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tv   Democracy Now  PBS  May 13, 2016 12:00pm-1:01pm PDT

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05/13/16 05/13/16 [captioning made possible by democracy now!] amy: from new york this is , democracy now! >> i did not commit an impeachable offense. there is no reasoning for an impeachment process. i don't have offshore accounts. i never received kickbacks or condone corruption. this is a delegate process. -- delicate process. amy: in brazil, the senate removes dilma rousseff as president as vice president temer takes power. faces rousseff, temer corruption charges and has just
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appointed an all-male, all quite for the first time 1979. then to syria. >> the member of the security council expressed outrage at all recent attacks in syria directed against civilians and civilian objects, including medical facilities. as well as all indiscriminate attacks and stress these actions may amount toward crimes. amy: as the death toll in syria's five-year conflict reportedly reaches 500,000, we'll look another story that receives far less attention. that of syrians working at the local level to survive and organize in the midst of war and to keep the revolutionary spirit of the 2011 syrian uprising alive. we'll speak with yasser munif, a syrian scholar who specializes in grassroots movements in syria. he is cofounder of the campaign for global solidarity with the syrian revolution.
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then bird feeding. that is the charge prisoners are leveling against guards who are cutting back on their food in order to force them back to work , in some cases, with no pay at all. after a 10 day work strike over labor and prison conditions. the humanto deal with rights abuses. a staging ground for future efforts to obtain the full effects of the freedom justice and inequality and inhumanity and -- and inequality humanity that everyone is entitled to. amy: we will get an update from pastor kenneth glasgow who was helping the prisoners in alabama and we will try to go behind the bars and speak with a prisoner in solitary confinement. all that and more, coming up. welcome to democracy now!, democracynow.org, the war and
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peace report. i'm amy goodman. in brazil, former vice president michel temer has assumed power as interim president after the senate voted to suspend president dilma rousseff and begin impeachment proceedings over accusations she tampered with accounts in order to hide a budget shortfall. rousseff has called the move a coup and vowed to fight it. on thursday, she said the impeachment trial is a threat to brazil's sovereignty and its constitution. presidenton of a elected by 54 million people to whom i say now, right now at this decisive moment for brazilian democracy and for our future as a nation, what is in play in the impeachment process isn't just my mandate. what is in play is the respect of the polls come the sovereign will of the brazilian people and the constitution.
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amy: the attempt to oust president rousseff has sparked massive protests across brazil. on thursday, dozens of women chained themselves to the gates of brasilia's planalto palace in support of rousseff. protester fatima spoke out. >> the crew leaders in brazil are trying to get president dilma out and usurping our democracy. they will only get us out of here by force because we're defending democracy. amy: we will go to rio de janeiro to speak with the intercept reporter andrew fishman after headlines. the obama administration is sending out letters to school districts across the united states saying students have the right under federal law to use the bathroom that corresponds to their gender identity. the directive is not legally enforceable, although it does suggest school districts could face lawsuits or loss of funding if they fail to protect transgender students from discrimination and unequal access to facilities. this comes only days after the justice department sued north carolina over its
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anti-transgender law, hb 2, which bars transgender people from using the bathroom that corresponds to their gender identity. it also invalidates local ordinances aimed at protecting lgbt people from discrimination. pope francis says he'll establish a commission to study whether women could serve as deacons in the roman catholic church. research suggests women widely served as deacons in the church's early history. in response to the pope, the women's ordination conference said -- "opening a commission to study the diaconate for women would be a great step for the vatican in recognizing its own history." in washington, d.c., house speaker paul ryan's opposition to presumptive republican presidential nominee donald trump appears to be fading, after the two met on capitol hill thursday. the two issued a joint statement saying -- "while we were honest about our few differences, we recognize that there are also many important areas of common ground."
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this comes as an increasing number of republican party leaders are choosing to back donald trump, despite the candidate's controversial proposals, which include deporting 11 million undocumented immignts and building a wall across the entire length of the u.s.-mexico border, which experts have said is not feasible. meanwhile, the secret service says it will investigate donald trump's former butler over a facebook post in which he referred to president obama a "kenyan fraud" and called for him to be hanged. anthony senecal worked for donald trump for nearly 30 years. trump's campaign has said it disavows senecal's statements. in iraq, isis militants have killed at least 20 iraqi soldiers and tribal fighters in suicide attacks near ramadi. meanwhile in baghdad, gunmen and suicide bombers killed 13 people when they stormed a coffee shop in a town north of baghdad. no one has claimed responsibility for the attack.
