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tv   Democracy Now  LINKTV  June 12, 2014 3:00pm-4:01pm PDT

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06/12/14 06/12/14 [captioning made possible by democracy now!] >> from pacifica, ththth -- shal
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kouddous. we will also get an update on abdullah elshamy. >> [indiscernible]
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my responsibility if anything ever happens to me. >> we will speak with his brother mohammed elshamy. all of that and more coming up. this is democracy now!,, the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman. iraq is in crisis as sunni militants seized more towns and now set their sights on the capital baghdad. in the past few days, al qaeda-linked rebels have seized control of mosul, iraq's second largest city, as well as tikrit. the sunni militants now control a territory that stretches from the eastern edge to fallujah and now the northern city of mosul. their advanced has cost a humanitarian catastrophe,
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displacing some 500,000 people in mosul alone. mosul fell in part because u.s. trained iraqi forces abandoned their posts. maliki has reportedly urged the u.s. to carry out airstrikes in recent months, but the obama administration has declined request so far. we will have more on the crisis in iraq after the headlines. resumed its drone war in pakistan after a six-month pause. at least 14 people have been killed in a parish strike since wednesday. it is the first known u.s. drone attack in pakistan since december. the strikes come days after taliban fighters stormed the karachi airport, leaving 36 dead, including 10 attackers. the resumption of u.s. drone attacks could signal the pakistani government is moving toward an offensive on the taliban. pakistan had asked the u.s. to pause the drone war when it opened peace talks with the taliban last year. an egyptian court has sentenced one of the country's most prominent pro-democracy
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activists to 15 years in prison. alaa abd el-fattah was found guilty of illegal protest and attacking a police officer for a rally against pedro connie and protest law last year. 24 other defendants in the case received the same 15 year sentence. since they were tried in absentia, they're entitled to a retrial. it is the first conviction of a prominent activist since former army chief abdel fattah al-sisi took office as president sunday. we will have more on the story later in the broadcast. republican eric cantor has stepped down as majority leader as of july 31 following his historic primary loss in virginia. he became the first house majority leader to ever lose a primary when he fell to tea party challenger david brat. the day after his loss, cantor held a news conference to announce his resignation. >> while i intend to serve out my term as a member of congress
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and the seven district of virginia. effective july 31, i will be stepping down as majority leader. it is with great humility that i do so knowing the tremendous honor it has been to hold this position. >> dave brat ran on a staunch anti-immigrant platform, but some analysts say cantor was done in by a voter backlash against his insider politics and close wall street ties. cantor's departure creates a major power vacuum in the republican leadership with a wide-open race for the house majority position. on wednesday, house speaker john boehner and congressmember paul ryan spoke to reporters about cantor's defeat. >> eric cantor is a good friend and has been a very good leader for our party. we have some decisions to make, but i'm sure he and his family will come to the right decision. >> we will get through this like we get through everything. theink it is unfortunate
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outcome and premature to speculate beyond that. >> [indiscernible] >> well, we will have a race. >> cantor had been expected to replace boehner as house speaker next year. but there are now reports boehner intends to remain in the position with cantor no longer vying to take his place. meanwhile, in one of his first interviews since his upset victory over cantor, dave brat refused to tell msnbc whether he supports a federal minimum wage. >> should there be a minimum wage in your opinion? >> say again? >> should there be a minimum wage in your opinion? > um, i don't have a well-crafted response. ishis democratic opponent jack trammell who happens to be professor at the same school as dave brat. senate republicans have blocked
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a measure that would have let an estimated 40 million students refinance their loans at lower interest rates. the bill would have been funded by closing a tax loophole for millionaires and ensuring a minimum tax rate on their income of 30%. but just three senate republicans joined with a democrat majority, not enough to overcome a republican filibuster. after the vote, the bill sponsor, democratic senator elizabeth warren, blasted republicans for protecting millionaire tax breaks. she vowed to continue the fight. >> today is a really good day for billionaires, for the 40 million people dealing with student loan debt, it wasn't such a good day. this raises the fundamental question, who does washington work for? does it work for those who can hire armies of lobbyists to make sure that every single loophole in the tax code is protected for them, or does it work for young people who are trying to get started in life?
