Democracy Now!

How Elaine Massacre of 1919 Influenced Richard Wright, Acclaimed Author of "Black Boy" & "Native Son"

This weekend marked the 103rd anniversary of the 1919 Elaine massacre, one of the deadliest episodes of racial violence in U.S. history. The violence started on September 30, 1919, when guards stopped two white men from breaking into a meeting between Black sharecroppers in Elaine, Arkansas, who were organizing to demand fair payments for their crops. After an exchange of gunfire, a white man was killed. White mobs, backed by the U.S. military, responded with three days of anti-Black violence, indiscriminately killing hundreds of Black people under the false claim of stopping a Black insurrection. Much of the Black farmers’ land was stolen as a result. We speak to Julia Wright, daughter of the acclaimed Black author Richard Wright, who called Elaine home and wrote about his great-uncle Silas Hoskins’s lynching in Elaine three years prior in 1916. Wright says she saw the lynching in a new light after the murder of George Floyd. “Two lynchings separated by so many years and yet so similar,” says Wright. We also speak with Paul Ortiz, historian at the University of Florida, who recalls the nationwide crusade, which included journalist Ida B. Wells, to seek justice for the Black farmers who remained and were taken into custody after the massacre, and ultimately won their freedom.

"​​A Complex and Devastating Crisis": Burkina Faso Sees Second Military Coup This Year

The western African nation of Burkina Faso is facing its second military coup in eight months. After a day of gunfire rang out Friday in the capital Ouagadougou, Captain Ibrahim Traoré announced on public television that he had replaced Lieutenant Colonel Paul-Henri Sandaogo Damiba as president. Corinne Dufka, West Africa director at Human Rights Watch, says Damiba’s inability to improve security in the face of an Islamist insurgency was “the primary reason for the coup d’état.” We also speak with Aziz Fall, coordinator for Justice for Sankara, an international campaign dedicated to uncovering the truth behind the 1987 assassination of Burkina Faso leader Thomas Sankara. He says the legacy of U.S. military intervention and French colonialism has led to instability in the region. “People are outraged with the role of France but also the role of the United States,” says Fall.

Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson Makes History; SCOTUS Poised to Roll Back Voting Rights & Affirmative Action

As public support of the conservative-dominated Supreme Court falls to a record low, justices are set to hear major cases on affirmative action, voting rights and online speech. The court opened its term Monday with new Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson becoming the first Black woman in U.S. history to hear a Supreme Court case. Although Jackson is a welcome progressive voice on the bench, “all she’ll be able to do is to highlight the extremism of the conservative majority voting bloc on the Supreme Court,” says The Nation’s legal correspondent Elie Mystal. He adds that the term ahead includes challenges to Native American sovereignty, voting rights, LGBT rights and more.

Headlines for October 4, 2022

Noam Chomsky & Vijay Prashad on Ukraine, Why U.S. Must Negotiate with Russia & What Media Gets Wrong

We speak to world-renowned political dissident Noam Chomsky and political writer Vijay Prashad about the Russian war in Ukraine, now in its eighth month. When it comes to continuing the war rather than negotiating a peace settlement, “the United States and Britain are pretty isolated on this,” says Chomsky. “The United States saw Ukraine as a kind of loose nail under which they place their weapons, billions of dollars of weapons … in order to egg Russia on,” says Prashad. Chomsky and Prashad are co-authors of the new book, “The Withdrawal: Iraq, Libya, Afghanistan, and the Fragility of U.S. Power,” which covers failed U.S. foreign policy in recent wars and the importance of seeing beyond dominant media narratives.

Noam Chomsky & Vijay Prashad on Brazil Election, Lula's Leftist Platform & Fears of a Bolsonaro Coup

Brazil’s presidential contest will be settled by a runoff vote on October 30 after leftist former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva fell short of a majority in Sunday’s election, winning 48% of votes compared to incumbent far-right President Jair Bolsonaro, who received 43%. Bolsonaro outperformed expectations set by recent polls, which had suggested an outright win for Lula. On Friday, we spoke to world-renowned political dissident Noam Chomsky in Brazil and political writer Vijay Prishad, just back from the country, about the stakes in one of the most important elections in Latin America. The results of the contentious election will determine, among many things, the fate of the Amazon, and another Bolsonaro term would be “devastating for the world,” says Chomsky. Lula is leaning more left than in his previous presidency and has made “very clear that questions of social justice will be at the forefront of his presidency,” says Prashad.

