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: 4 hours 1 min ago

103-Year-Old Civil Rights Pioneer Joins Original Foot Soldiers, Jesse Jackson to Mark Bloody Sunday

Mon 07 15 AM

Amy Goodman interviewed civil rights luminaries at the foot of the Edmund Pettus Bridge, including 103-year-old Amelia Boynton Robinson, who held President Obama’s hand as they marched on the 50th anniversary of Bloody Sunday. Robinson played a key role in organizing the march and invited Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. to Selma in 1965. "If you are not a registered voter and you are 18 years of age, you are a hopeless people. Definitely hopeless, because you have nothing to say about your county, your city, your state," Robinson says. Other women honored this weekend as original "foot soldiers" who marched in 1965 include then 13-year-old Mae Taylor Richmond. "As we knelt down to pray," she recalls, "the state troopers threw tear gas besides us, and we proceeded to run back to the church." We also speak with Rev. Jesse Jackson; Theresa Burroughs, who was 21 years old when she marched in Selma; comedian Dick Gregory; Clarence B. Jones, the attorney for Martin Luther King Jr.; and Susannah Heschel, daughter of Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel.

Voting Rights Remain Under Attack 50 Years After the Bloody Sunday March in Selma

Mon 07 08 AM

Tens of thousands of people, including President Obama and more than 100 members of Congress, traveled to Selma, Alabama, this weekend for the 50th anniversary of Bloody Sunday. On March 7, 1965, hundreds of peaceful voting rights activists were brutally attacked by Alabama state troopers, crossing the Edmund Pettus Bridge as they attempted to march from Selma to Montgomery. Bloody Sunday was the first of three attempted marches, finally completed under federal protection and led by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on March 24. The protests helped bring about the 1965 Voting Rights Act. "That’s the irony of being here today," says Sherrilyn Ifill, president and director-counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund. "We’ve come to commemorate and lift up and celebrate the activism and the passage of the 1965 Civil Rights Act. But today the Voting Rights Act is under peril because of the Supreme Court’s decision in the Shelby case two years ago." Ifill outlines how the court ended federal review of changes to voting laws in jurisdictions with a history of abuse, thereby launching a wave of new voting restrictions. She also details efforts by the NAACP-LDF to restore this protection.

As Boston Marathon Bomber Admits Guilt, FBI Sued for Killing Friend of Tsarnaevs in Florida

Fri 08 50 AM

The trial for accused Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev has opened in Massachusetts after defense attorneys failed in their repeated bids to move it out of state. Tsarnaev, and his brother Tamerlan, who died in a shootout with police, are accused of planting bombs at the marathon finish line, killing three people and injuring 264 others. On the trial’s first day, defense attorneys acknowledged their client’s role in the bombings, but said he was heavily influenced by his older brother. The trial comes as the Council on American-Islamic Relations in Florida has announced it will sue the FBI for $30 million on behalf of the family of an unarmed Chechen man killed during questioning over his ties to the Tsarnaev brothers. The FBI says an agent shot Ibragim Todashev in self-defense after Todashev attacked him, but his parents have accused the FBI of killing their son "in cold blood." We speak to Kade Crockford, director of the Technology for Liberty project at the ACLU of Massachusetts.

Meet Jesús "Chuy" García, the Chicago Activist Aiming to Unseat "Mayor 1%" Rahm Emanuel

Fri 08 27 AM

Jesús "Chuy" García, the son of Mexican immigrants, shocked the nation’s political establishment last week by forcing Chicago’s powerful Mayor Rahm Emanuel into a runoff election. Now the race has turned into what could be the next big fight for the soul of the Democratic Party. Emanuel faces public dissatisfaction over his closing of 50 schools in mostly African-American neighborhoods, his handling of a 2012 teachers’ strike, and the city’s high murder rate and levels of gun violence. If García is elected, he will become Chicago’s first-ever Latino mayor. The runoff election will take place on April 7.

