Democracy Now!

NYC Opens Nation's First Safe Drug Injection Sites; 15 Lives Saved in First Week of Operation

At least fifteen lives have been saved, so far, after the nation’s first supervised illegal drug injection sites opened in New York City about a week ago. The facilities provide clean needles and the opioid reversal medication Naloxone, as well as medical care and drug dependency treatment options. This comes as U.S. overdose deaths topped 100,000 during the first year of the pandemic. While the New York facilities are the first to be government-approved, advocates have long fought for better and safer resources for people with addiction, and there are now over 120 drug injection sites operating worldwide. We speak with Kassandra Frederique, executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance, who says safe drug prevention sites are effective tools to keep people who use drugs alive, especially in Black and Latino communities that face the added threat of mass incarceration from decades of discriminatory policies.

Biden Restarts & Expands Trump-Era "Remain in Mexico" Policy Despite Widespread Abuse, Kidnappings

In a controversial move, the Biden administration has resumed and expanded the Trump-era “Remain in Mexico” policy that forces non-Mexican asylum-seekers who arrive at the southern U.S. border to wait in Mexico while their cases are resolved in U.S. courts — a process that can take months or even years. We speak with Kennji Kizuka, associate director of research and analysis for refugee protection at Human Rights First, who documented how this puts asylum seekers in grave danger.

U.S. Vowed to Help Prevent New Variants by Closing Global Vaccine Gap, But Plan’s Funding Is Stalled

As the Biden administration faces increased pressure to address global vaccine inequity, USAID administrator Samantha Power announced a plan Monday for the United States to spend an additional $400 million to help increase vaccine access internationally. The move came days after Vanity Fair revealed a $2.5 billion plan to thwart Omicron-like variants has been stalled inside the Biden administration. We speak with reporter Katherine Eban, who broke the story, and says vaccines are piling up in countries that lack the health infrastructure to distribute them quickly. “The problem is shifting from not enough doses to not enough support on the ground to administer doses.” She says the Biden administration has “good-faith” goals to reduce vaccine inequity, but “they have not gone and asked Congress for money in part because they’re facing a narrow Senate majority.”

As World Confronts Omicron Variant, Top 8 Pfizer & Moderna Investors Make $10 Billion in a Week

The eight top Pfizer and Moderna shareholders made over $10 billion last week when their stock holdings skyrocketed after the discovery of the new Omicron variant. This comes as global public health advocates warn the world will keep seeing more coronavirus variants unless wealthy nations and vaccine manufacturers do more to address vaccine inequity. “The companies that make the most are doing the least to share their technology,” says Nick Dearden, director of Global Justice Now U.K., which is documenting Big Pharma’s profits. “The priority is making enormous amounts of money for some of the richest people in the world.”

As Noam Chomsky Turns 93, He Urges Young People to Create a "Much Better World" Through Activism

Today marks the 93rd birthday of world-renowned political dissident, linguist and author Noam Chomsky, who spoke with Democracy Now! from his home in Tucson, Arizona, and said he finds hope in the activism of young people “to create a much better world than the one we have.”

Chomsky is among the special guests for Democracy Now’s 25th anniversary event airing Tuesday evening, alongside Angela Davis, Arundhati Roy and many more. The virtual celebration begins at 8 p.m. ET. Watch it live here.

Headlines for December 7, 2021

U.S. Opposes a Ban on Killer Robots - A New Autonomous Form of Warfare - Ahead of U.N. Weapons Summit

Human rights activists and dozens of countries are calling for an all-out ban on the use of lethal autonomous weapons, also known as “killer robots” that can make the final order to kill without a human overseeing the process. The robots will be coming under review next week during high-level talks on the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons. So far, the Biden administration has rejected calls to ban the weapons, instead proposing the establishment of a “code of conduct” for their use. “This is not just a new weapon, it’s a new form of warfare,” says Steve Goose, director of Human Rights Watch’s arms division and co-founder of the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots, says. “The majority of countries want to see a legally binding instrument — a new treaty — that would have prohibitions and regulations on fully autonomous weapons.”

