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: 5 hours 24 min ago

Shutting Down the Streets: Thousands Protest Police Killings by Blocking Traffic & Staging Die-ins

Fri 07 13 AM

For a second night, thousands of protesters swarmed the streets of New York City to protest a grand jury’s decision not to indict the white police officer who killed Eric Garner, an African-American father of six, after placing him in a banned chokehold. Protesters chanted, "I can’t breathe," as they blocked traffic, shutting down the Manhattan and Brooklyn bridges, the West Side Highway and the Holland Tunnel. The police reported making more than 200 arrests, including many near Times Square. In Washington, D.C., hundreds staged a die-in near the Washington Monument. In Boston, protesters shut down the Massachusetts Turnpike and Interstate 93 as well as part of the city’s subway system. In Chicago, demonstrators shouted, "Hands up, don’t shoot!" while blocking Lake Shore Drive along Lake Michigan. In San Francisco, marchers shut down Market Street. Hundreds also marched in Oakland.

Pioneering Politician Herman Badillo, the First Puerto Rican Elected to Congress, Dies at 85

Fri 07 11 AM

Herman Badillo, a trailblazing politician who became the first Puerto Rican-born member of Congress, has died at the age of 85. Badillo served as a powerful voice in New York City politics for decades. He started out as a civil rights attorney and went on to hold a range of city posts and serve four terms in Congress. Throughout his career he championed the rights of Latinos and the poor. Democracy Now! co-host Juan González highlights the legacy of Badillo in his New York Daily News column this week, "Few played as big a role in community as Herman Badillo."

Out Cheneying-Cheney: Obama's Likely Defense Pick Once Backed Pre-emptive Attack on North Korea

Thu 07 52 AM

President Obama is reportedly preparing to nominate former Deputy Defense Secretary Ashton Carter to replace ousted Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel. A trained physicist, Carter has a long history at the Pentagon, where he once served as the chief arms buyer. In 2006, he made headlines when he backed a pre-emptive strike against North Korea if the country continued with plans to conduct a test launch of an intercontinental ballistic missile. He co-wrote a piece headlined "If Necessary, Strike and Destroy." We speak to Alice Slater, New York director of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation and a member of the Abolition 2000 coordinating committee.

Vince Warren on How Police Officers Get Away with Killing from Ferguson to NYC

Thu 07 29 AM

Just a week after a grand jury in Missouri cleared police officer Darren Wilson for the killing of Michael Brown, a New York grand jury cleared New York City police officer Daniel Pantaleo for the killing of Eric Garner, who died after being placed in a chokehold. Both officers were white. Both victims were African American. Thousands flooded the streets in New York City last night after the grand jury decision was announced. Democracy Now! was there and interviewed several people about why they were taking part in the protests. We speak with Vince Warren, executive director of the Center for Constitutional Rights, about how the grand jury system can be used to shield police officers from prosecution. We also hear from retired NYPD detective Carlton Berkley about department restrictions on the use of chokeholds.

"I Fear for the Lives of My Sons": Voices from NYC Protests over Eric Garner Grand Jury Ruling

Thu 07 26 AM

In the wake of the grand jury’s decision not to indict a white New York City police officer in the chokehold killing of Eric Garner, more than 80 people were arrested as protesters shut down parts of New York City, including the Brooklyn Bridge, Lincoln Tunnel, West Side Highway and Sixth Avenue around Rockefeller Center. where the Christmas tree lighting ceremony was taking place. Democracy Now! producer Renée Feltz and video producer Messiah Rhodes talked to a group of protesters in Times Square last night.

"I Can't Breathe": As Protests Erupt in NYC, Eric Garner's Nephew Speaks Out on Grand Jury Ruling

Thu 07 14 AM

The Justice Department has announced it will launch a civil rights investigation into the death of Eric Garner after a grand jury decided not to charge a white New York police officer for causing his death by placing him in a chokehold. Garner, who was an African-American father of six, died in July after being placed in a chokehold and wrestled to the ground. The grand jury’s decision set off protests across New York City that shut down parts of the city including the Brooklyn Bridge, the West Side Highway and the Lincoln Tunnel. Protesters also staged a die-in in Grand Central. At least 83 people were arrested. Garner’s death occurred just weeks before Michael Brown was killed by a police officer in Ferguson, and sparked a national debate about police use of excessive force, and the New York Police Department’s policy of cracking down on low-level offenses. Garner was first confronted on July 17 by police for allegedly selling single, untaxed cigarettes known as "loosies" on the streets of Staten Island. Garner’s family says it plans to sue the city for wrongful death, pre-death pain and suffering, and civil rights violations. We speak to Garner’s nephew, Brandon Davidson.

