tv Democracy Now PBS April 21, 2016 12:00pm-1:01pm PDT
04/21/16 04/21/16 [captioning made possible by democracy now!] amy: from denver, colorado, and new york this is democracy now! five years probation, plus 800 hours of community service. >> this is not justice. my family is going to continue to march until we get justice. we are going to continue until all black lives matter. amy: a new york city police
officer who killed an unarmed african american men will serve no time in jail. officer peter liang, who is chinese-american, fatally shot akai gurley in the darkened stairwell of a brooklyn housing project. the case has sparked a debate within the asian-american community as some say liang was scapegoated because of his race. we will speak with akai gurley's aunt and with cathy dang, organizing asian communities, which has supported gurley's family. we will also be joined by former new york city comptroller john liu, who has been working with supporters of liang. than three officials are charged with the poisoning of flint's water. >> these employees of the department of environmental quality had a duty to protect the health of families and citizens of flint. they failed. they failed to discharge their duties. they failed.
they failed in the responsibilities to protect the health and safety of families of flint. they failed michigan families. fromwe will get reaction award-winning reporter curt guyette. then as president obama makes his fourth visit to saudi arabia, human rights groups are pressing congress to block arms sales to the kingdom in the wake of saudi-led coalition strikes in yemen that have killed thousands of civilians. all that and more, coming up. welcome to democracy now!, democracynow.org, the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman. i am in denver, colorado. three michigan officials have been criminally charged for their involvement in the flint water contamination crisis. flint employee michael glasgow and michigan department of environmental quality employees stephen busch and michael prysby. meanwhile, michigan governor
rick snyder said he has not been questioned by prosecutors. the lead-poisoning began when an unelected emergency manager appointed by snyder switched the source of the city's drinking water to the corrosive flint river. we will have more on flint with investigative reporter curt guyette later in the broadcast. u.s. treasury secretary jack lew has announced new $20 bills will feature harriet tubman on the front, replacing former president and slave owner andrew jackson. >> harriet tubman is one of the great american stories. a woman born a slave, illiterate her whole life, she brought many people out of slavery through the underground railroad. time and again risking her life to save others. she did intelligence for our army during the civil war. after she worked to get the woman suffrage movement going. it is a great american story. amy: the move comes after more
than a half a million people voted for harriet tubman to replace jackson. in fact, jackson will not be removed entirely, simply moved to the back of the bill. some have criticized the idea that harriet tubman should represent you is correct -- currency at all. in a 2015 essay that went viral again yesterday, writer feminista jones wrote -- "if having harriet tubman's face on the $20 bill was going to improve women's access to said bill, i'd be all for it. but instead, it only promises to distort tubman's legacy. which is rooted in resisting the foundation of american capitalism," she wrote. in louisiana, five former police officers pleaded guilty in federal court to charges related to the 2005 killings of unarmed african american civilians on the danziger bridge in the days after hurricane katrina. on september 4, 2005, a group of new orleans police officers opened fire with ak-47's on
families crossing the bridge in search of food. two people, teenager james brisette and 40-year-old ronald madison, were killed. four more were injured. police later tried to cover-up the killings. on wednesday, five police officers pled guilty to conspiracy, obstruction of justice, and civil rights charges. their sentences range from 3 to 12 years. the senate has passed a broad energy bill that will speed up the export of gas extracted through fracking. the bill includes limited provisions promoting renewable energy such as wind and solar. , but it also hands a victory to fossil fuel companies by requiring the energy department to speed up permitting of coastal terminals used to ship oil and gas overseas. this comes as world leaders are slated to sign the paris climate accord at the u.n. headquarters in new york on friday. volkswagen is headed to court
today in san francisco, where it faces a deadline to work out a deal with the u.s. government over the auto giant's emissions cheating scandal. the deal reportedly includes volkswagen either fixing or buying back more than 500,000 cars that were equipped with software to evade u.s. emission rules. volkswagen also faces a maximum penalty of $18 billion. volkswagen has admitted to rigging some 11 million vehicles worldwide. u.s. regulators say volkswagen vehicles were emitting up to 40 times more pollution than standards allow. in washington state, workers are scrambling to move nuclear waste out of a storage facility after a leak was discovered inside one the tanks at the hanford site over the weekend. none of the nuclear material appears to have escaped the double-walled storage tank yet. but a former worker at the site has called the leak
catastrophic. the tank holds 750,000 gallons of radioactive waste. meanwhile, in mexico, an explosion at a petrochemical facility has killed three people and injured more than 60 people in the southern state of veracruz. the facility is owned by mexican national oil company pemex. new data shows the u.s. air force is increasingly relying on drones rather than manned aircraft in the ongoing war in afghanistan. in 2015, drones released 530 bombs and missiles in afghanistan. this accounts for 56% of the weapons deployed by the u.s. air force. in contrast, in 2011, drones were used for only 5% of the weapons to floyd by the air force. -- deployed by the air force. president obama had previously said the withdrawal of the majority of u.s. troops in 2014 would "reduce the need for unmanned strikes."
