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: 5 hours 12 min ago

Exclusive: WikiLeaks Editor Sarah Harrison on Helping Edward Snowden, Being Forced to Live in Exile

Tue 07 25 AM

In the latest revelations from documents leaked by National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden, The Washington Post has revealed the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court secretly gave the National Security Agency sweeping power to intercept information "concerning" all but four countries around the world. A classified 2010 document lists 193 countries that would be of valid interest for U.S. intelligence. Only four were protected from NSA spying — Britain, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. The NSA was also given permission to gather intelligence about the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, the European Union and the International Atomic Energy Agency. As we broadcast from Bonn, Germany, we are joined by Sarah Harrison, investigative editor of WikiLeaks, who accompanied Snowden on his flight from Hong Kong to Moscow last June. She now lives in exile in Germany because she fears being prosecuted if she returns to her home country, the United Kingdom. Harrison describes why she chose to support Snowden, ultimately spending 39 days with him in the transit zone of an airport in Moscow, then assisting him in his legal application to 21 countries for asylum, and remaining with him for about three more months after Russia granted him temporary asylum. She has since founded the Courage Foundation. "For future Snowdens, we want to show there is an organization that will do what we did for Snowden — as much as possible — in raising money for legal defense and public advocacy for whistleblowers so they know if they come forward there is a support group for them," Harrison says.

"It's a Basic Healthcare Issue": Planned Parenthood's Cecile Richards Reacts to Birth Control Ruling

Tue 07 12 AM

In a closely watched case, the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled most private companies that claim religious objections can refuse to provide birth control in their employee health plans as required by the Affordable Care Act. In a 5-to-4 ruling opposed by all three women on the court, the justices ruled that requiring "closely held corporations" to pay for contraception violates a federal law protecting religious freedom. About 90 percent of U.S. businesses are considered "closely held corporations." The ruling concerned two companies, Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood, which objected to certain methods of birth control on religious grounds, claiming they are akin to abortion, despite scientific consensus to the contrary. Critics say the ruling allows discrimination against women, 99 percent of whom will use birth control at some point in their lives. "For women, this is not a controversial issue. It is a basic healthcare issue. It is an economic issue," says Cecile Richards, president of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America and the Planned Parenthood Action Fund. "The only controversy is why in the world, in 2014, are we still fighting to get birth control covered by insurance plans?"

Egyptian Comedian Bassem Youssef Says His Satire Has Inspired Youth to Reject Military Propaganda

Mon 07 51 AM

In a development many are linking to the Egyptian regime’s crackdown on dissent, Egypt’s most popular satirist announced this month that he was taking his program off the air. Bassem Youssef’s broadcast had been compared to Jon Stewart’s "The Daily Show" for its comedic take on politics in Egypt and the Middle East. The show was incredibly popular — reaching as many as 30 million views per episode. Youssef said he was ending his program rather than face censorship and threats on his life. Yousef was vague on the pressure he has faced, but suggested the military regime has made it impossible for him to continue. Speaking at the Deutsche Welle Global Media Forum, Youssef said his decision to suspend the show could be seen as a new beginning. "We have inspired a whole generation to go out there and express themselves in their own way," Youssef says. "Satire and comedy might be one of the few antidotes against fear. It liberates your mind. It sets your judgment free. That is why it is a threat."

Al Jazeera News Director: Prison Terms for Journalists in Egypt are Chilling Start to Sisi Era

Mon 07 42 AM

It was six months ago Sunday when Egyptian authorities raided a hotel room in Cairo used by reporters at the global TV network Al Jazeera. The journalists Peter Greste, Mohamed Fahmy and Baher Mohamed were arrested December 29, and they have been held in jail ever since. Last week they were sentenced to between seven and 10 years in prison for allegedly "spreading false news" in support of the Muslim Brotherhood, deemed by the government a "terrorist group." The sentence has shocked journalists and supporters of press freedom around the world. And the Al Jazeera reporters are not alone. According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, Egypt is currently holding at least 11 other journalists in prison. We are joined by Salah Negm, director of news at Al Jazeera English. "We were reporting in Egypt objectively and accurately," Negm says. "Throughout the trial there was not one piece of evidence against them of falsifying information or supporting any group which is outlawed. That was all false. The sentence came as a real shock."