"I Thought I Saw Death": John Lewis Remembers Police Attack on Bloody Sunday in Selma 50 Years Ago

Fri 08 17 AM

Thousands of people are expected to travel to Selma, Alabama, this weekend for the 50th anniversary of "Bloody Sunday," when hundreds of peaceful voting rights activists were attacked by police crossing the Edmund Pettus Bridge as they attempted to march to Montgomery on March 7, 1965. Bloody Sunday was the first of three attempted marches from Selma to Montgomery, which was finally completed under federal protection and led by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. One of the protesters beaten on Bloody Sunday was Rep. John Lewis of Georgia, then a 25-year-old organizer with the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee. "I was hit in the head by a state trooper with a nightstick. I had a concussion at the bridge," Lewis said. "My legs went out from under me. I felt like I was going to die. I thought I saw Death. All these many years later, I don’t recall how I made it back across that bridge to the church."

Attica's Ghosts: New Calls to Close Site of Prison Revolt After Guards Avoid Jail for Brutal Abuse

Thu 08 41 AM

Over four decades after the infamous Attica prison uprising, we look at the savage conditions inside the New York facility where three guards nearly beat a prisoner to death in 2011. The guards were charged for the attack, but just before the trial was to begin, they all have pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor and will not serve jail time. This marks the first time a prison guard in New York has been criminally charged with a nonsexual assault of a prisoner, and it’s also the first time in state history a guard has pleaded guilty to committing an unauthorized violent act against a prisoner while on duty. More than 2,200 men are walled inside Attica, and reports of guards using force against them are up 25 percent in the last four years. The maximum security prison has few security cameras, and prosecutors in the case say this has let guards and prisoners get away with violence. Critics have called for the prison’s closure. We speak to reporter Tom Robbins of The Marshall Project, whose investigation of the guards’ case was published in collaboration with The New York Times; and former Attica prisoner Antonio Yarbough, who served 20 years for a triple murder but was exonerated last year.

Jihadi John Unmasked: Did U.K. Security Agencies Play a Role in ISIS Militant's Radicalization?

Thu 08 20 AM

We look at the strange case of the man nicknamed Jihadi John, the Islamic State militant seen in the beheading videos of James Foley and Steven Sotloff. Last week, press accounts identified him as a Londoner named Mohammed Emwazi who was originally from Kuwait. Emwazi moved to Britain as a child and studied computer science at the University of Westminster. The story has touched off a debate in Britain over policing and monitoring of potential threats. How did Emwazi go from being a university student in Britain to being the face of the Islamic State? Did British security services play a role in his radicalization? We are joined by Asim Qureshi of the British prisoner group CAGE, who knew Emwazi until he left Britain for good in 2012.

Millions Could Lose Obamacare Coverage as Supreme Court Weighs Dubious Koch-Backed Case

Thu 08 11 AM

The U.S. Supreme Court has heard arguments in a new challenge to the Affordable Care Act, or "Obamacare." The Competitive Enterprise Institute, backed by the billionaire brothers David and Charles Koch, sued the government over an aspect of the law dealing with tax subsidies. The legal question before the court focuses on a four-word phrase in the Affordable Care Act, which says subsidies are available to those buying insurance on exchanges "established by the state." Plaintiffs claim the wording does not include some 7.5 million people in 34 states who get their insurance through federal exchanges, after their states declined to run exchanges of their own. If the government loses the case, millions of people would lose the subsidies needed to help pay for private health insurance. Justices appeared sharply divide during Wednesday’s arguments, and a decision is expected by late June. We are joined by Ian Millhiser, who attended Wednesday’s court hearing. He is a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress Action Fund, editor of ThinkProgress Justice, and author of the forthcoming book, "Injustices: The Supreme Court’s History of Comforting the Comfortable and Afflicting the Afflicted."

Michelle Alexander: Roots of Today's Mass Incarceration Crisis Date to Slavery, Jim Crow

Wed 08 27 AM

As the Justice Department sheds new light on the racist criminal justice system in Ferguson, legal scholar Michelle Alexander looks at the historical roots of what she describes as "the new Jim Crow." From mass incarceration to police killings to the drug war, Alexander explores how the crisis is a nationwide issue facing communities of color. "Today we see millions of poor people and folks of color who are trapped, yet again, in a criminal justice system which are treating them like commodities, like people who are easily disposable," Alexander says. "We are not on the right path. … It’s not about making minor reforms and plodding along in the same direction. No, its about mustering the courage to have a major reassessment of where we are as America, reckon with our racial history as well as our present, and build a broad-based movement rooted in the awareness of the dignity and humanity of us all."