in new york city, boston, chicago, and washington, d.c., jews have been staging protests dubbed "liberation seder" to demand u.s. jewish establishment groups end their support for israel's occupation of the palestinian territories. the protests draw on rituals from passover, which begins friday night. 17 people were arrested at a protest inside the new york city offices of the anti-defamation league on wednesday, while six people were arrested tuesday at a protest at aipac's offices in boston. more protests are planned for san francisco later today. in new york city, residents gathered outside the brooklyn board of elections' office to protest the purging of 125,000 democratic voters from the voting lists ahead of tuesday's primary. kathleen menagozi spoke out. >> i am here protesting for the purged voters. i was one of them.
i registered in 2008, voted in 2008 and again in 2012. i checked my registration would say three weeks ago. i was told they could not find it in any of the boroughs. i also checked in westchester county and they could not find it there. they told me to give them a call back and they were figuring it out. i call them back today before i was supposed to vote and they told me i was still not in their records. although, they had seen i had in fact voted in the past. i am here today because voters should not be silenced. the voting process should not be as difficult as it is and i'm not going to be silenced. amy: later, activists from the art collective the illuminator staged another protest projecting onto the election board building "where are our , votes?" and across canada, a protest for indigenous rights is sweeping across the province is as first nation communities occupy a growing number of government buildings. the movement is dubbed "occupy
inac," a reference to the ministry of indigenous and northern affairs. activists are demanding the canadian government address youth suicides in first nations communities, as well as water and housing crises in their territories. over the last week, protesters have set up occupations inside and outside the government offices in toronto, regina, vancouver, winnipeg, and gatineau, quebec. earlier this week, ten people locked themselves together inside the toronto office, while kayla sutherland of the attawapiskat first nation spoke to a rally outside. >> you learn something from the indigenous people. it will help everyone. respect human rights when we accomplish this. right now we are violating those rights. it is not over. colonization is continuing.
and that we must admit to and change. amy: the attawapiskat first nation saw 28 suicide attempts last month within a population of just 2000 people. and those are some of the headlines. this is democracy now!, democracynow.org, the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman. we are on a 100-city tour marking democracy now!'s 20th anniversary. we may be coming soon to a city near you. tonight we will be an folder. right now we're at denver open media. i'm amy goodman in denver with nermeen shaikh in new york. amy: welcome to all of our listeners and viewers from around the country and around the world. show here iny's new york were the family of an unarmed man killed by police officer is reacting to news the officer will serve no time in jail. in 2014, new york city police officer peter liang fatally shot akai gurley in the darkened stairwell of a brooklyn housing project.
gurley, a 28-year-old african-american father, was walking down the stairs with his girlfriend because the elevator was broken. the officer says he accidentally fired his gun. the bullet ricochet off a wall and struck akai gurley in the chest. following the shoot he does textedg, officer liang his union officer before calling for help as gurley lay dying. commissioner william bratton called gurley a "total innocent." on tuesday, brooklyn supreme court justice danny chun announced officer liang's sentence. >> on the count [inaudible] probation, plus 800 hours of community service. this will take about five months in my calculation.
