Democracy Now!

How Jair Bolsonaro Emboldened Brazilian Agribusiness to Torch the Amazon & Attack Indigenous People

The United Nations is calling for the protection of the Amazon amid fears that thousands of fires raging across Brazil and some parts of Bolivia are rapidly destroying the world’s largest rainforest and paving the way for a climate catastrophe. The fires have spread a vast plume of smoke across South America and the Atlantic Ocean that’s visible from space. They’re unprecedented in recorded history, and environmentalists say most of the fires were deliberately set by illegal miners and cattle ranchers. Indigenous people in Brazil have accused far-right President Jair Bolsonaro of encouraging the destruction. Bolsonaro has worked to deregulate and open up the Amazon for agribusiness, logging and mining since he came into office in January. We speak with Andrew Miller, advocacy director at Amazon Watch.

Sen. Merkley on the Dangers of a New Nuclear Arms Race & Why He Backs the Green New Deal

Fallout from the Trump administration’s decision to pull out of the landmark 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty is mounting. Russian President Vladimir Putin has ordered his military to prepare for what he called a “symmetrical response” after the U.S. tested what it said was a nonnuclear cruise missile earlier this week. The U.S. launch was the first test of its kind since the Trump administration withdrew from the INF. We speak to Senator Jeff Merkley of Oregon about U.S. nuclear policy, as well as the Green New Deal, President Trump’s wish to buy Greenland and more.

Sen. Merkley Condemns Trump's War Against Migrant Families as U.S. Moves to Indefinitely Jail Kids

The Trump administration is moving to indefinitely detain migrant children and their families, reversing decades of U.S. policy. The Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Health and Human Services is expected to issue a new rule today to withdraw from a 1997 federal court settlement known as the Flores agreement, which put a 20-day limit on migrant family detentions. We speak with Democratic Senator Jeff Merkley, who made headlines last year when he was barred from entering an old Walmart where the government was detaining about 1,500 immigrant children in Brownsville, Texas.

Headlines for August 23, 2019

2020 Candidates Address Historical Trauma, Missing Indigenous Women & More at Native American Forum

Following this week’s historic Frank LaMere Native American Presidential Forum in Sioux City, Iowa, we speak with Mark Trahant, editor of Indian Country Today and moderator of the Native American voter forum; Christine Nobiss, director of Seeding Sovereignty’s SHIFT project; and Mark Charles, independent candidate for president, Native American activist and writer. They respond to the candidates’ proposals to tackle issues affecting the Native American community, including the chronic murder and disappearance of Native American girls and women, land sovereignty, and generational trauma caused by colonialism.

Warren Apologizes to Native Americans; Sanders Backs Rescinding Medals for Wounded Knee Massacre

This week 10 Democratic candidates and one independent in the 2020 presidential race, including Senators Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, addressed indigenous communities at the first-ever Frank LaMere Native American Presidential Forum in Sioux City, Iowa. During the two-day event, candidates individually answered questions from a panel of tribal leaders and Native American youth and elders on issues including treaty rights, voter suppression, and murdered and missing indigenous women.

Headlines for August 22, 2019

Over 500 Lawsuits Already Filed Days After Child Victims Act in New York Goes into Effect

This is Part 2 of our conversation with two New York state legislators, Senator Alessandra Biaggi and Assemblymember Yuh-Line Niou, who helped pass the Child Victims Act in New York. The state law, which went into effect last week, extends the statute of limitations on child sexual abuse and includes a “lookback period,” giving survivors of any age a year to take legal action even if their cases had expired under the old statute of limitations. Over 500 lawsuits have already been filed. Both Biaggi and Niou are sexual abuse survivors, and they have spoken about the importance of the Child Victims Act in personal terms.

Watch Part 1 by clicking here.

