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tv   Democracy Now  PBS  July 2, 2015 12:00pm-1:01pm PDT

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07/02/15 07/02/15 [captioning made possible by democracy now!] amy: from pacifica, this is democracy now! >> briar creek grove, the baptist church right before central, is on fire. >> someone is on the way. do you see anybody a rounded? amy: seven fires at african-american churches in six states in seven days. so far none have been labeled as hate crimes, but investigators say at least three were caused by arson. the fires began just days after the charleston massacre. look at an update from the southern poverty law center. they've been tracking church fires since the 1990's. then after half a century, the united states and cuba have announced they will reopen embassies in each other's
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capitals and formally reestablish diplomatic relations. >> today i can announce united states has agreed to formally reestablish diplomatic relations with the republic of cuba and reopen embassies in our respective countries. this is a historic step ford in our efforts to normalize relations with the cuban government and people and begin a new chapter with our neighbors in the americas. amy: we will speak with peter kornbluh. then new allegations of child sex abuse by united nations peacekeepers as france suspends two soldiers accused of sexually abusing two children in burkina faso after they reportedly filmed themselves abusing one of the victims, a five-year old girl. we'll speak with paula donovan of aids-free world and the code blue campaign to end sexual exploitation and abuse by u.n. peacekeeping personnel. >> when the united states
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learned of these abuses, it seems the first response is to simply lie low and see whether or not they can get away with not reporting it to governments and not alerting the public about the dangers, the imminent danger they are in. amy: all that and more, coming up. welcome to democracy now!,, the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman. president obama has announced that after more than half a century, the united states and cuba will reopen embassies in each other's capitals and formally reestablish diplomatic relations. >> today i can announce united states has agreed to formally reestablish diplomatic relations with the republic of cuba and reopen embassies and our respective countries. this is a historic step forward and our efforts to normalize relations with the cuban government and people and begin a new chapter with our neighbors in the americas.
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amy: secretary of state john kerry said he will travel to havana the summer to open the u.s. embassy there. in a statement, the cuban government said relations with the united states cannot be considered normalized until trade sanctions are lifted, the naval base at guantanamo bay is returned, and u.s.-backed programs aimed at "subversion and internal destabilization" are halted. but in a letter to obama on wednesday, cuban president raul castro acknowledged much progress has already been made and confirmed the openings of permanent diplomatic missions later this month. we'll have more on cuba after headlines. talks between greece and its european creditors have ground to a halt as greece pushes ahead with a referendum sunday on whether to accept an austerity package of budget cuts and tax hikes. earlier this week greece missed , a $1.8 billion payment to the international monetary fund, bringing it to the edge of a financial meltdown. greece's leftwing syriza-led government has urged residents to vote "no," rejecting the latest bailout proposals from
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european creditors. speaking to bloomberg tv earlier today, greek finance minister yanis varoufakis said he would resign if greeks vote for the deal that he says would extend the current crisis. >> may be some of their hearts will not be able to stomach it. i am allergic to extending and pretending. i would not cover it. i'm sure the prime minister will do and everyone in the government will do what we must do. there won't be a yes verdict. i'm quite confident the greek people are -- >> if there is a yes vote, come monday night, you will not be finance minister. amy: in puerto rico, the government and the power authority have avoided default by paying more than $1 billion due to creditors on wednesday.
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but the payments represent a small fraction of the more than $73 billion in total debt puerto rico owes. governor alejandro garcia padilla has warned the debt is not payable, leading puerto rico to be dubbed "america's greece." in egypt, the military says more than 100 people have died in clashes between the army and militants in the sinai peninsula. on wednesday, the self-proclaimed islamic state launched one if its widest attacks in the region to date, rating -- raiding military checkpoints and a police station. egypt's military said it had regained control and killed more than 100 militants. a record number of migrants from the middle east and africa have crossed the mediterranean sea to europe in the first half of this year. according to a united nations report, a total of 137,000 people arrived in europe, an increase of 83% from last year. the u.n. said the large majority were refugees were fleeing war or persecution, including many from syria, making them refugees.
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"europe is living through a maritime refugee crisis of historic proportions," the report said. dozens of people have been killed after a ferry sank off the coast of the philippines. authorities said at least 34 people died while 118 a been rescued. in indonesia, the death toll from a military plane crash in the city of medan has topped 140. more than 120 military officers and their family members were on board the plane when it crashed tuesday, slamming into businesses and killing at least 20 people on the ground. in the united states bree , newsome, who scaled the flagpole at the south carolina state capital and took down the confederate flag, has spoken out for the first time since her arrest. early on saturday morning, bree newsome shimmied up the flagpole, reciting scriptures as she took the flag down. her actions came a day after the funeral for reverend clementay pinckney, one of nine people massacred by the racist alleged shooter dylann roof at charleston's emanuel ame church. bree newsome spoke in an interview with "good morning america."