Ecuadorean Authorities Seize Climate Caravan Bus Carrying Activists Opposed to Drilling in Yasuni

Wed 07 56 AM

A caravan of environmental activists traveling to the United Nations climate summit in Lima, Peru, has been stopped by authorities in Ecuador and had their bus seized. Activists with the group Yasunidos departed from Quito on Monday to denounce the extraction of oil from Yasuní National Park, an area of the Amazon renowned for its biological diversity. The group says they were subjected to seven or eight stops in the first 24 hours of their trip, and ultimately stranded by the side of a highway last night, when authorities seized their bus. We go to Cuenca, Ecuador, where we’re joined by two guests: Elena Gálvez, coordinator of the climate caravan and a member of Yasunidos, a group that opposes oil drilling in Yasuní National Park; and Ariel Goodman, a journalist traveling with the caravan.

Father of Missing Mexican Student Speaks Out as U.S. Protesters Stage Day of Action Against Drug War

Wed 07 43 AM

Protests at federal buildings in at least 43 U.S. cities today will call for halting American aid to military and police forces in Mexico until human rights abuses are addressed. Organizers in the United States are working with the grassroots movement in Mexico triggered by the disappearance of 43 students in September. Protesters are using the hashtag #UStired2 — the English-language counterpart to the hashtag #YaMeCansé, a campaign in Mexico to protest state violence and human rights abuses. U.S. military and security aid to Mexico totals more than $3 billion since 2008. We are joined by two guests: Clemente Rodríguez, whose 19-year-old son Christian Alfonso Rodríguez is one of the 43 missing students; and Roberto Lovato, a writer and visiting scholar at the UC Berkeley Center for Latino Policy Research, and one of the organizers behind the #UStired2 initiative.

Peace Activist Sentenced for Protesting at Drone Base Near Syracuse, NY

Wed 07 31 AM

A longtime peace activist was sentenced today to one year conditional discharge for demonstrating outside the gates of New York’s Hancock Field Air National Guard Base, which is used to remotely pilot U.S. drone attacks. Mark Colville faced up to two years in jail stemming from his arrest last December. More than 100 people have been arrested over the past five years as part of a nonviolent campaign organized by the Upstate Drone Coalition. Hours before he learns his fate, Colville joins us to discuss his activism and why he opposes the U.S. drone war. [Editor’s Note: This summary has been updated to reflect today’s sentencing which occurred after our broadcast.]

A "Precise" U.S. Drone War? Report Says 28 Unidentified Victims Killed for Every 1 Target

Wed 07 26 AM

A new report finds U.S. drone strikes kill 28 unidentified people for every intended target. While the Obama administration has claimed its drone strikes are precise, the group Reprieve found that strikes targeting 41 people in Yemen and Pakistan have killed more than 1,000 other, unnamed people. In its attempts to kill al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri alone, the CIA killed 76 children and 29 adults; al-Zawahiri remains alive. We are joined by Jennifer Gibson, staff attorney at Reprieve and author of the new report, "You Never Die Twice: Multiple Kills in the U.S. Drone Program."

United Nations Panel Slams U.S. Record on Police Brutality, Torture, Child Migrants & Guantánamo

Wed 07 09 AM

As protests continue over the police shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, the United States is facing pressure internationally over its failure to put a halt to police brutality. In a new report, the United Nations Committee Against Torture expresses deep concern over the "frequent and recurrent police shootings or fatal pursuits of unarmed black individuals." The Committee also criticizes a number of other U.S. practices on torture and imprisonment, Guantánamo Bay, and the custody of migrants including children in "prison-like detention facilities." We discuss the report’s findings with Dr. Jens Modvig, member of the Committee Against Torture and one of two rapporteurs for its report.

Will Texas Execute a Schizophrenic Man Who Tried to Subpoena Jesus, JFK & the Pope at His Own Trial?