Meet Alvaro Enciso, the Artist Placing Crosses in Sonoran Desert to Memorialize Migrant Deaths

More than 3,000 human remains have been found in the Sonoran Desert, most of them of migrants fleeing their home countries to embark on an uncertain and perilous journey to the United States. On a recent visit to the Arizona borderlands, Democracy Now! accompanied Tucson-based artist Alvaro Enciso into the desert at the site where he placed four unique markers to honor four immigrants killed in a car accident years ago as they fled from Border Patrol. In the past five years, Enciso, who is originally from Colombia, has built and installed over 900 crosses across the treacherous Sonoran Desert in Arizona as part of his ongoing project Where Dreams Die. Rather than religious symbols, Enciso views his crosses as markings that visibilize deaths that are often ignored. This is part of Democracy Now!’s ongoing series, “Death and Resistance at the U.S.-Mexico Border.”

Headlines for August 21, 2019

Deadly Bombings Devastate Afghanistan as U.S.-Taliban Peace Talks Continue Without Afghan Government

In Afghanistan, a series of bomb attacks devastated restaurants and other public spaces Monday in the eastern city of Jalalabad, injuring at least 66 people. The explosions took place on Afghanistan’s 100th Independence Day, following Saturday’s bloody suicide bombing at a wedding in Kabul that killed 63 people, wounding around 200 others. ISIS claimed the attack, which was the deadliest this year in Afghanistan. The bombings came as the U.S. and Taliban are reportedly close to a peace deal after months of talks between the two parties. Top issues in the negotiations include a U.S. troop withdrawal from Afghanistan, where elections are set to take place next month. We speak with Lotfullah Najafizada, the news director of TOLOnews, a 24-hour news channel based in Kabul.

Portland Rejects Proud Boys & Other Ultra-Right Groups as Trump Tries to Criminalize Antifa

A crowd of white nationalists took to the streets of Portland, Oregon, over the weekend for what they dubbed the “End Domestic Terrorism” rally. But they were outnumbered by a massive response from counterprotesters, who gathered across the city as police escorted members of the Proud Boys, Patriot Prayer and other right-wing groups across one of the city’s main bridges. Police arrested 13 people throughout the day and seized weapons but largely avoided “the worst-case scenario” Portland’s Mayor Ted Wheeler said the city was prepared for. Portland Police put more than 700 officers on patrol, with more than one cop for every two of the estimated 1,200 protesters. Some Republican politicians have called for antifa to be recognized as a terror organization, and the FBI has found that the majority of domestic terror in the U.S. is caused by white supremacists. From Portland, we speak with Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty, who this year became the first African-American woman on the Portland City Council, and Shane Burley, a freelance journalist and filmmaker based in Portland, Oregon, and author of “Fascism Today: What It Is and How to End It.”

Emerald Garner, Eric Garner's Daughter, Says Firing Pantaleo "Should Have Happened a Long Time Ago”

Daniel Pantaleo, the police officer who killed Eric Garner in 2014 by using an illegal chokehold, was fired Monday and stripped of his pension benefits. The decision came more than five years after Pantaleo held Garner, an unarmed African-American man, in a chokehold until he dropped to the ground. Before dying, he gasped “I can’t breathe” 11 times. Despite outcry from the family and community members, Pantaleo had remained on the police force on desk duty since the killing. Last month, on the fifth anniversary of Garner’s death, the Justice Department declined to charge Pantaleo with a crime despite calls by the Garner family and their supporters that the city punish him and other officers involved. Over the years, Garner’s case has helped drive the Black Lives Matter movement for police accountability. His family is continuing their fight for justice, calling on the New York City Police Department to fire the other officers involved in Garner’s death, and vowing to block any appeals made by Pantaleo’s attorney. We speak with Eric Garner’s youngest daughter, Emerald Garner.

Headlines for August 20, 2019

"They Are Irreplaceable, and They Mattered": Group Identifies Human Remains Along the Border

In a special broadcast from the Arizona-Sonora border, we look at how the bodies and bones of more than 3,000 people have been found in the Sonoran Desert since 2001, and speak with Robin Reineke, the co-founder of the Tucson-based organization Colibrí Center for Human Rights. Colibrí Center is dedicated to identifying the remains of people passing through the desert and, since its founding, has identified at least 100 migrants through meticulous forensic work and DNA data collection of people’s remains and family members who are alive. In 2018, it launched the Bring Them Back Campaign to call for dignity and demand justice for disappeared migrants and their families.

