Democracy Now!

"Advocate": Israeli Attorney Lea Tsemel Reflects on Defending Palestinians Who Resist Occupation

Attorney Lea Tsemel has defended Palestinian political prisoners in Israeli courts for nearly half a century, insisting on their humanity and their right to a fair trial. Her work has earned her the scorn and reprobation of many Israelis, as well as death threats. A staunch critic of the Israeli occupation of Palestine, Tsemel has long argued that Palestinians who carry out politically motivated violence are freedom fighters, not “terrorists.” In 1999, Tsemel won a landmark case in the Israeli Supreme Court, making it illegal for Israeli officials to torture detained Palestinians during interrogations. The documentary “Advocate” narrates the remarkable life story of Tsemel. The film premiered at this year’s Sundance Film Festival and screened in New York City for the first time Thursday night at the Human Rights Watch Film Festival. We speak with Lea Tsemel and the director of “Advocate,” Rachel Leah Jones.

Ola Bini Was Friends with Julian Assange. He Has Spent Two Months in Jail Without Charge in Ecuador

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange appeared before a magistrates’ court in London Friday, saying his life was “effectively at stake” if the U.K. honors an extradition request from the United States, where he faces 17 counts of violating the Espionage Act. Meanwhile, a friend of Assange’s, Swedish programmer and data privacy activist Ola Bini, is still in prison in Ecuador, after being arrested April 11, the same day Assange was forcibly taken by British authorities from the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, and has been jailed ever since without charges. We speak with Vijay Prashad, director of Tricontinental: Institute for Social Research and a friend of Ola Bini.

Vijay Prashad: U.S. Rushes to Blame Iran for Tanker Attacks as Much of World Pushes for Diplomacy

Tensions between the U.S. and Iran are again ratcheting up as the Trump administration accused Iran of orchestrating an attack Thursday on Japanese and Norwegian oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman. Iran denied any involvement and accused the Trump administration of trying to sabotage diplomacy. U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo directly accused Iran of attacking the oil tankers, and the U.S. released video of what it claimed was Iran’s Revolutionary Guard removing an unexploded mine from the side of the Japanese oil tanker that was attacked. However, the president of the Japanese company that owns the ship said it was not attacked by mines but two flying objects. He also said he doesn’t believe any objects were attached to the side of the ship. We speak with Vijay Prashad, director of Tricontinental: Institute for Social Research.

Headlines for June 14, 2019

"Pose" Star Indya Moore Demands Justice for Killed Trans Women: "We Are All Worthy of Safety"

Transgender actor and model Indya Moore addressed a crowd of protesters gathered in New York City’s Foley Square Monday to demand justice for Layleen Polanco, a transgender Afro-Latinx woman who was found dead in a cell at Rikers Island on Friday. Polanco was arrested on misdemeanor charges and jailed on Rikers in April when she was unable to post $500 bail. Nearly two months later, she was dead. “We are worthy of legal aid, liberty, justice, resources. And we are worthy of life. We are worthy of love,” Moore told the crowd. “If the sight of us using our bodies, our voices and our defiance to protest this oppressive administration and the people who endorse it, and the religions that are fighting for the right to dispose us as a spiritual practice, and police, prison and the political system that is giving the world permission to dispose of us, disturbs and frightens you more than our mysteriously dead bodies in the custody of Rikers Island … we will not back down and rest in peace no more.” Indya Moore was recently named one of the world’s 100 most influential people of 2019 by Time magazine. We’re also joined in studio by Raquel Willis, a transgender activist and writer, executive editor of Out magazine.

Justice for Layleen Polanco: Community Demands Answers After Trans Black Latinx Woman Died at Rikers

Outrage is mounting over the death of Layleen Polanco, a transgender Afro-Latinx woman who was found dead in a cell at Rikers Island on Friday. Polanco was arrested on misdemeanor charges and jailed on Rikers in April when she was unable to post $500 bail. Nearly two months later, she was dead. Her family, friends and transgender rights activists are now demanding answers for the conditions that led to the 27-year-old’s death. The city says the cause of death has not yet been determined. Polanco was held in a unit for transgender women while jailed at Rikers, but a week before her death she was transferred to so-called restrictive housing, an arrangement Polanco’s lawyer says amounts to solitary confinement. Layleen’s death came at the beginning of Pride Month and just one day after the NYPD apologized for the first time for its raid a half-century ago on the Stonewall Inn, a gay- and trans-friendly bar in Manhattan’s Greenwich Village. In June of 1969, the inn was the site of a violent police raid that triggered an uprising and helped launch the modern-day LGBTQ rights movement. We speak with Raquel Willis, a transgender activist and writer, executive editor of Out magazine, and Joel Wertheimer, an attorney representing the family of Layleen Polanco.

