This month Democracy Now! turns 27. Since our very first broadcast in 1996, Democracy Now! has been committed to fearless, independent journalism. We bring you the stories, voices and perspectives that you simply won't hear anywhere else. In these challenging times, with press freedom under attack worldwide, our reporting has never been more important. Can you donate $10 to keep us going strong? Today a generous donor will DOUBLE your donation, making it twice as valuable. Democracy Now! doesn't accept advertising income, corporate underwriting or government funding. That means we rely on you to make our work possible—and every dollar counts. Please make your gift now, and thank you so much.
Democracy Now! doesn’t belong to any corporation, government or political party. Our daily news hour belongs to you, our listeners, viewers and readers. You’re the reason we exist. In these times of climate chaos, rising authoritarianism and war, Democracy Now! needs your help more than ever to hold the powerful to account and amplify the voices of the scholars, scientists, activists, artists and everyday people who are working to save democracy—and the planet.Right now a generous donor will TRIPLE all donations to our daily news hour. That means your gift of $10 is worth $30 to Democracy Now! Please do your part to keep our independent journalism going strong. Every dollar counts. Thank you so much, and stay safe.
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.
Hurricane Dorian is continuing its long path of destruction, lashing North Carolina’s outer banks with heavy winds, high seas and flash floods. The hurricane triggered tornadoes in South Carolina as the eye of the storm crept slowly up the East Coast just out to sea. By Friday morning, Dorian had been downgraded to a Category 1 hurricane but still threatens coastal residents with life-threatening storm surges. This comes as the death toll from Dorian in the Bahamas has risen to 30 people, and the actual number is expected to be far higher, with hundreds, if not thousands, still missing. The island nation’s health minister said the number of dead “could be staggering.” After headlines, we’ll go to the Bahamas.
As Bahamians reel from the historic devastation of Hurricane Dorian, The Washington Post reported that President Trump personally used a black magic marker to alter a map showing the storm’s projected path, in an effort to support his false claim last weekend that Alabama might be hit by the hurricane. In fact, the National Hurricane Center never included Alabama in any of the forecast cones for Dorian. On Thursday, Trump spent a fourth straight day defending his false statements, tweeting, “I accept the Fake News apologies.”
In Brazil, Roman Catholic leaders are condemning a massive series of fires raging in the Amazon, adding to pressure against far-right President Jair Bolsonaro to stop illegal miners, farmers and ranchers from destroying rainforest critical to slowing the climate crisis. Speaking with The Guardian, Archbishop Erwin Kräutler called the fires a “true apocalypse,” while Archbishop Roque Paloschi warned of the risk of genocide against indigenous people defending their forests against illegal fires.
This comes after President Bolsonaro attacked Michelle Bachelet, the former president of Chile, who now serves as U.N. high commissioner for human rights, after she warned that Brazil’s government is failing to stop widespread police shootings, while environmentalists, indigenous people and human rights defenders are increasingly murdered with impunity. On Thursday, Bolsonaro taunted Bachelet over the 1973 U.S.-backed coup in Chile, which saw Augusto Pinochet topple the democratically elected government of Salvador Allende.
President Jair Bolsonaro: “She now, on the human rights agenda, is accusing me of not punishing police officers who are killing many people in Brazil. That’s her accusation. She is defending the human rights of vagabonds. She says more still. She said that Brazil is losing its democratic arena. Mrs. Michelle Bachelet, if the people led by Pinochet had not defeated the left of 1973, including your father, today Chile would look like Cuba.”
After the 1973 Chile coup, in which the democratically elected leader Salvador Allende died, Michelle Bachelet was arrested and tortured along with her parents. Her father, Alberto Bachelet, died in prison. Human rights groups say at least 3,000 people were murdered or disappeared by the Pinochet dictatorship between 1973 and 1990.
In Afghanistan, the Taliban is claiming responsibility for a suicide bomb attack near the U.S. Embassy in the capital Kabul Thursday that killed 12 people and wounded 42 others. Among the dead were two NATO soldiers, one from Romania and the other from the U.S. The blast came as a U.S. State Department negotiator was returning to Doha, Qatar, for the next round of talks with the Taliban aimed at ending the longest war in U.S. history. According to the Pentagon, there have been at least 2,437 U.S. troops killed in Afghanistan since 2001.
Zimbabwe’s longtime authoritarian leader Robert Mugabe has died at the age of 95. Born in 1924, Mugabe was jailed at the age of 39 by Britain’s colonial rulers in Rhodesia after they banned the party Mugabe co-founded, ZANU — Zimbabwe African National Union. After his release from prison 10 years later, Mugabe rose to become the commander of ZANU’s military wing. Mugabe took power as head of state when Zimbabwe overthrew white-minority rule and won its independence in 1980. For the next 37 years, Mugabe ruled Zimbabwe, often deploying violence and torture to retain power until he was ousted in a coup in late 2017. Earnest Mudzengi, a political analyst in Harare, told Al Jazeera, “Young Zimbabweans will remember him as a tyrant who squandered their futures and destroyed their countries. Many older Zimbabweans will look back in history and will remember him as a revolutionary fighter.” We’ll have more on Robert Mugabe’s life and legacy later in the broadcast.
