Democracy Now!

Rev. Liz Theoharis of Poor People's Campaign Arrested in Protest over Voting Rights & Infrastructure

Nearly 100 women from around the United States were arrested outside the Supreme Court as they marked the 173rd anniversary of the first women’s rights convention at Seneca Falls with a protest calling for voting rights and economic justice. We speak with Reverend Liz Theoharis, co-chair of the Poor People’s Campaign and one of those who was arrested. She says Congress needs to scrap the filibuster, pass voting rights legislation and pass a “bold infrastructure bill” that addresses economic inequality, as well as the climate. She also discusses the work of her father, historian Athan Theoharis, who recently died after a lengthy career dedicated to exposing FBI misconduct.

Just Out of Jail, Winona LaDuke Decries Militarized Crackdown on Enbridge Line 3 Pipeline Protests

Nearly 600 water protectors have been arrested during ongoing protests in Minnesota against the construction of the Enbridge Line 3 tar sands pipeline at the Shell River, which the partially completed pipeline is set to cross in five places. On Monday, authorities arrested Indigenous leader Winona LaDuke and at least six others. She was just released from jail yesterday and joins us after three nights in jail. LaDuke describes how the Canadian multinational corporation Enbridge, which is building the pipeline, has funded more than 40 police squads from around the state to crack down on protests, saying, “It is a civil crisis when a Canadian multinational controls your police force.” LaDuke is executive director of Honor the Earth. She says Enbridge’s efforts to finish construction come as investors are increasingly pulling out of the fossil fuels sector. “Who wants to have the last tar sands pipeline? It’s the end of the party.”

"COVID Games" Begin in a Fearful Japan as Olympic Committee Prioritizes "Profits Over All Else"

As the Summer Olympics begin in Tokyo after the International Olympic Committee pushed forward during a pandemic despite widespread opposition in Japan, we speak with a protester outside the Olympic stadium and former Olympic athlete Jules Boykoff. “The people have been frustrated actually ever since the awarding of the Olympics in 2013,” says Satoko Itani, associate professor of sports, gender and sexuality at Kansai University. “The vast majority of Japanese people don’t want these games.” Boykoff argues the “saga in Tokyo has exposed an International Olympic Committee that openly disrespects the will of locals, that brushes off inconvenient facts from experts … And the IOC tends to prioritize its profits over all else.”

Headlines for July 23, 2021

"All We Can Save": As Climate Disasters Wreck Our Planet, Women Leaders Are Key to Solving the Crisis

As the impacts of the climate emergency continue to be felt around the globe, white men overwhelmingly dominate the airwaves on climate coverage. We speak with co-editors of the new book “All We Can Save,” an anthology of essays by 60 women at the forefront of the climate justice movement. “We are simply not seeing very much climate coverage at all in the mainstream media,” says Ayana Elizabeth Johnson, a marine biologist and co-founder of the Urban Ocean Lab. Katharine Wilkinson, visiting professor at Sewanee: The University of the South in Tennessee, emphasizes women and girls around the world are “disproportionately impacted by climate change” and must lead the search for solutions. “There is a growing body of research that centering women’s leadership on climate is not just something that sounds nice. It’s actually a critical strategy for how we win,” Wilkinson says.

Billionaires Race to Privatize & Monopolize Space as Earth Burns & Workers Organize

As the world’s richest man flies his Blue Origin rocket into suborbital space, here on Earth calls are growing to tax the rich and let Amazon unionize. Billionaire Jeff Bezos has faced strong criticism after Tuesday’s flight, for which he thanked Amazon workers and customers who “paid for all of this.” Bezos traveled to the edge of space just days after another billionaire, Virgin Group founder Richard Branson, took a similar trip on a Virgin Galactic spacecraft. “The richest and most powerful people in the world are turning their eyes away from the planet and to the stars,” says Paris Marx, a writer and host of the podcast “Tech Won’t Save Us.” “We need to question whether we should be dedicating so much resources to this kind of grand vision of a future that may never arrive,” Marx says. We also speak with journalist Peter Ward, author of the book “The Consequential Frontier: Challenging the Privatization of Space,” who says billionaires who have monopolized large sectors of the economy are seeking to do the same for space infrastructure. “It’s not the worst thing to have the private sector involved. It’s just it can’t be where they have complete control,” Ward says.

