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tv   [untitled]    August 6, 2012 9:00pm-9:30pm EDT

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i'm sam sacks in for tom hartman in washington d.c. here's what's coming up tonight on the big picture. another senseless mass shootings left six people dead and three critically wounded in wisconsin so what are investigators saying about the possible cause of this deadly rampage and is this a warning sign that domestic and not islamic terrorism is our nation's biggest threat . also one third of all u.s. executions in america happen in texas and tomorrow they're set to do it again but what's different in particularly deplorable about tomorrow's planned execution and
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mitt romney says he wants to help the middle class but instead he's raising taxes on the middle class is this really a winning plan for november. right well i wish we could kick things off tonight talking about mars that planet were at one thirty am this morning nasa landed its mars curiosity rover after a several hundred million mile journey that began almost a year ago this is one of the most ambitious missions nasa has taken up since the moon landings and it was executed flawlessly over the next two years we'll have more insight in the red planet and its possible history of wife than ever before this is a big deal. unfortunately we can't talk about it tonight because not only are we a nation that looks out toward space and tries to find answers and new opportunities we're also a nation that murders each other with guns at a disturbingly high rate for the second time in
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a little over two weeks our nation is reeling from another mass shooting this time it was in oak creek wisconsin where a gunman walked into a sikh temple with nine millimeter handgun and opened fire killing six people and critically wounding three others that gunman identified as forty year old michael page was killed by a police officer on the scene but authorities are already piecing together what how what appears to be a hate crime or even an act of domestic terrorism against sikh worshippers a sect that has often been targeted with several hate crimes since nine eleven we know about the shooter so far as this he's a former army veteran specializing in psyops and reportedly a white supremacist according to southern poverty law center pages formerly a front man for the neo nazi white supremacist rock band called end epic apathy excuse me and apathy there are also reports that the shooter had a nine eleven tattoo on his arm and you may remember last year republican congressman peter king the chairman of the house homeland security committee began
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holding hearings into islamic radicalization in america and the threat of muslim terrorism and he drew a lot of crazy criticism for narrowing the threat americans face strickly to radicalize muslims and news and when he was asked why he won't be investigating other forms of domestic terrorism like anti-government extremists like joe stack who flew a plane into the i.r.s. building in texas in two thousand and ten or anti-abortion christian extremists like eric rudolph who went on a bombing rampage killing two people and injuring more than one hundred fifty others including bombing the olympics. or neo nazi white supremacists who had twenty seven different plots to kill americans since nine eleven congressman pete king scoffed saying quote it makes no sense to talk about other types of extremism when the main threat to the united states today is talking about al qaeda well today six americans are dead and three others are fighting for their lives at the hands of a terrorist gunman who did not belong to al qaeda and instead was one of those domestic terror threats the king was so unconcerned with at the time so what
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happens now on the heels of another mass shooting about not only raises more questions about gun control but also about domestic terrorism and religious freedom in america john nichols joins me now from wisconsin he's the washington washington correspondent with the nation magazine and author of the book uprising john welcome it's great to be with you know i wish we could be together under somewhat better circumstances definitely so we just had the aurora shooting two weeks ago and it brought the issue of gun control back to the forefront this shooting seems to be less about gun control even though we know that the shooter did legally obtain his handgun but it's the law has the seems to have a lot to do with religious freedom in fact you have an article of talking just about that you want to riff on this idea of religious freedom that's under attack with this shooting. i'll talk about a little of that i don't think we need to dealing kit from our discussion of violence because at the end of the day these things are connected and we ought to
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be concerned about it in context the founders of this american experiment were very imperfect they had plenty of flaws but the one thing they got right and one of the things they got right was an understanding that for the american experiment to work we had to not just tolerate but celebrate which is differences thomas jefferson thought mightily to assure that when we extended protections for religious freedom we did not merely do so for different variations of christianity or even for a judeo christian concept jefferson wanted us to all known and he said this in the seventeenth seventies that his view and the views alternately excepted of religious freedom in this country included muslims hindus followers of practitioners of other religions and those who practice no religion at all and that embrace of religious pluralism goes to the heart of the american experiment but for it to be real for the promise of religious freedom to be real we must go to the most central
