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tv   Democracy Now  LINKTV  February 17, 2023 8:00am-9:01am PST

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02/17/23 02/17/23 [captioning made possible by democracy now!] amy: from new york, this is democracy now! >> recent innation in train breaking technoly could prevent or reduce the scope of disasters like these. unfortunately, the railroad industry has aggressively lobbied against mandates they inve in the new brakes. this means railroads that are less safe. amy: the biden administration is
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facing growing criticism after a massive derailment in east palestine, ohio, blanketed the town with the toxic spilled chemicals and gases felon the air, polluting waterways, killing thousands of fish. we will look at how corporate greed is at the center of the bomb train catastrophe. then we speak to jim cavallaro. last week the biden administration nominated him for a top human rights post then withdrew the nomination in part due to his criticism of israel human rights record. >> on monday, i recognize the situation apartheid, question the rolef aipac's funding and u.s. politics. on tuesday, i was informed my candidacy had been withdrawn because of my views on israel
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and palestine. amy: we will speak to the brazilian indigenous leader about why he supports prosecuting former president jair bolsonaro for committing genocide against the amazonian people. >> wants to prosecute him because of the way in which my people have been mistreated and they have allowed us to die. they allowed 577 of our children to die. amy: all that and more, coming up. welcome to democracy now!,, the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman. ukraine's president has ruled out trading territory for peace as part of any negotiated settlement with russian leader vladimir putin. president volodymyr zelenskyy made the remarks in an interview with the bbc.
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>> any territorial compromise would ma us weaker as a state. it is not about compromise itself. why would we be afraid of that? we have millions of compromises in life every day. there is no trust. amy: ukraine's military says it shot down 16 of 36 russian missiles fired at targets across ukraine thursday, including its largest oil refinery, which reportedly sustained damage. meanwhile, russia has intensified ground attacks along the front in southern and eastern ukraine in a spring offensive launched just ahead of the first anniversary of russia's invasion. the united nations is appealing to donors for $1 billion to scale up relief operations in turkiye where the death toll from this month's massive earthquakes has topped 38,000, nearly 6000 others confirmed dead in syria where the u.n. is appealing for an additional $4
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billion for humanitarian assistance. growing alarm to cut aid to hundreds of thousands of rohingya refugees who fled ethnic cleansing and genocide in burma. the agency says it will be forced to cut rations to rohingya living in camps in bangladesh due to a severe funding shortfall. humanitarian groups save the children said, rohingya children and that families are at breaking point and need more support, not less. president biden has made his first formal comments about the u.s. military's downing of a high-altitude chinese balloon and three other unidentified objects flying over north america earlier this month. pines had the first object shot down was a chinese surveillance balloon that violated u.s. sovereignty, something he called unacceptable. but biden said the other three objects were most likely research balloons or similar objects. i'd said he planned to speak to president xi jinping about the surveillance balloons. pres. biden: this underscores
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maintain open lines of communication between our diplomats and our military professionals. amy: a possible source for one of the yet to be identified objects is the northern illinois bottlecap balloon brigade. the hobbyist club believes one of its $12 inflatable balloons may have been shot down a lockheed martin f-22 firing a $400,000 sidewinder missile over canada's yukon territory on february 11. israel's knesset has passed a law allowing the government to revoke the citizenship or residency of palestinians determined to have committed what israel calls acts of terror. the new law exclusively targets palestinians of israel and palestinians in occupied east jerusalem, allowing them to be deported to the occupied west bank and gaza. legal experts say such deportations would constitute an act of forcible transfer, which is a war crime. the united nations security council is expected to vote next week on a palestinian-backed resolution demanding an
