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tv   Democracy Now  PBS  May 2, 2018 12:00pm-1:01pm PDT

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[captioning made possible by democracy now!] amy: from pacifica this is democracy now... >> we demand eliminating the board. we demand the creation of a democratic and participatory process to audit the deaths. we don't want to have to be here fighting for our future but we don't have another option. parents,ildren, grandfathers, grandmothers. amy: thousands of puerto ricans took to the streets on may day to protest brutal austerity measures and the slow recovery effort following hurricane maria. police responded with tear gas
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and pepper spray. we will air a report from the streets of san juan. then to arizona where schools remain closed for a fifth day as teachers continue their strike demanding more funding for education. >> everyone said this could not happen in arizona. it could happen in west virginia, you might see it in oklahoma, you might see it in kentucky. not in arizona. well here we are. where are the skeptics now? we are here and we are bringing a change. amy: plus israel has just barred the head of the center of constitutional rights vincent warren plus a prominent law professor from columbia university - katherine franke - from entering israel. we'll find out why. all that and more, coming up. welcome to democracy now,, the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman.
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environmental protection agency administrator scott pruitt is facing a slew of mounting new scandals over ethics violations and his environmental policies. on tuesday, it was revealed a lobbyist arranged pruitt's controversial $100,000 trip to morocco last year. the lobbyist, richard smotkin, also accompanied pruitt on the berlin trip and organized meetings for pruitt, including one with the head of a state on mining company. the new york times also reports the head of the highly conservative federalist society, leonard leo, planned pruitt's separate trip to italy last summer. the new york times is also reporting that lobbyist j. steven hart, whose wife rented pruitt a washington, d.c. condo for only $50 a night, asked pruitt to appoint three people to the epa's prestigious science advisory board. which is tasked by congress to evaluate the science used by the epa to craft policy. two of pruitt's top aides have resigned in recent days amid widening scrutiny of the agency.
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the resigned aides are his chief of staff who has organized pruitt's $3-million-dollar security detail. and albert kelly, a former banker who has been banned for life from the financial industry, was in charge of the epa's superfund program. it's also emerged pruitt tried to set up an office in his hometown of tulsa with a soundproof booth. pruitt is already facing a spending violation probe over decisions to install a $43,000 soundproof booth in his washington, d.c. office. it was found to be illegal. amid the inquiries, pruitt is setting up a legal defense fund. this comes as california and 16 other states have sued to stop the epa from weakening fuel-efficiency automobile standards. california governor jerry brown said tuesday "states representing 140 million americans are getting together to sue outlaw pruitt not administrator pruitt, but outlaw pruitt."
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the fuel-efficiency car standards, put in place by the obama administration, are a significant part of the united states' effort to cut greenhouse gases and reduce pollution. meanwhile, a new report from the world health organization reveals 90 percent of people on earth are breathing polluted air, and that air pollution kills 7 million people worldwide every year. the acting director of the immigration and customs enforcement agency thomas homan has announced plans to resign, only days after 18 democratic lawmakers sent a letter to dhs asking why the agency has not answered lawmakers questions about the "radical - and in some cases possibly illegal - changes in immigration enforcement and practices." homan's confirmation as permanent head of ice had been stalled in the senate, and his decision to resign is widely seen as a way to avoid facing
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difficult questions from lawmakers during the required confirmation hearings. homan has presided over president trump's campaign of mass deportationsramping up ice arrests nationwide, including at schools, hospitals and court houses. he has also called on the justice department to prosecute officials in so-called sanctuary cities who refuse to collaborate with ice's mass deportation efforts. in more news on immigration, texas and six other states have sued the trump administration to try to force the end of the deferred action for childhood arrivals program, known as daca, which gives millions of young undocumented immigrants permission to live and work in the united states. the trump administration has tried to cancel daca, but has repeatedly been blocked by the courts. meanwhile, in california, immigration authorities are continuing to process a limited number of asylum applications from members of the transnational caravan, which was repeatedly criticized by president trump.
