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tv   Democracy Now  LINKTV  May 17, 2016 8:00am-9:01am PDT

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05/17/16 05/17/16 [captioning made possible by democracy now!] amy: from chicago, this is democracy now! >> the u.s. invasion of iraq was a major reason in the development of o or primary rean in the incitement of sectarian conflicts, which have now exploded into these monstrosities. amy: "who rules the world?" we continue our conversation with noam chomsky, leading political dissident, on unrest in the middle east, the threat of a new nuclear arms race, the
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ouster of brazilian president the life and legacy of the , pioneering attorney michael ratner, and the state of the political system in the ununited states. >> so far to the right, that today's mainstream democrats are pretty much what used to be calllled moderate republilicans. and republicans are just off the stratum. amy: today noam chomsky for the , hour. all that and more, coming up. welcome to democracy now!, democracynow.org, the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman. in north carolina, 11 people were arrested over the anti-transgegender law. hundreds off people dissented on the statate legislatature as paf the moraral monday action callig for north carolina to repeal the law. known as hb to come or the
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bathroom bill, the measure nullifies ordinances protecting lgbt people from discrimination and forces transgender people to use the bathroom that matches what t they were assssigned on r birth certificate. the justice department has sued north carolina over the lalaw, whicich calls -- because discriminatory. north carolilina has sueued the government to defendnd the law. on monday, the aclu and lambda legal asked the judge to block enforcement of the law by ising prelimiminary i induction will -- injunction. releasing a singer burned her birth certificate on stage. she came out as transgender in 2012. democratic voters head to the polls in kentucky and oregon today. the prprimaries come aftfter supporters of bernie sanders protested procedures they saw as favoring hillary clinton at the nevada convention over the weekend. back in february, initial results in nevada favored
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clinton, but then sanders mobilized more support at the county conventions, making it appear he mimight actually end p with more delegates. at the state convention saturday, sanders supporters erupted in protest after they say the delegate allocation rules were abruptly changed in clinton's favor. they also claimed about 60 sanders supporters were wrongly denied delegate status. clinton emerged with 20 pledged delegates to sanders' 15. on monday, bernie sanders campaigned in puerto rico, which holds its democratic primary june 5. sanders said puerto rico's $70 billion debt must be restructured in a way ththat doesn't deepen its economic crisis. >> it is unacceptable to me that vulture funds on wall street are demanding that puerto rico fire teacachers, closose it schools,t
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pensions, and abolish the minimum wage so that they can reap huge profits off the sufferings and the miserery of e children and the people of puerto rico. we cannot allow that to happen. we will not allow that to happen. amy: republicans also vote in oregon today, even donald trump -- even though donald trump has become the presumptive republican presidential nominee. his two rivals, john kasich and ted cruz have dropped out of the race. on monday, an attorney with the trump organization suggested trump might sue the new york times over an article about his treatment of women. the "times" interviewed dozens of women who interacted with trump, from a beauty pageant contestant who said trump kissed her on the lips to a woman executive who said trump commented on her weight, telling her, "you like your candy." the article also referred to his ex-wife ivana's allegations trump raped her in a fit of rage.
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in the book, "lost tycoon: the many lives of donald j. trump," trump's lawyers insisted a statement by ivana trump be placed in front, which read, "i referred to this as a 'rape,' but i do not want my words to be interpreted in a literal or criminal sense." the supreme court has declined to rule on a major case involving access to birth control under president obama's signature healthcare law. the obama administration has already exempted churches and other houses of worship from a rule requiring employer health plans to provide birth control coverage to employees without a co-pay. religiously affiliated nonprofits simply need to notify the health insurer or government that they object to providing birth control coverage, at which point the government takes over and they have no further role. but a number of nonprofits argue the notification process itself violates their religious freedom. the supreme court has been left with just eight justices following the death of justice antonin scalia and republican efforts to block obama's
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nominee. on monday, the court handed the birth control cases back to lower courts, instructing them to find an approach that accommodates religious freedom while ensuring employees by the nonprofits have equal access to birth control. in afghanistan, a massive demonstration over better access to electrical power gripped capital kabul monday. security forces tried to block routes to the presidential palace with shipping containers. thousands of members of afghanistan's hazara minority took to kabul's streets to demand a planned power line pass through provinces with large hazara populatioions. philippine president-elect rodrigo duterte has vowed to seek to restore the death penalty. in his first comments to journalists following his victory in last week's election, he said he would also give security forces the power to shoot-to-kill for suspects who evade arrest. during his campaign, duterte vowed to kill tens of thousands of criminals.