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it comes on the heels of a wave of suicide attacks in the capital that killed at least 93 people on wednesday. meanwhile in syria, fighting has broken out in a suburb north of aleppo, where a temporary ceasefire between the assad regime and opposition groups has expired. before the ceasefire took effect monday, aleppo had been the site of intense fighting this month, including an airstrike on an msf-supported hospital that killed at least 14 patients and three doctors, including one of the city's last pediatricians. on thursday, aleppo resident and mother mayada nazrian spoke out about finally deciding to leave the city. >> i have been in aleppo since i was a little girl. i got married and had my kids here. we have suffer through this war for five years. we have been patient for year, two years, three years. we have lost a lot. we lost our work. we lost everything we owned
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because of this war. amy: we'll have more on the ongoing conflict in syria and how syrians are organizing in the midst of war with scholar yasser munif later in the broadcast. in somalia, a u.s. airstrike has killed five people on thursday. the pentagon says the five were militants with the extremist group al-shabaab. it's the most recent u.s. airstrike inside somalia, including a series of april drone strikes that killed at least eight people and another in march that killed 150 people. meanwhile, the pentagon has admitted at least 25 u.s. soldiers have been stationed inside libya at two separate outposts since at least late 2015. it's the latest sign of possible -- of u.s. military escalations in libya. a former member of the 9/11 commission is calling on the obama administration to declassify 28 pages of the congressional report on saudi ties to the 2001 terrorist attack. john lehman, the navy secretary in the reagan administration, says he believes there's evidence some saudi government officials offered support to the 9/11 hijackers.
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saudi arabia was home to 15 of the 19 hijackers on 9/11. a federal judge has ruled against a section of president obama's health care law, finding the administration overstepped its authority in subsidizing deductibles, co-pays, and other cost-sharing measures. the suit was brought by house republicans, who have unsuccessfully sought to repeal obama's health care law. they argue that the subsidies were unconstitutional because congress had already rejected a request for this funding in 2014. the obama administration is expected to appeal the ruling. in alabama, the execution of death row prisoner vernon madison has been halted after his attorneys argued dementia has left madison unable to understand his death sentence. he was convicted of killing a police officer in 1985. in a 4 to 4 decision, the u.s. supreme court stayed the execution thursday night, only hours before madison was
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scheduled to die by lethal injection at the holman correctional facility in atmore. later in the broadcast, we'll go to holman correctional facility to cover another issue there, a 10-day work strike by prisoners protesting severe overcrowding, poor living conditions and the , use of unpaid prison labor. and we will try to go behind bars to speak with a prisoner in solitary confinement who helped lead the strikes. meanwhile, alabama's governor robert bentley has signed into law a measure banning abortion clinics from operating within 2000 the of a kindergarten through eighth grade public school. it's the same rule applied to sex offenders in alabama. the law will force at least two clinics in alabama to close. the immigration and customs enforcement agency, known as ice, is reportedly preparing to launch a month-long campaign of raids specifically aimed at rounding up and deporting undocumented central american mothers and children.
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the effort contradicts the obama administration's 2014 pledge to focus deportations on "felons, not families." on thursday, new york city mayor bill deblasio wrote -- "i am outraged to read reports of future ice raids planned for may and june targeting central american mothers and children. many of these families have fled violence in their home countries and seek safety here, in the city of immigrants." google has announced it will ban advertising by payday lenders. it's the company's first global ban on a whole category of financial products. advocates argued that payday lending is an exploitative industry that traps low-income people in cycles of debt. and in france, more than 50,000 people took to the streets on thursday, blockading roads and barricading schools as the government narrowly survived a vote of no-confidence in the national assembly over president francois hollande's controversial labor reforms.