800 hours of community service with five years probation. nermeen: in february, a jury convicted officer liang of manslaughter and official misconduct. he faced up to 15 years in prison. but judge chun made the rare decision to reduce officer liang's verdict from manslaughter to the lesser charge of criminally negligent homicide. after judge chun announced liang would not go to prison, akai gurley's aunt, hertencia petersen, spoke out. >> this is not justice. this is not justice. my family is going to continue -- we're going to continue to be in the streets. where going to continue to march until we get justice. we are going to continue until all black lives matter. how on earth can you guys say it is ok to murder and not be held accountable? amy: the liang case has sparked
a debate within the asian-american community. some believe he was scapegoated because of his race, others stood by the family of akai gurley. for more we are right now in new york by three guests. hertencia petersen is the aunt of akai gurley. cathy dang is executive director of caaav, organizing asian communities, which has supported akai gurley's family. and john liu is a former new york city comptroller and professor of public finance at cuny and columbia university. he has been working with supporters of peter liang. we welcome you all to democracy now! first to hertencia petersen. our condolences on the death of your nephew akai gurley. this happened back in november 2014. hertencia petersen, can you explain what you understand happened that day? >> what i understand happened is my nephew was basically walking
down a flight of steps, leaving the building. because the elevator was broken. fired a shot and it ricochet. amy: why did he fire the shot? >> he is saying he was afraid. he heard a noise. and my question has and will always be, if you're going into a development and test you know, families live there, so why would you enter a dark stairwell with yourgun drawn? finger on the trigger? night comes out of 10, there is an error that is going to happen. someone can get hurt. it could have been a child, grandmother, a mother. it could have been anyone. on top of that, he had a flashlight. what happened to using the flashlight? you don't enter a dark stairwell
with the gun drawn, so a flashlight is sufficient. he asked his partner for light. so why would you have your finger on the trigger? nermeen: do you believe there is any truth to liang's claim that he accidentally shot the gun? in other words, he did not intend to? >> know, first of all, you have to apply at least 11.5 pounds of pressure. you have to. it does not go off by itself. so, no, i do not believe it was an accident. , can youcathy dang explain why your organization has stood with akai gurley even though a number of asian-american organizations have been protesting on behalf of peter liang? >> our organization started 30 years ago out of supporting asian immigrants and refugees impacted by police and hate
violence. we stood firm that we had to address issues and would cause of the violence, the impact to communities of color perpetuated by the state and police. police continue to carry on with being held accountable. we could not let that happen in this case. we got involved because we did not what race to be the reason why peter liang wasn't held accountable. at the end of the day, he is an officer and he needs to be held accountable. nermeen: professor john liu -- amy: john liu. >> thank you for having me on the show. this is a complex case. it does not fit neatly into what people typically see as a black /white model of race relations. guess you had introduced me earlier as a supporter of peter liang. i would not quite characterize it that way. i have never met peter liang. i don't know him. but i do agree with many asian americans in new york and beyond
, and you can see from the tens of thousands of people who actually protested the initial verdict of manslaughter that peter liang was things -- was being blamed for all of the criminal justice ills that have gone wrong in this country. people in the asian-american community really do sympathize with the family of akai gurley, his aunt here. there is no in against akai and his family. no one is saying his life was meaningless. in fact coming he is a young man who held promise and was trying to do the right thing. but at the same time, you also have a feeling in the asian-american community that putg -- that too much was on him. you know, and the trial, the da actually talked about how this was not about criminal justice in the rest of the country. it was not about the nypd. it was just about liang.
how can this be about holding the entire system accountable when it seems like it is all just about holding this one officer accountable, nypd being held harmless? the agency that runs the building that allowed there to be complete darkness in the stairwell, they are held harmless. at the end of the day, it is about holding police officers accountable. asian-american leaders in the community at large are not saying that peter liang is innocent. he was convicted of official misconduct, which represents or reflects the fact he just did not do anything to help akai gurley. he may have shot him accidentally, the gun may have discharged because he was startled by a noise in a dark situation, but he should have done more. don't -- people don't dispute the fact he was indicted, that he was convicted of official
misconduct and he is now sentenced -- not jail time, but he does have a pretty long sentence. this is far more than we have seen in any other case in recent memory. eric garner being tempted up by a police officer, not even an indictment and that case. michael brown. some in other cases and across the country. timothy stansberry in new york city, which was a case almost identical in circumstances. nothing in that case, no actions against the officer. none of these officers have even been fired from their jobs. peter liang has been sentenced and he is being punished and held accountable. it is just a question of to what extent do you hold him accountable? do you hold him accountable for his actions that they were do you hold him accountable for all of the other cases that did not see any kind of justice whatsoever? nermeen: hertencia petersen, your response? >> number one, from the time the
trial began, you have been in a courtroom with peter liang. number two, if this was your child, your nephew, would you not want justice? number three, you reference eric garner. i'm a duty aloe, timothy stansberry. the list is long. where was the asian community? where was the chinese community? where were they? on top of that, what happened to nicholas hayworth, junior, the same exact story, the same exact excuse. when you have a corrupted system with police officers being protected by the law, the ending result is akai gurley.
