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tv   Democracy Now  LINKTV  August 31, 2015 3:00pm-4:01pm PDT

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[captioning made possible by democracy now!] amy: from pacifica, this is democracy now! >> i am horrified and heartbroken as refugees and migrants are using their lives -- losing their lives. we have seen countless tragedies, most recently, a grim discovery of more than 70 people who suffocated inside a trunk in austria. amy: as another ship carrying
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people fleeing the ravages of war sinks off the libyan coast, we look at what's best described as one of the worst refugee crisis since world war ii. some 2500 people are believed to have died or gone missing trying to reach europe this year alone. we will go to sicily, which has been inundated with people fleeing conflicts in syria and nigeria, libya, and other countries. we will also go to geneva to speak with the international organization for migration. in new york, kenneth roth joins us. then weeks after giving shell final approval to drill in the arctic, president obama warns -- heads to the alaskan arctic, warning about the damage climate change is already causing in the region. is the president sending a mixed message? glaciers's are melting. if we do nothing, temperatures are projected to rise between six and 12 degrees by the end of the century. changing all sorts of industries forever.
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amy: into cairo for egypt has sentenced three al jazeera tv journalist to three years in prison. mohamed fahmy and baher mohamed have been taken back into custody. either journalist, peter greste, spoke out from australia. is, we did nothing wrong. there was no evidence of wrongdoing. are innocent men and innocent men are in prison. that is what this is about. never mind the sentences. one day in prison would be unjust. amy: we will get the latest from shrev sharif kudos in cairo. all that and more, coming up. welcome to democracy now!, democracynow.org, the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman. the european union has called for emergency talks to address the rapidly growing number of people fleeing to europe to escape violence and unrest in the middle east and north africa. on 37 people died when a boat sunday, capsized off the libyan coast.
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this came just days after another boat capsized off the libyan coast killing more than 200 people. meanwhile, investigators in hungary and austrian authorities are continuing to probe the deaths of 71 people who were found abandoned last week inside inside a truck on the main highway between budapest and vienna. melissa fleming, a spokesperson for the u.n. refugee agency, said the number of refugees and migrants crossing the mediterranean to reach europe has passed 300,000 this year. >> the number of refugees and migrants in the mediterranean this year has now exceeded 300,000. that includes 200,000 people lending in greece and 110,000 in italy. this represents a large increase from last year when about 219,000 people across the mediterranean during the whole of 2014. amy: we'll have more on the migrant crisis after headlines. we will go to geneva and to sicily. president obama arrives in
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alaska today for a three-day trip, becoming the first sitting u.s. president to visit the arctic. obama is expected to emphasize the impact of climate change on the heels of his administration's decision to allow shell to resume oil drilling in the arctic, a move environmentalists warn will fuel climate change. we'll have more on the visit later in the broadcast. on the you of his trip obama , will also change the name of north america's tallest mountain peak from mount mckinley to denali -- its traditional alaska native name. ohio's congressional delegation had found to defend the name, which honors former president william mckinley, who was from ohio. but alaska natives have long viewed the name mount mckinley as imperialist. obama's trip to alaska comes amid the latest extreme weather fueled by global warming. tropical storm erika battered the caribbean island of dominica late last week, killing at least 20 people and leaving 31 missing. dominica prime minister roosevelt skerrit said the island had been set back 20 years by the damage, which he
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described as "monumental." scientists have warned climate change will cause tropical storms like erika to intensify. in yemen, a saudi-led airstrike has killed 36 civilians working at a bottling plant in the northern province of hajjah. another attack on the yemeni capital sanaa hit a house and killed four civilians. the news comes amid new evidence the saudi-led forces have used cluster munitions in yemen. human rights watch said it found u.s.-made cluster munition rockets likely used in at least seven attacks in hajjah between late april and mid-july. dozens of civilians were killed or wounded, both during the attacks and later, when they picked up unexploded submunitions that detonated. neither the united states, saudi arabia, or yemen have joined the global convention banning the use of cluster munitions. in egypt, al jazeera journalists mohamed fahmy, baher mohamed and peter greste have been sentenced to three years in jail for "spreading false news" that harmed egypt following the 2013 military coup.
