Democracy Now!

Headlines for July 13, 2020

"Most Important Indian Law Case in Half a Century": Supreme Court Upholds Tribal Sovereignty in OK

In a landmark decision, the Supreme Court has ruled that much of eastern Oklahoma, constituting nearly half the state, is Native American land, recognizing a 19th century U.S. treaty with the Muscogee (Creek) Nation. Justice Neil Gorsuch, a Trump nominee, joined the court’s liberal wing in a narrow 5-4 ruling that found state authorities cannot criminally prosecute Indigenous peoples under state or local laws. The court’s bombshell decision — which also impacts the Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw and Seminole Nations — is a major victory for Indigenous sovereignty and treaty rights. “It’s a landmark case, and probably the most important Indian law case in the last half a century to come down from the court,” says lawyer Sarah Deer, a citizen of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation of Oklahoma and a professor at the University of Kansas. “The language of the decision itself goes far beyond Oklahoma.”

"House of Absolute Horrors": Mary Trump's Book Reveals How Trump Family Gave Rise to a "Sociopath"

In a new book, Mary Trump — the president’s niece — describes Donald Trump as a “sociopath” who grew up in a dysfunctional family that fostered his greed and cruelty. Donald Trump’s younger brother, Robert, is seeking to block the sale of the book on the grounds that it violates a confidentiality agreement, but publisher Simon & Schuster says 600,000 copies of the book have already been distributed ahead of its July 14 publishing date. Investigative journalist David Cay Johnston, who has reported on Trump for three decades, says the book is “very, very important” and helps to answer how Trump got to the White House.

Supreme Court Rules Trump Is Not Above the Law, But Public Unlikely to See Tax Returns by Election

In a pair of 7-2 rulings, the Supreme Court rejected President Trump’s claim of absolute immunity under the law. The court ruled a Manhattan grand jury could have access to the president’s tax returns, but it remains unlikely any of Trump’s tax records will be seen before the election. “Legally, Trump had a big loss,” says investigative reporter David Cay Johnston, founder and editor of DCReport.org. “Politically, he got a big win out of this court.”

Brazilian Epidemiologist Slams Bolsonaro's COVID Response as Far-Right President Tests Positive

As Brazil faces the world’s second-worst COVID-19 outbreak after the United States, Trump ally and far-right President Jair Bolsonaro has tested positive, after months of downplaying the severity of the pandemic. Brazil has gone almost two months with no health minister. “Bad political leadership is a major risk factor for the spread of the pandemic,” says leading Brazilian epidemiologist Cesar Victora, who coordinates the International Center for Equity in Health at the Federal University of Pelotas.

Headlines for July 10, 2020

Belgian Princess Condemns Her Family’s Brutal Colonial History in Congo & Calls For Reparations

Black Lives Matter protests in the U.S. have sparked a reckoning about racism and colonialism across the world, including in Belgium, where a growing movement is demanding the country address systemic racism and make amends for its violent colonial legacy. King Philippe issued an unprecedented statement “expressing regret” for Belgium’s brutal colonial rule in Congo under Leopold II, who ran the country as his personal fiefdom and under whose command millions of Congolese were enslaved and killed. “It’s an erased history,” says Belgo-Congolese journalist and activist Gia Abrassart. We also speak with Princess Esméralda, a member of the Belgian royal family and great-grandniece of Leopold II, who says the country has taken an important first step, but adds that “we have to go much farther.”

How to Stop the Next Pandemic: U.N. Report Links Outbreaks to Climate Crisis & Industrial Farming

As the unprecedented global health emergency continues to unfold, a new United Nations report says humans must lower stress on the natural environment to prevent the next pandemic. COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, has a zoonotic origin, meaning it jumped from animals to humans, and the U.N. report finds that such diseases are spreading with greater frequency due to human activity, including industrial farming and the climate crisis. “Rather than focusing on the symptoms, we were looking at the causes,” says Delia Grace, lead author of the report, veterinary epidemiologist at the International Livestock Research Institute in Kenya and professor of food safety at the U.K. Natural Resources Institute.

Viagra? Yes. Birth Control? No. SCOTUS Sides with Trump & Limits Free Contraception Under Obamacare

The Supreme Court dealt a major blow to reproductive rights when it sided with the Trump administration in letting employers deny people access to free birth control based on religious or moral grounds, hollowing out a mandate under the Affordable Care Act that requires most private health insurance plans to provide cost-free birth control. “It’s a really deeply disappointing ruling,” says Fatima Goss Graves, president and CEO of the National Women’s Law Center. “These individuals are effectively on their own to find and pay for their contraception.”

Headlines for July 9, 2020

COVID Exposes "Significant Racial Health Inequities" as Black, Brown & Indigenous People Suffer Most

The coronavirus continues to hit communities of color the hardest, with federal data showing African American and Latinx people are nearly three times more likely to be infected and twice as likely to die from the virus compared to their white neighbors. There were “pretty significant racial health disparities” even before COVID-19 ravaged the country, says Dr. Uché Blackstock, emergency medicine physician in New York and founder and CEO of Advancing Health Equity, a company working to fight racism and bias in health services. “What we saw in the pandemic these first few months is these really significant racial health inequities being exposed and even amplified.” We also continue to speak with award-winning New York Times correspondent Dr. Sheri Fink.