No More Deaths: Mistrial Declared After Jury Refuses to Convict Scott Warren for Aiding Migrants

In Tucson, Arizona, a jury has refused to convict humanitarian activist Scott Warren, who faced up to 20 years in prison for providing water, food, clean clothes and beds to two undocumented migrants crossing the Sonoran Desert in southern Arizona. Warren’s trial ended Tuesday in a mistrial after a deadlocked jury was unable to deliver a verdict. Eight jurors thought Warren was not guilty; four thought he was guilty. A status hearing is scheduled for July 2. Prosecutors have declined to comment on whether they would seek a retrial against Warren. We speak with Ryan Devereaux, a staff reporter at The Intercept who has covered Warren’s case extensively.

Despite Police Crackdown, Historic Hong Kong Protests Against New Extradition Law Continue

Authorities in Hong Kong have shut down government offices and postponed debate in the Legislative Council, one day after riot police fired tear gas, rubber bullets and pepper spray at tens of thousands of demonstrators who took to the streets to protest a bill that would allow the extradition of Hong Kong residents to mainland China. On Wednesday, demonstrators attempted to storm the Legislative Council Building, where lawmakers are debating the extradition bill. Human Rights Watch criticized Hong Kong authorities for using what it described as “excessive force” to suppress peaceful demonstrations. Protesters described police using indiscriminate force. We speak with Mary Hui, a Hong Kong-based writer and reporter for the news outlet Quartz. She has reported on the extradition bill and has been covering the protests.

Headlines for June 13, 2019

Overcrowding, Rotten Food & Nooses: DHS Watchdog Confirms Horrific Conditions at Immigrant Jails

We look at horrific conditions for some 52,000 immigrants held in for-profit jails around the country. At least 24 immigrants have died in the custody of Immigration and Customs Enforcement under Trump, and at least four more died shortly after being released. Now Homeland Security’s own inspector general has revealed how detained immigrants are subjected to rotten food, severe overcrowding, inadequate medical care, and broken and overflowing toilets. This comes as a separate report recently documented “dangerous overcrowding” at a Border Patrol processing facility in El Paso, Texas. Meanwhile, the Trump administration has announced it plans to hold some 1,400 immigrant children at a site on Fort Sill Army Base in Oklahoma that was once used as an internment camp for Japanese Americans during World War II. We get an update from Aura Bogado, immigration reporter for Reveal from the Center for Investigative Reporting, who has been speaking with migrants held in these facilities.

Secret Files Show How Brazil's Elites Jailed Former President Lula and Cleared the Way for Bolsonaro

A political crisis is growing in Brazil after The Intercept revealed that the judge who helped jail former Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva likely aided federal prosecutors in their corruption case in an attempt to prevent Lula’s Workers’ Party from winning the presidency. Leaked cellphone messages among Brazilian law enforcement officials and other data obtained by The Intercept point to an ongoing collaboration between Judge Sérgio Moro and the prosecutors investigating a sweeping corruption scandal known as Operation Car Wash. Lula was considered a favorite in the lead-up to the 2018 presidential election until he was put in jail and forced out of the race on what many say were trumped-up corruption charges. The leaked documents also reveal prosecutors had serious doubts about Lula’s guilt. The jailing of Lula helped pave the way for the election of the far-right former military officer Jair Bolsonaro, who then named Judge Sérgio Moro to be his justice minister. We get an update from Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Glenn Greenwald of The Intercept, whose reporting is based on a trove of internal files and private conversations from the prosecutorial team behind Operation Car Wash.

Facing Affordable Housing Crisis & Record Homelessness, New York Passes Landmark Rent Protection Law

In New York, housing rights advocates are celebrating after state lawmakers announced an agreement that would provide the strongest tenant protections in over a quarter of a century. The deal came just days ahead of the expiration of the current rent laws at the end of this week. Democracy Now! co-host Juan González explains how lawmakers agreed to abolish laws allowing landlords to deregulate rents on apartments after they exceed a certain limit, and to curb provisions allowing landlords to raise the rent of rent-controlled apartments after renovations. The law is one of several similar efforts nationwide and is expected to give municipalities around the state more authority to regulate rents and ensure greater access to affordable housing.