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immediate halt to all israeli settlement activities and condemning the annexation of illegal settlements and outposts. diplomats told reporters the u. is seekinto replace the resoluti with a weer statement. in washington, state department spokesperson vedant patel declined to say if the u.s. would veto the resolution. >> the introduction of this resolution is unhelpful in supporting the conditions necessary to advance negotiations for a two state solution. amy: in georgia, the special grand jury investigating attempts by president trump and his allies to overturn the 2020 election determined that at least one witness committed perjury during their testimony. that revelation came as part of a small, five-page excerpt of the grand jury report made public on thursday, though it's not clear who the panel believed should be charged with crimes other than perjury or which georgia laws may have been violated. fulton county district attorney fani willis said last month that decisions about whom to prosecute our imminent. the white house dismissed republican presidential
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candidate nikki haley's call for mental competency tests for politicians over the age of 75. haley made the remark in charleston, south carolina, wednesday during her first campaign rally since announcing her 2024 bid. it's seen as an attack on both 80-year-old biden and her primary challenger, 76-year-old donald trump. nikki haley also vowed to crack down on immigration and relegate "communist china the ash heap of history." pennsylvania senator john fetterman is seeking in-patient treatment for clinical depression at walter reed hospital, his office announced. senate democrats rallied around their colleague, with majority leader chuck schumer tweeting -- "happy to hear senator fetterman is getting the help he needs and deserves. millions of americans, like john, struggle with depression each day." the freshman senator from pennsylvania has suffered a number of health challenges recently. last week, he was briefly hospitalized after feeling
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lightheaded during a senate retreat. he was elected as u.s. senator in november, six months after suffering a life-threatening stroke. in britain, leader of the labour party keir starmer has barred former party leader jeremy corbyn from running for election as a labor candidate. corbyn slammed it as an attack on democracy. to see our interview with jeremy corbyn and his comments, go to nicola sturgeon announced she is stepping down as first minister of scotland. sturgeon is the first woman to hold the post, as well as the first woman to lead the scottish national party. >> essentially, i have been trying to answer to questions, is carrying on right for me? and more important, is me carrying on right for the country, for my party, and for
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the independence because i have devoted my life to? amy: sturgeon will stay in her role until a successor is appointed. her resignation comes amid stark divisions over scottish independence. in november, the british supreme court ruled scotland cannot hold another independence referendum without the green light from the british government. the u.k. government also recently vetoed a scottish bill that would make it easier for people to change their legal gender. sturgeon condemned the veto as a full-frontal attack on the scottish parliament. over 200 "new york times" contributors have published an open letter criticizing "the times'" recent coverage of stories involving transgender, non-binary, and gender nonconforming people in particular concerning medical issues. the letter says republican lawmakers have cited "the times'" coverage to justify bans on gender-affirming affirming care for youth. in response, the top editor of "the new york times" on thursday
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defended the papers coverage of trans issues and warned journalists that such public criticism will "not be tolerated." in michigan, a train operated by norfolk southern derailed on thursday in van buren township, 30 miles west of detroit, causing more than two dozen rail cars to pile up and triggering fears of another toxic release. local authorities reported one rail car contained liquid chlorine, a highly corrosive chemical. norfolk southern said no hazardous materials spilled. the crash came as environmental protection agency administrator michael regan visited east palestine, ohio, to meet with residents affected by this month's crash of a norfolk southern train carrying vinyl chloride and other toxic and carcinogenic chemicals, which were released in a so-called controlled burn that sent a toxic mushroom cloud high into the air. we'll get the latest on that story after headlines. and tesla has recalled more than 360,000 electric vehicles over the risks posed by their
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self-driving software. the recall follows several high-profile accidents, including an eight-car pileup on the san francisco bay bridge last november triggered when a self-driving tesla model s abruptly changed lanes and rapidly applied its brakes. nine people were injured, including a two-year-old child. on thursday, democratic senator ed markey tweeted tesla's recall is long overdue, adding -- "we have been sounding the alarm on the critical flaws in tesla's software and its misleading advertising for years. the national highway transportation safety administration must continue to protect the public against these safety risks, and tesla must stop overstating the capabilities of its vehicles." meanwhile, tesla workers at a factory in buffalo, new york, have filed a complaint with the national labor relations board, saying tesla managers fired more than 30 people this week after they announced their intention to form what would be the company's first u.s.-based labor union.