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>> the majority of the people in this nation are good. the majority of the people in this nation one piece. we want to eliminate racism want to have more equality. amy: tune into democracy now! on monday for our interview with bree newsome and james tyson who was arrested alongside her for standing at the base of the flagpole during her action. in the latest sign of rising opposition, the daytona international speedway has announced it will conduct a flag exchange this weekend offering nascar fans the chance to swap out the confederate flags for u.s. flags. askar bans the confederate flag from official materials and race cars, but has not blocked fans from raising it over campsites and motorhomes in the infield of racetracks. some have criticized nascar for not simply banning the flag of the tracks. in tennessee, more than 5000 people have been evacuated after a train carrying a flammable poisonous chemical derailed and caught fire near knoxville. the train was reportedly
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carrying liquefied petroleum gas and a toxic product used to make plastics. seven firefighters were hospitalized after breathing in the fumes. the obama administration has launched an antitrust investigation into airlines in the united states. the justice department is looking into whether the airlines colluded to limit seating and thereby increase fares. following a series of mergers which were approved by the justice department, about 80% of air traffic in the united states is controlled by four airlines. as hillary clinton's presidential campaign has raised a record in its first quarter, $45 million another democratic candidate has broken a different record. vermont independent bernie sanders drew the largest crowd of any presidential candidate so far this election season when he spoke to 10,000 people who were in madison, wisconsin yesterday. >> [indiscernible]
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tonight we have more people ever for presidential candidate. [applause] amy: in other news from the campaign trail, macy's has become the latest company to cut ties with republican presidential candidate donald trump after he called mexican immigrants criminals and rapists. after more than 700,000 people signed a petition urging macy's to sever ties with trump, the retailer said wednesday it would phase out its donald trump menswear line. nbc and univision have also cut ties with trump over his comments, and new york city mayor bill de blasio said the city is reviewing its contracts with trump.
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the intercept news site has published one of the largest releases of documents from edward snowden to date revealing new details about the national security agency's program xkeyscore. described as "the nsa's google for the world's private communications," the program sweeps up emails, voice calls, webcam photos, web searches, logged keystrokes, username and password pairs, and more. the program is fed by fiberoptic cables which form the "backbone of the world's communication network," with hundreds of servers around the world. the system allows the government to easily make queries based on criteria like nationality or the websites people have visited. one document shows government analysts used xkeyscore to obtain u.n. secretary-general ban ki-moon's talking points before a meeting with president obama. wikileaks has published the secret core text of a massive trade pact called the trade in services agreement, which is
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currently being negotiated by more than 50 countries encompassing two-thirds of the global gdp. the publication comes ahead of the next round of negotiations next week. while it has received less attention, wikileaks called the trade in services agreement the "largest component" of the u.s. trade agenda, which also includes the transpacific partnership, or tpp, and transatlantic trade and investment pact, or ttip. critics of the deal say it would severely restrict governments' ability to regulate and expand corporate power. meanwhile, wikileaks has also published documents showing the united states did not just tap german chancellor angela merkel's cell phone, it also targeted scores of german officials and their aides including angela merkel's personal assistant. a federal judge has invalidated a ban on the cultivation of genetically modified crops passed by voters in maui county, hawaii. passed in november, the ballot measure called for a complete suspension on gmo crop cultivation until studies prove
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it is safe. maui county is often called "gmo ground zero" because multinational seed producers test products there. both monsanto and dow filed suit against the ban, and on tuesday, a judge ruled maui county lacked the authority to impose it. critics of gmo's say they will appeal. a girl scouts chapter in western washington has rejected a $100,000 donation because the donor said it couldn't be used to help transgender girls. using #foreverygirl, the girl scouts launched a crowdfunding campaign to recoup the donation they sent back. so far about 6000 people have donated nearly $300,000, triple the original amount. ramsey orta, the man who says he has been harassed by police constantly since filming the fatal new york city police encounter with eric garner, has been arrested again. orta's video shows police in
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staten island wrestling eric garner to the ground in a chokehold, then piling on top of him. eric garner said he couldn't breathe 11 times, before he died. last summer, the day after garner's death was declared a homicide, orta was arrested on a gun charge. his wife was arrested days later on an unrelated assault charge. in february, orta was arrested again along with his mother and brother on drug charges. while he was in jail, his aunt lisa mercado told democracy now! about the harassment he and his family faced from police. >> ever since the filming that ramsey did, it was a constant harassment every day, on a daily basis within the hours and 33 or court -- 3:00 or 5:00 in the morning, police would put spotlights into the windows of the home. amy: ramsey orta was arrested yet again on tuesday, accused of selling $40 worth of the drug
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mdma to an undercover officer. the of a surf you use the fatal chokehold was not indicted by grand jury. to see our interview with lisa mercado and orta's attorneys, you can go to and those are some of the headlines. this is democracy now!, the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman. we begin today's show with the historic news announced wednesday by president obama that after more than half a century, the united states and cuba will reopen embassies in each other's capitals and formally reestablish diplomatic relations. >> more than 54 years ago, at the height of the cold war, the united states closed its embassy in havana. today, i can announce the united states has agreed to formally reestablish diplomatic relations with the republic of cuba and reopen embassies in our respective countries. this is a historic step ford and
