Democracy Now!

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Democracy Now! 2014-04-18 Friday

One of the greatest novelists and writers of the 20th century has died. Colombian author Gabriel García Márquez passed away Thursday in Mexico at the age of 87. It has been reported that only the Bible has sold more copies in the Spanish language than the works of García Márquez, who was affectionately known at "Gabo" throughout Latin America. His book "One Hundred Years of Solitude" is considered one of the masterful examples of the literary genre known as magic realism, and it won him the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1982. The Swedish Academy described it as a book "in which the fantastic and the realistic are combined in a richly composed world of imagination, reflecting a continent’s life and conflicts." We air clips of him speaking in his own words about writing his acclaimed book.

In an exclusive interview, Chilean novelist Isabel Allende remembers the life and legacy of late writer Gabriel García Márquez. She reads from his landmark novel "One Hundred Years of Solitude" and talks about how García Márquez influenced generations of thinkers and writers in Latin America and across the world. "He’s the master of masters," Allende says. "In a way, he conquered readers and conquered the world, and told the world about us, Latin Americans, and told us who we are. In his pages, we saw ourselves in a mirror." Allende describes the first time she read "One Hundred Years of Solitude" and how it impacted her. "It was as if someone was telling me my own story," she says. We also air video of García Márquez in his own words and hear Democracy Now! co-host Juan González read from "The General in His Labyrinth."

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Democracy Now! 2014-04-17 Thursday

As negotiations over the crisis in Ukraine begin in Geneva, tension is rising in the Ukrainian east after security forces killed three pro-Russian protesters, wounded 13 and took 63 captive in the city of Mariupol. Ukrainian officials said the pro-Russian separatists had attempted to storm a military base. The killings came just after the unraveling of a Ukrainian operation to retake government buildings from pro-Russian separatists. Earlier today, Russian President Vladimir Putin accused the authorities in Kiev of plunging the country into an "abyss" and refused to rule out sending forces into Ukraine. Meanwhile, NATOSecretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen has announced a series of steps to reinforce its presence in eastern Europe. "We will have more planes in the air, more ships on the water and more readiness on the land," Rasmussen said. We are joined by Stephen Cohen, professor emeritus of Russian studies and politics at New York University and Princeton University. "We are not at the beginning of a new Cold War, we are well into it," Cohen says, "which alerts us to the fact 'hot war' is imaginable now. It’s unlikely, but it’s conceivable — and if it’s conceivable, something has to be done about it."

New York has become the latest state to join an agreement that would transform the U.S. presidential election. Under the compact for a National Popular Vote, states across the country have pledged to award their electoral votes to the presidential candidate who wins the popular vote. If enough states sign on, it would guarantee the presidency goes to the candidate with the most votes nationwide. This would prevent scenarios like what happened in 2000, when Al Gore won the popular vote, but still lost the election to George W. Bush. The compact will kick in only when enough states have signed on to reach a threshold of 270 electoral votes. By adding its 29 electoral votes, New York joins those already pledged by nine other states and Washington, D.C. We are joined by New Yorker staff writer Hendrik Hertzberg, an advocate of the national popular vote and a board member of the electoral reform organization FairVote.

A new documentary film reveals how a regular U.S. air force unit based in the Nevada desert is responsible for flying the CIA’s drone strike program in Pakistan. "Drone" identifies the unit conducting CIA strikes in Pakistan’s tribal areas as the 17th Reconnaissance Squadron, which is located on the Creech air force base, about 45 miles from Las Vegas. We are joined by the film’s director, Tonje Schei, and Chris Woods, an award-winning reporter who investigates drone warfare. Woods is featured in "Drone" and is working on a forthcoming book on U.S. drone warfare.

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Democracy Now! 2014-04-16 Wednesday

One ancillary business that stands to profit from today's green rush includesCanna Security America, a Louisville, Colorado, security firm in the ArcView network that provides security systems for dispensaries and cultivators. Canna Security America president Dan Williams had worked for Envision Security before leaving in 2009 to help Colorado's Department of Revenue define security regulations for weed growing operations and dispensaries. "Unless it's done to code, the producers won't receive their licenses," Williams said, noting the red tape includes specifications on camera placement so that states can oversee the operations. "A lot of security companies, they don't take the [marijuana] industry very seriously, and that's what sets us apart. They don't want to deal with the regulations."