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the three were initially arrested as part of a crackdown on al jazeera following the ouster of president mohamed morsi in 2013. fahmy and mohamed were led away to begin their sentences after saturday's verdict. greste was tried in absentia. the sentencing came as egypt announced it will hold long-awaited parliamentary elections in october. we'll go to egypt to speak with democracy now! correspondent sharif abdel kouddous later in the broadcast. in syria, the self-proclaimed islamic state has reportedly destroyed part of the most important temple in the ancient city of palmyra. it remains unclear how much of the 2000-year-old temple of bel was destroyed by a large explosion reported in the area. isil has occupied palmyra since may and recently destroyed another ancient building, the temple of baalshamin. the news came after turkish warplanes joined the u.s.-led coalition against isil for the first time friday, carrying out strikes in syria.
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in japan, as many as 120,000 people took to the streets of tokyo to protest new legislation to let japanese troops fight abroad for the first time since world war ii. prime minister shinzo abe has backed the effort to rewrite japan's pacifist constitution. on sunday, in one of the largest demonstrations in japan since world war ii, protesters, including mami aoji, called for peace and abe's resignation. japani were to describe with one phrase, it would be a peaceful nation. the right now the unimaginable is happening. peace is being destroyed. it is being cast upon the station right now. amy: in malaysia, tens of thousands took part in protests against prime minister najib razak, calling for him to resign over a financial scandal. organizers said 300,000 people turned out to protest reports the prime minister received about $700 million in his private accounts, which he has said came from a donor in the middle east.
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najib fired a number of people critical of him, including the attorney general investigating the transfer. in texas, a man has been arrested and charged with murder for allegedly shooting a sheriff's deputy at a gas station in the houston area. shannon miles is accused of approaching harris county deputy darren goforth while he pumped gas, and shooting him from behind. while no motive has been identified, harris county sheriff ron hickman appeared to blame the shooting on recent protests over police brutality. >> our system of justice absolutely requires law enforcement be present to protect our community. so at any point when the rhetoric ramps up to the point were calculated, cold-blooded assassination of police officers happen, this rhetoric has gotten out of control. we have heard black lives -- amy: that is harris county sheriff ron hickman. the suspect had been arrested on
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a series of misdemeanor charges several years ago. he had served time at the harris county jail, which is run by the sheriff's office. in other news from texas, bystander video appears to show sheriff's deputies near san antonio fatally shooting a man friday just after he raised his hands in surrender. cellphone footage broadcast by a local abc station shows a man suspected of domestic violence raising his hands in the air. the station froze the footage just before deputies opened fire, killing the man. bexar county sheriff susan pamerleau acknowledged the video is "cause for concern." an investigation is underway. in news from the west bank, footage of an israeli soldier pinning down a 12-year-old boy, while the boy's female relatives fight to free him, has gone viral. the video and photos were taken friday in the west bank village of nabi saleh at a protest against israeli settlement , which is considered illegal under international law. the footage shows the soldier
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putting mohammed tamimi in a headlock and pinning him down. the boy's mother, aunt and sister scuffle with the soldier. at one point, the sister appears to bite the soldier's hand, and he eventually releases the boy. the israeli army said the child was throwing stones, a claim denied by witnesses. on the campaign trail, vermont senator bernie sanders has continued to surge in popularity against hillary clinton. a new poll in iowa shows sanders running just seven points behind clinton with 30 percent support. -- 30% support. clinton has lost a third of her supporters since the last survey in may, while sanders has nearly doubled his share of the vote. an earlier poll in new hampshire showed sanders leading clinton in that primary state by seven points. on the republican side, donald trump has continued his lead, surging to 23% support in the iowa poll. on saturday, hundreds of immigrants rallied outside trump's speech in nashville, tennessee, protesting trump for
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vowing to deport all undocumented people and for calling mexican immigrants rapists. fellow republican candidate new jersey governor chris christie, meanwhile, told an audience in new hampshire saturday he would track immigrants like fedex packages. >> so here's what i'm going to do as president, i'm going to ask fred smith from fedex, come work for the government for three months. just come for three months immigration's customs enforcement and show these people to move because guess what, of the 11 million people here illegally, 40% of them did not come in over the southern border. 40% of them came in legally with a visa and overstayed their visa. we need to have a system that tracks you from the moment you come in and then when your time is up, whether it is three-month or six month or nine months or 12 months, however long your visa is, then we go get you. amy: republican presidential contender and former wisconsin governor scott walker has also
