Democracy Now!

"We Are Way, Way Behind": U.S. Lags on Coronavirus Testing & Medical Experts Warn "No One Is Immune"

It has been seven weeks since the first case of the new coronavirus was reported in the United States. President Trump is claiming, “Anybody that needs a test gets a test,” but this is simply untrue. There have been just 11,000 tests so far throughout the United States since the coronavirus outbreak began, compared to nearly 20,000 tests for coronavirus every day in South Korea alone. We spend the hour looking at how the Trump administration has failed to account for what may be thousands of infections because of ongoing problems with access to testing, and how other countries have responded. We also discuss measures people must take to limit their exposure and protect their communities. We speak with Justin Lessler, associate professor at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. He is the senior author on a new study that suggests the median incubation period for the new coronavirus is about five days. We are also joined by Dr. Steven Goodman, associate dean at Stanford Medical School, where he is professor of epidemiology and population health and medicine. He is also Amy Goodman’s brother. Both schools are now holding classes online over concerns about the outbreak.

Headlines for March 13, 2020

Italy's "Darkest Hour": Life Grinds to a Halt Amid COVID-19 Lockdown, as Death Toll Spikes

We get an update from Italy, where 60 million people are under an unprecedented nationwide lockdown and the death toll has increased to at least 827, rising by 31% in just 24 hours. Authorities ordered all shops closed except food markets and pharmacies. Italy’s economy has all but ground to a halt, with Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte describing the outbreak as the country’s “darkest hour.” Italian journalist Antonella Serrecchia joins us from Milan, where she is a reporter for the online magazine The Vision.

Lack of Paid Sick Leave Makes It Difficult for Many Workers to Comply with CDC Advice to Stay Home

As the number of coronavirus cases in the United States passes 1,300 cases with 38 deaths, more than 30 million workers lack access to paid sick leave. President Trump addressed the nation Wednesday night, saying he will expand sick leave as part of emergency response to the virus. But the same day, Republican senators blocked an attempt by Senate Democrats to quickly pass legislation requiring employers to grant paid sick leave. Meanwhile, Democrats in the House of Representatives will debate a package of bills Thursday to give workers 14 days of paid sick leave and up to three months of paid family and medical leave. Labor Department data says that one in four workers have no access to paid sick leave, including two-thirds of lowest earners. The U.S. is one of the only wealthy countries that does not require employers to offer its workers paid sick leave. We speak with Elise Gould, senior economist at the Economic Policy Institute; Donna Lieberman, executive director of the New York Civil Liberties Union; and economist Robert Pollin, co-director of the Political Economy Research Institute at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

Trump Calls COVID-19 "Foreign Virus" as Lack of Universal Healthcare Makes the Pandemic Worse

After downplaying the threat of coronavirus for days, President Donald Trump addressed the nation Wednesday from the Oval Office, calling COVID-19 a “foreign virus” and announcing an unprecedented travel ban from most of Europe to the U.S. He also said he will expand sick leave. This comes as Senate Republicans blocked paid sick leave legislation. Robert Pollin, distinguished university professor of economics and co-director of the Political Economy Research Institute at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, says the lack of universal healthcare in the U.S. is exacerbating the coronavirus crisis due to “the absurdity that people cannot feel confident that they are going to get medical treatment” when they need it most. In 2018, Pollin co-authored a paper titled “Economic Analysis of Medicare for All.” His forthcoming book, co-authored with Noam Chomsky, is “The Climate Crisis and the Global Green New Deal: The Political Economy of Saving the Planet.”

Bernie Sanders: We Are Winning "Ideological" & "Generational" Debate, Now Need to Win "Electability"

After a disappointing showing in Tuesday night’s Democratic presidential primaries, Senator Bernie Sanders said Wednesday he will stay in the race. In his address from Burlington, Vermont, Sanders challenged his rival, former Vice President Joe Biden, to address key issues like economic inequality, healthcare access and the climate crisis. Sanders is set to debate Biden this Sunday in Arizona. “It is not just the ideological debate that our progressive movement is winning. We are winning the generational debate,” Sanders said. “While Joe Biden continues to do very well with older Americans, especially those people over 65, our campaign continues to win the vast majority of the votes of younger people. … Today, I say to the Democratic establishment, in order to win in the future, you need to win the voters who represent the future of our country, and you must speak to the issues of concern to them.”

