tv Democracy Now LINKTV March 17, 2021 4:00pm-5:01pm PDT
03/17/21 03/17/21 [captioning made possible by democracy now!] now! amy: from new york, this is democracy now! >> predominantly from majority black and brown communities in the city. amy: the capital of mississippi is beginning its fifth week without safe drinking water. most of jackson, which is about 80% black, remains under an order to boil water.
some don't have any running water at all. this in the midst of a pandemic where washing hands could be a matter we will speak to jackson of life and death. we will speak to jackson we will speak to jackson mayor chokwe antar lumumba about the roots of the crisis from climate change to white supremacy. then deb haaland is being sworn in as secretary of the interior becoming the first native american to serve in a u.s. presidential cabinet. we look at one major issue confronting her -- the toxic legacy of thousands of closed uranium mines, many on native land. >> uranium mining harms the health of our population, the environment, and our economy. the was government has refused to clean up the mess it has made in mexico. amy: then we look at a remarkable new podcast about a man sentenced to life in prison as a juvenile and a journalist who befriended him and chronicled his story all the way to unexpected freedom.
amy: we will speak to journalist maria hinojosa and david luis gonzalez, who is featured in the -- who's known as "suave." all that and more, coming up. welcome to democracy now!, democracynow.org, the quarantine report. i'm amy goodman. in atlanta, a gunman shot dead eight people at three massage parlors tuesday evening. six of the victims were of asian descent. all but one were women. a 21-year-old white male suspect, robert aaron long, has been taken into custody. anti-asian hate crimes have surged since t start of the pandemic. the group stop aapi hate says nearly 4000 anti-asian crimes have been reported over the past year. several cities, including new
york, have said they would deploy more police officers to asian neighborhoods in the wake of the attack, despite many in asian-american communities sayi more policing does noing to fix the underlying issues but contributes to systemic structural racism. a new report by public citizen finds about one third of covid-19 deaths in the u.s. were tied to a lack of insurance. nearly 537,000 deaths have been reported since the start of the pandemic. millions of infections would likely have been prevented under a medicare for all system, says public citizen. this comes as democratic congressmembers pramila jayapal and debbie dingell are introducing the medicare for all act of 2021 today, one year after the first covid-19 cases were confirmed in all 50 states and the district of columbia. the bill has over 100 co-sponsors. president biden has rejected medicare for all even though the majority of americans support it. cnn is reporting the white house
is planning to send additional vaccines to emerging coronavirus hotspots in an effort to stem new surges, including those linked to variants believed to be more contagious. although overa cases he sharply declined since this winter's surge, over a dozen states have reported a rise in new cases. in oklahoma, the chickasaw nation and other tribal territories have started offering vaccine appointments to all oklahoma residents. native americans have been disproportionately hit by the pandemic, but tribal health providers have outpaced many states and counties in getting out the vaccine. moderna is starting human trials on its vaccine in children and babies starting as young as six months old. in washington, d.c., the senate confirmed isabel guzman to lead the small business administration where she will oversee the implementation of the paycheck protection program, a key part of the recently passed coronavirus stimulus package. the world health organization
urged caution for countries considering vaccination certifications, including the potential use of vaccine passports. >> we have to be exceptionally careful because right now we're dealing with a tremendously inequitable situation of the world where the likelihood of getting a vaccine is very much to do with the country you live in, very much to do with the level of wealth, the level of influence that you or your government has. amy: in yemen, human rights watch published a report tuesday on the devastating fire that killed at least 60 refugees, most of them from ethiopia, at an immigrant jail in the capital sana'a earlier this month. the blazwas reportedly triggered after houthi security forces launched projectiles into the jail, where refugees had been protesting their conditions. this is one of the survivors of the fire. >> the smoke through my nose and mouth, i suffocated and passed
out. i cover myself with the blanket and jumped through the window. i saw my friends burning to death. amy: in other news from yemen, dozens of protesters stormed the presidential palace in the port city of aden tuesday, demanding payment of delayed wages and better living conditions. the protesters, who were public sector workers, left peacefully after they delivered their demands. the u.s.-backed, saudi-led war and blockade have crippled yemen's economy and created the world's worst humanitarian disaster. a warning to our audience, this story contains descriptions of sexual violence. the colombian journalist jineth bedoya has accused state-backed, right-wing paramilitaries of of ducting, torturing -- abducting, torturing, and raping her in 2000. bedoya told the inter-american court of humanights that she was abducted outside a prison in bogotá while on a reporting trip. she was then drugged, beaten and repeatedly raped by several attackers. at the time, bedoya was investigatinu.s.-backed rightwing paramilitary death squads icolombia. she said she has since faced decades "persecution, intimidation and constant threats."