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opponents of the bill were about 40 votes shy of the 288 necessary to defeat the reforms . the controversial labor reforms were forced through two days ago using a little-used power. the proposals have sparked massive protests by students and unions across france. the movement has been dubbed "nuit debout," or "rise up at night." on thursday, philippe martinez, secretary general of the cgt union, spoke out. >> the most important thing is what the people are feeling. there hasn't been any dialogue with the unions because the bill was imposed on us and democracy has once again been brushed the national assembly. i think that for a government that talks a lot about dialogue, about debate, well, they are showing us what their ideal dialogue is. let's move by force. let's try and scare workers and the young and the people. they should look at the polls because over 70% of the people
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in this country are against the bill. amy: and those are some of the headlines. this is democracy now!, democracynow.org, the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman. nermeen: welcome to all of our listeners and viewers from around the country and around the world. we begin today's show with the political turmoil engulfing brazil. on thursday, the country's former vice president, michel temer, assumed power as interim president after the senate voted to suspend president dilma rousseff and begin impeachment proceedings. she is accused of tampering with accounts in order to hide a budget shortfall. the 55 to 22 vote followed more than 20 hours of debate. one politician described it as "the saddest day for brazil's young democracy." rousseff called it a coup. she gave a defiant speech before leaving the presidential palace, where she was greeted and hugged by former president luiz inacio lula da silva. she vowed to fight the impeachment.
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>> it isn't an impeachment, it is a coup. andd not commit high crimes misdemeanors. there is no justification for the impeachment charge. i don't have bank accounts abroad. i never condone corruption. the trial against me is fragile, legally inconsistent, unjust, unleashed against an honest and innocent person. the greatest brutality that can be committed against any person is to punish them for a crime they did not commit. no injustices more devastating than condemning and innocent. what is at stake is respect for
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the ballot box. the sovereign desires of the brazilian people and the constitution. what is at stake are the achievements of the last 13 years. nermeen: president dilma rousseff has been suspended for up to 180 days or until her senate trial is concluded. attorney general jose eduardo cardozo called the senate vote a "historic injustice." >> honest and innocent woman is right at this moment being condemned. a judicial pretences been used to oust a legitimately elected president over acts which have been practiced by all previous governments. historic injustice is being committed. in innocent person is being condemned. nermeen: the new interim president is not part of rousseff's worker's party, but a member of the opposition pmdb party. temer has been implicated in brazil's massive corruption scandal involving state-owned oil company, petrobras. several of his top advisers are also under investigation, and just last week he was ordered to
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pay a fine for violating campaign finance limits. after thursday's vote he vowed to "restore respect" to brazil's government. >> my first word to the brazilian people is the word trust. trust in the values that form the character of our people. the vitality of our democracy. trust the recuperation of our country's economy, our countries potential, and its social and political institutions. amy: michel temer was sworn in thursday along with a new cabinet that is all white, and all-male making this the first , time since 1979 that no women have been in cabinet. "the new york times" reports temer attempted to appoint a woman to oversee human rights policies, but faced blowback after it became clear she had voted in favor of legislation to make it difficult for women who are raped to get abortions.
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temer also offered the science ministry to an evangelical pastor who does not believe in evolution, and when he faced opposition, made him trade minister instead. on thursday, dozens of women chained themselves to the gates of the brasilia's planalto presidential palace to support suspended brazilian president dilma rousseff. >> the coup leaders in brazil are trying to get president dilma out and usurping our democracy. we're defending democracy and elected mandate for more than half of brazilians. amy: all of this comes as brazil is set to host the 2016 summer olympics. arts of the country are facing a zika outbreak. for more we go to rio de janeiro, brazil, where we're joined by andrew fishman, a researcher and reporter for the intercept where he has covered brazil extensively along with his co-authors glenn greenwald and david miranda. andrew fishman, welcome to democracy now! talk about what has happened.