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our efforts to normalize relations with the cuban government and people and begin a new chapter with our neighbors in the americas. amy: in a statement, the cuban government said relations with the united states cannot be considered normalized until trade sanctions are lifted, the naval base at guantanamo bay is returned, and u.s.-backed programs aimed at "subversion and internal destabilization" are halted. but in a letter to obama on wednesday, cuba's president raul castro acknowledged much progress has already made, and confirmed the openings of permanent diplomatic missions later this month. >> it pleases me to confirm the republic of cuba has decided to reestablish diplomatic relations with the united dates of america and open permanent diplomatic missions in our respective countries on the 20th of july, 2015. on cuba's part, we make this decision based on the reciprocal action to develop respectful and corporate of relations between our peoples and our governments.
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amy: secretary of state john kerry said wednesday he will travel to havana to open the u.s. embassy there, while cuban officials say foreign minister bruno rodriguez will lead a delegation of "distinguished representatives of cuban society" at an official ceremony to reopen the cuban embassy in washington. all of this follows the u.s. decision in may to remove cuba from its list of state sponsors of terror. it was just in december that obama first announced loosened travel and economic restrictions between the two nations. for more we are joined via democracy now! video stream by peter kornbluh, who directs the cuba documentation project at the national security archive, at george washington university. he is co-author of the book, "back channel to cuba: the hidden history of negotiations between washington and havana." an updated edition comes out in september with a new epilogue that tells story of how obama reestablished diplomatic relations with cuba. peter kornbluh, welcome back to
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democracy now! first, your reaction to president obama's announcement. >> thank you for having me on the show. the first day of what obama calls a new chapter in u.s.-cuban relations. i don't think the true magnitude of obama's speech yesterday has quite sunk in, but this is a historic moment in bilateral relations, historic moment for latin america as a whole, and certainly, an extraordinary kind of change of events in the whole history of u.s. foreign policy as you know better than anybody and your listeners know better than anybody in your audience knows better than anybody, has been a bitter history of imperial and imperialist intervention in cuban affairs. barack obama yesterday stepped forward to basically said, we're going to change the past and have a very different future. he actually said, this is what
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change looks like. it was very dramatic. amy: so let's talk about what this change looks like. what has been agreed to at this point? tell us about the cuban mission in washington and the u.s. mission in cuba for havana, and how they will change. >> well, jimmy carter back in the 1970's, 1977, initiated the first truly serious efforts of a president to normalize relations with cuba. and he got as far as reopening kind of mid-level diplomatic representations called interest sections. the united states would have an interest section in havana and cuba would have won in washington. they would not be headed by ambassadors or have status. and today president obama and has -- president castro have agreed that we're going to
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reestablish official diplomatic relations and kind of upgrade these intersections to full embassies. this has symbolic meaning. president obama set out to accomplish this starting in 2013 when he directed his aides to find a way to change our policy toward cuba and to arrive at this point where we have arrived today. that is what he could do as president without having to deal with the congress on the issue of lifting the embargo. it is a symbolic move in many ways but it creates a kind of new framework of our interaction and certainly is going to pave the way, i think, to an acceleration of ties, bilateral ties cultural ties, economic ties, political ties between the u.s. and cuba. and i think it will accelerate
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leaving the pass in the past and creating a very different kind of environment with ties between the two countries. which really have a lot of common interests which will now rise to the surface of the relationship. amy: can you tell us the history of the u.s. mission in cuba? i remember when i was in havana there were sort of major billboards that the u.s. mission had to face, that the cubans had put up. but the u.s. had done things with the u.s. mission that fidel castro wanted to cover with a series of flags? >> that was during the last bush administration or george bush decided he would stick it to the cubans by putting a tickertape on the top of the building of the was intersection that kind of -- the u.s. intersection, broadcast news like in times square, that was hostile to the cuban government. fidel castro's response was to erect 119 flagpoles and put 119
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black flags, part type sign on the top, to mask the tickertape and make a statement of how evil the united states was. you can contrast the animosity of what henry kissinger was called the perpetual hostility of the kind of interaction with what is going to happen today in the visual contrast will be john kerry, the highest-ranking u.s. official since the cuban revolution, to travel to cuba overseeing the hoisting of the american flag of the new u.s. embassy there in havana. the visuals will be rather dramatic. i think it will appeal, quite friendly, the cubans and the american public here in the united states. i think it will help visually push the idea of a normal relationship forward in a big way. amy: the restoration of relations with cuba is not sitting well with republican
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presidential contender marco rubio. he issued a statement that read -- "i intend to oppose the confirmation of an ambassador to cuba until these issues are addressed. it is time for our unilateral concessions to this odious regime to end." peter kornbluh, talk about marco rubio's attitude toward cuba and his own history. >> well, he distorted his own history for many years. he left the public impression and even stated it specifically that his parents had fled after fidel castro to power that they were political refugees. when in fact, they had left cuba three years before the revolution and they were simple economic refugees, just like anybody else. so many others who had gone to the united states from latin america and countries or other third world countries, seeking better economic situations for themselves and her family.
