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: 9 hours 14 min ago

Obama Visits Ethiopia and Kenya, Land of His Father, to Discuss Counterterrorism, Gay Rights, Jobs

Mon 07 41 AM

President Obama arrived Sunday in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, for talks with leaders on counterterrorism efforts against al-Shabab in Somalia, and human rights abuses and looming famine in neighboring South Sudan. His visit marks the first by a sitting U.S. president to Ethiopia, which is home to the African Union, and also to Kenya, his father’s birthplace. In a major speech Sunday in the capital of Nairobi, Obama referred to himself as a "Kenyan American" and joked about critics who said he was there to look for his birth certificate. We go to Nairobi for an update from Aggrey Mutambo, a reporter at the Daily Nation, the principal English-language newspaper in Kenya. He covered Obama’s visit for the paper. We are also joined by Salim Lone, a Kenyan journalist, political adviser and former director of the News and Media Division of the United Nations. From 2005 to 2012, he was the spokesperson for then-Prime Minister Raila Odinga of Kenya.

"Collective Healing" at Nat'l Black Lives Matter Convergence Ends with Police Pepper-Spraying Teen

Mon 07 35 AM

More than a thousand Black Lives Matter supporters converged in Cleveland, Ohio, this weekend for a historic conference to raise national attention about police brutality and other pressing issues, including immigration rights, economic justice and LGBTQ rights. During the opening ceremony, family members of more than 20 African Americans killed by police took to the stage to speak about why they continue to fight for justice. Democracy Now!’s Messiah Rhodes was on the ground in Cleveland, Ohio, and spoke to several conference participants who say it was "a learning space, a healing space, a politicizing space, a radicalizing space." The event ended with a stark reminder of how much work remains to be done. On Sunday, a crowd of participants witnessed a police officer attempting to arrest a 14-year-old boy for alleged intoxication. The Black Lives Matter participants blocked the squad car and tried to get the child out. One of the officers then began pepper-spraying the crowd. The video has since gone viral.

"I Was Almost Another Dead Black Male": Denver Teen Recalls Police Beating After 2009 Traffic Stop

Mon 07 32 AM

We feature a video just released by the oral history project StoryCorps called "Traffic Stop," in which Alex Landau, an African-American man, recalls how he was raised by his adoptive white parents to believe that skin color didn’t matter. But when he was pulled over by Denver police officers in 2009, he lost his belief in a color-blind world when he was nearly beaten to death. Alex and his white adoptive mother, Patsy Hathaway, discuss what happened that night and how it continues to affect him. Landau has since become involved in efforts to curb use of excessive force by police and to foster transparency and accountability by police officers, including the use of body cameras.

Sandra Bland Laid to Rest; First Black Judge in Waller County Demands Sheriff Resign over Her Death

Mon 07 12 AM

Hundreds gathered Saturday to remember Sandra Bland at the suburban Chicago church she attended for decades before moving to Waller County, Texas, where she was set to begin a new job but was then discovered dead in her jail cell after a traffic stop escalated into an arrest. The 28-year-old African-American woman’s family members stood before her open casket as they continued to dispute law enforcement claims she hung herself with the liner of a trashcan. Illinois Senator Dick Durbin and Congressman Bill Foster have sent letters to U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch calling for a federal investigation into Bland’s death. We go to Texas to discuss the history of racial profiling in Waller County, and police relations with the African-American community, with DeWayne Charleston, who served as the first African-American judge in Waller County, Texas. He also responds to how Bland was arrested and the investigation into her death has been handled, and calls on Sheriff Glenn Smith to resign. Charleston is the author of "The United States v. Waller County, Then Me."

"I Don't Believe Sandy Committed Suicide": #BlackLivesMatter Co-Founders Speak Out on Sandra Bland

Fri 07 37 AM

As a Movement for Black Lives Convening is set to take place this weekend in Cleveland, we discuss the case of Sandra Bland and many others who have died in the custody of law enforcement with the three founders of the Black Lives Matter movement. Patrisse Cullors is the director of Truth and Reinvestment at the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights in Oakland, California, and the founder of Dignity and Power Now, a grassroots organization in Los Angeles fighting for the dignity and power of incarcerated people and their families. Alicia Garza is special projects director for the National Domestic Workers Alliance. And Opal Tometi is executive director of the Black Alliance for Just Immigration.