Michelle Alexander: Ferguson Shows Why Criminal Justice System of "Racial Control" Should Be Undone

Wed 08 13 AM

The U.S. Justice Department has concluded that the police and city courts in Ferguson, Missouri, routinely engaged in a pattern and practice of discrimination against African Americans. Despite comprising about 66 percent of the local population, African Americans accounted for 93 percent of arrests, 88 percent of incidents where force was used, 90 percent of citations and 85 percent of traffic stops. The Justice Department, which launched its report after the police killing of Michael Brown, also uncovered at least three municipal Ferguson emails containing racist language or images. "The report does not give me hope. What gives me hope is that people across America are finally waking up," says Michelle Alexander, author of the best-selling book, The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness. "There is a system of racial and social control in communities of color across America. … What we see now is that we do have the power to make things change. The question is are we going to transition from protest politics to long-term, strategic movement building?”

Noam Chomsky on Life & Love: Still Going at 86, Renowned Dissident is Newly Married

Tue 08 52 AM

At the age of 86, Noam Chomsky remains as active as ever in his work as a world-renowned political dissident and pioneering linguist. He has also opened a new chapter in his life, recently celebrating a one-year anniversary with his new wife, Valeria Wasserman Chomsky, his second marriage. Chomsky discusses the joys of newfound love and why it is a "privilege" for him to help people make sense of a very difficult world.

Noam Chomsky on Black Lives Matter: Why Won't U.S. Own Up to History of Slavery & Racism?

Tue 08 47 AM

Noam Chomsky weighs in on the Black Lives Matter movement across the United States, calling it a response to the unresolved consequences of slavery and racism dating back hundreds of years. "[Slavery] is a large part of the basis for our wealth and privilege," Chomsky says. "Is there a slave museum in the United States? The first one is just being established now with a private donor. This is the core of our history along with the extermination and expulsion of the native population. But it’s not part of our consciousness."

Chomsky: Greece's Syriza & Spain's Podemos Face "Savage Response" Taking on Austerity "Class War"

Tue 08 43 AM

Following its election in January on a pledge to confront the austerity program that’s decimated Greece’s economy, the Syriza government has faced a major pushback from international creditors led by Germany. Days after Greece secured a four-month extension to a loan package in exchange for new conditions on its spending, Noam Chomsky says the European response to Syriza has been "extremely savage," a reaction that could face Spain’s Podemos party should it win upcoming elections.

Chomsky on Snowden & Why NSA Surveillance Doesn't Stop Terror While the U.S. Drone War Creates It

Tue 08 39 AM

World-renowned political dissident, linguist and author Noam Chomsky discusses why National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden should be welcomed back to the United States as a hero and why those who authorized the government surveillance he exposed should be on trial, not him. Chomsky also argues that while mass surveillance has been ineffective in stopping terrorism, programs like the global U.S. drone war have helped spread it to areas all around the world.

Noam Chomsky: As Venezuela Struggles to Fix Economy, U.S. Should Stop Trying to Undermine Its Gov't

Tue 08 32 AM

Tensions are growing between the United States and Venezuela as the government of President Nicolás Maduro grapples with an economic crisis and a right-wing opposition calling for his removal from office. Venezuela has announced the arrest of an unspecified number of Americans on charges of espionage, new restrictions on the number of U.S. diplomats allowed in Venezuela, and rule changes that will subject Americans to the same visa requirements Venezuelans face in the United States. Maduro has also unveiled a list of American politicians barred from entering Venezuela in response to U.S. sanctions against Venezuelan officials last year. Maduro has repeatedly accused right-wing opponents of fomenting a coup with U.S. support. The White House has denied the charges, but said last week it is considering "tools" to "steer the Venezuelan government in the direction ... they should be headed." Weighing in on Venezuela, Noam Chomsky says the United States should be working with the Maduro government, not trying to undermine it.

Chomsky on Cuba: After Decades of U.S. Meddling & "Terrorism," Restoring Ties is Least We Could Do

Tue 08 26 AM

The United States and Cuba have held a second round of talks as part of the effort to restore full diplomatic ties for the first time in more than half a century. The two sides could reopen embassies in Havana and Washington in time for a regional meeting next month. World-renowned political analyst and linguist Noam Chomsky welcomes President Obama’s decision to begin normalizing relations with Cuba, but cautions that after more than half a century of U.S. meddling in the island nation, it’s the minimum step he could take.