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made headlines with his most recent remarks on immigration, telling nbc's "meet the press" building a wall between the united states and canada is a "legitimate issue for us to look at." in virginia, a mentally ill, african-american man has been found dead in his jail cell after he spent four months behind bars for allegedly stealing $5 worth of food from a 7-eleven. the guardian reports jay michael mitchell was arrested by portsmouth police in april for allegedly stealing a mountain dew, a snickers bar, and a pastry. a judge had ordered mitchell's transfer to a mental hospital, but when there were no beds available, he was kept behind bars without bail. he was found dead august 19. his family believes he starved to death after refusing medication and food in jail. he was 24 years old. jozef wesolowski, the former vatican ambassador to the dominican republic, has died while awaiting trial for sexually abusing boys. wesolowski was accused of
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abusing and taking pornographic photos of poor, shoeshine boys -- poor shoeshine boys in the dominican capital, santo domingo. he would have been the first high-level cleric to stand trial before a vatican tribunal on charges of child sexual abuse. he was found dead in his vatican home friday of what officials say appear to be natural causes. he was 67. and the renowned neurologist and author oliver sack's has died at the age of 82. he wrote the best-selling book "the man who mistook his wife for a hat" among other works. he announced in february he was in the last stages of terminal cancer after melanoma in his eyes spread to his liver. he died at home in manhattan on sunday. and as new orleans marked the 10th anniversary of hurricane katrina this weekend, former president george w. bush return to new orleans prompting , protests over his delayed response to the disaster at the time. one protester held a sign with a photograph of bush, days after katrina, looking out of an
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airplane window at the destroyed city. the sign's caption read, "you're early -- come back in a week." as bush attended a memorial event friday at warren easton charter high school, protesters outside chanted, "he let new orleans drown." inside the school, footage showed bush dancing to a marching band. and those are some of the headlines. this is democracy now!, democracynow.org, the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman. the european union has called for emergency talks to address the rapidly growing number of people fleeing to europe to escape violence and unrest in syria and afghanistan, iraq, sub-saharan africa and other regions. according to the united nations high commissioner for refugees, approximately 2500 people are believed to have died or gone missing trying to reach europe so far this year. on sunday, 37 people died when a boat capsized off the libyan coast. this came just days after
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another boat capsized off the libyan coast killing more than 200 people. meanwhile, investigators in hungary and austrian authorities are continuing to probe the deaths of 71 people who were found abandoned last week inside a truck on the main highway between budapest and vienna. on friday, u.n. secretary general ban ki-moon called on governments to take action on the migrant crisis in europe. >> i am horrified and heartbroken as refugees and migrants are losing their lives in the mediterranean, europe, and beyond. we have seen countless tragedies, most recently the grim discovery of more than 70 people who suffocated inside a truck in austria. so many people have also drowned in the mediterranean and also elsewhere. we must understand why people
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are risking their lives. they are fleeing political instability and insecurity to seek a better future. amy: hungary has responded to the situation by building a 109-mile-long razor-wire fence on its southern border. meanwhile, "the washington post" reports scenes of blatant racial profiling at budapest's main train station. authorities allowed white and lighter-skinned people to pass through but stopped and demanded , papers from virtually all darker-skinned people. on saturday alone, hungary detained 3000 people. over the weekend, french foreign minister laurent fabius accused hungary of adopting a "scandalous" policy toward refugees. he made the remarks during an interview. >> with regard to all those people who are politically chased out of their country, war-torn countries, we have to be able to welcome them. it is called the plea for asylum
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in every country has to respond to that. france, germany, others. that when i see certain european countries that do not accept these groups, i find that scandalous. >> which countries are you speaking about? >> hungary, for example, what do you think of what is going on there? >> they are harsh. hungry as part of europe. we do not respect those values by putting up fences. amy: to talk more about the by joelwe're joined millman spokesman for the , international organization for migration. kenneth roth is the executive director of human rights watch. we also hope to go to the coast of sicily where migrants are pouring into the coastal towns. a are going to start right now in geneva. joel millman, talk about the extent of the crisis. i think it is one of people in the united states are not very well aware of. we are to three under 22,000
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people crossings into europe -- 322,000 people crossing into europe. with four months to go and is ear 2015, we are 100,000 above last year. these are people fleeing handful of a countries. syria summer one, somalia, in afghanistan has become prominent as well. generally, merritt consideration for asylum. the tragedy is being treated as refugees by europe under a list any circumstance, risking their lives for the opportunity to petition the most countries think they already deserve. fuelingk about what is this mass migration. from africa, from the middle
