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 6 min ago

Exclusive: Chilean Robin Hood? Artist Known as "Papas Fritas" on Burning $500M Worth of Student Debt

Fri 07 37 AM

You may know the adventures of Robin Hood and Zorro, outlaws fighting for the poor. Today we meet the newest member of that club, a Chilean activist who goes by the name Papas Fritas. Francisco Tapia, known as Francisco "Papas Fritas," or French fries, says he burned $500 million worth of debt papers from the private Universidad del Mar. Chilean authorities are in the process of shutting down the university over financial irregularities. But that has not stopped the school from collecting on its student loans. During a recent student takeover of the school, Papas Fritas says he took the debt paper records, burned them and displayed the ashes inside a van as an art exhibition. "It is a concrete fact that the papers were burned. They are gone, burned completely, and there’s no debt," said Papas Fritas in his first U.S. broadcast interview. "Since these papers don’t exist anymore, there’s no way to charge the students."

As Washington Focuses on Another Benghazi Probe, Could a Civil War Be Brewing in Libya?

Fri 07 10 AM

While Congress is beginning its ninth investigation into the deadly 2012 attack in Benghazi, Libya may be confronting its worst crisis since the NATO intervention that ousted Col. Muammar Gaddafi in 2011. Fear is growing of an all-out war between militias aligned with the Islamist-dominated Parliament and forces led by a former general named Khalifa Haftar, who was reportedly once trained by the CIA. Haftar has accused the government of fostering terrorism and is calling for an emergency administration to oversee elections next month. Haftar, a former general under Gaddafi, says he wants to rid Libya of Islamists and led an assault against militant groups in Benghazi last Friday. On Sunday, forces allied to him took control of Libya’s Parliament building in the capital, Tripoli. At least 100 people have died since the fighting broke out last week. We speak to Mary Fitzgerald, a journalist based in Libya, and Sharif Abdel Kouddous, independent journalist and Democracy Now! correspondent reporting from Tripoli.

A Matter of Life and Death: Veterans Affairs Head Grilled over Delays in Care for Returning Soldiers

Fri 07 46 AM

After news that dozens of U.S. veterans died during long waits for medical treatment, Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki testified Thursday before a Senate committee about treatment delays and cover-ups at VA medical centers. The committee grilled him about recent claims that VA health clinics in Phoenix, Arizona, and Fort Collins, Colorado, used elaborate schemes to hide records of patients who waited too long for care, and suggested the problems may lead to a criminal investigation. We get reaction from Aaron Glantz, who covers veterans and domestic military issues for the Center for Investigative Reporting. We also speak with a VA whistleblower who says he was removed from his position as chief of psychiatry at a VA hospital in St. Louis after reporting unethical workplace conduct. Dr. Jose Mathews says he was demoted to the hospital’s basement where he now works on compensation and pension exams. He is joined by his attorney Ariel Solomon.

"Pushy": As NY Times Fires 1st Woman Exec. Editor, Decades-Long Bid for Newsroom Equality Continues

Fri 07 29 AM

We look at the firing of Jill Abramson, the first female executive editor of The New York Times in its 160-year history, who had reportedly complained about earning less pay than her male predecessors. This apparently amplified unattributed characterizations that Abramson’s management style was "brusque" and "pushy," which critics took issue with since similar behavior from men in similar roles is often accepted, and even encouraged. "Jill put many, many women in top positions and was a role model for the younger women and all women at The New York Times," says our guest Lynn Povich, who was the first female senior editor in Newsweek’s history. "We know how upset they are to see the way in which she was dismissed." Povich also discusses the status of women in the media, which she helped shape when she led a lawsuit in 1970 against Newsweek for hiring women only as researchers, and rarely promoting them to reporter or editor. Following a victory in the case, women working at Time, Reader’s Digest, The New York Times, NBC and the Associated Press also sued their employers. Povich recounts the story in her book, "The Good Girls Revolt: How the Women of Newsweek Sued Their Bosses and Changed the Workplace." Since leaving Newsweek in 1991, she has been editor-in-chief of Working Woman magazine and managing editor/senior executive producer for MSNBC.com.

India Elects Hard-Right Hindu Nationalist as New Indian Prime Minister Backed by Corporate Interests

Fri 07 11 AM

Early results from the largest election in the world show India’s opposition leader Narendra Modi has won a landslide victory to become the country’s new prime minister. Modi is the leader of the BJP, a Hindu nationalist party. "This is the result that the corporations in India wanted," says Siddhartha Deb, Indian author and journalist, noting that Modi "is very a pro-development politician, which basically means pro-business." Deb adds that Modi served as the chief minister of Gujarat, where anti-Muslim riots in 2002 left at least a thousand people dead. After the bloodshed, the U.S. State Department revoked Modi’s visa. Modi has never apologized for or explained his actions at the time of the riots. Deb’s recent article in The Guardian is "India’s Dynasty-Dominated Politics Has No Space for Dissent" and his nonfiction book is "The Beautiful and the Damned: A Portrait of the New India."

