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tv   Democracy Now  LINKTV  March 31, 2022 8:00am-9:01am PDT

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03/31/22 03/31/22 [captioning made possible by democracy now!] amy: from new york, this is democracy now! >> yes, there is an negotiations process which is ongoing, but these are still words. amy: as russia's war in ukraine entersts sixth week, russia appears set to launch major new offensive in the donbas region while russia moves to draft 134,000 new conscripts.
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this com as the u. says russia may be committing war crimes by attacking civilian areas. we will get the latest. then president biden calls on congress to immediately approve new emergency covid-19 funding after congress eliminated pandemic funding. pres. biden: this is not partisan, it is medicine. americans are back to living their lives again. we cannot surrender that now. congress, please, act. you have to act immediately. consequences of inaction are severe. amy: with covid-19 funding ending for the uninsured, we will look at how the pandemic has led to a renewed push for medicare for all from progressive lawmakers and activists, including ady barkan, who was diagnosed with terminal als in 2016. >> when we lost 3000 lives on september 11,e responded by reorganizing our national security system, launching a global war on terror, and conducting active invasions and
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occupations. 300 times more people have died in this pandemic but we have not marshaled our national energy to build a better health care system. it is a scandal and it is a shame. amy: all that and more, coming up. welcome to democracy now!, democracynow.org, the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman. as russia's invasion of ukraine enters its sixth week, russian president vladimir putin has signed a decree to draft 134,000 new conscripts into russia's military. on wednesday, ukrainian president volodymyr zelenskyy warned russia is preparing a major offensive in the donbas region in eastern ukraine. this comes just days after russia announced it is repositioning some troops from from near kyiv and chernihiv, though attacks have continued on both cities. ukraine is now sending dozens of buses into the besieged city of mariupol to evacuate residents
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and deliver aid. the convoy headed into the city after russia declared a one-day ceasefire. for the past month, russian attacks have devastated the strategically located port city where over 150,000 people have been left without food, heat, power, or running water. local officials say as many as 5000 people have died. residents have described dire conditions in mariupol. >> we have been striving for well-being and now we are dirt poor, standing by the fire homeless. how long is this going to take? we have nowhere to take a shower. we're drinking water from god knows where and who knows what can a bacteria has in it. you have to walk far to get good water. this is no life or an retiree. amy: on wednesday the u.n. high commissioner for human rights michelle bachelet says russia's attack on civilian areas may amount to war crimes.
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the former chilean president also accused russia of using cluster munitions at least 24 times. the u.n. human rights council appointed a commission to investigate possible war crimes. on the diplomatic front, a top ukrainian has said zelenskyy and putin could soon hold a presidential peace summit but russia has downplayed the claim. we will have more on the war in ukraine after headlines. the head of the world food program is warning russia's invasion of ukraine could trigger the largest global food crisis in 80 years. david beasley told the u.n. security council tuesday that half of the grain his agency purchases each year comes from ukraine. he says the war has imperiled efforts to feed some 125 million people around the world. >> now we're talking about a catastrophe on top of a catastrophe because ukrne, from the breadbasket of the world now to bread line, we never would have dreamed anything likthis would be
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possible. it is not just decimating dynamically ukraine and th region, but it will have global context, impact beyond anything we have seen since world war ii. amy: tunisia's political crisis deepened wednesday as president kais saied rejected parliament's moves to rein in his near-total grip on power. >> today at this historic moment, i announce the dissolution of parliament in order to forever -- reserve the state and its institutions. amy: most tunisian lawmakers have rejected the order. on wednesday, they convened an online session, where a majority ted to repeal presidential decrees suspending parliament, saying the move violated the constitution. in response, tunisia's justice minister ordered prosecurs to charge elected officials with conspiring against state security. saudi arabia says it is halting its war in yemen during the muslim holy month of ramadan. the announcement came as envoys from gulf arab states met for a summit on yemen in the saudi
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capital riyadh. yemen's houthi rebels are boycotting the meeting, saying should have been held in a neutral country rather than in saudi arabia. the houthis have also rejected the saudi-led coalition's unilateral ceasefire citing the ongoing land and naval blockade of yemen. the united nations estimates the death toll from the u.s.-backed, saudi-led war reached 377,000 by the end of last year. the war has left millions of yemenis on the brink of starvation. the white house has it will end it will blocking people from seeking us at the u.s.-mexico border by may 23. under title 42, the biden administration has used the pandemic as a justification to deny the right to seek asylum to 1.2 million people at the u.s.-mexico border. that follows 400 thousand such expulsions under former president trump. mccarter congress member vargas of california responded "title
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42 was never about public health and safety, was implement it to deny to process to people seeking refuge and protection." president biden is calling on lawmakers to approve billions of dollars in emergency aid to battle covid-19 after congress eliminated pandemic funding from its final spending bill of the fiscal year. pres. biden: but if congress else to act, we won't have the supply we need this fall to ensure that shots are available free, easily accessible for all americans. even worse, if we need a different vaccine for the future to combat a new variant, we are not going to have enough money to purchase that. we cannot allow that to happen. amy: pandemic assistance to uninsured u.s. residents is already running out, with some 31 million people set to lose access to free covid-19 testing, treatment, and vaccines. this comes as many states are scaling back or eliminating state-run vaccination and testing sites.
