This week, Democracy Now! is celebrating our 22nd birthday. Since our first ever show in February 1996, our daily news hour has brought you fearless journalism and hard-hitting news you can trust. Maybe you rely on our daily headlines. Maybe you come looking for the in-depth stories that expose government and corporate abuses of power. One thing you know you can count on is that Democracy Now! is always free—you'll never hit a paywall. How is this possible? Only with your support. In fact, if everyone reading this gave just $4, it would cover our operating expenses for the whole year. Right now, a generous donor will TRIPLE every donation, meaning your gift today will go three times as far. Pretty amazing, right? Please do your part. Take a moment to give right now for our 22nd birthday.
This week, Democracy Now! is celebrating our 22nd birthday. Since our first show in February 1996, our daily news hour has brought you fearless journalism and hard-hitting news you can trust--all without ads or corporate underwriting. How is this possible? Only with your support. In fact, if everyone reading this gave just $4, it would cover our operating expenses for the whole year. Right now, a generous donor will TRIPLE every donation, meaning your gift today will go three times as far. Pretty amazing, right? Please do your part. Take a moment to give right now for our 22nd birthday.
We rely on contributions from you, our viewers and listeners to do our work. If you visit us daily or weekly or even just once a month, now is a great time to make your monthly contribution.
Please do your part today.
President Donald Trump issued a new executive order Monday temporarily banning all refugees, as well as people from six majority-Muslim countries, from entering the United States. According to White House officials, Trump signed the executive order out of public view—a sharp departure from the way he signed his first travel ban order, which caused nationwide protests at airports before being blocked by the courts in February. The new ban applies to people from Syria, Sudan, Iran, Somalia, Libya and Yemen, but not those from Iraq. The ban will not apply to people from the six countries with green cards or who already have a visa. Despite the changes, immigration advocates say the new ban still discriminates against Muslims. This is Nihad Awad from the Council on American-Islamic Relations.
Nihad Awad: “This administration is actively working to undercut religious liberties and the freedom of American Muslims, despite constitutional protections that guarantee freedom of religion to all.”
The new order is set to take effect on March 16. We’ll have more on the new ban after headlines with Faiza Patel.
Israel passed its own travel ban Monday, barring supporters of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, known as BDS, from entering Israel. The BDS movement is an international campaign to pressure Israel to comply with international law and respect Palestinian rights. The Israeli parliament voted to ban non-Israelis from entering the country if they, or any organizations they are a part of, support the boycott. The law also calls the BDS movement a “new front of war against Israel.”
House Republicans unveiled legislation to repeal much of the Affordable Care Act Monday, including its expansion of Medicaid. The proposal includes a large tax break for insurance companies that pay their CEOs over $500,000 per year. It also defunds Planned Parenthood and eliminates abortion coverage. The Republican proposal does retain Obamacare’s requirement that insurers cover people with pre-existing conditions. However, it scraps the revenue-generating mechanism that makes this possible: the individual mandate, which required all Americans to sign up for health insurance or pay a fee. The proposal now goes to two House committees for review. Republican lawmakers have been facing increasing resistance from their own constituents over their vows to repeal the Affordable Care Act. Last week, thousands confronted Republicans at town hall meetings, including a meeting with South Carolina Republican Senator Lindsey Graham.
Sen. Lindsey Graham: “Here’s what we’re going to do. Here’s why we’re going to replace Obamacare. Employers—”
Audience member: “Affordable Care Act!”
Sen. Lindsey Graham: “—Employers—Affordable Healthcare Act. Employers
are eventually going to drop coverage, and everybody that work for a company is
going to go into a state exchange. We’re down to—we’re down to one company. One company. You’ll have no choice. Premiums went up 27—”
Sen. Lindsey Graham: “I’ll tell you what. You’re going to get kicked out in about
30 seconds if you don’t shut up.”
Audience member: “Because I’m telling the truth.”
We’ll have more on the Republicans’ plan to repeal parts of the Affordable Care Act later in the broadcast.
In a setback for the transgender rights movement, the U.S. Supreme Court has announced it is sending a landmark transgender case back to a lower court. The suit was brought by Virginia transgender high school student Gavin Grimm, who sued his local school district over its policy forcing him to use a separate, single-stall restroom that no other student was required to use. In a one-sentence order, the Supreme Court vacated an appeals court decision that had ruled in Grimm’s favor. The ruling comes less than two weeks after President Trump rescinded President Obama’s directive telling public schools to let transgender students use the bathrooms matching their gender identity. We’ll have more on the Supreme Court decision later in the broadcast with Gavin Grimm and Chase Strangio of the ACLU.
Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Ben Carson sparked outrage Monday, when he described enslaved Africans as “immigrants.”
Dr. Ben Carson: “That’s what America is about, a land of dreams and opportunity. There were other immigrants who came here in the bottom of slave ships, worked even longer, even harder for less. But they too had a dream that one day their sons, daughters, grandsons, granddaughters, great-grandsons, great-granddaughters might pursue prosperity and happiness in this land.”