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he addressed reporters on monday. >> [indiscernible] amy: he has been called the filipino trump. executions have been suspended in the philippines since 2006 amid opposition from the catholic church. the cia's internal watchdog has admitted it mistakenly destroyed its only copy of the senate's report on cia torture. yahoo! news said the acknowledgment came as justice department lawyers assured a federal judge copies of the
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report were being preserved. the cia reportedly does have another copy. the 6700-page report has never been released. another journalist has been murdered in the mexican state of veracruz. manuel torres was shot in the head saturday as he returned home. he worked with a local city council and was editor-in-chief of the news site noticias mt. a statement from the veracruz attorney general did not acknowledge torres as a journalist. at least 16 journalists have been killed in baruch use since killed in veracruz since 2010, another three have disappeared. in upstate new york, residents opposed to the storage of natural gas in underground salt caverns at seneca lake have been dealt a blow by federal regulators. the federal energy regulatory commission has extended a permit allowing a subsidiary of the texas-based company crestwood midstream another two years to expand its natural gas storage facility in the salt caverns.
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opponents of the plan say seneca lake provides drinking water to 100,000 people in the heart of new york's scenic wine country. more than 500 protesters have been arrested protesting the gas storage plans, which they say could lead to a disastrous leak and threaten public health. in new york city monday, more than 100 people rallied outside the shareholder's meeting of conedison to protest the utility's plan to jointly own the gas storage facility. seneca county farmer jan quarles invoked the recent methane leak in california, where 100,000 tons of methane leaked from an underground storage site. >> shareholders and ratepayers really want this risk? >> no! and porterane leak ranch, california, was a complete disaster. if forced 5000 people to evacuate, and socalgas is being
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sued for over $2 billion. new yoyork cannot afford t that. amy: the intercept news site has begun releasing a trove of internal newsletters from what it says is the most significant division of the national security agency. the documents from the signals intelligence directorate date back to 2003. in addition to more mundane details about employees' vacations, the intercept says the internal newsletters, reveal -- which were leaked by edward snowden, reveal details about how the nsa helped pave the way for the iraq war, and how its personnel worked alongside the cia and other agencies on interrogations at guantanamo. and those are some of the headlines. this is democracy now!, democracynow.org, the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman. we are on the road on our 100 city tour, today broadcasting from chicago. the united states and russia are co-chairing a meeting in vienna today of the 17-nation international syria support group aimed at easing the five-year conflict. according to a recent report by
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the syrian center for policy research, the death toll in syria has reached close to half a million people nearly twice , the number counted by the united nations a year and a half ago when it stopped keeping track of the numbers killed because of the data's unreliability. just last month president obama , announced the deployment of 250 more special operations troops to syria in a move that neararly doubles t the official. presence in the country. syria is only one of a number of conflicts in the m middle east.. last year, a record 60 million people were forced to flee their homes becoming refugees. , well, for more on these conflicts, from syria to iraq to yemen and the united states' , role in the ongoing violence, we continue our conversation with internationally-renowned political dissident, linguist, author, noam chomsky. he has written over a hundred -- 100 books most recently "who , rules the world?"
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noam chomsky is institute professor emeritus at massachusetts institute of technology, where he's taught for more than 50 years. i began by asking him about the conflict in syria. >> syria is spiraling into real disaster. of -- a virtual suicide. and the only sensible approach, the only slim hope, for syria is efforts to reduce the violence and destruction, to establish small regional ceasefire zones and to move toward some kind of diplomatic settlement. there are steps in that direction. also, it's necessary to cut off the flow o of arms, as much asas possible, to everyone. that means to the vicious and brutal assad regime, primarily
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russia and iran, to the monstrous isis, which has been getting support tacitly through turkey, through -- to the al-nusra front, which is hardly different, has just the -- the al-qaedada affiliate, technicaly broke from it, butut actually te al-qaeda affiliate, which is now planning its own -- some sort of emirate, getting arms from our allies, qatar and saudi arabia. our own -- the cia is arming them. we don't know at what level. it is clandestine. as much as possible, cut back the flow of arms, the level of violence, try to save people from destruction. there should be far more support going simply for humanitarian aid. those who are building some sort of a a society in syria -- notably, the kurds -- should be supported in that effort. these efforts should be made to
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cut off the flow of jihadis from the places where they're coming from. and that means understanding why it's happening. it's not enonough just to say, "ok, let's bomb ththem to oblivion." this is happening for reasons. some of the reasons, unfortunately, arere -- we c cat reverse. the u.s. invasion of iraq was a major reason in the development, a primary reason in the incitementnt of sectarian conflicts, which have now exploded intnto these monsososities. that's water under the bridge, unfortunately, though we can make sure not to do that -- not to continue with that. but wewe may like it or nonot, t isis, the isil, whatever you want to callll it, does have popular support even among
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, people who hate it. the sunni -- much of the sunni population of iraq and syria evidently regards it as better than the alternative, something which at least defends them from the alternative. from the western countries, the flow of jihadis is primarily from young people who live in conditions of humiliation, degradation, repression, and want something decent -- want some d dignity in their lives, want something idealistic. they're picking the wrong horse, by a large margin, but you can understand what they're aiming for. and there's plenty of research and stududies. scott atran and othehers have worked on this and have plenty of evidence about itit. and those conditions -- alleviating and dealing with those real problems can be a way to reduce the level of violence
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and destruction. it's much more dramatic to say, "let's carpet bomb them," or "let's bomb them to oblivion," or "let's send in troops." but that simply makes the situatation far worse.e. actually, we've seen it for 15 years. just take a look at the so-called war on terror, which george w. bush declared -- actually, redeclared. reagan had declared it -- but redeclared in 2001. atat that point, jihadi terrorim was located in a tiny tribal area near the afghan-pakistan border. where is -- and since then, we've been hitting one or another center of what we call terrorism with a sledgehammer. what's happened? each time, i it spreads. by now, it's all over the world.
