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tv   Politics and Public Policy Today  CSPAN  May 25, 2016 3:00pm-5:01pm EDT

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there. there's maybe some suspicious financial transactions, i don't know a lot of specifics on those. to substantiate this criminal corruption charge proving terry mcauliffe did something in exchange for a payment, at least so far, they haven't found the evidence they would probably need to substantiate that. gun to my head had to make a prediction i would say there isn't, but the investigation is still very much ongoing. >> as your story points out governor mcauliffe is a fairly wealthy man on his own right. >> he is. he released some summaries of his tax returns when he was campaigning. he's a millionaire several times over. he's been involved in a variety of business deals and made a lot of money personally off of those. and, of course, there's nothing wrong with that. you know. he's a rich guy and a lot of that is public. >> the connection between terry mcauliffe and quick to describe
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his best friends bill and hillary clinton, they have been friends more than 20 years, former chair of the democrat democratic national committee, unpaid director of the clinton foundation before elected virginia governor and virginia is a key battleground state for hillary clinton. hoping to win the election. how does all of that come together in this investigation? no doubt about it he is close with the clintons. you mentioned their connections. i think it's important to note, too, that there's a donor sharing there, the same -- a lot of the same people who have donated to the clinton foundation, also donated to terry mcauliffe's campaign. one of my colleagues had a good story about that and how there was 13 or $18 million of overlap depending on how you count between their donors. him and the clintons are very close. my understanding of this probe is that it is looking at records
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and other things that date back to the time when he was on the board for the clinton foundation. my understanding is also that investigators are not looking specifically at the foundation like there was any wrong done there or looking at hillary clinton herself in this instance as to any wrongdoing that the focus is on mcauliffe and his personal deals. though that happens to encompass the time when he worked at the foundation and, obviously, you can't ignore in this sort of heated political season his connection to the clintons. >> of course when you see the headline at, federal prosecutors investigating virginia governor terry mcauliffe. talk about the timeline over the next couple months with an eye on the november elections, when do you think we'll have some sort of resolution whether or not the justice department and/or the fbi will be proeg with this. >> that's hard to say. i think federal prosecutors, fbi
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investigators are reluctant to impose deadlines because of elections. they're cognizant of what's going on and don't want to bring charges just to influence election but they would be the first to tell you they bring charges if they're going to bring charges, when the evidence drives them there and they don't sort of artificially impose deadlines on themselves. certainly i think they and those in the leadership will be cognizant of these elections, but i don't think you can sort of pin a timeline just based on what's happening political. >> "washington post" reporter matt zapotosky who has been looking into the federal investigation and governor terry mcauliffe's campaign contribution, his work available on-line, thank you for being with us. >> yeah, thank you. >> author, consumer advocate and former presidential candidate ralph nader was one of the speakers on a conference on community organizing and others talked about their personal or
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organizizational struggles to change some aspect of government regulation or the law in ways their experiences could serve as helpful touch stones to other community leaders. >> ralph nader, of course, is the author, it's been 50 years now, of "unsafe at any speed" and numerous consumer protection and environmental worker protection laws in our country that has made it altogether a better place to live. you know, louis the southern humorsist said something we in the south have always known to be true, and is that, there's great big difference between being naked and being naked. being naked means you have no clothes on. being naked, means you have no clothes on and you are up to something. well, i'll leave any image of nader naked to your own imagination. but the naked truth is that ralph is always coming up with something including this great democracy rally.
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ralph nader. [ applause ] >> thank you very much. thank you -- thank you to jim hightower and greetings to all of you here and those watching around the country through live streaming. thanks to the real news network out of baltimore. this is, indeed, the largest gathering of citizen advocacy groups covering more directions redirections and reforms ever brought together. under one roof. most conferences are focused on single important issues.
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we thought it would be important to demonstrate one speaker after another, what is involved in building the civic community, the civil society, it was in many ways a demonstration that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. we all know that problems and injustices in society are all connected to one another. even though they may be treated in a specialized way. what's important to foe on is, how did these groups accomplish what they accomplished? that's why we asked them to talk about their accomplishments. citizen groups are not very good at celebrations. they will celebrate the 20th, 30th or 40th or 50th anniversary, but they're so busy doing their work, that they can't compare to the celebrations in the sports arena and the entertainment arena, and
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the political arena, many of which are always covered by the mass media. but this is more than a celebration. it's an elaboration forward to the next 50 years. and to shape the kind of much, much stronger civil society that's needed in terms of resources, in terms of education, in terms of grassroot mobilization, in terms of redefining leadership so that it becomes a force that produces more leaders and not just more followers. but the occasion is the 50th anniversary year of "unsafe at any speed" and the occasion is an opportunity to briefly look backward and see what it was like in the early '60s here in
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washington, d.c. it was pretty baron territory for citizen groups. the lobbies who were here they weren't as great as they are now in terms of number and staff, but they were pretty much all over capitol hill and all over the various agencies. i remember when i was growing going up to one office after another in the senate and the house, i could see that there was appall over anything that called -- was called consumer protection or environmental protection or worker protection. senator magenyson the chair of the powerful senate conference committee was considered the business agent on capitol hill for all kinds of industries and commerce. i remember trying to call the office building offices and they would always ask, who are you
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with? i would call agencies and they would say, who are you with? i sort of look around, you know, who am i with? i'm a citizen. one time i was in a parking lot and made a call to a senator's office to talk to a staffer and the receptionist said, who are you with? luckily, there was a dog that yapped right into the phone and i heard a click. i guess they weren't amused. but we persisted and developed the critical angle of civic success in washington, d.c. the first is full-time advocates pressing for the change. the second is, a reception to public hearings in the house and senate by the critical chairs.
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the third is, open-mindedness in the white house. not knee-jerk vetoism. and the fourth is, the mass media. the mass media not just reporting, but reflecting and communicating the public sentiment or, to use abraham lincoln's words, the public sentiment what we say today is majority opinion. so when you have majority opinion and you have a receptive congress, and you have an open-minded white house, and you have a media that looks at these issues as regular beats, not just occasional features seeking pulitzer prizes or other prizes, you have that critical angle for success. and after the passage in 1966 of
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the highway motor vehicle safety laws, signed too law by lyndon johnson, in september 1966, a little over nine months after unsafe speed came out, imagine the kind of speed that occurred those days in congress compared to now. after that, there was a profusion of civic activity, citizen groups were started, others were expanded and the environmental consumer worker area open government, a whole variety of citizen groups, opened their doors. brought in young people, sberns, brought in people of activity going back to the 1930s, as well as people who honed their skills for the first time in the critical task of seeking
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justice. i remember in particular the establishment of one agency after another the occupational safety and health administration environmental protection agency, consumer product safety commission, the establishing the air and water pollution laws, critical umbrella air air and water pollution laws that continue to this day and other laws, guess who signed them? richard nixon. why did richard nixon sign them? he didn't believe in them. he had flourishing introductions to them that were really terrific and he signed one after another because he feared the rumble from the people coming out of the '60s. he's the last republican president to be afraid of liberals, i might add. and it was a rumble of the
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people reflecting majority sentiment that radiated towards this national capital and made him sign legislation that given his ideological pretechions would have been very, very improbable otherwise. so the sequence was, an aroused public, directing its attention to the commercial interests, telling them they better restrain themselves, focusing on the existing law to elaborate it on political and government institutions, and getting through the media. the importance of the civil society is hard to exaggerate. looking over american history, it's hard to see any major social justice movement that started from within government or from within business or from within any institution, it started in the hearts and minds
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of very few people, the people who started the abolition movement against slavery in the late 18th century, early 19th century, started the women's suf rage movement, six women meeting in a farmhouse in upstate new york in the 1840s, the sit down strikes by workers in flint, michigan, and warren, michigan, to start the united auto workers, rosa parks refusing to go to the rear of the bus in montgomery, alabama, to flash the latest stage of the civil rights movement. it all starts with a few people and we should never be demoralized by forgetting that historical principle. it starts with small community, small groups. what's happened today the commercialization of our elections, from the profit
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centers that the presidential debates have offered to the commercial media like fox and cnn and others, who put on these debates, and decide who's going to be in tier one and tier two, imagine that sh, super pacs and business of raising money to advance through our electoral process, commercial values over civil values, the commercialization of these elections have reached a point in american history where they're off limits to democracy itself. they're offlimits to democracy civil community. the people who are the experts, movers and shakers in our country in these civil communities, citizen groups which you will see today, are not asked for their participation. they're not asked for their expertise by the media or by the political consultants.
