Democracy Now!

An End to Neoliberalism? How Chile Drafted New Constitution to Rewrite Pinochet-Era Laws

In a historic milestone, Chile has finalized a draft of its first-ever democratically written constitution to replace the one created under the U.S.-backed neoliberal dictator Augusto Pinochet. The new constitution is expected to enshrine a wide range of human rights and social programs, including free universal access to healthcare, higher education, reproductive rights, as well as more robust environmental safeguards and policies to promote gender and racial equity. It will also for the first time recognize Chile’s Indigenous peoples and offer restitution for historically Indigenous lands, but does not include a measure to nationalize parts of the country’s mining industry. “It has been a demand of social movements, of the civil society in Chile for decades,” says Pablo Abufom, member of Chile’s “Solidaridad” movement.

End the Filibuster: Senate Can't Pass Gun Control Despite Public Support, 198 Mass Shootings in 2022

The white supremacist who shot 10 people dead in Buffalo, New York, was able to buy an assault rifle months after New York state police took him into custody for making a threat about committing violence. The gun store owner who sold the weapon says a background check showed a clean record. We look at how background checks alone are not enough to prevent gun violence, as both mass shootings and weapons sales have skyrocketed in recent years without more legislation at the federal level. Multiple bills proposing harsher gun restrictions have been blocked by filibusters in Congress. “Our demand is that we renew an assault weapons ban at the federal level and also that we restrict the production of high-capacity magazines or large-capacity magazines,” says Kris Brown, president of Brady, one of the oldest gun violence prevention organizations in the U.S.

Nina Khrushcheva: Talks to End War in Ukraine Are Collapsing as U.S. Seeks Regime Change in Moscow

As the United Nations warns about the devastating global impact of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, talks to negotiate a peace settlement appear to have collapsed. Russian President Vladimir Putin appears determined to push forward despite a more resilient Ukrainian defense than expected, as both sides seem to be fixated on gaining military and territorial victories. Meanwhile, the U.S. continues to pour millions of dollars in weapons into Ukraine. “It does seem that the United States thinks that Ukraine should be supported in its war effort, not its negotiation effort, until the very end,” says Nina Khrushcheva, professor at The New School and the great-granddaughter of former Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev. She also speaks about the current climate of civil society within Russia and the faulty intelligence that led Putin to decide to invade Ukraine.

Headlines for May 19, 2022

Battle of Donbas: Dramatic Interview from Ukrainian-Held Severodonetsk as Missiles Rain Down

In a rare interview from the frontlines of the Russian invasion, we speak with American journalist Billy Nessen in the Ukrainian city of Severodonetsk. It is the easternmost city still held by Ukrainian forces after almost three months of war. He says Russian troops have devastated the city with heavy shelling. The interview with Nessen was interrupted when a shell landed in the building next door. Nessen speaks about the Ukrainian resistance, the Azov Battalion and more, including the U.S. and NATO’s role in the conflict, especially as the U.S. Senate is expected to approve an additional $40 billion in military and economic aid to Ukraine. “Obviously the West is determined that Ukraine has to win this war,” says Nessen.

Nina Turner: Democrats Must Decide If They Are "Party of the Corporatists or Party of the People"

We look at the Democratic Party’s opposition to progressive challengers such as Nina Turner, former Ohio state senator who earlier this month lost her congressional primary challenge after facing massive spending and attacks by super PACs. Turner says the corporate wing of the Democratic Party seeks to consolidate the existing leadership’s power while shutting down champions of progressive policies like Medicare for All. “The Democratic Party as a whole has to make a decision: Is it the party of the corporatists, or is it the party of the people?” says Turner.

David Sirota: Progressives Win Key Primary Races Despite Millions Spent to Back Corporate Democrats

We look at Tuesday’s primary elections across five states, which could set the tone for this year’s midterm elections in November. Progressives won in some primary elections despite opposition from within the Democratic Party, as well as deep-pocketed outside groups. “What you’ve seen is a surprising backlash at the voter level to all of the money that flooded in,” says investigative journalist David Sirota of The Lever. “It’s been a pretty good night for progressive candidates, despite all that money.”

