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Twenty years ago today, Democracy Now! went on the air on the eve of the New Hampshire primary. The date was February 19, 1996. The show began as a radio show on a handful of stations. It expanded into television five years later. Today, 5,000 episodes later, Democracy Now! airs on over 1,400 TV and radio stations. We spend the hour looking back at some highlights, including our first broadcast; Amy Goodman and Jeremy Scahill’s investigation, "Drilling and Killing: Chevron and Nigeria’s Oil Dictatorship"; President Clinton accusing Amy of being "hostile and combative"; our coverage of the 2004 U.S.-backed coup in Haiti; Juan González debating Lou Dobbs; the 2008 arrests of Amy, Sharif Abdel Kouddous and Nicole Salazar at the Republican National Convention; and our live coverage from the Georgia prison grounds where Troy Davis was executed.
- Libya: U.S. Airstrikes Kill 30 in Escalation of U.S. Military Action
- Heading into SC Primary, Pope Suggests Trump is "Not Christian"
- Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton Tied Ahead of Nevada Caucus
- Student Protests Rock India over Arrest of Student Leader
- California: Officials Say Worst Gas Leak in U.S. History Now Capped
- Congressmembers Call for Investigation of Shell over Climate Change
- Obama to Visit, Seek Closer Relations with New Right-Wing Argentine President
- Baltimore: Trials of Officers Charged in Freddie Gray's Death on Hold
- Chicago #BlackLivesMatter Leader Refuses to Meet with Obama
- Wisconsin: 14,000 People Gather at Capitol for "Day Without Latinos"
South Dakota could soon become the first state in the country to ban transgender students from using the bathroom that corresponds to their gender identity. On Tuesday, the South Dakota state Senate passed a measure mandating that restrooms and locker rooms used by public school students "shall be designated for and used only by students of the same biological sex." The bill defines "biological sex" as "the physical condition of being male or female as determined by a person’s chromosomes and identified at birth by a person’s anatomy." The bill’s proponents say it’s about protecting students, but opponents, including the American Civil Liberties Union, say the measure ostracizes transgender children who already face a high risk of harassment. We speak to Chase Strangio, staff attorney at the ACLU. Chase recently wrote a letter to South Dakota lawmakers, which reads, in part, "If I were a student in South Dakota right now, chances are I would not survive into adulthood."
In Utah, more than 100 protesters disrupted a federal auction of oil and gas leases, spontaneously bursting into song until they were forced to leave. Author and activist Terry Tempest Williams, registered as Bidder 19, successfully bought rights to 1,750 acres of land to spare it from fossil fuel extraction. When asked by a Bureau of Land Management official if she was making a "legitimate bid for energy development," Tempest Williams said: "You can’t define what energy is for us. Our energy development is fueling a movement." Terry Tempest Williams joins us from Salt Lake City.
Earlier this month, the Pentagon released nearly 200 photographs relating to the abuse of prisoners by U.S. military personnel in Iraq and Afghanistan but refused to release a larger batch of 1,800 images. The American Civil Liberties Union has been fighting for nearly 12 years to win release of photos related to the Bush administration’s torture program. The released images include close-ups of bruised and lacerated body parts and bound, blindfolded prisoners. The withheld photos are believed to be far worse. We speak to ACLU attorney Alex Abdo.
A major debate over privacy and online encryption has erupted after the computer giant Apple announced it will resist a court order to help the FBI break into an iPhone recovered from one of the San Bernardino shooters. Citing an 18th century law, federal prosecutors requested a court order to compel Apple to assist the investigation in unlocking the phone of Syed Rizwan Farook. In December, Farook and his wife killed 14 and injured 22 others in San Bernardino. On Tuesday night, Apple CEO Tim Cook published an open letter to customers announcing his company’s decision to fight the court order. "Up to this point, we have done everything that is both within our power and within the law to help them," Cook said. "But now the U.S. government has asked us for something we simply do not have, and something we consider too dangerous to create. They have asked us to build a backdoor to the iPhone." We speak to Alex Abdo, staff attorney at the National Security Project at the American Civil Liberties Union.
