Democracy Now!

Indigenous-Led Anti-Austerity Protests Shut Down Quito Forcing Ecuadorian Government to Move Capital

Tens of thousands of people, led by indigenous leaders, are expected to again bring Ecuador to a standstill today in massive ongoing anti-government protests. Demonstrators flooded the streets of Quito Tuesday to decry government-imposed austerity measures and a steep hike in fuel prices, despite a severe police crackdown. Civil unrest has been growing since President Lenín Moreno ended a decades-old fuel subsidy program last week as part of a so-called reform plan imposed by the International Monetary Fund after Ecuador took a $4.2 billion loan from the IMF earlier this year. Hundreds of people have been arrested as the government cracks down on protesters and the media. Tuesday’s mass demonstrations come one day after Moreno said he was temporarily moving government operations from Quito to the southern city of Guayaquil. We go to Quito to speak with David Cordero Heredia, a law professor at Pontifical Catholic University. He is one of the lawyers representing protesters who have been detained in this latest round of protests.

Headlines for October 9, 2019

Will Chicago Teachers Be Next to Go Strike? Union Head Speaks Out As Walkout Date Approaches

In Chicago, union leaders and the nation’s third-largest school district are racing to reach an agreement to avert a teachers’ strike authorized to begin later this month. In late September, 25,000 educators voted overwhelmingly to authorize a work stoppage, demanding more staffing and lower class sizes. On Monday, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot accused the union of not coming to the bargaining table with a proposal to counter the offers the district has made in recent weeks. This comes as about 7,000 school support staffers with the Service Employees International Union have also made preparations for a strike, as have over 2,000 Chicago Park District workers with SEIU Local 73. From Chicago, we speak to Jesse Sharkey, president of the Chicago Teachers Union.

Striking UAW Member: We'll Strike "As Long as It Takes" to Demand Fair Salaries and Benefits

About 48,000 workers at General Motors have entered their fourth week on strike. It is the longest national strike at GM by the United Auto Workers in nearly 50 years. Workers are seeking higher pay, protection of their healthcare benefits, greater job security and a commitment from GM to build more cars and parts in the United States. On Sunday, UAW officials announced they had rejected the company’s latest offer, saying negotiations had “taken a turn for the worse.” We speak with Steve Frisque, a striking GM worker and former president of UAW Local 722.

This is Not A Drill: 700+ Arrested as Extinction Rebellion Fights Climate Crisis With Direct Action

More than 700 people have been arrested in civil disobedience actions as the group Extinction Rebellion kicked off two weeks of protests in 60 cities worldwide, demanding urgent government action on the climate crisis. Its members have superglued themselves to government buildings, occupied public landmarks, shut down roads and taken to the streets to sound the alarm about the impending catastrophe of global warming. Extinction Rebellion, a nonpolitical movement, launched last year in the U.K. and rose to prominence in April, when it disrupted traffic in Central London for 11 days. For more about the significance of the coordinated global protests, we speak with Extinction Rebellion co-founder Gail Bradbrook.

Headlines for October 8, 2019

"A Shakespearean Act of Betrayal": Trump Agrees to Let Turkey Invade Kurdish-Controlled Syrian Area

U.S. troops have begun withdrawing from northeast Syria as Turkey prepares to invade Kurdish-controlled areas of the country. For years, the Kurds have been close allies to the United States in the fight against ISIS. On Sunday, however, the White House released a statement that surprised many in the region, announcing that Turkey would be “moving forward with its long-planned operation in Northern Syria,” following a phone call between President Trump and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. “The United States Armed Forces will not support or be involved in that operation, and the United States forces, having defeated the ISIS territorial 'Caliphate,' will no longer be in the immediate area,” the statement said. The announcement marks a major shift in U.S. policy, since as recently as January President Trump threatened to “devastate Turkey economically” if it attacked Kurdish forces in Syria. Meanwhile, in neighboring Iraq, the death toll continues to rise as police and soldiers fire on people defying a government-imposed curfew in mass anti-government protests. For more on events in the region, we speak with Patrick Cockburn, Middle East correspondent for The Independent newspaper.

"A Backlash Against Our Existence": Laverne Cox Speaks Out on Violence Against Trans Women of Color

At least 18 transgender people have been killed in the United States in 2019 — most of them trans women of color. Last year, there were at least 26 killings of transgender people. The American Medical Association has declared the wave of violence an “epidemic.” Laverne Cox, the award-winning transgender actress and longtime trans rights activist, says such violence has long been part of the lives of trans people. “For my entire life as a trans woman, for 21 years, I have been hearing about, witnessing, going to memorials [and] going to Trans Days of Remembrance,” she says. Cox says the violence reflects a society-wide backlash against the gains made by trans people and others in the LGBTQ community, including from the Trump administration. “Now we’re coming out of the shadows, and as we come out of the shadows, people want to force us back into the dark,” she says. Cox joined Democracy Now! ahead of Supreme Court hearings this week on whether federal nondiscrimination laws extend to LGBTQ people. She was joined in studio by Chase Strangio, deputy director for transgender justice with the ACLU’s LGBT & HIV Project.