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and here in new york, the state senate has rejected democratic governor kathy hochul's nominee to become the state's top judge. hector lasalle came under fire from unions, as well as civil rights, immigrant rights, and reproductive rights groups that had opposed lasalle's nomination, citing what they described as his past anti-labor and anti-abortion rulings. and those are some of the headlines. this is democracy now!,, the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman. we begin today's show looking at the failures that led to the massive train derailment in east palestine, ohio, that blanketed the town with a toxic brew of spilled chemicals and gasses, fouling the air, polluting waterways, and killing thousands of fish and frogs. residents are suffering ailments ranging from respiratory distress, sore throats, burning eyes and rashes, all with unknown long-term consequences. many say they do not trust officials who are telling them
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it is safe to return home. >> we have to have proper testing. [indiscernible] >> you're not satisfied with the testing that has been done at your house? >> no. you'reoing to smell it as soon as you go in the house. >> i don't feel safe taking my kids into town. my neighbor right across the street fm me literally got diagnosed yesterday with chemical pneumonia. >> what does the government do? whose reonsibility is it? i am not quite sure norfolk southern is really doing much. and at at ease policy met thursday with the head of the environmental protection agency michael regan as he visited impacted areas in east palestine and gave an update on air and water testing. >> boots on the ground leading robust air quality testing,
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including the advanced technological aspect and a mobile analytical laboratory in and around east palestine. since the fire when outcome epa air monitoring has not detected any levels of health concern in the community that are attributed to the train derailment. as it relates to water, epa is supporting ohio and the local government in determining what impacts this bill has had on surface and groundwater and ensuring the derailment has not had an effect on drinking water supplies. amy: the two mile long freight train that derailed in east palestine was operated by railroad giant norfolk southern and has been called a "bomb train" since its 141 cars included tankers that can hold up to 32,000 gallons each of highly flammable toxic chemicals. in addition to the spill, an out-of-control fire raged for days followed by a controlled
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burn of the train's most toxic cargo, releasing a huge mushroom cloud of fire and smoke. this catastrophe could have been prevented had it not been for lax regulation and the outsized -- massive lobbying power of corporations like norfolk southern. secretary of transportation pete buttigieg claimed in a tweet, "we're constrained by law on some areas of rail regulation." meanwhile, critics say buttigieg could use his existing rulemaking authority to expand the definition of a high hazard flammable train to cover trends like the ones in ohio. this comes as the biden administration is siding with norfolsouthern in a case against a former rail rker now pending before the supreme court that could allow corporations to restrict where people, including the victims of the disaster in east palestine, can file lawsuits against them. more than 12,000 trains carry
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hazardous materials across the united states each day. and on thursday, another norfolk southern train carrying hazardous materials derailed outside of detroit. for more, we are joined by matthew cunningham-cook, researcher and writer for the lever, who is part of a team following all of this closely. welcome back to democracy now! there is so much to ask you about right now. first of all, i don't know if people realize this trained in east palestine that was carrying chemicals like vinyl chloride that went exploded become -- world war i chemical weapon. this train was two miles long. why don't you start there. >> trains have been getting longer and longer, and it is occurring at the same time that the railroad workforce is getting smaller and smaller.
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these were exactly the concerns that the rail unions raised last year with e biden administration, with railroads, with the public surrounding their contract negotiations and the need for paid sick leave. so that is a broader context. and in there is the industry was successful in reducing the scope of this high hazard flammable train definition, and they have been successful at resisting the widespread implementation of revolutionary new breaking technology called electronically controlled pneumatic raking over 15 years old. the railroads eventually championed these new brakes but once they figured out the cost, even though it was only $3 billion, that is less then 3% of the amount the railroads have spent on stock buybacks in the last decade, they lobbied hard
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against any rules that would mandate their implementation. that is a huge problem because right now railroads use 1868 technology -- technology from 1868 to brake trains. it is basically a ricochet effect. the engine brakes and the first car brakes and then the second car and in the third car brakes, which means the train does not. at the same time. when heavier train cars bump into later train cs, which is very common because they're not properly bordering the train cars because of the massive cutbacks in the railroad workforce, that creates what is called in-train forces, which destabilize anand derail trains. railroad workers united, this
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advocacy group of railroad workers, has said that almost certainly played a significant role in the derailment here on top of the issues with the axle that was on fire. you know, and then norfolk southern in particular seems like it has one of the worst safety records on the rails. there is been repeated incidents in ohio of norfolk southern derailments, two last year and they still have not picked up the cost for even though they explicitly pledged they would. and, you know, unfortunately, you have a transportation secretary that appears resistant to taking action. amy: let's talk about what buttigieg could do. let's talk about what president biden could do. it is an interesting history where you have these safety features that under the obama administration they were going into effect -- well, many years
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later, action, in 2023. explain what happened under trump, the role of south dakota republican senator john kuehne and then -- in reversing all of this, the campaign contributions of norfolk southern somewhat $6 million to republican campaigns and then what biden and buttigieg could do. >> the obama administration proposed rules that would expand the use of this braking technology. they were noexpansive enough to cover the type of train that derailed in ohio, but they would have gone significantly further toward limiting it across the industry. -- implementing across the industry. most amtrak trains use this technology and trains that transport nuclear waste required to use this technology as well.