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other states, including arizona, hawaii, ohio, and nevada have stopped reporting daily counts of covid-19 hospitalizations, infections, and deaths. meanwhile, new data from a large clinical trial show the anti-parasitic drug ivermectin was ineffective at preventing hospitalizations from covid-19. the drug, which is best known as a horse de-wormer, has been promoted as a miracle cure in right-wing media, including fox news. "the new york times" reports president biden is considering a plan to release one million barrels of oil a day from the strategic petroleum reserve for as long as 180 days in order to drive down energy prices. this comes as the biden administration is pressing saudi crown prince mohammed bin salman to pump more oil as nations look for alternatives to russian fossil fuel. meanwhile, german officials say
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have struck a deal to keep purchasing russian natural gas with euros or dollars after the kremlin demands payments in rubles. chancellor olaf scholz spoke by phone with russian president vladimir putin on wednesday. the two reportedly agreed to a deal that would see germany make payments to gazprom bank in russia, which will then convert the western currency to rubles. gazprom bank, which services russia's oil and gas sector, is not on a list of russian banks sanctioned by the european union. kentucky's republican-controlled legislature has approved a bill banning abortion after just 15 weeks of pregnancy. the kentucky bill is similar to mississippi's 15-week abortion ban, which is under review by the supreme court. democratic governor andy beshear has not said whether he'll sign the legislation, though republicans say they have enough votes to override a veto. also wednesday, arizona's republican governor doug ducey signed a similar ban on abortions after 15 weeks. governor ducey also signed
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legislation wednesday that prohibits gender-affirming care for arizona trans children, while banning trans girls from school sports teams that align with their gender identity. in a statement, the aclu of arizona said -- "governor ducey's decision to sign this harmful and discriminatory piece of legislation into law is nothing more than a political ploy to score points with extremist lawmakers and hateful groups peddling falsehoods and manufactured outrage." meanwhile, oklahoma republican governor kevin stitt signed a similar ban on trans women and girls on public schools and colleges. the arizona and oklahoma bills were signed one day before the international transgender day of visibility, held today, march 31. ahead of the occasion, trans activist and organizer raquel willis held a "trans youth town hall" with trans and gender non-conforming youth. >> it is insane how taxing that
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muste on someone who just wants to do something that they love, do something that is good for them, and be a part of a team and have that spirit. there is plenty of other research that says -- >> are we talking about i am 56, 57 on a good day. i'm not playing basketball. there a lot of issues that people passover just to marginalize and target trans people. amy: to see our interviews with raquel willis, visit democracnow.org, where you can also link to her trans youth town hall. israeli forces raided the jenin refugee camp in the occupied west bank early thursday, killing two palestinians and wounding at least 15 others. one of those killed was a 17-year-old boy. the raid came two days after a palestinian man from a village near jenin fatally shot five people near tel aviv. meanwhile, thousands of palestinians are rallying in the gaza strip and west bank today marking land day, an annual
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commemoration demanding the right to return to land palestinians were displaced from in 1948. canadian prime minister justin trudeau met with indigenous leaders in british columbia wednesday, where he pledged federal support to first nations communities whose children were ripped from their families and sent to residential boarding schools. an estimated 150,000 indigenous children attended such schools between the late 1800's and 1990's, funded by the canadian government and run by the catholic church. many were subjected to psychological, physical, and sexual abuse at the schools,nd canada's truth and reconciliation commission has documented at least 4100 deaths. earlier this week, a delegation of indigenous leaders traveled from canada to the vatican to meet with pope francis seeking a formal apology from the catholic church. this is cassidy caron, president of the métis national council. >> i have told numbers have now
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left as without ever having their truths heard and their pain acknowledged. without ever receiving the very basic humanity and healing they so rightfully deserved. that is nothing short of a travesty. both of justice and of conscience. and while the time for acknowledgment, apology, and atonement is long overdue, it is never too late to do the right thing. amy: and those are some of the headlines. this is democracy now!, democracynow.org, the war and peace report. when we come back, as russia's formed ukraine enters its sixth week, russia appears set to launch major new offensive in the donbass region and the u.n. says russian forces maybe attacking civilian areas. we will get the latest.
