Democracy Now!

In 2003, This U.K. Whistleblower Almost Stopped the Iraq Invasion. A New Film Tells Her Story

In 2003, Katharine Gun, a young specialist working for Britain’s Government Communications Headquarters, exposed a highly confidential memo that revealed the United States’ collaboration with Britain in collecting sensitive information on United Nations Security Council members in order to pressure them into supporting the Iraq invasion. Gun leaked the memo to the press, setting off a chain of events that jeopardized her freedom and safety, but also opened the door to putting the entire legality of the Iraq invasion on trial. 

Acclaimed Pentagon Papers whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg described Gun’s action as “the most important and courageous leak I have ever seen.” Gun’s incredible story is depicted in the new film “Official Secrets,” which premieres in the U.S. August 30. We speak with Katharine Gun; the British journalists who reported on Gun’s revelations in The Observer newspaper, Martin Bright and Ed Vulliamy; and Gavin Hood, director of “Official Secrets.”

Anti-Racist Historian: Attacks on Rep. Omar Rooted in Belief "America Is for White People"

On Thursday, President Trump attempted to distance himself from the racist chant of “send her back” about Minnesota Congresswoman Ilhan Omar at a Trump campaign rally Wednesday in North Carolina. The chants rang across the rally in response to Trump’s own verbal attack against the congresswoman. He did nothing to intervene. On Wednesday, the House of Representatives narrowly passed a resolution condemning Trump’s racist remarks against Congressmembers Omar, Rashida Tlaib, Ayanna Pressley and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. We speak with Ibram X. Kendi, founding director of the Antiracist Research and Policy Center at American University.

Headlines for July 19, 2019

"It Is Not Just War. It Is Life": Acclaimed Doc "For Sama" Offers Rare Glimpse into War-Torn Syria

We look at the award-winning documentary feature titled “For Sama,” a devastating account of war-torn Syria told through the eyes of director Waad al-Kateab. She filmed hundreds of hours of footage in her native Aleppo to create a stunning depiction of life during wartime. Amid airstrikes and attacks on hospitals, Waad falls in love with one of the last remaining doctors in Aleppo, gets married and has a baby girl, Sama, to whom the film is dedicated. When protests against the regime of President Bashar al-Assad first began in 2011, Waad al-Kateab was a young economics student who began filming on a cellphone. For five years, she documented her own life and the lives of those around her as the Assad regime intensified its brutal response to the uprising. She eventually gathered hundreds of hours of footage. Ahead of the film’s release in the U.S. next Thursday, we speak with Waad al-Kateab and her husband Hamza al-Kateab, a doctor and the co-founder and former director of the Al Quds Hospital in Aleppo.

Nearly 100,000 in Puerto Rico Protest Demanding Gov. Rosselló Resign over Lewd Texts & Corruption

Close to 100,000 Puerto Ricans took to the streets Wednesday chanting “Ricky Renuncia!” as they called for the resignation of Governor Ricardo Rosselló, following the leak by Puerto Rico’s Center for Investigative Journalism of hundreds of misogynistic, homophobic and violent text messages between Rosselló and members of his Cabinet. On Monday, Denis Márquez of the Puerto Rican Independence Party introduced formal complaints against the governor and called for his impeachment. All of this comes as former Education Secretary Julia Keleher and five others have been arrested on charges of steering federal money to unqualified, politically connected contractors. We speak with Melissa Mark-Viverito, interim president of the Latino Victory Project, and, from San Juan, journalist Juan Carlos Dávila, Democracy Now!’s correspondent in Puerto Rico.

Headlines for July 18, 2019

Happiest Place on Earth? Meet the Disney Heiress Speaking Out Against Disneyland's Abuse of Workers

Abigail Disney, the heiress of the Disney fortune, is once again speaking out against the company’s unfair labor and wage practices. She recently spoke to Disneyland employees in California, where they shared their experiences with the theme park’s work environment. In the past, Abigail Disney has criticized Disney CEO Bob Iger’s obscene salary and the drastic pay gap between Iger and other Disney employees. Abigail Disney also testified in May at the House Committee on Financial Services during a hearing on strengthening the rights and protections of workers. We speak with Abigail Disney, filmmaker and granddaughter of Roy O. Disney, the co-founder of The Walt Disney Company.

Amazon Workers Demand Fair Pay & Conditions as Company Continues Undercutting Rivals

While online shoppers around the world flocked to Amazon’s mega-sale “Prime Day” this week, the retail giant faced growing outrage from protesters, workers and lawmakers for its unsafe working conditions and collaboration with Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Demonstrators in Seattle delivered a petition with over 270,000 signatures to Amazon headquarters demanding it stop exploiting workers and cooperating with ICE. Lawmakers, including Senator Bernie Sanders and Representative Ilhan Omar, co-signed a letter to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration demanding a full investigation into Amazon’s workplace conditions on Tuesday, citing reports of Amazon workers facing severe physical and mental distress while on the job. Also on Tuesday, the House Judiciary Committee’s antitrust panel challenged an Amazon executive on allegations that the company competes against its own sellers. We speak with Angeles Solis, lead organizer on the workplace justice team at Make the Road New York, and Stacy Mitchell, co-director of the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, who testified about Amazon Tuesday before a House Judiciary Subcommittee.

"They Didn't Do Their Job": Eric Garner Family Outraged DOJ Won't Prosecute His Death by Police

It’s been five years since Eric Garner, an African-American father of six, was killed when a white New York City police officer wrestled him to the ground and applied a fatal chokehold, while Garner, who was unarmed, said “I can’t breathe” 11 times. On Tuesday, federal prosecutors announced they will not bring civil rights charges against Daniel Pantaleo, the police officer implicated in Garner’s death. The move reportedly came after Attorney General William Barr ordered that the case be dropped. Earlier this year, a medical examiner testified that it was a chokehold that triggered an asthma attack that led to Garner’s death, which was ruled a homicide. Pantaleo remains on the police force and earns a salary of more than $100,000. We speak with Jumaane Williams, public advocate for New York City.