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the railroad industry funneled over $6 million in two senate republicans' campaigns in 2016. john thune was one of the top at the time the chairman of the senate commerce signs transportation committee, was one of the highest recipients. he opposed this rulemaking the trump administration under elaine chao, secretary transportation, the wife of set republican leader mitch mcconnell, rolled back obama in his duration's very modest rules to expand this braking technology. once biden and buttigieg, even though rail unions, public safety advocates, environment groups, advocated the expansion of real safety rules, they have yet to take action so far.
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it is unfortunate and it is unclear why exactly that is the case. amy: michael regan, the epa chief, going yesterday two weeks after this catastrophe took place to get an ear full from the residence. we should say that was a day after the town hall meeting where norfolk southern refused to show up, saying they were afraid their own representatives would be in danger -- to which many residents said you are concerned about the ending in danger? what about us? >> yeah, i mean, i think there is a real kind of question as to whether or not the epa is really monitoring the situation on the ground in a complete way.
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that is a real question. at this point, we know the epa really fell down on the job in a really significant way after 9/11. we know the epa did not do the best they could to protect residents in flint. yeah, if i was a resident of east palestine, i would have real questions as to how effectively the epa was protecting the at this point. amy: talk about what norfolk southern faces. years ago, the crash in north carolina, i believe something like nine people died, many were injured. ultimately paid something like $4 million for fines? talk about what they face and lawsuits that are beginning right now and what they could be forced -- what did they promise, $1 million to the town right now? >> yeah.
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right now they said they already distributed over a million dollars to the town. they are facing class-action lawsuits. unfortunately, what we know is the department of transportation fines and federal railroad administration fines are limited. i think what alan shaw, the ceo of norfolk southern, i think he sees his core constituency as not the public but his shareholders. unfortunately, the way our society works is that it is just about the next quarterly earnings report, how much money you can extract out of the infrastructure you already own so that you can buy back more of your stock so that you can pay more dividends so that you can pay higher executive compensation, and, you know,
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fines and class-action lawsuits, there ultimately a drop in the bucket compared to the assuring a profits the railroads collect from their workforce that is overworked and in large part burned out and infrastructure that is falling apart and is not being properly maintained even though it is owned directly by the railroads. amy: talked about the recent ruling congress supported by president biden that he signed off on to stop a real strike. how does that play in here? >> what we know is that when you have a lack of redundancy in workforces, when you have workers who are away from home for weeks at a time, when you have difficulty in filling
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thousands of vacant positions because the jobs just aren't good enough -- years ago, these were great job that is just not the case today. working harder and harder than ever before in conditions that are terrible. there is tons of engines that don't have any heat at all. when you have that situation, you're going to have safety issues. and even beyond that, it was reported yesterday that the five senior employees who were charged with preventing derailments have all left. have left all of those positions -- those positions have been eliminated effectively by norfolk southern. yeah, you know, what we know is the rail unions, the rail workers have been chickening common sense. the rail unions have been advocating for this technology.
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would help the railroads recruit and retain qualified employees while spending billions and billions of dollars on stock buybacks while there are executives $10 million, $15 million, 20 lindo's ear. unfortunately, it really does seem like the biden administration is trying to split the difference. well, the railroads are proposing this and the units are proposing this and we will split the baby in half when what they were proposing was about technology decades and decades of deregulation, assault on workers. the treva administration's organized, assault on any [indiscernible] need to mcivor that aggressive agenda.