Headlines for March 12, 2020

Nurses on the Frontlines of Coronavirus Pandemic Demand More Protection & Medicare for All

The number of coronavirus cases in the United States has passed 1,000 Tuesday, with the rate of infections likely increasing. Despite this, the U.S. continues to lag on testing, and healthcare workers say they lack adequate protection and protocols to allow them to safely care for infected patients. They also say the country’s hospitals are woefully unprepared to handle the crisis. Nurses in the hot zones of California and Washington had already reported having to beg for face masks and lacking guidance on how to address the virus. We are joined by Jean Ross, president of National Nurses United, the largest organization of registered nurses in the United States, which says Centers for Disease Control actually weakened its guidelines on responding to the pandemic by rolling back requirements for protective gear, not requiring infected patients to be in negative pressure isolation rooms at all times, and decreasing healthcare worker protections. In response, nurses with the NNU are holding a national day of action today to demand better protections for healthcare workers and the public. We are also joined by Alicia Garza with the National Domestic Workers Alliance and Black Futures Lab, a co-founder of the Black Lives Matter Global Network, and Naomi Klein, senior correspondent at The Intercept and the inaugural Gloria Steinem chair of media, culture and feminist studies at Rutgers University.

Biden Wins, Sanders Lags: Naomi Klein & Alicia Garza on Calls to Shut Down Primaries & Debates

Former Vice President Joe Biden scored decisive primary victories Tuesday night in the key state of Michigan, along with Missouri, Mississippi and Idaho. Sanders won North Dakota and holds a lead in Washington state, but votes are still being counted, and the races are still too close to call. While Biden is less than halfway to the delegates he would need to secure the Democratic nomination, Sanders faces a decision about whether to continue his increasingly uphill fight for the Democratic Party’s 2020 presidential nomination. This comes as Biden and Sanders called off their planned campaign rallies in Cleveland on Tuesday because of concerns over the coronavirus, which continues to spread, and Trump announced a new rally. We speak with Naomi Klein, senior correspondent at The Intercept and the inaugural Gloria Steinem chair of media, culture and feminist studies at Rutgers University, and Alicia Garza, strategy and partnerships director for the National Domestic Workers Alliance, principal at the Black Futures Lab and a co-founder of the Black Lives Matter Global Network.

Headlines for March 11, 2020

Immigrants in WA Detention Center Demand Protection from Coronavirus, Not Posters in English

As the world responds to the COVID-19 outbreak, we look at how the Trump administration’s immigration policies may put everyone at risk. We go to Seattle, Washington, not far from the Life Care Center in the suburb of Kirkland, which was the epicenter of the U.S. coronavirus outbreak. In nearby Tacoma, Washington, our guest says she saw posters in English only when she went to visit immigrants held in the Northwest Detention Center, which is run by private prison company GEO Group. We speak with Maru Mora Villalpando, an activist and undocumented immigrant with the groups La Resistencia and Mijente, who issued a call for public health inspections of the Northwest Detention Center, due to the danger of coronavirus within the facility, along with other demands for how ICE should respond to the epidemic.

Prisons Worldwide Face Coronavirus Crisis: Overcrowding, Lack of Sanitation & Labor at Slave Wages

As Italy went on lockdown, nearly 30 prisons across the country broke into riots Sunday and Monday after visitation rights were suspended in response to the outbreak. In a prison in southern Italy, a riot left at least six incarcerated people dead and caused 50 people to escape. Prisoners have reportedly lit fires, charged guards and even escaped at multiple facilities. This comes as the United Nations confirmed that coronavirus had reached Iran’s prisons, as the number of cases there continues to soar. Iran has temporarily freed some 70,000 prisoners in response to the coronavirus. And concerns are growing about the health of the at least 1 million Uyghur Muslims jailed in prison camps in western China, where at least 13 cases of coronavirus have been confirmed in the region of Xinjiang. In the U.S., New York Governor Andrew Cuomo is facing backlash after announcing Monday that New York state would respond to the growing coronavirus outbreak here by producing its own hand sanitizer made by prisoners for less than a dollar an hour. Not only will prisoners be making the 75% alcohol hand sanitizer for an average of 65 cents an hour, it’s unclear if they will even be allowed to use it to protect themselves from infection. Items with alcohol are typically considered prisoner contraband. From Houston, we speak to Keri Blakinger, a reporter with The Marshall Project.