we have been trying to prevent this from 22 years ago. --tencia petersen liang peter liang, that was not the first time they have been doing vertical patrols. that was her daily, nightly post. number one, they knew the area. number two, because you're not going to sit here and try to justify why peter liang should not be held accountable. first of all, he is part of the system. the entire system. it is a systematic problem. we have told and have said plenty of times, it is all about accountability. island, ericn garner -- if you are prosecutor that does not care about what iss on in his community and
racist, that is the result you will have. now let's take it to ferguson. the same scenario. if you have a prosecutor that don't care about the people that put them in position, this is what you will have. so here it is now, my nephew .kai gurley he is without a son, a father, a nephew, and a brother. yes, peter liang should be held accountable -- accountable because if it was your child, if it was your mother, your father or anyone of your loved ones, you would want justice. you would want -- i definition of justice and yours is totally different. on top of that, february 20, 2016, there was massive rallies nationwide.
--y were saying and justice injustice and justice. peter liang was not a scapegoat. peter liang is part of the problem. every last one of those asian and chinese supporters -- because you are also part of the problem, you helped back and finance. do you understand? you guys got together and here it is, you're saying it is ok. when i walked downtown brooklyn february 20, i was called a nigger. do you understand? i have given solidarity to the family. the families there in the flesh. i was disrespected. so there's no way you can tell me, we're all people of color. all people of color. if we have to get together -- and this is what the justice for akai gurley family and every
, everyone hasv been saying, let's not make this a race issue. we're all human. that fatal night, akai gurley, .eter liang, he heard a sound his partner did not hear that sound. amy: i want to ask john liu on that night in 2014 when officer liang killed akai gurley, his first action as he said, this was a mistake that he fired accidentally cut was not to immediately get a to the man he shot, but to text his union rep. can you explain this, john liu? >> no, i cannot expend it at all. there's a justification for that. if in fact he did text his union rep of 40 thing. we do know he did not apply cpr.
if you are an officer, you don't have a luxury of saying your training was inadequate or you were in shock. he should have done far more immediately to help akai gurley. that is official misconduct and he has been fired from the force. you probably never should've been a police officer in the first place. he was scared. he was doing this patrol and a historically dangerous situation. look, i mean, i feel for hertencia petersen and her family -- >> no, you don't. >> i have a son. i am a father. i can imagine if my son's life was taken away. in this case, officer liang is a part of the system. it yet in the prosecution and ultimately the sentencing recommendation and the sentence itself, he is being treated as the problem is just on him. so he is a scapegoat in that -- he is not innocent, but he is being punished for much more
than he was actually guilty of that night. >> you have to start somewhere. you have to start somewhere because this is an ongoing, every 28 hours a black, a brown, a latino, and asian -- someone that is a person of color's life is always taken. understanding what we are saying. you are going to sit there as if -- with no emotions. there is a mother in depression. >> why would you say no emotion? >> you don't. >> i was never in the courtroom. >> sir, i know what i saw. insday, i know what i saw downtown brooklyn. i know when i saw faces. i can tell you, ok? i know. don't tell me what i don't know and what i don't see.