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unfortunately, that is the final things the biden administration really did not seem to take over 100,000 over workers were saying about the adequacy of this proposed contract really scarcely -- amy: matthew, let me ask you about pennsylvania governor josh sapir of sent a letter to norfolk southern's ceo alan shaw criticizing the so-called controlled explosion. you have the explosion, releases chemicals, and then you have that so-called controlled burn. the letter says -- you also have the governor of ohio, the state where this catastrophe took place mike dewine, ss his response as well. >> so we are digging into this
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particular question right now about how exactly this controlled release happened. i asked governor dewine, did you consult with other experts about whether orot this controlled release made sense prior to approving norfolk southern's request for controlled release? and his answer was, well, the pentagon helps us with modeling. then his administration has refused to answer any other questions from the lever about the controlled release. we are digging into it now. i think it is a very good question. i think governor schapiro is asking the right questions on this matter. we are going to continue digging into it. what we do know is -- we have an article that will be coming out either today or monday about this -- that looks at the dewine administration's response to this, looks at the dewine
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administration's and actions to norfolk southern, and we really hope -- we're definitely going to continue down this path looking into why exactly this controlled release happened which in and of itself is a propaganda term, a massive chemical burn, was not really a controlled release. amy: let's remember they did not even release, norfolk southern, what the chemicals were. it was more than a week after the jerome it happened -- derailment happened, what was it, on the day of the football -- super ball >> yes. as any chemical expert will tell you, when these chemicals interact with each other, they create new chemicals.
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and that modeling has not been released. that how these chemicals interact with other chemicals that were on the railroad that were released -- we don't know. we don't know what the effect was at all. america finally, we have not even mentioned the new station reporter evan lambert who is with national association of black journalists and news nation, arrested, taken down on the ground as he reported from a dewine news conference. >> yes. i have seen on another media appearance, it reminds me of other experiences with logistics reporting is that the logistics system in the u.s. is highly militarized, the railroad has you only fully privatized police force in the country. in this case, the reporter got
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into an argument with the head of the national guard and it really appears like that argument immediately devolved into a fairly violent arrest of a reporter. as far as i understand, those charges against him still have not been dropped. amy: i think they have been dismissed. >> ok, thank you. amy: matthew cunningham-cook, thank you for being with us, researcher and writer for the lever. we will have links to pieces in the lever. from east palestine to palestine, next up with speak with jim cavallaro. lester the biden administration nominated him for a top human rights post and withdrew the nomination due in part to his criticism of israel human rights record. back in less than 30 seconds.
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♪♪ [music break] amy: "king of wasteland" by terrycloth mother. this is democracy now!,, the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman. leaders in the human rights world are criticizing the biden administration for withdrawing the nomination of a prominent human rights attorney from a post over the attorney's past comments criticizing israel. last friday, the state department announced the nomination of james cavallaro to the inter-american commission on human rights.
