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 47 min ago

Fmr. U.S. Ambassador: To Resolve Ukraine Crisis, Address Internal Divisions & Russian Fears of NATO

Wed 07 10 AM

Ukraine has retracted an earlier claim to have reached a ceasefire with Russia. The office of Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko initially said he agreed with Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin on steps toward a ceasefire with pro-Russian rebels in eastern Ukraine. But the Kremlin then denied a ceasefire agreement, saying it is in no position to make a deal because it is not a party to the fighting. Ukraine has accused Russia of direct involvement in the violence amidst a recent escalation. The confusion comes as President Obama visits the former Soviet republic of Estonia ahead of a major NATO summit in Wales. On Tuesday, White House spokesman Josh Earnest outlined NATO’s plans to expand its presence in eastern Europe. Ukraine and NATO have accused Russia of sending armored columns of troops into Ukraine, but Russia has denied its troops are involved in fighting on the ground. We are joined by Jack Matlock, U.S. ambassador to the Soviet Union from 1987 to 1991.

Hong Kong "Occupy Central" Protests Call for Political Freedom After China Rejects Open Elections

Tue 07 50 AM

Nineteen people were arrested in Hong Kong on Monday, one day after thousands protested calling for greater political freedom. The demonstration was organized by a group called Occupy Central after the Chinese government rejected demands for Hong Kong to freely choose its next leader in 2017. Under the new rules, Hong Kong voters will be allowed to choose the territory’s own chief executive, but all candidates must first be approved by a nominating panel. Activists fear the nominating panel will be controlled by pro-Beijing loyalists who will prevent opposition candidates from running. Protesters with Occupy Central are threatening to hold more demonstrations including a blockade of city’s central business district. We speak to Hong Kong legislator Claudia Mo, a former journalist who helped found the Civic Party.

As Jury Takes Up Blackwater Massacre in Nisoor Square, a Grieving Iraqi Father Recalls Son's Death

Tue 07 22 AM

Jurors will begin deliberating this week in the murder and manslaughter trial of four former Blackwater operatives involved in the 2007 massacre at Baghdad’s Nisoor Square. The suspects are charged for the deaths of 14 of the 17 Iraqi civilians who died when their Blackwater unit opened fire. The trial featured testimony from witnesses who survived the attack and saw loved ones gunned down. In closing arguments last week, prosecutors said Blackwater guards had shot fleeing civilians and boasted of taking their lives. Nisoor Square is the highest-profile deadly incident involving Blackwater — or any private war contractor — and many Iraqis are watching the upcoming verdict to see how seriously the United States intends to hold its private security companies accountable for their alleged crimes. The first witness to testify in the Blackwater trial was Mohammed Kinani, who broke down in tears when describing how his nine-year-old son, Ali, was shot in the head while riding in the back seat of the family car. Kinani reportedly sobbed so uncontrollably when testifying that Judge Royce Lamberth temporarily dismissed the jury. We air a documentary that tells Mohammad and Ali’s story, "Blackwater’s Youngest Victim," by the Oscar-nominated filmmakers Jeremy Scahill and Richard Rowley.

Women's Health over Politics: Courts Block Laws Threatening Abortion Clinics in Texas, Louisiana

Tue 07 11 AM

Over the past three days, federal judges have blocked a pair of new laws that could have closed most of the 19 abortion clinics in Texas and all five of the facilities in Louisiana. On Friday, a federal judge blocked a Texas law due to take effect Monday that would have required all abortion clinics to meet the same standards as hospital-style surgery centers — even those that offer non-surgical abortions with medication, and simple early surgical abortions. Last year, the controversial rule drew mass protest and an 11-hour filibuster by State Senator Wendy Davis, who is now running for governor. Meanwhile on Sunday, a federal judge in Louisiana issued a temporary restraining order just hours before a new abortion law would have begun forcing physicians who provide abortion services to have patient-admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of their practice. We are joined by Amy Hagstrom Miller, CEO of Whole Woman’s Health, which operates five Texas clinics and was a party in this lawsuit.

"A Slaughter of Innocents": Henry Siegman, a Venerable Jewish Voice for Peace, on Gaza

Mon 07 30 AM

Today, a special with Henry Siegman, the former executive director of the American Jewish Congress, long described as one of the nation’s "big three" Jewish organizations along with the American Jewish Committee and the Anti-Defamation League. Henry Siegman was born in 1930 in Frankfurt, Germany. Three years later, the Nazis came to power. After fleeing Nazi troops in Belgium, his family eventually moved to the United States. His father was a leader of the European Zionist movement, pushing for the creation of a Jewish state. In New York, Siegman studied and was ordained as an Orthodox rabbi by Yeshiva Torah Vodaas. He later became head of the Synagogue Council of America. After his time at the American Jewish Congress, Siegman became a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations. He now serves as president of the U.S./Middle East Project.