"Humanitarian Aid Is Never a Crime": No More Deaths Volunteers Drop Water in Desert to Aid Migrants

Volunteers with the humanitarian aid group No More Deaths have been venturing into the harsh Sonoran Desert for years to leave life-saving supplies for migrants crossing the U.S.-Mexico border. Longtime volunteer Scott Warren was charged with three felonies for the alleged crime of providing food, water and shelter to migrants. After a hung jury, he is facing retrial on two felony counts and faces a possible 10 years in prison, if convicted. As he awaits his next trial as well as deals with misdemeanor charges in another case of aiding migrants, Democracy Now! followed him into the Sonoran Desert for his first trip in a year accompanying other No More Deaths volunteers who left water and food for migrants making the treacherous journey north.

Activist Scott Warren, Facing Federal Charges for Aiding Migrants, Says He Won't Be Deterred

We broadcast live from Tucson, Arizona, where the government recently put humanitarian activist Scott Warren on trial amid the ongoing policing of the U.S.-Mexico border, separation of families, and cruel and inhumane conditions at immigrant jails across the country. Warren, a longtime volunteer with the humanitarian aid group No More Deaths, was charged with three felony counts for his alleged crime of providing food, water and shelter to migrants in Ajo, Arizona. The immigrants had arrived at the doorstep of a humanitarian shelter after a perilous journey across the Sonoran Desert. At the same time, he and other volunteers also faced separate misdemeanor charges for leaving water jugs and food for migrants on a national wildlife refuge in the remote desert. The trial took eight days, and after hours of deliberation, the jury returned without a verdict. Eight found Scott Warren not guilty; the remaining four said he was. The government will now retry Warren in November. If convicted, he faces up to 10 years in prison. As he awaits his next trial, Democracy Now! followed him into the Sonoran Desert for his first trip in a year accompanying other No More Deaths volunteers who left water and food for migrants making the treacherous journey north.

Headlines for August 19, 2019

The Great Land Robbery: How Federal Policies Dispossessed Black Americans of Millions of Acres

Over the 20th century, black people in the U.S. were dispossessed of 12 million acres of land. Half of that loss — 6 million acres — occurred over just two decades, from 1950 to 1969, a period largely associated with the civil rights struggle. This mass land dispossession, which affected 98% of black agricultural land owners, is part of the pattern of institutional racism and discrimination that has contributed to the racial wealth gap in the United States. Many of the driving forces behind this land theft were legal and originated in federal policies, as documented by Vann Newkirk, staff writer at The Atlantic. His latest piece for the magazine is the September cover story: “The Great Land Robbery: The shameful story of how 1 million black families have been ripped from their farms.”

What Is Israel Trying to Hide? Reps. Tlaib & Omar Blocked from Taking Official Trip to West Bank

Israel sparked outrage Thursday when it banned two freshman Democratic congresswomen of color — Reps. Rashida Tlaib of Michigan and Ilhan Omar of Minnesota — from entering the country. Following outcry from Democratic leaders and Palestinians, Israel granted permission for Tlaib to enter the country on “humanitarian” grounds to visit her family in the West Bank — though Tlaib said Friday she will not visit her family under such conditions. Israel originally denied entrance to Tlaib and Omar after President Donald Trump tweeted, “It would show great weakness if Israel allowed Rep. Omar and Rep.Tlaib to visit. They hate Israel & all Jewish people.” Congressmembers Tlaib and Omar are the first two Muslim women elected to Congress, and were planning to tour East Jerusalem and the occupied West Bank. Both congresswomen have voiced support for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions, or BDS, movement, a global solidarity campaign with the Palestinian people. The nonviolent movement seeks to use economic and cultural pressure to force Israel to end its occupation of Palestinian lands. We speak with Mustafa Barghouti, a member of the Palestinian Legislative Council and secretary general of the Palestinian National Initiative political party, and Rebecca Vilkomerson, executive director of Jewish Voice for Peace.