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 59 min ago

Death By Metadata: Jeremy Scahill & Glenn Greenwald Reveal NSA Role in Assassinations Overseas

Mon 08 13 AM

In the first exposé for their new venture, First Look Media’s digital journal The Intercept, investigative journalists Jeremy Scahill and Glenn Greenwald reveal the National Security Agency is using complex analysis of electronic surveillance, rather than human intelligence, as the primary method to locate targets for lethal drone strikes. The NSA identifies targets based on controversial metadata analysis and cellphone tracking technologies, an unreliable tactic that has resulted in the deaths of innocent and unidentified people. The United States has reportedly carried out drone strikes without knowing whether the individual in possession of a tracked cellphone or SIM card is in fact the intended target of the strike. Scahill and Greenwald join us in this exclusive interview to discuss their report and the launch of their media project.

Affluenza Defense Lands Wealthy Teen in Rehab After He Kills 4 People in Drunk Driving Accident

Fri 08 50 AM

A wealthy teen who killed four people in a Texas drunk driving accident will not go to jail after a judge ruled this week that instead, he must attend an expensive rehabilitation facility paid for by his parents. The driver was 16-year-old Ethan Couch. He was speeding, with a blood-alcohol level more than three times the legal limit. Couch has admitted to his crime, and in a case that went before a Texas judge, prosecutors sought a 20-year sentence. Instead, Couch was sentenced to 10 years’ probation after a psychologist claimed he had "affluenza," and testified that his cushy upbringing prevented him from connecting bad behavior with its consequences. We get response from Richard Alpert, the Tarrant County assistant district attorney who prosecuted the case against Couch. We are also joined by Boyce Watkins, a Syracuse University professor and the founder of "YourBlackWorld.net." He recently wrote an article titled "Rich, White Kids Have 'Affluenza,' Poor, Black Kids Go to Prison."

Trial Begins in Case of Man Who Murdered Florida Teen Jordan Davis Over Loud Music

Fri 08 33 AM

We look at the tragic case of a Florida high school student named Jordan Davis who was shot dead in 2012 on the day after Thanksgiving over a dispute about loud music. The trial of his killer, Michael Dunn, began Thursday. Dunn claims he felt threatened by Davis and his three teenage friends in an SUV that pulled up next to him. According to his police interview, one of the teens in the car said something about "killing." Dunn said when Davis allegedly bent down in the car, he feared he was reaching for a weapon. Dunn then used his handgun to shoot four times into the SUV. When the teenagers started to retreat, Dunn chased their vehicle and shot four to five more shots. Jordan was fatally shot in the back seat. Dunn is expected to use the Stand Your Ground defense during his trial, in which he faces the same prosecutor who argued the Trayvon Martin case. We play excerpts from the trial’s opening arguments and speak with Michael Skolnik, editor-in-chief of GlobalGrind.com, who has been closely following the case and has been in contact with Davis’ parents. He serves on the board of directors of the Trayvon Martin Foundation. Skolnik also explains why he’s asked the rapper DMX not to fight George Zimmerman in a celebrity boxing match.

Execution Chaos: Witnesses Say Executions Are Botched as States Use Untested, Secret Drug Cocktails

Fri 08 10 AM

As drug companies refuse to let their products be used for the death penalty, states are using untested drug combinations that have resulted in deaths like that of Dennis McGuire in Ohio, where the state used an untested two-drug method despite warnings it might cause immense suffering. We speak with the reporter who witnessed the execution and with a lawyer for a man executed in Missouri with an entirely different lethal drug cocktail, made by a pharmacy the state refuses to name. Meanwhile, on Thursday Virginia lawmakers failed to pass a law that would let death row prisoners die in the electric chair now that the state has run out of the chemicals used to make up its three-drug execution cocktail, and is unable to locate more. The delayed vote could impose a temporary moratorium in Virginia, which executes more people than any other state besides Texas. The execution drugs’ scarcity stems from the refusal of manufacturers in Europe and the United States to let them be used to put people to death. We speak with Alan Johnson, reporter with The Columbus Dispatch in Ohio, who witnessed McGuire’s execution and says he observed him gasping for air, and that he appeared to be choking. We are also joined by Cheryl Pilate, one of the lead attorneys for Herbert Smulls, who was executed Jan. 29 with a lethal dose of pentobarbital that was made by a compounding pharmacy the state refuses to name. Also joining us is Megan McCracken, attorney with the University of California, Berkeley, School of Law’s Death Penalty Clinic, where she is an expert on lethal injection methods.