colombia is attempting to block the inter-american court of human rights from moving ahead with the case by seeking the recusal of five of the six judges. bedoya spoke about the impact of her case in a video posted on soal media earlier this month. >> to bring my case before internional court, what happened to me as a woman and as a generalist stop to open a window of hope for thousands of women and girls who, let me come had to fix dish face sexual violence. amy: british prime minister boris johnson announced his government is lifting the cap on its nuclear stockpile, increasing the number of trident nuclear warheads by over 40%. the move ends three decades of gradual nuclear disarmament. meanwhile, in the u.s., a new report by the federation of american scientists says plans to build a new $100 billion nuclear missile are being driven by industry lobbying and
politicians whose states will economically benefit from the project, despite objections from military and civilian leaders around the cost and lack of security relevance for the cold war-era weapon. the cost of building and maintaining the ground-based strategic deterrent, or gbsd, which would be built by northrop grumman with help from lockheed martin and others, would swell to $264 billion over the coming decades. the debate over the senate filibuster continues in washington, d.c. on tuesday, president biden said he supports a return to the talking filibuster, which requires senators to delay a bill by talking on the senate floor. earlier in the day, senate minority leader mitch mcconnell threatened he would go scorched earth if democrats move to eliminate the filibuster, turning the senate into "a hundred-car pile-up," and warned republicans would retaliate with conservative laws if and when they retake the senate. on monday, senate majority whip
dick durbin took to the floor to call for an end to what he called legislative rock bottom. >> to date, nearly 65 years after strom thurmond's marathon defense of jim crow, the filibuster is still making a mockery of american democracy. the filibuster is still being misused by some senators to block legislation urgently needed and supported by strong majority of the american people. amy: at least two democratic senators, joe manchin and kyrsten sinema, have objected to doing away with the filibuster, though manchin recently indicated he may be open to reforming it. democratic senator sheldon whitehouse is calling on the justice department to probe the fbi's 2018 background check of supreme court justice brett kavanaugh, which senator whitehouse says was "politically-constrained and perhaps fake." justice kavanaugh was accused by christine blasey ford of sexually assaulting her when they were both teenagers, as
well as several other allegations of sexual misconduct. but the fbi failed to interview blasey ford and others who came forward during their investigation. senator whitehouse is also raising questions about brett kavanaugh's history of substantial personal debt, which seemingly vanished shortly before donald trump nominated him to the supreme court. as investigations continue into the deadly january 6 u.s. capitol insurrection, a 16-year-old testified in a court hearing for her father, a texas three percenter who allegedly set up a security company to circumvent gun laws. after the riot, guy reffitt threatened to kill his two teenage children if they reported him, saying "traitors get shot." his daughter testified against him. here in new york, going on strike after two years of unsuccessful negotiations with the prestigious college over
their union's first contract. graduate workers are seeking fair wages and improvements to heth care and childcare provisions, as well as protections against discrimination and sexual harassment at work. workers at columbia threatened withhold pay for those on strike and is spreading antiunion messaging to students. in more labor news from new york, taxi drivers have led daily protests for over a week against bill de blasio's plan he claims will offer relief to heavily indebted taxi medallion owners, who have suffered even more economic loss during the pandemic. >> no more bankruptcy! amy: "no more suicide! no more bankruptcy!" drivers chanted. mayor de blasio's plan does not provide any debt relief, and instead offers modest loans to taxi drivers to pay off their debt, accrued largely because of the artificially inflated cost of taxi medallions. bhairavi desai of the new york
taxi worker's alliance said -- "it's a cash bailout for lenders while drivers are left to drown in debt, foreclosure, and bankruptcy. the mayor's plan is a disgraceful betrayal from a city that already has blood on its hands." and those are some of the headlines. this is democracy now!, democracynow.org, the quarantine report. i'm amy goodman in new york joined by my co-host juan gonzález in new brunswick, new jersey. hi, juan. juan: hi, amy. welcome to all of our listeners and viewers from around the country and around the world. amy: we begin today's show in jackson, mississippi, where residents are facing two public health crises -- the covid pandemic and almost no clean drinking water for more than a month. on the pandemic front, mississippi has become the second state in the nation to open up vaccine eligibility to l residentover thege of 16. 20% of adults in mississippi have received at least one dose