Headlines for July 22, 2021

"It Is Offensive": Haitian Activist Says It's Not Up to U.S. to Determine Haiti's PM or Future

Two weeks after the assassination of President Jovenel Moïse, Ariel Henry has been sworn in as Haiti’s new prime minister, after acting Prime Minister Claude Joseph announced he was relinquishing power. Henry is a neurosurgeon who was appointed by President Jovenel Moïse shortly before he was assassinated, but not formally sworn in. Both Joseph and Henry had claimed power following Moïse’s death. Over the weekend, the United States and other members of the so-called Core Group threw their support behind Henry, who will become Haiti’s seventh prime minister in four years. Monique Clesca, a Haitian pro-democracy advocate based in Port-au-Prince, says despite the polarization and turmoil in the country, it is ultimately up to Haitians to find a political solution. ​​”It is not up to the United States State Department to tell us who should be the prime minister of Haiti,” Clesca says. “It is offensive. It should not be done. It is unacceptable.”

Colombia's Export of Mercenaries Scrutinized After U.S.-Trained Soldiers Kill Haiti's President

The role of Colombian mercenaries in the assassination two weeks ago of Haitian President Jovenel Moïse has come under scrutiny ater The Washington Post reported some of the Colombians received U.S. military training while they were part of the Colombian armed services. One of the mercenaries has been identified as former special commando Grosso Guarín, who was once assigned to a secretive elite military detachment of Colombia’s Urban Counter-Terrorism Special Forces Group that carried out kidnappings and assassinations. Another Colombian mercenary arrested in Haiti was Francisco Eladio Uribe Ochoa, who was once investigated for his role in executing civilians in Colombia and then disguising them as combatants — a practice known as false positives. The Colombian military has been accused of killing over 6,400 civilians in this way. Joining us from Bogotá, Colombia, reporter Mario Murillo says the involvement of Colombian mercenaries stems from the “hyper-militarization of the country,” rooted in decades-long counterterrorism and counternarcotics operations that have doubled the size of the Colombian military. “We’re talking about thousands of soldiers who have been going around the world,” he says, calling them highly trained “artists of war.”

Colombia Erupts in Protest Again over Right-Wing Gov't Tax Plans Even as "Solidarity Is Criminalized"

We go to Colombia for an update on anti-government protests in several cities on the country’s Independence Day, when right-wing President Iván Duque presented a new tax reform bill to Congress. The last tax proposal failed in April after it prompted a general strike and massive demonstrations that focused on deepening economic inequality and human rights abuses. The latest demonstrations came after some of the organizers were arrested and harassed over the weekend and protesters have faced intense crackdowns and brutality from Colombian police forces in recent months. “It was amazing that it took place, notwithstanding the fear tactics that were being used by the government leading up to the July 20 mobilizations,” says award-winning journalist Mario Murillo, in Bogotá. We also speak with Colombian activist María del Rosario Arango Zambrano in Cali, a city with a long history of activism and resistance. “The repression has been especially brutal here, not only by security forces but also by paramilitary groups,” she says.

The Pandemic Is Not Over: Science Writer Ed Yong on Delta's Devastation in Low-Vaccination States

COVID-19 cases in the United States have tripled over the past month as the highly contagious Delta variant rapidly spreads across the country, particularly in areas with low vaccination rates. Deaths from COVID-19 have increased by nearly 50% over the past week, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says the Delta variant is now responsible for 83% of COVID-19 cases in the U.S. “Things are much worse than people might realize,” says Ed Yong, science writer at The Atlantic who has been reporting on the Delta variant’s spread in Missouri, one of the hardest-hit areas in the U.S. “The more we let this pandemic linger on, rage on around the world, the less protected any of us will be — including those of us who currently luxuriate under the umbrella of vaccination.” Yong recently won the Pulitzer Prize for Explanatory Reporting for his coverage of the pandemic.

Headlines for July 21, 2021

"Heartbreaking": Judge's Suspension of DACA Renews Push for Comprehensive Immigration Bill

After a federal judge struck down DACA, or Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, we look at what may come next with Cesar Espinosa, a DACA recipient and executive director of the Houston, Texas-based, immigrant-led civil rights organization FIEL. He says the latest ruling is “heartbreaking,” and urges lawmakers to create a legislative solution for the millions of undocumented immigrants in the U.S. “We want to see Congress and the president take action.”

"Gulag of Our Time": Amnesty International Calls on Biden Admin to Shut Down Guantánamo Bay Prison

Fifty-six-year-old Abdul Latif Nasser is the first Guantánamo Bay prisoner to be released under the Biden administration. He was imprisoned for nearly two decades without charge and had been cleared for release since 2016. Thirty-nine prisoners remain at Guantánamo. “Legally speaking, morally speaking, that space that has been created has no significance other than the harm it is placing on people,” says Agnès Callamard, secretary general of Amnesty International.