Headlines for June 12, 2019

Press Freedom Under Attack: Australian Police Raid Network for Exposing War Crimes in Afghanistan

Press freedom groups are sounding the alarm over a pair of police raids on journalists. On Wednesday, Australian federal police swept into the headquarters of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation in Sydney, reviewing thousands of documents for information about a 2017 report that found Australian special forces soldiers may have committed war crimes in Afghanistan. The raid came one day after police in Melbourne raided the home of Annika Smethurst, a reporter with the Herald Sun newspaper. We speak to Australian professor Joseph Fernandez and Peter Greste, founding director of the Alliance for Journalists’ Freedom. Greste was imprisoned for 400 days in 2013 to 2014 while covering the political crisis in Egypt.

Gov. Jay Inslee on Climate Refugees, Tax Breaks for Boeing & Why He Feels Trump is a Racist

We speak with Washington Governor Jay Inslee about his bid for the 2020 presidency, immigration and the military-industrial complex. Inslee has also vowed to allow in a record number of refugees and to end President Trump’s Muslim travel ban. In 2017, Washington became the first state to file a lawsuit to challenge Trump’s initial travel ban.

"We Are Facing an Existential Crisis": Gov. Inslee Slams DNC for Refusing to Hold Climate Debate

The Democratic National Committee is facing criticism after rejecting calls to host a debate solely focused on the climate crisis and for threatening to blacklist any candidate who takes part in a non-DNC debate on the issue. DNC Chair Tom Perez recently told climate activists that it is not practical to hold debates on specific issues. We speak with Washington Governor Jay Inslee, who was the first Democratic presidential candidate to call for a climate-focused debate. He’s accusing the DNC of attempting to silence the voices of those who want to debate climate solutions. “This is our last chance to defeat climate change,” Inslee said. “We will not have another chance after the next administration. We will either act now, or it will be cataclysm.”

Headlines for June 11, 2019

Rev. William Barber: Racist Gerrymandering Created a GOP Stronghold in the South. We Must Fight Back

Longtime civil rights leader Rev. Dr. William Barber joins us to respond to his conviction Thursday for trespassing during a 2017 protest against gerrymandering and attacks on healthcare at the North Carolina Legislature. Barber had refused to leave the General Assembly as ordered, after he organized a sit-in at the legislative building when Republican leaders refused to meet with him about concerns with voter ID requirements and redistricting plans that would weaken the power of the black vote. “We must start connecting systemic racism, most seen through systemic voter suppression and gerrymandering, poverty, the lack of healthcare, environmental devastation and the war economy,” says Barber, the former president of the North Carolina NAACP and a leader of the national Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival. This Wednesday he will join faith leaders and religious groups in Washington, D.C., for a march to the White House to protest the Trump administration’s attacks on the nation’s most vulnerable communities, and next week he hosts the three-day Poor People’s Campaign Moral Action Congress in Washington, D.C., that will draw hundreds of people from across the country for a presidential forum, where both Republican and Democratic candidates will speak.

Tariff Temper Tantrum: Trump "Created a Fake Crisis & Has Announced a Fake Solution" with Mexico

Facing an escalating showdown with Mexico and an insurrection from his own party, President Trump said Friday the United States had reached a deal with Mexico to avert a 5% tariff on all imported Mexican goods that was due to take effect today and increase to 25% by October. Trump’s announcement came after three days of Mexico-U.S. negotiations in Washington. Officials said it was based around Mexico’s commitment to deploy National Guard forces throughout the country, in particular to its southern border, in order to stem the flow of northbound migrants headed toward the US. Under the deal, they said Mexico also agreed to expand what is known as the Remain in Mexico policy, which allows the U.S. to send back Central American asylum-seeking migrants to Mexico while their cases make their way through immigration courts. However, on Saturday, The New York Times reported that the plan to send troops to the border had already been agreed to in March. We speak with Lori Wallach, director of Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch and author of “The Rise and Fall of Fast Track Trade Authority.”

Headlines for June 10, 2019

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