of a vaccine. public health experts are urging residents to keep wearing masks, even though the state's republican governor has lifted a statewide mask mandate, and to regularly wash their hands -- something that has been hard to do for the past month in jackson, the state's capital, which has gone five weeks without safe drinking water. the deadly february winter storm that left most of texas without power for days also devastated other southern states. in jackson, the freezing temperatures burst pipes and water mains, leaving most of jackson without reliable access to running water. while water delivery has largely been restored, boil water orders remain in effect for most residents. the crisis highlights how climate change threatens much of the nation's aging infrastructure. for jackson, there are no easy solutions. the city estimates it could cost $2 billion to fix the city's water system, but jackson is a poor city in the poorest state
in the country. the city is 82% black while the state legislature is majority white. white politicians have only suggested jackson's problems are because of its black leadership. mississippi's lieutenant governor delbert hosemann criticized jackson's handling of the crisis by saying -- "you remember during kane ditto'administraon, he d repair work on water and sewer. so what happened since then?" kane ditto was jackson's last white mayor. donna ladd of the jackson free press recently wrote -- "make no mistake, the fact that low-income jacksonians are living amid the stench of toilets that won't flush is a direct legacy of white-supremacist thinking at the state level, not the failure of a few bill collectors in the city to collect on enough delinquent customers." we go now to jackson, mississippi, where we are joined
by mayor chokwe antar lumumba. he has served as mayor since 2017. his father chokwe lumumba also briefly served as mayor before dying unexpectedly in 2014, 8 months into his first term. mayor, it is great to have you back on democracy now! your city is facing a massive crisis. you're dealing the whole country with the coronavirus pandemic and at the same time you have not had clean drinking water for a month. can you explain what is happening and what needs to be done? >> first, amy, thank you for having me again and for lifting up this issue. what we suffered after the two winter storms -- i need to make certain i clarify that, we had two consecutive storms that took place, leaving us in prolonged low temperatures in the city of jackson.
historically low temperatures. and what he did was it created complications getting water into our treatment facility. the raw water screens are at the inception point of the water treatment facility in which they froze stop because we could not get water in, a complicated or made it impossible for us to clean water anget water out, leaving our distribution system compromised. as consumption was high, drained many of the tanks across the city and our psi, our water treatment facility operate of hydraulics most of the psi went down to 37. we need it at about 90 in order to distribute water throughout the ty. this is on account of an aging infrastrture of a legacy city. money which has not been contributed over time. while the city of jackson contributes millions of dollars each and every year and has done so since kane ditto, before kane
ditto, and continues to do so, what we have not had estate leadership that identifies this as not just a city of jackson problem but an ongoing and shared problem of not only the city, but the state. i would like to emphasize that in a few ways if i could. the cy of jackson is the largest by a factor of three posts of the highest contributor to revenue to the state. we had the state capital, which means many of our properties are not taxable. we do not get payment in lower taxes. we provide water to state facilities at no cost to the state of mississippi. if they just paid their water bill come the city of jason would be in a lot better position. juan: mayor, for the brief time your father was in office, one of the things he was praised for was attempting to address the infrastructure problems,. he tried to institute a new tax to provide better infrastructure
services. at has been the problem between -- you mentioned one aspect, the state not paying its water bill. but in terms of being able to implement upgrades of the system? >> i think you have to understand the comprehensive is for structure problem in the city of jackson. 1% sales tax generates about 13 million dollarannually. when i said $2 billion, i did not say for the water system. i said comprehensively. the way we know that is the epa is estimated our wastewater problem is about $1 billion, where sewage is coming up in people's yards, in their backyards and dish and those issues. that is one. that is before we get to the drinking water, which we see the crisis we have on our hands after the february storms. that doesn't get to the drainage. we suffered a 30 year flood recently.