Headlines for July 17, 2019

2020 Hopeful Julián Castro Vows to Break Up ICE & Calls Trump's New Asylum Rule Unconstitutional

As Trump faced national rebuke for his racist comments against four progressive congresswomen, his administration announced a new rule essentially banning most immigrants from seeking refuge in the United States. The rule, which the ACLU has already vowed to challenge in court, would deny asylum to any migrant who failed to apply for protection in another country they passed through on the way to the U.S. border—including children traveling alone. If enacted, the law would effectively block people from Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala, as well as Haitians, Cubans and many people from African countries, who come to the U.S. via the southern border. We speak with 2020 presidential candidate Julián Castro about the asylum ban and his immigration reform proposals.

"Our Squad Is Big": Reps. Ocasio-Cortez, Omar, Tlaib and Pressley Condemn Trump's Racist Attack

Congressmembers Ayanna Pressley, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar condemned President Trump’s spate of racist attacks against them in a news conference Monday. Their public rebuke followed Trump tweeting Sunday telling them to “go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came.” The comments have been widely condemned as racist and xenophobic. We hear from the progressive congresswomen in their own words.

Headlines for July 16, 2019

"Fossil Fuel Stooges" Pence & Trump Deny Climate Crisis as Deadly Rains Slam Louisiana & South Asia

Ongoing heavy rain has killed at least 67 people in Nepal, 25 in India and 14 in Bangladesh as flooding from monsoons has displaced 1 million people in South Asia. This year’s flooding in the region has been worse than ever before and is likely fueled by rising global temperatures, which have led to more extreme weather. Scientists warn that the risk of deadly floods is not over. In the United States, New Orleans residents managed to avoid the worst of Tropical Storm Barry, but 11 million people continued to be on flash flood warning as the storm slowly made its way through Louisiana over the weekend. President Trump has declared a state of emergency in Louisiana, where more than 60,000 remained without power on Sunday. We speak with Dahr Jamail, a staff reporter at Truthout and author of “The End of Ice: Bearing Witness and Finding Meaning in the Path of Climate Disruption.” “We can look around the world and just see, right now, before our very eyes, evidence of how deep in this crisis we already are,” says Jamail. “June was the hottest June ever recorded on the planet. The last five years are the hottest five years in history. This is the trajectory that we’re on, and these numbers are only going to continue to increase.”

"We Are in Fear": Undocumented Immigrant in Sanctuary Responds to Raids from Colorado Church

As immigrant communities face ongoing raids across the country, we speak with Rosa Sabido, one of dozens of undocumented immigrants living in churches across the United States. She entered sanctuary in May 2017 in the fellowship hall at United Methodist Church in Mancos, Colorado, after being told that her latest request of stay of deportation had been denied by ICE. She first came to the U.S. on a visitor visa in 1987 to see her mother and stepfather, who are both naturalized U.S. citizens. “We are in fear. We are on guard,” says Sabido. “We are on constant panic, and we don’t know what’s going to happen in our communities.”

Cruelty Is the Point: Communities Fight Back as Threat of ICE Raids Terrorize Immigrant Families

This weekend, Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents launched a handful of raids across the country as part of President Trump’s push to detain and deport thousands of undocumented migrants in 10 major cities. Agents in Chicago reportedly arrested a mother and her children only to quickly release them. Arrests were also attempted in New York City, in Sunset Park, Brooklyn, and Harlem, where immigrants reportedly refused to open their doors to ICE agents because they did not have warrants. Authorities say more raids are planned this week, prompting fear but also generating mass protests on the ground. We speak with Elora Mukherjee, a professor of law and director of the Immigrants’ Rights Clinic at Columbia Law School. She has spent the past 12 years representing immigrant children and adults along the U.S.-Mexico border. “The raids will leave children without their parents. The raids will leave children without their caregivers,” Mukherjee says. “The raids will leave U.S. citizen children without anyone in America to care for them. It is a heartbreaking situation.”

Headlines for July 15, 2019

Ousted Honduran President Zelaya: The 2009 U.S.-Backed Coup Helped Cause Today's Migrant Crisis

Since the 2009 U.S.-backed military coup in Honduras, extreme poverty and violence has skyrocketed in the country, forcing tens of thousands of Hondurans to flee to the U.S. with the hope of receiving political asylum. We speak with ousted Honduran President Manuel Zelaya in the capital of Tegucigalpa about the 10th anniversary of the coup in Honduras, U.S. intervention in Central America and its link to today’s migration crisis.

Know Your Rights: How Immigrant Rights Activists Are Preparing for Looming ICE Deportation Raids

Immigrant communities across the country and their allies are preparing for nationwide raids by Immigration and Customs Enforcement planned to begin Sunday that will target undocumented members of immigrant families in at least nine major cities. The cities where raids will take place are said to be Atlanta, Baltimore, Chicago, Denver, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, New York and San Francisco. New Orleans had been on the list, but the city announced this weekend that ICE was temporarily postponing the raids due to Tropical Storm Barry. We speak with a roundtable of immigrants’ rights activists: Adelina Nicholls, the executive director of Georgia Latino Alliance of Human Rights in Atlanta; Shannon Camacho, the Los Angeles County Raids Rapid Response Network coordinator for the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights; and Natalia Aristizabal, co-director of organizing at Make the Road New York. Camacho says, “We tell our community members that no matter what ICE does, don’t open the door.”

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