Amnesty International: Julian Assange's "Arbitrary" Detention Must End. Release Him Now.

As WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange faces up to 175 years in prison if he is extradited to the U.S. under the Espionage Act for publishing classified documents exposing U.S. war crimes, Amnesty International Secretary General Agnès Callamard says his detention since 2010 “is arbitrary and that he should be released.” She adds that allegations made against him by the U.S. authorities “raise a large number of problems and red flags in relation to freedom of the press.”

Mexico Used Private Israeli Spyware Pegasus to Surveil President's Family & a Murdered Journalist

Mexico appears to have submitted more phone numbers for potential surveillance to the Israeli cybersurveillance company NSO Group than any other client country, according to an investigation of the company by an international collaboration of media outlets called The Pegasus Project. The Guardian found the mobile phone number of Mexican journalist Cecilio Pineda Birto was selected as a possible target for surveillance by a Mexican NSO Group client just weeks before Pineda’s assassination in Guerrero in 2017. Nina Lakhani, senior reporter at The Guardian, says Mexico was NSO Group’s first client and authorities there have a long record of “dire human rights abuses.” She notes Mexico’s use of Pegasus proves the technology is not only used to go after criminality. “The line between good and bad in Mexico is blurred,” Lakhani says.

Amnesty Int'l Calls for Moratorium on Private Spyware After Israeli NSO Group Pegasus Revelations

Calls are growing for stricter regulations on the use of surveillance technology after revelations that countries have used the powerful Pegasus spyware against politicians, journalists and activists around the world. The Pegasus software, sold by the Israeli cybersecurity company NSO Group, can secretly infect a mobile phone and harvest its information. While the company touts Pegasus as intended for criminals and terrorists, leaked data suggests the tool is widely abused by governments to go after political opponents and dissidents, according to reporting from The Pegasus Project, an international consortium of 17 media organizations. We feature a PBS “Frontline” report on the shocking findings that the Israeli government allowed NSO to continue to do business with Saudi Arabia even after the Saudi journalist and dissident Jamal Khashoggi was assassinated in 2018 in the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul, and allegedly used Pegasus to surveil Khashoggi’s fiancée. “Contrary to what NSO is claiming, the spyware Pegasus is used to target people absolutely unrelated to criminal activities or terrorism,” says Agnès Callamard, secretary general of Amnesty International. She adds that The Pegasus Project has exposed that abuse of powerful surveillance technology “is systematic, and it is global.”

Headlines for July 20, 2021

After 140 Years, Native Youth Lead Return of 10 Children's Remains from Carlisle Indian School in PA

The remains of nine Indigenous children were buried by the Rosebud Sioux in South Dakota after being transferred back from the former Carlisle Indian School in Pennsylvania, where the children were forcibly sent over 140 years ago. Carlisle was the first government boarding school off reservation land, and it set the standard for other schools with its motto, “Kill the Indian, Save the Man.” The schools were known for their brutal assimilation practices that forced students to change their clothing, language and culture. The Rosebud Sioux Tribe negotiated the return of the children’s remains buried at the school, and a caravan of Rosebud Sioux youth returned them to their tribe this week. Dozens of other Native American and Alaskan Native families have asked Carlisle to return their relatives’ bodies. Knowledge of the boarding schools is still being recovered as many survivors are reluctant to revisit the trauma, says Christopher Eagle Bear, a member of the Sicangu Youth Council. “These schools, they played a key part in trying to sever that connection to who we are as Lakota,” he says. “They took away our language, and they made it impossible for us to be who we really are.”

"Crime of the Century": How Big Pharma Fueled the Opioid Crisis That Killed 500,000 and Counting

As the U.S. continues to deal with the fallout from the devastating opioid epidemic that has killed over 500,000 people in the country since 1999, we speak with Academy Award-winning filmmaker Alex Gibney, whose latest documentary, “The Crime of the Century,” looks at the pharmaceutical industry’s methods in promoting and selling the powerful drugs. “I realized that the big problem here was that we had been seeing it as a crisis, like a natural disaster like a flood or a hurricane, rather than as a series of crimes,” says Gibney. “You had these terrible incentives, where the incentive is not to cure the patient. The incentive is to just make as much money as possible.” The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says U.S. drug overdose deaths skyrocketed to a record 93,000 last year — a nearly 30% increase. It is the largest one-year increase ever recorded, with overdoses rising in 48 of 50 states.

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