Over the years, Siegman has become a vocal critic of Israel’s policies in the Occupied Territories and has urged Israel to engage with Hamas. He has called the Palestinian struggle for a state "the mirror image of the Zionist movement" that led to the founding of Israel in 1948. In July, wrote an op-ed for Politico headlined, "Israel Provoked This War." Democracy Now! hosts Amy Goodman and Nermeen Shaikh sat down with him on July 29 — in the midst of Israel’s offensive in Gaza.

Ferguson Crackdown Sparks Review of Police Militarization that Mainly Targets Communities of Color

Fri 07 50 AM

President Obama has ordered a White House-led review of federal programs that fund and distribute military equipment to state and local police. Obama cited concern at how such equipment was used during the recent unrest in Ferguson, Missouri, following the police killing of Michael Brown. One of the BearCat armored trucks used during protests there was paid for with $360,000 in Homeland Security grants. According to Pentagon data published by The New York Times, police departments have received tens of thousands of machine guns during the Obama administration, along with nearly 200,000 ammunition magazines; thousands of pieces of camouflage and night-vision equipment; and hundreds of silencers, armored cars and aircraft. Much of the equipment is used by police SWAT teams for what amount to paramilitary raids on people’s homes. A new report by the American Civil Liberties Union examined more than 800 of these raids and found only 7 percent were for genuine emergencies. Nearly 80 percent were for used for ordinary law enforcement purposes like serving search warrants on people’s homes. We are joined by Kara Dansky, a senior counsel for the ACLU and author of its new report, "The War Comes Home: The Excessive Militarization of American Policing."

Rep. Luis Gutiérrez: Chicago Murder Outbreak Linked to Deep-Rooted Issues of Poverty, Unemployment

Fri 07 46 AM

In Chicago, five people were killed and at least 42 people were wounded in an outbreak of shootings in the city last weekend. The wounded included a 3-year-old boy. We speak to Rep. Luis Gutiérrez, Democrat from Illinois.

As 145 Arrested in White House Protest, Rep. Luis Gutiérrez Urges Obama to Halt Mass Deportations

Fri 07 33 AM

Immigrants and their allies held protests in more than a dozen cities Thursday to mark what they called the National Day to Fight for Families. Calling on President Obama to take executive action and stem his record level of deportations, about 145 people were arrested in front of the White House after laying red carnations over photos of deported loved ones. The protest came as President Obama called on Congress yet again to help address immigration reform, but suggested he would take executive action if it is the only way to address the situation. We speak to Rep. Luis Gutiérrez (D-Illinois), chair of the Immigration Task Force of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus.

Could U.S. Airstrikes in Syria and Iraq Weaken Islamic State — or Win Them More Recruits?

Fri 07 27 AM

President Obama is sending Secretary of State John Kerry to the Middle East to help build a regional coalition against the Islamic State, or ISIS, the militant group that has seized large parts of Iraq and Syria. "We don’t have a strategy yet," Obama admitted. We speak to journalist Jonathan Steele, author of "Defeat: Losing Iraq and the Future of the Middle East." Steele says that at this point he believes ISIS represents a "marginal threat" on Western interests and that airstrikes will be counterproductive.

Ukraine Crisis Escalates as Russian Forces Cross Border, NATO Moves to Expand in Region

Fri 07 13 AM

The United States and NATO are openly accusing Russia of sending combat forces into Ukraine as tensions continue to mount. According to the United Nations, nearly 2,600 people have been killed in eastern Ukraine since April in fighting between Ukrainian forces and separatist rebels sympathetic to Russia. On Thursday, at least 15 civilians were killed when Ukrainian forces shelled the rebel-held city of Donetsk. Meanwhile, a new Human Rights Watch report accuses the rebels of arbitrarily detaining civilians and subjecting them to torture, degrading treatment and forced labor. On Thursday, NATO released satellite images that it says show Russian artillery, vehicles and troops in and around eastern Ukraine. We are joined from London by The Guardian’s Jonathan Steele, the organization’s former Moscow correspondent and author of many books, including "Eternal Russia: Yeltsin, Gorbachev, and the Mirage of Democracy."

Heralding a National Trend? Enrollment Surges as NYC Begins Full-Day Prekindergarten for 50,000 Kids

Fri 07 11 AM

As the school year begins, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio is launching his signature initiative of full-day universal prekindergarten at public schools. More than 50,000 children have already enrolled, and thousands of additional teachers have been hired. Democracy Now! co-host and New York Daily News columnist Juan González discusses how the program could transform public education in New York City, and potentially nationwide.