"Crisis of Accountability": Pentagon Reopens Probe of Syrian Airstrike That Killed Dozens of Civilians

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has ordered a new investigation into one of the deadliest U.S. airstrikes in recent years after the New York Times exposed an orchestrated cover-up by U.S. military officials to conceal the attack. The March 2019 airstrike killed dozens of women and children during a bombing of one of the last strongholds of the Islamic State of Syria. Evidence has shown that U.S. military officials spent two-and-a-half years covering up the attack by downplaying the death toll, delaying reports, and sanitizing and classifying evidence of civilian deaths. “This is not the case of one little mistake,” says Priyanka Motaparthy, director of the Counterterrorism, Armed Conflict and Human Rights Project at Columbia Law School. “This really points to a crisis of accountability in the Pentagon.”

"Systemwide Failure": Gun Control Advocates Demand New Regulations After Michigan School Shooting

Funerals have begun in Oxford, Michigan, for the four students killed when their 15-year-old classmate opened fire in a rampage that also injured seven others. Ethan Crumbley has been charged with terrorism and first-degree murder, and his parents have also been charged with involuntary manslaughter for allegedly giving him access to a firearm even as he displayed obvious signs he was thinking about committing violent crimes. We’re joined by Nicole Hockley, whose 6-year-old son Dylan was killed in the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, prompting her to found Sandy Hook Promise; and Kris Brown, president of Brady, one of the oldest gun violence prevention organizations in the country. “We have an epidemic of gun violence in this country,”says Brown. “This was an absolutely preventable act of violence,” adds Hockley, who also discusses her organization’s anonymous reporting system called “Say Something” for students to use if they see a classmate who is at risk of harming themselves or others.

Headlines for December 6, 2021

"The Facility": Meet the Former Prisoner Who Details Fight for His Life Inside ICE Jail During COVID

We go inside a notorious ICE jail at the height of the pandemic to see how people held there spoke out against dangerous conditions, and faced retaliation before they were ultimately released with no notice. Their story is captured in a new documentary called “The Facility.” It investigates the inhumane conditions at Irwin County Detention Center using footage from video calls, where cameras installed in cell blocks to enable pay-per-minute video calls “functioned almost like a portal for a moment in and out of a place meant not to be seen in this way,” says director, Seth Freed Wessler. “How can your own government be doing this to you?” asks Nilson Barahona-Marriaga, one of the people featured in interviews with Wessler in the eye-opening footage from inside the jail.

Haitian Asylum Seekers Held Under Del Rio Bridge Now Face Inhumane Conditions in New Mexico ICE Jail

The world was shocked by images of Haitians whipped by U.S. Border Patrol agents on horseback as they sought refuge. Thousands were soon deported, but dozens are now detained in an ICE jail in New Mexico where they face inhumane conditions and lack access to legal services. We speak with a lawyer who describes medical neglect, deteriorating mental and physical health, and poor treatment by the staff. “They cannot get the basic tools and have the basic human contact that they need to save their own lives,” says immigration attorney Allegra Love of the El Paso Immigration Collaborative.

From Abortion Bans to Anti-Trans Laws, a Christian Legal Army is Waging War on America

As the Supreme Court looks poised to uphold Mississippi’s 15-week abortion ban and possibly overturn Roe v. Wade, we speak to The Nation’s Amy Littlefield about her investigation into the Christian legal army behind the Mississippi law as well as anti-trans laws across the country. She also critiques the mainstream pro-choice movement’s failure to center the poor and people of color. “There is a change coming within the movement because of its reckoning with these past missteps including, frankly, the failure to adequately protect Black women and to stand up for the safety of the people whose rights were eroded first,” says Littlefield.