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when elections are off limits to democracy a society is in real trouble. the importance of these groups reflect what can be called a civic personality. we've heard of an athletic personality, the athlete who has that nth degree to win, the entrepreneurial personality to start new businesses, where no one has tread before, but we don't often talk about the civic personality. people who you'll see on this stage throughout the day and day two, three and four, of this week, which we have called breaking through power, which also can be called a civic marath marathon, they have the features of a civic personality. they know how to separate truth from fiction. they know how to be resilient.
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they know how to re pell discouragement and share credit and keep up to date on the information. they know thou haknow how to ha patience and long attention spans, the short view and long view and know how to in life to teach young people who will be their successors. these and others, including a ever more strategic and tactical sense, represent a civic personality that no one is really born with. it's something that's learned. it can be taught in our schools. but it is not. it can be taught in terms of on-the-job training. it can be heralded as well. if we had a more rationale society in terms of our definition of heroism, we would
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not only have a hollywood academy awards, we would have a national civic achievement academy awards. and a lot of the people you'll see on this stage, would be nominees for those awards. these are people who could have inmized themselves -- minimized themselves and continued successfully through life materially. instead they chose to maximize themselves in the great quest for justice which senator daniel webster once called, the great work of human beings on earth. what we have found in terms of the experience of these groups and others around the country, is that 1% or less of the
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population in any congressional district or state legislative district, organized and engaged in pursuing a change or a redirection or a reform, and reflecting majority opinion is unstoppable. it doesn't matter how powerful corporations think they are, how indentured politicians think they are, it's an unstoppable force. many of the groups today had far less than 1% organized throughout the country supporting their efforts on capitol hill. that's something to think about. because we talk -- we hear a lot about the other 1% that rules us. popularized by occupy wall street. but i think it's time to talk about this 1% that throughout history, it has taken less than
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1% in terms of people rolling up their civic sleeves, spending a few hundred hours a year raising necessary money for full-time staff, and pursuing the strategies for victory. when you look at what these groups have accomplished, i want to compare at the right time what the ceos have been paid. the entire cumulative budget of all these groups who will present their life's work before you today, and you'll only get a glimmer of their quality and the quality of their colleagues, and what they're up against, the entire cumulative budget is less
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than the budget -- excuse me is less than the executive compensation of the ceo of discovery communications, gamco investors, microsoft corporation, oracle corporation, lions gate entertainment corporatio corporation. what's the lesson from that? the lesson is, that there needs to be more investment in justice. there needs to be more investment in these groups, in starting new citizen groups, and planting the seeds for a more intense force of democracy. [ applause ] justice needs money. the abolition movement was funded by rich bostonians and new yorkers, women suf rage
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movement drew on rich philadelphians. in 1950s the civil rights and environmental movements and in the '60s drew on families such as the stern family from louisiana and the curry family from virginia. we would like to have some enlightened wealthy people recognized that their legacy to america is not in their material accomplishments. their respect for posterity is not what they bequeath to their descendents, that their legacy to america is to unfurl the civic and political energies of the american people to turn our country into what it can be and what it can be overseas as well.
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finally, i want to conclude by urging all of you to spread the word by your appearance today and watching it on live stream, you have preselected yourselves in terms of interests and commitment reflect in your own civic energies. it's important to have a resurgence of civic activism after years of powerful cooperate forces turning washington, d.c., into corporate occupy territory and throwing so many of the citizen groups on the defensive. it's important for you to spread the word, not just in the following days here on day two,
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breaking through the media, day three, breaking through war, waging war. peace is powerful. war is weak. and day four on thursday may 26th, breaking through congress. the single most important branch of government by far and the one that only has 535 men and women, who put their shoes on like you and i do every day, put who have to understand that their power comes from we, the people, the preamble to our constitution, which does to the read "we the corporations or we the congress," it reads "we the people." [ applause ] turning that institution around, with less than 1% organized back
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home reflecting public sentiment and long, overdue changes in our country and its impact on the world, will revolutionize the aspirations for the urgent development of a deep democracy. thank you. i turn you over to jim hightower. [ applause ] hi. away we go. thank you, ralph. let's bring on one of the democracy fighters right now, shawn armbrust is engaged in the life and death side of public interest work. more than a decade has been a executive director of the mid-atlantic innocence project, literally trying to deal with folks who have been wrongly jailed, imprisoned for 10, 20, 30 years even more. she's a board member of the
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innocence network all across our country as well. you have to be tenacious and you have to be creative do this kind of law. my mama taught me years ago two wrongs don't make a right, but i soon figured out that three left turns do. and that's the kind of creativity that shawn armbrust has been practicing for many years. shawn armbrust. is [ applause ] >> good morning. thank you so much for including me in such a terrific event with such terrific organizizations. it's an honor to be here today and i hope i'm able to give all of you a sense of how the innocence movement collectively has brown throuken through powe only free hun deads of innocent people but given the process of achieving real systemic change. i'm the executive director of the mid-atlantic innocence project which works to prevent
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and correct the conviction of innocent people in d.c., maryland and virginia using dna and other evidence of innocence. we've freed 21 innocent people and helped pass 11 laws that would help prevent or make it easier to correct wrongful convictions. it's one of the highest success rates in the nation, and we're doing it with a fraction of the resources we need. and a fraction of the resources of some of our peer organizations. but we're part of a large erp innocence network which has more than 60 separate organizations that all work to get innocent people out of prison and together, we're freeing innocent people and changing laws all over the country that are making the criminal justice system a little bit more just. since 1989, there have been 347 dna exonerations, and almost 1800 non-dna exonerations, from both network projects and other terrific lawyers from all over the country.