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so his parents and his family and he does not have a background of persecution during the castro regime. but of course, he is bold and and a fixture -- beholden and a fixture in a dwindling community of hard-line anti-castro cubans in florida. he is catering to them in his presidential bid. there are still a number of older cuban-americans who have a lot of money and are going to be supportive financially of rubio's candidacy, but in terms of broad numbers, his position no longer reflects in any way shape or form the majority view of the radiant and cuban-americans in florida. having said that, let me be clear, cuba is going to be a political hot potato and cuban policy is going to be a political hot potato in the next presidential election. larry clinton came out very early calling for an end to the
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embargo. she sees there is financial support among the more moderate cuban-american trinity in florida -- community of florida and she sees this as much in the interest, both international and domestic of the united states of america to normalize fully relations with cuba. on the other side, you have republican candidates i chris christie and jeb bush who like marco rubio is vying for the support of the anti-castro community in florida rob is the going to attack the president on this policy change. amy: in havana, cubans welcomed news that u.s. and cuba will open embassies in each other's country. >> we have been in the situation for 56 years and i think this will benefit the country in certain respects and i think it benefits those of us who want to see our families, our children who are in the u.s. amy: and a want to read a comment made by elian gonzalez,
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the boy the center of a bitter international custody battle in 2000 that highlighted the poor relations between the united states and cuba. in a 2015 interview he said, "sometimes we young people think if we stop being a socialist country and give way to capitalism, we will become a developed country like the united states, france, italy. but it must be understood of cuba stops being socialist, it won't be like the u.s., it would be a colony, haiti, poor country, lot poor than it is now and everything that has been achieved would be lost. it is true we could have accomplished more, but we can never forget the most important the store question." for people who don't quite remember who elian is, he was made famous with the standoff with his relatives in florida and his father who was trying to take him home to cuba. yet, in a boat and his mother
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had died on the boat -- she had come in a boat and his mother had died on the boat. and the image of the u.s. military with a gun at his head as the was government took him away from his miami family to reunite him with his father and brother. your comment, peter kornbluh? >> well, elian and zealous raises important point that a number of qubits feel that they don't want to lose all the vestiges of the revolution and raul castro himself has said he wants to have an economic model that allows us to have sustainable socialism. the problem for cuba is they cannot can -- sustain the advances of the cuban revolution and education and health and less the economy changes -- unless the economy changes and they are able to be a productive society generating the resources to do these social programs in the future. and that is why opening up the
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economy to the economy is under raul castro is evolving away from a strict communist model to a much more social democratic model eventually and perhaps like vietnam, perhaps like china, it is hard to know where he will end up. but it is evolving steadily towards that new model of the economy, and it is up to the cuban government, of course, to decide what kind of interaction they're going to have with american economic interest. we can no more tell them what to do now than we could before the normalization of diplomatic relations. but they know what is in their interest and i'm sure they're going to act accordingly. amy: peter kornbluh, talk about what has to happen now and what does congress have to do, which president obama alluded to as he spoke yesterday, and how could change the presidential administration or even the
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current congress stop anything -- or could they -- from moving forward? >> i think what president obama has done in normalizing diplomatic relations with cuba is your reversible. congress can certainly stand in the way, the senate foreign relations committee dominated by republicans like marco rubio can hold up any ambassador nomination that president obama gives them, and i think what is going to do is simply a sign the diplomat that is there who is head of the intersection and who already is an ambassador in the sense that he was ambassador previous to this posting in cuba , with the kind of interim status. so until the end of the obama administration, i believe he will not pick a fight with congress over this nomination. obama has two years left. he is going to move quickly.