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this is immigrant rights activist alex mensing. inthey let 11 more people the event makes a total of 25 people. it continues to be a disgrace that they have not led in all of these people, unfortunately. we hope there is more movements of people can enter, so there is a process of living conforming to the law. amy: at least 100 more caravan members, mostly from honduras, are still camped out on the mexican side of the border, waiting to apply for asylum. this all comes as the guardian has revealed the u.s. government has paid out more than $60 million over the last decade to settle lawsuits involving border patrol agents who killed, injured, wrongfully detained or wrongfully deported immigrants and u.s. citizens. in nigeria, two suicide bombings at a mosque in the northeastern city of mubi have killed at at least two dozen people, and injured over 50 more. the first suicide bomber struck while worshipers were praying
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inside. the second blast went off outside as people were fleeing the mosque. no group has claimed responsibility for the attacks which come one day after four people were killed in a separate suicide bombing in nigeria's borno state. in the central african republic, thousands of people took to the streets to protest and mourn, after gunmen attacked a church in the capital bangui tuesday, killing 15 people. the attack came during morning mass. among the victims was the priest, albert toungoumale baba, whose body was carried by protesters to toward the presidential palace. in armenia, tens of thousands of people protested nationwide tuesday after the parliament failed to elect opposition leader nikol pashinyan as the interim prime minister. the mass protests come amid two-weeks of escalating antigovernment and anticorruption protests in armenia, which forced the former prime minister to step down less than two weeks ago. the sacramento corners office has released an official autopsy forced upon cla, a 22-year-old
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man shot by police officers 20 times in his grandmother's backyard. the autopsy says he was shot three times in the back which contradicts the independent autopsy carried out by a forensic pathologist hired by the clark family which found he was shot six times in the back by police. in entertainment news, kanye west has caused widespread outrage and controversy with his recent comments in a tmz interview, in which he praised president trump and claimed "slavery was a choice." his interview was so incendiary and historically inaccurate that one member of the tmz newsroom confronted kanye west after the interview. this is a clip of the interview, followed by the confrontation. >> you hear about slavery for 400 years? four 400 years? >> do you feel that i am being free? that i'm being free? >> i don't think you are
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thinking anything. i think when you're doing right now is actually the absence of thought. the reason i feel like that, -- >> you are entitled to believe whatever you want but there are facts and real world, real-life consequences behind everything you just said. while you are making music and being an artist and living the life you have earned by being a genius, the rest of us in society have to deal with these threats to our lives. we have to deal with the marginalization that has come from the 400 years of slavery that you said for our people was a choice. frankly, i'm disappointed, i'm appalled, and, brother, i am unbelievably hurt by the fact intoyou have morphed something, that to me, is not real. amy: that is a tmz staffer confronting offset cons a must for saying slavery is a choice.
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a new ruling by the california supreme court will make it significantly more difficult for companies to classify workers as independent contractors, meaning companies like uber may have to begin paying overtime, workers' compensation and unemployment insurance. monday's ruling is being heralded as a victory for workers rights, and a blow to the so-called "gig economy," in which companies avoid an array of labor laws by classifying their work or says contractors. tuesday was may day, or international workers day, and hundreds of thousands of workers took to the streets worldwide. major mobilizations were held in havana, cuba; paris, france; manila, the philippines; jakarta, indonesia; istanbul, turkey, and in puerto rico, where police attacked protesters demanding an end to austerity and u.s. colonial rule. we'll have more on the protests in puerto rico, including a special report from the streets, later in the broadcast. and martin espada, known as the "people's poet," has won the
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prestigious 2018 ruth lilly poetry prize, which honors a living u.s. poet for outstanding lifetime achievement. martin espada is the first latino poet to win the award since its inception in 1986. it comes with a $100,000 prize. the editor of poetry magazine said, "martin espada's work and life tell the real and lived story of america, in which the importance of poems and legal rights go hand in hand." this is martin espada, reciting part of his poem "how we could have lived or died this way," about resistance to police brutality in the united states. marching,he rebels hands of phrase before the riot squads, faces in bandannas against the tear gas, and i walk to sign them on scene. i see the poets who will write
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the songs of insurrection generations unborn will read or hear a century from now, words that make them wonder how we could have lived or died this way, how the descendents of slaves still fled, and the descendents of slaves catchers still shot them, how we awoke every morning without the blood of the dead sweating from every pore. amy: that's acclaimed "people's poet" martin espada, who has become the first latino poet to win the prestigious 2018 ruth lilly poetry prize. those are some of the headlines. this is democracy now,, the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman. juan: i'm juan gonzalez. welcome to all of our listeners around the country and the world. we begin today's show in puerto rico, where thousands marked may day by joining a general strike in the capital of san juan to protest austerity measures from the closing of public schools to increases in university tuition.