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i want to tell you the story of the innocence movement today. why it started, how it started, what it has accomplished and what we still have left to accomplish. and since our strength lies in the stories of the wrongfully convicted themselves that's how i want to tell you the story today. i want to do that by taking you back to 1986, an important year in the innocence movement. it was the first time dna was used in court in a criminal case in the uk. a year later, dna first appeared in a u.s. courtroom. dna was revolutionary because it allowed us to take physical evidence from a crime scene, something other than fingerprints and use it to compare to a specific person. either identifying them or excluding them. it's taught us volumes about the types of evidence we relied on before 1986, things we didn't know about then, and it's in
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that context that case i want to talk to you about today occurred. on february 23rd, 1986, a woman was alone in the laundry room of her south richmond apartment going, a little before 10:00 p.m. a man walked in, carrying a knife and wearing a stocking mask that covered his face. he told her to be quiet got behind her and shoved her toward the door. he began undressing her. when they got outside she started fighting back. she screamed and was able to lift the stocking mask to see a little bit more of his face. he eventually got spooked and ran away. the victim did her best to describe the attacker. she'd only seen the bottom half of his face. but she described a white man who was about 6 feet tall, 175 pounds, wore a red and white plaid shirt, had light colored
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shoulder length hair, a beard and high cheek bones. because this was an attempted rape and not a rape, they couldn't even use the limited forensic science they had in 1986. all they had was the victim who did a composite sketch. the composite was circulated to other police officers and one of them thought it looked like a man named mike mcalister. mike was 29. a little over 6 feet tall. had light colored shoulder-length hair, a beard, and high cheek bones. he had no history of violence, but did have a history of alcohol abuse and a few alcohol-related incidents of indeese contribuin de indeese -- indecent exposure. his apartment was a fuew miles o the crime scene. when police got to his house he was wearing a red, white and blue shirt. police wanted to take a photo of him and told him to change his
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shirt. mike said no. he didn't have anything to hide why would he change it. police used that photo as one of nine they showed the victim. mike was the only one wearing a plaid shirt and only one whose features closely matched the description of the perpetrator so mike was arrested. mike's trial lasted four and a half hours and the only evidence linking him to the crime was the victim's testimony. convicted of abduction and attempted rape. that could have been the end of the story but a little before trial the lead detective heard about a man named norman bruce. he was a white man about 6 feet tall with light colored hair and a beard. he tended to wear plaid shirts. and he was a serial rapist. he had been followed by police officers in other counties but he avoided detection because he usually wore stocking masks
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curi during his crimes. mike didn't know this until 2015, but many of his 1985 and 1986 attacks were in laundry rooms in south richmond just a couple miles from the crime that mike was charged with. when the detectives saw durst's photo he thought it looked a lot like the description of the attacker in mike's case and i'm going to tell you when i saw those two photos side by side for the first time i couldn't tell them apart. but after the victim saw durst's photo, she was still sure that mike was her attacker. and the trial went forward. even after mike was convicted the prosecutor started having doubts about mike's guilt. he talked to the judge and they gave mike a polygraph but it was inconclusive. he was sentenced to 50 years in prison. he lost his appeal because his trial was considered fair. and there was nothing anyone
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could do. at that time, people who weren't in the criminal defense world, weren't all that aware of the problem of wrongful convictions. a few academics had written articles about wrongful convictions in capital cases but those just devolved into debates about whether those particular people were innocent not conversations about what caused the wrongful convictions and what could be done to prevent them. but that started to change in 1989. when gary dotson became the first man in the u.s. to be exonerated by dapz testing. from 1989 to 1992, ten people were exonerated based on dna evidence proving their innocence and this was a game changer. these exonerations didn't hinge on the reliability of witnesses, they were scientific proof that innocent people got convicted. barry shek and peter newfeld knew we convicted too many
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innocent people in this country and also knew as long as the fight was about the credibility of witness we couldn't have that conversation. so in 1992, they founded the innocence project in new york. litigating cases all over the country in which dna testing could prove innocence. shortly after that, mike mcalister got a new lawyer. the lawyer learned that norman durst's attacks looked a lot like the attack mike was convicted of. he attacked women alone, using a knife, he was easily spooked, and he even said some of the exact same things. but more importantly, the lead textive and prosecutor in the case had come to believe that they had arrested and convicted the wrong man. and in some places that would have allowed mike to be released from prison, but in virginia, the trial court is not allowed to do anything in a case more
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than 21 days after a person is convicted. and there was no other way in virginia to bring new evidence of innocence before a court. the rule was absolute. no exceptions. mike had a parole date coming and the detective and prosecutor wrote letters supporting his parole. they even appeared before the parole board on his behalf but didn't matter, his parole was denied. and as that was happening, the innocence movement was getting started. in 2000, the first innocence network conference with ten mostly new innocence organizations including my own was held in chicago. between 1993 and 2001, 91 more people were exonerated based on dna testing. and that was true even though our system isn't set up to deal with the problem of innocent people in prison. that's because our system cries as finality. it's hard to raise claims of newly discovered evidence of
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innocence, hard to prove constitutional violations and hard to get around all the procedural barriers designed to keep people from trying to do those things. so it became clear very early that innocence movement needed to address not just the disturbing number of innocent people ins prison, but also the system's inability to correct that problem after the fact, and the things that cause wrongful conviction in the first place. during this time some people in power were beginning to notice there was a problem started passing laws allowing for post conviction dna testing raised questions about the death penalty and talking about the things that caused wrongful convictions but the prevailing norm was still to be tough on crime. a period of time saw democrats take the crime issue away from republicans issuing their own tough on crime policies 1994 crime bill to the 1996 anti-terrorism and effective
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death penalty reform act which made it nearly impossible to use habeas corpus to free innocent prisoners. despite all of the setbacks 2002 was a blockbuster year for the innocence movement. 25 people were exonerated by dna testing the highest numbers in any one year to date. people were starting to understand that the system made mistakes. it also was a big year for mike mcalister. people had forgotten about him. but his mom wrote to frank green, a reporter at the "richmond times dispatch" who began writing about his case. a new lawyer also signed on to help mike. and he filed a pardon petition with then virginia governor mark warner. virginia was no stranger to the problem of wrongful convictions and had seen its share of eyewitness error but in 2003, mike's petition was denied.