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he had previously served on the commission from 2014 to 2017, including a period as its president -- this all during the obama administration. the obama-biden administration. cavallaro is a widely respected human rights attorney, cofounder and executive director of the university network for human rights. earlier this week, the state department withdrew cavallaro's nomination after reports emerged he described israel as an apartheid state and had criticized house minority leader hakeem jeffries's close ties to aipac, the american israel public affairs committee. this is state department spokesperson ned price speaking on tuesday. >>'s statements clearly do not reflect u.s. policy. there not a reflection of what we believe and they are inappropriate, to say the least. we have decided to withdraw our nomination of this individual from -- to a draw nomination to serve on the inter-american
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commission on human rights. amy: the biden administration's decision to withdraw james cavallaro's nomination has sparked outrage within the human rights community. agnes callamard, the secretary general of amnesty international, condemned what she called "a state driven attack on a brilliant human rights lawyer because of his view on israel apartheid." she went on to say -- "the u.s. government has not engaged with the legal and empirical bases of positions on israel apartheid. instead it is censoring, shutting down debates, and threatening." omar shakir, who is the israel and palestine director at human rights watch, said the move "suggests that for the state department believing that palestinians deserve basic rights disqualifies one from serving on a human rights body. shameful and yet u.s. foreign policy in a nutshell." james cavallaro has become just the latest figure to lose or risk losing a position due to his iticism of israel. last year, the dean at harvard university's kennedy school of government vetoed a fellowship
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for former human rights watch executive director kenneth roth over his criticism of israel's human rights record. under public pressure, harvard recently reversed its decision. ken roth is at harvard now. we are joined now by james cavallaro who is joining from los angeles where he is visiting professor at the ucla school of law. can you explain what happened? first, they are praising you and then they are withdrawing your nomination from the inter-american commission on human rights that you had previously served as president of. >> it really was quite a turn of events. many thanks for having me on your program, amy. on friday, state department publicly announced they had chosen me to be the u.s. national candidate to serve as an independent expert -- let me underscore that -- independent
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expert on the position of human rights. i had the privilege of serving on the inter-american in the past as a result of the nomination of the obama-biden administration. on friday, they talked about my background, my knowledge of latin america, my fluency in other languages, etc., all factors in their choosing me to be the candidate. that is friday. on monday, i am contacted by a reporter personal outlet who has gone through my twitter account and pulled up tweets of mine critical of israeli governmental policies that amount to apartheid and critical of the role of money in politics, in particular through aipac, and his donations to candidates who then in turn, unfortunately, i was a provide cover for reduced or limiting any oversight by the united states government that
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contributes 4 billion others a year to israel of its human rights record. as a result of those tweets, there some internal debate within state and -- this is on monday -- i journalist contacts me and the department, publishes an article i think monday afternoon. on tuesday morning, i am called by folks at the state department and by the ambassador to the organization of american states and informed the state department is drawing my nomination. it is made clear to me it is because of the tweets and statements that you indicated about my characterization of the situation on israel and palestine as apartheid and the critique of the role of aipac funding in u.s. politics. let me underscore two things. first, the role of a commissioner on the inter-american commission is not
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as representative of the united states. it is as and into been expert. the reason why they chose me is because for three plus decades i have an independent analyst, document it human rights primarily in latin america but also other parts of the world, including israel and palestine. the second port point is the decision here, what it can affect us, it requires loyalty to a u.s. position on what is happening in israel and palestine that is totally out of sync with what every major human rights organization has said. notwithstanding it being out of sync, it is now in effect requirement not just for services in the u.s. government but for service as an
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independent expert. the last thing i would say, my views based on my observations, my visits to israel and palestine, are consistent with the views of ken roth, who is on your program when his fellowship was rescinded by the kennedy school and then reversed, human rights watch, amnesty international, the leading israeli human rights organization, harvard human rights program, and others who have documented what a human rights activist and practitioner and scholar and expert does is document conditions, compare those conditions, and callout violations. you can't pick and choose states. nobody gets a free pass. the u.s. does not get a free pass. israel doesn't, egypt, you can go on. no one gets a free pass. amy: you mention ken roth, the former executive director human rights watch from his 30 years. he tweeted about your case saying -- "biden's dropping of a candidate for a latin american human rights post because he