Headlines for May 18, 2022

David Dayen on the Baby Formula Shortage & Monopolies in the Age of Corporate Power

House lawmakers have raised alarm over a nationwide baby formula shortage after a manufacturer in Michigan shut down over health concerns and was linked to the deaths of two infants. Advocates are calling for greater accountability and investigation into the manufacturer, Abbott Laboratories, even as the Food and Drug Administration is in talks to allow the plant to reopen. We look at how Abbott’s grip on the market for baby formula, amounting to about 20% of all formula distributed in the U.S., contributed to the crisis. An overhaul to the system where the government subsidizes only a few formula brands can help combat the monopolization that has caused this crisis, says David Dayen, executive editor of The American Prospect.

Do Online Forums Act as "Radicalization Machines" for White Supremacists & Mainstream GOP?

Before embarking on a murderous rampage in a majority-Black neighborhood, the Buffalo shooter posted a white supremacist manifesto online that fixated on white dominance, white fertility and the survival of the white race. These are all sentiments shared by the Republican Party and its media arms, says author and extremism researcher Talia Lavin, who spent nearly a year impersonating right-wing white supremacists online, assuming false identities to infiltrate their groups, as she worked on her book, “Culture Warlords: My Journey into the Dark Web of White Supremacy.” She adds that online chat platforms such as 4chan and Telegram are essentially “perpetual motion radicalization machines” where “people who are already radicalized or in the process of being radicalized can imbibe propaganda.” Her recent article for Rolling Stone is headlined “The Buffalo Shooter Isn’t a 'Lone Wolf.' He’s a Mainstream Republican.”

Buffalo Massacre & Racist Manifesto Fuel Push to Regulate Social Media Platforms Where Hate Flourishes

Calls are growing for heavier restrictions on social media platforms after a white supremacist live-streamed his shooting spree in Buffalo, New York, on Saturday, resulting in 10 deaths and three wounded. While the video was removed from Twitch within minutes, platforms such as Twitter and Facebook allowed it to circulate for days and gain over a million views. The 18-year-old shooter was radicalized through online forums such as 4chan, according to a racist screed he authored. “What we are dealing with is the backend business models that are creating a structure where certain things are being able to be profited from, certain things travel differently, and hate-filled content has more of a space to be engaged with,” says Rashad Robinson, president of Color of Change. Color of Change has called for social media platforms to institute changes to their terms of service and urged Twitch to conduct a racial equity audit.

Headlines for May 17, 2022

Abortion Activist Renee Bracey Sherman: Democrats Demand Our Votes But Fail to Protect Our Rights

Tens of thousands took to the streets across the U.S. Saturday to protest threats to abortion rights as part of a coordinated day of action, under the banner “Bans Off Our Bodies.” We speak with Renee Bracey Sherman, founder and executive director of pro-abortion group We Testify, about the racist history behind anti-abortion movements and the failure of Democrats to protect reproductive rights over the years. “Abortion restrictions were really to push white people to have more babies and restrict and … control the fertility of Black and Brown people across this country,” says Sherman. Her new piece for Time magazine is headlined “Voting Won’t Save Abortion Rights.”

Antiracist Scholar Ibram X. Kendi: Republicans Must Address How White Supremacists Target Youth

We speak to prominent antiracist scholar Ibram X. Kendi about the epidemic of young white males who commit white supremacist domestic terrorism. This comes as an 18-year-old white shooter sought out a majority-Black neighborhood in Buffalo, New York, and killed 10 people on Saturday. Kendi says this phenomenon will only get worse if antiracist education is not introduced to white children and children of color alike at their most vulnerable stages of development. Even before critical race theory was under attack, there was a dearth of educators and education that reinforces “the source of racial disparities and inequities in our community is not the inferiority of a particular racial group but this history and presence of racist policies,” he adds. Kendi’s recent piece for The Atlantic is headlined “The Danger More Republicans Should Be Talking About: White-supremacist ideology is harmful to all, especially the naive and defenseless minds of youth.”