Carson’s comments drew widespread criticism. The NAACP tweeted out simply, “Immigrants???” Award-winning director Ava DuVernay tweeted, “Their dream? Not be kidnapped, tortured, raped, forced to mate, work for another’s gain, torn from family + culture.”
White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer has now refused to hold a televised White House press briefing for seven straight days. On Monday, there was no way for the public to watch Spicer’s press conference, where he addressed Trump’s unsubstantiated claims that President Obama had Trump’s phones tapped during the 2016 election. At the briefing, Spicer offered no evidence but said, “There’s no question that something happened. The question is it—is it surveillance, is it a wiretap or whatever?”
In Toronto, organizers have canceled an event after learning that Khizr Khan, the father of a Muslim U.S. soldier who died in Iraq, was reportedly told his travel privileges are being reviewed. The event had been scheduled to take place today. The Gold Star father and his wife, Ghazala Khan, were verbally attacked by then-Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump over the summer, after the Khans took to the stage at the Democratic National Convention, where Khizr addressed Trump directly.
Khizr Khan: “Donald Trump, you’re asking Americans to trust you with their future. Let me ask you: Have you even read the United States Constitution? I will gladly lend you my copy.”
After this speech, Trump made fun of Ghazala Khan, suggesting she hadn’t spoken on stage because she wasn’t allowed to. Khan has lived in the U.S. since 1980, and both he and his wife are U.S. citizens. It’s not known which of his travel privileges might be under review. Their son, U.S. Army Captain Humayun Khan, was posthumously awarded the Bronze Star and Purple Heart after he was killed in Iraq in 2004.
Planned Parenthood has rejected a proposal by President Trump under which the federal government would stop threatening to defund the women’s health organization, if Planned Parenthood stops providing abortions. In response, Dawn Laguens of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America said, “Let’s be clear: Federal funds already do not pay for abortions. Offering money to Planned Parenthood to abandon our patients and our values is not a deal that we will ever accept. Providing critical health care services for millions of American women is nonnegotiable.”
An Afghan couple and their three young children have been released after being detained at the Los Angeles airport Thursday and held in custody over the weekend despite having valid visas to enter the U.S. The family all arrived with Special Immigrant Visas, which they had received because the father had worked for the U.S. government in Afghanistan. They were released just before a hearing scheduled for Monday. This is the family’s lawyer, Mark Rosenbaum.
Mark Rosenbaum: “This is happening way too often. This is a recruitment anti-poster to say to individuals in Afghanistan and other nations, where we count upon nationals to assist our military, that if you do that for a decade and then you come to the United States with your wife and three children, the response is going to be we’re going to put you incommunicado for 40 hours, we’re going to label you terrorists. That is not in the national interest.”
On Monday, the White House issued a statement on ExxonMobil that includes an entire paragraph lifted from an ExxonMobil press release issued less than an hour earlier. The paragraph, which celebrates ExxonMobil’s investments in new oil refineries and chemical manufacturing projects, was first noticed by a Washington Post reporter who posted the side-by-side comparison on Twitter. The ExxonMobil press release was issued at 3:10 p.m., and the White House statement was sent to reporters at 3:44 p.m. Besides small copy editing changes, the paragraphs differ by only one word: The ExxonMobil release calls its project the “Growing the Gulf expansion program,” while the White House statement calls it the “Growing the Gulf program.” The final sentence of the White House statement is also nearly identical to one in the ExxonMobil release, which claims the projects will create “many more jobs.” Longtime ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson is now secretary of state.
The Pentagon has opened an investigation into an invite-only Facebook group where male marines have been posting thousands of naked or sexually suggestive photos of their fellow female marines—along with a barrage of misogynistic comments, including some saying the women should be raped. Some of the photos were clearly shot without the consent or knowledge of the women, such as a photo of a corporal bent over. Others are private photos or photos taken off social media sites such as Instagram. The invite-only group is called Marines United and includes 30,000 men who are active-duty and veteran soldiers. The Naval Criminal Investigative Service has launched an investigation, and the Marine Corps has warned soldiers they could face court-martial by participating in the group. A 2014 Pentagon report found the Marines has the highest rate of sexual assault of the U.S. armed forces, with an estimated 8 percent of active-duty female marines experiencing sexual assault in 2014 alone.
Dozens of schools have announced they’ll be closing Wednesday for the nationwide “Day Without a Woman” strike on International Women’s Day. The entire public school system of Alexandria, Virginia, has announced it is closing, after 300 women requested the day off to participate in the strike. Some schools are also closing in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, and in New York City. The Day Without a Woman strike was called by the organizers of the Women’s March on Washington, the largest nationwide day of protest after an inauguration in U.S. history.
And internationally, women’s protests marking the upcoming International Women’s Day have already begun. On Sunday, thousands of women took to the streets of Warsaw and other Polish cities to protest government plans to even further restrict abortion access. Meanwhile, thousands of women also marched in London, where human rights activist Bianca Jagger denounced President Trump.
Bianca Jagger: “So I’m calling today for equal pay, for gender equality, for end of violence against women and girls. And I’m calling, as well, for us to think about what we are facing with a president in the U.S. who wants to belittle women, who wants to reduce our rights, who wants to diminish us, and that we should stand up.”