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.
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"The Last Magazine": One Year After Death, Michael Hastings' Lost Novel Satirizes Corporate Media

Tue 07 47 AM

June 17 marks the first anniversary of the death of investigative journalist Michael Hastings. Just 33 years old, Hastings died in a car crash at a time when he was considered of one of the country’s most daring young reporters. His dispatches from Iraq and Afghanistan unveiled the hidden realities of war. His 2010 Rolling Stone article on General Stanley McChrystal, the U.S. commander in Afghanistan, sparked a political controversy after McChrystal and his aides were quoted making disparaging remarks about top administration officials. The article exposed longstanding government discord over the Afghan War’s direction and led to McChrystal’s firing. One year after his death, Hastings’ reporting has made waves once again. In 2012, Hastings wrote a major investigation for Rolling Stone on the American prisoner of war, Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl. At the time, Hastings thought it was the most important story of his career. But it only recently earned widespread attention after Bergdahl’s release for five Taliban members sparked a political firestorm. In his report, Hastings revealed Bergdahl was profoundly disillusioned with the Afghan War and may have walked away from his base as a result. With Bergdahl still silent as he recovers from five years in Taliban captivity, Hastings’ article remains the definitive account of the young soldier’s story. Today, another major work from Hastings is upon us: "The Last Magazine," a posthumous novel and scathing satire of the corporate news media based on Hastings’ time at Newsweek. We are joined by Hastings’ widow, Elise Jordan, who brought the book to life after coming across the manuscript following her husband’s death.

50 Years Later, How a New Freedom Summer Could Mobilize the South's Disenfranchised People of Color

Tue 07 31 AM

This month marks the 50th anniversary of Freedom Summer. In June 1964, more than 1,000 out-of-state volunteers traveled to Mississippi to help register African-American voters and set up "freedom schools." Activists risked their lives to help actualize the promise of America’s democracy: the right for everyone to vote. Out of Freedom Summer grew the formation of the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party that challenged the legitimacy of the white-only Mississippi Democratic Party at the 1964 Democratic National Convention. Half a century after Freedom Summer, a new report suggests much work remains to be done. According to the report, people of color continue to be locked out of statewide politics, and people of color candidates rarely get elected to statewide office. The report features state-by-state graphics that demonstrate how a targeted wave of voter registration among people of color voters could shift the balance of power in key Southern states. The report, "True South: Voters of Color in the Black Belt 50 Years After Freedom Summer," was just released by the Southern Elections Foundation and the Center for American Progress. We are joined by the report’s author, Benjamin Jealous, a partner at Kapor Capital and a senior fellow the Center for American Progress.

Juan Cole: Mass Sunni Uprising Forces Iraq to Confront Sectarian Blowback of 2003 U.S. Invasion

Tue 07 10 AM

As the United States briefly holds talks with Iran over the crisis in Iraq, President Obama has announced the deployment of 275 U.S. military personnel to protect U.S. personnel and facilities in Baghdad. The Obama administration is reportedly weighing other options in Iraq, including drone strikes and the deployment of special forces to train Iraqi troops. This comes as Sunni militants have launched a new offensive against the city of Baquba less than 40 miles from Baghdad. We speak to University of Michigan professor Juan Cole, author of several books, including the forthcoming "The New Arabs: How the Millennial Generation Is Changing the Middle East."

Image Credit: Reuters

Dave Zirin on the World Cup You Won't See on TV: Protests, Tear Gas, Displaced Favela Residents

Mon 07 41 AM

The 2014 World Cup in Brazil is entering its fifth day. The United States will play its first game of the tournament today against Ghana. Meanwhile, protests are continuing on the streets of Brazil. Many Brazilians have expressed fury over Brazil spending an estimated $11 billion to host the cup while the country’s hospitals and schools remain woefully underfunded. In a video taken by the Associated Press on Sunday, a police officer can be seen firing what appears to be a live pistol round at anti-World Cup protesters near Rio de Janeiro’s Maracanã soccer stadium. Police have reportedly also used tear gas, rubber bullets and noise bombs to disperse demonstrators. We go to Rio to speak with sportswriter Dave Zirin, who was tear-gassed on Sunday while covering the protests. He is author of the new book, "Brazil’s Dance with the Devil: The World Cup, the Olympics and the Fight for Democracy."

As Obama Considers Drone Strikes in Iraq, Could U.S. Military Action Worsen Sectarian Conflict?