The New York City Police Department is disbanding a controversial spying unit that targeted Muslim communities. The so-called "Demographics Unit" secretly infiltrated Muslim student groups, sent informants into mosques, eavesdropped on conversations in restaurants, barber shops and gyms, and built a vast database of information. But after years of collecting information, it failed to yield a single terrorism investigation or even a single lead. We get reaction from Linda Sarsour of the Arab American Association of New York, who calls the unit’s closure a "welcome first step," but says it will "take years to undo the trauma that the American Muslim community has endured." We are also joined by Matt Apuzzo, who was part of the Associated Press team that first revealed the NYPD’s post-9/11 surveillance program. The AP’s series won the Pulitzer Prize for Investigative Reporting. Apuzzo is co-author of "Enemies Within: Inside the NYPD’s Secret Spying Unit and Bin Laden’s Final Plot Against America."

A new reports finds the killings of environmental and land rights activists worldwide has tripled over the past decade. The group Global Witness documented 147 activists who were killed in 2012, compared to 51 in 2002. The death rate is now an average of two per week. Almost none of the killers have faced charges. We air interviews with some of the late activists featured in the report, including José da Silva, a Brazilian conservationist and environmentalist who campaigned against logging and clearcutting of trees in the Amazon rainforest. In 2011, José and his wife, Maria, were murdered by masked gunmen. "This could be the tip of the iceberg in terms of the scale of the real problem," says Global Witness campaigner Oliver Courtney, who says details about the murders were nearly impossible to locate.

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Democracy Now! 2014-04-15 Tuesday

Award-winning journalist Matt Taibbi is out with an explosive new book that asks why the vast majority of white-collar criminals have avoided prison since the financial crisis began, while an unequal justice system imprisons the poor and people of color on a mass scale. In "The Divide: American Injustice in the Age of the Wealth Gap," Taibbi explores how the Depression-level income gap between the wealthy and the poor is mirrored by a "justice" gap in who is targeted for prosecution and imprisonment. "It is much more grotesque to consider the non-enforcement of white-collar criminals when you do consider how incredibly aggressive law enforcement is with regard to everybody else," Taibbi says.

Millions of Americans are rushing to file their federal and state taxes today by the midnight deadline. But others are using the day to protest the use of tax dollars to fund war. The War Resisters League estimates at least 45 percent of the 2015 federal budget would be used for current and past military expenses, as well as interest on the national debt, some 80 percent of which stems from military spending. To voice their opposition, some Americans are taking a stand by personally refusing to pay their federal taxes. Lida Shao, a premed student at Columbia University, has been a war tax resister for three years with support from the National War Tax Resistance Coordinating Committee. Shao joins us to discuss why Tax Day for her is a day of resistance.

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Democracy Now! 2014-04-14 Monday

In their first return to the United States since exposing the National Security Agency’s mass surveillance operations, journalists Glenn Greenwald and Laura Poitras were honored in New York City on Friday with the George Polk Award for National Security Reporting. Over the past 10 months, Poitras and Greenwald have played key roles in reporting the massive trove of documents leaked by Edward Snowden. They were joined by colleagues Ewen MacAskill of The Guardian and Barton Gellman of The Washington Post, with whom they shared the award. In their acceptance speeches, Poitras and Greenwald paid tribute to their source. "Each one of these awards just provides further vindication that what [Snowden] did in coming forward was absolutely the right thing to do and merits gratitude, and not indictments and decades in prison," Greenwald said. "None of us would be here … without the fact that someone decided to sacrifice their life to make this information available," Poitras said. "And so this award is really for Edward Snowden."

Ten months ago, Laura Poitras and Glenn Greenwald flew from New York to Hong Kong to meet National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden. Poitras and Greenwald did not return to the United States until this past Friday, when they flew from Berlin to New York to accept the George Polk Award for National Security Reporting. They arrived not knowing if they would be detained or subpoenaed after Director of National Intelligence James Clapper described journalists working on theNSA story as Snowden’s "accomplices." At a news conference following the George Polk Award ceremony, Poitras and Greenwald took questions from reporters about their reporting and the government intimidation it has sparked.

Kabul-based journalist Matthieu Aikins was honored with the George Polk Award on Friday for his Rolling Stone article, "The A-Team Killings," that uncovered "convincing evidence" that a U.S. Army Special Forces unit killed 10 Afghan civilians in Wardak province. Aikins joins us to discuss the latest on his story — as well as recent developments in Afghanistan, from the country’s elections to continued violence that recently killed two journalists.