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amy: "messiah by austra." this is democracy now!, democracynow.org, the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman in new york, joined by my co-host nermeen shaikh. hi, nermeen. nermeen: hi, amy. welcome to all of our listeners and viewers from around the country and around the world. amy: ukrainian president fuller zelenskyy -- volodymyr zelenskyy is warning russia is preparing a major offensive in the donbas region in eastern ukraine. this comes two days after russia announced it is repositioning some troops from near kyiv and chernihiv, though attacks have continued on both cities. zelenskyy spoke on wednesday night and addressed the state of negotiations and russia's offensive. >> yes, there is a negotiations process which is ongoing, but these are still words. no specific so far. there also other words about the alleged withdrawal of the russian troops from kyiv and chernihiv, about the alleged production of the occupiers activities.
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we know this is not a withdrawal but the results of the pushback, the results of the work of art offenders. what we also see at the same time, there is an accumulation of the russian troops for new airstrikes in donbas and we are preparing for this. amy: on wednesday, the u.n. high commissioner for human rights michelle bachelet accused russia of committing possible war crimes by targeting civilian areas and using cluster munitions. >> and disiminated attacks are prohibited under international humanitarian law and may not work crimes. the massive destruction of sibling obcts in the high number of civilian casualties stronglyndicates that the fundamental rentals of distinction, proportionality, precaution have not been sufficiently adhered to. civilians are enduring immeasurable suffering and t humanitarian cris is critical. in manyears across the untry, pple urgently need
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radical supplies, food, water, shelter, and basic household items. above all, they need the bombs to cease and the weapons to fall silent. amy: to talk more about russia's invasion of ukraine, we are joined by two guests. simon schlegel is ukraine senior analyst at the international crisis group. he is usually based in ukraine but now he is joining us now from warsaw, poland. and in engnd, we are joined by anatol lieven, senior fellow at the quincy institute for responsible statecraft, author of numerous books on russia and the former soviet republics, including "ukraine and russia: a fraternal rivalry." his latest piece is headlined "why the russians are losing their military gambit in ukraine." why don't we start there, anatol. if you can start off by responding to the so-called peace talks that have taken place in turkey between ukraine and russia, and yet the shelling and the bombing continuing not only in donbas where russia
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promises to increase the attack, but in places like, well, the ukrainian capital kyiv? >> the peace talks in many ways are proceeding very well. the two sides are moving close together on key issues. president zelenskyy has offered neutrality, only if accompanied by from security guarantees. russia has apparently abandoned its demands for do not vacation and demilitarization of ukraine -- denazification and demilitarization of ukraine. crane says it is willing to basically compartmentalize that and leave it for future negotiations so bit like the turkish republic of northern cyprus which is unrecognized but its status is being negotiated for 45 years. huge question remains and that is the donbas.