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the president, or i should say the suspended president, dilma rousseff, has called what is happening in brazil a coup. >> yes, there is been a concerted action to remove her from office by the leaders of the opposition in congress and also by the media. the current interim president , was her vice president. they ran together twice. until recently, he was her ally. she has had very strong words against him for being one of the leaders to remove her from power. the workers party has been in --on water straight elections. until recently, once the economy started going sour, and as the case and basically any country, was the economy goes south, so approval rating of the
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president. the opposition missing the opportunity to take advantage of this moment and get into a position of power, decided this is the moment and they started pushing this case for impeachment -- which even though a lot of the coverage you have seen, especially here in brazil, has been based on corruption, corruption, corruption. petrobrastion case in , the state oil comedy, this has nothing to do with her corruption -- with her impeachment proceedings. she is being impeached on a technicality of some financial accounting measures where she used some state-sponsored banks to cover some short-term deficits worked for all paid back in the and. basically, any jurist says this is not rising to the level of an impeachable offense. he opposition has run with it. in the discussion they have had going forward, they have always focused on the impeachment angle or the corruption angle because
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it is much more powerful. the brazilian people are really fed up with corruption. one thing that is noteworthy is that while the majority of the brazilian population does support president rousseff or former president rousseff's removal from office, and similar margin, they want president temer impeached because they think he is involved -- he is involved in corruption, unlike dilma, there is no proof. it is possible she knew about it, but there is no evidence. were there is much greater evidence that temer and his allies are involved actively in corruption. only 8% of the population once as president. in a recent poll, 2% said they would vote for him. if it were not for this impeachment which they call a
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coup, it would have been impossible for someone like michel temer to become the president of brazil. nermeen: andrew fishman, you mentioned what dilma rousseff is charged with is not in fact an impeachable offense, and many jurists agree on that. so how is it that she has been impeached? >> of course, i mean, there are people aligned with the opposition that say it certainly does rise to the level, but international observers far and wide from international organizations to the press to diplomats to the nobel peace prize winner in argentina who fought against the military dictatorship there have all agreed this is not an impeachable offense am a therefore, some call it a coup and other say at the very least, it is silly and anti-democratic, undemocratic action to remove her from power. amy: on marcelo ninio from the thursday, brazilian newspaper folha de sao paulo questioned
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u.s. state department spokewsoman elizabeth trudeau about the situation in brazil. >> i would like to ask you about brazil. what does the state department or the us government expect with relationship with the interim government and has the been any communication yet with the new government? >> i can't speak to our embassies communication there. as you know, we maintain a strong bilateral relationship between our two countries. it is the two largest democracies. we are committed partners. we cooperate with brazil on a number of issues. trade, security, environment. we expect that to continue. amy: that is the u.s. state department, andrew fishman. overticle explained that cse last few years, the bri nations have become a
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significant geopolitical threat to the interest of the united states. again, this is the russian paper, set it is quite possible the cia is involved in the plan to stage riots in brazil nationwide, that u.s. intelligence agencies are involved with this group. is there any evidence of this? >> i mean, there is been plenty of speculation about this. obviously, the cia operates in secrecy, so it is difficult to say one way or another. dilma has said there is no proof to that nature. i have not seen anything that convinces me that that is the case. again, who knows what the actual situation is. nermeen: andrew fishman -- >> the state department spokesman also said she is not sure if anyone from the united states has reached out to president temer to congratulate him. josh earnest, the spokesperson for the white house within said
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you should speak to the state department. it is not there that any foreign leaders have gone out to congratulate president temer. although, the statement the state department spokesperson made saying they believe brazil continue to function within democratic means and democratic show of it is a tacit support. i mean, they have not come out strongly one way or another in public saying they are for or against impeachment because really, the implication of that would be so strong. if it were in fact the u.s. wanted the temer administration above dilma's administration, and i believe they much prefer the foreign investor -- the foreign investors much prefer , just making that statement that reaffirming the democratic nature of this movement, which is clearly
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anti-democratic, that says a lot, even though it is done quite in diplomatic terms. nermeen: dilma rousseff's suspension is temporary, but some are saying it seems all but certain that she will be permanently removed from office. is that correct? >> yeah. it would take some sort of miracle or massive change in the political landscape for her not to be -- for the vote to not go through. you need a two thirds vote in the senate for her to be impeached after the trial. they are he had that number, and then a few more voting -- the initial vote the other day. i mean, unless something mass for the change, it seems quite clear and the only people that can really intervene right now would be the supreme court. they have shown that they also prefer the temer presidency. they think temer is the quickest