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with all the power he has as president to try to consolidate this change in policy. he has normalized diplomatic relations. to normalize overall relations we do have to live the embargo. the united states does have to dress cuba's interest in the return to the guantánamo military base, and these regime change programs at usaid has been running for all these years, bureaucratic imperative raided by congress, do have to be reconfigured to some kind of more educational-oriented economic sharing as opposed to an effort to roll back the cuban revolution. those things are down the road. i think obama wants to create a very new ambience, a framework of relations and then have the countries they go she ate accordingly. a new president could certainly create a much more hostile
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policy toward cuba, and a new congress with democrats could vote to lift the embargo and lift the travel ban that prevents people like you and i from freely going on vacation to cuba at this point, but i think obama's strategy is to -- is to create constituencies in business community, among american citizens, as well as supporting cuba for going ford with his relationship to the point where it will be very difficult for republican president like jeb bush or marco rubio to reverse this process. amy: the issue of trade, peter. what exactly is going to happen now? many republican and democratic governors, for example not to mention ceos, have been going back and forth to cuba. what happens next? >> you had the president of google going. you had the head of the u.s. chamber of commerce going to cuba.
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there also is a businessman who have been there. president obama has looked at the embargo like a dam and used his executive powers to poke kohl's in it, but the hope is the kind of economic waters pour through the holes that he is created in the embargo, the dam weakens and eventually collapses. i think that this is strategy, and it is been supported by the business community and the advocacy community. there's an organization called cuba engaged, tried to organize business and advocates to lift the travel ban very important to support that. i think that is his idea. obama using executive orders has created all sorts of clauses in -- for the business community. the united states can import goods from cuba from private businesses in cuba. we can sell them more food. internet companies of the united states of america are going to cuba and are going to work with
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the cubans to build internet network there. so there is a loosening of the restrictions on trade. you still are not going to see hilton hotels building hotels in cuba, you will see a mcdonald's or walmart were a major u.s. mining company arriving in cuba in investing in cuba unless congress lifts the trade embargo on cuba. that you are going to see quite a bit more economic activity in the years to come. amy: and the visits. president obama says he personally will go next year and the pope, before he comes to the united states, will be going to cuba first. is that right, peter kornbluh? and the pope's role in the negotiation that has opened up the relationship between cuba and the united states? >> the next edition of the book that i did, the hidden history of negotiations in washington
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and havana, is going to have a hold a 50 page epilogue that tells the story of how the pope got involved with the secret talks to improve relations between the united states and cuba. certainly, when the pope goes to cuba in mid-september, he is going to raise the issue of the embargo, come to the united states afterward -- i'm sure the issue will actually come up. the pope will be following john kerry, who is going to cuba later this month. that will receive quite a bit of media attention. and there is going to be a parade of celebrities and business men, political figures continuing to go to cuba until the end of the year. obama, silly the white house said the obama would relish his own trip to cuba -- certainly the white house said obama would relish his own trip to cuba. that would be obama's next and in china moment. he would go down in history as the president who into the cold war the caribbean one set for all an excellent took steps to
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set foot on the island of cuba while castro was still in power. i think that will go a long way to normalizing simply the kind of people to people relationship between this country and i hope we all live to see the day of president of the united states its foot on the island of cuba in the near future. amy: peter kornbluh, thank you for being with us. he directs the cuba documentation project at the national security archive, at george washington university. co-author of the book, "back channel to cuba: the hidden history of negotiations between washington and havana." an updated edition comes out this september with a new epilogue that tells story of how obama come up resident castro and the pope are all in a book. back in a moment. ♪ [music break]
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amy: los brito performing "cuando llego a mi casa." this is democracy now!, the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman. we turn now to the latest allegations of child sex abuse by western troops in countries
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they are supposed to be protecting. france has suspended two soldiers accused of sexually abusing two children in burkina faso. after the soldiers reportedly filmed themselves abusing one of the victims, a five-year old girl. the incident apparently came to light after her father discovered the footage. the suspension of the french soldiers comes weeks after it emerged the u.n. failed to investigate allegations of sexual exploitation of children by french peacekeeping troops in the central african republic. even after the exploitation was brought to the attention of senior u.n. officials, the u.n. never reported it to french authorities -- nor did it do anything to immediately stop the abuse. the incidents in burkina faso and central africa republic are the most high-profile to date in a growing controversy surrounding peacekeepers' conduct worldwide. a forthcoming report by the u.n.'s office of internal oversight services says peacekeepers frequently engage in transactional sex, forcing impoverished citizens to perform sexual acts in exchange for food and medication.