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the governor's staff said it would be one thing if mike had dna evidence but he didn't. from 2003 to 2013, 187 people were exonerated by dna testing. that decade also saw a real change in the conversation about the criminal justice system. with even more states passing laws that allowed dna testing and some even starting to pass laws that would help improve eyewitness i.d. procedures prevent false confessions and regulate state crime labs. even virginia passed a law in part because of mike's case that allowed people with newly discovered evidence of innocence to get back in court in very limited circumstances. mike eventually made parole but he had to register as a sex offender and had never gotten treatment for alcohol abuse. so he did a lousy job complying, began drinking again and sent
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back to prison. norman bruce durst convicted two of crimes during that decade. 2006 and 2012, he was convicted of two 1984 rapes, one in virginia and one in charles county, maryland, based on dna cold hits. i learned about the charles county case because of a man named jerry jenkins. jerry had been convicted of a similar charles county rape based on the testimony of a victim who said he looked like the perpetrator and jerry had always been adamant that he was info sent. now he believe dur was the perpetrator. we began representing jerry, found the dna evidence, and did the testing that proved that jerry was right. he was innocent. dur was guilty. jerry was exonerated in 2013. few weeks later, i got a call from that reporter, frank green, who had never forgotten about mike. he asked me what we were going
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to do to get mike out. and we began to represent him. mike's innocence only became more clear the more we dug into the case and the more documents we received. but once again, virginia's criminal justice system fell short. we had no remedy for mike. we couldn't prove how much police and prosecutors knew about dur because it had been so long and memories had faded we couldn't argue that evidence had been withheld. we couldn't prove that mike's trial lawyer was ineffective. we thought he knew something about dur but we didn't know what or when and we also couldn't prove the evidence was newly discovered, because it's possible that everyone knew about it but just didn't know how to use it. we were stuck. to make matters worse, in early 2015, the virginia attorney general's office decided that it was going to try to civilly commit mike as a sexually violent predator sending him to
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prison for the rest of his life for a crime that no one involved in the arrest or prosecution believed he had committed. defendants almost never win these cases, guilt or innocence is irrelevant. undoing it is next to impossible and normal remedies for criminal convictions don't apply. our only remedy was an absolute pardon from the governor which we had to file three weeks before mike's civil commitment hearing. didn't look good. pardon investigations usually take months. we had weeks. we still had no dna. governor mcauliffe was a clinton democrat who hadn't been interested in criminal justice reform. mike was a convicted sex offender with substance abuse problems, a history of indecent exposure, and a history of poor adjustment during his brief stint on parole and denied a pardon by another democratic
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governor and the rules say you can't file two petitions. so we were in a bind. but quickly became clear that things had changed between 2003 and 2015. we filed our petition jointly with the elected prosecutor in richmond whom we had convinced of mike's innocence. we had several legislatures on our side from both parties. we also got to work hand in hand with the investigator for the parole board and dur eventually cust confessed he committed the crime. so on may 13th, 2015, a few days before mike's civil hearing the governor granted the pardon. [ applause ] his first call was from governor mcauliffe who apologized to him on behalf of virginia and welcomed him home. thanks to the governor, mike got transitional funds and
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legislative compensation for his time in prison and today he's with his family for the first time in decades. and i focused on this case today because i think it makes clear why the innocence movement was so necessary, how far the movement has come, but also how far it has to go. there's no question in my mind without the innocence movement's ability to free hundreds of innocent people based on dna, no one would have understood an eyewitness could have made a mistake in mike's case. we wouldn't have been working jointly with the prosecutor if it hadn't been work for that work and we wouldn't have been in a universe where it was political palatable and i think in this case even politically necessary for the governor to do the right thing. what's also clear is we need to keep fighting to make the system itself more just. there's been progress. in 1992, zero states allowed for post-conviction dna testing or
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best practice the for witness i.d. procedures. today, all 50 allow dna testing and 15 require pest practices in witness i.d. cases. ten states compensated the wrongfully convicted back then, and 30 do today. and we're having real conversations about other problems in the system, like race and over criminalization that were made possible because people are now aware that the system is not perfect. but the work is not done. it's to the clear to me that the outcome of mike's trial would have been different today. because we don't require a better i.d. procedures in enough places. mike was in prison for far too long because of a system that prized finality over justice. and didn't allow for cases like his to be corrected. that was just as true in 1986 as
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2016. mike was released in spite of the system. and because of an extraordinary confluence of public officials and a reporter who came together to do the right thing. but with different public officials, i fear that mike would probably still be in prison. so my message here today is a positive one. that the conversation about wrongful convictions has changed because the innocence movement's work freeing innocent people and advocating for systemic change has helped it get there but it's also a call to action. i hope you will join me in working to create a more just system that not only convicts fewer innocent people, but can correct them. before people are forced to spend decades of their lives in prison. the past 24 years have shown it's possible an with the help of people in this room i want to help finish that job. thank you very much. [ applause ]
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>> thank you, shawn. now i have a special surprise for you. karen friedman is the long-time policy director executive vice president of the pension rights center, but she's also a stand-up comedian. that's pretty rare in the public interest world. dealing with these thieving corporate pension people, you've got to have some sort of comic outlet at the end of the day, i think, and she for 25 years, karen has been fighting for consumers, retirees and particularly low and moderate wage folks who either shut out from pensions or literally had their pensions taken from them. i think of that song woody guthrie had about outlaws had a verse "through this world i travel i have seen lots of funny men some will rob you with a six gun and one with a fountain pen." luckily we've got karen friedman on our side standing up against these corporate thieves.
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karen friedman. [ applause ] >> well, hello, everybody. how are you doing today? you know, i wanted to go back to something jim said earlier about naked versus naked and by that definition i want to be fakenak. what do you think. today i will talk about the faked truth. i'm so happy to be here on the opening day. it's an amazing event, right. first i want to thank ralph nader and all the hard-working staff from the center of the study of responsive law who put this together. this is a really impressive event. so i'm here today to tell you about how the pension rights center has been breaking through power for 40 years and how it's paid off and ralph, before
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talked about rumbling, we have to do some rumbling here today. so what is the pension rights center? make sure these are working. hello. there it is. great. so we're a national consumer rights organization that's been working since 1976 to promote and protect retirement security for workers, retirees and their families. we have a vision that when people leave the work force, they have enough money to pay their bills, pay their medical expenses and continue to be productive citizens. guess what, guys, if people have adequate income they're likely to be able to continue fighting for justice throughout their lives. so, the pension rights center really hasn't changed in our 40 years, but the challenges in some of our strategies have and
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that's what i'm talking about today. the pension rights center was started 40 years ago by the amazing pension attorney karen ferguson when the visionary ralph nader said, karen, go make pensions an issue, and here's a check to do it. karen ferguson is actually still working today. she's still the director. been working for 40 years. so i'm karen friedman and the executive vice president, i'm known as karen number two, and when people talk about the pension rights center they typically talk about the kartou. we've been working roughly 25 out of the 40 years and i have a passion for pensions and i hope you will too by the time i finish this speech. so, many of you in this room, may have seep the new movie out "sup "superman batman dawn of justice" which is actually a
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pretty awful film, but the reason i bring it up is because we in this country are obsessed with superheroes who fly in, conquer evil and solve our problems. evil, and solve our problems, but here as the truth, folks. there's never one person who does everything. leaders inspiring, but all of us are needed in the fight. so i'm here to say today that we are the super women, we are the super men who together can solve this country's problems. after this kirsch, i propose that we write and produce our own movie, super activists, dawn of justice, how ordinary people saved the world. that could be part of ralph's civil justice academy awards. what do you think about that?
