Democracy Now!

Ex-Mexican Military Head Arrested in U.S. on Drug Charges. Should He Be Tried for Massacres, Too?

We speak with legendary Mexican investigative journalist Anabel Hernández about a case that has sent shockwaves throughout Mexico: the U.S. arrest of Mexico’s former defense secretary for allegedly working with a major drug cartel while heading Mexico’s military. General Salvador Cienfuegos served as secretary of defense from 2012 to 2018 in the former government of President Enrique Peña Nieto and has long been accused of human rights abuses, including refusing to allow investigators to interview soldiers who may have been involved in the 2014 disappearance and likely massacre of 43 students from a teachers’ college in Ayotzinapa, Guerrero. Hernández’s book “Narcoland: The Mexican Drug Lords and Their Godfathers” links top Mexican government officials to the world’s most powerful drug cartels, and she has received so many death threats that the National Human Rights Commission assigned her two full-time bodyguards. Despite the danger, she has continued to report. We are also joined by John Gibler, author and independent journalist based in Mexico, and examine how Mexican soldiers were involved in the 2014 disappearance and apparent massacre of the 43 students in Ayotzinapa.

"A Barrett Confirmation Is a Catastrophe": What Democrats Can Do to Block Trump's Supreme Court Pick

Fordham law professor Zephyr Teachout says Senate Democrats can still block the confirmation of President Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, Amy Coney Barrett, if they use every possible procedural method available to them to slow and frustrate the process. “A Barrett confirmation is a catastrophe,” Teachout says. “A 6-3 majority on the court is basically a bomb coming at what is left of our protections against corruption in politics, against corporate money, against what is left of the Voting Rights Act.”

"Break 'Em Up": As DOJ Targets Google, Zephyr Teachout Urges Breakup of More Big Tech Monopolies

The Department of Justice and 11 states have filed a major antitrust lawsuit against Google in a move that could lead to the breakup of the company’s business and holds major implications for other tech giants. The lawsuit accuses Google of engaging in illegal practices to maintain a monopoly on the search market, which fuels its dominance in online advertising. Fordham law professor Zephyr Teachout, who has long advocated for breaking up Big Tech monopolies, says it’s “an incredibly important lawsuit” that should be the start of a wave of legal and legislative action to tackle “this incredible democratic crisis we have of Big Tech really becoming a form of private, for-profit government that is taking over so many parts of our lives.”

Headlines for October 21, 2020

"A Fire That Has Spread Across the Country": Jelani Cobb on Voter Suppression in the 2020 Election

As tens of millions of people across the U.S. cast their ballots in early voting ahead of the November 3 election, we look at voter suppression efforts with journalist and academic Jelani Cobb. His new “Frontline” documentary “Whose Vote Counts” examines the long lines, record number of mail-in ballots and the legal fights that have marked voting during the pandemic, with a focus on Wisconsin. “This is a state where the presidency was essentially decided in the last election,” says Cobb, a professor of journalism at Columbia University and a contributor to The New Yorker. He describes voter suppression as “a fire that has spread across the country.”

"A Blow Against Neoliberalism": Socialist Wins Bolivian Election a Year After Coup Ousted Evo Morales

Former Bolivian President Evo Morales’s political party MAS has claimed victory in the country’s presidential election, with Morales’s handpicked successor Luis Arce securing over 50% of the vote, according to exit polls. If confirmed, the result will put the socialist party back in power almost a year after a right-wing coup that ousted Morales and installed Jeanine Áñez as president. The election was postponed twice, and protests rocked Bolivia for months leading up to the vote, calling out the government’s use of military and police repression and violence against Indigenous communities. “It’s an extraordinary election,” says Ollie Vargas, a reporter for Kawsachun News. “In 2019, Evo Morales won by a margin of just over 10%, and now we have a margin of over 20% with which the left is ahead.” We also speak with Leonardo Flores, Latin America campaign coordinator of CodePink, who calls the election results “a huge, huge victory” for Bolivian people and for democracy itself. “It’s a blow against neoliberalism and fascism in this country,” says Flores.

Headlines for October 20, 2020

Jeremy Scahill on Trump's "Homicidal" Pandemic Response & What's at Stake in November Election

As President Trump campaigns in swing states that are also coronavirus hot spots, The Intercept’s Jeremy Scahill argues he is directly responsible for the poor U.S. response to the coronavirus pandemic, which has killed almost 220,000 people in the country so far and sickened millions. “I don’t know how else to describe what Trump has done except homicidal,” says Scahill, host of a new seven-part audio series that examines the Trump era.

Jeremy Scahill: "Trump Is Not the Root of the Problem, He Is a Product of American Imperial History"

Donald Trump ran for president in 2016 with a mixed message of attacking the legacy of the Iraq War and U.S. military adventurism, while simultaneously pledging to commit war crimes and promote imperialism. As we look back at Trump’s record, Jeremy Scahill, co-founder of The Intercept, says his flouting of international norms and bullying of other countries is in keeping with how U.S. presidents have long behaved. “Donald Trump is not the root of the problem. Donald Trump is a product of American imperial history,” Scahill notes.