in 2020. so that doesn't get to the issue of how drainage -- how people address that. that does not get you rose bridges and all of these parts of our infrastructure that our residents rely on. $13 million is in position -- insufficient. the city of jackson was not prepared based on winter storms, we were ill-equipped. this is because resources are often stripped om the city of jackson, and not only are we met with a consistent plan in order to support the city that supports the state of mississippi, we don't enjoy the support the city provides the ate. but ao we passed we have haresource strippeaway. u referenced a conversation or the statements of the tuna governor delbert hosemann -- lieutenant governor delbert hosemann. understanding it is not a matter of if these infrastructure
systems will fail but when. he redirected the conversation to talk about the state's effort to take over the city of jackson's airport, which is a profitable institution we rely on year after year. juan: how difficult hasn't been for the residents of your city to do with the water situation while at the same time contending with issues around the covid pandemic? >> as you can imagine, our residents have made every endeavor to be as patient as they could. but the frustrations are high. as you can imagine with people want to drink water, cook with water not only bathe but get rid of waste, people concerned about not only the safety precautions of the pandemic, but also taking medications. simple things like that that they anticipate that water will serve the need to do those
things has been extremely difficult. i do want to lift up that many people across the city, individuals, businesses, people from around the count who have stood in the gaps, rallied around the city of jackson to distribute water. each one of us has been countless hours making certain we got water to the elderly, the immobile, the disabled. y so while there has been great frustration aroundhe issue these are issues the city residents have dealt with for quite some time so they're very familiar. they're intimately familiar with the history of divestment, the history of a lack of investment from that state, very familiar with the troubles of ourater infrastructure and our infrastructure and a comprehensive way as well. amy: want to go to calandra davis policy analyst at hope policy instite. she has been delivering bottled water and food to those without water supply. >> the community that was
hardest hit by this water crisis are in -- again, the predominately or majority black and brown communities in the city was stuck it just shows that it wasn't another bad weather day for us, this has been yrs of neglect to the majority black and brown parts of the city. also just another example of how structural racism works. amy: can you explain how people are getting water? people can't afford to buy water, how do they get to places where water is or how to go to pick it up? what older woman described the only thing she could get was little bottled water. this is to keep themselves clean. it is not just for drinking. >> along with the complication of a water treatment facility
essentially crashing during the storm, we also have a challenge for several days because roads were iced over a transportation or distribution system was interrupted on our highways. it becam complicated because the local stores did not have water anymore. it became complicated because it was increasingly challenging because trucks could not come and deliver water. but we were able to manage through that and set up distribution sites across the city. the state national guard did set up tanks around the city for non-potable water, for people to come with containers and utilize. as i mentioned, you had several businesses, several individuals tested in the gap in order to support people in that way. i do want to lift up the issue that ms. davis spoke to the
equity issues. it is not a system where you turn on water from one area of town or another area of town. e system distributes water to the lines that were laid more than 100 years ago. the problem is an issue of equity. we just have to understand what it takes is. mistakes happen or the issues of people in poverty or don't have the resources not being able to get the water is because they live in areas that were not valued as high or as more desirable by those who had money. those whhad money built homes closest to the resources, closest to the water treatment facilities. therefore when water is redistributed through the distribution system, through the lines, they are the on to get water sooner. when you get to south and west jackson, those of areas where list away from the plant.
they are at higher elevations across the city, which means the water not only has to travel fa but high, high elevation points. we must lift up not only how we build sustainable infrastructure, but how we do it in an equitable way, looking at the issues and how we address those areas through city planning. city planning is never neutral. city planning is now by mistake. we have to be ablto make sure we d this in a way that creates dignity for all residents across our city. juan: mayor, on the issue of equitable distribution of resources and services, years ago your father pioneered the jackson push plant in an attempt to empower african-americans in a majority area,eographical areas of the south.
how do you assess the progress that has been made -- beginning with his administration but then going through yours in terms of spreading this idea of equitable distribution of resources? >> that is a movement that is ongoing. we have many successes to point to in that regard. what our goal is to democratize power, understanding the issues of infrastructure, that we need to be able to connect potholed pothole and community to community some people in jackson, mississippi, understand a community that looks like there's is in new york and indiana are michigan in the process of fixing that pothole come of how we repair our infrastructure in terms of water, what we ultimately learned is the pothole is never your problem in the first place. your problem is you don't control the decision-making process that leads to the pothole being fixed. we do that by having people's assemblies we engage
communities. we do that by participatory budgeting, understanding the budget of a city is a moral document and if we don't listen to the community and what the community needs and scratch where they may be itching, it reflects what our values are as a community. we have done that through making sure we extend a model which is just and transparent as we look at the issues of public safety and policing. not only making sure we have police id task force populated by the community so they can work alongside the police department and understand how public safety must look. we have done that in a number of ways. we're are looking at economic mobility and development in the community, understanding we wt be a business-friendly city but also understand it has to be a reciprocal relationship. we lift up cooperative business models as well so we can learn how to fill the gaps.