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path to resolve the political crisis and him afford from the chaos that is currently going on. they says up what explicitly in some statements that they have given to the press, which as an american coming from the u.s. context where at least the supreme court and the u.s. tries to maintain the appearance of impartiality and maintaining judicial decisions, in this case they have made statements that show their making very political calculations in their decisions as has the prosecutor general. amy: i want to ask you, andrew, about an article by greg grandin about who is profiting from this coup as dilma rousseff has called it. grennan wrote in the nation peace headlined, "a slavers' coup in brazil? among the many groups pushing for the impeachment of dilma rousseff, one is seldom discussed: companies that profit from slavery." in the article, grandin notes rousseff's workers party created a "dirty list" of hundreds of
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companies and individual employers who were investigated by labor prosecutors and found to be using slaves. grandin goes on to write the one of the members of the opposition pushing for rousseff's impeachment directly profits from slave labor. according to grandin congressman , beto mansur is "charged with keeping 46 workers at his soybean farms in goias state in conditions so deplorable that investigators say the laborers were treated like modern-day slaves." andrew fishman, what business interests have aligned against dilma rousseff? and what about this congressman? >> yeah, and going one step further even, greg's article was about a week ago and just yesterday, president temer installed his cabinet. the agricultural minister is a massive soybean farmer who has huge tracts of land, responsible for massive deforestation. he has personally been linked to
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slavery. his time in congress, he actually introduced a bill to try and limit the definition of what slavery actually is to try and help himself and his partners in his business interests. slavery is a massive problem in brazil. plenty of social problems, but slavery is one that should not modern world. however, it clearly does here and around the world. if you go out into the interior of the country, which is massive tracts of wilderness, it is basically wild, wild west. very little law. journalists, activists, anyone who tries to push back against these massive corporate interests who have benefited greatly under the pt government time in the last 10 to 12 years, they are all able to use this sort of slavery because they have no -- there's basically no rule of law to stop them from doing so. yes, the massive agribusiness has aligned themselves against
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dilma and actually said they want -- they wanted her to be impeached, as have big industrialist groups and the media, which is also a huge industry here. but all of these groups benefited greatly under president rousseff and president lula da silva. just last year, that had hundreds of millions -- billions of dollars in subsidies that have gone to these groups and these industries, and they have gotten really rich off of it. much more money than has gone to the social distribution programs, which president temer has indicated he will be cutting or reducing. it is an interesting moment that i think they never really were entirely aligned with the pt, pact of political convenience. they saw a way to get a deal, a way to get their interest met
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now that her popularity has gone down and the economy has gone down, seems like a way to push back with a more conventional allies, which -- amy: andrew fishman, thank you for joining us researcher and , reporter for the intercept. he has covered brazil extensively along with glenn greenwald and david miranda. when we come back, we look at syria. stay with us. ♪ [music break]
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amy: this is democracy now!, democracynow.org, the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman with nermeen shaikh. we turn now to syria, where renewed violence has erupted around the embattled city of aleppo after a ceasefire between the syrian regime and the opposition expired. a surge in fighting between rebels and the syrian regime has killed about 300 people there over the past two weeks. at least three people were killed last week when a maternity hospital in a government controlled section of the city was hit by rocket fire. secretary of state john kerry said the rockets be a direct
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come from a rebel area. the hospital attack came days after the syrian regime destroyed a doctors without borders-backed hospital, killing at least 14 patients and three doctors. including one of the last pediatricians and rebel held east aleppo. meanwhile outside damascus, syrian government officials turned back an aid convoy carrying the first humanitarian supplies to the rebel held town in more than three years. the damascus suburb has been under seizure by the syrian regime since 2012. residents who had gathered to await the aid faced a shelling attack blamed on the syrian government. two civilians were killed, a father and son. opening up the besieged areas has been a key demand. earlier this week, secretary of state john kerry said the united states and russia have agreed to push for the revival of a nationwide ceasefire in syria, amid hopes of restarting stalled
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peace talks. on thursday, the united nations security council expressed outrage over the ongoing violence, including recent attacks on hospitals. egyptian representative amr abdellatif aboulatta, the council's president for this month, issued the condemnation. >> the member of the security council expressed outrage at all the recent attacks in syria directed against civilian and civilian objects, including medical facilities as well as all indiscriminate attacks and threats that these actions ma'am out toward crimes -- ma'am out toward crimes. they express deep concern at violations of this endorsed by security council resolution 2268. amy: according to a recent report by the syrian center for policy research, the death toll in the five-year conflict has reached close to 500,000, nearly twice the number counted by the
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united nations a year and a half ago when it stopped keeping track of the numbers killed because of the data's unreliability. the ongoing conflict has displaced about half the pre-war population, with more than 6 million syrians displaced inside the country. and nearly 5 million syrian refugees outside the borders. there's another story in syria that receives far less attention that of syrians working at the , local level to survive and organize in the midst of war and to keep the revolutionary spirit of the 2011 syrian uprising alive. to talk more about these efforts we're joined by yasser munif, a , syrian scholar who specializes in grassroots movements in syria. he has made several trips to syria in recent years, most recently in when he visited the 2015 syrian-turkish border. he is a sociology professor at emerson college and a co-founder of the campaign for global solidarity with the syrian revolution. professor yasser munif, welcome to democracy now!