>> i haven't been there. >> i really want to respond to this piece. like any average civilian who commit manslaughter, second-degree, they would go to jail. a police officer is to be held at higher standard. why should liang be treated any differently when a black person is out there and accidentally -- "accidentally" kill someone, they would go to jail? case, and we've always said on this position, this whd accountable. you cannot toggle both sides and say, this happened and we have to look at both sides. you're either for justice or you are not. >> there is no toggling. look, i would agree with hertencia petersen that this should not be a black-asian thing. i understand the emotions run high. the reality is, it does have to start somewhere. , he wasicer liang
indicted. he was terminated from the force. he has been found guilty. and he has been sentenced. >> you can't compare them to the other cases. >> that is -- >> akai gurley is nothing but bones right now with maggots. peter liang can sleep in the bed -- >> [inaudible] >> with his wife. he can have children. cuddle his children. akai gurley as a 3.5-year-old daughter. you know it she asks her mom? why is daddy sleeping so long? this is reality. it might not be your reality, but this is gur theley family reality. and that reality is peter liang and the whole nypd system -- well let's work together -- >> it is not together -- >> people need to be punished along the way. >> and they are. more than anyone --
>> other cases. >> you cannot compare. >> each case is different -- >> you mention eric garner. >> akai gurley -- nermeen: please, one at a time. >> you mention other cases. >> no, you did. >> ok, in all of those cases, there is a direct confrontation between the officer and the victim. ofse were really clear cases police brutality, even cases that were caught on video and no indictments. the asian-american community is not saying we want white privilege. we're not saying, oh, you should not convict peter liang because he is a chinese-american officer. >> that was the message. >> no -- >> you don't understand. >> we do understand the injustices and unfairness the black community threat this country has faced for so long. we also feel --
nermeen: we want to bring in in his own wars. he spoke before his sentencing in brooklyn on tuesday and apologized to the family of akai gurley. >> [indiscernible] nermeen: that was peter liang apologizing to the family. cathy dang, could you respond to what liang said? >> i think the matter how many apologize you can give, you cannot bring back the life of akai gurley for the family.
it is painful for me to sit and camino,e family i just cannot understand if any other average person out there can apologize and would still have to go to jail for committing accidental or accidental death, accidental killing, that is what manslaughter is, they would go to jail. even if they apologize. so why should liang be treated any different? >> nermeen: what about the argument of people make because he was asian-american, he has been charged, whereas all of the white police officers responsible for the death of african-americans were exonerated? >> i keep hearing again and again he is being used as a scapegoat. that is someone who doesn't do anything wrong or did not do anything wrong. in this case, he did do something wrong. he told akai gurley and he needs to be punished for that, not just held accountable. he needs to be punished and served jail time. saidthe beginning, we have
this case means we need to stand united to hold what officers accountable. what about the district attorney's who did not indict anyone for the murder of eric garner? dea's to make sure the d.a.'s are held responsible. wes is the testament to how need to address something larger. we will never know as asian americans what it is like to lose a life every 28 hours like the black community does in the united state what i do want to races when we talk about structural racism, white supremacy and anti-blackness, we have to admit that asian americans are complicit and complacent pulled white supremacy. we are responsible and making sure we stand together with black communities to bring down white supremacy and structural racism. that is the only way to win for all of us. all our lives will matter when black lives matter. asianould not agree that
americans are complicit with white supremacy. asian americans have been victims of the system as well. not to the comparison of african-americans and justice. being as peter liang scapegoat, he is a scapegoat. a scapegoat is someone who is being blamed for far more than he is actually being guilty of. peter liang has been indicted, has been convicted, has been sentenced. he will carry out the sentence and he will be tagged as a convicted felon for the rest of his life. he is being held accountable. the question is, to what extent do you have to hold this one officer accountable? he did discharge his gun in an accidental situation and darkened stairwell. unlike all of the other cases where an innocent person was killed by the police. this is very different from all of the other cases. i have spoken with many people. this is definitely a case much
less satisfying. hertencia petersen, i understand the emotions you and your family have gone through, but you have repeatedly called him a murderer. >> he is a murderer. if someone like you, they are labeled as a liar. if someone steals, there are labeled as a thief. if someone takes an implicit like, if someone kills someone, they are a murderer. a murderer. either way you put it, no matter you want to sugarcoat it, in my reality, the world i live in on a daily basis or i have to make sure that my grandson, my sons and my -- every morning on to tell them, check in with me. do you understand? my reality is, i can get a phone call, mr. peterson, come to the hospital. ms. peterson, you have to go to the morgue. this is my reality. what is your reality? what is your reality, ok? peter liang is a convicted
murderer. convicted murderer. let's get -- let's not forget that. you took an innocent life. i like that he had no confrontation with. >> there was no confrontation -- exactly. amy: we are going to leave it there but we will continue of course to cover this case and so many others. hertencia petersen, thank you so much for being with us. again, our condolences. hertencia petersen is the aunt of akai gurley. thank you to cathy dang, executive director of caaav, organizing asian communities, and to john liu former new york , city comptroller and professor of public finance at cuny and columbia university. when we come back, we will talk about flint, michigan. the poisoning of an american city. charges have been brought against three michigan officials . we will speak with award-winning
amy: this is democracy now!, democracynow.org, the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman. i am in denver, colorado with nermeen shaikh in new york. we're on a 100-city tour. we will be at boulder, theater tonight. on friday night, we will be at colorado college in colorado springs. but right now we are turning to michigan. nermeen: we turn now to michigan where the first criminal charges have been filed in the ongoing flint water contamination crisis that exposed nearly 100,000 residents to high levels of lead. two state employees have been charged with misleading the u.s. government about the problem.