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east, from around all of the surrounding countries around europe. >> we can't be naïve. what is feeling it is the conflict in a few societies. however, it is a lawlessness of places like syria and libya right now that deny europe and the rest of the world any kind of [indiscernible] to try to control and manage the migration flow. we understand our demographics involved. there's a huge demand for cheap labor, skilled and unskilled. but the fact is, this is not a new condition. this has gone on for decades. in the absence of real authority, criminal gangs have decided to start trafficking and migrants. quite a number of these cases are people that may not of
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intended to go to europe in the first place, have been kidnapped and coerced and stuffed onto boats. we have seen that, particularly in tripoli in the western part of libya. obviously, it is the ability of any government to control this effectively that is greater the opportunity for lots of criminal gangs. are high,profits they're moving as many people as they can. amy: can you explain what the agreement is? >> it is an agreement among european countries, not solely of the european union, to be able to transit freely throughout the continent. it is to facilitate toward trade and worked quite well for many decades. principally, europe is very sffluent and follow rule very well. quite recently, there were not the made people coming. unfortunate, it is not a system transitde for orderly
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through europe when people without documents or visas start coming in these numbers. and the numbers are huge, as we have discussed. amy: thousands of migrants have slot shelter in a makeshift shantytown. this is an afghan refugee describing his experience on the eve of a visit from european officials and french ministers. >> nobody treating us like human beings. everybody, police, if you go to a city, some police say, hey, jungle, jungle, like, we are human beings. they call us jungle. it is very embarrassing for me. i cannot say about other people, but for me it is very embarrassing. it is because our country is not like, good, we cannot stay there. there is a war. amy: joel millman, if you could respond to what this migrant is saying. joel millman speaking to us by
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video stream from geneva, spokesperson for the international organization for migration. >> it is tragic, obviously. the individual that was just interviewed, he is an english speaker, educated, obviously has made it all the way from afghanistan. these are people that showed tremendous resolve, sometimes they have resources, oftentimes they have great education. they would be able to thrive and integrate well, in any society, particularly, in europe or north america. yet regulations and rules against transit or keeping them in countries where their lives are often at risk. we are no longer seeing these welcome, but threats, especially if they come from muslim countries. it is true. the reduced to living in squalor . amy: what are you calling on the european union to do right now, joel millman? >> mostly to be flexible.
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we do not lobby particularly, and we don't think it is proper to single europe outcome as many people have. they share the burden. even though it is them -- system shared by 28 countries, they're to turno find their way the policy into something more flexible and i think that may pretty good strides. last week we talked about the role that insists asylum seeker only accept asylum in the first country he arrives in, which clearly isn't working. hundreds of thousands have crossed into italy in the last two years and very few stay there. they all want to go to northern germany, the u.k. we want more resettlement and what people in europe to understand it is not a zero-sum game between letting them drown on one hand are giving them asylum and access to every benefit in society on the other. there are many, many solutions
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in between. .emporary protected status there are all kinds of things the governments have done for decades that only require a little bit of clear thinking and political will. four years ago this summer, the world was faced with the so-called boat people crisis in southeast asia. the speed and diligence with like canada,es france, the u.s., thailand, and others all pitched in and found solutions for millions of people on a short period of time. resettlement was successful. it is something to be inspired by. you often feel these data solutions for these kinds of crises, and now they see it as an excuse for they can't act. we know they can do better with time. for joel millman, thank you being with us, speaking to us by video stream from geneva, switzerland. when we come back, we will go to the front line to a coastal town in sicily where migrants are
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pouring in, overwhelming the communities, communities without solutions. we will also be joined by the head of human rights watch here in new york, kenneth roth. we will be back in a minute will . ♪ [music break]
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amy: the migrant choir. this is a collaborative public choral piece that was staged at the venice bianale as part of the creative time summit. migrants gathered from around the world. they came to venice and they
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sang in front of three countries that have turned immigrants away. italy, the british pavilion, as well as in front of the french pavilion. this is democracy now!, democracynow.org, the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman. as we continue to look at this massive global crisis, the mediterranean sea has become one of the world's deadliest borders as more than 340,000 people displaced by war and violence have attempted to reach europe this year. we go now to the coast of sicily to dr. chiara montaldo, coordinator with doctors without borders in italy, providing medical and psychological care to migrants and refugees rescued from boats in the mediterranean. she recently wrote a piece for the guardian called, "we see more and more unaccompanied children on migrant boats." welcome to democracy now!.