Sandra Bland's Sister Responds to Suicide Allegations, Lawyer Says Waller County Withholding Details

Fri 07 10 AM

Law enforcement officials in Waller County, Texas, have concluded that the cause of Sandra Bland’s death in police custody was suicide. But Bland’s family and friends dispute claims she was suicidal, and say there is no evidence she previously tried to kill herself before her traffic stop escalated into an arrest. We are joined by Sharon Cooper, who is Sandra Bland’s sister. Also with us is Cannon Lambert, the attorney representing Sandra Bland’s family. He says authorities have given the family only "piecemeal information" from the autopsy they conducted, and disputes the relevance of tests showing marijuana in her system. Cooper says Bland should be remembered as "someone who was unapologetically confident — and that’s OK in today’s world — as somebody who was assertive and somebody who truly stood for what she believed in.”

Theodore Bikel Remembered: Fiddler on the Roof Actor and Activist Speaks Out on Israel and Palestine

Thu 07 08 AM

We spend the hour remembering the renowned actor, musician, composer and activist Theodore Bikel, who died Tuesday at the age of 91. Bikel was known for creating the role of Baron von Trapp in "The Sound of Music" on Broadway and for the role of Tevye in "Fiddler on the Roof," which he played more than 2,000 times. He was also a beloved folk singer who co-founded the Newport Folk Festival with Pete Seeger and could accompany himself on guitar, mandolin, balalaika and harmonica. He made more than 20 albums, many of them in Hebrew and Yiddish. But Theodore Bikel, a man so closely identified with Israel and with Jewish life, was also an outspoken critic of Israeli policy, especially a pending measure to forcibly relocate some 40,000 Bedouin Arabs from their ancestral lands. "One thing that is absolutely clear in my mind is that human beings cannot be treated like cattle," Bikel says in a 2014 extended interview. "Human beings must be given the dignity and the respect that all human beings deserve, especially by a people who themselves—Jews—have experienced such deprivation in the past."

#SayHerName: Protests Demand Justice for Sandra Bland & Black Teen Found Dead in Jail 1 Day Later

Thu 07 06 AM

In Texas, new information has emerged about the arrest of Sandra Bland, the 28-year-old African-American woman found dead in a jail cell in what authorities claim was a suicide by hanging. Bland was stopped for not signaling a lane change. Dash cam video shows Texas State Trooper Brian Encinia forced her from her car, threatening to "light [her] up," after she failed to put out her cigarette. Now, Waller County Sheriff Glenn Smith says Bland told jailers she had previously attempted suicide. But an attorney for Bland’s family said relatives have no evidence of a prior suicide attempt. A local ABC station meanwhile obtained a voicemail Bland left for a friend while in jail. Video of Bland’s arrest shows her accusing police of slamming her head into the ground and saying, "I can’t even hear." Texas authorities have denied claims the 52-minute police dash cam video they released was edited, telling Mother Jones the apparent glitches in the video resulted from a YouTube upload error. Meanwhile, hundreds gathered in New York to honor Sandra Bland and highlight the case of Kindra Chapman, an 18-year-old African-American woman found dead in an Alabama jail cell one day after Sandra Bland was found dead. Protesters also honored India Clarke, the 10th transgender woman murdered so far this year. Tune in Friday when we will speak with Bland’s family and their attorney.

"Between the World and Me": Ta-Nehisi Coates Extended Interview on Being Black in America

Wed 07 16 AM

We spend the hour with Ta-Nehisi Coates, author of "Between the World and Me," an explosive new book about white supremacy and being black in America. The book begins, "Here is what I would like for you to know: In America, it is traditional to destroy the black body—it is heritage." It is written as a letter to his 15-year-old son, Samori, and is a combination of memoir, history and analysis. Its publication comes amidst the shooting of nine African-American churchgoers by an avowed white supremacist in Charleston; the horrifying death of Sandra Bland, a 28-year-old African-American woman in Texas who was pulled over for not signaling a lane change; and the first anniversary of the police killings of Eric Garner in Staten Island and Michael Brown in Ferguson. Coates talks about how he was influenced by freed political prisoner Marshall "Eddie" Conway and writer James Baldwin, and responds to critics of his book, including Cornel West and New York Times columnist David Brooks. Coates is a national correspondent at The Atlantic, where he writes about culture, politics, and social issues.

Juan González: Ride-Sharing Service Uber "Using Any Means Necessary" to Stop Regulation Attempts

Wed 07 14 AM

As the fight over the $40 billion ride-sharing service Uber is about to climax in New York City with a pending vote to cap temporarily Uber’s rapid expansion, Democracy Now! co-host Juan González discusses how the company is determined to fight any limits. Cab drivers in New York say Uber’s model of part-time drivers threatens full-time professional drivers and lowers wages for all drivers. González notes the company has faced major conflicts in 40 locations around the world, including in France, where cab drivers rioted and burned Uber cars, prompting the government to declare the company’s operation illegal.