After Police Abuses Caught on Video, a New Guide Teaches How to Best Archive and Distribute Footage

Thu 07 52 AM

Cases like Rodney King, Oscar Grant, Eric Garner and Michael Brown have helped fuel demands for police accountability. We are joined by a guest who has advice for the growing number of people filming police abuse with their smartphones and video cameras, particularly with respect to how to properly preserve such video. Yvonne Ng is senior archivist for WITNESS, a group that trains and supports people using video in their fight for human rights. She co-authored their resource, "Activists’ Guide to Archiving Video." Watch part two of this interview.

The Biggest Tax Scam Ever: How Corporate America Parks Profits Overseas, Avoiding Billions in Taxes

Thu 07 38 AM

As Burger King heads north for Canada’s lower corporate tax rate, we speak to Rolling Stone contributing editor Tim Dickinson about his new article, "The Biggest Tax Scam Ever." Dickinson reports on how top U.S. companies are avoiding hundreds of billions of dollars by parking their profits abroad — and still receiving more congressionally approved incentives. Dickinson writes: "Top offenders include giants from high-tech (Microsoft, $76 billion); Big Pharma (Pfizer, $69 billion); Big Oil (Exxon­Mobil, $47 billion); investment banks (Goldman Sachs, $22 billion); Big Tobacco (Philip Morris, $20 billion); discount retailers (Wal-Mart, $19 billion); fast-food chains (McDonald’s, $16 billion) – even heavy machinery (Caterpillar, $17 billion). General Electric has $110 billion stashed offshore, and enjoys an effective tax rate of 4 percent – 31 points lower than its statutory obligation to the IRS."

Tax Dodging Whopper? Burger King Moves to Canada After Merger with Tim Hortons

Thu 07 31 AM

This week Burger King announced it is buying the Canadian coffee-and-donut chain Tim Hortons for $11.4 billion, creating the third-largest fast-food chain in the world. The newly created firm will be headquartered in Canada where the corporate tax rate is lower than in the United States. While Burger King denies it was motivated by lower taxes, the deal has revived the debate over so-called tax inversions, whereby U.S. companies use mergers to move overseas and avoid U.S. tax rates. In July, the Obama administration estimated tax inversions could cost the United States as much as $17 billion per year. One investor who stands to profit from the Burger King deal is President Obama supporter Warren Buffett. He lent Burger King $3 billion at a lucrative 9 percent interest rate to help complete the deal. We are joined by James Henry, an economist, lawyer, and senior adviser with the Tax Justice Network. He is former chief economist at McKinsey & Company.

As Obama Settles on Nonbinding Treaty, "Only a Big Movement" Can Take on Global Warming

Thu 07 12 AM

As international climate scientists warn runaway greenhouse gas emissions could cause "severe, pervasive and irreversible impacts," the Obama administration is abandoning attempts to have Congress agree to a legally binding international climate deal. The New York Times reports U.S. negotiators are crafting a proposal that would not require congressional approval and instead would seek pledges from countries to cut emissions on a voluntary basis. This comes as a new U.N. report warns climate change could become "irreversible" if greenhouse gas emissions go unchecked. If global warming is to be adequately contained, it says, at least three-quarters of known fossil fuel reserves must remain in the ground. We speak to 350.org founder Bill McKibben about why his hopes for taking on global warming lie not in President Obama’s approach, but rather in events like the upcoming People’s Climate March in New York City, which could mark the largest rally for climate action ever. "The Obama administration, which likes to poke fun at recalcitrant congressmen, hasn’t been willing to really endure much in the way of political pain itself in order to slow things down," McKibben says. "The rest of the world can see that. The only way we’ll change any of these equations here or elsewhere is by building a big movement — that’s why September 21 in New York is such an important day."

Is Ferguson Feeding on the Poor? City Disproportionately Stops, Charges and Fines People of Color

Wed 07 47 AM

As the police killing of Michael Brown has focused global attention on the racial divide in the counties in and surrounding St. Louis, Missouri, a new report may explain why residents’ mistrust of the police runs so deep. It shows how a large part of the revenue for these counties comes from fines paid by African-American residents who are disproportionately targeted for traffic stops and other low-level offenses. In Ferguson, the fines and fees are actually the city’s second-largest source of income, which is expected to generate $2.7 million in fiscal year 2014. We speak with Thomas Harvey, executive director of ArchCity Defenders and co-author of their new report, which has been widely cited — including in a stunning chart in Monday’s New York Times that shows how Ferguson issued on average nearly three warrants per household last year — the highest number of warrants in the state, relative to its size. "What my clients have told me since the first day I’ve ever represented anybody is, this is not about public safety, it’s about the money," Harvey says. We also hear about the impact of the police harassment and ticketing from George Fields, who was among the local residents lined up for Michael Brown’s funeral on Monday in St. Louis.