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one march covered almost the length of the 1,000-foot dos hermanos bridge. last month a federally-appointed oversight board approved a plan to restructure the island's $72 billion public debt that calls for the privatization of prepa, one of the largest public power providers in the united states. this comes as at least 30,000 people still lack power almost eight months since hurricane maria devastated the island. last month an excavator downed a transmission line, blacking out the entire electrical grid. amy: on tuesday thousands marched to the financial district in san juan known as la milla de oro, which was closed due to protests. when they tried to converge on the building where the federal oversight board has its offices, police fired tear gas and pepper spray. the board has called for the implementation of 10% pension cuts, eliminating mandatory
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christmas bonuses, reducing required vacation and sick time, and allowing businesses to fire employees without having to first prove a just cause. the island's governor and legislature have so far refused the changes. at least 13 protesters were arrested on tuesday. democracy now! correspondent juan carlos davila was in the streets of san juan and filed this report. >> on international workers day, about a dozen organizations, including activist groups and workers unions, rallied at puerto rico's financial district to protest the new austerity measures proposed by the federally appointed fiscal control board. the organizations marched from different points in san juan. one of the marches, organized by the movement promises are over, began at the department of labor. velasquez is jocelyn from the collective promises are over. we are demanding the repeal of
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the act. we demand the creation of a democratic and participatory process to audit the debt. we know where the money was wasted. from there begin to find a system that identifies what part of debt is legal and what is illegal. then the debt that is illegal needs to be removed, so we can reconstruct the country and regain our economy. now we are trying to advance our march. we have the police blocking the people's entrance to the financial district and we claim we have the right to protest wherever we decide to protest. one of the frustrations from activists is the police blocked their access and held them back from protesting in front of the building. this is where the offices of the fiscal control board are located. this is one of the event organizers.
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here, the people have behaved very calmly and the situation is controlled but the plan to fulfill our objective is overdue and they have no right, any situation of arms that emerges will be because of the police in puerto rico putting obstacles to the march. respond to our call to negotiate and allow the march to continue its path. >> the organizers want to communicate with the police are not effectively communicating. after giving an order that looks like they were going to step down, they still remained there, and behind you can see officers from the special arrest unit. >> eventually, there was a conversation with a police officer identified as lieutenant santos. he assure the police would withdraw if the activist remained calm.
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some people gave their word and representation. who is going to keep their word? what are the people supposed to do when the word is not kept? to leave with their heads down? thehey don't want us in financial district, just let us through, so we can exit. nobody wants to be in the financial district today. we don't want to have to be here fighting for our future but we have no other option. we have children, parents, grandparents. they don't give us an option and we end up having a confrontation with puerto rico. the police kept their formation and continued blocking the access to protesters, a brigade of marchers carrying wooden shields step closer to the police line. then a confrontation took place where the police used tear gas to disperse the protesters.
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protesters dispersed throughout the city. some of them come a particularly the students and i went back to the home to the university of puerto rico. there, some were still hurting from the tear gas and possibly rubber bullet shots. my name is ronnie ramirez, i'm a chemistry student. today was good at the beginning because it is motivated to see how people unite to fight against the injustices and oppressive government is holding against them. then after some time the situation changed. the police surrounded us, they blocked us off and did not let us through. they threw tear gas at us and i could not get out. with my asthma, my situation became more difficult. a friend of mine stay behind but we are waiting for her.