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that is exactly what this conference is about. i'm going to at the you how the pension rights mission, a small budget, but tons of passion have changed laws and regulations, and even in some cases we have changed how companies and pension plans operate. so why was the pension rights center started in. so put on your time travel glasses, and let's fly back to the year 1976. that was the year disco music was filling the air waves, president carter was elected president, and to put it all in perspective, angeline jolt jolie was still in diapers. erisa protects the reason pension expectations of workers and retires. the landmark law erisa was developed by a bipartisan
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congress and signed into law by republican president gerald ford, and was called by the republican senator, senator javitz, one of the lead sponsors, one of the most important pieces of social legislation since social security. before erisa, tens of thousands of people were losing their pensions every day, because there were few laws regulating pension plans, and companies could do pretty much whatever they wanted. they could require people to work until retirement age to get their pensions and then fire them two days before their 65th birthday, bye-bye pensions. this is prior to 1974, if a company went bankrupt, workers could lose everything. so erisa created basic standards
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to protect pension promises, including a pension insurance program to protect people in bankruptcy, developing investment and funding rules, and setting minimum rules on how long people needed to work to earn the right to a pensions but like all laws that are duked out between different parties and stakeholders, erisa wasn't perfect. there were many gaps, and congress could not envision all the problems that could occur. so step in the pension rights center. the pension rights center from the eldiest daze helped people understand their rights under the law, and we began hearing from people as soon as we started who were left out of the law. in overtime we documented those issues. there were widows and divorced spouses who learned they weren't eligible to get their husbands' pensions even if they had been married for decades. there were corporate raiders, some of you may remember carl
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icahn of 1980s fame who found ways of looting so-called surplus pension assets to financial takeover schemes. there were folks who worked nine years and 8 months, but lost their jobs before the ten years they needed to earn the right to a pension. so to solve these and other problems, the pension rights center did w stock-in-trade. we did it then, we do it now. we identified and documented problems. we used our technical know-how to develop workable solutions and we mobilized affected citizens and women's organizations, labor unions, retiree groups in coalition for the passage of laws. we were and consider ourselves now to be the great catalyst for retirement income reform. so over our history, the pension
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rights center, and i won't go through all of these, we were instrumental in passing six federal laws, in helping to implement numerous regulations, to expand benefits and rights for widows, divorced spouses, low-income earners, short service workers to stop pension raiding and help create a legal help network. but this is what i really want to talk about today. what are the strategies for change? how did we pass these laws? i want to start by saying you have to have the facts and the know-how, but you also need to get creative, especially when you're small and underresourced, which i they every organization you're hearing from today is, so i thought i would share a few stories of how we got laws passed in our first few decades. back in the 19 ons be got the
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widows and sports left out on the phil donohue show, which those days was the hottest talk show. we used the power of these stories to get to congress for instance, we arranged for pass ties to definite before the commit yes about women losing their spouses' pensions if their husbands -- she came and talked in a soft voice and came today, because i thought i could be helped by the legislation to protect widows, about you it's too late for me. my husband died this morning. i showed up to help others. could you imagine this? you could have heard a pin drop. suffice it to say congress passed the act. we delivered cook yes, sir to all keys members of congress saying stop companies from stealing from the fence cookie
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jar, and one of my favorites, when ibm tried to cut older workers', employees flew a blimp over a football stadium saying ibm stole my pension. is yours safe? and faced with a bad pr campaign, ibm actually changed its practice for a lot of those employees, and congress ended up changing the law. so when you think about social change, think facts, think solutions, but think creativity. today especially in this media-saturated market, it's more important than ever. so now let's move to the present time and see what we're doing now there are more challenges than ever. at $16.5 trillion -- sorry about that the i just went the wrong way. at 16.5 trillion dollars, pepgss
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are one of the world's largest sources of private capital. and we as taxpayers subsidize the private system of pensions and 401(k)s to the tune of $132 billion, so you're all sitting here, and you're listening to us, and you're saying, with that much money in the pension system, it must be doing a great job for people, right? well, it isn't. policymakers talk incessantly about the budget deficit in this country there's little talk about a huge and growing retyrant income definite sith, which is now standing at $7.7 trillion. 7.7 trillion, the retirement income deficit, which was calculated by the center for retirement research at boston college is the gap between what -- -- so what has caused
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this retirement deficit? about half the private workforce has no pensions or saving to plex it, which is averaging about 16,000 a year for the average retirees, less for low income workers and women. employers are dropping, cutting back or freezing good old-fashioned pension plans which promote a specific benefit at retirement in favor of 401(k) plans, which really haven't cracked it for most americans. in fact, half of all households with 401(k) plans only have $59,000 accumulated in their accounts. for people approaches retirement, it's closer to $103,000 which isn't enough to make it through retirement. consider this. for all households, not just those with retirement accounts, they have saved about $2500, doctor 2,500. it's worse for workers of color. now on, the national opinion polls reflect america's anxiety
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are more worried about not having money for retirement than any other economic issue, include playing for health care, that are mortgage or kids' education. so the pension rights center is working every day to try to develop solutions to address this retirement income deficit and protect against broken pension promises. to address the lack of pension coverage in this country, the pinch rights center has called for a new national universal security and adequate pension system on top of associate security. we strongly support the expansion of social security. we're also working for new creative solutions both at the state and national level. we also ensure that retirees and workers already earned pensions are protected.
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we're seeing new trends of day where consulting firms advise courses on how to cut pensions and other benefits by taking advantage of loopholes in the law -- by off-loading pension toss insurance companies, and we're even seeing something in recent years, where nonprofit hospitals with those loose connection with, say, a church or a synagogue, have worked to convert their federally protected pension plans into unprotected church plans, endangering the pensions of millions of workers and retirees. on this last issue, because of the research done by the pension rights center, there's now 12 lawsuits, many of which have been decided in workers and retirees' favor the i'm going to spend the last part of my speech talking about two victories in 2016, where the pension rights center and our allies stood up to power, and we won. this is really important.
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the winning parts. he these are all of our activists. so lots of people now say, karen, c'mon, it's impossible to have victories now in this divided congress. well, with grass-roots support and enough diversion stakeholders, we believe that certain legislative victories even today are possible. we have seen also great things happen, guys, in the regulatory arena. we had two big successes this years that i wanted to share with you. the first is about stopping predatory practices in the financial advise industry. the pension rights centering and allies seven as a.r.p.,s the after kriismt on the joined together in a coalition called save or retirement, to stand up against the multimillion dollar lobby at the financial industry, and we won a great victory for american consumers. for the last five years, brokers
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of financial institutions fought vigorously to stop the department of laying from releasing a common-ground rule that would have ensures that brokers and financial advisers who give advice on your retirement account has to do so in your interests not only to line their pockets. this was costing american consumers $17 billion a year, but of course the industry fought thises we're confident we
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can overcome, because this is the right result. another huge victory for retires and the pension rights center in 2016 was to protect 270,000 retired truck drivers and workers in the central states pension plan who faced pension cuts, ready for this, 40 to 70% because of the a terrible law that was passed at the end days of 2014. you guys probably don't even know about this. congress in the dead of the night, end of 2014, attacked a bill called the multiemployer reform act to an end-year that allowed certain under funded pension plans in order to fix underfunded plans. this was unprecedented and torpedoed the most fundamental protections of erisa. suddenly retires who had done
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everything right had giving up wages. we knew that these cuts had to be stopped, so working with thousands of truck driver, spouses and widows, and warehouse workers and others but also to influence the treasury department, which was given authority to review these cuts. we used the tactics i talked about earlier, the tactics that we have always used, but updated. we analyzed the law planning the summaries at our website with thousands of retires contacted us, we helped them -- provide them with information, and they put it on their -- now guess what? all these retires have organized themselves with 60 powderful committees. in april, the retires themselves
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organized a rally outside the capital with 2,000 retires, supposes and widows, calling for treasury to reject the application and for congress to pass a bill that would repeal the bill that was passed in 2014 and stop these cuts, in an amassing victory for consumers, the treasury department after receiving thousands of comments from retires, labor, retiree advocates rejected the application for sound legal reasons. so while congress passed the law on 2014 behind closed doors that failed retirees, the regulatory process protected them, this is democracy at work.
