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: 11 hours 5 min ago

Silencing the Scientist: Tyrone Hayes on Being Targeted by Herbicide Firm Syngenta

Fri 08 30 AM

We speak with scientist Tyrone Hayes of the University of California, Berkeley, who discovered a widely used herbicide may have harmful effects on the endocrine system. But when he tried to publish the results, the chemical’s manufacturer launched a campaign to discredit his work. Hayes was first hired in 1997 by a company, which later became agribusiness giant Syngenta, to study their product, atrazine, a pesticide that is applied to more than half the corn crops in the United States, and widely used on golf courses and Christmas tree farms. When Hayes found results Syngenta did not expect — that atrazine causes sexual abnormalities in frogs, and could cause the same problems for humans — it refused to allow him to publish his findings. A new article in The New Yorker magazine uses court documents from a class action lawsuit against Syngenta to show how it sought to smear Hayes’ reputation and prevent the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency from banning the profitable chemical, which is already banned by the European Union.

Turning a Wedding Into a Funeral: U.S. Drone Strike in Yemen Killed as Many as 12 Civilians

Fri 08 11 AM

Human Rights Watch has revealed as many as 12 civilians were killed in December when a U.S. drone targeted vehicles that were part of a wedding procession going toward the groom’s village outside the central Yemeni city of Rad’a. According to HRW, "some, if not all those killed and wounded were civilians" and not members of the armed group al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula as U.S. and Yemeni government officials initially claimed. The report concluded that the attack killed 12 men, between the ages of 20 and 65, and wounded 15 others. It cites accounts from survivors, relatives of the dead, local officials and news media reports. We speak to Human Rights Watch researcher Letta Tayler, who wrote the report, "A Wedding That Became a Funeral: US Drone Attack on Marriage Procession in Yemen," and Jeremy Scahill, co-founder of the TheIntercept.org, a new digital magazine published by First Look Media. He is the producer and writer of the documentary film, "Dirty Wars: The World is a Battlefield," which is nominated for an Academy Award.

Democracy Now! Celebrates 18 Years On Air

Thu 08 54 AM

Eighteen years ago, on February 19, 1996, Democracy Now! aired for the first time. We began as a daily election-year show on Pacifica Radio and a handful of community radio stations. Democracy Now! was supposed to stay on the air for nine months. However, 18 years later, we are now a TV, radio and Internet news hour that millions of people worldwide rely on every day. We air a clip of that first episode before co-hosts Amy Goodman and Juan González are surprised with a birthday cake live on-air.

To celebrate our 18th birthday, we are asking our listeners and viewers to submit a photo or video that describes why Democracy Now! is important to you, starting with "I need Democracy Now! because…" Take a picture of yourself holding a sign or shoot a 30-second or shorter video telling us your name, where you live and why you tune in to Democracy Now! Click here to submit your photo or video. We’ll highlight our favorites online, live on air, or on our social media networks.

Excessive Force? Migrant Shot Dead by U.S. Border Agent Near San Diego After Throwing Rock

Thu 08 48 AM

While the United States, Mexico and Canada held a major summit in Mexico on Wednesday, U.S. border policies are back in the spotlight after a U.S. Border Patrol agent shot and killed a man near San Diego, California, on Tuesday. Officials said the agent was pursuing a group of people suspected of crossing the border from Mexico. When a man threw a rock at him, the agent opened fire and killed him. The agent suffered minor injuries and declined hospital care. The Department of Homeland Security’s inspector general recently found U.S. border agents have been involved in 20 fatalities since 2010, eight of which — that’s nearly half — involved rock throwing. For more, we’re joined by John Carlos Frey, an investigative reporter who has long reported on immigration, and more recently on killings of migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border.

Venezuelan Protests: Another Attempt by U.S.-Backed Right-Wing Groups to Oust Elected Government?

Thu 08 37 AM

In Venezuela, at least six people have died in recent days during a series of anti-government protests. The latest casualty was a local beauty queen who died of a gunshot wound. The protests come less than a year after the death of Hugo Chávez and present the biggest challenge to Venezuela’s new president, Nicolás Maduro. Earlier this week, right-wing opposition leader Leopoldo López turned himself in to the National Guard after authorities issued a warrant for his arrest last week, accusing him of inciting deadly clashes. On Monday, Maduro ordered the expulsion of three U.S. consular officials while claiming the United States has sided with the opposition. Our guest, George Ciccariello-Maher, looks at the recent history of the U.S. role in Venezuela opposing both the Chávez and Maduro governments. He is author of "We Created Chávez: A People’s History of the Venezuelan Revolution" and teaches political science at Drexel University in Philadelphia.