Italy Is Now a Red Zone: Student at Bocconi U. Describes Strict Measures Taken to Contain COVID-19

The entire country of Italy has been placed on lockdown in an attempt to stop the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus, impacting 60 million people. People in the nationwide Red Zone will only be allowed to travel for work, medical reasons or emergencies until early next month. All schools and universities will also remain closed, major sporting events are suspended, and airline passengers now have to justify their reasons for traveling. We go to Italy to speak with Romy Kool, an international student at Bocconi University in Milan, where courses are now being taught online amid the coronavirus outbreak. We are also joined by epidemiologists Thomas Bollyky with the Council on Foreign Relations and Alfredo Morabia, professor of epidemiology at the Barry Commoner Center for Health and the Environment at Queens College, City University of New York, and editor-in-chief of the American Journal of Public Health.

Coronavirus Pandemic in U.S. Fueled by Stunted CDC Budget & Lack of Access to Healthcare, Insurance

The coronavirus pandemic has now infected more than 113,000 people worldwide, and killed more than 4,000. We are joined by two epidemiologists to examine the response so far around the world and in the United States. Thomas Bollyky is director of the global health program, senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations and author of the book “Plagues and the Paradox of Progress: Why the World Is Getting Healthier in Worrisome Ways.” We’re also joined by Alfredo Morabia, professor of epidemiology at the Barry Commoner Center for Health and the Environment at Queens College, City University of New York, and editor-in-chief of the American Journal of Public Health.

Headlines for March 10, 2020

Blackwater Founder Erik Prince Recruited Spies to Infiltrate Progressive Groups with Project Veritas

Erik Prince, the founder of the mercenary firm Blackwater and brother of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, helped recruit former spies to infiltrate and gather intelligence about Democratic campaigns and labor organizations, including the American Federation of Teachers, according to an explosive report by The New York Times. The story exposes previously unreported details about the ties between Prince and Project Veritas, a right-wing group that often sets up sting operations targeting the media and journalists by recording covert videos. According to documents and interviews, one former spy recruited by Erik Prince helped run an operation to secretly tape leaders in the Michigan office of the American Federation of Teachers in 2017. In another instance, in 2018, the same undercover operative who gathered information about the AFT infiltrated the congressional campaign of former CIA officer Abigail Spanberger, who was running for Congress representing Virginia as a Democrat. We are joined by The Intercept’s investigative reporter Matthew Cole, who first broke the story of Erik Prince’s ties to the Trump administration last year.

"Afghanistan Papers" Reveal How Presidents & Generals Misled the American Public on War's Progress

Washington Post reporter Craig Whitlock has just won a George Polk Award for Military Reporting for his in-depth investigation called “The Afghanistan Papers: A Secret History of the War.” He joins us to describe how, after getting a tip, he fought for three years to get the federal government to release a trove of confidential interviews it conducted with people directly involved in the nearly two-decade-long war. He ultimately obtained more than 2,000 documents that revealed how presidents, generals and diplomats across three administrations had intentionally misled the American public about the longest war in U.S. history.

"It's a Real Mess": Afghan Rivals Both Claim Presidency as Ongoing Attacks Could Derail Peace Deal

Since last month’s U.S.-Taliban peace plan, there have been nearly 80 attacks in Afghanistan. The violence could derail the deal that calls for U.S. troops to withdraw over the next 14 months. This comes as Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and top political leader Abdullah Abdullah both claimed that they won the presidential election at dual inauguration ceremonies today in Kabul, and members of the Taliban and the Afghan government were set to start direct negotiations on Tuesday. We speak with Washington Post reporter Craig Whitlock, who recently won the George Polk Award for Military Reporting for his in-depth investigation called “The Afghanistan Papers: A Secret History of the War.”

Headlines for March 9, 2020

"Supreme Inequality": Author Adam Cohen on the Supreme Court's 50-Year Battle Against Justice

The makeup of the U.S. Supreme Court has come under intense criticism in recent years after two Trump-nominated justices joined the bench. Senate Republicans confirmed Neil Gorsuch in 2017 after having refused to consider President Barack Obama’s nominee in his final year in office, and they confirmed Brett Kavanaugh a year later despite multiple allegations of sexual misconduct against the judge. During the 2020 Democratic presidential contest, several candidates floated the idea of “packing the court” — appointing more than nine justices — in order to counter the court’s rightward drift. But while the current Supreme Court often earns the ire of progressive lawmakers and activists, our guest Adam Cohen says it has actually been a force for injustice for the last 50 years, despite what Americans are taught about the court’s role in protecting the rights of marginalized people. “The Supreme Court — which is an institution that we think of as the bastion of fairness, the advocate for the underdog — has actually been a major driver of inequality,” says Cohen. His new book is “Supreme Inequality: The Supreme Court’s Fifty-Year Battle for a More Unjust America.”