even as we have this conversation about water and the issue of water over the last month or so, the reality is ery effort in order to support the infrastructurand at the city of jackson has been undertaken by the residents, by the people, more than the state itself. the decision to tax themselves more in order to help the infrastructure was supported over 90% by the residents. thstate is not standing in the gap people decided to tax themselves more. those are people taking the issue in their own hands, realizing we are who we have been waiting on. amy: mayor, mississippi has become the second state in the nation to offer vaccines to everyone about 16. at the same time, the mask mandate has been lifted. the significance of this for your city, or jackson? >> is a contradictory message. i believe it is dangerous. while we are happy that we can ask and the opportunity for people to be vaccinated, every
health professional that i have listened to, all of the health professionals we listen to nationally have indicated it is just too soon in order to lift the mask mandate. the city of jackson, we execute our covid policy based on science not politics. so we will maintain our mask mandate in the city of jackson. however, the state's position to do otherwise still puts us in a compromised position because we are not only the capital city, where the capital health care. that means surrounding cities may not issue the mask mandate went the residents unfortunately fall victim to the virus, they will overburden our hospitals in the city of jackson, leaving not only our residents and a greater danger, but those individuals who seek hospitalization or seek medical attention for a myriad of other issues even outside of covid.
i think it is contradictory. i think it is confusing. i think it is ill-timed. amy: chokwe antar lumumba, thank you for being with us, mayor of jackson mississippi, long-time activist. next up, deb haaland is being sworn in, become the first native american to serve and a u.s. presidential cabinet. we will look at what she faces when it comes to the legacy of uranium mines. stay with us. ♪♪ [music break]
amy: "passions to igte" by mary youngblood. this is democracy now!, democracynow.org, the quarantine report. i'm amy goodman. i am joined with juan gonzalez. deb haaland is being sworn in today as secretary of the interior. she is a tribal citizen of the laguna pueblo, becomes the first native american ever to serve in a u.s. presidential cabinet. two-term congresswoman from new mexico was confirmed by the senate monday after four
republicans joined democrats in voting to confirm her -- susan collins of maine, lindsey graham of south carolina, lisa murkowski of alaska, and dan sullivan of alaska. as interior secretary, haaland will manage 500 million acres of federal and tribal land. she will also oversee government relations with 574 federally recognized tribal nations. during her confirmation hearing, haaland vowed to work for everyone. >> if confirmed, i will work my heart out for everyone. the families apostle field woers who helped build our country, ranchers and farmers who care deeply for their lands, communities with legacies of toxic pollution, people of color whose stories deserve to be heard, and those who want jobs of the future. amy: one major issue facing deb haaland as interior secretary will be addressing the legacy of uranium mining on native land and other areas. thousands of inactive and toxic uranium mines have poisoned native land and water for decades.
many of the mines were used to extract uranium for the united states' massive nuclear arms arsenal. in 2019, a university of new mexico study found that about a quarter of navajo women and some infants had high levels of the radioactive metal in their bodies even though nearby uranium mining had ended decades ago. last year, congressmember haaland was recognized with a nuclear-free future award for her efforts to address the impacts of uranium mining in the southwest. >> we have seen it firsthand and my home state of new mexico. uranium mining harms the population, environment, and economy. the was government has refused to clean up the mess they have made in new mexico. in 20 when i was elected, i knew this would be an issue that i would fight for. i call on the u.s. government to clean up mining sites, compensate uranium workers come and rectify the wrong that has been done to indigenous
communities. and i am not going to let up. i'm committed to fighting for nuclear-free future. amy: to talk more about the deb haaland, the interior department, and the legacy of uranium mining, we are joined by leona morgan in albuquerque, new mexico. she is diné anti-nuclear activist and community organizer. coordinator with the nuclear issues study group and an organizer with haulno! we are here on democracy now! it is great to have you back. we did a broadcast with you when we were visiting los alamos several years ago. thank you so much for being with us. can you start off by responding to the history that deb haaland is making today, and then talk about the legacy of uranium mines and what you feel she needs to do? >> thank you, amy. it is so nice to be here. i appreciate the invitation. secretary haaland has done a lot of good things in our state and
i think a lot of folks are satisfied with her performance as a congresswoman. however, you can't please everyone. there are some situations where we do need more attention from secretary haaland. she has been excellent and dealing with some of the resource extraction. like you mentioned, highlighting uranium is the core issue. we are very happy -- i as an indigenous woman, i am confident she will do what she can as an indigenous woman to protect our mother earth but it is impossible to expect one person to correct the centuries of racism and policy that have really devastated our people since the beginning of the department of the interior, including genocide and relocation.
