Democracy Now!

The Death of al-Baghdadi: ISIS Grew Out of U.S. Invasion of Iraq. What Will Happen Next?

President Trump announced Sunday that ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was killed in a U.S. special forces raid on his compound in northwestern Syria. According to Trump, al-Baghdadi detonated an explosive vest he was wearing, killing himself and three of his children. The raid began early Sunday when eight U.S. military helicopters flew from a base near Erbil, Iraq, to northwestern Syria over airspace controlled by Syria and Russia. Baghdadi had led ISIS since 2010. In 2014, he proclaimed the creation of an Islamic State or caliphate during a speech in Mosul. At its peak, ISIS controlled a large swath of land across Syria and Iraq and maintained a force of tens of thousands of fighters recruited from more than 100 countries. The group also claimed responsibility for deadly attacks across five continents. We speak with three guests: Juan Cole, author and professor of history at the University of Michigan; Emma Beals, award-winning investigative journalist and researcher who has covered the Syrian conflict since 2012; and Rami Khouri, senior public policy fellow and journalist-in-residence at the American University of Beirut, and a columnist at The New Arab.

Headlines for October 28, 2019

“State of Emergency”: Special Report on California’s Criminalization of Growing Homeless Encampments

In a Democracy Now! special report, we look at the rise in homelessness in many major cities across the United States. California has become the poster-child for this economic and humanitarian disaster, with growing encampments in Los Angeles and the Bay Area as more people are forced onto the streets. The state is home to 12% of the country’s population but half of the country’s unsheltered people. As the crisis deepens, so has the criminalization of homelessness, with increasing efforts by city and state officials to crack down on unhoused people occupying public space. President Donald Trump made headlines this month for attacking California’s politicians over the homelessness crisis, threatening to destroy encampments, increase police enforcement and even jail unhoused people. But advocates say California has already employed hostile policies that criminalize homelessness, from laws against unsheltered people sitting on sidewalks to frequent sweeps of the encampments that have popped up on thoroughfares and under freeways across the state’s cities. One of these crackdowns is currently unfolding at a massive Oakland encampment that Democracy Now! visited just a few weeks ago.

Rashida Tlaib to Mark Zuckerberg: Why Haven't You Stopped Hate Groups From Organizing on Facebook?

We feature more highlights from the five-hour grilling of Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg this week on Capitol Hill, where Michigan Congressmember Rashida Tlaib said she feared that far-right hate groups were using Facebook event pages to incite violence against Muslims and other minorities — including death threats directed at her office. Tlaib asked to be seen not only as a Congresswoman, but also as “a mother that is raising two Muslim boys in this pretty dark time in our world.” Meanwhile, California Congressmember Katie Porter pinned Zuckerberg down on Facebook’s privacy policies. “You are arguing in federal court that in a consumer data privacy lawsuit, in which your own lawyers admit that users’ information was stolen, that the plaintiffs fail to articulate any injury,” Porter said. “In other words, no harm, no foul. Facebook messed up, but it doesn’t matter. Is that your position?”

“You Won't Take Down Lies or You Will?”: AOC Grills Facebook’s Zuckerberg on Lies in Political Ads

This week, as Facebook said it will not fact check political ads or hold politicians to its usual content standards, the social media giant’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg was grilled for more than five hours by lawmakers on Capitol Hill on the company’s policy of allowing politicians to lie in political advertisements, as well as its role in facilitating election interference and housing discrimination. We play highlights from New York Congressmember Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and Ohio Congressmember Joyce Beatty, who asked Zuckerberg about Facebook’s record on civil rights, which she called “appalling and disgusting.” Beatty said the company “should have known better” and might have if “you had real diversity and inclusion on your team.”

Kings Bay Plowshares 7 Found Found Guilty of Conspiracy at Naval Base Housing Nuclear Arsenal

In Georgia, a federal grand jury on Thursday found seven Catholic peace activists guilty on three felony counts and a misdemeanor charge for breaking into the Kings Bay Naval Submarine Base on April 4, 2018. The activists, known as the Kings Bay Plowshares 7, entered the base armed with hammers, crime scene tape, baby bottles containing their own blood, and an indictment charging the U.S. government with crimes against peace. The base is home to at least six nuclear ballistic missile submarines, each of which carries 20 Trident thermonuclear weapons. The activists said they were following the prophet Isaiah’s command to “beat swords into plowshares.” At this week’s trial, the defendants were barred from citing their religious motivations or from mounting a “necessity defense” saying that their lawbreaking was necessary to prevent the far greater crime of a nuclear war. The activists will be sentenced within the next 90 days. They face more than 20 years in prison.