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from stopping these cuts. , but this is the thing that's really -- that i really think is critical for this conference. they e-mail me 100 times a day. they have become the best lobbyists i have ever seen. they have inspired the pension rights center to work even harder. i want to say, remember my story about pat tice from 1984? well, 32 years later, rita lewis, a widow from ohio, testified before the senate financial committee, and she changed the hearts and minds she
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was so effective, you could hear a pin drop. it was testimony that was so powerful that led to a commitment to work towards bipartisan legislation, and the democrats also all wrote a letter asking for bills. so this is democracy in action, guys. i want to end by saying this -- go back to my first point. we are the super men, we are the super women of the citizen action movement. so please join with the pension rights for today's and future retires, to protect pensions made to people farks protected
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increased social security, worked with us to repeal. >> thank you very much. thank you, super woman. great job. in the public interest movement. the 1970s, he stuck with it while i fell off into the sinful world of politics. so michael jacobson is the head of the center for science in the public interests, where he's done health advocacy, his nutrition newsletter is 700,000 on subscribers, engaged in all
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sorts of obesity fights, taking on coke, kellogg, he drives an absolutely crazy, of course that's a pretty short ride for a number of them if you think about it, but he takes -- he does it through education, legislation, litigation, agitation, too. you've got to remember that the agitators, the center posts in the washing machine that gets the dirt out. we need more agitators, and michael jacobson is one of the best in our country. is. >> thanks very much. congratulations to ralph nader for organizing this nice party. i came to washington, volunteered with ralph nader. my first day on the job, i city around with ralph and a few of
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his aides, and ralph says, okay, what are we going to do with this guy? he has a ph.d. from m.i.t.? is that a good enough imitation, ralph? one of the people siding there was jim turner who just that week was publishing a book called "chemical feast quest about the food & drug administration. this guy said, why don't you write a book about food at tiffs? i had just coming out of grad school. i knew nothing about writing books, no idea about even what a food additive was. i said, okay, i'll be gladsh and what's a food additive? they said just go and do it. it seemed like everybody on his staff was writing a book that
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year. so i scurry to the library i put my nose to the grindattorney. there were other books on food at tiffs, but it's like they came out of the 1930s or something. the authors have to prove that every food additive was dangerous, and they clearly aren't. i thought what i wrote what i thought was an intellectually honest book. my conclusion was that food additives like the sodium nitrite and artificial flavorings weren't nearly as big a problem as the feud themselves, all the sugar, fat and the salt. as my grandmother would say, all
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the -- in the foods. so i wrote the book eater's digest. and somehow they worked out. al is a priest, so he had free rent from the church, and jim and i lived in group houses. got little grands that kept us going, as the previous speaker karen mentioned, the idea of uses mass media, and the media
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are so different then from now, phil donohue, who might be on this program later in the week, was just an angel in inviting public interest people on to his show. art who would we would sell thousands and thousands, coleman mccarthy, another speaker in the series breaking through power wrote a column about one of the things we wrote, and we literally had mail sacks of orders for the publication so we
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lived on that sort of thing. then we started nutrition action health letter as a giveaway newsletter for nutritionists who are somewhat progressive. and then after a year, we decided we couldn't afford to give it away for free anymore, so we started charging, and gradually built that up into a real powerhouse of a newsletter, the largest circulation newsletter in the country with about 700,000 subscribers. that's been the basis of our existence. we've been so fortunate, because we are lousy grant getters, but we write a pretty good newsletter.
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it's very satisfied to have it under our control rather than under the -- rather than having to beg foundations all the time. so now we have 700,000 subscribers, and income up about $15 million a year, much of which goes to the post office and the printer, but as i was thinks ralph ace slide, $15 million is what the president of coca-cola got last year he was maze $25 million, but he's down to $15 million. the president of pepsi make a cool 26 million.
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rough my conclusion was nutrition is more important than the food additives, though they were significant and very interesting, and we've kept working on those ever since back then the mantra of the nutrition establishment, the american dietic association, the food industry and others, was a very convenient self-serving all food is good food, just eat a variety and you'll be okay. i began looking into it, and that clearly wasn't the case. there was a shift going on from some professors, the american heart association a little bit, recognizing that the saturated
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fact, cholesterol and other things in food with are major causes of heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, diabetes and there was controversy but the whole conversation was shifting as it shifted in many other feels you'll hear during the conference series, from deficiencies to excesses of but more by focusing on the kind of garbage that was producing.
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who are the people that create all this junk. and so i'm -- i'm outside the convention, the award was a beat-up old garbage can, so i had the garbage can, npr is interviewing me and i'm saying, all processed food is junk food, as only a very committed young man can say with such fervor. and so right after i'm doing the interview, somebody from general foods rushes up to the npr reporter says it's not true, it's not true, the reporter gives him the microphone and says, tell us about the good healthy foods that general foods is marketing, and he says, well, well, we're working on one right now. [ laughter ]
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i think made it very easy to win the debate. a couple years later i had the idea that too much salt was harmful, because there's a lo the of evidence even back in the 1970s, so a young woman just started work for us, bonnie leashman, 1977, and i said, bonnie, let's write a petition to the food & drug administration about salt. the government should limit sodium in foods and put warning labors on canisters, and a couple other things, back then salt and now salt is considered generally recognized as safe. companies could use as much as they want. so bonnie and i and georgetown law school wrote the petition. we've been working on salt ever since. the government has done
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virtually nothing on salt, researchers have been busy discover that if we could cut sodium by 50%, that would save as many as 100,000 lives a year all americans know that i've safe. you know, it's on you're tables. we wouldn't have anything dangerous on our tables that wasn't safe. so we've been working at it. we petitioned the fda in 1978, we sued the fda in 1982 for not taking any action, we lost in 19 83 and went on to other things like getting the nutrition facts
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label on foods, and think maybe sodium would be listed on the label, every food, maybe that would get companies to lower sodium levels, but in 2005, we discovered that people were consuming as much sodium in 2005, as they were in 1978 when we started this campaign. so we went back to court, the court said you've got to petition the fda again and waited for a response. the report said the food industry said it would reduce sodium levels voluntarily. government urged voluntary reduction since 1969. for the past 40 years, there was no progress whatsoever and that
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the food & drug administration should said formal limits. that was 2011. the fda immediately said we're not going to set limits, basically because the food industry wouldn't let it. s it's the first time the fda has taken any real action to lower sodium levels, and hopefully the food industry will go along with them. and that's typical. these big things -- every food
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company uses salt. every restaurant has salty foods. these issues take a long, long time. there's a tremendous industry resistance. one of the things that happened quickly in the scheme of things is transfat. back in 1990, there was almost no evidence that transfat was harmful, and then careful research showed that it raised the bad cholesterol in our blood, and lowered the good cholesterol. and that was the first human study by the department of agriculture. transfat comes from partially hydrogenated oil, which, like salt, has been considered generally recognized as safe. that's been an interesting issue. it went on for -- we petitioned fda in 1994, went through the usual public meetings and
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hearings and debates, then lawsuits, and finally in 2006, the fda required transfat a labels, which spurred a lot of companies to remove it. finally last year the fab banned partially hydrogenated oil and transfat with a deadline of 2018. but 90% of transfat -- [ applause ] >> thank you. 90% of transfat is out of the food supply. more than 7 billion pounds of partially hydrogenated oil has been removed. i think everybody from the food manufacturingers, seed developers, farmers, everybody deserves some credit for that enormous change in our food supply. the next one is sugar. i should say transfat was causing upwards of 50,000 deaths per year, premature deaths per
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year. none of those heart attacks had a label that said transfat, which makes it different to deal with, hard to get the victims to be spokespersons. sugar is another biggie. just soda pop is killing about 25,000 americans each year. it's something that the ballots lines have been drawn. soda consumption is down by 27% since 1998 when we first real lir started working on this. enormous change. and indra newi, pepsi sales have decline by 50% since 1998. i would pay her a lot of money to drive sales down further. so we'll see what happens, but i see my time is running out. i just wanted to mention a couple offal challenges.