so we do hope she can make some store changes. -- historic changes. a lot of people are depending on her and she will be held accountable. as for the uranium mining -- juan: for those blisters who are not aware of the historof this issue, could you talk somewhat -- this is going back to the 1940's that the navajo nation was used by the united states for uranium mining for nuclear weapons development. can you talk about that history and impact on the native peoples of your state? >> yes. yes, they're are actually 15,000 abandoned uranium mines across the country. the navajo nation is working with the federal government to address at least 523 distinct mines on navajo nation's. the most abandoned mines are in
colorado. this is an issue that doesn't just affect indigenous peoples, but everyone. however, uranium dining a production does impact indigenous peoples and communities of color the most around the world. i navajo, we have had many health issues resulting from the apex of uranium mining, which like you mentioned, started at the 1940's. a lot of the mines on neither hope shut down in the 1980's. there is no mining in new mexico currently and there is a law against uranium mining and the transport of radioactive materials. however, those ls are always challenged because there are private lyon lands within the nation and adjacent to the nation. it is very difficult to stop uranium mining and the impacts as the wood and water carries contamination across the country -- uranium does not
discriminate. as people say, radiation does not discriminate. however, does impact women and children the most mine with thes shutting down in the early 80's come the cleanup that has begun in the early 2000's -- 2008 is when the navajo nation started the first five-year cleanup plan with the u.s. agencies working together. however, the cleanup is poorly funded and it is not up to standards that would be acceptable in white communities. today we are dealing with, like i said, i hundred 23 abandoned mine sites but the contamination to our water resources which had implications with, 19 and right now this is one of the issues right now, the lack of water. the contamination of water, water quality, and water on a
deep our issues because uranium mining, which is one industry that impacted us -- there was a lot of impacts from the coal ming that occurred. for the federal government to be depending on settlements from companies is just not enough. the federal government is the responsible party and needs to foot the bill for the method -- as it made for defense purposes. i work specifically on issues of new their colonialism and right now we are being harvested because of this idea that nuclear power is going to be a so-called solution to climate change. people like bill gates are talking about new so-called small nuclear modular reactors, which still user uranium and produce waste, which there is no place to go. i'm sorry, the waste from nuclear power plants, there is
no storage or disposal for this waste stop so right now in new mexico, we are being targeted with the world's largest news their waste storage. this is all the power plants in the united states. new mexico does not even have a power plant. they are saying to bring it here temporarily, which could be more than 100 years. this is not a viable solution for dealing with our national new their waste problem. we need to stop making new nuclear waste. we do not need to continue mining uranium. we need to stop using nuclear power. bill gates is someone that has been talking about this a lot recently. he does not live near an abandoned mines or waste sites. these are issues people have been dealing with over four decades after the uranium mining has stopped. we're are finally getting attention but the cleanup being
proposed, like i said, it is poor quality. one example is in charge rock, new mexico, the side of the world's largest uranium spill. the proposal for cleanup there is actually in an open comment period right now. this idea the company once to scrape up mine waste and move it i million cubic yards of mine waste they want to pile on top of the mill waste where the spill from 1979 originated and the community is compressor and -- concern because this is in a floodplain. the meetings held in 2017, several expressed concerns could result in the second chart trucks bill. this is what they're proposing as cleanup, which is not cleanup. it is basically making 523 permanent waste sites on navajo nation's.
juan: in the context of that, your expectations in terms of what secretary haaland will be able to accomplish, given she's in charge of interior but the cleanup is largely the responsibility of the epa, isn't it? >> well, i navajo, it is five federal agencies working with navajo nation's. it is largely epa and region nine out of san francisco. however, the epa is putting out media -- recently there was an article saying they had received over $200 million for cleanup. and some of the information being put out as a little bit misleading or a lot misleading according to navajo nation epa funder director. i had a long conversation with him about some of the cleanup
and the proposals. what he is saying is that navajo has a very limited seat at the table when it comes to making decisions and enforcing our navajo policy, as well as stronger cleanup standards. soe need secretary haaland to help to curb the startup of new mines and to work with the agencies -- there are five federal agencies and the navajo nation doing this cleanup. like i said, that is only 523 abandoned mineites where there are over 15,000 in the whole country. we really need federal dollars and better cleanup standards. right now there is a 10 year plan being proposed. some of the standards for the allowable levels of radiation are much higher than would be acceptable in let's say an urban environment or the white community.