Headlines for October 3, 2022

"I Didn't See You There": Filmmaker Reid Davenport on His Directorial Debut, Ableism & More

We speak with the award-winning filmmaker Reid Davenport about his directorial debut, “I Didn’t See You There,” in which he reflects on the portrayal of disability in media and popular culture. “Documentary film has traditionally subjugated disabled people, so I wanted to completely turn that on its head” by filming from his perspective without being seen, says Davenport. He says the title of the film is a phrase he has heard from others, and it’s “coded in apology” for ignorance of the way Davenport exists in the world, but that “ignorance is a choice at the end of the day, and an apology is only going to do so much.”

Brent Renaud, First U.S. Journalist Killed in Ukraine War, Honored at New NYC Documentary Cinema

The lobby of DCTV’s new documentary film center in New York will be dedicated to the filmmaker Brent Renaud, who worked out of the historic firehouse alongside Democracy Now! for many years. Renaud was the first journalist to be killed in the Ukraine war after he was shot dead on March 13, 2022, while filming refugees near the capital Kyiv for a documentary series. We speak with Brent’s brother, filmmaker Craig Renaud, who was his partner in the field for decades, and feature some of their work in Iraq and about U.S. soldiers deployed there from the Renauds’ home state of Arkansas. “It’s still surreal at this point,” comments Renaud, who says the theater lobby “couldn’t be a better way to honor him.”

Firehouse: DCTV's Cinema for Documentary Film Opens in NY After 50 Years of Media Activism & Training

The New York City firehouse studio that housed Democracy Now! from 2001 to 2009 has reopened as a movie theater devoted to documentary films. The opening of Firehouse: DCTV’s Cinema for Documentary Film comes as Downtown Community Television celebrates 50 years of media activism and training. “We wanted to build something that really respected and paid tribute to documentaries,” says DCTV’s co-founder Jon Alpert, who says the theater is “completely interactive” and will “serve the community.” DCTV is also part of a broad alliance in the Chinatown neighborhood to stop the development of a new jail — a 300-foot-tall “jailscraper” — that Alpert says would likely be “the physical end” of DCTV. Alpert just won the News and Documentary Emmy Award for Outstanding Crime and Justice Documentary for the last part of his HBO trilogy, “Life of Crime: 1984-2020.”

Brazil's Lula Goes into Sunday Election with Massive Lead. Will Bolsonaro Accept an Electoral Defeat?

Brazil’s far-right President Jair Bolsonaro faces former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva in Sunday’s presidential election. Lula is a former union leader who held office from 2003 through 2010. He’s running on a leftist platform to uplift Brazil’s poor, preserve the Amazon rainforest and protect Brazil’s Indigenous communities, and is supported by a broad, grassroots alliance, explains Brazilian human rights advocate Maria Luísa Mendonça. Polls show Lula has a strong lead over Bolsonaro, but it is unclear if he will win the majority of the vote needed to avoid a runoff. This comes as Bolsonaro and his party appear to be attempting to prepare to stage a coup if he loses the election, says reporter Michael Fox, former editor of NACLA and host of the new podcast “Brazil on Fire.” Despite fear over a coup, Fox says people in Brazil “are really hopeful that they’re going to see change on Sunday.”