Buffalo Massacre: Gunman Cited Racist "Great Replacement" Conspiracy Theory Popularized by Fox News

The mass shooter who killed 10 people in Buffalo, New York, on Saturday posted a racist manifesto online before targeting a majority-Black neighborhood. His writings took heavily from conservative conspiracy theories that white people were in danger of being replaced by people of color. This so-called Great Replacement conspiracy theory has been promoted by major far-right media figures including Tucker Carlson of Fox News. “What it does is create a dynamic where believers view immigrants and nonwhite people as an existential threat not only to themselves physically but to their position in society,” says Nikki McCann Ramírez, associate research director at Media Matters for America, who has researched how Carlson uses his show to launder white nationalist ideology. We also speak with prominent antiracist scholar Ibram X. Kendi, who says mainstream conservatives are increasingly parroting extremist talking points.

Now Is the Time for Reparations: India Walton on Buffalo Mass Shooting That Targeted Black Community

In one of this year’s deadliest mass shootings, a white supremacist opened fire Saturday on a supermarket in a predominantly Black neighborhood in Buffalo, New York, killing 10 and wounding three others. Eleven of the victims are Black. The 18-year-old suspect posted racist ideology online before live-streaming his attack. We go to Buffalo to speak with India Walton, longtime community activist and former mayoral candidate, about the city’s systemic racism and segregation, which has led to “food apartheid.” Black residents in east Buffalo have just one grocery store, which the shooter targeted. “This is more than half a century of oppression, of systemic racism, and now is the time to renew the call for reparations,” Walton says.

Headlines for May 16, 2022

German Peace Activist Warns Finland Joining NATO Could Be Step Toward Nuclear War with Russia

Finland’s president and prime minister say they plan to end decades of neutrality and join NATO. Sweden is also expected to seek NATO membership. The Kremlin says Russia sees the expansion of NATO on its borders as a threat. “People on both sides will suffer,” says Reiner Braun, executive director of the International Peace Bureau, who warns Russia will escalate in response and move more nuclear weapons near the 830-mile-long Finland-Russia border.

Mexican Journalists Protest "Staggering" Toll of Journalists Murdered with Impunity; 11 Slain in 2022

Three journalists were killed within a three-day span this week in Mexico, bringing the toll to 11 so far this year and making Mexico the deadliest country in the world for journalists, behind Ukraine. Most of the murders have gone unsolved. This week journalists across Mexico took to the streets protesting the murder of their colleagues and called for accountability. “A crime against a reporter is a crime against the entire country,” says Jan-Albert Hootsen, Mexico correspondent at the Committee to Protect Journalists, who calls the numbers staggering and unprecedented.

Nick Estes: Leonard Peltier's Continued Imprisonment Is an "Open Wound for Indian Country"

Calls are growing for President Biden to grant clemency to Leonard Peltier, the 77-year-old imprisoned Native American activist who has spent 46 years behind bars for a crime he says he did not commit. Amnesty International considers Peltier a political prisoner, and numerous legal observers say his 1977 conviction for alleged involvement in killing two FBI agents in a shootout on the Pine Ridge Reservation was riddled with irregularities and prosecutorial misconduct. “At this point, there’s no reason other than vindictive revenge for him to be in prison,” says writer and activist Nick Estes, co-founder of the Indigenous resistance group The Red Nation. “He survived COVID, he’s in poor health, and the man deserves to be with his people,” says Estes, who calls for a full congressional investigation into the deaths of Indigenous activists on Pine Ridge Reservation, where the shootout that led to Peltier’s arrest occurred.

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