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ukraine s said it is also willing to negotiate over the donbas, but only if russia returns to its original starting lines from which the separatist republics occupied before the russian invasion. of course, since then, russi has occupied more areas, though by no means all of the donbas -- that is why they are concentrating their offensive on the donbas. and of course russia has been besieging and has laely captured the donbas city of mariupol, which until receny was in ukrainian hands. i think this is the issue which isow going to dominate and very possibly block a peace agreement. nermeen: before we talk about donbas, i would like to ask about a specific aspect which you mentioned now of the peace negotiation and one of ukraine's
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demands, namely, what you said the security guarantees. the kind of guarantees that ukraine appears to be looking for are not as some have pointed out so different from what article 5 of nato guarantees, namely, the number of countries would step up to defend ukraine in the event of any threat to a security. how would that be any different from what ukraine joining nato would entail? >> it would not be. that is why the british deputy prime minister, for example, after weeks of stressing britain's unconditional solidarity with ukraine, has just said brain will not as part of a peace settlement. what this really says is the total hypocrisy of nato, which has continually stressed maybe
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one day, sometimes, never it will admit ukraine. of course, never been willing to make -- or to defend ukraine. probably a very good thing for nato this will probably -- this will be unacceptable to the russians, otherwise, it would really put nato on the spot. nermeen: as far as the donbas is concerned, can you explain -- just give some historical background and why this region is so signicant for both parties. >> it is largely a symboli signicance, to be honest. the donbas has an russian majority, at least it did and god knows n wh the cases after the refugees, and it has always been opposed a majority of the people to ukrainian ethnic nationalism. and they're always been a good deal of opponents of centralized from kyiv. when ukraine in 2014 experienced
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the revolution to take ukraine towards the west and away from russian influence, there was an uprising in the donbas, which was backed by russia. two separatist republics were established with russian support. but only you see on parts of the territory of the donbas because then the ukrainian army stepped in and contained the separatist republics. now russia is trying to capture the whole territory of the donbas from ukraine. but of course, naturally, the ukrainians are refusing to accept the expansion of the separatist republics in this way. mariupol in particular has become an iconic symbol of ukrainian resistance. it would be extremely difficult for the ukrainians to give up variable in peace negotiations,
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but i fear that is what putin is going to demand because he has to show somehow all appearances to the contrary. at this war has been worthwhile and he is actually achieved something. amy: not only mariupol, but the attack on mykolaiv which any fear will lead to a final techno major southern port city of odessa, which would mean if russia took control of this whole area, ukraine would be a landlocked nation, anatol even. >> possibly, although i am beginning to doubt if the russian army is actually capable of doing that. putin's declaration he is calling up another 130 thousand conscript is a real sign of how badly things have go for them. and it may be that after taking hold of the donbas, the russians would in fact stop and offer a cease-fire. amy: i want to bring simon schlegel into this conversation.
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you're usually based in ukraine and are now in poland where millions of ukrainian refugees have fled to. according to the u.n., or than 4 million refugees have left ukraine but it is not only that. some 6 million are displaced within ukraine. so we are talking about 10 million ukrainians. can you talk about the situation of the refugees and what needs to happen now? coax the situation is really dramatic. the bigger part of the displaced are in western ukraine where they seek shelter first with friends and relatives and now with state provided shelters. the response has been huge solidarity from civil society. lots of volunteering, shtering
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people, feeding them. now we see more people arriving with less means and with less context in this region, and they are more dependent on the state so the first response by volunteers has really been filling the gaps in the states provision. now more important than ever. but also -- the response is starting to wane a little and now t state and international organizations take an even bigger share in housing and feeding internally displaced population. about seven east people have left everything behind. they have only a little documents with them, so it is really hard for them to prove their status, their qualifications, their school,
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the status of their children. as we see the idp population in ukraine, now the state is at its limit. health facilities, educational facilities are stretched to their limits. the ukrainian state is really at its second sort of site front opening for the ukrainian state, not only fighting off the russian attacks from the east but also strengthening its own institutions internally most one could almost say this -- nermeen: simon, could you also respond to what we know of how negotiations are proceeding? your organization, the international crisis group, has said vis-à-vis, what demands should be. they said "aestern government
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should not aim for complete but likely unattainable victory that includ a return to the pre-2014 status quo and war crimes investigations, l alone russian president vladimir putin's departure." could you say your impression of how negotiations are pceeding and what a psible peace agreement, even a vaguely tenable one, but look like? >> so threason for the statement is the russians had to stay on board and to remain a partner in conveation and it has been said there have been little progress over e five weeks we one russians basically demanding the capital o ukraine, the already sort of sit and listen to suggestions of military guarantees that are not likely to be granted but ty
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are now being floated at least so at the directions like the one from the british side see today can come in. so the negotiations at the moment are more a sounding board where all parties try out ideas and see what the public's reaction and european and north american part is to them. even though we see the development and changes in rhetoric, the real tricky questions are territorial integrity of ukraine and giving up territory for the ukraine government, ey repeated yesterday, zelenskyy said this is not an option. it is to clearly a demand from the russian side. i think that is really where it becomes tricky and probably -- the fighting to continue.