In Latin American Votes, Honduran Movements Cement Role While El Salvador Poised for Historic Shift

Thu 08 51 AM

Historian and Latin America expert Greg Grandin looks at two recent elections in Latin America with historic implications. Despite losing a contested vote in Honduras, Grandin says the LIBRE party of former President Manuel Zelaya has altered the traditional Honduran political balance with newfound gains in the country’s National Congress. Meanwhile in El Salvador, former rebel commander Salvador Sánchez Cerén of the FMLN is expected to win the presidency next month after just missing the 50 percent needed to avoid a runoff vote. Sánchez Cerén is running to replace Mauricio Funes, which would mark the first time an FMLN candidate succeeds another after decades of right-wing governments.

Empire of Necessity: Historian Greg Grandin on Slavery, Freedom and Deception in the New World

Thu 08 32 AM

In his new book, "The Empire of Necessity: Slavery, Freedom, and Deception in the New World," acclaimed historian Greg Grandin examines how the transnational slave trade transformed the world, causing mass economic, social and political upheaval in ways that continue to reverberate today. Grandin tells the true story of a slave insurrection aboard a ship named the Tryal in 1805, in which West African men and women rose up and seized the vessel. The uprising inspired Herman Melville to write his novella "Benito Cereno" that drew on the memoirs of Captain Delano, a distant relative of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Today, Grandin has used the dramatic incident to show how slavery was the "flywheel" that drove the global development of everything from trade and insurance to technology, religion and medicine for nearly four centuries. A professor of Latin American history at New York University, Grandin’s last book, "Fordlandia," was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in history.

Job Killer? How Media Spin Got Obamacare Wrong -- and Why Single-Payer Could Cure Its Actual Flaws

Thu 08 11 AM

Obamacare is a job killer — that was the message across the media this week after the release of a new Congressional Budget Office report about the Affordable Care Act. But what does the CBO report really say? We speak to Pulitzer Prize-winning Los Angeles Times columnist Michael Hiltzik, who says detractors have misinterpreted a report that actually brought good news. That is not to say Obamacare does not have its drawbacks, which Hiltzik argues could be cured by a single-payer healthcare system.

"Celebration Capitalism & the Olympics": Global Protests Mark Approach of Sochi Games

Wed 08 30 AM

Russian President Vladimir Putin has spent more than $50 billion on the Winter Games in Sochi, making this the most expensive Olympics in history. In the lead-up to the games, Russia has faced worldwide criticism and calls for boycotts, especially after it passed a law in June banning the spread of so-called "gay propaganda" to children. With the games just two days away, we host a roundtable with four guests: Dave Zirin, sports columnist for The Nation magazine and author of "Game Over: How Politics Has Turned the Sports World Upside Down"; Samantha Retrosi, a luge athlete who competed in the 2006 Winter Olympics; historian and former U.S. Olympic soccer player, Jules Boykoff, who is author of "Celebration Capitalism and the Olympic Games"; and Helen Lenskyj, author of several books on the Olympics, including "Gender Politics and the Olympic Industry" and the forthcoming book, "Sexual Diversity and the Sochi 2014 Olympics: No More Rainbows."

"An Olympic Snowden": U.S. Athlete on Being Turned Into a "Spokesperson for Verizon" at 2006 Games

Wed 08 10 AM

With the opening ceremony of the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, just two days away, we look at a side of the games that you won’t see in the wall-to-wall media coverage. Former Olympic athlete Samantha Retrosi joins us to discuss her recent Nation article, "Why the Olympics are a Lot Like 'The Hunger Games.'" A luge competitor in the 2006 Winter Games in Italy, Retrosi says a lack of government support and sufficient safety protections forces athletes into relying on corporate sponsors and putting themselves in harm’s way. "This is like an 'Olympic Snowden,'" says political sportswriter Dave Zirin, who also joins us in studio. "This is a legitimate whistleblowing moment. People who are part of the Olympic program don’t say what Samantha just said."