A New Cold War? Ukraine Violence Escalates, Leaked Tape Suggests U.S. Was Plotting Coup

Thu 08 11 AM

A short-lived truce has broken down in Ukraine as street battles have erupted between anti-government protesters and police. Last night the country’s embattled president and the opposition leaders demanding his resignation called for a truce and negotiations to try to resolve Ukraine’s political crisis. But hours later, armed protesters attempted to retake Independence Square, sparking another day of deadly violence. At least 50 people have died since Tuesday in the bloodiest period of Ukraine’s 22-year post-Soviet history. While President Obama has vowed to "continue to engage all sides," a recently leaked audio recording between two top U.S. officials reveal the Obama administration has been secretly plotting with the opposition. We speak to Stephen Cohen, professor emeritus of Russian studies and politics at New York University and Princeton University. His most recent book, "Soviet Fates and Lost Alternatives: From Stalinism to the New Cold War," is out in paperback. His latest Nation article is "Distorting Russia: How the American Media Misrepresent Putin, Sochi and Ukraine."

"Black Trans Bodies Are Under Attack": Freed Activist CeCe McDonald, Actress Laverne Cox Speak Out

Wed 08 12 AM

After serving 19 months in prison, the African-American transgender activist CeCe McDonald is free. She was arrested after using deadly force to protect herself from a group of people who attacked her on the streets of Minneapolis. Her case helped turn a national spotlight on the violence and discrimination faced by transgender women of color. In 2011, McDonald and two friends were walking past a Minneapolis bar when they were reportedly accosted with homophobic, transphobic and racist slurs. McDonald was hit with a bar glass that cut open her face, requiring 11 stitches. A brawl ensued, and one of the people who had confronted McDonald and her friends, 47-year-old Dean Schmitz, was killed. Facing up to 80 years in prison for his death, McDonald took a plea deal that sentenced her to 41 months. In the eyes of her supporters, CeCe McDonald was jailed for defending herself against the bigotry and violence that transgender people so often face and that is so rarely punished. At the time of the attack, the murder rate for gay and transgender people in this country was at an all-time high. The National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs documented 30 hate-related murders of LGBT people in 2011; 40 percent of the victims were transgender women of color. Transgender teens have higher rates of homelessness, and nearly half of all African-American transgender people — 47 percent — have been incarcerated at some point.

McDonald joins us on her first trip to New York City. We are also joined by one of her supporters, Laverne Cox, a transgender actress, producer and activist who stars in the popular Netflix show, "Orange is the New Black." She plays Sophia Burset, a transgender woman in prison for using credit card fraud to finance her transition. She is producing a documentary about McDonald called "Free CeCe." We also speak to Alisha Williams, staff attorney with the Sylvia Rivera Law Project.

"I very easily could have been CeCe," Laverne Cox says. "Many times I’ve walked down the street of New York, and I’ve experienced harassment. I was kicked once on the street, and very easily that could have escalated into a situation that CeCe faced, and it’s a situation that too many trans women of color face all over this country. The act of merely walking down the street is often a contested act, not only from the citizenry, but also from the police."

Click here to watch part 2 of this interview.

Republican-Funded, Anti-Labor Campaign Succeeds in Tennessee as Volkswagen Workers Reject UAW Union

Tue 08 49 AM

Employees at a Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee, have rejected membership in the United Auto Workers union. In a blow to organized labor, Volkswagen workers voted against the measure by a vote of 712 to 626, derailing attempts to make it the first unionized foreign-owned car factory in the United States. But the union faced intense opposition from Republican lawmakers, including threats suggesting the plant might miss out on future subsidies or on a new SUV line if the union succeeded. Outside groups also played a role. To find out more about the implications of the vote, we speak to Steven Greenhouse, the labor and workplace reporter for The New York Times, who has been following the events leading up to the vote at the Volkswagen plant. His most recent article is "Labor Regroups in South After VW Vote."

Spying on Lawyers: Snowden Documents Show NSA Ally Targeted U.S. Law Firm

Tue 08 38 AM

A new report based on leaks by Edward Snowden reveals the National Security Agency played a role in the monitoring of a U.S. law firm that represented the Indonesian government during trade disputes with the United States. According to The New York Times, the NSA’s Australian counterpart told the agency it was spying on trade talks between the United States and Indonesia, including potentially privileged communications between Indonesian officials and the U.S. law firm, Mayer Brown. The document notes the Australian agency "has been able to continue to cover the talks, providing highly useful intelligence for interested U.S. customers." The report by James Risen and Laura Poitras bolsters claims by Snowden and others that the NSA and its allies conduct spying for economic gain. We speak to Jesselyn Radack, legal adviser to Snowden. She is director of National Security & Human Rights at the Government Accountability Project. We are also joined by Michael Ratner, president emeritus of the Center for Constitutional Rights.

Attorney for Edward Snowden Interrogated at U.K. Airport, Placed on "Inhibited Persons List"

Tue 08 32 AM

Four journalists who revealed the National Security Agency’s vast web of spying have been awarded the 2013 George Polk Awards in Journalism. Glenn Greenwald, Laura Poitras, Ewen MacAskill of The Guardian and Barton Gellman of The Washington Post were among the winners announced on Sunday. Even as the journalists who broke the stories based on Edward Snowden’s leaks were awarded one of journalism’s highest honors, a lawyer who represents Snowden was recently detained while going through customs at London’s Heathrow Airport. Jesselyn Radack joins us today to tell her story. Radack says she was subjected to "very hostile questioning" about Snowden and her trips to Russia. Radack also learned she might be on an "inhibited persons list," a designation reportedly used by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to require further vetting of certain passengers. Radack is just one of a growing number of people who are being stopped, harassed and interrogated for their work around Snowden, WikiLeaks and National Security Agency documents. Radack is the director of National Security & Human Rights at the Government Accountability Project, the nation’s leading whistleblower support organization.