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can you talk about what is happening right now in syria? >> there are a number of , andrent things happening the spirit of the revolution is still there in syria. most recently with the cease-fire that happened last month between russia and the u.s. in a post on the syrian regime, there were massive protests in the liberated areas like idlib, demanding the fall of the syrian regime and chanting for the revolution of dignity and freedom and for democracy and so on. what is interesting during the process, there were -- they were also protesting against al-nusra . there's a powerful presence of al-nusra. there were demanding the release of the prisoners held in those prisons. nusra was trying to crush the protests.
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it was happening for days and days, almost a month. what happened in the end is the syrian regime bombed those , bought a market and killed 40 and one city and 10 and another. the message was very clear, the syrian regime feels very much that type of peaceful protest and revolutionary spirit and wanted to crush it, despite its opposition to both sides, the syrian regime and the jihadist in al-nusra. nermeen: you have spent several months in syria since 2011. could you tell us where you were in and also talk about some of the local groups you met there and how their organizing in the midst of this brutal war? have been to syria since 2011, the suburbs of damascus but also to the liberated areas
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, and thern syria suburbs of aleppo. i spent several months there in 2013 and 2014, trying to see what is happening and what people are doing. what i have seen was really impressive. the kind of politics that people were reinventing and the kind of democracy they were trying to build from the ground up, and the situation there were trying to create to make their cities and villages livable. and all of that was taking place in a very challenging environment with the violence of the syrian regime and the gradual presence of the jihadist back then in 2013 and 2014. people were experimenting with new ideas, trying to create a new culture of resistance and dignity and tried to also
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provide the basic needs for the population without any kind of funding, without any kind of support and so on. that is the dimension of the syrian conflict that is basically invisible or hidden for most in the west and beyond. amy: yasser munif, can you talk about where isis fits into the story? >> isis, obviously, has different histories. we cannot understand the emergence without going back to the history of the u.s. and saudi arabia and afghanistan, and more recently, in iraq and of push for that kind militarization. we should also understand the syrian regime feels very much the grassroots to be the peaceful resistance that was happening in 2011. what it did was the release of many jihadists in 2011 and 20
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12,000 of them, many of whom became leaders in the main military groups, such as al-nusra and i says, and also attackscks -- chemical and what people saw with the chemical attacks, radicalized the population. some people basically went and started fighting with isis. a culture of racism in europe, which is also pushing part of the muslim population -- and among the muslim population, there are some jews and christians who convert to islam and go and fight. it is a, nation of these forces, quitting saudi arabia and turkey who are also funding and backing against theis syrian revolution. i think it is important to understand the emergence of isis
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and those reverent dimensions. it is not simply a creation by the jihadists and the salafi discourse in syria. nermeen: yasser munif, you have just spoken of the xenophobia in europe that has also led people from there to join isis. i want to go to what presumptive republican presidential nominee here in the u.s., donald trump said about syrian refugees , coming to the u.s. he was speaking saturday in washington state. >> we should build safe zones for syrians. but we can't wring them to washington state. and you don't even know where they are going. you saw what happened in paris. you saw what happened at the world trade center. you saw what happened in people theyith a 14 worked with shot and killed, many people in the hospital right now. many, many people in the hospital. these are people that nobody knows who they are.
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and they're going to be in your community. you can't do it. amy: that was donald trump speaking on saturday. yasser munif, your response to what he said? understand really the syrian revolution or the syrian conflict without understanding in a more global and regional context. in the global context is one where there is a major economic crisis, high and a plummet rates in europe and beyond, creating resembled among white working ,lasses and the marginalization vilification of muslims in europe and beyond. and that is also creating ammunition among the population that is reacting, part of it, will have to point this is of thea small segment muslim population, which is marginalized and part of it think going to syria in fighting in syria is a form of salvation
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that syria is haven and because what is referred to as the caliphate. so there is an environment of xenophobia that is very much has representation in syria. for example, the far right also backed the syrian regime. for example, david duke and others in the u.s., or in the u.k. or the national front in france or even the white supremacist in greece have backed the syrian regime. for some of them, they send people to fight along with the syrian troops thinking this is a war against muslims and jihadists and so on. the syrian conflict has many dimensions. and this is one of them. it is also referred to as the civil war, the sectarian conflict as a proxy war for intervention. but what is really missing is the syrian revolution. for the most part, it has been absent in any kind of discussion