"I Will Light You Up!": New Dash Cam Video Shows Arrest of Sandra Bland, Found Dead in Texas Jail

Wed 07 10 AM

In Texas, authorities have released police dashboard camera footage that shows the arrest of Sandra Bland, a 28-year-old African-American woman who was found dead in a jail cell in Waller County, Texas, last week after a traffic stop for not signaling a lane change. Authorities have said her death was a suicide, a claim that her friends and family have disputed. The arrest video shows Trooper Brian Encinia threatening to "light [Bland] up" after she questions his order for her to put out her cigarette while she was smoking in her own car. Previously released footage shot by a bystander shows Bland accusing police of slamming her head into the ground and saying, "I can’t even hear." Texas state Senator Royce West told reporters that the newly released dash cam footage shows that Bland should never have been arrested in the first place.

"Africa's Pinochet": Former U.S.-Backed Chadian Dictator Hissène Habré Faces War Crimes Trial

Tue 07 43 AM

In news from Africa, the trial of Hissène Habré, the former dictator of Chad, began in Senegal on Monday but took an unexpected turn today when it was postponed 45 days after Habré’s attorneys did not show for the trial. Hissène Habré is a former U.S. ally who has been described as "Africa’s Pinochet." He is accused of killing as many as 40,000 people during his eight years in power in the 1980s. Habré is being tried in a special court established after a two-decade-long campaign led by his victims. In a statement today about the postponed trial, attorney Reed Brody of Human Rights Watch said, "The victims are of course very disappointed, but they have been fighting to bring this case to court for 25 years, and 45 days will not change anything in the long march towards justice." Democracy Now! recently spoke to Reed Brody here in New York before he left for Senegal for the trail. He has worked with victims of Hissène Habré’s regime since 1999.

Is the Era of U.S.-Backed Anti-Castro Terrorism Over? Reflections on Restored Ties Between Nations

Tue 07 25 AM

Hundreds of dignitaries from Cuba and the United States gathered in Washington on Monday to mark the reopening of the Cuban Embassy after being closed for more than five decades. We speak to Congressmembers Raúl Grijalva and Barbara Lee; actor Danny Glover; former U.S. diplomat Wayne Smith; attorneys Michael Smith and Michael Ratner, who co-authored "Who Killed Che?: How the CIA Got Away with Murder"; Phyllis Bennis and James Early of the Institute for Policy Studies; and others.

Secret Talks & Sperm Deals: Sen. Patrick Leahy Details Back Story to Renewed U.S.-Cuban Ties

Tue 07 15 AM

Senator Patrick Leahy of Vermont also attended Monday’s opening of the Cuban Embassy in Washington, D.C. He played a pivotal role in the secret negotiations between the United States and Cuba, and helped with the release of the Cuban Five. Leahy made headlines last year when it was revealed that Leahy helped the wife of one of the members of the Cuban Five become pregnant. Gerardo Hernández, the baby’s father, is one of the three former Cuban intelligence agents released in December as part of a prisoner swap amidst thawing ties with Cuba. While he was not allowed conjugal visits, Hernández was able to impregnate his wife by having his frozen sperm transferred to her in Panama, a process authorized by U.S. officials, funded by the Cuban government and facilitated by a staffer for Leahy. We speak to Leahy and his wife, Marcelle, at the Cuban Embassy.

A Victory for the People in Havana: Former Cuban Parliamentary Speaker Hails Restoration of Ties

Tue 07 08 AM

Hundreds of dignitaries from Cuba and the United States gathered outside the Cuban Embassy in Washington, D.C., to mark the historic restoration of diplomatic ties between the two countries after 54 years. Crowds of people cheered as the Cuban national anthem played and three Cuban soldiers stood at attention while the flag was raised. Bruno Rodríguez became the first Cuban foreign minister to visit Washington since the time of the Cuban revolution. Later in the day, he met with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry at the State Department. The U.S. Embassy in Havana also became fully operational Monday but will not host a flag-raising ceremony until August 14, when Kerry will pay a visit to the capital. Earlier Monday, Cuba’s flag was raised at the State Department, joining the flags of more than 150 other countries that have diplomatic relations with the United States. Democracy Now! spoke with Ricardo Alarcón, former speaker of the Cuban National Assembly.