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for more, we are joined by paula donovan, co-director of aids-free world. her group has launched the code blue campaign, which seeks to end the sexual exploitation and abuse by united nations military and non-military peacekeeping personnel. paula, welcome back to democracy now! talk about this latest revelation in burkina faso and what it means. >> it means this problem is pervasive. wherever there are foreign troops that are ostensibly protecting the most vulnerable civilians honored, this problem of sexual abuse and sexual exploitation is simply rampant. so whether they are u.n. peacekeepers were authorized under their own governments to be working in foreign countries sexual exploitation and abuse is an absolute pandemic and it is not being addressed or even reported by the united nations to the security council and
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governments that could intervene together collectively to stop this furnace problem. amy: earlier this month, a u.n. panel recommended sweeping changes to the world body's peacekeeping operations worldwide. the report came amid revelations of sexual abuses and exploitation by u.n. forces in countries including haiti, liberia and the central african republic. panel chair josé ramos-horta said there must be zero tolerance for such crimes. >> this is what has to be very clear. you commit a barbarity, you have no protection whatsoever. you're subject to the laws of the country where you are operating. it cannot hide under the united nations roof. amy: hollow donovan, does that satisfy you? >> it satisfies recently that he
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made that declaration. unfortunately, the entire panel did not agree with that consensus, so president ramos-horta had to speak saying the human -- the united nations civilian personnel and others who are -- exist in all these peacekeeping countries, it is simply an obstacle to justice will stop justice cannot be served as long as there is one form of investigation and prosecution for anyone affiliated with the united nations and another for the other billions of us around the world. amy: talk about the responsibility of the united nations when it comes to, for example, in burkina faso to the french peacekeepers that are there. what is the relationship? and what about the french government suspending these two
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soldiers? >> there are three categories essentially of foreign soldiers who operate in countries, mostly in africa and around the world. the french soldiers in this instance in burkina faso were therethrough can agreement between their country and burkina faso. they were dealing with anti-terrorism. and that wasn't under the mandate of the united nations, although, they would certainly walk rate with united nations peacekeepers on the ground. -- cooperate with the u.n. peacekeepers on the ground. and then where the u.n. authorizes foreign troops to come -- again, between -- with the relationship between the government and then the third and most prevalent situation is when the un security council members authorize a peacekeeping mission in soldiers from around the world are contributed by their countries and go and work together to maintain what is
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usually a very fragile peace. in the burkina faso incident, the soldiers who are now suspended -- not arrested, which i think is critically important to note -- but the soldiers who have been suspended were there as members of the french military and france, of course is a permanent militant -- member of the security council as is the united states. the u.s. and france since their troops abroad to work in countries that are in crisis. and they should be operating under any mandate or agreement they should be operating as though they are the world leaders you're supposed to be setting the standards for the way that soldiers and other forces behave when they ostensibly assist government that are in trouble. amy: i want to turn to comments made by lieutenant-general roméo dallaire, head of united nations peacekeepers during the genocide
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in rwanda. he spoke in may at the launch of code blue, the global campaign to end immunity for u.n. peacekeeper sexual violence. >> so there is a sense of cultural silence out there, a coulter nearly of impunity that is within the construct of many of the contingents because there is been no really effective means by holding people accountable and in fact prosecuting them in a timely fashion, and so doing, permitting those who are in authority to influence their own command. impose discipline and to impose legal action against people who commit crimes. and so removing the impunity from the civilian side is probably the most innovative idea i have heard in a long time. amy: that was romeo dallaire,
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head of the united nations peacekeeping forces during the genocide in rwanda. paula donovan, if you could follow-up on what he is saying. >> what he said in support of the code blue campaign and its goal of ending immunity for you and civilian peacekeeping personnel is the first step, is absolutely crucial. if there is a situation -- which there is currently -- where anyone within the united nations who is employed by the u.n. feels as though they can act with impunity, do whatever they want when they're sent to peacekeeping missions because they are employer -- rather than the local law enforcement and judiciary, will intervene if they are accused of sex-related crime or sex-related offense. so someone who is employed by the united nations was accused of, let's say sexually molesting a child, isn't immediately
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brought into custody by local law enforcement. the united nations intervenes and says, this person is covered by a immunity under 1946 convention, we will move in with our investigators and first decide whether we think there is a credible allegation, whether we think there's enough evidence, whether we think prosecution should proceed. and that doesn't exist for anyone else in the world except diplomats and u.n. personnel. so this creates what romeo dallaire was describing as the culture of impunity. when you have those at the united nations offering these peacekeeping missions and instructing soldiers about what they can and cannot do who are immune from any normal process at least for the period until their employers decides whether or not they should be disciplined, whether they should even be arrested or accused of these crimes, that makes