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just surround us, they continued after us, hurting us. it is sad but also powerful. amy: thank you so much to our democracy now correspondent juan carlos davila. from those streets to our new york studio, we are joined by giovanni roberto, director of the center for political development in puerto rico. they're an umbrella organization that set-up community kitchens after hurricane maria and now have mutual aid centers 10 throughout the island. he is on tour now to raise awareness and and meet with members of the puerto rican diaspora. giovanni roberto, welcome back to democracy now! great to have you with us. it must be very to be here in new york when this mass protest took place in puerto rico. explain what you are confronting now. we are talking hurricane maria more than six months ago but you had another mass blackout just
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in the last weeks. giovanni: exactly. we are probably facing a new season of hurricanes, so we have an unstable situation in puerto rico. a lot of people still without energy and basic needs. mutual aidf the center, we are trying to get to haver centers finance, water, to be ready. when we are seeing now is the crisis will increase. gave us a glimpse of what it will look like in the next year years. the: when you mention what board is doing, there has been very little attention here in the u.s. media about the oversight control board, more attention to the impact of the hurricane. but the board is now facing the fact that even the governor of puerto rico and most of the legislature is in open rebellion against its demands. the governor originally was
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supportive of the board coming in but now he is saying you are acting a illegally, i am opposed to pension cuts. giovanni: that is what he says but what he is doing is nothing different from what the board is doing. needknow the people are in . politicians need some support by the people. accentu see the actual they are sending to the congress, local representatives, they are sending really similar laws. when we are expecting, privatization of schools, privatization of energy, and rights. this is going to put people in more need. this is why we are here in the united states trying to make people aware of what's happening in puerto rico. international press has disappeared but people are still in need. about the austerity measures being implemented?
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how many schools have been closed again after several hundred were closed previously? to remember have puerto rico has been in a recession crisis since 2006. austerity measures have been in puerto rico for the last 10 years. in the last five years, more than 500 schools have shut down. this year, 283 schools. there isit is because a depopulation of the island, but if you shut down most of the schools, mainly elementary schools, you are pushing people out of puerto rico. that is the main reason. april are being pushed because of austerity measures. they have already cut the pensions of teachers and other workers. pushing people to poverty. amy: can you talk about the ese unions and thi other groups suing the control board over the u.s. territory's
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finances? they say it should be declared unconstitutional, this after the board approved its fiscal plans with austerity measures that the governor has refused to implement. giovanni: the people have rights. they worked their whole life, 30-years-plus, expecting to have rights. that is a contract between workers and the government, and that contract they cannot change it. it is illegal and unconstitutional. about the resistance -- especially after hurricane of thishere was all organization of grassroots efforts of people helping themselves. can you talk among your organizations work with these groups, the local level? giovanni: even before maria, we had irma. people know from the reaction, the government abandoning the
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people, there is no other way to get out of the crisis from acting ourselves. devastatedane irma puerto rico as well? >giovanni: a part of it. because of irma, we were more ready for maria. were acting people by themselves, organizing their community. we started a mutual aid center and started a discussion with other activists on the island, that we should organize on the grassroots level, mutual aid principles and philosophies of helping the people but also getting them to help themselves. a lot of the government, when they do, they throw food for a week, and then they disappear. we want a long-term change, so we need long-term organizations in puerto rico, too. amy: the only blackout emerald
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history in puerto rico is the one that devastated the philippines after typhoon haiyan on. juan, you just gave a major speech on puerto rico and follows this closely. we are talking about so many months, well over half a year. what do you think is most important to understand about what's happening in puerto rico right now and how the island is going to come out of this? we just had this our discussion on the bitcoin industry moving in. juan: to me, the keating to understand is, not only is puerto rico a colony of the united states, but it is a colony for which the united states has no interest. it cannot make money the way it used to. it can still make financial money, bitcoin money, but it is no longer the cheap labor resource it used to be, the extractive industry it used to be, and no longer the military bastion the u.s. needed during
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the cold war. so you have a situation where , you are holding a colony what you really don't want it, but you don't know what to do with it. that is the problem congress is facing and that the puerto rican people have to deal with the fact that it is still a u.s. territory but they are not being treated anywhere near how other citizens are. that is the dilemma on how to move forward. you don't want the people of the island to determine their own destiny but you also don't want to assume responsibility for holding it. amy: i assume trump does not , hundreds ofive thousands of puerto ricans moving from the island where they cannot vote for president to move to the continental u.s., where they can, for example in florida, changing the demographics. they would most likely vote democrat. juan: i'm interested where you think of from here -- things go from here?
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for a while there was not a sign of massive resistance. now with these may day protests, people are getting their second breath, beginning to organize again. where does it go from here? giovanni: in the next week we will see a couple of struggles. the teachers will be striking against the privatization of schools. that may help to increase confidence in people. after the dramatic situation after hurricane maria, it was hard to talk to people about striking, protesting. andthat things have passed months after maria we see the situation is at the same level, people will be willing to protest and be out there. determining about the politics of the continental united states, the conservative republican governor of florida, where hundreds of thousands of puerto ricans are going, just said he supports making puerto rico the 51st state.
