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Obama Rejects GOP "Extortion" on Shutdown, Debt Ceiling

President Obama and House Speaker John Boehner continue to trade barbs in the impasse over the Republican shutdown of the federal government. Speaking at the White House, Obama said he would not negotiate with Republicans until they reopen the government and allow a vote on raising the nation’s debt limit. Obama accused Republicans of "extortion" in their bid to delay or repeal Obamacare.

President Obama: "If reasonable Republicans want to talk about these things again, I’m ready to head up to the Hill and try. I’ll even spring for dinner again. But I’m not going to do it until the more extreme parts of the Republican Party stop forcing John Boehner to issue threats about our economy. We can’t make extortion routine as part of our democracy."

Path to Short-Term Funding Deal Emerges; Dems Reject Supercommittee

In his comments, President Obama signaled a willingness to accept a short-term deal on government funding and raising the debt ceiling, followed by more far-reaching negotiations. House Republicans say they may advance a short-term bill on raising the borrowing limit to free up talks that would target spending on social programs. Responding to Obama, House Speaker John Boehner insisted that a negotiation will take place.

House Speaker John Boehner: "The long and short of it is, there’s going to be a negotiation here. We can’t raise the debt ceiling without doing something about what’s driving us to borrow more money and to live beyond our means. What the president said today was, if there’s unconditional surrender by Republicans, he’ll sit down and talk to us. That’s not the way our government works."

Also Tuesday, House Republicans proposed the creation of a bipartisan "supercommittee" that would negotiate over Obamacare. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi rejected any such talks.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi: "We cooperated. We gave you what you wanted. And now here we are today. Republicans are offering yet another motion to keep government shut down. Some people call it in the press the 'supercommittee.' Others call it the 'Ted Cruz committee.' Whatever you call it, I’d like to know who writes this stuff. This is so ridiculous a proposal, so ridiculous a proposal. How about we go to the budget table and see how we can reduce the deficit, produce growth for our country?"

Debt Default Could Stall Social Security Benefits

With the government shutdown in its second week, the United States is now just eight days from the deadline to raise the borrowing limit or face a default on its debts. The looming deadline could threaten Social Security payments. The Social Security Administration has begun warning recipients that "failure to raise the debt ceiling puts Social Security benefits at risk."

Obama Picks Yellen to Head Federal Reserve

President Obama has tapped Janet Yellen as the next chair of the Federal Reserve. Yellen currently serves as the Fed’s vice-chair under current head Ben Bernanke, whose term ends in January. Yellen will be the first woman to serve in the position. A formal announcement is expected today.

Supreme Court Weighs Limits on Individual Campaign Donations

The U.S. Supreme Court appears poised to strike down most of the remaining limits on massive spending by wealthy donors on political campaigns. On Tuesday, justices heard arguments in McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission, which has been referred to as "the next Citizens United." Republican leaders and wealthy GOP donor Shaun McCutcheon want the Supreme Court to throw out aggregate limits on individual contributions in a single two-year cycle, saying they violate free speech. On Tuesday, the likely swing vote, Chief Justice John Roberts, indicated he is prepared to strike down caps on donations to individual candidates, but perhaps not on donations to political committees. At a rally outside the hearing, Senator Bernie Sanders said unlimited private spending undermines U.S. democracy.

Sen. Bernie Sanders: "The bottom line here is that if we do not want to move this nation to an oligarchic form of society, where a handful of billionaires can determine the outcome of these elections, then it is imperative not only that we overturn Citizens United, but that we put a lid on how much people can contribute in elections. Freedom of speech, in my view, does not mean the freedom to buy the United States government."

The McCutcheon case marks the first major challenge to campaign finance rules since the 2010 Citizens United decision, which opened the floodgates for unlimited corporate spending on elections.

8 Lawmakers Among 200 Arrested in Protest for Immigration Reform

More than 200 people were arrested in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday in a massive rally for immigration reform. Eight House Democrats, including civil rights icon Rep. John Lewis, were among those detained, joining with immigration activists for a sit-in on a street in front of the Capitol. The lawmakers were arrested after addressing a crowd of thousands of people. Immigration reform has stalled in the House after the Senate approved a landmark measure in June.

Libya Demands U.S. Return of Captured al-Qaeda Suspect

Libya’s General National Congress has called on the United States to return a top al-Qaeda suspect seized this weekend from the streets of Tripoli. Abu Anas al-Liby, wanted for the 1998 U.S. embassy bombings in East Africa, is being held on a Navy ship in the Mediterranean Sea. He is apparently been interrogated without an attorney and denied Miranda rights. His arrest sparked rallies in Libya and new pressure on the beleaguered Libyan government. On Tuesday, Libyan Justice Minister Salah al-Marghani called al-Liby’s capture a kidnapping.