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absolutely no sense. the soldiers throughout the world who are contributed to peacekeeping operations will simply look at the united nations and say, you're saying you have zero tolerance for sexual exploitation and abuse, but we can see by your action that you do this all the time and you get away with it and sometimes your employer spends upwards of 18 months, sometimes five years, to investigate and accusation while the accused u.n. employee continues about his business, continues to do his work until the u.n. decides whether or not they're going to allow the appropriate authorities to take action. so this just sends the message throughout the world that we are pretending that we have zero tolerance, but in fact, we are quite tolerant of these offenses. amy: paula donovan, thank you for being with us co-director of , aids free world, which has launched the code blue campaign. the campaign seeks to end the sexual exploitation and abuse by
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united nations military and non-military peacekeeping personnel. when we come back, we go south. what about the black church burnings throughout the south since the charleston massacre? stay with us. ♪ [music break]
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amy: bree newsome, "stay strong: a love song to freedom fighters." bree newsome is the 30-year-old african-american woman who scaled the flagpole on the grounds of the columbia, south carolina capital and took down the confederate flag saying, "in the name of god, this fly comes down today." she will be our guest on democracy now! on monday. tomorrow, we will describe what happened in columbia just after her arrest we saw her being arraigned at the jail. this is democracy now!,, the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman. we're talking about the fbi launching an investigation into fires set at seven different african-american churches in seven days. so far none of the blazes have
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been labeled as hate crimes, but investigators say at least three fires were caused by arson. the fires began on just days june 21, after the charleston massacre on june 17, and have occurred in six different states -- tennessee, georgia, north carolina, south carolina florida and ohio. a black church in south carolina was the latest to catch fire. the blaze on tuesday at the mount zion african methodist church in greeleyville may have been triggered by lightening. twenty years ago, the church was burned to the ground by members of the ku klux klan. meanwhile, in knoxville, tennessee, a fire at the seventh day adventist church was determined to be arson. a reporter at local station wvlt spoke to church elder marshall henley. >> two different fires were started a college health seventh day adventist last night. one at a side entrance were churchgoers says it appears someone set fire to bales of hay but outside the doors. the church and was also set on fire and to make matters worse
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the church only got the van about six months ago. it was vital to a lot of the churches committee outreach programs -- projects. some of those will have to be placed on hold because they believe the van is a total loss. amy: another fire on june 23 at the predominantly black god's power church of christ in macon, georgia, was also reportedly set on purpose. then on there was a fire at the june 24, fruitland presbyterian church in gibson county, tennessee, that was suspected to have been caused by lightning. the same day, there was a three-alarm fire at briar creek baptist church in charlotte north carolina. local station wbtv spoke to the church's pastor mannix kinsey. >> when i got here -- i was even amazed to see the flames were so high. of course, i'm thinking, oh, my goodness, this church is going to be destroyed. >> the estimated damages more than $250,000. the pastor of three years is grateful brick-and-mortar is all that was ruined. >> a life was not lost. buildings can be built over. >> while the pastor deals with
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this fire, he also has to deal with the fact this may be a hate crime. >> we are talking about this issue and it is 2015. we all have to consider, what else do we need to do actually be able to work together? amy: meanwhile, on june 26, there was another fire at a glover baptist church in warrenville, south carolina, that was first burned down 20 years ago by the kkk and one at , the greater miracle temple apostolic holiness church in tallahassee, florida, that was caused by a tree limb that fell and started an electrical fire. another fire was in ohio, where the college heights baptist church burned down saturday night. on wednesday, naacp president cornell william brooks issued a statement in response to the fires. he referred to the charleston massacre that proceeded them writing -- "when nine students of scripture lose their lives in a house of worship, we cannot to turn a blind eye to any incident. as we wait for authorities to conduct their investigations the naacp and our state conferences across the country
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will remain vigilant and work with local churches and local law enforcement to ensure that all are taking the necessary precautions to ensure the safety of every parishioner." all of this comes as the kkk has announced a rally for later this month at the south carolina statehouse in support of the confederate flag. there are reports south carolina legislators now have enough votes to push through the flag's removal. for more we go to montgomery alabama where we're joined by richard cohen is president of the southern poverty law center, which has been tracking these most recent fires. richard welcome back to , democracy now! talk about the significance of what is happening to route the south now. >> look, when it comes to race, the country is on edge especially the black community. we have a background of the killing of unarmed black man at the hands of the police. you add to this the charleston massacre. and now this string of fires at