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he says the united states should respect the will of the people in puerto rico. it sounds like he understand they will be voting in the next election where he is running for senate. giovanni: politicians are paying attention. the third or fourth trip that he has made. giovanni: they are paying attention now. they don't want the people to be in puerto rico but they want the place, the land. amy: we will continue to cover the issue. you mentioned teachers. we are moving on to what is happening with teachers in arizona. tens of thousands continuing to protest. giovanni roberto is director of the center for political development in puerto rico, an umbrella organization that set-up community kitchens after hurricane maria and now has ten mutual aid centers throughout the island. he is on tour now to raise awareness and and meet with members of the puerto rican diaspora.
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when we were recently in puerto rico, one of the things that we saw in the midst of the devastation is that the mutual aid groups, much more so than fema, were there for the people. the people were depending on. giovanni: and depending on support from the state, which is important to us. people to people support. amy: thank you so much. when we come back, teacher strike in arizona. stay with us. ♪ [music break]
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amy: this is democracy now. i'm amy goodman. juan: we now turn to arizona, where schools are closed for a fifth day as thousands of teachers continue to strike demanding better funding for education. crowds of striking teachers dressed in red t-shirts have
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rallied at the state capitol this week and last to demand a 20 percent pay raise for educators and decreased class sizes, among other demands. the strike began thursday, with teachers protesting the $1 billion funding cuts to education in the state since the 2008 recession. mary kotnour is a teacher in rio rico, arizona. >> the bottom line is funding for education. a lot of people think it is just for teacher salaries but it is not. it is funding for the schools, kids, the funding stopped in 2008, has not increased. it is for our support staff as well. it is for everybody. it is not just for teachers. juan: the teacher walkout in west virginia, kentucky, oklahoma a arizona have been described by some as a "red-state revolt." in 2016, donald trump won all four states. the arizona legislature is expected to vote on a budget
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today, which organizers say will now include additional funding if the budget passes, teachers say they will return to class tomorrow. amy: at a tuesday evening news conference at the capitol, the leaders of the arizona educators united group and arizona education association, the state's teachers' union, credited the teacher's movement for the additional education funding lawmakers are expected to approve. for more we go to arizona where we're joined by noah karvelis , an elementary and middle school music teacher in phoenix and one of the leaders of #redfored and arizona educators united. he helped start the teacher protests in arizona. noah, welcome to democracy now! just described the scene at the state house yesterday. noah: the scene is incredible. have thousands and thousands of educators and getting for their students and essentially saying enough is enough. on the first day of the walkout we started with a march that
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included 75,000 people, we filled the streets. what we showed was decades of frustration. we stood up and said it is time for change. it's an incredible sight to see right now. juan: could you talk about how this strike developed? one of the interesting things about these walkouts, they occurred largely from the ground up, from the grassroots, not as calls for union leaders from the the two national unions, calling for the strikes. noah: this started from a grassroots organization called arizona educators united. we worked collaboratively with the unions, the arizona education association, to move this forward. it started with educator standing up, saying we need to bring a change. educators only the one that brings that change.
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that has been powerful for us, especially in a conservative state, to have educators advocate for themselves and students. juan: to what degree did the west virginia walkout inspire or give people a sense that they could do this? hard to put into words. it was incredibly inspiring to see that. here in arizona, all the educators were watching that , and youhat movement look around at your own situation and you say, we need to stand up and do something as well. we are last in teacher pay, 48 in per-pupil spending, why are we not doing something here? to see west virginia stand up and fight back, you look at your own situation, and you have to stand up and fight back. that was incredibly inspiring for us in arizona. amy: i want to turn to arizona governor doug ducey speaking to the press last week about the teacher walkout. >> if we pass a 20% pay increase
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in people continued to strike, i don't think that makes sense to citizens and parents, i don't think that make sense to teachers. we will do our best, i'm confident we can get this done. then we want to get our teachers back to what they do best, teaching in the classroom. missionsraduations, coming up of people heading off to the military. let's address this issue and get back to business. governor is arizona doug ducey. talk about what you have offered, when you are willing to settle for? we have demanded an answer to the $1.1 billion in cuts we have seen. we are 48 in the nation in per-pupil spending, last in teacher pay. our demand is weaver store that funding, fill these gaps. right now, we are hemorrhaging teachers. we continue to lose incredible teachers every day.