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describe what is happening in just your town alone or you are working. >> good afternoon. we are receiving migrants from was two years now. the condition of the people we receive is worse and worse, not so much for traveling on the se a, but the condition way before they come. the main point where they are now victims of violence is libya, where all of the people we talked with, they tell us that now is really the head. this is the war -- word they often describe libya with is "the head." there is no security. any people have been really tortured were beaten -- or beaten, burned.
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many women, but also men are raped. now what we see, and forcefully, are the consequences -- and for chile, are the consequences of the worsening situation in libya. you reach we did someone writing "we are alive only because we are not dead. explain. >> most of the people we are receiving now, they are escaping from death. they are not very well now that the sea is like russian roulette. they can die. now there are more and more shipwreck and tragedy in the sea. but they keep coming. why? because of the condition in their own countries are worse. syria, of course, but not only syria, somalia, nigeria.
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all of these people are really escaping from the situation where the risk of life is very high, higher than the sea. that is why they keep coming. not only this, we actually receive people from many different nationalities but many of them were already living in libya. another they told you the situation is worse and worse, so all of these people come because they don't have a choice. especially because they don't have other alternatives than risking the sea. affordnately, they could to buy a ticket, they could, but there is no legal way in this moment allowing them to reach safely europe or anywhere safe place. amy: the piece you wrote, you
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write of the chemical burns on the people, especially who were in the hold of the boats. you talk about how the letters can immigrants will be above lighter skinned immigrants will be above and the darker skinned immigrants, for example, africa, are below where they're more likely to get burned because immigrants fear that if darker skinned people are seen, they're more likely to be turned away. the chemical burns are symptom we see quite often. it means whenever the boat is leaking.lem, the fuel ,ometimes the fuel comes out the legs, they are really burned like a fire burn, but it is
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caused by the fuel. sometimes it is severe and sometimes we need to admit them and sometimes we can treat them at the center. it is true, unfortunately, even in the boats, there's a kind of hierarchy. displaced, bute there is a kind of -- a different kind of despair because, unfortunately, even in the boats, there's a first and second class, if we can say like that. ,nd so the last of the chain they have the worst places, the places that are more dangerous. we see more and more people in the lower part of the boat, which is the more dangerous, because they cannot breathe sometimes, the fuel is there and the gas of the boat, they are dead.
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for example, two days ago, one of our team received people -- people survived from this tragedy. 50 people died because they were in the lower part of the boat. they were probably without oxygen and they died. unfortunately, in these kinds of tragedies, the people in the yesterday, 400e people on the boat, they fight for life. the situation were even in between them sometimes there are tensions and everybody tries to save their own lives. amy: what is your message for europeans who say, we have too many problems of our own, we have to send these people back, dr. chiara montaldo? in front of i think what we are facing now, people dying, people without alternatives, i think this discussion to send them back to
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them our borders -- send back, to block our borders, for me, we should not discuss about this, we should discuss about people who are trying now to save their lives, how can we still be asking ourselves, should we block them or should not? to can we still be here think about how to protect ourselves? tohink all of our discussion protect ourselves, but for me and from a organization, the priority is not to protect ourselves, not to protect our borders, but to help people who are dying. and they will continue to die if we don't do anything. -- our borders are the cause of many of these deaths. amy: the issue of what people should be called, aside from simply human beings and people,
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migrants, refugees. what do they prefer? andy you think they should be great to political asylum? >> what i think and what we think is we prefer to call always the people "people" because for us what is important is to care for the people in need, whoever they are. if there refugees, whoever they are. we always prefer to call the people "people" or human beings. they escaped from the wars. some escaped from extreme poverty. some are victims of trafficking. many, many different people and many different reasons for which people are escaping now. but for us, this doesn't matter. for us, human beings in need. extreme need.