Snowden Asylum in Germany? Support Grows for NSA Whistleblower After Merkel Cancels Verizon Contract

Mon 07 12 AM

Revelations by Edward Snowden about U.S. surveillance continue to shake Germany more than one year after he came forward as an National Security Agency whistleblower. Reports based on Snowden’s leaks revealed vast NSA spying in Germany, including on Chancellor Angela Merkel’s cellphone. Last week the German government canceled its contract with the U.S. telecommunications firm Verizon. Verizon has been providing network infrastructure for the German government’s Berlin-Bonn network, used for communication between government ministries, since 2010. Meanwhile, the German Parliament is continuing to conduct an inquiry into spying by the NSA and German secret services. Some German lawmakers are calling on Merkel’s government to grant Snowden asylum. We are joined by Snowden’s European lawyer, Wolfgang Kaleck, founder and general secretary for the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights.

"Counter-Revolution of 1776": Was U.S. Independence War a Conservative Revolt in Favor of Slavery?

Fri 07 37 AM

As the United States prepares to celebrate Independence Day, we look at why July 4 is not a cause for celebration for all. For Native Americans, it may be a bitter reminder of colonialism, which brought fatal diseases, cultural hegemony and genocide. Neither did the new republic’s promise of "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness" extend to African Americans. The colonists who declared their freedom from England did not share their newly founded liberation with the millions of Africans they had captured and forced into slavery. We speak with historian Gerald Horne, who argues the so-called Revolutionary War was actually a conservative effort by American colonists to protect their system of slavery. He is the author of two new books: "The Counter-Revolution of 1776: Slave Resistance and the Origins of the United States of America" and "Race to Revolution: The U.S. and Cuba During Slavery and Jim Crow." Horne is professor of history and African American studies at the University of Houston.

Journalist Allan Nairn Threatened for Exposing Indonesian Pres. Candidate's Role in Mass Killings

Fri 07 16 AM

A former military strongman is running for president in Indonesia. The U.S.-trained Prabowo Subianto has been accused of extensive human rights abuses that took place in the 1990s when he was head of the country’s special forces. He was dismissed from the army in 1998 following accusations he was complicit in the abduction and torture of activists during political unrest in Jakarta that led to the ouster of longtime dictator Suharto. We go to Indonesia to speak with journalist and activist Allan Nairn, who is there to reveal the former general’s role in mass killings of civilians. In a new article that has caused an uproar in the county and prompted death threats, Nairn quotes from a 2001 interview he conducted with Prabowo, who said then, "You don’t massacre civilians in front of the world press. … Indonesia is not ready for democracy." He argued Indonesia needed "a benign authoritarian regime,” and added, "Do I have the guts? Am I ready to be called a fascist dictator?" This coincides with outrage over the release of a music video made by Prabowo supporters showing them in Nazi-like uniforms.

New York City Approves Municipal ID Cards for Undocumented Immigrants

Fri 07 13 AM

The New York City Council has approved the use of municipal identification cards that will provide its nearly half a million undocumented residents with a way to prove their identity. Democracy Now! co-host and New York Daily News columnist Juan González says the progressive initiative is a big step forward for the immigrant community. He also discusses one of the Democrats’ most closely watched races. This week, 84-year-old Rep. Charles Rangel of New York declared victory over State Sen. Adriano Espaillat in a rematch of their 2012 primary, and secured his 23rd term in office.

50 Years After Freedom Summer, U.S. Faces Greatest Curbs on Voting Rights Since Reconstruction

Thu 07 50 AM

In a week marking the 50th anniversary of Freedom Summer, Mississippi was in the news when African-American voters crossed party lines to help Republican Sen. Thad Cochran narrowly defeat a tea party challenger to win his party’s nomination. It was just a year ago that Cochran praised a Supreme Court decision that gutted the heart of the Voting Rights Act. We are joined by three guests: Jerry Mitchell, investigative reporter for The Clarion-Ledger in Jackson, Mississippi, whose work helped put four Klansmen behind bars, including the man who orchestrated the Klan’s 1964 killings of three civil rights activists; Ari Berman, who covers voting rights for The Nation, author of a forthcoming book to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act; and David Goodman, brother of slain civil rights activist Andrew Goodman.