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we're not giving up. after all, we did get bipartisan support today and we still have 40 million americans out there who are trying to deal with $1.2 chilean in student loan debt. debte nation student loans exceeds all other forms of consumer debt, except for home mortgages. this year's graduating class is the most indebted in u.s. history with borrowers owing an average of $33,000 upon graduation. came before the house armed services committee on wednesday to defend the deal that traded american prisoner of war bowe bergdahl for five members of the taliban. chuck hagel said bergdahl's worsening condition in captivity forced the administration to act. >> as the opportunity to obtain his release became clear, we grew increasingly concerned that any delay or any leaks could derail the deal and further endanger sergeant bergdahl. qataris thatby the
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any kind of leak would in the negotiation for bergdahl's release. we also knew that he would be extremely vulnerable during any movement in our military personnel conducting the handoff would be exposed to the possible ambush or other deadly scenarios and very dangerous territory that we do not control. the president's decision to move forward with the transfer of these detainees was a tough call . i supported it. i stand by it. >> according to the u.s. military, bowe bergdahl has told his doctors that taliban captors tortured him and kept him in a cage for weeks and possibly months after he tried to escape. the senate has approved a measure that would help ease health care delays for military veterans. the bill would increase access to private care and free up the
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department of veterans affairs to expand medical services. lawmakers will reconcile differences with a house measure approved this week before sending a final bill to president obama. the v.a. has come under scrutiny after it emerged health clinics in arizona and colorado used elaborate schemes to hide records of patients who waited too long for care, causing dozens of deaths. speaking before the house judiciary committee, the fbi director james comey confirmed the launching of a criminal probe into the v.a.'s conduct. >> we will follow whatever the facts take us. the phoenix offices where we opened a because that is the result locus of the complaints. we will follow it wherever the facts take it. >> a coalition of immigration and civil rights groups has filed a complaint alleging widespread and systematic abuse of migrant children by u.s. customs and border protection. organizations including the national immigrant justice center and the aclu say they're acting on behalf of over 100 unaccompanied children
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mistreated by border agents after crossing into the united states. according to the groups, the vast majority of children were fleeing violence in their home countries. the alleged mistreatment has taken on new urgency with a recent surge of unaccompanied migrant children held in u.s. custody. over 1000 children are reportedly being detained a single warehouse in arizona in substandard conditions. settled aity has lawsuit over the false arrest of more than a dozen occupy wall street protesters in 2011. the city will pay $583,000 to plaintiffs detained after officers surrounded them and refused to let them disperse. plaintiff jennifer peat called the settlement a victory for the right to protest. >> public speech, the right to gather, these are core values important to our democracy. i hope the settlement will leave those and powers and nypd to
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better respect our first amendment rights. but the settlement is new york's largest to date in an occupy-related civil rights case. those are some of the headlines. this is democracy now!,, the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman with juan gonzalez. >> welcome to all our listeners and viewers from around the country and around the world. iraq is on the brink of disintegration. sunni islam is rebels controlled mosul as well as tikrit, saddam hussein's hometown and also a town just 50 miles northwest of the capital baghdad. the rebels are now advancing towards baghdad. meanwhile, iraqi kurds have seized control of the northern oil city of kirkuk. the sunni militants are led by a group called isis, the islamic state in iraq and syria. they now control a territory that stretches from the eastern edge of aleppo syria to fully shut in western iraq and now the
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northern city of mosul. the sudden advance by the islamist rebels has shocked the region. earlier today, russian foreign minister sergei lavrov said the territorial integrity of iraq is now in question. >> the rebel advance has also caused a humanitarian catastrophe. 500,000 people have already been displaced in mosul. save the children said -- one of the refugees spoke after fleeing her home in mosul. we were sitting in the house, but we heard clashes and sounds of explosions. we did not know what happened. we can't understand what has happened. what do they want? i don't know. why to the people suffer now? the people in trouble were in -- the people and children were in