"We Have to Mass Mobilize": Laverne Cox & Chase Strangio Sound the Alarm on Major LGBTQ SCOTUS Cases

At the start of its new term, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments on Tuesday in three cases to determine whether LGBTQ people can be fired from their jobs due to their sexual orientation or gender identity. Under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, employers cannot discriminate against employees on the basis of sex, as well as race, color, national origin and religion, but the Trump administration claims the law does not cover discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. The cases mark the first time the Supreme Court will rule on LGBTQ rights since conservative Justice Brett Kavanaugh replaced Anthony Kennedy, who wrote many of the court’s major LGBTQ rights rulings. We speak with Laverne Cox, a longtime trans rights activist and award-winning transgender actress best known for her role on the show “Orange Is the New Black,” and Chase Strangio, deputy director for transgender justice with the ACLU’s LGBT & HIV Project. His work includes impact litigation, as well as legislative and administrative advocacy, on behalf of LGBTQ people and people living with HIV across the United States.

Headlines for October 7, 2019

From Trump to Nixon: "Watergate" Film Explains "How We Learned to Stop an Out of Control President"

President Donald Trump called openly Thursday for the leaders of Ukraine and China to investigate Trump’s campaign rival Joe Biden and Biden’s son Hunter for corruption. Trump’s explicit remarks during a press conference came as leaders of the Democratic-led House pushed ahead rapidly with their impeachment investigation. President Trump is just the fourth U.S. president to face a formal impeachment inquiry, joining Andrew Johnson, Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton. We spend the hour looking at back at the Watergate scandal, which led to Nixon’s resignation in 1974 and is the focus of a documentary titled “Watergate — Or: How We Learned to Stop an Out of Control President.” Drawing on 3,400 hours of audiotapes, archival footage and declassified documents, the film chronicles the dramatic events surrounding the break-in at the Democratic National Committee headquarters at the Watergate office complex in 1972, which precipitated Nixon’s eventual resignation two years later under threat of impeachment. We play clips from the film and speak with its director, Charles Ferguson, who won an Academy Award for his documentary “Inside Job.”

Headlines for October 4, 2019

As Man Dies in ICE Custody, California Moves to Ban For-Profit Prisons, Including Immigrant Jails

A Cameroonian immigrant died this week in the custody of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement in California. The man, identified as 37-year-old Nebane Abienwi, died on Tuesday after suffering a brain hemorrhage. This comes as California lawmakers passed a bill last month that would ban private prisons statewide, a major blow to the for-profit prison industry in the U.S. that is deeply entangled in immigration detention. The legislation also orders the closure of four ICE prisons that can jail up to 4,500 immigrants. The bill is currently awaiting the signature of Governor Gavin Newsom, who said in his January inaugural address that California should “end the outrage of private prisons once and for all.” Incarceration at for-profit prisons in California peaked at about 7,000 prisoners in 2016, but state officials have been shifting prisoners to publicly run prisons in recent years. Hamid Yazdan Panah, an immigration attorney with the California Collaborative for Immigrant Justice, joins us for a conversation about the bill and immigrant detention in California.

Trump vs. California: In Blow to Climate, U.S. Revokes State's Stricter Auto Emissions Standards

California is in a legal battle with the Trump administration over tailpipe emissions, air quality and climate change. California recently joined nearly two dozen other states to file a lawsuit against the Trump administration after it revoked the state’s air pollution standards for cars and light trucks, in its latest regulatory rollback of laws aimed at slowing the climate crisis. Auto emissions are California’s single largest source of greenhouse gases. From Los Angeles, we’re joined by Mary Nichols, the longtime chair of the California Air Resources Board. She has led the board in crafting California’s internationally recognized climate action plan. Michael Brune, executive director of the Sierra Club, speaks with us from San Francisco.

"Nothing Ends Homelessness Like a Home": Advocates Slam Trump's Attack on SF & Homeless People

President Trump is continuing an all-out attack on San Francisco’s homeless population and political leaders. On Wednesday, the Trump administration filed an environmental notice of violation against San Francisco, falsely claiming that the city’s homelessness crisis has caused water pollution. City officials have repeatedly rejected Trump’s unfounded claims that homelessness is connected to water quality. California is home to 12% of the country’s population but half of the country’s unsheltered homeless people. President Trump has been pushing for a crackdown on the crisis for weeks and threatened to destroy homeless encampments, increase police enforcement and even jail homeless people. For more on the issues surrounding the affordable housing crisis and homelessness, we speak with Jennifer Friedenbach, executive director of the Coalition on Homelessness, and Paul Boden, executive director of the Western Regional Advocacy Project.

Headlines for October 3, 2019

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