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commitment in that regard and that is that the follower of anything should be free to worship to practice their religion with out fear of violence of bullying of intimidation of murder and that promise is not being kept today i've stopped being kept because we have a lot of discourse in this country that demonizes each other that suggests that some religions are more american than others and that some religions may actually be threats yeah they have certain this is that some would view the sikh religion as a threat when it's actually in many ways one of the most or maybe even the most american religion in its values but that is where we've ended up absolutely and in this this. you know idea that the founding fathers had in place you know we have we have members of congress and i don't want to put any blame it's still too early but you have you have people like michele bachmann going out and complaining that
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muslims have infiltrated the u.s. government as though as though that's worse than christian fundamentalists infiltrating the u.s. government trying to take away contraceptives and things like that i mean doesn't talk like that influence these crazies and i mean there's a difference i mean there's an obvious difference between muslims and and seeks but that that distinction is often lost when you have this this fox news echo chamber that's telling us to to be fraid of the other but let's make clear that that it is horrifying that anyone would think that there ought to be a distinction between muslims and sikhs in sense that it would be ok to kill muslims but not ok to kill sikhs in fact of the matter is it's it is fundamentally un-american to demonize european allies any religion and practitioners of that religion as they see fit to worship in peace and without posing any threat to others. but one of the things that i think is is particularly troubling at this
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point is the demonization of the other of the minority in oh the genius of. in the twentieth century under two presidents particularly franklin roosevelt and dwight eisenhower was a real building out of the sense that america was a nation of many many different communities if you read franklin roosevelt's thanksgiving statements which may seem a very obscure thing to do but with each year of his presidency through the nineteenth the recent one hundred forty s. his thanksgiving statements extended out to include more religious groups more religious diversity to emphasize the pluralism of america and i think that that's something that we have lost at our leadership level in our leadership class a across the board democrat republican conservative and liberal sensibility that it is american not just to tolerate but to celebrate our diversity and when we don't
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do that i think we would begin to create a climate in which folks who are troubled who are threatening. acts terrible impulse absolutely john nichols great inside right on thanks for coming on john nichols with the nation. i wanted to be with you now for more on this i want to bring in rajdeep singh director of one policy at the sikh coalition welcome the show thanks for have been through this is a tough time for your community my condolences how how is the community kind of dealing with this i mean sikhs have been no stranger to hate crimes since nine eleven tragically is this just another one of the long lists i mean how are the handling it right at this point in time the focus of this sick community throughout the the world really is to bring comfort to the to the families of the victims including the law enforcement officers who put their lives on the line to defend our communities you know hate crimes aren't
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a post nine eleven phenomenon with respect to six the six migrated to the united states at the turn of the twentieth century and as early as one thousand and five six in oregon and washington state and in california were subjected to race riots and what we might today call hate crimes so it's not exclusively a post nine eleven phenomenon however since nine eleven there has been a perceptible in fact a staggering increase in the incidence of hate crimes against six and other communities you're just kind of getting into the history there i mean there's a there's a long history of sick culture and american culture being intertwined together right i mean you guys have had a long place in american history and. you know to think to to think that somehow muslims or six wherever are the other is completely absurd especially given this long tradition in america right six have been in the united states for over a century and ideologically speaking. it's the case that sikhs are among the most
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american of americans and our religion preaches universal equality regardless of religion race and gender the founders of our faith preached gender equality centuries before the women's rights movement so we regard our faith as a very progressive one and one which is very consistent with the highest ideals of americana so what. what needs to be done now after the shooting what sort of dialogue needs to be taking place in america how do we move beyond this end. do you also see this you know as part of we talked a little bit with nichols about your shooting in colorado do you see the connection is there just between a violent culture in america taking over as well it's a multivariate problem it's complicated but with respect to the problem of hate crimes against six arabs muslims south asian americans and other religious minorities and even racial minorities i think there is a very serious need in this country for dialogue at every level about the need for mutual appreciation and understanding and our political leaders have an important
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role to play in this regard regrettably in the last few years many american political leaders have been. peeling to the lowest common denominator and have been using zina phobic. rhetoric in the course of politicking and that is something which is obviously horrible. isms you know hopefully i mean i don't know how many more of these shootings have to happen before we start with you know up or how many more instances of hate crimes have to happen but hopefully this is a turning point let's hope and see saying thanks so much for coming out thanks so much. coming up despite being unconstitutional texas is preparing to put a mentally disabled man to death tomorrow so i was governor rick perry managing to skirt around this clearly unconstitutional execution is there any chance to stop it before it's through a. commission