Headlines for December 3, 2021

As France Honors Black Artist Josephine Baker, Far-Right Pundit Éric Zemmour Launches Presidential Bid

On the same day France celebrated the induction of American-born singer and civil rights activist Josephine Baker into the Pantheon, far-right xenophobic writer and pundit Éric Zemmour announced he will run for president of France in the upcoming April 2022 election. Many have pointed out the contradiction in these opposing events, even in President Emmanuel Macron’s speech that painted Baker as a model of colorblind unity, when in reality she was outspoken about racial justice. “Celebrating Josephine Baker who was an immigrant … while making things difficult for immigrants of today to access to France is a contradiction,” says French journalist Rokhaya Diallo. “France attempts to use the fact that it has been very welcoming to African Americans throughout the 20th century to picture itself as an open and welcoming country.”

​​Planned Parenthood CEO: If SCOTUS Restricts Abortion Access, Marginalized People Will Be Hurt Most

We speak to Alexis McGill Johnson, President and CEO of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, about the Supreme Court hearing Wednesday, in which the conservative majority on the court seemed to indicate that they support upholding the restrictive Mississippi law that bans abortion starting at just 15 weeks of pregnancy, and potentially overturn Roe v. Wade. Justice Amy Comey Barrett suggested during questioning that giving up children for adoption would resolve the pro-choice argument that anti-abortion laws force women into motherhood. “Our very right to determine when and if we become pregnant, our self determination, is predicated on our ability to be seen as free and equal citizens in this country,” says Johnson. She says if the ban is upheld, the people most impacted will be “low income, Black, Brown and Indigenous communities, people who are trans and nonbinary, people who might not have support at home.”

Abortion Under Attack: Supreme Court Hints It Will Uphold Mississippi's Ban, Threatening Roe v. Wade

On Wednesday, the Supreme Court indicated it would uphold a restrictive Mississippi law that bans abortion starting at just 15 weeks of pregnancy. The case threatens to overturn the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling that legalized abortion nationwide. We feature excerpts from the two hours of oral arguments and speak with lawyer and bioethics professor Katie Watson. “The statute itself simply says abortion after 15 weeks is 'barbaric.' What’s barbaric, in my opinion, is forced childbearing,” says Watson. “There’s no explanation why, at any point, the potential interest of the fetus or the state’s interest in that fetus … would supersede the actual person in which it lives.”

Headlines for December 2, 2021

"The Viral Underclass": COVID-19 and AIDS Show What Happens When Inequality and Disease Collide

As December 1 marks World AIDS Day, we look at the pandemic that preceded COVID-19 and how recorded deaths of complications from the coronavirus this year have surpassed those of HIV/AIDS in the United States. The head of UNAIDS has warned the COVID-19 pandemic may result in an increase in infections and deaths from HIV and AIDS. Both viruses disproportionately impacted vulnerable minority communities. Although treatment rollout for HIV/AIDS was uniquely inhibited by homophobia, racism, and sexism, it was also plagued by corporate greed and U.S. exceptionalism. “We’re seeing very similar dynamics again now with COVID-19,” says Steven Thrasher, professor at Northwestern University in the Medill School of Journalism and the Institute of Sexual and Gender Minority Health and Wellbeing. “We have the vaccines, we have medications that are very effective, and they’re again being held from the Global South to protect the profits of pharmaceutical corporations.”

"Farewell to British Colonial Rule": Barbados Breaks From the Queen as Calls Grow For Reparations

Barbados has become the world’s newest republic breaking ties with Queen Elizabeth 55 years after it became an independent nation, saying it was time for Barbados to break from its colonial past. The move comes as calls grow for the United Kingdom to pay reparations for enacting a regime of slavery in Barbados. While it was an occasion for celebration, it was also “55 years overdue” and should have happened when Barbados won its independence in 1966, says David Comissiong, Barbados’s ambassador to the Caribbean Community and the Association of Caribbean States. “Barbados was a center of British power. You don’t get rid of the imprint of that history so easily.”

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