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it's all over africa, southeast asia, south asia, everywhere you look. take the bombing of libya,a, whh hihillary clinton n was strongln favor of, onone of the leaders , smashed up libya, destroyed a functioning society. the bombing sharply escalated the level of atrocities by a large factor, devastated the country, left it in the hands of warring militias, opened the door for isis to establish a base, spread jihadis and heavy weapons all through africa, in fact, into the middle east. last year, the -- according to u.n. statistics, the worst terror in ththe world was in wet africa, boko haram and others, to a considerable extent an offshohoot of the bombing of libya. that's what happens when you hit vulnerable systems witith a sledgehammer, not knowing what
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you're doioing and not looking t the roots of where t these movements are developing from. so you have to understand the -- undederstand where it's cocoming from, where the appeal lies, what the roots are -- there are often quite genuine grievances -- at the same time try to cut back the level of viololence. and, you know, we've had experience where things like this worked. take, say, i ira terrorism. it was pretty severe. now, they pracactically murdered the whole british cabinet atat e point. as long as britain responded to ira terrorism with more terror and violence, it simply escalated. as soon as britain finalally ben -- incidentally, with some helpful u.s. assistance at this point -- in paying some attention to the actual grievances of northern irish catholics, as soon as they started with that, violence
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subsided, reduced. people who had been called leading terrorists showed up on negotiating teams, even, finalllly, in the government. i happened to be in belfast in 1993. it was a war zone, literally. i was there again a a couple of yearars ago. it looksks like anany other cit. you can see ethnic antntagonism, but nothing terribly out of the orordinary. that's the way to o deal with these issues. incidentally, what's happening inin syria right now is horrendodous, but we shouldn't'- useful to remember that it's not the first time. if you go back a century, almost exactly a century, the end of the first world war, there were hundreds of thousands of people starving to death in syria. proportionally, proportional to the population, it's likely that more syrians died d in the firit world war than any other belligerent.
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syria did revive, and it can revive a again. amy: we will continue with noam chomsky, world-rerenowned political dissident, author, his latest book "who rules the after break. ♪ [music break]
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amy: sinead o'connor, "black boys on mopeds." this is democracy now!, democracynow.org, the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman. we are the road in chicago, illinois. we continue part two of our conversation with world-renowned political dissident, linguist, and author, noam chomsky, institute professor emeritus at massachusetts institute of technology, where he has taught for more than half a century. his latest book "who rules the , world?" i asked him to talk about saudii arabia's role in the middle eaeast. >> there is a long history, the basic story is the united states, like britain before it,
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has tended to support radical islamism against secular nationalism. that has been a consistent theme of imperial ststrategy for a a g time. saudi arabia is the center of radical islamic extremism. patrick cockburn, one of the best commentators and most knowledgeable commentators, has correctly pointed out that what he calls the wahhibisation of sunni islam, the sprpread of sai extremisist wahhabi i doctrine r sunni islam, the sunni world, is one of the real disasters of modern -- of the modern era. it's a source of not only funding for extremist radical islam and the jihadi outgrowths of it, but also, doctrinally, mosques, clerics, and so on, schools, you know, madrassas,
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qaran, isjust studydy spreading all over the huge sunni areas from saudi influence. and it continues. saududi arabia itself has one of the most grotesque human rights records in thehe world. the isis beheadings, which shock everyone. i think saudi arabia is the only country where you have regular beheadings. that's the least of it. women have no -- can't drive, so on and so forth. and it is strongly backed by the united states and its allies, britain and france. reason? it's got a lot of oil. it's got a lot of money. you can sell them a lot of arms, i think tens of bibillions of dollarars of arms. and the actitions that it's carrying out, for example, in yemen, which you mentioned, are causing an immensese humanitarin catastrophe in a pretty poor country, also stimulating jihadi terrorism, naturally, with u.s. and also british arms. french are trying to get into it as well.