Tue 07 39 AM

We look at the case of a Texas prisoner scheduled to be executed Wednesday despite the wide belief he is mentally ill. Scott Panetti was convicted of killing his wife’s parents in 1992, more than a decade after he was first diagnosed with schizophrenia. His mental health history until that point included hallucinations that prompted his dismissal from the Navy, and 14 hospitalizations for schizophrenia and depression, often under a court order. His previous wife divorced him after he buried their furniture, because he said it was possessed by the devil, and also nailed his curtains shut. Panetti’s murder trial drew headlines when he was allowed to represent himself after dismissing his court-appointed attorney. He dressed as a cowboy in a purple suit and a hat, and the witnesses he tried to subpoena in his defense included John F. Kennedy, the pope and Jesus Christ. At one point, he assumed his alternate personality of "Sarge" and testified in the third person about carrying out the murders. Then in 2007, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that Panetti lacked the understanding of why he was being put to death, and asked a lower court to re-evaluate whether he was sane enough to execute. But the courts accepted the argument from the state’s lawyers that Panetti was faking his illness and reinstated his death sentence. We speak to Panetti’s attorney, Kathryn Kase, and Ron Honberg, national director for policy and legal affairs of the National Alliance on Mental Illness.

Will Obama's Police Reforms Bring Change? Admin Urged to Seize Political Momentum of Ferguson Moment

Tue 07 22 AM

Responding to the protests in Ferguson and cities nationwide, President Obama has announced several new actions: a new task force to come up with concrete steps for "building public trust" in police forces nationwide; a $263 million "community policing initiative," which includes $75 million to provide body cameras for around 50,000 police officers; and an executive order that will tighten rules on the provision of military-grade equipment and weapons to local police forces, such as those used in the crackdown on the Ferguson protests. But in a rejection of activists’ demands, Obama vowed to leave the transfers mostly intact. Obama has also sent Attorney General Eric Holder on a tour of communities nationwide. Holder will soon release new federal guidelines to limit racial profiling, but they will not apply to state or local police agencies, such as in Ferguson. We are joined by James Peterson, director of Africana studies at Lehigh University and the author of "The Hip-Hop Underground and African American Culture: Beneath the Surface."

The Root is Racism in America: Ferguson Activist Speaks Out on Police Abuses After Meeting Obama

Tue 07 11 AM

One week after the grand jury decision in the Michael Brown case, President Obama has given his first major policy response to the protests from Ferguson and beyond over racial profiling and police brutality. At a meeting with activists and officials from around the country, Obama unveiled a process to address what he called "simmering distrust." The administration’s response comes as protests continue nationwide over the non-indictment of former officer Darren Wilson over killing Brown. On Monday, demonstrators walked out of workplaces and classrooms in some 30 cities with their hands raised, the symbol of Brown’s death and the movement that has emerged since. As the "Hands Up Walk Out" took place, some of the movement’s key leaders were not out in the streets but inside the White House. Obama’s guests included seven young activists who have helped organize the protests in Ferguson and in other communities of color. We are joined by one of those activists: Ashley Yates, an activist, poet and artist who is co-creator of Millennial Activists United. "While that is a step towards ending this real problem," Yates says of Obama’s reforms, "the real root of it has to be addressed. And the real root of it is racism in America, the anti-black sentiments that exist. Until we begin to address that, we really can’t have any real change — all we have are these small steps towards justice. We need leaps and bounds."

"A Dark Moment in Egypt's History": Former Dictator Hosni Mubarak Cleared in Death of Protesters

Mon 07 46 AM

Former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak was cleared of ordering the killing of hundreds of protesters during the uprising against his regime almost four years ago. The decision, which came on a technicality, means he will walk free after finishing a prison term on corruption charges, possibly within a few months. The court also cleared Mubarak’s former interior minister, Habib el-Adly, and six aides. Several thousand protesters gathered in Cairo’s Tahrir Square on Saturday to protest the verdict, leading to a crackdown by state forces in which two people died. We are joined by two guests: in Cairo, Democracy Now! correspondent Sharif Abdel Kouddous, and in New York City, Egyptian journalist and human rights activist Hossam Bahgat.

Dehumanizing the Black Lives of America: Michael Eric Dyson on Ferguson, Police Brutality and Race

Mon 07 28 AM

President Obama is planning a day of meetings at the White House today related to the fallout from the killing of Michael Brown and the ensuing protests in Ferguson. Obama will first meet with his Cabinet to discuss the results of a review of federal programs that provide military-style equipment to state and local law enforcement agencies. He has also invited younger civil rights leaders for a meeting to discuss what one official described as the "broader challenges we still face as a nation, including the mistrust between law enforcement and communities of color." Attorney General Eric Holder is heading to Atlanta today to speak at Ebenezer Baptist Church, where Martin Luther King Jr. once preached. We are joined by Michael Eric Dyson, professor of sociology at Georgetown University. Dyson’s op-ed for The New York Times this weekend is "Where Do We Go After Ferguson?" He is also the author of a forthcoming book on President Obama and race.