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trouble. i pray to god to let me die to get rest. you astray and iraqi forces abandoned their posts. this allowed the islamist rebels to take the city, seize the city's main army center, release thousands of prisoners from jails and seize hundreds of millions of dollars from the city's banks. the militants also seized the turkish consulate, kidnapping for the five staff members and putting a diplomatic head of the mission. wednesday was a deadly day in baghdad as well. suicide attacks and car bombs hit shiite areas, killing at least 37 people. the iraqi prime minister maliki called on parliament to declare state of emergency, but not enough lawmaker showed up today to reach quorum. now at the also reportedly urged the u.s. to carry out airstrikes come of the the obama administration has declined the request so far. >> meanwhile on capitol hill, the senate foreign relations committee magic question president obama's nominee for
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the next ambassador to iraq wednesday. the the senators did not ask the nominee or the current ambassador to iraq a single direct question about the current crisis. to talk more about iraq, we're joined by two guests. mohammed al dulaimy is an iraqi journalist to reports for mcclatchy newspapers. he reported from iraq for years and now seeking asylum in the u.s. out of fear for his safety if he returned. this is his first tv interview. he is joining us from columbia, south carolina. in new york, ned parker is with us, the reuters bureau chief in baghdad headed back to iraq shortly. let's go first to south carolina to mohammed al dulaimy. would you please explain what you see is happening to your country right now? see is the failing of the whole system, of the united states and its allies that tried to build in iraq. in iraq isemocracy
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in danger and has been for a long time. but now it is more a danger to everyone. we're seeing the consequences thatf a sectarian regime was ruling in iraq for eight maliki, andy mr. the lack of trust among his partners, corruption -- all of that gave the way for radicals to rise and gave the chance to populations inn mosul, the second-largest iraqi city. all of this is threatening the integrity of iraq, the unity of the country, and threatening syrian-like war. box when you talk about the rain
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of maliki and the securing of his government, could you elaborate? majority of the population being shiite, the united states has continued to back his role there despite his clampdown on any kind of dissent. >> yes, we have enough evidence, videos, speeches of mr. maliki isself showing that this man leading the country toward a civil war. conferences press accusing his partners of forgingm, sometimes cases against them, as they say, led the country to high tension. sunnis going into streets to protest and to show their
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demand. mr. maliki perfused the demands -- refused the demands. ofthe limit, he accused them eventuing some historical that took place 1400 years ago, and he said [indiscernible] mr. maliki has failed to build an iraqi military that will respect human life. islamistst to say the feed on such human rights reaches. it helps them to further their cause and to win more recruits. this is what is happening in iraq. and you can see the videos of how the iraqi army dealt with
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demonstrators, how they killed mentoring sticks -- men carrying sticks or sometimes caring nothing. you can see the brutality of the military. mr. maliki punish no one. he always refuses to address these issues to de-escalation the sectarian tensions in iraq. mr. maliki also refused to disarm some iranian trained shiite militias. these kinds of actions caused the sunni community to live in turmoil. states,hink the united the administration -- all of us stop theeak loudly to descent of the country into that
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civil war, to stop ordinary people -- to stop pushing ordinary people to join our alliance just to defend themselves against an army that is willing to kill them all. , can youed al dulaimy talk about the u.s. weapons that are being used right now? major deliveries will be happening this summer to the iraqi government, but whose hands they are falling into? also, these groups relationships with al qaeda? -- we sawhe weapons in the previous few days, the use of american-made weapons like hellfire missiles, which can be used with great accuracy. the iraq he military used it to target the fallujah hospital. the fallujah teaching hospital. that hospital that the united states helped build in fallujah. this is the same hospital that witnessed the increasing numbers
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of birth defects that is attributed to the use of different kinds of weapons, chemical and all different kinds of weapons that allegedly was used by the united states. these weapons are now falling into the hands of isis. weaponsmages of these been transported across the border to syria. the united states has always worried that sending weapons to the syrian more liberal opposition might fall into the hands of islamists, well, now, they are. our lack of understanding for these movements of terrorist organizations, how they're convincing all of these recruits are helping them continuing their presence.