Kids For Cash: Inside One of the Nation's Most Shocking Juvenile Justice Scandals

Tue 08 07 AM

Today a special on "kids for cash," the shocking story of how thousands of children in Pennsylvania were jailed by two corrupt judges who received $2.6 million in kickbacks from the builders and owners of private prison facilities. We hear from two of the youth: Charlie Balasavage was sent to juvenile detention after his parents unknowingly bought him a stolen scooter; Hillary Transue was detained for creating a MySpace page mocking her assistant high school principal. They were both 14 years old and were sentenced by the same judge, Judge Mark Ciavarella, who is now in jail himself — serving a 28-year sentence. Balasavage and Transue are featured in the new documentary, "Kids for Cash," by filmmaker Robert May, who also joins us. In addition, we speak to two mothers: Sandy Fonzo, whose son Ed Kenzakoski committed suicide after being imprisoned for years by Judge Ciavarella, and Hillary’s mother, Laurene Transue. Putting their stories into context of the larger scandal is attorney Robert Schwartz, executive director of the Juvenile Law Center. The story is still developing: In October, the private juvenile-detention companies in the scandal settled a civil lawsuit for $2.5 million.

One Billion Rising: Eve Ensler & Kimberle Crenshaw on Global Movement to End Violence Against Women

Mon 08 47 AM

A movement is growing worldwide to stop violence against women and girls. One Billion Rising for Justice will take place on February 14, Valentine’s Day, in more than 200 countries worldwide, focusing on the issue of justice for all survivors of gender violence and the impunity that protects perpetrators all over the world. The One Billion Rising and V-Day campaigns were launched by playwright Eve Ensler, creator of "The Vagina Monologues," and highlights the startling statistic that one in every three women on the planet will be raped or beaten in her lifetime. We speak to Eve Ensler and Kimberlé Crenshaw, co-founder of the African American Policy Forum. "Women are putting their bodies at the site where vulnerabilities intersect," Crenshaw says. "By that I mean where vulnerability to gender violence, vulnerability to economic exploitation, vulnerability to the drug war — all these things come together to create unique risks, many times risks that poor women, marginalized women, women of color face."

Michigan Activists Face Up to 2 Years in Prison for Protesting Oil Pipeline Behind 2010 Spill

Mon 08 39 AM

Three environmentalists have just been convicted for their role in nonviolently protesting the construction of tar sands pipelines in Michigan. Last summer, they tied themselves to excavators at an Enbridge Inc. construction site to stall work on a pipeline that had ruptured in 2010 and dumped about 800,000 gallons of crude oil into a tributary of the Kalamazoo River. On Friday, the protesters — Barbara Carter, Vicci Hamlin and Lisa Leggio — were found guilty of misdemeanor trespassing, as well as resisting and obstructing police, which carries a maximum two-year felony. We are joined from Grand Rapids, Michigan, by Christopher Wahmhoff of the Michigan Coalition Against Tar Sands. In June, Wahmhoff protested the Enbridge pipeline by skateboarding deep inside the pipe and refusing to come out.

Environmental Groups "Shocked" by Reports of NSA Spying of U.N. Climate Talks

Mon 08 35 AM

In one of the latest revelations based on the leaks of Edward Snowden, the National Security Agency spied on foreign governments before and during the 2009 U.N. climate summit in Copenhagen. An internal NSA document says its analysts and foreign partners briefed U.S. negotiators on other countries’ "preparations and goals," saying, "signals intelligence will undoubtedly play a significant role in keeping our negotiators as well informed as possible throughout the two-week event." We speak to Erich Pica, president of Friends of the Earth.

Debate: State Dept Moves Keystone XL Closer to Approval, But Does Conflict of Interest Taint Report?

Mon 08 11 AM

A long-awaited report from the State Department has dealt a potential major blow to efforts to stop the Keystone XL oil pipeline. An impact assessment released Friday says the pipeline’s northern leg would not have a major impact on climate change. In a speech last year, President Obama said his approval of the project will be contingent upon assuring it "does not significantly exacerbate the problem of carbon pollution." The proposed pipeline would transport 83,000 barrels of crude every day from Alberta’s oil sands to refineries on the U.S. Gulf Coast, which opponents say will have a devastating impact on the planet. The White House says it has yet to make a decision and will await additional feedback from federal agencies. Should the Obama administration approve the Keystone XL pipeline? We host a debate between Erich Pica of Friends of the Earth and Cindy Schild of the American Petroleum Institute.