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Friday, September 9, 2011

  • Obama Jobs Plan Bolder than Expected, But Is It Enough?

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    Before a joint session of Congress, President Obama laid out a $447 billion package of tax cuts and new government spending Thursday night to help stimulate the economy and create new jobs. His speech comes at a time when 14 million people are unemployed and another 8.8 million are working part-time but seeking full-time work. The official unemployment rate stands at 9.1 percent, and the White House is predicting the rate will not fall below six percent until 2017. The jobs crisis is particularly severe for African Americans, who face an unemployment rate that soared to 16.7 percent in August—the highest it’s been since 1984. We speak with Dedrick Muhammad, senior director for economic programs for the NAACP, and Scott Paul, founding executive director of the Alliance for American Manufacturing. [includes rush transcript]

  • Rebuilt Ground Zero Billed as National Symbol, But Costly Construction Projects Outsourced Overseas

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    This weekend, thousands of people will gather at the site of the former World Trade Center to mark the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. On Sunday, a dedication ceremony will be held for the 9/11 Memorial, which will open to the public on Monday. However, construction continues on 1 World Trade Center, which is far from complete. While the 10th anniversary has made international headlines, little attention has been paid to some controversial aspects of the rebuilding at Ground Zero. At a time when President Obama is launching a massive jobs initiative, key parts of the construction project were outsourced overseas. A Chinese glass company won the contract to manufacture the special blast-resistant glass base of 1 World Trade Center. Some 250 tons of stainless steel from Germany will also be imported for the project. So far, just two tenants have agreed to move in to the 105-floor building, the massive skyscraper formerly known as the Freedom Tower. The China Center was the first tenant to sign a deal. Leasing floors 64 to 69, the center will be used to promote the expansion of Chinese companies in the United States and house the U.S. offices of some Chinese firms. And the publishing giant Condé Nast has agreed to be the anchor tenant by leasing floors 20 to 41 at a heavily subsidized rate. We’re joined by Joe Nocera, business columnist for the New York Times who has closely followed the rebuilding at Ground Zero and recently wrote a column titled "9/11’s White Elephant." We also speak with Scott Paul, executive director of the Alliance for American Manufacturing. [includes rush transcript]

  • As Study Links 9/11 Debris to Cancer, Details Emerge on How Officials Downplayed Ground Zero Dangers

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    An often-forgotten group victims in the September 11th narrative are the many rescue workers who fell sick after being exposed to contaminants at Ground Zero. According to a new article by ProPublica, recently uncovered documents reveal that federal officials in Washington and New York went further than was previously known to downplay concerns about health risks, and misrepresented or concealed information that might have protected thousands of people from the contaminated air at Ground Zero. Meanwhile, a new study has provided potentially groundbreaking evidence of a link between exposure to toxic debris at Ground Zero and the development of cancer. The medical journal, The Lancet, reports male firefighters exposed to dust and smoke at Ground Zero have a 19 higher percent risk of developing cancer than colleagues who were not exposed. The finding comes just one month after the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health ruled there’s insufficient evidence to draw a link between the smoldering ruins of the World Trade Center after 9/11 and cancer. Firefighters and rescue workers have been unable to receive payments for cancer treatments because cancer is not covered under legislation providing care for 9/11 responders. We speak with Anthony DePalma, author of "City of Dust: Illness, Arrogance, and 9/11." His latest article for ProPublica is called "New Docs Detail How Feds Downplayed Ground Zero Health Risks." We’re also joined by Joel Kupferman, executive director of the New York Environmental Law and Justice Project. He was co-counsel for a group of residents and workers suing the EPA and ex-EPA Head Christine Todd Whitman. [includes rush transcript]