The New NYC? Houston Hospitals Struggle with "Astonishing" Rise in Coronavirus Cases

As COVID-19 cases rise and hospitalizations are soaring, hospitals in Florida, Texas, Arizona and California are running out of ICU beds. On Tuesday, Texas set a grim new record of 10,000 new cases in a single day. “It’s been astonishing,” says Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times correspondent Dr. Sheri Fink, who has been reporting from Houston’s largest hospital. “They’ve been adding unit after unit after unit just to care for coronavirus patients.”

ICE Threatens to Deport or Bar International Students If Schools Move Classes Online Due to Pandemic

As President Trump pressures states to reopen schools in the fall despite an alarming surge in new coronavirus cases, ICE says international students studying at U.S. universities could face deportation if their schools switch to online-only courses. The U.S. issues more than a million student visas a year, and international students account for as much as a third of the undergraduate student body at many colleges and universities and often constitute the majority of graduate students. “I have yet to see a justification for this,” says immigration attorney Fiona McEntee, who notes that international students contribute about $41 billion to the U.S. economy per year. We also speak with Jian Ren, a Chinese international student pursuing a Ph.D. at Rutgers University.

Headlines for July 8, 2020

"They Don't Care About Our Health": Hunger Striker at Otay Mesa ICE Jail Speaks Out as COVID Spreads

As COVID-19 infections continue to rise behind bars, we go inside the Otay Mesa Detention Center in California to speak with Anthony Alexandre, a longtime U.S. resident of Haitian descent, who describes conditions at the for-profit jail, run by private prison company CoreCivic, which has seen a mass outbreak of COVID-19, leading to at least 167 infections and one death. “Basically, CoreCivic is telling us they do not care about our health,” says Alexandre. “They do not care about anything else but their bottom line.”

How Black & Indigenous Groups Won the Fight to Stop the Atlantic Coast Pipeline

Anti-pipeline activists are celebrating after Duke Energy and Dominion Energy announced they are dropping plans to build the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, a 600-mile pipeline that would have carried fracked gas from West Virginia to North Carolina and threatened rural Indigenous, Black and Brown communities. “There was an awful lot of opposition to this,” says Donna Chavis, senior fossil fuel campaigner for Friends of the Earth and an elder of the Lumbee Nation, whose territory the pipeline would have crossed. She says the communities that would have suffered “irreparable harm” from the pipeline “now have that cloud lifted from them.”

"A Dream That Comes True": Standing Rock Elder Hails Order to Shut Down DAPL After Years of Protest

Following years of resistance, the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and Indigenous organizers across the country scored a massive legal victory Monday when a federal judge ordered the Dakota Access Pipeline to be shut down and emptied of all oil, pending an environmental review. “You ever have a dream, a dream that comes true? That is what it is,” responds LaDonna Brave Bull Allard, an elder of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and founder of Sacred Stone Camp, where resistance in 2016 brought tens of thousands of people to oppose the pipeline’s construction on sacred lands. We also speak with Ojibwe lawyer Tara Houska, founder of the Giniw Collective.

Headlines for July 7, 2020

Egyptian Activist Laila Soueif on the Jailing of Her Children & the Fight Against Authoritarianism

Egyptian authorities have arrested scores of people, including doctors, medical workers, journalists, lawyers and activists, as the country grapples with the coronavirus outbreak. “Unlike nearly every other country in the Middle East, Egypt has not released thousands of prisoners as a precaution against the coronavirus. Instead, it’s arrested more people and cut off communication,” says Democracy Now! correspondent Sharif Abdel Kouddous. One of the most high-profile arrests is that of Sanaa Seif, a film editor and the youngest member of one of Egypt’s most prominent activist families. Sanaa’s brother, Alaa Abd El-Fattah — a leading figure of the 2011 revolution — was released from prison last year after serving a five-year sentence on trumped-up charges, but was rearrested in September and remains behind bars in pretrial detention. In an exclusive interview, we speak with their mother, Laila Soueif, who is a professor of mathematics at Cairo University and one of the most outspoken and active advocates for prisoner rights in Egypt.

Indigenous Historian Nick Estes on Toppling Statues, Racist Team Names & COVID-19 in Indian Country

President Trump’s visit to Mount Rushmore comes after months of escalating coronavirus infections in Native communities, but Indigenous scholar and activist Nick Estes says South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem, like many of her Republican counterparts across the U.S., has taken a “hallucination-based approach to the COVID-19 pandemic,” and notes she refused to enforce social distancing at this weekend’s event that attracted thousands of people. He also reacts to growing pressure on the Washington Redskins and Cleveland Indians to change their racist names.

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