michigan department of environmental quality employees stephen busch and michael prysby. meanwhile, a flint employee, michael glasgow, is charged with altering water test results. on wednesday, michigan attorney general bill schuette announced the charges, saying there are more to come. >> these employees of the department of environmental quality had a duty. they had a duty to protect the health of families and citizens of flint. they failed. they failed to discharge their duties. they failed. they failed in their responsibilities to protect the health and safety of families of flint. they failed michigan families. each and every person who breaks the law will be held accountable. we will follow the facts without fear or favor, and we will go wherever the truth takes us. in this case, wherever the e-mails take us.
these charges are only the beginning. there will be more to come. that i can gearing to you. nermeen: the charges come as michigan's republican governor rick snyder said he has not been questioned by prosecutors in connection with the flint water contamination crisis. at a news conference wednesday, snyder said he doesn't believe he broke any laws. >> we have been fully cooperating with this investigation and we will continue to do so. we will pursue any wrongdoing and hold people accountable. with respect to this investigation, i have not been questioned were interviewed at this point in time. amy: protesters have called for governor snyder to resign over his handling of the flint water crisis. the water crisis began in flint began when the city's unelected emergency manager appointed by governor snyder switched the
the detroit system to the corrosive flint river. the water corroded flint's aging pipes, causing poisonous levels of lead to leach into the drinking water. among other poisons. well, for more, we're joined now by curt guyette, an investigative reporter for the aclu of michigan who helped bring this crisis to light. his work focuses on emergency management and open government. he just won the 2016 hillman prize for web journalism as well as the aronson award for outstanding pioneering reporting. curt guyette, welcome back to democracy now! and you have spent time with you in flint. talk about the significance of the charges against these three men who work for the michigan department of environmental quality. >> well, there is a lot of significance and a lot of different ways, but certainly, what they established in these charges was the misconduct and really the willful disregard for the well-being of the people of
flint in multiple ways. from the beginning, the plant was not ready to begin operation , yet state officials forced the city to rush into treating the river water rather than staying on the detroit water. the fact that they did not require corrosion control, which was a major fact that they did not use corrosion control caused the lead to leach into the water. then after they started to see that their mistakes were resulting in high lead levels, they attempted to cover that up, either by altering evidence -- tampering evidence as the charges say, the way they were conducting the test, multiple ways they were trying to minimize the amount of lead being found in these tests to cover up the fact they made a tragic mistake in switching to the river in the first place and not using corrosion control is a lot requires.
, i want tort guyette go to a clip that appears of you in the documentary "here's to flint." curt guyette questioned the former water quality supervisor mike glasgow about the city's lead testing. >> how are you able to determine every one of those homes -- >> we try to go through our records. >> why was i not provided with those records when i required -- requested? >> good question. i don't have an answer for you right now. sometimes records yet lost. >> so we don't necessarily have all of the records? >> that could be a possibility. >> how are you able to determine if every single house had a lead service line? >> we are not, really. we try to collect as many as we can to hit our number. we are still looking for the records. >> even know it is after the fact. the reports of already been submitted. and the compliance was based on those reports. >> that's how they base their
compliance, yes. nermeen: that was curt guyette in the aclu dr. henry "here's to flint." curt guyette, michael glasgow was one of the people charged. could you respond to what the charge was and whether you think it was adequate? >> glasgow was in charge of the city's water treatment plant at the time and was also overseeing the testing. and what is being called into question in part is the way the tests were conducted. yeah, i think it is appropriate. he was on the front lines. a lot of people i talk to in flint think mr. glasgow is a good guy, that he was being , andul in doing the test have some good feelings toward him. he is also -- he spoke out in an e-mail when they were ready to bring the plan online. he said, we're not ready to do
that. so there was a little surprised i think that he was charged because in some ways, he did try to do the right thing. but the bigger picture is that the actions of all three people who have been charged so far resulted in the contamination of the town's water supply in the lead poisoning of people, especily children. so the fact they're bringing criminal charges seems entirely appropriate. i think what is also important to point out is when these charges were announced, the attorney general, state attorney general, said this was just the beginning, which is the way these investigations typically go. you start at the bottom, bring charges against people, use that as a wedge, pressure for them to give up more information, and then you work your way up the ladder, which is what the attorney general indicated is going to happen in this case. amy: curt guyette, governor snyder says he has nothing questioned by prosecutors.