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human beings escaping from death, very often, or from very dangerous situations. yes, we'll was prefer to call them human beings. amy: we're also joined by kenneth roth, executive director of human rights watch. you put out numerous reports on the situation of people who are result ofas a conflict, persecution, hunger, all of the different reasons they do. what do you think has to happen now, ken? >> that may put this in perspective. we are talking about a crisis, a lot of people, but europe's population as a whole is about 500 million. we're talking about the number of people that have come this year is less than 0.1% of europe's population. compared to the united states were in document people in this country are about 11 million, that is about 3.5% of the u.s. population. the u.s. population is completely integrated massive
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more people, on a much larger tage then europe. where having a debate about a path to citizenship, but realistically, these people are here to stay in the u.s. is just incorporated them. this is not really a crisis. europe is perfectly able to manage integrating 0.1% of its population. the problem is, doesn't want to -- at least, some people don't want to. you saw the french foreign minister, powerfully speaking for the need to welcome these people, the german chancellor has also been outspoken in this regard. we are seeing some leadership, but the right-wing a particular -- in particular is creating the problems which are not political problems. in ecowas should the european union do? a is important to recognize substantial portion of these people are refugees, that is to safely conflict and persecution. yes, some economic migrants among the but most -- at least
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have a right not to be sent back to persecution and once they land on european soil, they have a right to have their asylum claimed, adjudicated, and if they're found to be refugees, as most of them will be, they are entitled to stay. what europe needs to do is stop treating the mediterranean or the often dangerous land crossing, stop treating drowning in debt as a way of preserving its borders. it needs to find safe and legal routes for these people who really do need to flee. a way for them to get to europe without risking their lives. we have seen modest steps in that direction. if you look at the way europe has responded to the mediterranean sea crossing, when the italians were in charge, they had something that very much focused on protecting people. the european union took over about a year ago with operation triton and put a priority on preserving europe's borders over protecting people -- until this
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last spring when 1000 people died in a week and it changed. i'm not sure if it changed in up because just this weekend, we have seen a number of drownings up the libyan coast. europe should be patrolling much more aggressively near the mediterranean coast to try to rescue people as quickly as possible so they are not continuing to used rounding is a way of -- amy: what does the united states have to do with it? you have these massive conflicts that have roiled the globe. do we have a responsibility here? >> well, yes. if you look at why people are fleeing -- let's take the syrians, the largest percentage. in an ordinary war, you can get some degree protection by moving away from the front line. but in syria, al-assad is dropping barrel bombs in the middle of civilian neighborhoods that happened to be controlled with the opposition. there is no safe place to move in syria if you're in opposition held territory, which is why we have 4 million refugees from syria today. one very important thing to do
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is to go to the root causes, to try to put real pressure on al-assad to stop barrel bombing people. let's not forget why we have this crisis. it's not like everyone woke up this morning and thought it would be nice to move to europe. these people are being forced out. amy: d.c. connections between what we're seeing in the united states -- i mean, you have the republican rhetoric, donald trump saying, build a wall, mexicans are rapists, all 11 million a document of people .hould be deported your chris christie submission be treated like fedex packages and tracked. what are the connections you see between what is happening in the united states and what is happening in europe? >> there are commonalities between the right-wing in both
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europe and the united states. what this is really about is some sense that the migrants are somehow destroying american culture or european culture, that these societies cannot incorporate the changes that would result from welcoming in hundreds of thousands, in some cases in the u.s., millions of people. the u.s. in fact is just fine. in fact, it has been greatly enriched by the immigration. it is not as if american culture is radically different today from what it was two or three decades ago, it is not as if american democracy is in jeopardy. this, and in the left, is an argument the right-wing likes to put forward will stop you see similar arguments in europe aggravated by the fact some any of these asylum-seekers and migrants are muslim. and there is this terrifying fear in europe that largely christian europe is somehow going to change for the worst because a handful of muslims are going to come in. there is this unfortunate right-wing racist commonality.
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amy: i want to thank you, ken roth, for joining us. i hope you'll stay because we will be speaking with sharif abdel kouddous in egypt. kenneth roth here in new york and thank you to, dr. chiara montaldo, coordinator with doctors without borders speaking to us from sicily, italy. we will continue to follow this issue. this is democracy now!, democracynow.org, the war and peace report. when we come back, we get a go to alaska. president obama is renaming mount mckinley denali. and we will talk about climate change in alaska before we go to cairo. 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. president obama arrives in alaska today where he will call
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-- he talked about his trip during his weekly address. >> all have several opportunities to meet with everyday alaskans about what is going on in their lives. it will travel throughout the state, neat with alaskans who live above the arctic circle, alaska natives, and with folks who earn their livelihood through fishing and tourism. i expect to learn a lot. one thing i've learned so far is that a lot of these conversations begin with climate change. and that is because alaskans are arctic living with its effects. more frequent and extensive wildfires, bigger storm surges as the sea ice melts faster post up some of the swiftest shoreline erosion in the world will stop in some places, more than three feet a year. alaska's glaciers are melting faster, too. to butchershing, are projected to rise between six and 12 degrees by the end of the century, changing all sorts of industries forever.