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both sides try to occupy more and to get better stakes on the negotiation table. and only once the military equilibrium is such that no side can gain ground without unacceptable losses to them, only then will such questions [indiscernible] become realistic prospects. we're not there yet. it will be another long period of fighting. nermeen: simon, how significant is it ukraine conceding on the question of nato and neutrality? >> it is not very significant. ukraine joining nato was never realistic.
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the russians knew that when they sa this was the reason they felt insecure. the ukrainians knew it, but they kept demanding it until recently. so giving up that, just stating the obvious, basically, signifant and le significant becae what they now demand from the russians something quite similar. it is secity guarantees recognition, just not in the same framework. what russia wanted the beginning of the war is having a neighboring country where they could intervene and change policy and even change the government that they wanted to without risking [indiscernible] that they did not get, but what they're proposing now is too similar for them to be able -- amy: i want to go back to anatol lieven. in another development, the
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breakaway georgian region has announced plans to hold a referendum on joining russia. georgia's foreign minister said the move is "unacceptable." russia recognized it as an independent state after russia invaded georgia in 2008. can you talk about the significance of this development? >> well, the southern ossies have always wanted to join the northern which is an autonomous republic of russia, so this is not a new move on their part. clearly, given what has happened in ukraine, they now want to really completely nailed down protections from russia. by the way, it was the georgians who attacked south ossetia, not the other way around. something more significant is
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what is happening next door, taking advantage of russia's distraction to try to cede our territory. there's a lot going on in the caucuses as well. amy: i also want to ask you about russia's invasion leading to the expansion of nato, even if we are not talking about ukraine being coming apart of it . on wednesday, the nato supreme allied commander todd walters told congress nato might need more permanent races in eastern europe. this is what he said. >> certainly this is an opportunity as a result of this senseless act on behalf of of russia to re-examine the permanent military architecture that exists, not only in eastern europe, but in our air policing activity, aviation, in our standing naval maritime grou. amy: anatol lieven, your response? >> as a means of reassurance for
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the east europeans, i suppose this makes sense. but i do think amidst this rather panicky rush to increase western u.s. and european military budgets and strengthen, we should recognize the fact it is almost six weeks of war russia has not been able t capture cities which are only 20 miles from russia's border. the chances of russia successfully invading nato or even trying to invade nato are absolutely zero. there are other russian threats of course, missiles, naturally, ultimately the nuclear nightmare, cyberattacks. let's be clear. the russian army is not capable today of launching offensive against nato. so we should maintain a certain shall we say nerve in the face
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of present circumstances we should also come of course, be aware of our military-industrial complex's and military commanders using this to extract even higher budgets. when of course we are facing such colossal challenges in other areas, amongst them, notably, climate change. nermeen: as the war injures its sixth week, could you talk about what we know of the response to the war in russia -- i was the, people don't have access to much information, but to the extent they do -- what is the perception of the war in ukraine and how people perceive putin in the stance of russian negotiators in the talks that are ongoing? >> well, something very interesting starts to happen in the past couple of days, ever since the russian negotiating team suggested it was willing to
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compromise on key issues with ukraine, putin's regime has come under attack from ultranationalist hardlers on social media, even occasionally on television. putin who builthese people is now in danger of actually being wounded by them. for the moment, of course, the crypt of the putin regime on the russian media has really led to a degree of brainwashing of most of the russian population. you've seen his popularity go up, strong support for the war. that may well change as more and more conscript soldiers are killed in ukraine, which they clearly are going to be. but at the same time, among the russian elites, including the cultural elites but also the econom elites, there is bitter unhappiness with the war.