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or talk about the syrian revolution. or the syrian conflict. and i think the global left has played a major role in that by dismissing with the syrian people are doing stuff for a number of different reasons, in part because the syrian regime imposed immediate blackout and prevented journalists from going there. so there is very little report from the ground in english and that people in the left have -- and the west and beyond . some think it is anti-imperialist. for palestine, a light to the rent and so on. they have to side with the lesser evil, being the syrian regime. for example, seymour hersh, as one example, four or five different narratives about the attacks without ever really interviewing journalists or
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activists on the ground. and those narratives are really conflicting. for example, robert fisk, another journalist whose very much against journalism in a rack, -- iraq has interviewed prisoners and torture chambers in syria. isissted deal away defeat is to back this during regime. some activists here in the u.s. and europe brought pictures of assad and demonstrations for intervention. andany cases, leftists progressives have organized conferences and panels about syria and oftentimes the syrian voice was missing. so this has made the understanding of the syrian revolution very much difficult and marginalized and alienated part of the population whose thinks the leftists are against the revolution, that people
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don't understand what is happening. that are only perceived as muslims and jihadists. this dimension is completely dismissed in those dust on amy: i want to go to one of the journalists you just talked about seymour hersh. ,i interviewed him last month and he talked about russia's role in syria. >> russian special forces are in the fight against isis with the syrian army, with has the law, with the iranian army -- hezbollah and the iranian army. the russian army has retrain them, refitted them, etc., etc. amy: yasser munif, your response to seymour hersh? occupations a force in syria. like many others who are the russians are playing a very instrumental role. in the recent intervention in the airstrikes that have been conducting since a number of months now, more than 50% of the
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people who are killed are civilians. alsoussian airplanes have bombed bakeries. and that is one of the strategies of the syrian regime. basically, propagating and imposing the politics on the syrians who live in those areas are besieged areas. and most people despise and really reject the russian thatdent's organization the syrian regime has imposed on them. most recently, the russians have also organized trips for journalists. more than 100 journalists visited military camps and military bases, russian bases in syria, and celebrating the russian president, which is very detrimental for the syrian and basically making the contribution of the conflict
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possible, backing the certain regime and violence and its vicious war. so i very much oppose what seymour hersh is trying to do and represents. nermeen: yasser munif i think one of the issues that we have here is a lot of confusion about who constitutes the syrian opposition today. there seems to be a conflation of the opposition now with groups like al-nusra, al qaeda, isis, etc. line could you tell us how you would characterize the opposition now? >> we have to understand that al-nusra and isis and other jihadist groups are part of the counterrevolution lost up there are a number of different or the counterrevolution has different dimensions, one of which is the jihadist groups. obviously, there is the -- intervention and the different dimensions, whether it is russian, iranian, or american
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and european and so on and turkish. there obviously is the syrian regime. but for the most part, most of the people who look at the syrian revolt or conflict think that the syrian opposition, the official syrian opposition represents the entire revolutionary aspect or the syrian opposition to assad, which is far from truth. the official opposition represents a minority. most people despise the syrian opposition. many of the activists, many of the revolutionaries on the ground who are creating and continuing that politics of dignity and freedom, don't recognize themselves as part of that opposition. for the most part, they are unaffiliated. but the type of work they're doing is tremendous. there are media activists, workers.ts, the rescue
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they don't perceive the kind of work they're doing as part of the humanitarian or relief work. they perceive it as the backbone of the revolution. again, that is part of the confusion. this is why i think the revolution is still alive. it may be marginal, but if there is a cease-fire as we've seen in the past want, it can come back and it is still present very much. , and for invisible some, unthinkable. amy: yasser munif, thank you for being here syrian scholar who , specializes in grassroots movements in syria. thank you so much for being with us. emersonunif teachers at college in boston. when we come back, we go inside a prison where there has been a work strike for the last 10 days. we go to alabama. stay with us. ♪ [music break]
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amy: "early in the mornin, prison songs" recorded by alan lomax's in 1947. this is democracy now!, democracynow.org, the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman with nermeen shaikh. we end the show today in alabama where prisoners have ended a 10-day strike over unpaid labor and prison conditions.