Headlines for October 25, 2019

GOP Lawmakers Disrupt Impeachment Hearing As More Damaging Details Emerge About Trump’s Misconduct

Republican lawmakers stormed a closed hearing room Wednesday, disrupting the House impeachment investigation into President Donald Trump and delaying a Pentagon official’s testimony. In an extraordinary chain of events, dozens of Republican congressmembers pushed into a secure hearing room as Laura Cooper, the U.S. defense official who oversees Ukraine and Russia matters, was due to testify. A five-hour stand-off ensued. The spectacle unfolded one day after Tuesday’s explosive testimony by William Taylor, the top U.S. diplomat in Ukraine. Taylor told congressional lawmakers that the Trump administration held up $391 million in aid to Ukraine for the purpose of pushing Ukraine to incriminate Trump’s political rivals, particularly presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden. We go to Capitol Hill to speak with Mitch Jeserich, the host of Letters & Politics heard on KPFA and Pacifica Radio. And we speak with retired colonel and Vietnam War veteran Andrew Bacevich, co-founder of the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft.

Ending Endless War: Andrew Bacevich on How Reckless Use of U.S. Military Power Caused Today’s Crisis

President Trump has announced sanctions will be lifted on Turkey as a ceasefire remains in place in northern Syria, where Turkey invaded earlier this month after Trump withdrew U.S. troops. On Tuesday Turkey reached an agreement with Russia that would force Syrian Kurdish forces to retreat from a wide swath of the Syrian-Turkish border. The United Nations is reporting Turkey’s offensive in northern Syria has displaced over 176,000 people, including nearly 80,000 children. The Turkish assault also led to a number of former ISIS fighters escaping from jail in northern Syria. We speak with Andrew Bacevich, co-founder of the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft and author of several books. He is Professor Emeritus of International Relations and History at Boston University. “I think in any discussion of our wars, ongoing wars, it’s important to set them in some broader historical context,” Bachevich says. “To a very great extent, we created the problems that exist today through our reckless use of American military power.”

Headlines for October 24, 2019

Big Tech Platforms Have Had a "Profound Negative Effect on Democracy." Is It Time to Break Them Up?

Facebook continues to face growing criticism and demands that it be broken up. Massachusetts senator and Democratic presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren has repeatedly called for Facebook and other big tech companies to be broken up on antitrust grounds. Roger McNamee, a Silicon Valley investor who went from being an early supporter of Facebook to a vocal critic, speaks with us about 2020 candidates’ platforms on big tech. Antitrust regulation is “the one issue that seems to cut across the entire political spectrum,” McNamee says. “People of all political stripes understand that there’s a problem here.”

Mark Zuckerberg's Former Mentor: I Tried to Raise Alarm Over Russian Interference But Was Ignored

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg testifies on Capitol Hill Wednesday, where he is expected to face questioning about the company’s cryptocurrency Libra, among other issues. Zuckerberg has faced scrutiny before, including for Facebook’s role in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. A former mentor of Zuckerberg and longtime Silicon Valley investor Roger McNamee speaks out about the company’s dismissal of Russian interference in the election. “They treated it like a PR problem, not a business issue,” McNamee says.

Zucked: Early Facebook Investor Roger McNamee on How the Company Became a Threat to Democracy

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is testifying Wednesday on Capitol Hill as his company’s actions face escalating criticism. The focus of today’s House Financial Services Committee hearing is on Facebook’s plan to launch a cryptocurrency called Libra that would reshape the world’s financial system. Meanwhile, New York Attorney General Letitia James announced Tuesday that her probe of Facebook for violating antitrust regulations is now backed by attorneys general from 47 states and territories. Facebook is also facing criticism from several Democratic presidential candidates for refusing to ban political ads from candidates containing false information. We speak with Roger McNamee, a former mentor to Mark Zuckerberg and early investor in Facebook, who has since become one of the company’s most vocal critics. His recent book is titled, “Zucked: Waking Up to the Facebook Catastrophe.”