Julian Assange on Being Placed on NSA "Manhunting" List & Secret Targeting of WikiLeaks Supporters

Tue 08 09 AM

Top-secret documents leaked by Edward Snowden have revealed new details about how the United States and Britain targeted the whistleblowing website WikiLeaks after it published leaked documents about the U.S.-led war in Afghanistan. According to a new article by The Intercept, Britain’s top spy agency, the Government Communications Headquarters, or GCHQ, secretly monitored visitors to a WikiLeaks website by collecting their IP addresses in real time, as well as the search terms used to reach the site. One document from 2010 shows that the National Security Agency added WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange to a "manhunting" target list, together with suspected members of al-Qaeda. We speak to Assange live from the Ecuadorean embassy in London, where he has sought political asylum since 2012. Also joining us is his lawyer Michael Ratner, president emeritus of the Center for Constitutional Rights.

Former FCC Commissioner Warns About Comcast-Time Warner Merger, "Mindless" Media Consolidation

Mon 08 50 AM

Comcast has announced plans to buy Time Warner Cable at a cost of more than $45 billion in stock. The takeover would allow Comcast to provide cable service to a third of American households and give it a virtual monopoly in 19 of the 20 largest media markets. While Comcast has claimed the deal will be "pro-consumer," the group Free Press warns the deal would be a "disaster" for consumers. Analysts predict Comcast will launch a lobbying blitz similar to when it won approval to take over NBCUniversal in 2011. Comcast has already hired FCC Commissioner Meredith Attwell Baker, who signed off on its NBC deal. We speak to another former FCC commissioner, Michael Copps. He now leads the Media and Democracy Reform Initiative at Common Cause.

Untold History: More Than a Quarter of U.S. Presidents Were Involved in Slavery, Human Trafficking

Mon 08 31 AM

As the country marks Presidents’ Day, we turn to an aspect of U.S. history that is often missed: the complicity of American presidents with slavery. "More than one-in-four U.S. presidents were involved in human trafficking and slavery. These presidents bought, sold and bred enslaved people for profit. Of the 12 presidents who were enslavers, more than half kept people in bondage at the White House," writes historian Clarence Lusane in his most recent article, "Missing from Presidents’ Day: The People They Enslaved."

The Killing of Jordan Davis: Michael Dunn Faces 60 Years After Split Verdict in 'Thug Music' Trial

Mon 08 14 AM

A Florida jury has convicted Michael Dunn of three counts of attempted murder for opening fire on a car of unarmed black teenagers during an argument over loud rap music at a gas station. But the jury deadlocked on the most serious charge, the first-degree murder of 17-year-old Jordan Davis, forcing the judge to declare a mistrial on that count. Dunn, who is white, shot at the vehicle carrying Davis and his friends 10 times. He then fled the scene, went to a hotel with his girlfriend and ordered pizza. He never called the police. Citing Florida’s Stand Your Ground law, Dunn’s attorneys had claimed the shooting was justified because he had felt threatened by the teenagers. But prosecutors said the teenagers were unarmed and never left their vehicle. Legal analysts say Dunn could face at least 60 years in jail for the attempted murder convictions against the three other teens. The jury in the trial was 2/3 white and did not include any black males. The verdict was reached on Saturday, one day before what would have been Davis’ 19th birthday. We speak to Michael Skolnik, editor-in-chief of GlobalGrind.com, who attended the trial.

Debate: Was Snowden Justified? Former NSA Counsel Stewart Baker vs. Whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg

Fri 08 09 AM

Former National Security Agency lawyer Stewart Baker and Pentagon Papers whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg join us for a debate on Edward Snowden’s disclosure of the NSA’s massive spying apparatus in the United States and across the globe. Snowden’s leaks to The Guardian and other media outlets have generated a series of exposés on NSA surveillance activities — from its collection of American’s phone records, text messages and email, to its monitoring of the internal communications of individual heads of state. Partly as a consequence of the government’s response to Snowden’s leaks, the United States plunged 13 spots in an annual survey of press freedom by the independent organization, Reporters Without Borders. Snowden now lives in Russia and faces possible espionage charges if he returns to the United States. Baker, a former NSA general counsel and assistant secretary for policy at the Department of Homeland Security, is a partner at the law firm Steptoe & Johnson and author of "Skating on Stilts: Why We Aren’t Stopping Tomorrow’s Terrorism." Ellsberg is a former Pentagon and RAND Corporation analyst and perhaps the country’s most famous whistleblower. Ellsberg leaked the Pentagon Papers in 1971, exposing the secret history of the U.S. involvement in Vietnam, prompting Henry Kissinger to call him "the most dangerous man in America."