Democracy Now!

Judge Halts Trump's Asylum Ban That Represents a "Relentless Attack on the Very Idea of Asylum"

A federal judge in San Francisco has temporarily blocked President Trump’s plan to bar nearly all migrants from seeking asylum in the United States. In his ruling, U.S. District Judge Jon Tigar of California ordered Trump to continue accepting asylum claims, issuing a preliminary injunction against a rule that would block anyone who passes through a third country before arriving in the U.S. from applying for asylum. The rule would effectively stop people from Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala from seeking refuge in the United States. The preliminary injunction came just hours after a federal judge in Washington, D.C., let the new asylum rule stand in a separate challenge. We speak with Baher Azmy, legal director of the Center for Constitutional Rights, which challenged the Trump policy, alongside the ACLU and the Southern Poverty Law Center.

Despite Faulty Drugs & Racist Implementation, Trump Is Bringing Back the Federal Death Penalty

Attorney General William Barr announced Thursday that the federal government is resuming the death penalty after nearly two decades. The execution of five death row prisoners were immediately ordered beginning in December. There are currently 62 prisoners on federal death row, including white supremacist Dylann Roof, who murdered nine black worshipers at the historic Emanuel AME Church in June 2015, and Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. Federal prosecutors are expected to push for the death penalty in both cases. This news comes despite a growing movement opposing the death penalty in the United States. The United Nations has called for a global ban on the practice, and Amnesty International calls it “the ultimate cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment.” We speak with Ruth Friedman, director of the Federal Capital Habeas Project, which coordinates representation, represents defendants and monitors federal death row.

Headlines for July 26, 2019

Protests Erupt in London as Boris Johnson Is Sworn in as New Prime Minister, Promising Swift Brexit

Boris Johnson was sworn in as the new British prime minister Wednesday, pledging to deliver a swift Brexit and spending his first full day in office Thursday packing his Cabinet with hard-line Brexiteers. His election was the first time that a party’s membership directly chose the prime minister. The membership of the Conservative Party who voted for Johnson represents less than 1% of the British population. Johnson, who previously served as mayor of London and foreign secretary, replaces outgoing Prime Minister Theresa May. Boris Johnson is a highly contentious figure in the United Kingdom who has built his career on controversy. He is known for outrageous political gaffes and is a close ally of President Donald Trump. He has vowed to cut taxes for the rich, and positioned himself as a friend to big banks. Thousands of protesters marched through Central London to protest the new prime minister Wednesday. We speak with Ash Sarkar, senior editor of Novara Media, who says Johnson has crafted a public persona for himself as “bumbling, ineffectual, posh but benign,” but says this facade conceals “someone who has always been a very ambitious man.”

Ryan Grim: Tom Perez Was Elected Head of DNC Thanks to a "Silent Coup" in Puerto Rico in 2017

As Puerto Ricans celebrate the imminent departure of disgraced Governor Ricardo Rosselló, we speak with Intercept reporter Ryan Grim about how Democratic National Committee Chair Tom Perez benefited from what’s been described as a “coup” within the Democratic Party in Puerto Rico. In his recent book, Grim revealed pro-statehood politicians—including some Republicans—quietly took over the Puerto Rico Democrats in 2017 and then offered full support for Perez in exchange for his support for statehood. This helped give Perez enough delegates to beat Keith Ellison in the race to head the DNC.

Robert Mueller Testimony Disappoints Democrats Who Bet on Special Counsel to Help Sink Trump

Special counsel Robert Mueller gave his much-anticipated testimony on Capitol Hill Wednesday, where he spoke for the first time about his investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential elections. Over the 7-hour hearing, Mueller stressed to the House Judiciary and Intelligence Committees that despite Donald Trump’s claims, he had not exonerated the president of obstruction of justice. Mueller’s report was handed in 124 days ago, but only a redacted version was made available to the public. Ahead of Mueller’s testimony, the Justice Department warned Mueller in a letter to “remain within the boundaries” of the public version of the report. The department also said that Mueller could not “discuss the conduct of uncharged third parties,” which includes President Trump, his family and his close associates. Democratic lawmakers may have come away disappointed that Mueller didn’t provide any critical testimony that would bolster their case for impeachment. For more, we speak with Ryan Grim, D.C. bureau chief for The Intercept. He’s author of the new book, “We’ve Got People: From Jesse Jackson to Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the End of Big Money and the Rise of a Movement.”