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they are not outsmarting the people. they're not that hard to defeat, it's just it looks like there's not enough will to spend some time and say, there must be something wrong of our understanding, that there keep doing what they're doing. i also want to emphasize that isis is not alone in this fight. since the order that mr. maliki december 30, 2013 to and demonstrations in anbar province, the can -- the sunni community rushed to arms. you could see hundreds of men rally into the streets carrying arms. they did not kill soldiers. the released soldiers back home. they told them to go back home and they just -- they were just angry people, fed up with their government.
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go ahead, isis -- >> isis used that anger, built on it. isis is more organized than these tribal fighters. so they're capable of showing their presence. >> we're going to take a break and come back and also be joined by ned parker, bureau chief of reuters. mohammed al dulaimy, why are you doing this interview today, your first broadcast interview? why are you taking this risk and why is it a risk? >> i am taking this risk for the first time, and showing my face on tv just because i am thinking
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lost so many people that united dates -- united states have lost so many soldiers in that operation, and it is about time to spend some time to understand what is going on the ground. i think if the united states intervened now and convinced the iraqi politicians to come together and form a new government where people can look up to, it will stop iraq from dissenting into a civil war and it will make the united states avoid the possibility of sending troops to iraq and maybe repeat scenario that all of us don't .ant to see i know i might endanger the loves of my beloved ones. i know i am endangering my own life, but it is about time for all of us to raise our voices and attempt to stop all of this. the country is disintegrating.
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if the united states and its people, all of us, should stop giving a blind eye to iraq. iraq is so wealthy that if it fell into the wrong hands, this will not be danger to only iraq, but to the whole international community. >> mohammed al dulaimy, speaking for the first time in a tv broadcast, speaking to us from columbia, south carolina. he is applying for political asylum in the united states, which has resisted for many years. he is a mcclatchy reporter. when we come back, you'll also be joined by ned parker of reuters who is headed back to iraq shortly. stay with us. ♪ [music break]
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>> this is democracy now!,, the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman with juan gonzalez. we're looking at the crisis
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in iraq. sunni islamist rebels seized mosul as well as tikrit, saddam hussein's hometown. the rebels are now advancing toward another town. iraqi kurds have seized control of the northern oil city of kirkuk. >> we are with mohammed al dulaimy, an iraqi journalist who has been reporting from mcclatchy newspaper, now seeking asylum in the united states. safetyut of fear for his if he returns. this is his first tv broadcast interview. and ned parker, reuters river chief -- reuters bureau chief, also joins us. but i want to do comment on perhaps two additional forces that may add rater impetus to the disintegration occurring. the call of the peace
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brigade to head into the area to defend a shiite site in the in iraqnd the role today. the other is turkey. the seizing of a turkish nationals by the islamist fighters from of the possibility that turkey, which has happened in the past, has moved into iraq. by sadar, still don't know if that is 100% confirmed. there are a lot of rumors going on now. but i think your right to address his issue of shiite militia mobilization. he has rained in his militia movement since 2008 and largely shunned that type of activity on the street. that said, he still has his organization in place. in recent years, he has tried to wave the banner of iraqi nationalism, stressing the unity
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of shia and sunni. he has rivals that mohammed al dulaimy alluded to, which is a breakaway fashion from the sadr movement that has been active and been fighting outside baghdad for months now since the inhting started in anbar january. we assume militia style killings and findings -- findings. as we have reported in reuters, they actually follow as volunteers. havehe fact that sar might activated his militia force again or could, it shows the power the sectarian passions right now and the danger that the more you see sunni extremism, a brief shia extremism and cancels out the space for moderation and impels iraq toward the danger of a new