Headlines for September 30, 2022

Ukrainian Journalist Describes Mass Graves, Widespread Torture & Other Abuses by Russian Troops

Russia has announced it will formally annex four areas of occupied Ukraine on Friday, after organizing referendums in the regions widely denounced by Ukraine and its allies as a sham. We speak with Ukrainian journalist Nataliya Gumenyuk, who explains how armed Russian soldiers went to the houses of Ukrainians in the occupied territories, forcing them to vote. She also describes widespread abuses committed by Russian forces, including mass graves and suspected torture chambers. Meanwhile, more than 200,000 Russians have fled the country over the past week following Russian President Vladimir Putin’s announcement of a partial military mobilization to draft at least 300,000 people. Gumenyuk says she hopes the draft will “create some disturbance within Russia” now that the war is impacting middle-class Russians.

"We Don't Care About Y'All": Incarcerated People in Hurricane Ian's Path Not Evacuated, Live in Fear

As millions of Florida residents in the path of Hurricane Ian were ordered to evacuate, advocates pushed authorities to also evacuate what they say are as many as 176,000 people incarcerated in prisons, jails and immigrant detention centers. Now the storm has left millions without power and many without water. “We’re worried about the conditions in the days and weeks following, with no AC, lack of sanitation and water, lack of food, lack of appropriate staff and access to health,” says Angel D’Angelo, a member of Restorative Justice Coalition and Fight Toxic Prisons.

"Reality of Global Warming": Hurricane Ian's Power Shows How Climate Change Supercharges Storms

Authorities say hundreds may be dead after Hurricane Ian made landfall Wednesday along Florida’s southwestern coast as a powerful Category 4 storm, one of the strongest hurricanes ever to hit the continental United States. We get an update from Tampa and look at links between the climate crisis, rising sea levels and intensifying storms. “It’s just been devastating, and we don’t know the full extent of the damage yet,” reports Seán Kinane, WMNF news and public affairs director. “We are seeing these storms that aren’t otherwise stressed just exploding in intensity,” says Harold Wanless, professor in geography and urban sustainability at the University of Miami.

Headlines for September 29, 2022

"Lady Justice": Dahlia Lithwick on Women Who Used the Law to Fight Racism, Sexism Under Trump & Won

We speak with Dahlia Lithwick, who covers the courts and the law for Slate, about women who fought the racism, sexism and xenophobia of Trump’s presidency. She profiles many of them in her new book, “Lady Justice: Women, the Law, and the Battle to Save America.” “Law is slow and takes a long time, but at its best, it really can make us all freer and safer and restore dignity to those that have been harmed,” says Lithwick.

Asteroid Diversion? Earth Is Still "Careening Headlong into Climate Catastrophe," Says NASA Scientist

NASA successfully crashed a robotic spacecraft into an asteroid this week, a first-of-its-kind test of technology that could prevent a comet or asteroid from hitting the Earth, though the chances of such a catastrophe are low. We speak with NASA climate scientist Peter Kalmus, who calls the successful mission “bittersweet.” “We’re doing these amazing missions like redirecting asteroids, and yet with all that technology, with all that knowledge, somehow it’s not translating into stopping what is clearly the biggest threat facing humanity, which is global heating,” says Kalmus.

Bill McKibben: Victory Over Big Oil as Sen. Manchin Forced to Drop "Hideous Deal" on Energy

Democratic Senator Joe Manchin abandoned his own energy permitting proposal Tuesday that would have fast-tracked the federal review of energy projects, including the contested Mountain Valley Pipeline. Following intense pressure from a range of climate justice and Appalachian organizers, Manchin asked Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer to drop the permitting reforms from a funding bill after it became clear he did not have the votes to pass the proposal. 350.org founder Bill McKibben says Manchin may try to partner with the GOP to revive the proposal later this year, but still says the news represents an “impressive win by grassroots environmentalism.”

Tampa Update on Hurricane Ian: Millions Prepare for Cat. 5 Storm Fueled by the Climate Crisis

As Hurricane Ian is set to strengthen into a Category 4 or 5 storm and make landfall Wednesday afternoon south of Tampa Bay, the storm already knocked out power in Cuba and killed at least two people Tuesday. Communities across Central Florida are preparing for a “very strong storm,” says Seán Kinane, news and public affairs director at Tampa community radio station WMNF, and many acknowledge the strength of the hurricane is “definitely impacted by climate disruption.”

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