Jeremy Scahill: Trump's Xenophobia Is Horrific, But U.S. Immigration Policy Has Always Been Racist

In Part 2 of our discussion of the Trump era with The Intercept’s Jeremy Scahill about his new seven-part audio documentary “American Mythology,” he examines how Trump’s xenophobic immigration policies have been a “methodical, surgical operation” to make life miserable for both current and prospective immigrants, including asylum seekers fleeing violence. He also notes that while Trump’s policies have been particularly vicious, “this country has had a racist immigration policy for a very long time, and it’s bipartisan.”

Jeremy Scahill: Trump Has Embraced White Supremacists & Emboldened Police to Act Outside the Law

As the 2020 presidential campaign enters its final two weeks, we look at the past four years of the Trump presidency with investigative journalist Jeremy Scahill of The Intercept. His podcast “Intercepted” has just released the fourth chapter in a seven-part audio documentary titled “American Mythology,” which critically examines the Trump presidency and places it within a larger historical context. Scahill says Trump has empowered white supremacist vigilantes and given permission to law enforcement to act extrajudicially to enforce a racist status quo, but he cautions that “Donald Trump is not an aberration of U.S. history or some anomaly, but he’s a very overt representation of many of the absolute most violent, destructive, racist, xenophobic trends in U.S. history.”

Headlines for October 19, 2020

Dark Money & Barrett Nomination: The Link Between Big Polluters & the War on ACA, Roe & LGBT Rights

During confirmation hearings this week for Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett, Democratic Senator Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island opted not to ask the judge any questions. Instead, he gave a 30-minute presentation on how right-wing groups, including the Federalist Society and Judicial Crisis Network, use dark money to shape the nation’s judiciary. We air excerpts from his presentation and get reaction from Kristen Clarke, president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law.

Preserving Roe: West Virginia Mom Tells Abortion Story in Heartfelt Speech Against Amy Coney Barrett

The Senate Judiciary Committee heard testimony this week from Crystal Good, who spoke about her experience of having an abortion and expressed concerns that Amy Coney Barrett’s confirmation to the Supreme Court would limit access to safe, affordable care. During three days of hearings, Judge Barrett has repeatedly refused to answer questions about her views on abortion and the future of Roe v. Wade, despite her public record opposing reproductive rights. “If confirmed, Judge Barrett will be a fifth vote to eviscerate the important protections that have been afforded by Roe v. Wade,” says Kristen Clarke, president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, who also testified in the Senate this week.

Deeply Troubling: Kristen Clarke on How Rush to Confirm Barrett Endangers Voting & Civil Rights

The Senate confirmation hearing for President Trump’s Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett ended Thursday with Republicans on the Judiciary Committee scheduling a vote on her nomination for October 22, with a full Senate vote to follow shortly thereafter — less than two weeks before the presidential election, in which the Supreme Court could play a decisive role. The right-wing judge’s confirmation looks all but assured, after four rushed days of questioning in which Barrett refused to state her position on abortion rights, gay marriage, the Affordable Care Act, voting rights, climate change, and even if President Trump could delay the election. If confirmed, she gives conservatives a 6-3 majority on the high court. “We have never had a president put forth a nomination and commence confirmation hearings in the middle of an ongoing presidential election,” says Kristen Clarke, president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law.

Headlines for October 16, 2020

Amy Coney Barrett Won't Say Climate Change Is Real; Forgets 1st Amendment Protects Right to Protest

We air highlights from the second day of questioning of President Trump’s Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett, who faced eight hours of questions on Wednesday about her views on issues ranging from climate change to voting rights to gay marriage and abortion, as Republicans race to confirm her ahead of the election and secure a 6-3 majority on the Supreme Court for conservatives.

Herd Immunity: Is It a More Compassionate Approach or Will It Lead to Death or Illness for Millions?

As coronavirus cases increase across much of the United States, the Trump administration has reportedly adopted a policy of deliberately letting the virus infect much of the U.S. population in order to attain “herd immunity” — despite warnings from the World Health Organization against such an approach. We host a debate on the contentious issue of herd immunity and how best to confront the virus with two Harvard medical experts: epidemiologist Martin Kulldorff, a professor of medicine at Harvard University and one of the lead signatories of the controversial Great Barrington Declaration arguing for an easing of lockdowns, and Dr. Abraar Karan, an internal medicine doctor at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital and at Harvard Medical School who has worked on the COVID-19 public health response in Massachusetts since February.

Headlines for October 15, 2020

Making the Supreme Court Safe for Democracy: Samuel Moyn on Reforming an Undemocratic Institution

As Republicans race to confirm President Trump’s Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett prior to Election Day and cement a conservative majority on the top court for a generation or more, calls are growing for Joe Biden to increase the number of justices on the Supreme Court if elected president. But Yale legal scholar Samuel Moyn argues that beyond “packing the court” and other measures commonly proposed to rebalance the Supreme Court’s ideological makeup, the institution as a whole must be weakened in order to safeguard democracy. “This country was founded on minority rule and the rejection of democracy, and the Supreme Court has long been a part of that picture,” says Moyn. “Now that the right is on the brink of establishing control, it’s a dangerous institution.”

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