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we're not eating more fruits and vegetables despite all the farmers markets and michael pollans, and propaganda, we need to develop effective campaigns to improve the consumption of fruits and vegetables. more broadly, this citizens movement in the food areas needs to do what it's doing in many other areas. keep the pressure on industry. they will respond to public pressure, whether it's over the web in newspapers, or with europe shopping dollars at supermarkets. i think they deserve applause from time to time for doing the right thing so that's the challenge in all of these environmental health workers rights and other issues. we've got to use diverse
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strategies from creative publicity to lawsuits, to legislation. the greatest strength of the citizens movement is facts and credibility, and then persistence, you've got to keep it basically forever, because the opponents are going to combat, in building sand castles. the oceans can continue to try to come back and remove what you have done. but it's very gratifying to work on public interest issues, because it can have an impact, you're really protecting the public. not only is it gratifies, but it's a lot of fung.
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>> thank you, mike. our next speaker is jamie love, who is the director of knowledge ecology international. that's a fancy phrase for saying making pharmaceuticals among other intellectual property subjects, affordable to people. if anybody thinks that citizen action may be important, but it doesn't have much drama, listen to this story he's in alaska in his early 20s, and produces these incisive papers, and my colleague said who is putting this out? it's brilliant, and some high school grad who moved from seattle to alaska. he sauce so brilliant he was admitted to the kennedy school at harvard, skipping four years of undergraduate. then he went to get a ph.d. in economics from princeton, but he was always too busy seeing how
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he could save lives. here's the key story i want to relate very quickly. thousands of people dying of aids in africa every week. the price of the cocktail drugs by u.s. drug companies, $10,000 per patient per year. in other words pay or die, and they died. jamie love went all over the world, met with w.h.o. people, ministers of health, aggregations of paper. he was in the air half of time. he had help. he had help from people at our center, rob wiseman, john richard, help from bill hadad, but he was a singular dine st. dynamo that connected with a drug company in india and showed the drug companies here that
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were backed by the clinton administration that that that could be drop down to $300 a year in africa. this is huge drama. he never got anywhere press korchs to speak of. he inferring got any awards. it didn't matter to him, and being at the right place at the right time everywhere in the world. he's heading for geneva tonight needless to say -- which stands for at gore's announcement running for president. to begin -- toward tilling nor
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and the price controls that were necessary. i introduce to you the very modest jamie love. >> thank you very much. i'm going to talk today about this issue of i'm going to talk about the way that things that ralph had talked about that i was involved in early on in this debate, and also the current state of play, where people are interested in changing the relationship
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between people and medicine around the world. so i'm going to try to see all the technology, getting it to work here. ralph already talked about some of the early issues. i -- i was asked by ralph nader in 1991 to look at the pricing of a drug for cancer called taxol, a breast cancer drug. it was invented at the nih and being licensed to bristol-myers, which is a pharmaceutical company. there was a clause in the agreement that said the drug should be priced at a reasonable price. so i was brought in to evaluate the claim. congressman wyden at the time was interested in the issue. i started working on this drug and that led to taking a look at the role of the federal government in funding all cancer
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drugs since 1955, and other types of drugs for hiv, and for severe illnesses, rare diseases. and as a result of this work that i was doing on drug pricing in the united states and looking at these issues, i eventually began to get more aware of the role of international agreements and international discussions about what the u.s. could do, but also what was happening in foreign countries. in 1994, i was invited the to argentina, then brazil by people that had picked up my name as someone that was working on these issues of drug pricing, and i really became aware for the first time really the extent to have the united states through the state department was putting pressure on developing countries to extend and put in
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place monopolies on pharmaceutical drugs, a lot of companies had from the patent system, i could ghoul from other countries, at that point also from brazil also going way beyond that. i remember when i was in argentina for the first time congress wouldn't pass the patent law that the united states government wanted. they had already agreed to put into effect a system by the transition period within the wto agreement. so in a way, the ballots was already over. argentina as india and other countries had agreed that they would start granting patents which created a monopoly on
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pharmaceutical drugs. it was just a question of when that would take place. and so the -- the congress wouldn't pass this law, because the domestic drug manufacturers were influencing it, so the white house was pressing the president of argentina to invoke a patent law through an executi executive fundamental iat. it was causing -- the idea that a president could dictate laws through executive orders and things like that was considered to be a step backwards in a dib at that timership, away from the democracy which is fairly new. i was struck at the time of the equation of democracy on the one hand and on the idea of, you
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know, the price of drugs on the other hand that the u.s. was jumping right the dispute we're involved in for columbia. tries to deal with an expensive drug for leukemia, general rated by $47 billion. not even an american company, a drug invented on charitable grants, but then the patent senator hatch had his a staff immediate with the colombia -- and the record from the clem byia embassy was of the nature that if colombia breaks the monopoly on the cancer drug, because it's priced twice the per capitala income in colombia,
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that if they do that it would very negative consequence of the funding of the -- which if you think about it, it's an astonishing linkage between peace and a place like colombia. i'm not going to go through everything we've been working on, but i will say to really understand and tries to deal wsh what ralph talk about is true. it's about 9,000 people a day dies for lack of access to aids and there was between maybe 10, 15,000 people many of them white
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people. in developing worlds as a result of all these efforts act up, doctors without borders, all these different organizations, treatment access campaign, drug study group in thailand, there was a whole wide ranges of society groups that were really involved. just understand as i mentioned which is a cancer drug for women who are -- that are about one fifth of breast cancer patients have a certain kind of breast
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cancer that it's useful for. that drug was generating about $500 million -- or is about $500 million a month for roesch, the swiss company, which was originally developed by a u.s. subsidiary of roesch and a company that really wanted to develop it at first, but pushed by an academic, and in you can la they finally did. with a super-high profit margin. so when you deal with these issues, it costs almost nothing. my wife is now taking a drug that costs $150,000 a year.
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instead of $5,000 a week, it probably costs or $3,000, probably costs ar $5 a week to make this drugs. now, every time something try tries to fix things. i'm just going to skip the slides. every time you try and argue that, oh, a price is too high for a drug like, for example, xandia is a drug for prostate cancers licensed to a japanese company, costs $19,000 per year in other countries in europe,
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like switzerland or norway or countries with higher income, the price is a -- is way less than half every sing the effort to reform abuses that relate to price, whether it's africa, which was a rounding error for the drug companies in terms of sales, or it's a big-ticket item in the understand the argument is always you will undermine r&d.
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they accept anything. you're essentially in a negotiation where you're asked about whether or not what price you're willing to pay to keep your wife alive, to keep your son, your husband alive, to keep yourself alive, and often that's a big number. routine by about 80% of the population is completely priced out of the market. it will be a long time before that drug is available in developing countries. almost no wound who got the drug that has kept my wife alive for the last six years. that's a system we accept, because people think it's necessary to get innovation.
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the important thing is to change this dilemma we're in, the situation of powerless, we're trying to delink the cost of pharmaceutical drugs from the financialing of r&d. people are consistently shocked on a drug that you'll die if you don't get. and every year, every month they're surprised that this happens. year in and year out, that's considered like a surprise, but, you know, there should be a learning curve that goes along with this, where you realize it's predictable that if you grant a mo nope his to some profit-making, profit-maximizing firm, you will observe a high price if it's effective and important medically, so the idea is to get rid of the monopolies
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all together, just make every drug a generic drug from day one. you cannot regulate the no moplies in the public interest. they have too much money and power, they have completely gamed the situation. we don't regulate them, they regulate us. that's what's going on with a monopoly. if you go ahead rid of the monopoly, you have to replace it with something that also provides robust funding for r&d. one way to get rid of it is trade agreements, which are designed to raise the price of drugs. instead of that, the idea is to have the trade agreements focus on national obligation to fund r&d.