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either from a moral point of view or from a personal point of view because they largely lived in the west for most of the time or they simply have a deeper sense, more realistic sense of appalling damage that this is doing to the russian economy. so you have seen the beginnings of a massive brain drain from russia. you have seen leading russian figures either quitting or being expelled. this will do tremendous damage to russia. it also means the putin resume itself is becoming narrower and narrower and even more cut off from independent advice. and it was to great extent the lack of sensible advice that led putin to launch this invasion, which, as it turned out, was not just criminal but also disastrously ill-judged. amy: let me ask you --
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nermeen: in an interview earlier, you followed the soviet union and then russia for a decadeyou said in an interview earlier this month that putin has changed over the years, especially recently. you were especially concerned you said when he started talking last year about the great 18th-century russian military general. what did that reveal to you? how exactly has he changed? how has that change reflected in this decision to invade ukraine in the wake russians have? >> well, i think like many asian leaders with a string of successes to their name, he has become more and more self-confident, more and more impatient of advice tha contradicts his prejudices. but -- and you see some of the same syndrome that affected the bush administration, in the run-up to the iraq war.
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intelligence was excluded or suppressed. especially since covid began, he has also become immensely frequently isolated. it is clear his inner circle has shrunk to a tiny group of people and end up with no voices, yes, simply no longer play a role -- independent voices, yes, simply no longer play a role. he is become more and more, if you like, though if any were to use about putin, romantic nationalist. obsessed with his historic role in russian htory. that is always a very, very dangerous development for an autocrat. amy: how do you see this ending at this point? i think we ask you this every single week, anatol come as you see these peace deals wrapping up? also, the highlighting of international treaties that we have not seen anything like
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before. the u.s. talking about bringing him before war crimes tribunal, the criminal court, yet the u.s. has not signed onto the international criminal court. the human rights watch pointing out the landmines that russia is using and the horror at that interpersonal landmines are used solely to kill people and yet the u.s. and russia have not signed onto the treaty against landmines. >> this is the problem for the u.s. 'm afraid in much of the rest of the world this move by the united states will be seen as totally hypocritical. not just what people and in the muslim world, but what some indians are saying, and has never observed these roles and normally does not recognize the international criminal court but any country that even acquiesces a case against america's will be subject to american automatic
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sanctions. so i'm afraid this case would really rebound against america itself if they push it forward. as far as the peace talks are concerned, i'm slightly more optimistic than simon because, as i say, i think on a number of key issues there has been real progress. but i'm afraid he is also right when he says in eastern ukraine in the donbas, there will be moreeavy fighting. while the russians try to achieve a line which can aow putin to claim victory in every real since has been a disaster for russia and a disaster for which you, of worse, is personally responsible for. amy: anatol lieven, thank you for being with us, senior fellow at the quincy institute for responsible statecraft. and thank you to simon schlegel, joining us from poland.
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but we come back, covid-19 coverage is ending for the uninsured. we look at who will bear the impact of the cuts come how the pandemic has led to a renewed push for medicare for all. stay with us. ♪♪ [music break]
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amy: "make due instrumental" by the professional madlib. this is democracy now!, democracynow.org, the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman with nermeen shaikh. as cities across the united states lift mask mandates and researchers track an uptick the omicron subvariant ba.2, we spend the rest of the hour looking at who will bear the and packs to cuts of covid-19 relief. earlier this month, congress passed a massive spending bill that stripped out nearly $16 llion inovid-19 nding that woulhave covered the ct of
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cod-19 tesng, treatmt, and vaccinesor the unsured. as olast week,ajor tesng -- as of last week, started charging the uninsured $125 for pcr tests. the cdc estimates more than 30 million americans had no insurance in the first half of 2021. this comes as a new report on "the state of black america and covid-19" by the black coalition against covid, the yale school of medicine, and the morehouse school of medicine warned that black americans face higher rates of covid and are more likely to face serious illness or death as a result of disinvestment in health care in black communities. the report also found racial disparities in the diagnosis and treatment of long covid. on tuesday, the house oversight committee held its first hearing on medicare for all since the start of the pandemic, led in part by progressive democratic congressmember cori bush, who said -- "americans deserve a healthcare system that guarantees health and medical services to all." speakers included the lawyer and healthcare activist ady barkan, who was diagnosed with terminal