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sectarian conflict. >> and the issue of turkey? >> turkey has always been active in iraq thinks is the time of saddam hussein and the kurdish regions that had special forces, had this diplomatic mission in mosul. they have bombed kurdish mountains where kurdish separatist from turkey have had basis. what this does now, it is interesting, i think it plays into the dynamics of syria as well. we could see this affecting what turkey allows to happen inside turkey, walking round in his temple now, not too hard to see possible jihadist running -- walking the streets on the way back from syria. but i want to ask about the role of the united dates in iraq. this is the state department spokesperson speaking wednesday. >> we have expedited shipments of military equipment since the beginning of the year. we have ran sub training of iraqi security forces and worked intensively to help iraq
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influence a holistic approach. as you noted, the situation is certainly very grave on the ground. we are working with iraqi leaders from across the country to support a coordinated response. you can expect we will provide additional assistance to the iraqi government to combat the threat from isil, but i'm not in a position to outline that further at this time. >> if you could respond her and also talk about the piece you wrote two years ago on foreign affairs, the iraq we left behind, listing the failures of u.s. policy in iraq. >> right. i think one of the great tragedies about the united states relationship with iraq both in saudi iraq and here, the matter is so little sized that it is hard to have a real conversation about what needs to happen now in iraq so that it can be stabilized. the american involvement happened. what i wrote two years ago, for
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instance, was talking about in a time of the obama administration the neglect, if you will, of trying to build upon the chances for success after so much bloodshed and four during the bush years -- horror during the bush years. there was a chance for stability in iraq in 2010. the decision to withdraw troops on the ground, it is debatable whether that was right or wrong. i think the core issue is matters of power that don't necessarily have anything to do with u.s. military troops. it is about building consensus, trying to help straighten the foundations of democracy. the obama administration looked for many pragmatic reasons to want to into the troop presence because of the cost of money, the cost to soldiers lives, but in doing that, in disengaging -- and he was military praised
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obama are having responsible withdrawal timeline. they said he did the right thing there. a he didn't do was try to thatfy workable coalition could govern iraq over these past four years or to preserve these issues that mohammed al dulaimy was talking about, human rights abuses. iraq had a decent human rights ministry. it exposed secret prisons that were run by prime minister maliki's military and the government for mason dash formation process, it was gutted and turned into a wing the basically up maliki's party. about iraqn we talk and the fires of the obama administration in iraq, i think iraq for america is a bipartisan failure. it is not about troops staying
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or going from about these core issues that are democratic values. the obama administration looked at, how does the united states get out and how does iraq stay stable? what they chose was prime minister maliki as their guide. at the time they made that decision, it wasn't necessarily a wrong choice, with a focus on personalities and not values and building the foundations of a government that could work. that is a large reason why we are where we are today, both the united egg and iraq, in terms of what we're seeing. >> mohammed al dulaimy, i want to go back to the issue of isis. it has been described as an offshoot of al qaeda front to some degree rejected by al qaeda, but you suggested to some degree it is eclipsing al qaeda group main islamist contending against western powers. could you talk about them? >> yes, it is an irony to said
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the downfall -- to say the downfall of the occupation of oful ended al qaeda in terms among jihadists to look up to as their icon. isis was an offshoot of al qaeda that the warranty tried to end -- zawahri tried to end. when the leader of isis rejected the order and actually joined the foreign fighters in syria to his ranks and started fighting -nusra, run -- al everyone said they will kill each other in terms of fighting, but now with all of these
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victories that they have achieved, in my opinion, it has marked the downfall of al qaeda did to be number one in the eyes of the jihadists and making isis more appealing to them as it will achieve kill others in iraq. baghdad carries a symbol. baghdad was the capital of the islamist state or hundreds of years. anddad is not any city -- then headed toward baghdad, using all that sunni anger, is marking a poignant and trying to win hearts and minds of all islamists and probably most sunnis all over the world. >> mohammed al dulaimy, this must be breaking your heart seeing what is happening right now in iraq, the largest, fastest mass movement of people in history.