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the coordinated strike started on may 1, international worker'' day, when prisoners at the holman and elmore correctional facilities refused to report to their prison jobs. the strike later expanded to the -- three other prisons. the strike surrounding overcrowding poor living , conditions, and the 13th amendment of the u.s. constitution, which bans slavery and servitude "except as a punishment for crime," thus sanctioning the legality of forced, unpaid prison labor. alabama operates the country's most crowded prison system, holding nearly twice as many people as it is designed to contain. amy: organizers say a network of officials -- organizers with the free alabama movement, a network of prison activists, officials retaliated against prisoners who participated in the work stoppage by leaving
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dorms in filth, not taking out trash and leaving showers and soiled laundry unclean. organizers also say officials had punished them by serving meals that are significantly smaller than usual, a practice they have referred to as bird feeding. prison officials also responded by putting the facilities on lockdown, partially to allow guards to perform jobs normally carried out by prisoners. for more we go directly inside the bars to kinetik justice who joins us by phone from solitary confinement in holman correctional facility, one of the organizers of the strike currently serving his 28th month in solitary for organizing a similar action in 2014. welcome to democracy now! you are in solitary confinement. can you talk about this strike that you helped organize from may 1 and why you engaged in it and what has happened as a result? >> yes, good morning, good morning. -- we understand
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the prison system is a continuation of the slave system, which and all entities is an economical system. therefore, for the reform and changes that we have been fighting forn alabama, we have tried to petition through the courts. we have tried to get in touch with legislators and so forth. we have not had any recourse, therefore, we understood that our incarceration was pretty much about our labor in the money that was being generated in the prison system, therefore, we began organizing around our labor and used it as a means and a method in order to bring about reform in alabama prison system. , could: kinetik justice you talk about the new legislation that went into effect in february in alabama, senate bill 67? what is that supposed to do for the conditions in these prisons in alabama? >> actually, senate bill 67 is a means to try to address
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overcrowding, a piecemeal fashion. they did a lot of legislation on the front and of those coming into the prison system, but nothing for those who have been backlog in the prison system for decades. amy: can you talk about how it is, kinetik justice, that you are speaking to us from inside solitary confinement, sort of redefining cell phone? >> actually, we are engaged in a struggle for our lives, freedom struggle, with the conditions and so forth. warfare, you what tools are available to you. and in the struggle for freedom, justice, and equality, we're doing just that, using every tool available to us to get the maximum effect. amy: can you explain what bird feeding is in retaliation you feel that the prisoners face for
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engaging in this mass protest? dietarynutrition, the requirements, each meal is supposed to be in regards to 1800 to 2200 calories. for the last 10 days, we have been receiving well below 1000 calories per meal. , youen: kinetik justice have talked about -- we have talked a little bit about the prisoners demands, but you have some of your own. what do you want to happen? overhaullly, i want an of the alabama prison system. not even just the prison system, the criminal justice system, as there have been several exonerations lately in the state of alabama which have prompted legislators to create an inquiry , innocence inquiry commission will step so we're pushing for transparency in the courts and committed he in the prison system where we actually have
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educational rehabilitation and reentry preparedness as well as we need an overhaul of the parole board is our parole board is an arbitrary group of three men who make decisions based on paperwork, actually never even talk to the person who is up for parole. so we need an overhaul completely in the prison system as well as the parole board the for the criteria that lets a person know what is required of him in order to make parole rather than being set up three and five years based on the feelings of the parole board and never -- amy: i want to make very clear, we're speaking to kinetik justice in solitary confinement at holman in alabama, one of the most overcrowded prisons in the country. how did you wind up in solitary confinement? in january 2014, in response
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to inhumane treatment and unsanitary living conditions as well as the lack of educational rehabilitation of me and a couple of my comrades, we came together and put together what is called a free alabama movement, which is the movement for the freedom justice and equality for over 30,000 people incarcerated in the state of alabama. began the 2014, we coordinated work strike that spread to three other institutions. as a result of that, i was labeled as the leader and targeted as the legal dish leader -- leader of the movement and placed in solitary confinement indefinitely. amy: we are going to have to break to end the show but we will continue with you as well as pastor kenneth glasgow founder and national president , of the ordinary people's
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society, faith-based organization. we will post that on democracynow.org. i want to thank you for being with us. , please stay on the line if you can, kinetik justice. kinetik justice is cofounder of the free alabama movement. he is currently serving his 28th moiam c. holman correctional facility in alabama. speaking to us from solitary confinement in prison. that does it for our broadcast full of we have job openings in our video news production. go to democracynow.org. democracy now! is looking for feedback from people who appreciate the closed captioning. e-mail your comments to outreach@democracynow.org 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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>> "p. allen smith's garden to table" is brought to you by... mountain valley spring water. mountain valley spring water, america's premium water since 1871, has been bottled in glass at the same natural spring source for 140 years. more about mountain valley spring water at mountainvalleyspring.com. >> coming up next, we're gonna get more acquainted with salad greens.

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