Mississippi Burning at 50: Relatives of Civil Rights Workers Look Back at Murders that Shaped an Era

Thu 07 26 AM

This week marks the 50th anniversary of the murders of three young civil rights workers who traveled to Mississippi for Freedom Summer, the historic campaign to register African-American voters. On June 21, 1964, James Chaney, Andy Goodman and Michael Schwerner went missing after they visited a church in Neshoba County, Mississippi, which the Ku Klux Klan had bombed because it was going to be used as a Freedom School. Forty-four days after the trio’s disappearance, FBI agents found their bodies buried in an earthen dam. During the six-week search, the bodies of nine black men were also dredged out of local swamps. The murders in Mississippi outraged the nation and propelled the passage of the Voting Rights Act in 1965. We are joined by family members of two of the victims: Rev. Julia Chaney-Moss, who was 17 years old when her brother was killed; Angela Lewis, Chaney’s daughter, born just 10 days before his death; and David Goodman, president of the Andrew Goodman Foundation, named after his brother.

Supreme Court Says Warrants Needed to Search Cellphones, But are "Stingrays" a Police Workaround?

Thu 07 13 AM

The Supreme Court delivered a resounding victory for privacy rights in the age of smartphones Wednesday when it ruled unanimously that police must obtain a warrant before searching the cellphones of people they arrest. The ruling likely applies to other electronic devices, such as laptop computers, which, like cellphones, can store vast troves of information about a person’s private life. The ruling makes no reference to the National Security Agency and its vast web of cellphone spying. But some NSA critics say it signals a greater understanding by the court of today’s technology and its implications for privacy. We get reaction to the ruling from Nathan Freed Wessler, staff attorney with the Speech, Privacy, and Technology Project at the American Civil Liberties Union. He also discusses police use of "Stingray" spy devices, which mimic cell towers and intercept data from all cellphones in a certain radius.

50 Years After U.S. Launched Secret War on Laos, Unexploded Bombs Still Killing Civilians

Wed 07 45 AM

Fifty years ago this month, the United States began raining down bombs on Laos, in what would become the largest bombing campaign in history. From June 1964 to March 1973, the United States dropped at least two million tons of bombs on the small, landlocked Southeast Asian country. That is the equivalent of one planeload every eight minutes, 24 hours a day, for nine years — more than was dropped on Germany and Japan during World War II. The deadly legacy of the Vietnam War lives on today in the form of unexploded cluster bombs, which had about a 30 percent failure rate when they fell from American planes over large swaths of Laos. Experts estimate that Laos is littered with as many as 80 million "bombies," or bomblets — baseball-sized bombs found inside cluster bombs. Since the bombing stopped four decades ago, tens of thousands of people have been injured or killed as a result. We are joined by Karen Coates and Jerry Redfern, co-authors of "Eternal Harvest: The Legacy of American Bombs in Laos."

"Trans Healthcare Now!" Lawsuit Seeks End to Healthcare Discrimination for Transgender New Yorkers

Wed 07 32 AM

In New York, and in most other states, a transgender person with Medicaid cannot obtain coverage for hormone therapy, which non-transgender women routinely obtain in the form of birth control. The Sylvia Rivera Law Project and other groups have filed a lawsuit challenging a 1998 regulation which prevents Medicaid recipients in New York from accessing sex reassignment surgery, hormones and other forms of care. The lawsuit follows a number of recent victories for transgender healthcare. Last month, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services overturned Medicare’s blanket ban on sex reassignment surgery, meaning recipients of Medicare will no longer have their claims for coverage of surgery automatically denied. Just last week, Massachusetts became the third state in the country to cover transgender healthcare under Medicaid. All this comes as activists prepare to mark the 45th anniversary of the Stonewall uprising in New York City on June 28, 1969, a seminal event that helped launch the modern LGBT movement. We speak with Pooja Gehi, staff attorney at the Sylvia Rivera Law Project, which filed the class-action lawsuit over Medicaid coverage in New York, and Angie Milan-Cruz, a plaintiff in the lawsuit.

#FreeAJStaff: Al Jazeera Reporter Sentenced in Absentia Decries Egypt's Imprisonment of 3 Colleagues

Wed 07 10 AM

Protests are continuing across the globe calling for Egypt to release three Al Jazeera journalists sentenced to between seven and 10 years in prison. Peter Greste, Mohamed Fahmy and Baher Mohamed were convicted on Monday of "spreading false news" in support of the Muslim Brotherhood, deemed by the government a "terrorist group." The sentencing came down one day after Secretary of State John Kerry visited Cairo to meet with Egypt’s new president, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, and herald the resumption of stalled U.S. military aid. According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, Egypt is holding at least 11 other journalists in prison, placing Egypt among the world’s worst repressors of media freedom. We are joined by Al Jazeera correspondent Sue Turton, who was among nine journalists sentenced in absentia to 10 years in prison during the same trial. We also hear from PBS NewsHour chief foreign correspondent Margaret Warner on how Fahmy saved her life.