Democratic leaders are demanding an inquiry into Mike Pence’s trip to Ireland this week, after the vice president and his entourage stayed at a Trump golf resort far from scheduled meetings with Ireland’s president and prime minister. Pence spent two nights at the Trump International Golf Links & Hotel in Doonbeg, which is over 180 miles away, on the opposite side of Ireland from Dublin. Walter Shaub, the former director of the Office of Government Ethics, said, “This may not technically be illegal, but it’s an atrocious abuse of power to line the president’s pockets, and it’s a continuation of two years of profiteering by President Trump.”
On Thursday, Vice President Pence was welcomed to 10 Downing Street in London by British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, where Pence voiced U.S. support for Britain’s decision to leave the European Union, adding the U.S. would begin trade negotiations with the U.K. once Brexit is complete. This comes as Prime Minister Johnson is under increasing pressure over his attempts to force a “no-deal” Brexit ahead of an October 31 deadline. On Thursday, Boris Johnson’s brother, Jo Johnson, resigned from Parliament, tweeting, “In recent weeks I’ve been torn between family loyalty and the national interest–it’s an unresolvable tension & time for others to take on my roles as MP & Minister.” Prime Minister Boris Johnson later downplayed his brother’s resignation. He was speaking during a visit to a police training center.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson: “Now, Jo doesn’t agree with me about the European Union, because it’s an issue that obviously divides families and divides everybody.”
Prime Minister Boris Johnson faced a revolt from some members of his own party Wednesday who joined opposition lawmakers in a vote against a no-deal Brexit. Members of Parliament also rejected Johnson’s call for a snap election. Earlier today, London’s High Court gave Johnson a boost, ruling that his decision to suspend Parliament for five weeks leading up to the Brexit deadline is legal. But that ruling is likely to be appealed to Britain’s Supreme Court.
Back in the United States, a federal judge in Virginia ruled Thursday that a federal “watchlist” of people deemed by the government to be “known or suspected terrorists” violates the rights of U.S. citizens. The list of at least 1.2 million names contains nearly 5,000 American citizens who the court ruled are protected by the Constitution. Hina Shamsi of the ACLU’s National Security Project said, “The government watchlist stigmatizes people as terrorism suspects based on a vague and error-prone standard and secret evidence, and causes real harms. It violates due process.”
The Trump administration said Thursday it supports the privatization of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, a pair of massive government-supported companies that back about half of all mortgages in the U.S. The federal government assumed control of Fannie and Freddie in 2008 at the height of the global financial crisis, which was triggered by the collapse of the subprime mortgage market. Trump’s plan drew immediate fire from Democratic leaders. Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Banking Committee, tweeted, “President Trump’s housing plan will make mortgages more expensive and harder to get. I’m urging the President: Make it easier for working people to buy or rent their homes, not harder.”
The Trump administration’s former top official overseeing oil and gas drilling on federal lands is joining an oil company that’s seeking to expand its operations in remote parts of northern Alaska near the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Joe Balash stepped down as the Interior Department’s assistant secretary for land and minerals management last Friday, and this week he confirmed he’s joining the Papua New Guinea-based company Oil Search as a senior vice president. Danielle Brian of the Project on Government Oversight told The Washington Post, “It is hard to have confidence that decisions he was making while he was working for the taxpayers were not impacted by his aspirations or hopes to go work for a company that was materially affected by his work.”
San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors has voted unanimously to declare the National Rifle Association a “domestic terrorist organization” and is calling on other cities and counties around the U.S. to follow suit. The resolution was authored by Supervisor Catherine Stefani.
In Massachusetts, at least a dozen people were arrested Thursday evening at an Amazon office in Cambridge as they held a sit-in protest against the online retailer’s contracts with Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Video from Amazon’s office cameras showed activists with the Jewish-led group Never Again Action blocking elevators, while protesters left a banner outside the building reading “Never Again means No Tech for ICE.” They were condemning Amazon’s attempts to sell controversial facial recognition technology to ICE. Earlier in the day, hundreds of protesters marched from Boston Holocaust Memorial to Amazon’s Cambridge building chanting slogans like “Never again means abolish ICE.” This is one of the protesters.
Never Again Action protester: “As Jews, we have witnessed how technology companies willfully partner with racist governments to support state violence. We know that all of this has happened before and that worse things can happen. We have a story to share with you about a company called International Business Machines, or IBM. In the 1930s, IBM was an American company, but it had subsidiaries all over the world. In Nazi Germany, IBM workers used IBM tools to process millions of census forms and compile the data for government use.”
Never Again Action has led several protests around the country against immigration jails and ICE.