Mon 07 13 AM

Over the weekend, militants from the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) seized the northern town of Tal Afar after a fierce fight. Many fear Iraq could disintegrate as ISIS takes more cities. Shiite militias are now fighting alongside the Iraqi army in an effort to retake cities from the control of Sunni militants. Secretary of State John Kerry acknowledged today the United States is considering launching drone strikes inside Iraq to help shore up the Iraqi government. He also said he is open to talks with Iran on how Washington and Tehran could work together to help the Iraqi state. The United States appears to be moving closer to launching airstrikes. The USS George H.W. Bush aircraft carrier has recently arrived in the Persian Gulf. The carrier is accompanied by the USS Philippine Sea guided-missile cruiser and the USS Truxtun guided-missile destroyer, both of which carry Tomahawk missiles that can reach Iraq. The United States has also begun evacuating some employees from its massive embassy in Baghdad. Meanwhile in Britain, former Prime Minister Tony Blair is facing widespread criticism after he suggested the current crisis is not linked to the 2003 U.S. and British invasion of Iraq. Blair said, "We have to liberate ourselves from the notion that 'we' have caused this. We haven’t." To talk more about the crisis in Iraq, we are joined by Iraqi-American political analyst Raed Jarrar.

Report from Iraq: U.S. Invasion in 2003 Helped Set Path for Crisis Pulling Nation Apart

Fri 07 47 AM

A representative of Iraq’s most senior Shiite cleric, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, has called on Iraqis to take up arms against what he called "terrorists" who have overrun large swaths of the country. The call comes just hours after Islamist militants seized two more strategic towns northeast of Baghdad, moving the country closer to disintegration. Over the past few days, fighters from ISIS, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, have seized several major cities including Mosul and Tikrit. Meanwhile, Kurdish fighters have taken control of the oil city of Kirkuk in northern Iraq. On Thursday, President Obama said he won’t rule anything out, including a military response. The Wall Street Journal meanwhile reports Iran is sending units of its al-Quds forces into Iraq to help stop the Sunni fighters from ISIS. We go to the city of Najaf to speak to Sami Rasouli, founder and director of the Muslim Peacemaker Teams in Iraq. He left Iraq in the late 1970s and eventually moved to the United States and settled in Minneapolis, where he was a well-known restaurateur. He moved back to Iraq in 2004 after living abroad for nearly 30 years.

Children on the Run: U.S. Detains Thousands of Young Migrants Seeking Safety, Family Reunification

Fri 07 12 AM

U.S. Customs and Border Protection reports over 47,000 unaccompanied children have been detained so far this year after crossing the border, almost double the number for all of 2013 and almost five times the number from 2009. President Obama has described the situation as a "humanitarian crisis." Some of the children have been detained in shocking conditions. Over 1,000 children are reportedly being held at a warehouse in Nogales, Arizona, some sleeping in plastic containers. We speak to Jose Luis Zelaya, who fled Honduras in 2000 at the age of 13 in search of his mother. He traveled unaccompanied through Central America and finally reached Texas four months later. Zelaya is now a Ph.D. student at Texas A&M in the Department of Education. We also speak to Sonia Nazario in Los Angeles, California. She is a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and author of "Enrique’s Journey: The Story of a Boy’s Dangerous Odyssey to Reunite with His Mother."

In Sisi's Egypt, Leading Dissident Gets 15-Year Term as Al Jazeera Reporter Languishes Behind Bars

Thu 07 47 AM

An Egyptian court has sentenced one of the country’s most prominent pro-democracy activists to 15 years in prison. Alaa Abd El-Fattah was found guilty of illegal protest and attacking a police officer for a rally against a draconian protest law last year. Twenty-four other defendants in the case received the same 15-year sentence. Since they were tried in absentia, they are entitled to a retrial. It’s the first conviction of a prominent activist since former army chief Abdel Fattah el-Sisi took office as president on Sunday. As El-Fattah faces a lengthy prison term, the Al Jazeera Arabic journalist Abdullah Elshamy is on a nearly five-month hunger strike in protest of his detention without charge. Elshamy has reportedly lost over a third of his body weight and is reportedly suffering from severe anemia, low blood pressure and the start of kidney failure. We go to Cairo to speak with Alaa Abd El-Fattah’s aunt, the famed Egyptian novelist Ahdaf Soueif, and Democracy Now! correspondent Sharif Abdel Kouddous. And we are joined by Abdullah Elshamy’s brother, Mohammed.

Iraq in Crisis: Militant Advance Sparks Mass Displacement as "Failed" U.S. Experiment Disintegrates

Thu 07 11 AM

Iraq is on the brink of disintegration as Sunni militants seize more towns and now set their sights on the capital Baghdad. In the past few days, al-Qaeda-linked Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) have seized control of Mosul, Iraq’s second-largest city, as well as Tikrit and Dhuluiya. Meanwhile, Iraqi Kurds have seized control of the northern oil city of Kirkuk. The Sunni militants now control a territory that stretches from the eastern edge of Aleppo, Syria, to Fallujah in western Iraq and now the northern city of Mosul. Their advance has caused a humanitarian catastrophe, displacing some 500,000 people in Mosul alone. Mosul fell in part because U.S.-trained Iraqi forces abandoned their posts. Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has reportedly urged the U.S. to carry out airstrikes in recent months, but the Obama administration has declined the request so far. We are joined by two guests: Ned Parker, Reuters bureau chief in Baghdad, and Mohammed al Dulaimy, an Iraqi journalist with McClatchy Newspapers who reported from Iraq for years and is now seeking U.S. asylum out of fear for his safety if he returns. This is Dulaimy’s first TV interview after years of maintaining a low profile to protect his safety.