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at the end of all this, who are really hurt are the students. they are losing their chance at an academic future. we are looking at this budget being proposed. originally, the governor said he would invest 62 $5 million in education, we are now up to $406 million in this total package. we have pushed the legislator as far as they can go. they can fix this by now but they have done as much as they are willing to do, and that is due to our movement. they were set on a $65 million package. that was it. now we are here. it is truly amazing. --n: in terms of the perfect participation levels, have you seen any of this waning after dragging on for several days? noah: we really have not. we have had support of the capital. we had more numbers on monday then friday. it continues to grow. right now, educators are
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beginning to realize our legislature will not solve this issue. they see these people, what they are doing to our system, and are more inspired than ever to make a change. the frustration only continues to grow and the dedication of the students only continues to grow. the support is incredibly strong. i wanted to ask you about , whosenator, john mccain is dealing with brain cancer, of course, at home in arizona. just wrote a book. talking about donald trump, he said, he has declined to state wispy actions of our government from those of despotic ones. the appearance of toughness or reality show facsimile of toughness seem to matter more than any of our values. that was senator mccain talking about donald trump. do senators have a role in what is happening right now with the teachers and arizona? noah: they have been incredibly
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quiet on this so far. they really have not stood up one way or another on this issue , at least as far as i been made aware. i have not seen them put on the red and come out with us. that is frustrating that they are not advocating alongside us. there are some on a more local level who are but a lot of our legislators refused to engage in this issue, refuse to invest in our public infrastructure and state. it's incredibly frustrating. person that's been incredibly quiet on the teacher strikes is president trump, given how much he loves to tweet about any issue under the sun. have not heard much about him about the plight of teachers across america. noah: no, we have not. one of the reasons we are not hearing from these people is because the power has shifted into the hands of educators. that is unsettling for people who have had power for a long time now.
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that is why we are seeing this silence. there is a movement happening all across the nation. to be frank, those in power don't know how to handle it. amy: noah karvelis, we will continue to cover this wave of teacher action, strikes across the country. noah is a middle school music arts teacher. he helped to start the teacher strike in arizona. ofwe continue on the story may day, yesterday, international workers day. hundreds of thousands took to the streets worldwide. major mobilizations held across the globe from san juan, puerto rico to paris, to indonesia. we turn now to the voices of may day protesters here in new york. >> i am a volunteer member
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organizer with dp 37. we are out here on may day to talk about the labor movement and how we have to push forward, especially right now with the court case we have out there. that is what we are doing, letting the workers know what is happening with the case, how it will affect them. >> i believe that we will win! >> i am sarah jaffe, a lever journalist. of american bit history mostly celebrated by other countries now. it is not something we remember as part of our own history, as part of an immigrant workers labor struggle 100 years ago. >> all these walls have got to go! may day in 2018 is really returning to changing the hegemony that currently exists to let workers know that they have power and collective
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struggle and that we need to be focusing on labor, and where that intersects with all these different issues we are running into with runaway off the chain capitalism. my name is tina silverman, i teach in the bronx. teachers feel their collective bargaining rights are being deprived. there are teachers that have gone for years without a pay raise. they are facing budgetary cuts. they are watching their schools be defunded left and right. my name is mohammed. i am a director in this project. i have been a vendor for nine years. most street vendors are immigrants, all of them are hard workers. we have a lot of problems, struggles with the system, government, with the police in a
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with enforcement. many aspects. trump does not see how important immigrants are to our country, city, how much they benefit the entire community and society. >> my name is marked. as a working woman, woman of color, as a puerto rican living in new york, i think it's important to show that we are not here to just abide by the rules of the rich. we also demand for our rights to be respected and we demand to go above and beyond those rights, that they are willing to give up on, and show this much respect for our lives, our quality of life. how is it that the rich and have whatever quality of life they wish and say, it is because of effort, yet, we work two or three jobs, and most of us don't
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have the time to even come out in protest. amy: the streets of new york on may day. back, prominent figures in new york attempt to get into israel, and they are prevented from going in. we will talk to them. stay with us. ♪ [music break]
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amy: this is democracy now!,, the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman. juan: we turn now to israel, where two u.s. human rights lawyers were detained sunday for 14 hours at tel aviv's ben gurion international airport before being deported back to the united states. columbia university's katherine franke and center for constitutional rights president vince warren were repeatedly questioned about their associations with groups critical of israel.