"A Victory for the People of Puerto Rico": Gov. Ricardo Rosselló Resigns Following Mass Protests

Celebrations were held throughout the night in Puerto Rico after Governor Ricardo Rosselló announced he would resign, following 12 days of mass protests. This came two days after more than 500,000 Puerto Ricans took to the streets in one of the largest protests in Puerto Rico’s history. The protests began after Puerto Rico’s Center for Investigative Journalism published close to 900 pages of shocking text messages between Rosselló, staffers and advisers. The group chat messages were riddled with misogyny, homophobia, profanity and violence. Some of the messages mocked victims of Hurricane Maria and joked about shooting San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz. For more on Rosselló’s resignation and what lies ahead for the island, we speak with journalist Ed Morales, author of the forthcoming book, “Fantasy Island: Colonialism, Exploitation, and the Betrayal of Puerto Rico.”

Headlines for July 25, 2019

The Young Lords: Exploring the Legacy of the Radical Puerto Rican Activist Group 50 Years Later

Fifty years ago this week, a group of young radical Puerto Ricans took to the streets of New York City to announce the formation of the New York chapter of the Young Lords. Formed in the same radical tradition of the Black Panther Party, the activists soon became a force in the community that inspired people around the nation. The Young Lords occupied churches and hospitals to offer services to the community, and educated people about Puerto Rican culture and history. They called for self-determination for all Puerto Ricans, independence for the island of Puerto Rico, community control of institutions and land, freedom for all political prisoners and the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Vietnam, Puerto Rico and other areas. While the group disintegrated in the mid-1970s, its impact is still felt today. Ahead of a commemorative event at the Schomburg Center in Harlem Friday, we speak with three former Young Lords: Denise Oliver-Velez, Carlito Rovira and Democracy Now!'s Juan González, who helped found the organization and served as its first minister of education. We also speak with Johanna Fernández, associate professor in the Department of History at CUNY's Baruch College. She is the author of the upcoming book “The Young Lords: A Radical History.”

Climate Change is Impacting Every Aspect of Modern Life But the Press Fails to "Connect the Dots"

July is slated to become the hottest month in recorded history, as extreme weather fueled by global warming wreaks havoc across the globe, from extreme heat waves in Europe and the U.S. to deadly monsoon flooding in South Asia. Severe rains have killed at least 660 people across India, Nepal, Bangladesh and Pakistan in a monsoon that is expected to continue throughout the week. A record heat wave is hitting Europe for the second time this summer, with Paris, Brussels and Amsterdam all at risk of hitting all-time high temperatures, and Spain facing the threat of severe fires. We speak with climate scientist Michael Mann, a distinguished professor and director of the Earth System Science Center at Penn State University, about the latest weather extremes across the globe and how the media can responsibly cover climate change.

Puerto Rico Enters Uncharted Territory as Ricardo Rosselló Prepares to Resign as Governor

Facing mass civil unrest and a growing protest movement, Puerto Rico Governor Ricardo Rosselló is expected to resign today. El Nuevo Día first reported the news late Tuesday night. Rosselló has faced nearly two weeks of demonstrations—each one larger than the last—demanding he step down, following a massive leak revealing sexist, homophobic and violent text messages exchanged between the governor and government officials, in which he mocked victims of Hurricane Maria and joked about shooting San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz. We speak with Democracy Now! co-host Juan González on the significance of Rosselló’s resignation.

Headlines for July 24, 2019

"Sharpening the Knives": iLe of Calle 13 on Recording the Anthem of the Puerto Rico Protests

Many of Puerto Rico’s most famous performers have been out in the streets in full force this week to show support for the growing movement calling for the immediate resignation of Governor Ricardo Rosselló. Singers Ricky Martin and Bad Bunny were in the streets of San Juan Monday, along with Grammy-winning artists Residente and iLe of the band Calle 13. They’ve also joined the protest through song. Last week, Residente, iLe and Bad Bunny released the song “Afilando Los Cuchillos,” or “Sharpening the Knives.” It quickly became the anthem of the movement. We speak with iLe, who says, “I’ve been waiting all my life for a moment like this.”