- Turkey: 28 Killed in Car Bomb Blast in Ankara
- White House: Obama to Visit Cuba in Next Few Weeks
- Pope Francis: "Flow of Capital Cannot Decide Flow & Life of People"
- Texas: U.S. Marshals Arrest Man over $1,500 Student Loan Debt
- Yemen: Journalist Killed in Taiz; Drone Strikes Kill 3 in Huta
- 2 LAPD Officers Charged with Sexually Assaulting Women While on Duty
- Report: NYPD Officers Not Complying with New Stop & Frisk Rules
- KY Rep. Introduces Bill Restricting Access to Erectile Dysfunction Treatment, in Response to Abortion Restrictions
- Report: Number of Hate Groups Surges Amid Election Cycle Marked by Hate Speech
- Bolivia: 6 Government Workers Die After Building Lit on Fire After Protest
- Libya: Thousands Celebrate Fifth Anniversary of Revolution
- Ted Cruz and Donald Trump in Feud over South Carolina Campaign Ad
- AFL-CIO Withholds Endorsing a Presidential Candidate
- NYC: Protest Against Beyoncé Turns into Pro-Beyoncé Rally
Michigan's Water Wars: Nestlé Pumps Millions of Gallons for Free While Flint Pays for Poisoned Water
As Flint residents are forced to drink, cook with and even bathe in bottled water, while still paying some of the highest water bills in the country for their poisoned water, we turn to a little-known story about the bottled water industry in Michigan. In 2001 and 2002, the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality issued permits to Nestlé, the largest water bottling company in the world, to pump up to 400 gallons of water per minute from aquifers that feed Lake Michigan. This sparked a decade-long legal battle between Nestlé and the residents of Mecosta County, Michigan, where Nestlé’s wells are located. One of the most surprising things about this story is that, in Mecosta County, Nestlé is not required to pay anything to extract the water, besides a small permitting fee to the state and the cost of leases to a private landowner. In fact, the company received $13 million in tax breaks from the state to locate the plant in Michigan. The spokesperson for Nestlé in Michigan is Deborah Muchmore. She’s the wife of Dennis Muchmore—Governor Rick Snyder’s chief of staff, who just retired and registered to be a lobbyist. We speak with Peggy Case, Terry Swier and Glenna Maneke of Michigan Citizens for Water Conservation.
We speak with Curt Guyette of the ACLU of Michigan. He is an investigative reporter who was just named Michigan Journalist of the Year by the Michigan Press Association. He talks about the citizen-led effort to prove, despite assurances by state officials, the Flint water supply was contaminated with lead.
Meet the Flint Official Whose Bid to Restore Safe Drinking Water Was Blocked by an Unelected Manager
To learn more about how how Flint ended up with an unelected emergency manager, we spoke with Flint City Councilmember Eric Mays. Eleven months ago, in March 2015, the City Council voted seven to one on his resolution to stop using water from the corrosive Flint River. The city’s unelected emergency manager Jerry Ambrose rejected the proposal. He said, "It is incomprehensible to me that (seven) members of the Flint City Council would want to send more than $12 million a year to the system serving Southeast Michigan, even if Flint ratepayers could afford it. (Lake Huron) water from Detroit is no safer than water from Flint."
In October 2014, General Motors recognized the Flint water was corroding its engines. They got permission from the city’s unelected emergency manager—who was appointed by Republican Governor Rick Snyder—to disconnect from Flint’s water and go back to Detroit water. It would be another year before the people of Flint were finally allowed to disconnect from the corrosive Flint River as their water supply and hook up again to the Detroit water system. By then, the Flint River water had corroded the city’s aging pipes, poisoning the drinking water with lead, which can cause permanent developmental delays and neurological impairment, especially in children. We speak with a GM autoworker in Flint about the company’s actions once it realized that Flint’s water was corroding car engines.
Today, we go to Flint, Michigan, for a Democracy Now! special on the ongoing Flint water crisis. In 2014, an unelected emergency manager appointed by Michigan Governor Rick Snyder switched the source of the city’s drinking water from the Detroit system, which they’d been using for half a century, to the corrosive Flint River. Soon, residents were complaining about discolored and foul-smelling water, which was plagued by a host of problems. First, the water was infested with bacteria. Then it had cancerous chemicals called trihalomethanes, or TTHMs. A deadly outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease, which is caused by a water-borne bacteria, spread throughout the city, killing 10 people. And quietly, underground, the Flint River water was corroding the city’s aging pipes, poisoning the drinking water with lead, which can cause permanent developmental delays and neurological impairment, especially in children. Since the news about the lead poisoning broke last October, a slew of Michigan public officials have been ousted, the FBI has opened an investigation, and a special counsel for the Michigan Attorney General’s Office has announced top officials, including Governor Rick Snyder, could face criminal charges, including manslaughter. Well, this past weekend, we went to Flint to learn the remarkable story of how the governor and other officials ignored residents’ complaints for a year and a half, and how the city fought back—with protests, citizen journalism, a new mayor and a massive resident testing project.