Salah al-Marghani: "We have made it clear to the U.S. government that this is an act of kidnapping of a Libyan citizen that does not comply with Libyan law. The U.S. government’s reply was that it was about implementing a court order."

A statement from Libya’s General National Congress approved Tuesday says the United States should return al-Liby and calls his capture a "flagrant violation of national sovereignty." The United States now says the Libyan government tacitly approved the raid, after initially suggesting it provided assistance. Speaking at the White House, President Obama vowed to continue U.S. raids in African countries.

President Obama: "Africa is one of the places where, because, in some cases the lack of capacity on the part of the governments, in some cases because it is easier for folks to hide out in vast terrains that are sparsely populated, that you’re seeing some of these groups gather. And we’re going to have to continue to go after them. But there’s a difference between us going after terrorists who are plotting directly to do damage to the United States and us being involved in wars."

Pentagon Appoints New Envoy for Guantánamo Closure

The Pentagon has announced a new envoy for the closure of the U.S. military prison at Guantánamo Bay. The envoy, Paul Lewis, will also be tasked with finding third countries to accept non-Afghan nationals currently imprisoned by the United States in Afghanistan. Seventeen of Guantánamo’s 164 prisoners remain on a months-long hunger strike.

Egypt Sets Trial Date for Ousted President Morsi

Egypt has set a trial date of November 4 for ousted President Mohamed Morsi to face charges of inciting the murder of protesters. Morsi faces charges surrounding the deaths of at least 10 demonstrators killed in a protest against his government last December. Hundreds of Morsi supporters have been killed by state forces since his ouster in July.

Report: U.S. to Scale Back Egypt Military Aid

The White House is reportedly preparing to announce new cuts to U.S. aid for Egypt’s military government. According to The Washington Post, the United States will apparently withhold a shipment of a dozen Apache helicopters. But shipments of spare parts for military equipment and the training of Egyptian forces will likely continue. The United States has avoided the automatic suspension of military aid to Egypt by refusing to deem Mohamed Morsi’s ouster a coup.

10 Killed in Fire Bangladeshi at Garment Factory

In Bangladesh, at least 10 people have died in a factory fire north of the capital Dhaka. Around 50 workers were wounded in the blaze. It was the latest deadly incident for Bangladesh’s garment industry. A factory collapse killed more than 1,100 garment workers in April, and a fire killed 112 last November.

4 Dead in Crash of U.S. Drug Surveillance Plane in Colombia

The death toll from a U.S. plane crash in Colombia over the weekend stands at four. Three of the victims were American — two private contractors and a member of the U.S. Air Force. The U.S. government says the plane was conducing surveillance of drug smuggling routes.

North Carolina Police Admit Spying on "Moral Monday" Protesters

North Carolina police have acknowledged covertly spying on weekly "Moral Monday" protests against the Republican-controlled state Legislature. Nearly 1,000 people were arrested during 13 weeks of Moral Monday actions over the summer against the rollback of voting rights, unemployment benefits and abortion access. At a trial for a demonstrator, North Carolina General Assembly Police Chief Jeff Weaver said he had received intelligence reports from officers who had spied on protesters’ planning meetings.

Demonstrators Mark Birthday of Cancer-Ridden Jailed Lawyer Lynne Stewart

Jailed civil rights attorney Lynne Stewart, who is dying of stage IV breast cancer, has spent her 74th birthday in a Texas prison. Stewart’s supporters gathered Tuesday, her birthday, in New York City to continue their call for Stewart’s release so she can spend her final days surrounded by loved ones. Stewart’s lawyers recently resubmitted her application for compassionate release to the Bureau of Prisons after a judge said he could not order her release unless the bureau requested it first. Stewart has served almost four years of a 10-year prison sentence for distributing press releases on behalf of her jailed client, Omar Abdel-Rahman, an Egyptian cleric known as the "blind sheikh." Her doctor has said she has less then 18 months to live. Lynne Stewart’s husband of 50 years, Ralph Poynter, spoke at Tuesday’s rally.

Ralph Poynter: "I saw Lynne about a month ago, and the last time I spoke to her on the phone—I know she can’t run, but I said, 'You sound like you were running.' And she says, because the cancer in my lungs is impeding her ability to breathe. We know her body is failing, but it would hurt very much more if her mind failed. Her mind has not failed her. Her resolve has not failed her. She is determined to outlast them, and we are determined to outlast the government and bring her home."


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