How "Ricky Leaks" Exposed Puerto Rico's Governor and Sparked a Movement to Oust Him

Half a million people took to the streets of San Juan, Puerto Rico, on Monday in a historic protest, more than a week after the Center for Investigative Journalism in Puerto Rico published 889 pages that included violently misogynistic and homophobic online chats between Puerto Rican Governor Ricardo Rosselló and other government officials. The leaked documents revealed Rosselló had mocked victims of Hurricane Maria and joked about shooting San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz. It also exposed rampant corruption within the Puerto Rican government. Governor Rosselló and the 11 others implicated in the message scandal have been issued summonses by the island’s Justice Department. Two top officials have resigned since the scandal broke, including former Secretary of State Luis Rivera Marín, but Rosselló is resisting calls to step down, saying the messages were “done on people’s personal time” and a result of working long, stressful days. We speak with Carla Minet, executive director of the Center for Investigative Journalism in Puerto Rico.

"Ricky Renuncia": Half a Million Puerto Ricans Flood San Juan Demanding Resignation of Gov. Rosselló

An estimated half a million Puerto Ricans took to the streets of San Juan Monday to demand the resignation of Governor Ricardo Rosselló. It was the largest demonstration yet since the massive leak of nearly 900 text messages—many of them graphic and offensive—between Rosselló and some of his closest advisers broke 11 days ago. Protesters blocked a major Puerto Rican highway for hours, chanting “Ricky renuncia!”—”Ricky resign!”—banging on drums and waving Puerto Rican flags. Several businesses and banks closed in solidarity with the national mobilization, with many taking the day off work to attend the protest. At around 11 p.m., police began firing tear gas and rubber bullets at protesters who gathered outside the governor’s mansion. The protest came a day after Governor Rosselló addressed the Puerto Rican people via Facebook Live, announcing he would not seek re-election next year and that he would step down from his leadership role as head of the ruling New Progressive Party. Democracy Now! correspondent Juan Carlos Dávila was in the streets of San Juan.

Headlines for July 23, 2019

EPA Refuses to Ban Dangerous Pesticide Chlorpyrifos Linked to Brain Damage in Children

The Environmental Protection Agency will not ban the widely used pesticide chlorpyrifos—even though the agency’s own research shows that it can cause brain damage in children. The substance is sold under the commercial name Lorsban and is banned for household use. But it’s still used by farmers on more than 50 fruit, nuts, cereal and vegetable crops. The announcement came Thursday. The Obama administration said it would ban the use of the toxic chemical in 2015, but the rule never took effect. It was suspended in 2017 by then-EPA head Scott Pruitt. We go to Seattle to speak with Patti Goldman, a managing attorney at Earthjustice who represented health and labor advocates in a lawsuit against the EPA’s original decision in 2017.

"If Not Now, When Will We Stand?" Native Hawaiians Fight Construction of Telescope on Mauna Kea

A historic indigenous resistance is unfolding on the Big Island of Hawaii, where thousands have descended on Mauna Kea, a sacred Native site, to defend it from the construction of a $1.4 billion telescope. Scientists say the Thirty Meter Telescope will help them peer into the deepest corners of space, but indigenous resisters say the construction was approved without their consent and will desecrate their sacred lands. Last week, police arrested 33 people—most of them Hawaiian elders—as they blocked a road to prevent work crews from reaching the site of the telescope being planned atop Mauna Kea. And on Sunday, demonstrators reported that more than 2,000 people had gathered at the access road to stop construction. We speak with Pua Case, an indigenous organizer and activist defending Hawaii’s Mauna Kea.

"All Sides Need to Begin to De-escalate": Tensions Between Iran, U.K. & U.S. Spark Fears of War

In Iran, authorities say they’ve arrested 17 Iranian citizens and charged them with being CIA-trained spies for the United States. Iranian media reports that some have already been executed. This comes as tensions in the Persian Gulf continued to mount over the weekend following Iran’s seizure of a British oil tanker and its 23 crew members Friday in the Strait of Hormuz. Iran said it seized the tanker in retaliation for the British impounding of an Iranian tanker earlier this month off the coast of Gibraltar. The Iranian National Guard released video Sunday showing the vessel flying an Iranian flag. Britain says Iran forced the Stena Impero out of international waters and rerouted the tanker into Iranian territory. We speak with Narges Bajoghli, professor of Middle East studies at Johns Hopkins University and author of the forthcoming book, “Iran Reframed: Anxieties of Power in the Islamic Republic.”

Headlines for July 22, 2019