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do you think back that will fall and what do you think is to be done right now? it is not only breaking our hearts, the images we are seeing coming from myity fallujah are coming from ramadi and western iraq, now mosul, there are videos of iraqi army random shelling victims. a father is looking to his sons , theirghters killed members are spread all over the ground and he is in the middle of the street. fuels a huge sense of anger toward the iraqi military. seized the moment and for trying itself as the protector of -- portraying itself as the
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protector of sunnis. andpt for many christian others living in mosul, they are afraid of the random shelling of the military. so it is amazing that isis can adapt to these politics and the iraqi government cannot evolve to that limit. it saddens me to see my country is about to fail. we are 7000-year-old civilization. i cannot comprehend the idea that iraq likes leaders that can bring iraqis together and face these extremists try to take over our country. extremists coming from all over the world from different ideologies, whether they were sunnis or shia or any other extremist, it is amazing to me
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that we as a nation are losing our identity and forgetting who we are. it is breaking my heart to know also my family has been displaced for six months. i know people who are living in openls, living in the wide , sleeping in shops. fallujah is shifting -- another soccer field to become a graveyard after the soccer field that fallujah has had to makeshift. yes, it breaks my heart. that is why we are here. that is why me and myself and i think ned will support me o that, we strongly think -- and i think there is a lack of understanding for what is going on in iraq. there must be something done and
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really fast. the iraqi politicians today also failed to come together, and that also saddens me. >> i want to ask ned parker, what has to be done or what do you think the role of the united states at least at this point given the fact this was a complete surprise to the u.s. government, reminds me very much of the tet offensive in vietnam or the taliban after the russian troops pulled out, so the moving across the entire country. your sense of what needs to be done now? >> right. well, i think what is happening now, the events in iraq are happening so rapidly and i visited iraq in november and december on a month visit. then i was quite alarmed and worried the country was sliding toward a new sectarian conflict. but even then, january, basically right after i left into december, we saw anbar follow part. today we have, we have close to
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one the people who have been displaced -- one million people who have been displaced in the last six months. people mohammed to alluded to are sleeping in schools, sleeping in the desert. it is a humanitarian disaster. it is very hard to get aid to the displaced and and bar province. anbar province. agoft iraq just over a week and going back shortly. i was amazed by what i saw on the ground, on both sides. i have a friend who is a close friend of his was in a mosque praying in baghdad in the middle of the day, taking a break from work. a suicide bomber from bases when inside the mosque and killed about 21 people. i believe his friend is still in the hospital. he lost his foot. packed with shrapnel. the hospitals in iraq have so little, the doctors really
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cannot take care of his case. it is very bleak. we have this militia involvement now that has been going on for at least two months, working authorized by the government. i spoke to iraq officials who feel they have no choice but to activate the militias knowing it erodes the authority of the state, but feeling the have no choice but to use that against isis, knowing they don't have a game plan for the way out. the united states has furthered so much of its influence now. in 2010, it had the ability to help -- it was seen as an essential arbiter because of its history in iraq since 2003, for better or worse. it was seen as an essential referee. it had a role vote and what happened and how the government was formed. its soft power was substantial. i don't think that is the case today. so what can the united states do? i'm a journalist, not a think there are different
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schools of thought. the iraq he government -- the iraqi government, those close to prime minister maliki, they want airstrikes. they would want more intense intelligence support from the united states. i was talking with a former u.s. commander yesterday who was saying the intelligence that we are providing now is minimal. it is probably -- he was going to give me numbers, but i would say there has been an additional 100 to 150 people rotting in recent months to provide intelligence support. if you don't have people on the ground, you can develop the sources for targeting. >> i was just want to say, the is connected is incredible as the fighters captured tikrit a push toward baghdad on wednesday. the senate foreign relations committee, i don't know if you watched yesterday, met to question president obama's nominee for the next ambassador and reported, not a