what is the governor's role? do you think you should be charged? what should he be charged with if so? >> amy, i cannot answer that. i think the investigation has to run its course. it will uncover more information as a goes along. right now there is not any evidence indicating the governor was directly involved in this. but not all of the evidence has come out yet. as this goes along, as people get charged and there are deals worked out with whatever information that they give up and then they keep moving up the ladder. i thought it was a little surprising the governor has not been questioned to this point, but maybe that is part of the investigation, they're waiting until they have everything in hand before they go and start asking -- astoundings such an story. you had april 2014, flint is cut off from its traditional supply
of half a century, the detroit water system which was fine, to save a couple million dollars and link to the corrosive flint river. and within months, the gm plant in flint said they could not work with the water because it was corroding the engines they were producing in the unelected emergency manager, chosen by the governor, gave them a waiver to link back to the detroit system as the people were protesting an increasingly getting sicker. isn't this an indication the governor's man in flint knew exactly what was happening? >> definitely, people should have known what was happening when that occurred. just the general aesthetics of the water, the bacterial contamination and then the contamination of the water with a carcinogenic byproduct of chlorine, you know, they did not know what they were doing and they were bumbling from step to step to step. within the are also trying to
cover-up their problems. certainly, last july when we published the internal memo from the epa sounding the alarm, everybody knew at that point or should have known at that point. here's one thing i think is also interesting in this, which is one year ago, almost exactly one year ago, on the one-year anniversary of the changeover, there was a protest in flint. maybe 100 people marching in the streets, little kids saying, "stop poisoning the children." no one was paying any attention at all. in this past year, it is gone from that situation to everybody knows about flint, the problem with lead and water has become part of a national conversation. people who were protesting were relentless in trying to get to the truth. that gets overlooked a lot and how citizen-driven exposure this crisis has been. and where it has led because of those efforts.
, you are inyette investigative reporter, have won a number of awards. you were challenging. e-mails were released that showed the governor was being warned by his own staff that this is an absolute crisis. what do you think is the most damning of those e-mails that indicate the chain of command and what governor snyder new? , it is i've seen so far come very close to the governor in terms of his inner circle being warned that there was a problem, but as you say, when gm got a waiver to switch back to the detroit system while the people of flint were forced to continue drinking poisonous allr, so there was failure along the line. again, anything directly implicating the governor, i have
not seen anything yet that shows that. there was a kind of firewall. and what took place, if it took place at all, was conversations. there weren't e-mails that i have seen yet directly linking the governor into this. of the e-mails that were released, one of them had to do with state police bicycle patrols in flint. and the governor was directly communicating with people about these bicycle patrols and how they were being received by the public. he was very much hands on with something as relatively minor as that, but yet he was supposedly completely out of the loop with all of this flint water crisis? it is kind of hard to believe. amy: curt guyette, thank you for being with us and your investigative reports. his work focuses on emergency management and open government. curt guyette just won the 2016 hillman prize for web journalism. and, he also won an aronson award for outstanding pioneering
amy: this is democracy now!, democracynow.org, the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman. i'm amy goodman in denver with nermeen shaikh in new york. nermeen: we end today's show in saudi arabia, where president obama is meeting with leaders of the gulf cooperation council in the capital of riyadh. the visit comes at a time of strained relations between the two allies following the iran nuclear deal and a push by some congress members to declassify 28 pages of the 9/11 report believed to document riyadh's -- saudi arabia's involvement in the terrorist attacks. human rights organizations have been pressing congress to block arms sales to the kingdom in the wake of saudi-led coalition strikes in yemen. the united nations estimates