this is really going to impact our people as uranium and radiation because health impacts . it takes a long time for these health impacts to show up. right now we are experiencing a lot of residual effects. one health study called the navajo burn study has found high levels of uranium in newborn babies. these are babies born across the reservation, not just mere abandoned uranium sites. we do need sec. haaland to push for comprehensive cleanup as well as conference of health studies. this is specifically i'm talking about navajo nation but across the country as well as protections for our sacred places. because a lot of our sacre places have been mined and are targeted for new mining. amy: leona morgan, we will continue to cover these issues in theonths to ce. leona morgan, diné anti-nuclear activist and community organizer.
coordinator with the nuclear issues study group and an organizer with haulno! when we combat, remarkable podcast called "suave" about a man sentenced to life in prison as a juvenile and a journalist, maria hinojosa, who chronicled his story all the way to unexpected freedom. back in 30 seconds. ♪♪ [music break] amy: "one more river to cross" by sam cooke & the soul stirrers.
this is democracy now! i'm amy goodman with juan gonzalez. we and today show it to people who met almost 30 years ago. it was 1993 when the acclaimed journalist maria hinojosa met david luis "suave" gonzalez while she was giving a talk at the greater correctional institution in pennsylvania. he was there serving a life sentence without parole after he was convicted of first-degree homicide when he was 17 years old. at the prison, was part of the largest population of so-called juvenile lifers in the united states. suave and maria hinojosa stayed in touchhrough letters and visits and phone calls that she recorded. they're now part of a new seven part podcast series called "suave" that chronicled the story all the way to unexpected freedom and includes dramatic exchanges like this one from 2016 when the supreme court ruled it is unconstitutional to impose mandatory sentences of life without parole on
juveniles. the ruling was retroactive and gave thousands of people, including suave, a chance at freedom. this is a clip of the call, his call to announce the good news to maria. >> hello, hello. >> how are you doing? >> it is friday, june 9, 10:44 in the morning. what is going on? i thought we were talking at 2:00? >> i wanted to let you know the judge said we don't have to wait no longer. june 20 6, 17 days from today, we go to court. >> what? it is like totally not a normal day for you in prison after 30 years. >> no. [indiscernible]
i had a dream that i was eating chinese food. >> what real eating? >> eggrolls and pork fried rice. and then i woke up. amy: that is a clip from the podcast "suave." episode three just came out tuesday. he was eventually given the opportunity to experience life on the outside as an adult the firstime. he is now in his 50's living in the free world as an artist, activist. joining us now from morecambe along with maria hinojosa, president and founder of the futuro media group and executive producer of the peabody wenning show "latino usa," executive producer of "suave," the podcast. suave, if you could briefly -- i mean, your story is an unbelievable one. but the significance of going to prison in the 1980's. he lived in the bronx, moved to philadelphia. your convicted. thought you would be like in prison without parole and then
the supreme court made this decision. >> yes. thank you for having me on. it was an experience that i will never forget and don't wish on no juvenile in the united states. it was an experience that left me traumatized to this day. i am just grateful that i was able to meet maria in 1993 and was able to make that transformation from prison into a decent human bng. because at the time in 1993, i was on a suice mission. i wanted to die. i didot know how i was going to get out of jail. all i knew is i was sentenced to life in jail and if it's of any which housed more juvenile lifers than any other ste in the untry. i was stuck. here comes a stranger telling me that i could be the voice for the voiceless. juan: suave, could you talk
about the first time you met maria hinojo and the relationship as it developed over the years from your perspective? >> i met maria hinojosa in 1993. i was just coming out o solitary confinement. an older telemann gave me a radio -- john gave me a radio with three stations. i was impressed to hear a latino was on the radio. i told everybody, we got to get her up into the risen. we have to get her up here. one of my friends was an institutional tor and graduated at yale. he was given the opportunity to bring a guest speaker. i begged him, bring maria, bring maria. somehow they got maria up there and they told me i could not get into the graduationecause i wasn't graduating. i was fine with that because i was doing time in a corrupt
jail. there was no way a was not going to get into that graduation and meet maria. so i got in and maria spoke. when she took the podium, i felt every word coming out of her mouth i felt like she was talking directly to me. even though there was an auditorium filled with people, i felt like her message was for me. when she was done speaking, i went up to her and i told her, i am serving life. what can i do? maria looked at me and said, "you can be my source. you can be the voice for the voiceless." though simple words changed my life, "the voice for the voiceless." at the moment i did not understand what it meant but then it dawned on me come all my life i've been told ias meant to be retorted. i had an iq of 56 and i wouldn't mount to nothing. here was some until mia could be