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they were part of a delegation of american civil rights activists heading to israel and palestine to learn about the human rights situation and meet with local activists. they arrived back in new york city early monday. earlier this year, israel published a blacklist of 20 different organizations worldwide whose members are banned from entering the country over their groups' support for bds, the nonviolent boycott, divestment, and sanctions movement targeting israel over its treatment of palestinians. among the groups whose members are banned from entering israel are jewish voice for peace, national students for justice in palestine, american friends service committee, american muslims for palestine, code pink and the us campaign for palestinian rights, as well as palestinian solidarity groups in france, italy, norway, sweden, britain, chile and south africa. days after israeli soldiers shot and killed three
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palestinian protesters and wounded hundreds more on friday when the soldiers and snipers opened fire during the weekly nonviolent protest near the gaza border. saturday, a fourth protester died after succumbing to his wounds. the protest amending the rights for palestinian refugees return on march 30. began since then, the israeli military has killed at least 42 palestinians including two journalists, and injured thousands more. no israeli soldiers have been injured in the protests. the crackdown has sparked international condemnation. we are joined now by you could say, the two deportees, vince and katherine franke. the vince warren is leading the delegation, executive director of the center for constitutional rights. katherine frankie is a professor of law, gender, and sexuality studies at columbia university. she is faculty director of the public rights/private conscience project and a member of the executive committee of the center for palestine studies.
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welcome back both to democracy now! vince, what happened, when did you fly into israel? vince: saturday evening. we had a delegation of folks coming with us. having done this before -- amy: you did this a few years ago? where we brought legal academics and other folks in the legal field. black and brown thought leaders, civil rights leaders in the community, people that worked on dakota access, people that worked on ferguson, doing work in the south. we flew out saturday evening and arrived in tel aviv sunday morning. sunday morning is when we found out, as we got the delegates through, that catherine and i had been singled out to be detained. juan: katherine, you were the first to be questioned. tell us what happened. katherine: the curious thing is
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we had already been cleared through immigration and were waiting on the other side or the delegates to come through. then an immigration official comes out and drags us back in. at that point, i was interrogated for over one hour by the israeli immigration officials, where they screamed at me, you are lying, you are here to promote bds and palestine. you don't promote bds in palestine. the boycott divestment, and sanctions movement is something that has grown from civil society actors in palestine through the rest of the world as a form of action to protest the human rights actions committed by the israeli government. bds takes elsewhere, not in palestine. in any event, that is not the delegation was about. we were there to witness and testify to the kinds of human rights violations we were seeing, not to engage in any bds related activity. some they showed you
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websites from right-wing sites about you. said, aren't you here to promote bds? they have googled me and there were these right wing trolling sites that have all of these sort of false things that say i'm committed to the destruction of israel, i'm anti-semitic, i want to kill jews, none of that is true. he says you are lying to me. you are here to promote bds and palestine. i said absolutely not. we are here as political tourist. that point, two other guys started yelling at me that i was a liar and that they were going to deport me and ban me permanently from entering israel. amy: how long were you held for? katherine: 14 hours. amy: how long were you questioned? katherine: about one hour. amy: then they told you that they are going to deport you? katherine: at first they said they would deport me but then later he said, if you tell me about the people in your
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delegation, basically intelligence, i will think about not supporting you. i said, i told you the truth about everything. then he started in again about how i was lying. vince: that is where my interrogation picked up. after interrogating catherine, they said, why are you traveling with some who is the head of the bds movement ? they were asking me questions about who was on the delegation, where they were going. they were really trolling for information. what is important, in these spaces, you cannot give information about where the delegation is going a cause we want to keep people safe, as well as the people they are visiting with. 20 or 30 different organizations, palestinian and israeli that they were looking at. they moved us to a secured tension area. to antaken in a van immigration detention cell where i was held for about four and half hours before catherine and i were reunited.
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interestingly enough, virtually everyone in that cell other than myself was ukrainian and russian. is not that good, so i could not communica other than in sign language, but enough to know that some of those folks had been there for three days, did not know when they would be going home. my take away from this is this is the type of thing, people trying to integrate into a country like israel or the united states, have to deal with all the time. as hard as it was being there being questioned, we have to be mindful, in immigration fights, this is happening all over the place. this is not a temporary transaction, this is a real incursion for liberty and dignity, just for people that want to transit. juan: in terms of your deportation, didn't get any coverage in the israeli press? are getting inquiries now from the israeli press, so they are interested in hearing our side of the story.