- Obama Says He Will Tap "Indisputably Qualified" Candidate for Supreme Court
- Poll Shows Sanders, Clinton Tied in Nevada Ahead of Caucus
- U.N. Says Yemen Faces "Humanitarian Catastrophe" with Over 6,000 Dead
- Cuba and U.S. Sign Deal to Restart Commercial Flights for 1st Time in 50 Years
- Utah: Author Terry Tempest Williams Buys 1,750 Acres of Oil & Gas Leases to Block Drilling
- South Dakota Could Become 1st State to Pass Anti-Transgender Bathroom Bill
- Chicago: 12 Arrested After Blocking Traffic to Protest Deportations
- Providence College Students Stage Sit-in over Racism on Campus
- Boutros Boutros-Ghali, 1st U.N. Secretary-General from Africa, Dies at 93
"Maya Angelou: And Still I Rise": First Film on Writer and Activist Chronicles an Extraordinary Life
In a Black History Month special, we remember the life and legacy of the legendary poet, playwright and civil rights activist Maya Angelou. For the first time, a documentary has chronicled her remarkable life. She was raped as a child and refused to speak for five years. She went on to become an accomplished singer and actress, then worked with Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X. After King’s assassination, with encouragement by the author James Baldwin, Angelou penned "I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings," her first of seven autobiographies. In 1993 she recited her poem "On the Pulse of Morning" at Bill Clinton’s first inauguration. She was the first poet to make an inaugural recitation since Robert Frost at John F. Kennedy’s inauguration in 1961. We air highlights of Angelou’s work and speak to the co-producers and directors of the film, "Maya Angelou: And Still I Rise," Rita Coburn Whack and Bob Hercules, as well as Angelou’s grandson, Colin Johnson.
- More Republicans Join Vow to Block Supreme Court Justice Nominee
- 4 U.S. Journalists Released from Detention in Bahrain
- Egypt: Investigator in Italian Student's Death Previously Tied to Torture, Killing
- Bernie Sanders Protests DNC's Lifting of Ban on Lobbyist Donations
- Sanders Questioned over Reparations Stance at Minneapolis Forum
- Bill Clinton: "We are All Mixed-Race People"
- Rep. John Lewis: I Didn't Mean to "Disparage" Sanders' Civil Rights Role
- Former President George W. Bush Hits Campaign Trail for Brother Jeb
- Brazilian State Suspends Larvicide Use After Reports Point to Microcephaly Link
- Mexico: Pope Francis Asks for Forgiveness from Indigenous People in Chiapas
- U.K. to Ban Boycotts by Public Institutions in "Attack on Local Democracy"
- Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood Reopens After Deadly Attack
- Kendrick Lamar Performs in Prison Garb and Chains, Wins 5 Grammys
At Saturday’s Republican debate in Greenville, South Carolina, Donald Trump and Jeb Bush had a tense exchange over former President George W. Bush’s record in Iraq. "Obviously, the war in Iraq was a big, fat mistake," Trump said. "George Bush made a mistake. We can make mistakes. But that one was a beauty. We should have never been in Iraq. We have destabilized the Middle East." Jeb Bush responded: "I am sick and tired of him going after my family. … And while Donald Trump was building a reality TV show, my brother was building a security apparatus to keep us safe. And I’m proud of what he did."
We talk about the legacy of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, the leading conservative voice on the Supreme Court for decades. "What’s not really being said as much as it should be is just how devastating his legacy is," says Kimberlé Crenshaw, law professor at UCLA and Columbia University. "Justice Scalia was a person who effectively bludgeoned the life out of the living Constitution, the Constitution that gave us desegregation, that gave us women’s rights, that gave us environmental protections and political access."
Nearly 30 years ago, Antonin Scalia was approved by the Senate in a unanimous vote. Analysts are projecting a much tougher road for the next nominee. We look at four potential nominees: California Attorney General Kamala Harris, D.C. Circuit Judge Sri Srinivasan, Ninth Circuit Judge Paul Watford and Eighth Circuit Judge Jane Kelly.
With Saturday’s death of Justice Antonin Scalia, the most important conservative voice on the Supreme Court in decades, the nation may be heading into a constitutional crisis. Senate Republicans are vowing to block President Obama from filling Scalia’s seat. His death will also have an immediate impact on how the now eight-person court will rule in several key cases on the docket this term, including abortion, contraception, unions, voting rights, affirmative action, immigration and the status of Puerto Rico.