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als. he testified from his home using a computerized system that tracks his eye movements and turns them into spoken words. >> it is shameful in the richest country in the world, we choose to inflict so much suffering. since that first hearing about medicare for all, our country has been through the worst public health crisis in a century. the pandemic has revealed and exacerbated the existing inequalities in our profit-driven healthcare system. it has hit hardest on disabled people, poor people, black, latino, and indigenous people, and especially people who live at the intersections of these categories. and one out of three covid-19 deaths in the u.s. are related to gaps in health insurance. nearly a million americans have already died from the coronavirus. how much more is necessary to shock our legislators into action? when we lost 3000 lives on september 11, we responded by
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the organizing our national security system, launching a global war on terror, and conducting two massive invasions and occupations. 300 times four people have died in this pandemic and we have not marshaled our national energy to build a better health care system. it is a scandal and a shame. amy: for more, we are joined by two guests. in boston, dr. adam gaffney is a critical care physician and professor at harvard medical school and the immediate past president of physicians for a national health program. he co-authored a study published last month in the journal of general internal medicine that showed uninsured people in the united states are more likely to be infected with covid-19 and in new york, dr. oni blackstock is a primary care and hiv physician and founder and executive director of health justice. we welcome you both back to democracy now! dr. adam gaffney, let me begin with you. you just wrote a piece "covid-19
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coverage for the uninsured is ending." we're talking about if you want to get tested and you are uninsured and you cannot afford it, you can't get a test. at the same time, people are unmasking. lay out the scenario here. is this do you feel going to lead to a further surge? is there already aurge in certain communities? >> well, i think the impacts of withdrawn treatment, testing, vaccination for uninsured individuals is going to be a disaster. when this pandemic started, there was an awareness that our health care system was not going to perform well 30 million uninsured, with r more underinsured. in a pandemic, you need people to be tested so they know to isolate. and now we he therapy says well that need to be started early. taking weight access to testing and treatment to uninsured
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individuals who could now face soaring medical bills were later present to a hospital needing medical care, are certainly going to deter that care. i'm worried about the impacts on that population which is already disadvantad and alady at higher risk of covid. nermeen: dr. gaffney, this is happening at a moment when despite the fact vaccines have been available easily accessible and free for over a year in the u.s., the percentage of americans who are fully vaccinated is just 65%. the percentage who are boosted is substantially lower at 44%. so could you talk about this cut in funding when, really, vaccination rates are relatively low? >> that is presely the issue. we should be doing more in our pandemic response, particularly as the ba.2 subvariant of
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omicron may be causing a new wave and coming weeks. that is right, we should be impring access to vaccines. we should be doing more outreach of boosters. we should be doing more to ensure people have access to therapeutics that must be started within several days of symptoms to be effective. rather than moving in the other direction. essentily what we're seeing happened now is we are treating covid as just another illness, which means high cost and people going without it because they cannot afford it. that is unacceptable and it is a public health -- it makes zero sense from a public health perspective. amy: let me bring in dr. oni blackstock, just finished this major report on the state of health of black america. if you can talk about the impact of this covid-19 funding being cut at this point -- again, i
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want to read rate, at a point when everyone is taking off their masks -- what it means when you have an unprecedented support of the largest military budget in u.s. history and yet cutting back on covid, particularly what it means for black america. >> this is going to have a disproportionate impact on black people and other people of color. we know among people who are uninsured, black and latino people in pticular are disproportionately represented. so we saw that witthe availability of free testss, vaccines, and treatment, we saw over the course of the pandemic inequities in death rates nero. so while black and brown and indigenous people are still at increased risk in terms of exposure and more likely to become infected, availability of vaccines have helped to actually
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narrow the gaps when it comes to covid deaths. however, if we now have the end of the spreader will program that provides free for the uninsured, we will see more challenges. let's say there is a second booster, for instance, not being recommended. those individuals who may not have the flexibility to take off from work to go get a booster or find a location are going to have challenges. so we will see likely rising disparities, inequities in the covid-19 outcomes with this funding for the uninsured program having run out and eventually will impact the general population. nermn: dr. blackstock, could you talk about the key findings of this report come the state of black american covid-19 to your assessment? >> the report really laid out the last two years of the pandemic and the pandemic disproportionate impact on black
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americans in terms of black americans at increased risk for exposure because of the occupational segregation that has really left us in many frontline jobs is essential workers, so more at risk for exposure. and also disproportionate impact in terms of hospitalizations and deaths because we are more likely to have, for instance, underlying conditions -- which again come is the result of lack of access to quality care, the impact of the everyday troll of racism, the wear and tear on her as weathering, which also increased the risk of bundling conditions and leads to more serious outcomes with covid. we also see black people, because of our increased risk to exposure to covid, the impact of long covid is likely to be greater on our community.