more than 3000 civilians have been killed since the saudi bombing campaign began last march. amy: this comes as saudi arabia has the right to sell off $750 billion in u.s. treasury securities if congress passes a law to allow the families of the victims of the september 11 attacks to sue the saudi government for any role it may have played in the attacks. the obama administration has lobbied congress to block the bill's passage. to talk more about the significance of obama's visit to saudi arabia, we're joined now by william hartung, senior adviser to the security assistance monitor. also the director of the arms and security project at the center for international policy. welcome to democracy now! the significance of president obama's fourth trip to saudi arabia? >> the thing that amazes me is that since he met with the gcc leaders and may of last year -- in may of last year, he has approved $33 billion in weapons sales to the gulf states, mostly
to saudi arabia. at a time when the saudis engaged in a brutal on a campaign in yemen, accused of possible war crimes using cluster bombs. at least 3200 civilians killed. it is not clear to what degree he brought this up or to what degree he has threatened to cut off arms supplies. to me, that colors the whole event because basically, and the name of reassuring the saudis about iran, they're allowing this to go on an excellent facilitating the saudi killing in yemen. nermeen:, you wrote a piece in "the new york times" earlier this week, headlined, "obama shouldn't trade cluster bombs for saudi arabia's friendship." you write that saudi american ofs deals are "continuation a booming business that has developed between washington and riyadh during the obama years." could you elaborate on that and also on the pressure that is being put on the obama
administration, especially with respect to the use of cluster munitions in saudi arabia -- in yemen, by saudi arabia? >> under the obama administration, we have made more arms deals with the saudis than any other time in history. it is been a full gamut. there have been, ships, missile defense systems, fighter planes, attack helicopters, guns, bombs, missiles -- basically, an entire arsenal. on top of that, they are giving target information to the saudis , refueling aircraft. they are in the middle of the conflict. i think there are a couple of reasons. one is this notion of reassuring the saudis about iran, one is the underlying issue of oil politics, and one is the fact that it benefits large numbers of weapons contractors like boeing and lockheed martin and others. nermeen: one of the justifications some u.s. officials have made about continuing arms sales to saudi arabia is that they are
precision bombs that are actually diminishing the number of civilian casualties in yemen. >> that is an outrageous claim. they're trying to divert attention. it is not even clear the saudis are making any effort to protect civilians. if you're aiming at civilians, regardless of the bombs are accurate or inaccurate, you're committing a war crime. the saudis have block an investigation into what is going on with the tacit support of the united states. effect want to have an on civilian casualties, they should cut out the bombs and missiles and push for an independent investigation. the notion that more accurate bombs somehow solve this problem , is not only outrageous, i think it is unconscionable. amy: i would like to turn to a clip from a recent conference organized by the antiwar group codepink in washington, d.c., last month. mohammed al-nimr, the son of executed shia cleric nimr al-nimr addressed the gathering. he did notr just --
do any violence, and he was against any aion,n throwing rocks at the police riot, even though he was killed because he disagreed with her ideology. he disagreed with the way they're treating people inside our country, in yemen. amy: that is the son of executed shia cleric. now young people are also slated to be killed. we have 15 seconds, william hartung, executed by the saudi government. >> the u.s. has no business arming this regime. i think relations -- thision of favoring them in any way i think is unacceptable. given both their internal policies and what they're doing in yemen. if any other country in the world were doing this, they would rightly be treated as a pariah. i think the administration should do so. , thank youm hartung for being with us, director of the arms and security project at the center for international
policy. we willing to your article in " the new york times" headlined "obama shouldn't trade cluster , bombs for saudi arabia's friendship." we're on our 100 city tour across the country celebrating 20 years of democracy now! democracy now! is looking for feedback from people who appreciate the closed captioning. e-mail your comments to firstname.lastname@example.org or mail them to democracy now! p.o. box 693 new york, new york 10013. [captioning made possible by democracy now!]
rallo: on this episode of "eat! drink! italy!" i take the worry and mess out of frying calamari. we learn how an ancient grape is now one of italy's hottest rookies. we visit one of italy's revolutionary wineries. it's art within art. and i help make a classic tuscan soup. my name is vic rallo, and i believe that italy is the best place on earth to eat and drink. follow me, and i'll prove it. "eat! drink! italy!" is brought to you by the asaro line of sicilian extra-virgin and organic extra-virgin olive oils, tomatoes, olives, and more. from the asaro family to yours. martin-scott wines, providing wines from around the world. banville & jones, importers of italian wines.