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Democracy Now! 2014-04-11 Friday

Momentum is growing in the movement to divest from fossil fuel companies. On Thursday, South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu called for an anti-apartheid-style boycott and disinvestment campaign against the industry for its role in driving climate change. Meanwhile, nearly 100 members of the faculty at Harvard University released an open letter calling on the Ivy League school to sell off its interests in oil, gas and coal companies. "If the Corporation regards divestment as 'political,' then its continued investment is a similarly political act, one that finances present corporate activities and calculates profit from them," wrote the professors. "Slavery was once an investment issue, as were apartheid and the harm caused by smoking." Harvard has the largest university endowment in the country, worth more than $32 billion. We speak to James Anderson, professor of chemistry and Earth and planetary sciences at Harvard University. He is one of the signatories to the letter urging Harvard to divest from the fossil fuel industry. He has done groundbreaking work exposing the link between climate change and ozone loss. We also speak to Jamie Henn, co-founder of the climate change-focused organization, 350.org.

A new Showtime television show featuring Hollywood actors and award-winning journalists brings the issue of climate change alive with the full drama and suspense of a blockbuster movie. In the series, "Years of Living Dangerously," Harrison Ford travels to Indonesia to investigate the palm oil industry and Arnold Schwarzenegger joins an elite team of wild-land firefighters. Hollywood luminaries such as Matt Damon, James Cameron and Jerry Weintraub have paired up with top reporters and leading climate scientists such as Drs. Heidi Cullen, Joe Romm and James Hansen to tell the true stories of people affected by climate change. We speak to Joe Romm, chief science advisor to "Years of Living Dangerously" and founding editor of Climate Progress.

We end today’s show looking at a new book titled, "Imagine: Living in a Socialist USA." The book features essays by many prominent people, including Michael Moore, Angela Davis, Frances Fox Piven, Martín Espada, Rick Wolff and Democracy Now! co-host Juan González. The book comes out at a time when polls show Americans aged 18 to 29 have a more favorable reaction to the word "socialism" than "capitalism." The book is co-edited by the legendary book agent Frances Goldin, who has worked in the publishing world for more than six decades and will turn 90 years old in June. In 1951 at age 27, Goldin ran for New York State Senate on an American Labor Party slate headed by W.E.B. Du Bois. Goldin joins us now along with one of her co-editors, Michael Smith. He is a New York City attorney and a board member of the Center for Constitutional Rights.

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Democracy Now! 2014-04-10 Thursday

Protesters took to the streets in more than 60 cities on Saturday to call on President Obama to stop the deportation of undocumented immigrants. Some marked it as the date when the Obama administration likely reached its two millionth deportation. This comes as The New York Times reports that two-thirds of those deported under Obama had committed minor infractions, such as traffic violations, or had no criminal record at all. More than 5,000 children whose parents were removed from the country have ended up in foster care. But some activists say presidential action on deportations is not enough. They are focused instead on the passage of a bill in Congress that includes a path to citizenship. As Obama’s policies come under increasing scrutiny, we host a debate: Should the immigrant rights movement push Obama to take executive action to immediately stop deportations, or should the focus remain on pressuring Congress to pass a comprehensive immigration reform bill? We are joined by two guests: Pablo Alvarado, president of the National Day Laborer Organizing Network, and David Leopold, former president of the American Immigration Lawyers Association.

The Blackstone Group, a private equity firm, is now the largest owner of single-family rental homes in the country. In one day alone, Blackstone bought up 1,400 houses in Atlanta. And as private equity firms gobble up huge swaths of the housing market, they are partnering with big banks to bundle the mortgages on these rental homes into a new financial product known as "rental-backed securities," reminiscent of the "mortgage-backed securities" that helped cause the last financial crisis. Could this new private equity rental empire help spark the next housing crisis? We are joined by Laura Gottesdiener, author of "A Dream Foreclosed: Black America and the Fight for a Place to Call Home," who calls this wave of purchases "a land grab." Gottesdiener’s latest article focuses on New York City’s rental market, a case study in what critics call "predatory equity." Large firms have used abusive tactics to oust tenants in a bid to hike up rents — and tenants have been resisting. We are also joined by Benjamin Warren, who, along with nearly 1,600 families in 42 buildings, is a victim of one of the largest single foreclosures in the city’s recent history.