Walmart & Contractor Settle $21M Wage Theft Suit, Days After Obama Praises Penny-Pinching Retailer

Thu 07 50 AM

Just days after President Obama praised Wal-Mart’s business practices in a speech at one of its California stores, more than 1,800 warehouse workers in the state have settled a major wage theft lawsuit against one of the retail giant’s largest contractors. On Wednesday, workers at three California warehouses used by Wal-Mart agreed to settle a wage theft lawsuit by accepting a $21 million settlement. The workers had sued Wal-Mart and Schneider Logistics, an outside company that owned and ran the warehouses. Schneider will pay the entire settlement. The lawsuit alleged that workers were often paid less than minimum wage, with no required breaks or overtime compensation. We speak with attorney Theresa Traber, who represented the warehouse workers, and Demos policy analyst Catherine Ruetschlin.

Fast-Food CEOs Oppose Worker Raises Despite Making 1,200 Times More Than Average Employee

Thu 07 39 AM

Thousands of fast-food workers in the United States and around the world are staging a one-day strike today to demand a livable wage. A recent report found fast-food CEOs make 1,200 times as much money as the average fast-food worker, a disparity that maximizes short-term profit while harming worker security and the overall economy. We are joined by the report’s author, Catherine Ruetschlin, a policy analyst at Demos; and by Terrance Wise, who has worked at Burger King for nine years and is striking today in Kansas City, his fourth such action since last August.

"We Have to Stop This Inequality": Fast-Food Worker Strike Spreads to Dozens of Cities

Thu 07 34 AM

In a historic move, thousands of fast-food workers are staging a one-day-strike today in least 150 cities including St. Louis, Kansas City, Milwaukee, Oakland, Detroit, Chicago, Los Angeles and New York. Organizers with Fast Food Forward say workers from 80 cities in more than 30 countries around the world will also join the day of action. The workers are demanding the right to organize and are calling for a doubling of their wages from the current minimum wage of $7.25 an hour to $15 an hour. We hear voices from a protest in New York City outside a McDonald’s across the street from the Empire State Building.

Debate: As FCC Votes on Internet's Future, What's the Best Way to Protect Net Neutrality?

Thu 07 12 AM

The Federal Communications Commission is voting today on new rules that may effectively abandon net neutrality, the concept of a free and open Internet. The FCC proposal would let Internet providers charge media companies extra fees to receive preferential treatment, such as faster speeds for their products and content. Under previous regulations struck down earlier this year, providers were forced to provide all content at equal speeds. Just steps from the vote, demonstrators have set up an "Occupy the FCC" encampment calling for federal regulators to reclassify broadband service as a public utility, which would allow for the requirement of net neutrality rules. The CEOs of 28 U.S. broadband providers and trade groups have asked the FCC not to classify broadband as a utility, arguing that regulating broadband would "impose great costs, allowing unprecedented government micromanagement of all aspects of the Internet economy." We host a debate on net neutrality with two guests: Timothy Karr of the media reform group Free Press, who backs greater regulation, and Joshua Steimle, a tech entrepreneur who argues the government should not be entrusted with regulating the Internet.

Glenn Greenwald: U.S. Corporate Media is "Neutered, Impotent and Obsolete"

Wed 07 47 AM

In the final part of our extended interview, Glenn Greenwald reflects on the Pulitzer Prize, adversarial journalism and the corporate media’s response to his reporting on Edward Snowden’s leaked National Security Agency documents. "We knew that once we started publishing not one or two stories, but dozens of stories … that not just the government, but even fellow journalists were going to start to look at what we were doing with increasing levels of hostility and to start to say, 'This doesn't actually seem like journalism anymore,’ because it’s not the kind of journalism that they do," Greenwald says. "It doesn’t abide by these unspoken rules that are designed to protect the government."

"Right Out of a Spy Movie": Glenn Greenwald on First Secret Meeting with NSA Leaker Edward Snowden

Wed 07 11 AM

In part two of our extended interview, journalist Glenn Greenwald tells the inside story of meeting National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden. Greenwald and filmmaker Laura Poitras were the journalists who first met Snowden in Hong Kong last June, going on to publish a series of disclosures that exposed massive NSA surveillance to the world. Greenwald has just come out with a new book on the Snowden leaks and their fallout, "No Place to Hide: Edward Snowden, the NSA, and the U.S. Surveillance State." Recalling his first encounter with Snowden, Greenwald says: "The big question was: How are we going to know that it’s you? We know nothing about you. We don’t know how old you are, what you look like or what your race is or even your gender. And he said, ’You’ll know me because I’ll be holding in my left hand a Rubik’s cube.’ And so, he walked in, was holding a Rubik’s cube, came over to us, introduced himself, and that was how we met him."