Debate: Is Human Rights Watch Too Close to U.S. Gov't to Criticize Its Foreign Policy?

Wed 07 19 AM

Human Rights Watch, one of the world’s largest and most influential human rights organizations, is facing an unusual amount of public criticism. Two Nobel Peace Prize laureates, Adolfo Pérez Esquivel and Mairead Maguire, and a group of over 100 scholars have written an open letter criticizing what they describe as a revolving door with the U.S. government that impacts HRW’s work in certain countries, including Venezuela. The letter urges HRW to bar those who have crafted or executed U.S. foreign policy from serving as staff, advisers or board members. Human Rights Watch Executive Director Kenneth Roth has defended his organization’s independence, responding: "We are careful to ensure that prior affiliations do not affect the impartiality of Human Rights Watch’s work. … We routinely expose, document and denounce human rights violations by the US government, including torture, indefinite detention, illegal renditions, unchecked mass surveillance, abusive use of drones, harsh sentencing and racial disparity in criminal justice, and an unfair and ineffective immigration system." We host a debate between HRW counsel Reed Brody and Keane Bhatt, a writer and activist who organized the open letter.

Eric Cantor Suffers Historic GOP Primary Loss in Anti-Immigrant, Anti-Corporate Backlash

Wed 07 10 AM

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor has lost Virginia’s Republican primary in one of the most stunning upsets in congressional history. Cantor fell to tea party challenger David Brat, whose campaign accused Cantor of being insufficiently right-wing. Cantor’s defeat could upend Republican politics while further endangering the prospects for immigration reform. Brat ran on a staunch anti-immigrant platform, citing Cantor’s mild support for a version of the DREAM Act. The House’s second most powerful Republican, Cantor had been the presumed next in line to replace Speaker John Boehner. Cantor’s campaign raised $5.4 million to Brat’s $200,000. It’s the first time a House majority leader has lost a primary since the position was created in 1899. Although his opponent painted him as a moderate, Cantor has played a key role in the Republican effort to thwart President Obama’s agenda, from healthcare reform to last year’s government shutdown. We are joined by John Nichols, Washington correspondent for The Nation.

Is College Worth It? New Doc "Ivory Tower" Tackles Higher Ed's Unsustainable Spending, Student Debt

Tue 07 50 AM

The cost of a college degree has grown by over 1,120 percent in the past three decades, far surpassing price hikes for food, medical care, housing, gasoline, and other basics. Coupled with $1.2 trillion in student debt, the U.S. is facing a crisis that threatens not just the economy but the nation’s education system itself. The issue is explored in the riveting new documentary "Ivory Tower," which argues the model for higher education in the U.S. has become unsustainable. The film contrasts the struggle for quality, affordable education with a growing corporate atmosphere on college campuses, where hundreds of millions of dollars go to football stadiums, lavish salaries, and high-end perks. We are joined by "Ivory Tower," director and producer Andrew Rossi. The film opens this Friday in New York City and Los Angeles.

As Obama Moves to Cap Student Debt Payments, Activists Push For Broader Write-Off of Crushing Loans

Tue 07 43 AM

President Obama has unveiled new executive actions to address what some have called the nation’s next financial crisis: the over $1.2 trillion in student loans. Obama’s order will expand the "Pay as Your Earn" program capping loan payments at ten percent of monthly income. The program also forgives any outstanding debt after twenty years of payments. The massive cost of U.S. college tuition has saddled millions with crushing debt and priced many others out of the classroom. Student loans now exceed all other forms of consumer debt except for home mortgages. This year’s graduate class is the most indebted in U.S. history, with borrowers owing an average $33,000. More than 70% of this year’s class has taken on a student loan, up from less than half of graduates twenty years ago. We are joined by two guests: Pamela Brown, a Ph.D. student in sociology at the New School and leading activist on the issue of student debt; and Andrew Rossi, director and producer of a new documentary on U.S. higher education, "Ivory Tower."

As Taliban Attacks Karachi Airport Again, Could Pakistan Fall Into Civil War With Militants?

Tue 07 31 AM

For the second time in 48 hours, Taliban militants have attacked Karachi’s international airport, the largest in Pakistan. Earlier today a group of gunmen on motorbikes opened fire on an academy run by the Airport Security Force. An assault by Taliban militants on Sunday left at least 38 people dead including the attackers. The Pakistani Taliban has claimed responsibility for both attacks, saying it was avenging military operations in North Waziristan and a U.S. drone strike that killed its leader, Hakimullah Mehsud, late last year. The Pakistani government moved toward peace talks with the Taliban earlier this year, but the process has faltered with a split inside the Taliban over whether to take part. We speak to Ayesha Siddiqa, a Pakistani political and defense analyst. Siddiqa is the author of "Military Inc.: Inside Pakistan’s Military Economy."