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criticizes the israeli government's apartheid -- a completely mainstream position for any human rights defender -- suggests that only israeli apologists are acceptable." again, as you said, we did last month the harvard kennedy school restored can roth's fellowship after initially rescinding it over his criticism of israeli human rights abuses. he appeared on democracy now! to warn against the chilling effect of harvard's initial decision. >> this is a very serious problem. not just a problem for me personally, not impeding my career and a serious way, but i think about, first of all, the younger academics who don't have the visibility that i do, who are going to take from this lesson the view that if you touch israel, if you criticize israel, that can be a career-killing move. you'll get canceled. and that's a disastrous signal to send. and may go to see that whole interview, go to
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he is not the harvard kennedy school because there was so much international outcry, harvard kate and reoffered him the position. i want to ask you about sarah margon, who was nominated to serve as assistant secretary of state for democracy, human rights, and labor. then she came under intense criticism from senate republicans, most notably jim risch of idaho, for past tweets purportedly showing she supported the boycott, divestment, and sanctions movement. can you respond to that? >> let me estate can made k --en made a point was that we are seeing unfair -- because of her defense of the rights of palestinians, professors facing i think series accusations and she's under significant amount of pressure. let me just say what can is
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talking about is quite real and i, like ken, can perhaps -- i have a platform. i have associations with leading institutions. amy: you are a longtime professor at stanford law school will stop what do you do now? >> i'm sorry, also harvard and stanford law school. thank you. i'm sorry come amy, the other question was about sarah margon? amy: yes. >> you have a situation where again her positions, stated positions, working for human rights watch, on issues -- israel and palestine don't square with u.s. foreign policy. which is out of line. the view of the united states is a non-mainstream view. it is not the majority view of
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those of documented situations in israel and palestine. what we're talking about is a legal definition of apartheid. domination by one group, when racial or ethnic group, over another. that is quite clear terms of land compensation, settlements, the building permits that are denied to palestinians, freedom of movement denied to palestinians, which highway you can be on. you can't be on it unless you are palestinian. the situation and gaza, etc., etc. many groups have documented this. sarah margon, her position was to serve within -- focus on human rights. that person should be a human rights expert. that is problematic when there's a litmus test on israel and palestine which is not --
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it is more concerning when it is a litmus test as well to serve as an independent expert. i would not have represented the united states government and i would have had absolutely no -- over israel and palestine. the expansion, unfortunately, of the areas in which one has to abide by u.s. policies, even as a human rights activist, even in latin america, is really concerning. america we are going to continue to follow this. jim cavallaro, thank you for being with us, professor at wesleyan and a visiting professor at the ucla school of law. before that, taught at harvard and stanford law school for many years. the biden administration just withdrew his nomination is on the inter-american commission of human rights, which he already served on from 2014 to 2017.
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he was president for a period of that time. next up, we speak with brazilian indigenous leader about lula's trip to washington and bolsonaro committing genocide in the amazon. stay with us. ♪♪ [music break] amy: this is democracy now!,, the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman. brazilian president lula was in washington last week meeting with president biden talking but
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the climate crisis and preserving the amazon. the meeting came just over a month after supporters of brazil's former leader jair bolsonaro attempted a coup shortly after lula's inauguration. this week bolsonaro and elsie plans to return to brazil to lead the opposition. last week i spoke to our guest, leader and shaman, what of the largest indigenous tribes in brazil while he was in washington, d.c., while lulu was meeting with biden. thousands of illegal minors were expelled from land. in january, lula met with the people and accused bolsonaro's government of committing genocide. i asked him about lula and the plight of his people. >> the people from the city, the nonindigenous society, are listening to what i have to say. you asked me what does president
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lula represent? for me, my people, the indigenous people of brazil, he has thought about us. he has thought about how to resolve the problems that we have been facing for so many years. for me, lula is a positive person. he is li a friend. he is like a friend for his people's. he wants to save the life of my people and to save the lives of our rivers, our forests. he is a very good thinker. he has planned thinking. he has promised to remove the minors on the territory. he is also promised 10 about a lot -- minimize the deforestation of the amazon forest. he is following on his word. he's the only president who is been elected on the ticket of helping people of brazil who
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really need help. he was very good. he went to visit us on january 21. he went to see up close to meet our people are suffering malnutrition, illness, and hunger. he really went there to get a close-up look in order to figure out what he is going to do. that is the positive work that he is doing against the illegal minors who have been destroying our rivers and killing our fish and allowing for the expansion of malaria, flu, parasites, and other diseases that have been brought in by the illegal minors which are destroying our health. i'm afraid of him step i've known him for a long time. he already resolved other situations such as -- he's
