changes.