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single senator asked him directly about the apparent loss of control by the iraqi government and did not ask questions of the man who sat next to him, the current u.s. ambassador to iraq. the house armed services committee meanwhile met to discuss the prisoner exchange that freed army sergeant bowe bergdahl but did not ask defense secretary chuck hagel a single question about iraq. a senate staffer told mcclatchy "i think there's a general sense of apathy about iraq." >> and i think the danger is that you are basically saying the cesspool of extremism between syria and i met an old sunni friend from iraq the other week istanbul and he had been a relative moderate who fought al qaeda -- and he still is a moderate to a point, but he has been changed by the violence of the last four years. he is very much in islamist now. and that is not necessarily a
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negative thing, but you can see the ways in which he has been shaped by the sectarianism of iraq and syria. if there isn't a way to moderate these things, it is bad for world stability whether we are talking about simple things such as oil reserves and the price of theon the global market or threat of terrorism in the dash to the united states. the getting back to the issue of, what does the united states do? i think u.s. policy right now is to give weapons and it is a minimal amount, rightly or wrongly, the obama administration views iraq and syria as conflicts that it shou avoid getting deeply involved in. it does not want a repeat of 2003 and the iraq experience. the danger in doing nothing, though, is that you have this very lent extremism emerge that could destabilize the world -- virulent extremism emerge that could destabilize the world. the iraq use do want american
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involved because of the military assets. if that is the way the united states decides to go, it should also have a corresponding program to promote moderation, to promote western values so you have checks and balances from a functioning judiciary, so the security forces don't torture people which breeds extremism and strengthens al qaeda-types. >> ned parker, be safe as you go back to iraq and in the baghdad bureau chief of reuters. mohammed al dulaimy, thank you so much for honoring us with this first broadcast that you're willing to do him a having worked for mcclatchy for years in iraq, of course being from iraq, now applying for political asylum in the united states, speaking to us from columbia, south carolina. when we come back, we go to cairo. stay with us. ♪ [music break]
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>> this is democracy now!,, the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman with juan gonzalez. >> in egyptian court has sentenced one of the country's most prominent pro-democracy activist to 15 years in prison. the sentence against alaa abd thatttah is the harshest any secular activist has received for partaking in the uprising that ended hosni mubarak's 29 year reign. on wednesday, the court found alaa abd el-fattah guilty of illegal protest and attacking a police officer. 24 other defendants charged in the case received the same 15 year sentence. in march, the democracy now! correspondent sharif abdel kouddous spoke to him when he was released on bail. >> we had plans to fight this
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from a both in court and out. this is not real courtrooms or true justice. exposee to protest and the illegalities in the process and so on. >> that was alaa abd el-fattah being interviewed by democracy now! correspondent sharif abdel kouddous in march. he was just sentenced to 15 years in prison, the first conviction of a prominent activist since former army chief took office al-sisi as president. we are joined by ahdaf soueif, the aunt of alaa abd el-fattah and we're also joined by sharif abdel kouddous, democracy now! correspondent in cairo. we welcome you both. let's turn first to ahdaf soueif . your response to this sentence? well, the sentence is
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completely ridiculous. the charges are trumped up and everyone knows that. -- iars for protesting mean, one hardly knows how to comment. the trial hasn't even started. he was waiting to be called in for the trial to start. the lawyers were registering and going to the security procedure, convene heard the judge the empty court an hour early and sentenced him to 15 years. they were picked up from the coffee shop outside where they were waiting. they not only is the content completely ludicrous, but even the procedures used have been thrown away. does the procedures they were so keen on have been thrown away. >> what is your understanding of what happened as far as the assault on a police officer? >> he did not.