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amy: on wednesday, president obama will deliver a speech at the conference on global leadership in the arctic -- cooperation, innovation, engagement and resilience, or glacier -- to address the crucial climate challenges in the arctic. obama's visit to the arctic comes on the heels of his administration's decision to tentatively approve shell's plans to begin oil extraction off the alaskan coast this summer. despite protest from environmental groups. president obama announced that mckinley will be changed back to denali, its traditional alaska native name. a house congressional delegation had fought for the mckinley name. alaska natives have long viewed the name as imperialist. for more we go to anchorage where we are joined by richard steiner a marine conservation , biologist and former professor at the university of alaska. today, dr. steiner will speak at
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the "our climate, our future" rally ahead of president obama's speech. he is involved in the emergency response to the 1989 exxon valdez spill and proposed the court settlement and major thrust of the restoration program for habitat protection. he has now started petition called, "tell president obama to designate marine national monuments in alaska," which just surpassed 100,000 signers. richard steiner, welcome back to democracy now! talk about what you will be saying in your speech today and why you're protesting president obama, who is the first sitting president to come to the alaskan arctic to address the issue of climate change. >> thanks, amy, it is good to be back. yeah, i think president obama has been good on climate. he probably has been the best president in the history of the nation on climate change, but the problem is, he hasn't been good enough. the commitments he has made are not enough to turn the tide on
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climate change, whereas -- where a sinking boat, just like we're taking on two gallons of water every minute and we are bailing one gallon. it is a recognition that they have made that there is a serious problem here, but it is not enough to fix the problem. this is an enormous threat in alaska. we are living a daily. we are in crisis. and we need of her response commiserate with the crisis. amy: explain what drilling off the alaskan coast will mean. all of the environment was, the people who hung from the bridges to try to prevent shell from moving its rates to the alaska -- to the arctic to drill. >> in a real sense, we think it is somewhat hypocritical on the one hand to say we're concerned about climate change and the
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scientific community is clear we need to be leaving maybe two thirds of the height of carbon reserves and oil, gas coming: around the world where it is right now, in the ground and in the seabed, in order to be able to stabilize global climate in the future. the best place to start doing that, in our view, is the new frontier of the arctic in which there's something like 100 billion tons of carbon. to the climate, you probably doesn't matter if the ton of carbon comes from the middle east for the gulf of mexico or africa or the arctic, but the optics of this are very worrying. it shows up that if we're going to go ahead and real for oil offshore in the arctic -- drill for oil offshore in the arctic and oppose this disturbance and this huge spill risk to this extraordinary ecosystem, it shows us we may not be really serious enough with enough resolve to actually want to leave carbon in the ground and
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in the seabed, which is what we know we need to do. so it is worrisome to many people who are concerned about climate. amy: richard steiner, you ultimately resign from the university of alaska around your views and scholarship on environmental protection. can you talk about what happened and talk more broadly about the power of the oil industry? >> the oil industry is god in alaska. that is the way it is viewed by many politicians. oil revenues run the state of alaska budget. they constitute something like eight or percent to 90% of alaska state revenues. it is a big deal in alaska. it has this political momentum around it. all of the institutions, the university is extraordinarily pro-oil.
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agencies. state even the federal agencies here. i've seen that all over the world where large oil industry develops -- africa, the middle east, southeast asia -- and has this kill your political -- pixel your political momentum. in alaska, the university did not want me teaching my truth publicly, there were concerns and risks about offshore drilling in alaska and they did not want me saying that. i argued i had not just the right, but the responsibility to seek and teach that truth. that was part of the workout was doing on behalf of the university. i complained about the risks of one particular offshore drilling project in bristol bay and the university terminated my federal funding because of that. i argued with them, then i ultimately said the heck with it, and i resigned on principle, that i was not going to pretend to work for an institution that
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pretended on are academic freedoms, but in the end, actually did not. so i resigned. the problem is, the university -- everybody else has this very clear message right now that thou shalt not criticize alaskan oil or your position is at risk. amy: we're leading up to the yuan climate summit in paris. what do you think needs to happen? >> certainly, the u.s. needs to double down on the commitments that president obama has made so far. the u.s. declared commitment is something like 28% to 30% reduction in carbon emissions by 2030. that is good, but about half of what we need at paris. the big deal as well is, the u.s. agreement with china last year allows china to continue increasing the carbon emissions until 2030 -- for the next 15
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years -- and considerably, china could then double their carbon emissions by the time this agreement requires them to cap their emissions and begin reducing it. when president obama meets with the chinese president next month in washington, they should revisit that deal and get china to commit to earlier and more substantial greenhouse gas reductions. paris is the make or break game. either we get this strong, urgent legally binding deal in paris or, i think, we are sunk. paris is a make or break deal. amy: rick steiner, thank you for being with us marine , conservation biologist and former professor at the university of alaska. today he will speak at the "our climate, our future" rally ahead of president obama's speech. he has started a petition that has now more than 100,000 signatures "tell president obama , to designate marine national monuments in alaska."