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black churches. you know, it is just a very combustible combination. it is certainly true that perhaps most of these fires are not arson, and maybe none of the arsons are hate motivated, but still, you can understand with emotions so raw, why people react this way. and certainly, you can't dismiss the possibilities that at least some of these fires have been set in retaliation for the taking down of the confederate flag. there is a lot of anger in the white nationalist community over what has been happening lately. amy: take the one in greeleyville, the church burning down, the most recent one. governor haley came out immediately and said it was clearly lightning. she said something like, we saw the lightning hit the top of the church. but the people within the investigation said, how does she know this? this was reported on a tv station close to those who are
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investigating. but that church does have a history. talk about what happened 20 years ago. >> there's a group called the carolina knights of ku klux klan that was involved in burning the greeleyville church as well as the macedonia baptist church in clarendon, south carolina. we had the privilege of representing the macedonia basso -- baptist church and got a multimillion dollar verdict against the klan for the burning of that church. you have this kind of history and i guess governor haley is trying to tamp down emotions and maybe spoke too quickly. and i guess it is important to realize that you should not jump to conclusions in either direction too fast. amy: what do you think has to be done right now, richard cohen? >> look, all of these fires have to be investigated. the forensic experts are very very good at that. and then i think we have to
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continue to look at the racial issues that divide us. we are at an interesting point in our history, in interesting point in time when suddenly, people -- especially in the white community, i think, are selling more aware of the divisive nature, some of the symbols i the confederate flag like confederate holidays, and i think are more willing to address not just those symbols but some of the substance that continues to keep our country separate and unequal. amy: calling for congressional hearings into domestic terrorism? >> yes. we had called for those hearings , before both the senate and the house. the committee's that look at the department of homeland security. since 9/11, we are -- our resources in domestic terrorism fight have skewed perhaps too heavily towards to heidi terrorism at the expense of domestic terrorism that we saw exhibited in the charleston
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massacre. what we think as we should allocate our resources in accordance with the nature of the threat. 9/11 will always be the pearl harbor of our time. that doesn't mean all of the resources should go in that direction. amy: in alabama, the governor, unlike governor haley in south carolina simply, without talking about it beforehand took down the flags of the state capitol, the confederate flag. can you talk about the significance of this? you are in montgomery. also, he is supposed to be making another announcement today. >> i'm not sure what is announcement is today, amy, but i can tell you, we were incredibly happy and applauded the governor for what he did. it it was very, very forward-looking. i think it is quite an important thing, probably a difficult thing for him to do politically. another thing i want to applaud the governor for, he disagree with the supreme court same-sex
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marriage decision, but he immediately came out and said, it's a law to land and we should follow it. that is not the case with all politicians in alabama. the chief justice of alabama roy moore, is still on his soapbox ranting and raving against the same-sex marriage ruling. so i think governor bentley should be applauded for helping the state look forward rather than backward. amy: it has been very much kept under wraps what is going to announce today, but it might relate to that. as anti-lgbt violence increased since the same-sex marriage ruling of the supreme court? >> i don't know if we are seeing an uptick since the same-sex marriage ruling, but we have seen an apparent uptick in the recent years because as more people in the lgbtq entity for culpable coming out, they're more likely to be targeted because they are more open. in terms of sheer numbers, hate crimes against black people are the most common.
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on the other hand, from a percentage standpoint, the lgbt community is the most likely to be victimized by hate crimes. amy: richard cohen, thank you for being with us, speaking to us from a gum ray, alabama. tune in tomorrow for our independence day special as james earl jones reads hundred douglas is 1852 address what to the american slave is your fourth of july? >> to the american slave is your fourth of july, i answer, a day that reveals to him more than all other days of the year, the gross injustice of which is a constant victim. to him, your celebration is a sham. amy: you will hear the whole speech on tomorrow's broadcast as well as our remembrance of
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the late great folksinger pete seeger. >> ♪ we shall overcome we shall overcome we shall overcome some day ♪ amy: that is tomorrow on democracy now! tune in as we remember peace seeger and also, go down to columbia, south carolina to describe those moments when bree newsome took down the flag. i will be speaking tonight at 7:30 in chicago. check our website at democracy now! is looking for feedback from people who appreciate the closed captioning. e-mail your comments to or mail them to democracy now! p.o. box 693 new york, new york 10013. [captioning made possible by democracy now!]
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