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i'm sure some of them already have their side. amy: are you planning to challenge this deportation? vince: we are looking into it. as catherine mentioned, it was totally untrue, based on all of these lies and conclusions. we are looking into what we can do about that. does seem to signal the increasing desperation of the israeli government in trying to stop the bds movement. they pride themselves on being supposedly the only democracy in the middle east. but their democracy represses free speech within israel, the west bank, and punishes human rights, civil rights defenders like ourselves among by not letting us come and witness what is going on. that does not sound like a democracy. the curious thing is, we are sitting in detention. interrogated,ing
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the president of columbia university was walking by us. he did not know we were there, so it is not that he shunned me in any way, but columbia university is thinking about opening of a global center in tel aviv. a sensor that faculty and students cannot visit, myself most prominently now. amy: this is lee bollinger. were you able to say hello to him? katherine: i saw him after i got home. i would like to think that lee would have reached out, have you known i was there. part of what i plan to do while in israel was visit with graduate students, both in haifa and ramallah, who cannot come to columbia right now to work with me. no one in ramallah cannot get a permit from the israelis to visit the united states. i cannot work with my own graduate students because of
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because of the enormous travel restrictions placed on palestinians. in january, israel published a list of 20 international groups, many affiliated with the bds movement banned from entering the country. the ministry of strategic list hasffice says the shifted from defense to offense. boycott organizations need to know that israel will act against them and will not allow them to enter its territory in order to harm its citizens. professor franke, could you respond? katherine: the curious thing about letting people in, their security personnel, they have a signed to private right-wing unreliable trolls the job of deciding who is a security risk and who isn't. that are the folks that they googled when they held up the
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phone to me and said, you are committed to the destruction of the state of israel. way to beally a hack doing their own security project, by allowing these websites to decide who to admit and not to admit. it is quite clear they are very mode ofabout a peaceful resistance, which is the boycott have reallyd ratcheted up the ways that they are excluding people from entering. juan: interestingly, those who remember the boycott and divestment movement against the south african white minority regime, even the south african government did not go to this extreme or people who were opposed to its policy. vince: that is definitely true. i really cut my political teeth in college and i was one of the leaders in my college to get the school to divest from holdings in south africa. the political situation was different because there was also that only a divestment movement
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but also people were not traveling to the country, at least officially, to get in. i'm sure if they had been, the south african government may have taken that role. what is interesting about israel, it is a fluid situation. also captured international attention the way south africa had. the challenge now in the information age, which we did not have then, is how do we stay in touch and support the work happening on the ground from the united states, which would include working in country with students and activists, to make sure that if nothing else the actual stories get out to the international community. amy: we are talking about a moment now of severe crisis, not that in recent years it has not been in gaza. since march 30, this massive nonviolent ongoing protest at the wall between israel and gaza . nonviolent protesters gunned down by the israeli military, more than 40 at this point.
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two palestinian journalists. -- showing the picture of one of them with a very clear press sign on him. continuing up to may 15, the 70th anniversary of the founding of israel, when so many hundreds of thousands of palestinians were expelled. were you planning to go to gaza? no, we were not. mostly because you cannot get in. ofber two, the delegation those people had not been to their region before. we were looking primarily to have them interact with folks in israel and west bank, but outside gaza. i will say, it is an absolute crisis that is going on. even in places like the west bank and parts of jerusalem, which does not even approach the horror happening in gaza, it is
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an extruded her situation. this would've been my second time going. the first time i went, i was expecting bad things, but i was not repaired for the level of structural targeting and racial profiling that is happening in that region. it is mind-boggling. that is why we were trying to bring people. people need to see this for themselves. they cannot read about it on facebook, cannot look at these websites. amy: and certainly it's astounding the lack of coverage of what's happening in gaza right now by the corporate media here in the u.s. we have to leave it there. vince warren, the head of the international director for constitutional rights, katherine franke,, professor at columbia university. democracy now! is accepting applications for our paid year-long social media and video production fellowships as well as a variety of paid internships.
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find out more at democracy now is produced by mike burke, renee feltz, deena guzder, nermeen shaikh
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