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so we all know there's no one more proud of their state's record of putting people to death than texas governor rick perry remember when he bragged about it during the republican debates last year the state of texas has a. very solid for. a very clear. process in place you will face the ultimate justice in the state of texas and that is you will be executed when you make. only a republican debate is execution an applause line well on tuesday republicans will have something new to cheer about when governor perry carbs another notch in his belt this time executing
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a mentally disabled man fifty four year old marvin wilson is scheduled to die on tuesday from lethal injection stemming from his nine hundred ninety two conviction for killing a police informant but a series of evaluations have found that wilson is mentally disabled with the reading and writing level equal to a seventh grader and then i.q. of sixty one if you think it's wrong that it develops civilized nation is executing the mentally disabled well then you're not alone in two thousand and two the supreme court ruled that executing the mentally disabled violates the eighth amendment of the constitution which protects against cruel and unusual punishment as a result most states have barred executing an inmate's with an i.q. below seventy again marvin wilson's i.q. is sixty one texas has imparted instead they have their own criteria to determine just how mentally disabled someone is and it's based on a fictional book written seventy five years ago that's right rather than relying on doctors and science to determine the mental aptitude of their inmates texas relies
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on john steinbeck excuse me john steinbeck's book of mice and men. not joking as a result of their fictional literary analysis when marvin wilson is condemned to die. for more on what i'm talking about i want to welcome laura moyo to the show director amnesty international us a death penalty campaign laura welcome the show thanks for having me so i don't really understand what's going on here how is it the supreme court can say if i were the eighth amendment to execute the mentally disabled this man is clearly mentally disabled how is texas moving ahead with this execution the challenge is that when the supreme court ruled in the atkins decision in two thousand and two it didn't set out a definition for mental retardation or intellectual disability it left it to the states to determine that and so that meant that a state like texas. basically had their own standards and as you said they look to the work of john steinbeck to develop some criteria for what they would consider
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somebody with quote unquote mental retardation. as out of work i mean well a set of a set of factors that have been deemed by the american association of intellectual and mental disabilities as being. false stereotypes and just completely ridiculous not based in science at all so it's basically if the inmate acts like a lenny from of mice and men then we can consider him mentally ill but if he doesn't display the qualities that when he does then he's he can be executed that's the basis there is that right now in texas a sickly and it really goes against the very heart of the atkins decision which was supposed to categorically bar people just like mr wilson from being executed and i mean i briefly mentioned in the intro but the whole battery of tests scientific and medical tests have been run on mr wilson and they've all been pretty conclusive. i
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mean a lot of people look at it seventy on the i.q. scale and sort of the bar but this man has a shockingly low i.q. of sixty one he can't match his socks he can barely button. sure he was hired to work at a car wash he was assigned to the drying the cars and fired for being too slow he can barely perform these sort of basic daily functions and yet he was considered competent enough to be facing the execution i mean at the very least this is a gray area i mean to take rick perry's defense here. actually it's not but whatever will give him the benefit of the of the doubt here. as it being a gray area the death penalty is more expensive than keeping someone in so you can economically it's not viable it hasn't been shown to deter crime at all so now here we have someone who is mentally disabled giving rick perry the better for the doubt we'll call it a gray area why even move forward anyways what is the benefit in executing someone
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this point is this bloodthirst i mean how would you describe it i mean i think this case shows the absolute arbitrary nature of the death penalty and how unfair it is it's supposed to be reserved for the worst of the worst offenders and yet you see individuals of poor african-american man with very low i.q. like mr wilson facing this so-called ultimate punishment so really we have the same question at amnesty international that you do who is this who is this serving what purpose does it serve to execute a person like this the death penalty really is failed public policy in the united states it does not keep us safer it is a black eye on our national reputation when it comes to human rights we are becoming more and more isolated in the number of people that we continue to execute . and in this kind of case really kind of puts a highlight on just how shameful the united states looks in the world community for continuing this outmoded and completely useless practice that we have fairly decent
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company in the world with china saudi arabia iran iraq and the united states there that's right seems like one of those. countries are just name seems out of place but when it comes to the death penalty it's not all right but the good news is that the death penalty is ending in the united states i think it's it's a well kept secret. but we have seen five states in the last five years in their death penalty and we are looking to other states like maryland and california who are who are looking at this issue may pass bills the california voters will vote on whether to replace the death penalty with life without parole in the fall more and more people in this country are waking up to the fact that this is a system of punishment that really doesn't get us anything it costs more money you can't prove it deters it's should be reserved for the worst of the worst but yet a person like marvin wilson who can barely match his socks are facing execution so