In an act of protest against drone attacks, a group of artists and villagers have unveiled a giant banner on a Pakistani field featuring the face of a young child. Organizers say the child lost her parents and two young siblings in a U.S. drone strike. Her picture is large enough to be picked up by satellite imagery. The "Not a Bug Splat" campaign is the work of Pakistanis, Americans and the French street artist JR. The project derives its name from a piece of military software that generates computer models of the destruction a bombing raid might cause — those models reportedly resemble the remains of a squashed insect on a windshield. Now, drone operators will see the face of the little girl staring up at them instead. We speak with Dr. Akash Goel, a physician who is one of the co-creators of the "Not A Bug Splat" project.

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Democracy Now! 2014-04-09 Wednesday

As voting begins in India in the largest elections the world has ever seen, we spend the hour with Indian novelist and essayist Arundhati Roy. Nearly 815 million Indians are eligible to vote, and results will be issued in May. One of India’s most famous authors — and one of its fiercest critics — Roy is out with a new book, "Capitalism: A Ghost Story," which dives into India’s transforming political landscape and makes the case that globalized capitalism has intensified the wealth divide, racism, and environmental degradation. "This new election is going to be [about] who the corporates choose," Roy says, "[about] who is not going to blink about deploying the Indian army against the poorest people in this country, and pushing them out to give over those lands, those rivers, those mountains, to the major mining corporations." Roy won the Booker Prize in 1997 for her novel, "The God of Small Things." Her other books include "An Ordinary Person’s Guide to Empire" and "Field Notes on Democracy: Listening to Grasshoppers."

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Democracy Now! 2014-04-08 Tuesday

With U.S. inequality at its highest point since 1928 and Wall Street bonuses hitting pre-2008 levels, we look at the 100-year history of secret collusion between Washington and the financial industry. In her new book, "All the Presidents’ Bankers: The Hidden Alliances that Drive American Power," financial journalist Nomi Prins explores how a small number of bankers have played critical roles in shaping a century’s worth of financial, foreign and domestic policy in the United States. Prins examines how these relationships have influenced events from the creation of the Federal Reserve, the response to the Great Depression, and the founding of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. Now a senior fellow at Demos, Prins is a former managing director at Bear Stearns and Goldman Sachs, and previously an analyst at Lehman Brothers and Chase Manhattan Bank.

We speak with Democratic Rep. Peter Welch of Vermont about a bipartisan bill that would force President Obama to include the total dollar amount requested for each of the 16 intelligence agencies in his budget proposal. Using documents leaked by National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden, the Washington Post has revealed the nation’s so-called "black budget" to be $53 billion, a 54 percent hike over the past decade. The documents also revealed the NSA is paying hundreds of millions of dollars a year to U.S. telephone and Internet companies for clandestine access to their communications networks. Welch has joined Republican Rep. Cynthia Lummis of Wyoming, a fellow member of the House Oversight Subcommittee on National Security, in co-sponsoring Intelligence Budget Transparency Act. "If you are going to have any oversight whatsoever, you have to know what the budget is," Welsh says.

Democratic Rep. Peter Welch of Vermont reacts to his Republican colleagues’ recent vote to effectively force government agencies to stop studying climate change. The House measure calls on the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and related bodies to focus on forecasting severe weather — but not explore one of its likely causes. The vote comes just as the U.N.'s top climate panel issued a report calling on governments to prepare for global warming's worsening impact and to cut emissions in order to prevent it from getting worse. "Science does not exist on Capitol Hill," Welch says. "We’re in a fact-free zone here." Welch also discusses his effort to repeal tax giveaways to pharmaceutical companies, the future of nuclear power in the United States, and the growing heroin problem plaguing Vermont and rural communities across the country.

A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit challenging the U.S. government’s killing of three Americans in Yemen drone strikes. The case was filed by the families of Samir Khan, Muslim cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, his teenage son, Abdulrahman, accusing top U.S. officials of unlawful killings. But on Friday, U.S. District Court Judge Rosemary Collyer ruled the victims’ constitutional rights were never violated, and said the U.S. officials involved cannot be held liable. We get reaction from Maria LaHood, a senior staff attorney at the Center for Constitutional Rights and one of the attorneys working on Anwar Al-Awlaki’s case. "The courts have abdicated their roles with torture, they’ve abdicated their roles with indefinite detention," LaHood says. "Here we thought finally the courts would uphold the Constitution with the killing of American citizens."