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however, there is a lack of data being collected and a lack of analysis really looking at how are we being impacted by long covid? we know earlier in the pandemic, it was challenging to get covid testing, for instance. we do have reports and studies showing black and latino people in particular were turned away from testing. and also people need a test as proof they have had covid in order to get treatment for long covid, although that has been discouraged and just saying you have covid should be sufficient. we are still trying to collect the data we need to see the extent of these inequities, and there definitely needs to be much more focused and ensuring black communities have the support that is needed to protect themselves from covid. nermeen: dr. blackstock, peopl have bn comparing hiv and
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covid. you are an hiv physician. you have set a more accurate comparison would be between long covid and hiv. could you explain? close right. covid are asleep acutely people will have an infection come in active infection and typically passes but we know 10to 30% of people who do have covid end up having long covid, which is a chronic condition. hiv as well is a chronic medical condition and requires ongoing access to care, to treatment. we spoke to these issues around the uninsured. we know black people in particular are representative among the uninsured. some of the challenges we see in terms of access to treatment and prevention when it comes to hiv we are also seeing when it comes to covid as well. amy: i want to go back to dr. adam gaffney. last night i was speaking to
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congressmember nikita williams about black maternal mortality and the issue of medicare for all. you had this major hearing where we just heard the activist ady bakan this als. he said one of 13 debts are related to gaps in health insurance. i wanted you to respond to that and public citizen saying you've got the defense budget, $813 billion, by comparison the white house has asked for just $5 billion to fight global covid and more than 22 billion to fight covid total. that is roughly 3% of military spending to help end a pandemic that has taken more american lives in unique war and nearly 20 million lives worldwide so far. if you could this and how it all pushes for come as you see it, medicare for all.
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>> absolutely. the fact is, we do need federal coverage for the uninsured for covid. we need to urgently. but that is a band-aid. i need a band-aid. but the problem is far broader. we need universal health care so people have all medical conditions covered, so that people regardless of whether it is covid or another chronic illness do not need to worry about going bank to because they need to see a doctor or go to the hospital. i think the other point here is this is a virus that is not going away, ok? simply another stopgap while important is not a substitute for real universal reforms so that this can be taking care of indefinitely. finally, the point you made about underfunding are pandemic response is exactly correct. look, we went into this pandemic underfunding public health agencies. we need it to be expanding our
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public health infrastructure to tackle not only the pandemic of the present, with the panmics of the future, to say nothing else of the threats that face is in the year to come from like impacts of climate change. we should be expanding our public health infrastructure. we should be moving to a universal medicare for all system to take care everyone regardless. we should be doing those things right now even as we are creating the stopgaps to deal with the deficiencies in our current program. her makeup what you think can be -- micco what you think can be done to increase vaccination rates in the u.s.? >> i think an important point of comparison is the united kingdom that has much higher rat of boosters. that tells you something. most people who have already been fully vacnated are not totally vaccine hesitant and the fact they have not been boosted suggests part of the problem is that medical care system, that
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we are not doing sufficient outreach directly to people at high risk of sever outcomes if they have covid. i think there is a lot we can do creatively in terms of pushing out vaccinations. people havtalked about door-to-door campaigns, workplace clinics, school clinics, and much more. i think part of it does fall back on a fragmented and privatized health care system that has not performed at the level, for instance, of united kingdom's national health service, and getting vaccines into the arms and boosters into arms among the population that we know is at least willing to have vaccination. i think there are a few things that can be done. the important thing is more can be done, more has to be done, and we should not passively accept unnecessary deaths to covid and assume there's nothing that can be done. amy: let me end asking dr. oni
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blackstock about what you think is the most important issue right now when it comes to covid-19 and the black community. i think i never of issues, however, there needs to be really an increased focus ensuring that people have access to the care they need. but also protection. we know support for mandate -- ask mandates and safety measures are higher in the black community compared to the white community. we saw this study released yesterday showing for in -- the less likely they are to support covid-19 safety measures. we are saying opsing forces even on the reality is we are all interconnected and if a
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black community has access to care, to safety measures, that actually is something that can protect all of us. we need to increase our support for access to prevention and treatment for covid. amy: thank you both for being with us, dr. oni blackstock with
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narrator: today on "earth focus," killing elephants for ivory fuels crime, corruption, and terrorism. coming up on "earth focus." narrator: for more than two million years, wild elephants have been living in the savannas and forests of africa.

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