Headlines for October 23, 2019

Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor: Bernie Sanders Would "Transform the Lives of Poor and Working-Class People"

Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor, an assistant professor at Princeton University, has just published a book about the racial wealth gap and falling rate of homeownership by African Americans. Her book is titled “Race For Profit: How Banks and the Real Estate Industry Undermined Black Home Ownership.” Taylor speaks with us about the 2020 presidential candidates’ platforms, including Senator Bernie Sanders’s proposed wealth tax. She says Sanders’s policies bring “to light the connection between the systemic forces that drive inequality and the impact that they have in people’s lives.”

Race for Profit: Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor on How Banks & Real Estate Biz Undermined Black Homeowners

Recent U.S. census data reveals the homeownership rate for African Americans has fallen to its lowest level since before the civil rights movement. In the second quarter of this year, the rate fell to just 40% — the lowest level since 1950. Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor’s new book, “Race for Profit: How Banks and the Real Estate Industry Undermined Black Home Ownership,” examines the roots of this crisis. The book has just come out and has been longlisted for the 2019 National Book Award. From Philadelphia, we speak with Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor, an assistant professor at Princeton University.

"Unprecedented" Protests Rage Across Lebanon as People Demand PM's Resignation and End to Austerity

Mass protests in Lebanon have entered their sixth day as hundreds of thousands around the country are taking to the streets to demonstrate against dire economic conditions, austerity and corruption, demanding the country’s leaders step down. The protests were sparked last week when the government announced a tax on WhatsApp calls, but the massive demonstrations have since grown into a call for revolution. More than a million demonstrators flooded the streets of Beirut, Tripoli and other cities over the weekend. Prime Minister Saad Hariri revoked the WhatsApp tax on Monday and announced a package of economic reforms, but protesters are continuing to call for his ouster. For more, we speak with independent Lebanese journalist Kareem Chehayeb, whose recent piece for The Washington Post is headlined “Lebanon’s protests and wildfires tell the same grim story.”

Headlines for October 22, 2019

"We Want Democracy to Be Restored": Protesters in Chile Decry Inequality Amid Military Crackdown

In Chile, as many as eight people have died in widespread civil unrest that has brought Santiago to a standstill and sparked a violent police crackdown across the country. The protests began in response to a subway fare hike two weeks ago and have grown into a mass uprising against rising inequality, high cost of living and privatization. President Sebastián Piñera canceled the fee increase on Saturday, but protests are continuing, with a national strike called for today. Over the weekend, Piñera declared a state of emergency in Santiago and five other cities, imposing a curfew and sending the military into the streets in response to civil unrest for the first time since dictator Augusto Pinochet’s regime. Military tanks rolled through Santiago this weekend, and at least 1,400 protesters have been detained. Francisca Perales, one of the leaders of the newly formed left-wing political party Social Convergence, and Andra Chastain, an assistant professor of history at Washington State University in Vancouver, join us for a conversation about the massive protests in Chile.

Kings Bay Plowshares 7: Trial Begins for Liz McAlister & Others for Breaking Into Nuke Sub Base

Seven Catholic peace activists are going on trial in Georgia today for breaking into the Kings Bay Naval Submarine Base on April 4, 2018. The activists, who are known as the Kings Bay Plowshares 7, face up to 25 years in prison if convicted. The activists entered the base armed with just hammers, crime scene tape, baby bottles containing their own blood and an indictment charging the U.S. government with crimes against peace. Over the past four decades activists in the Plowshares movement have taken part in about 100 similar actions at nuclear arms facilities, beginning in 1980 at the General Electric nuclear missile plant in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania. We recently spoke to Catholic nun Liz McAlister, who goes on trial today with her co-defendants Father Stephen Kelly, Mark Colville, Patrick O’Neill, Carmen Trotta, Clare Grady and Martha Hennessy, who is the granddaughter of Dorothy Day, the founder of the Catholic Worker movement. They all have been charged with three felonies and a misdemeanor.

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