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to put into place different kinds of measures, incentives, direct funding like what the nih does, subsidies, et cetera, get them to focus on r&d rather than high prices, not may ipr the focus, but make r&d the focus. that's one step. another step is to reinvent the idea of the incentives that a company who do. instead of granting a monopoly, you give them money, but you design the money in such a way that the system works in an efficient way, a efficient set of rewards. senator sanders has introduced several bills that we have worked on with him with, for example. in the hiv -- i just have time i think for this one example. we are up now to about $14 million a year just in the united states market over the past 30 years we've had one drug
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developed per year, so $14 million is a lot of money. these are drug you can buy by fast aapproved suppliers outside of the united states. so you're just throwing your money at these guys. p senator sanders proposed we put away $3 billion for hiv drugs for the united states, not the whole world. that's actually a very, very big rewards system, and that the eliminate the monopoly. then what you are looking at is a $10 billion per year freeing up of resources, which is, you know, based on what you're currently doing. we're treating a lower number of hiv patients today than some african countries do, because the prices are high, sometimes the patients are not tested in jails, because the jail -- you
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know, the authority doesn't want the obligation of paying for the expensive kind of treatments. we have higher infection rates, because we have lower rates of utilization of the drugs, but you can do that, we can do it for cancer. the good part for us is that there -- i'm basically got 45 seconds, so i'm not going to be able to go through my whole much of my talk here, but we're committed to this. recently the ceo of jhk has endorsed the idea that we look forward to finding ways to implement delinkage. a number of countries have proposed -- developing countries have ploepd a fraction of the budget for the cancer treatment be set aside to reward developers of new drugs, but they get the drugs as generics, that they don't pay $3,000 a week for a cancer drug. they pay $a a week for a cancer drug and extend treatment to people, make it more equal and
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more fair. but they recognize -- it's a change in business model, like how the big model for telecommunications was radically transformed by the way internet pricing is done, so you're not yelling at somebody to hang up the phone every time they're talking to their mother or friend, you're not afraid to send an e-mail message or look at a web page because it's so expensive. on the margin, that's free. even though you pay to have the service, you don't pay to use the service. that's what we're looking at as drugs. you want the drugs to be almost free like aspirin, but we're willing to pay to get the first copy out the door. so it's a change in the business model. it would make the world a better place, be the most transformative thing you can possibly imagine for equality when it comes to action for care, and it's a very important campaign, and i'm fully committed. thank you very much for the opportunity to be here today.
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>> i believe in activism and my cause right now is to get the cooling some and turn it off. >> it is a little cold here. what is coming out of the podium is hot, but it is a little cold. now you know why he got the award for civic courage. his group, knowledge ecology international budget is the equivalent to less than one day's compensation package of
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david, less than one day, his compensation package of mario up there. the next speaker is drama congealed. ralph hotchkiss. i first met him he was a finishing sophomore majoring in civics and he came up to me and said can i go to washington this summer and work on problems affecting people with disabilities and i said of course. he was a paraplegic from a motorcycle accident. a sliding, solve curve, motorcycle accident, his first year at oberlin. he was on the ground floor of the movement, one of the greatest success movements in history. those of you that are of older age will remember that we didn't
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even see a student with a physical disability in school. out of sight, out of mind. there were no ramps, they didn't want to take the students up the stairs. they were segregated. and now look, there are accesses all over. americans with disabilities act. buildings have been renovated and retroactive. there is still a lot to do but whether it is special olympics, racing down connecticut avenue with wheelchairs joyously talking to one another, whether it is access to schools, hospitals, there's been tremendous progress and he's right on the ground floor here. he was part of the demonstrations, he was the brilliant inventor of the much more durable, resilient wheelchairs. he and a few others broke the
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monopoly of the jennings corporation out of london selling high priced and unreliable, flimsy wheelchairs. he doesn't patent inventions for anybody to use. he goes all by himself to places like central america and asia. he's teaching many people mostly women how to build wheelchairs from materials that are strong, durable and inexpensive and in those countries if you don't have a wheelchair is almost a death sentence and every year his network manufactures 15,000 wheelchairs and he will tell you that is only part of it. you will also see a demonstration of a joie de vivre that he expresses in his incredible redefinition of people with disabilities
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which is why he called his nonprofit group, whirlwind wheelchair. i give you ralph hotchkiss. >> put your feet into strips of the wheelchair in the third world. there you are. because your sign has been snapped racing down the rough and narrow streets. somehow you've survived the impact and made it home on limited medical care. here you are, on your cot. without a clue how to stay alive. you badly need to know how
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people manage to stay alive. but you have no way to move beyond your cot. the few wheelchairs in the country were designed long ago for hospital use and they rarely last long. most are discarded, rusting in a large pile behind the national hospital. your family begs to help, but what can they do and who will feed your children? if you are like most you will plead to get out and find solutions. they will beat you back into your friends will say she died of a broken back. 50 years ago today, i snapped my spine in illinois.
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wheelchairs were plentiful in the u.s. but far from optimal. since the early 1950s, a single company had monopolized the u.s. industry and did what monopolies do best, raising prices for cheaper products. my first wheelchair came from this company. and with it, i left the hospital. but after half a block, i hit a crack in the sidewalk, and destroyed the front caster. so, what kind of chair do people need in the developing world? we need -- we have cars, buses with lifts, ramps on our
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sidewalks. third world is different. you have to take what you can give it. a chair that will break, whatever you do, running on cobblestones every single day, coming down rocks. over muddy terrain. fighting to get in and out of your house. an american chair just does not work. it's got to be much, much tougher than what the gringos get by with. [ applause ] a few years later, while working in washington, d.c., as a nader's reader, i was working
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on the breakdown of the wheelchair of an attorney at the extremities exchange commission. the tone of the monopolist manufacturer both of our chairs was bragging to its stockholders and its subsidiaries were dumping shares overseas in effect really keeping foreign competition out of the u.s. i responded that while the price of the company's newest chair, the jennings sports model, so-called. was $750 into today's money in england, the same chair listed for $2,750 in the u.s., 1973. when activists in the u.s. disability rights movement tried to import the lower-priced chairs to the u.s., their orders were refused. the exchange commission attorney told me that refusing these purchases was an illegal restriction of international trade and should be challenged.
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that attorney was evan camp, an active republican who later became the head of an equal employment opportunity commission under president bush the first. following camp's advice, i went to the london showroom of everson jennings and ordered ten chairs, asking that they be sent to washington d.c. everson jennings refused saying that our parent company does not allow us to ship to the western hemisphere. journalist jack andersen reported this violation and president carter's attorney general griffin bell opened an antitrust investigation. that investigation moved very slowly until 1977 when ralph nader and deborah kaplan of the disability rights center
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challenged bell in the public forum shortly after the doj filed an antitrust lawsuit. in 1979, a settlement was reached, perhaps prodded by the likelihood of a new administration that would be very friendly to monopolies. the settlement was a classic consent decree in which the monopolist swore that they had never broken the law and promise to never do it again. competition blossomed in the u.s. wheelchair industry, prices fell and improved. while some american wheelchair riders found better wheelchairs, very little of this improvement trickle down to the poorer 80% of the world. the cost of imported wheelchairs was still far togh


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