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people are getting it the exonerations of people who are innocent is really startling to people the inaccuracy as well as the unfairness making people think about whether the government ought to have this right to take a person's life especially when it's irreversible so this far as mr wilson's case we're not talking weeks months we're talking hours at this point what is amnesty international doing what can people watching at home do if they want to try to make an impact on this case and try and save his life where you can go to our website amnesty usa dot org and we have a petition on behalf of mr wilson. now it's very challenging to make an impact on the state of texas but it's very important that our moral outrage be heard. so we encourage people to sign our petition that will go to supreme court involved in this is a supreme court now has the case they have an opportunity to halt it to say listen this goes against the very spirit of the atkins decision this is unacceptable this
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is in violation of the eighth amendment against cruel and unusual punishment so it is our hope that before tomorrow at six central time when mr wilson faces execution that it will be. stop well let's hope so or thanks a lot keep up the good work i'm the senior national think it's the death penalty isn't about economics it's not about law enforcement if it was then we wouldn't even have it because well economically it makes no sense since it costs more to put someone to death than it does the keep them in prison for life and when comes the law enforcement nowhere anywhere nowhere has been shown that the death penalty is an effective deterrence to crime so then why do we have it well that's a good question maybe we can glean an answer by looking at other nations around the world that have it nations like china iran saudi arabia and iraq according to a recent report from amnesty international the us ranks fifth in the world the number of people executed in two thousand and seven she's been two thousand and eleven just behind those nations just mentioned in the us is the only nation in the
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g eight the most developed economies in the world that executed someone last year so what makes america more like violent developing nations like iran saudi arabia iraq and less like more developed peaceful nations that don't execute their citizens here's tom's take on the issue. martin luther king jr's widow credit scott king said it best and this was absolutely a brilliant quote from her she said. as one whose husband and mother in law have died the victims of murder assassination i stand firmly and unequivocally opposed to the death penalty for those convicted of capital offenses and evil deed is not redeemed by an evil deed of retaliation justice is never advanced in the taking of a human life or rallied he is never up held by a legalised murder this want from a woman whose husband and mother in law were both assassinated. violence ultimately
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always returns to the violent when we perpetrate violence on others even in the name of justice we coarsen ourselves we become violent and as we become the violent particularly when it's done in the name of society our society becomes the violence the war in iraq and afghanistan are great examples martin luther king in his speech on vietnam that speech is actually. his most famous speech arguably one of about vietnam made the point that the war will come home that when we revisit brutality and violence on others the brutality and violence comes back to our society i mean there's the obvious practical piece of this you send young men off to war they learn to kill or be killed they see horrible violence and then they come home and you expect them to get a job at burger king or something and or anything you know become a physician and they're carrying that horror with them but there's also the metaphysical reality that you're putting violence into the system you're putting
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violence into the world. and that's what you reap back from it if we begin with nonviolence at home. in my opinion we have the greater possibility of becoming a truly civilized society. she. may remember last month we brought you the story of dozens of chinese police officers who spent hours rescuing what turned out to be a female blow up. from a river well now another female sex doll is attracting new attention in china fed up with speeding drivers in her neighborhood and with police who did nothing to stop them a chinese woman tied to a tree out an intersection with hopes that it would slow down drivers this chinese
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woman that up with speeding at an intersection near her home. we say entertainment all. yeah on the intersection to distract and hand slowed down traffic woman in china that's all she wanted to do you know drivers to slow down a bit and pump the brakes said well instead she brings traffic to a complete stop but not sure how she thought this up but according to a photo taken at the scene it actually worked at least once on a pair of moped riding residents stopped to watch. slowdown cars or cause them to grow up crush whatever i guess you want to do something right you have to do it yourself even if it means throwing your husband's favorite toy to the curb. after the break may romney's new proposed tax plan is the same old stuff that makes the rich richer while leaving the middle class suffering even more because romney really think such a tax plan will get him into the white house. or
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go. play.
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more news today violence is once again flared up. these are the images the world has been seeing from the streets of canada. giant corporations rule today. led.

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