the voice for the voiceless. i was t. i was excited just to have somebody tell me i could be something, that i could be somebody. that is what changed my life. amy: maria, if you could talk about your experience of first meeting suave and the relationship that you and suave had over not the months, not the years, but the decades and what it meant to you when you got that call that this young man who you expect to deliver the rest of his life i prison, who was your source, was now going to be free. >> listen, i just have to put some credit where credit is due. i learned from the best. i was watching people like one gonzalez. i was reading juan. was watching and listening to you, amy. you were my boss, remember, way back when when i was a budding journalist at wbai. one of the things i learned from
you and the great journalists in our tradition is that you also can lead with your heart. you can be the most critical journalist possible, but you can also lead with your heart. suave likes to give me a lot of credit for the words that i said. hey, you're going to be inside, just to me what is happening inside a maximum security men's prison. but the point is, suave is the one who walked up to me. he asks the question, what can i do? he did not say, get me out of here, here is my case, let's talk about it. which a lot of the other guys did. suave said, what can i do? i do not know suave. i did not know he was illiterate. i did not know he was accused of committing a murder against another juvenile. i saw there was something in hand that had a question. as a journalist, if you are aware in your sensitive and working with your five senses
and sometimes six, you have to pick up on that. look, i am a christmas card lady. i should be sending you and juan christmas cards but i never got your addresses. i knew where suave was going to be for the rest of his life and i started sending them christmas cards because -- i don't know, that is a human thing to do. from there, i mean, i never imagined it would be a podcast in this amount of love and attention and raising critical issues around justice for young people in our country. i am so thankful, amy. i know this is a dream come true for suave to be with you and juan right now. you're helping to make his dreams come true as well. juan: maria, the thought process that made you decide to do a podcast once he was out in terms of what the importance of this
kind of journalism is in terms, especially with the national debate going on continually now about criminal justice reform? >> right. look, people talk about the numbers and institutions. but until you actually need to someone was been in- suave was in solitary confinement not for days or months, but years. what does that do tio a human being? i had a little recorder. when i relist preme court was going to be addressing the question of whether or not it was in to sentence a juvenile to life without parole, i just started recording every single call suave made. i had visited him a couple of times. i said, something can happen here. this is a message to fellow journalists. you need to hold onto your stories. you need to learn from the juans
and amys and marias of the world who are journalists of conscience in the united states. we understand there not just a human story, but there is a story we can with one human story reallyncover all of this injustice. i never imagined, juan, it would be a podcast like this. but you start recording and that is where you capture t most dramatic moments. suave and i were very real with each other over decades. amy: suave, can you talk about the most difficult obstacles you faced coming out of prison? also, the high points fo you? >> probably the most difficu is dealing with housing, employment. even though i came out of prison with an educatn, with a ba from villanova university, it is still hard to this day to find
sustainable employment because i am in a city in philadelphia -- when you get to the next level ofhe interview and employment, it is always coming you had a record for 34, 35 years. that is the most difficult thing. being on lifetime parole is difficult because on one hand, yes, i am in the community, but i'm stl tied to the department of corrections where theyhe remonitor all of my moods. i ha to ask permission to cross any lines. i have to ask permission to be on your show. i have to ask permission to do certain things. the question is, and i really free? the united states supreme court ruled it was unconstitutionato sentence juvene to mandatory life sentence commission to be unconstitutional to havehe same juvenile on lifetime
parole? these issues are not being addressed in the united states. we still have tons of juveniles in the penal system that need to have the same opportuni i'm having. the high point for me is that i am able to tell my story and share the stories to other juvenile lifers that were left behind. i still feel when i was left -- when i looked in 2017, i was leaving the only family i knew fo37 years. it gets lonely out here. it gets realnly. it is depressing. if we don't have the support team to help us get through tt day, that is when we see the recidivism rate go up. i am telling you from personal experience, there has been days when i wish i was back. amy: we need to do part two. david luis "suave" gonzalez,
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