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continuing to help us. we really need him. amy: can you talk about what this raiding of the illegal gold miners, other government, what has ashley taken place? how is the government cutting off their supplies to allow them to devastate the area of the indigenous people? >> let me explain. i'm going to explain about the removal of the invaders who engaged in illegal mining. they have been here for a long time, prtically eight years. during that time, no government has ever paid us anyttention. so the president of brazil, he is fulfilling the role that he promised he would. he said security forces, federal police, environmental agency,
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and this is all tied in with the amazon forest, our land. he is expelling them. the miners should not be there. they're there to take the wealt of this land, because they don't have land to work on most of the government of brazil has not given these miners any place to work in their own place. my people have been living here for many years. they have, and are doing illegal work. no authority has allowed the miners rivers and our health. the health of our people, our traditional people and it speaks portuguese. the disease does not come by itself. the disease comes with the illegal mining. illegal mining is not going to bring any good to my
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people. they have just brought disease to kill my people, to leave my people sick and hungry. wherever the illegal minors work, they're not taking care of my people. the miners are bringing disease. the disease has no border. there is nway to get rid of disease. theminers leave and go home and leave in their wake pretty land, dirty water, pollution, and the disease will remain as well. it does not go away straightaway. so the brazilian government is trying to resolve the problem. the problem is going to continue mistreating my people. so the miners are also exploited by the rich. they are sent by authorities who have money. i want to say the miners are never going to get rich taking out my goal and killing my
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people. i brothers and sisters and children. amy: you mentioned disease the people face, the illegal gold miners bring in. it is also mercury contamination. the use of mercury for gold-mining needed to extract the gold, over 90% of the people have mercury levels in a number of communities that are far higher than the world world health organization recommends. mercury is not found natively in the area. can you talk about the effects of mercury poisoning on the children, on the yanomami people? i don't know of any illegal
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minor who does not use mercury. mercury causes illness. mercury is poison. you can't eat mercury. you don't eat mercury. it harms our health. everyone knows mercury is not food. mercury is not for eating. mercury, what you're asking about, the miners who work without -- they separate the gold, to clean it. there mercury stays in water and we, the community, we were downriver. the community is by the rivers edge so the yanomami draw their water on the river for cooking, to drink, and for bathing. ouchildr like to bathe. everyone likes debate. so they bathe and th mercury remains in their hair and also enters through the ears and eyes.
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children, adults, and the elders are also getting mercury poisoning not just the children. adults are getting mercury poisoning as well. mercury's business for other countries. it comes from far away i think from japan and elsewhere where they began to use mercury. and now it is killing my indigenous people so they continue to use mercury. people are going to cook and rick water and it is dirty water. the only thing -- it flows to the rivers in the yanomami area. the rivers that are contaminated -- there's water that originates in the mountains and that is where
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the miners are. so mercury is harming our rivers. the rivers from which we drink water. that is what i wanted to explain for you to understand and also those of you who live in the cities, you're not tricking contaminated water, no. so that is very bad. it is very bad. it is causing serious harm to our rivers. as you say, it is a crime. killing the forest, contaminating the rivers, contaminating our fisand our ildren are contaminated by mercury. the children's hair is beginning to fall out. illegal mining in the yanomami territory is mistreated by people, my indigenous people. that never happened. we have never seen disease like this where it is so hard to heal. there mercury is going to
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continue in the holes they have made and it is going to create more illness. this is what the miners leave behind, causing harm to our planet earth. amy: davi kopenawa yanomami, the new justice minister has begun an iestigati into the bolsonaro government for crimes against humanity or crimes of genocide against the yanomami people. do you think bolsonaro should be charged with genocide? >> i would like that very much. i would like that very much. the minister of justice wants to prosecute him because of the way in which my yanomami people have been mistreated and they have allowed disease to come in, allowed us to die, 577 of our children to die. the role of the minister of
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justice, that is who decides -- i am not going to decide because the crime that he created against my yanomami people, well, it is the federal constitution that says it is criminal to carry out genocide so he could go to jail so that he could learn to respect my people so he could learn to respect the cultural heritage of my people and of all brazil. amy: davi kopenawa yanomami, leader and shaman for the yanomami, one of the largest indigenous tribes of brazil. he won the right livelihood award in 2019. we spoke to him last thursday just as brazilian president lula was coming to washington to meet with president biden. the meeting came just over a month after supporters of brazil's former president far right jair bolsonaro attempted a coup by violently attacking the supreme court and the brazilian
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congress in brazil's capital brazilian. this week also and our announced plans to return in march to lead the opposition --bolsonaro announced plans to return in march to lead the opposition. happy birthday to neil shibata! [captioning made possible by ■t■t■t■t■tç■9?
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