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Democracy Now! 2014-04-07 Monday

Was Turkey behind last year’s Syrian chemical weapons attack? That is the question raised in a new exposé by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Seymour Hersh on the intelligence debate over the deaths of hundreds of Syrians in Ghouta last year. The United States, and much of the international community, blamed forces loyal to the Assad government, almost leading to a U.S. attack on Syria. But Hersh reveals the U.S. intelligence community feared Turkey was supplying sarin gas to Syrian rebels in the months before the attack took place — information never made public as President Obama made the case for launching a strike. Hersh joins us to discuss his findings.

Rwanda is holding commemorations for the 20th anniversary of the genocide in which 800,000 people were killed. On April 6, 1994, Rwanda’s extremist Hutu government and military began a campaign to exterminate the minority Tutsis. Men, women and children were massacred in an orchestrated pre-planned campaign of genocide not seen since the Nazi Holocaust. The world claimed it was unaware of the magnitude of the slaughter, and United Nations peacekeeping force stationed in the country stood by helplessly and watched the massacre unfold. Today, Rwandan President Paul Kagame will light a flame that will burn for 100 days, the length of time it took government soldiers and Hutu militia to carry out the killings. France has pulled out of the events following accusations by Kagame that it participated in the mass killings. We are joined by two guests: Jina Moore, international women’s rights correspondent for Buzzfeed, reporting from Rwanda; Jean-Marie Kamatali, a former dean of the National University of Rwanda School of Law.

Declassified U.S. documents show the Clinton administration refused to label the 1994 mass killings in Rwanda as a genocide. One State Department document read "Be careful … Genocide finding could commit U.S.G. to actually 'do something.'" At a press briefing in 1994, Reuters correspondent Alan Elsner asked: “How many acts of genocide does it take to make genocide? State Department spokesperson Christine Shelly responded, “Alan, that’s just not a question that I’m in a position to answer.” Samantha Power, who is now the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, described the U.S. inaction in her 2001 article, "Bystanders to Genocide.” She wrote, “The United States did much more than fail to send troops ... It led a successful effort to remove most of the U.N. peacekeepers who were already in Rwanda. It aggressively worked to block the subsequent authorization of UN reinforcements.” We speak to Emily Willard of the National Security Archive and University of Wisconsin, Madison professor Scott Straus, author of "The Order of Genocide: Race, Power, and War in Rwanda.”

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Democracy Now! 2014-04-18 Friday 3 days 1 hour ago
Democracy Now! 2014-04-17 Thursday 4 days 1 hour ago
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Democracy Now! 2014-04-15 Tuesday 6 days 1 hour ago
Democracy Now! 2014-04-14 Monday 1 week 2 hours ago
Democracy Now! 2014-04-11 Friday 1 week 3 days ago
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Egyptian Activist Alaa Abd El Fattah on Prison & Regime's "War on a Whole Generation" 2 weeks 6 days ago
Democracy Now! 2014-03-31 Monday 3 weeks 2 hours ago
Democracy Now! 2014-03-28 Friday 3 weeks 3 days ago
Democracy Now! 2014-03-27 Thursday 3 weeks 4 days ago
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Democracy Now! 2014-03-24 Monday 4 weeks 1 hour ago
Democracy Now! 2014-03-21 Friday 1 month 1 day ago
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Fast-Food Workers Charge McDonald's with Wage Theft 1 month 2 days ago
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Democracy Now! 2014-03-17 Monday 1 month 5 days ago
Democracy Now! 2014-03-14 Friday 1 month 1 week ago
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Dragnet Nation: Julia Angwin’s Quest for Privacy & Ray McGovern on FISA Court’s “Raw Take” Order 1 month 1 week ago
Democracy Now! 2014-03-12 Wednesday 1 month 1 week ago
Democracy Now! 2014-03-11 Tuesday 1 month 1 week ago
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Democracy Now! 2014-02-28 Friday 1 month 3 weeks ago
Democracy Now! 2014-02-27 Thursday 1 month 3 weeks ago
Democracy Now! 2014-02-26 Wednesday 1 month 3 weeks ago
Jackson Mayor Chokwe Lumumba Has Died 1 month 3 weeks ago
Inside the Army Spy Ring & Attempted Entrapment of Peace Activists, Iraq Vets, Anarchists 1 month 3 weeks ago
Democracy Now! 2014-02-25 Tuesday 1 month 3 weeks ago
Democracy Now! 2014-02-24 Monday 1 month 3 weeks ago

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