"The Stuff I Saw Really Began to Disturb Me": How the U.S. Drone War Pushed Snowden to Leak NSA Docs

Tue 07 36 AM

In his new book, "No Place to Hide," journalist Glenn Greenwald provides new details on Edward Snowden’s personal story and his motivation to expose the U.S. surveillance state. "The stuff I saw really began to disturb me. I could watch drones in real time as they surveilled the people they might kill," Snowden told Greenwald about his time as a National Security Agency contractor. "You could watch entire villages and see what everyone was doing. I watched NSA tracking people’s Internet activities as they typed. I became aware of just how invasive U.S. surveillance capabilities had become. I realized the true breadth of this system. And almost nobody knew it was happening."

Greenwald joins us in studio to describe the inside story of the man behind the NSA leaks. "The fact that this individual with no power was knowingly risking everything in his life for a political cause, and really ended up changing the world, I think is a remarkable lesson for everybody," Greenwald says. "It’s certainly something that’s inspired me and has shaped how I think about things — and probably will for the rest of my life."

"Collect It All": Glenn Greenwald on NSA Bugging Tech Hardware, Economic Espionage & Spying on U.N.

Tue 07 10 AM

Nearly a year after he first met Edward Snowden, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Glenn Greenwald continues to unveil new secrets about the National Security Agency and the surveillance state. His new book, "No Place to Hide: Edward Snowden, the NSA, and the U.S. Surveillance State," is being published today. It includes dozens of previously secret NSA documents, including new details on how the NSA routinely intercepts routers, servers and other computer hardware devices being exported from the United States. According to leaked documents published in the book, the NSA then implants backdoor surveillance tools, repackages the devices with a factory seal and sends them on. This gives the NSA access to entire networks and all their users. The book includes one previously secret NSA file that shows a photo of an agent opening a box marked CISCO. Below it reads a caption: "Intercepted packages are opened carefully." Another memo observes that some signals intelligence tradecraft is "very hands-on (literally!)."

Greenwald joins us in the studio to talk about this and other new revelations about the NSA, including its global economic espionage, spying at the United Nations, and attempting to monitor in-flight Internet users and phone calls. For his reporting on the NSA, Greenwald recently won a George Polk Award and was part of the team from The Guardian that just won the Pulitzer Prize in Public Service.

"Once people understood that this extraordinary system of suspicionless surveillance, which was truly unprecedented in scope, had been created completely in the dark, it became more than a surveillance story," Greenwald says. "It became a story about government secrecy and accountability and the role of journalism, and certainly privacy and surveillance in the digital age."

With First Images Since Kidnapping, Boko Haram Offers to Swap Nigerian Schoolgirls for Prisoners

Mon 07 56 AM

The Boko Haram has released a video showing the first images of the kidnapped Nigerian schoolgirls since their abduction nearly one month ago. Close to half of the nearly 300 girls are seen on the tape, chanting what appears to be a verse from the Qur’an. The Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau appears to offer the girls’ freedom in exchange for the Nigerian government’s release of all the group’s prisoners. We speak with Nigerian journalist Omoyele Sowore, publisher of the online news site Sahara Reporters.

Did CIA's Fake Polio Vaccination Program in Pakistan Help Fuel a Global Health Emergency?

Mon 07 40 AM

The World Health Organization has designated the spread of polio in Asia, Africa and the Middle East a global public health emergency requiring a coordinated "international response." Three countries pose the greatest risk of further spreading the paralyzing virus: Pakistan, Cameroon and Syria. In an unusual step, the WHO recommended all residents of those countries, of all ages, to be vaccinated before traveling abroad. The organization also said another seven countries — Afghanistan, Equatorial Guinea, Ethiopia, Iraq, Israel, Nigeria and Somalia — should "encourage" all their would-be travelers to get vaccinated. Until recently, polio had been nearly eradicated thanks to a 25-year campaign that vaccinated billions of children. In Pakistan, the increase in polio is being linked to a secret CIA ploy used in the hunt for Osama bin Laden. With the help of a Pakistani doctor, the CIA set up a fake vaccination campaign in the city of Abbottabad in an effort to get DNA from the bin Laden family. The Taliban subsequently announced a ban on immunization efforts and launched a string of deadly attacks on medical workers. We are joined by two guests: Rafia Zakaria, a columnist for Dawn, Pakistan’s largest English newspaper, who has been covering the rise of polio in Pakistan since the bin Laden raid; and one of Pakistan’s leading polio experts, Dr. Zulfiqar Bhutta.