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wherehad to cairo egypt, al jazeera journalists mohamed fahmy, baher mohamed, and peter greste were sentenced over the weekend to three years in jail for "spreading false news" that harmed egypt following the 2013 military coup. that is what they were convicted of. fahmy's wife marwa omara, broke down in tears as the sentence was announced on saturday. >> extremely unfair. what happened with mohammed shows how much this case is political. it is so unfair what is happening dam. we got married and i didn't even enjoy our marriage. the two were taken back into custody. peter greste spoke out against the ruling from partially a he was deported to. >> the fact is, we did nothing wrong. there was no evidence of wrongdoing. that these guys are innocent men
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and innocent men are in prison. that is what this is about. never mind the sentences. one day in prison would be unjust. amy: human rights lawyer amal clooney, who represents canadian-egyptian mohamed fahmy, has called on president al-sisi to pardon the men. the three were initially arrested as part of a crackdown on al jazeera following the ouster of president mohamed morsi in 2013. they were sentenced last june to between seven and 10 years in prison, a ruling condemned around the world. peter greste was released in february and deported home to australia. shortly afterwards, following more than 400 days behind bars, fahmy and baher mohamed were also freed on bail. the case has been widely condemned. fahmy and mohamed were led away to begin their sentences after saturday's verdict. greste was tried in absentia. to find out more, we're joined now via democracy now! video stream by sharif abdel kouddous, democracy now! correspondent in egypt. can you talk about the response right now in egypt and the significance of the sentences? >> a really stunning verdict.
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many people were expecting the journalists would receive some kind of sentence that would be timeserver or suspended sentence, especially that they had signaled the trial brought unwanted scrutiny of the egyptian government. sisi said several times himself you would have deported the journalist rather than try them and wished the prosecution and never been brought. nevertheless, the heartbreaking and shocking scene of the journalists, sentenced to three years in prison. they were hauled away to jail. the judge said in his verdict that they were not journalists because they lacked the necessary credentials. he said they were using unlicensed equipment and broadcasting false news that harmed egypt's security. the last accusation is especially shocking given did the trial the judge appointed a
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committee to look at the evidence that none of the new evidence showed it was fabricated. nevertheless, the judge concluded that in his ruling. this is the latest twist in this long ordeal that began december 2013 for these journalists. we will have to wait and see what will happen next. as you mentioned, canada has put in an official request for deportation for mohamed fahmy and called for a pardon from sisi. the president -- resident sisi can pardon them at any point. he does not have to wait until the end of the judicial proceedings. he has done it in the past. that would be the best case scenario. another would be deportation of mohamed fahmy, but that would leave baher mohamed behind bars. a single dispensable
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casing. this is the latest verdict in a broader crackdown that we've seen in egypt against the press. the committee to protect journalists to the survey and recently found 18 or over 20 journalists are now behind bars, the highest number since record-keeping in 1990 for egypt. amy: i want to play the comment of amal clooney denouncing the verdict. >> it sends a very dangerous message in egypt, it sends a message that journalists can be locked up for sibley to another jobs in reporting the news. it sends a dangerous message that there are judges that allow it to become instruments [indiscernible] propaganda. amy: that is amal clooney, mohamed fahmy's attorney. his or anything the united states can do considering how many billions of dollars in gifts to egypt? >> yes, the u.s. should stop
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cozying up to president sisi. he is presiding over them worst crackdown in egypt, worse than anything under mubarak. there are 22 journalists prison right now and 40,000 political prisoners. the u.s., nonetheless, is its biggest of military aid. it is sending the message, we will live with this dictator because he is pro-west. amy: should the u.s. cut off aid? >> absolutely. it should never have resumed the age for -- aid. i think john kerry is still the one who sees the transition. amy: kenneth roth, thank you for being with us and sharif abdel kouddous, thanks for joining us from cairo. that does it for the broadcast. 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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