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the state has accused him of violent crimes, which they have never been able to prove. at one point accused him of a presidential candidates headquarters. of course, there were never able to prove that. in octoberthat, 2011, they accused him of destroying an armored personnel carrier and taking all the weapons that were inside. then whenever challenged as to where the weapons were they said, oh, he threw them in the river. it is absurd beyond absurdity. he did not attack a police officer or steal a walkie-talkie were gun or whatever he was supposed to have stolen. he did not even call for the protest because it was called for by the group -- they have claimed and reported themselves to the police and the
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prosecutions office and said the call came from them. all of this has happened was he was there as were tens of others of people when the protest took place. so 15 years, they just want to put them away. they just want him off the streets while they continue with or whatever parliament or elections or whatever is coming next. >> his baby was born while he was in jail. sharif abdel kouddous, this is first, ofact of the the new president of iraq, of general abdel fattah al-sisi. can you explain the significance of -- of egypt, kenya explain the significance of this? >> well, the ruling could come down three days into abdel fattah al-sisi's presidency. those issue by the courts. i think it is important to afterer also that alaa, the judge recused himself from the case, he protested this very
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judge in 2005 on accusations that the judge was part of rigging the 2005 from entering elections as well. as all musts to alaa' become a barometer of repression in egypt. yet the distinction of being regimesed by the past -- he has the distinction of being persecuted by the past quarter resumes. i was at the protest. it happened two days after the draconian protest law was issued by an unelected government that effectively prohibits peaceful protest in egypt. a few daysed alaa later and was imprisoned for 150 days before he was brought to trial before a judge. they released him on bail and now sentenced again to this ridiculous 15 years in prison and 24 other people --abdel fattah al-sisi himself has said
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he is going to uphold his aotest law, that he will have zero-tolerance policy for what he calls people who want to "disrupt" the state. we have to remember abdel fattah al-sisi came to power on the backs of massive protests against morsi. all of this is part of a much wider campaign, knocking on any voices of dissent. in the muslim brotherhood members as well. the courts have handed down hundreds of death sentences to muslim brotherhood supporters. theeally brings to mind quote by george orwell "1984" recessed "if you want to imagine a picture of the future -- if you want the picture of the future, then imagine a boot stamping on a human face forever." anin other news from egypt, egyptian court on wednesday extended the detention of an outages or arabic term list of billable shame he for an
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additional 45 days. elshamy has been on hunger strike for nearly five months and has reportedly lost over one third of his body weight. denied he has been medical treatment. >> after have reached 106 days of my hunger strike to hold the egyptian government and judiciary and the general who secured my responsibility if anything ever happens to me. i have requested several medical checkups from an independent source and yet these things have not been provided. >> for more, we're joined by abdullah elshamy plus brother, mohammed. how is your brother doing?
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you just recently left egypt. >> i brother's health is not really good because after he began his hunger strike on the 21st of january, the police tried to press on him to get away from the strike to stop it because they think that is what is putting pressure on the government from internal government human rights bodies or external from the west. they threatened him several times. when i was in egypt, he told me he was threatened by police officers, that he was going to be sent to solitary confinement if he doesn't stop his hunger strike because it is, like, making them a headache. that is what they told him. after a few pictures of him were leaked last may while he was in the prison, and the video that
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is one month old, he was then moved to scorpions prison, and that is a maximum security prison in one of the most dangerous prisons in egypt. it is for the thugs and armed killers. this is the same te and where peter gres other journalists were in. >> sharif, you just saw mohammed fhmy, the al jazeera english reporter yesterday in court or jail? >> right. yes, that is a separate case. the al jazeera's journalist was taken from prison to a private hospital for a scan on his shoulder, which was injured prior to his arrest but the injury was exacerbated by his
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imprisonment and his arrest. he said, have effectively been given a life sentence because he is a permanent disability now in his shoulder. is june the prosecutor has wrapped up their case is called for the maximum penalty -- has called for the maximum guilty to be imposed for these three journalists. it is a difficult time in egypt and also there is another prisoner who was on hunger strike as well, a u.s. citizen, dual citizen, who campaign for barack obama in 2008 and moved to egypt and 2013. he was shot in the arm by police sit-in andpro-morsi arrested 10 days later. he is lost something like 90 pounds. he is restricted to a wheelchair and his health is in very serious danger. >> we have to leave it there.
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we will do a second interview with mohammed elshamy democracynow.orgdemocracynow.or. sharif abdeland kouddous, thank you for joining us. that does it for our broadcast. [captioning made possible by democracy now!]
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>> hello. i'm john cleese. i think we all know that music, aside from the pure pleasure of it, sometimes has a transcendent power. what is called "sacred music" seems universally to be a form of prayer. so, settle back, take a long deep breath as we join our host, phil cousineau, on this musical, soul-rendering episode of "global spirit," the first internal travel series.


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