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this is a very ugly story. saudi arabia -- saudi arabia itself, its economy -- its economy is based not only on a wasting resource, but a resource which is destroying the world. there's reports now thatat it's trying to take some steps to -- much belated steps. --uld have been 50 years ago to t try to diversify the ececo. it does have resources that arae not destructive, like sunlight, for example, which could be used, and is, to an extent, being used foror solar power. but it's way too late and probably can't be done. but it has been a serious source of major global problems -- a horrible socieiety in itself, in many ways -- and the u.s. and its allies, and britain before
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it, have stimulated these radical islamist d developments throughout the islamic world for a lolong time. amy: do you think obama has dealt with saudi arabia any differently than president bush before him? >> not in any way that i c can see, no. maybe in nuances. amy: what about what's happening right now in brazil, where protests are continuing over the legislature's vote to suspend president dilma rousseff and put her on trial? now el salvador has refused to recognize the new brazilian government. and the brazilian -- the salvadoran president, ceren, said rousseff's ouster had "the appearance of a coup d'etat." what's happening there? and what about the difference between -- it looked like perhaps bush saved latin america simply by not focusing on it, totally wrapped up in iraq and afghanistan. it looks like the obama administration is paying a bit more attention.
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>> welell, i don't think it't'st a matter of not paying attention. latin america has, to a significant extent, liberated itself from foreign -- meaning mostly u.s. -- domination in the past 10 or 15 years. that's a dramatic development in world affairs. it's the first time in 500 years. it's a big change. so the so-called lack of attention is partly the fact that the u.s. is kind of being driven out of the hemisphere, less that it can do. it used to be able to overthrow governments, carry out coups at will and so on. , it tries. there have been three -- maybe it depends how you count them -- coups, coup attempts this century. one in venezuela in 2002 succeeded for a couple of days, backed by the u.s., overthrown
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by popular reaction. a second in haiti, 2004, succeeded. the u.s. and france -- canada helped -- kidnapped the president, sent him off to central africa, won't permit his party to run in n elections. that was a successful coup. honduras, under obama, there was a military coup, overthrew a reformist president. the e united states wawas almost alone in pretty much legitimizing the coup, you know, claiming that the elections under the coup regime were legitimate. honduras, always a very poor, repressed society, became a total horror chamber. huge flow of r refugees, we thtw them back in t the border, backo the violence, which we helped create. paraguay, there was a kind of a sesemi-coup. what's happening -- also to get rid of a progressive priest who
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was running the country briefly. what's happening in n brazil now is extremely unfortunate in many ways. first of all, there has been a massive level of corruption. regrettably, the workers' party, lula's party, which had a real opportunity to achieve something extremely significant, and did make some considerable positive changes, nevertheless joined the rest -- the traditional elite in just wholesale robbery. and that should -- that should be punished. on the other hand, what's happening now, what you quoted from el salvador, i think, is pretty accurate. it's a kind of a soft coup. the elite detested the workers' party and is using this opportunity to get rid of the party that won the elections.
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they're not waiting for the elections, which they'd probably lose, but they want to get rid of it, exploiting an economic recession, which is serious, and the massive corruption that's been exposed.. but as even "the new york times" pointed out, dilma rousseff is maybe the e one politician w who hasn't -- leading politician who hasn't stolen in order to benefit herself. she's being charged with manipulations in the budget, which are pretty standard in many countries, taking from one pocket and putting it into another. maybe it's a misdeed of some kind, but cecertainly doesn'tt justify impeachment. in fact, she's -- we have the one leading politician who hasn't stolen to enrich herself, who is being impeached by a gang of thieves, who haveve done so. that does count as a kind of soft coup. i think that's correct.
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amy: i wanted to move back to the ununited states, to the e ie of the republican party and what you see happening there, the republican establishment fiercely opposed to o the presumptive nominee. i don't know if we have ever seen anything like this, although that could be changing. can you talk about the significance -- i mean, you have sheldon adelson, who is now saying he will pour, what, tens of millions of dollars into donald trump. you have the koch brothers -- i think it was charles koch saying he could possibly see supporting hillary clinton, if that were the choice, with donald trump. what is happening? >> well, first of all, the phenomenon that we have just seen is an extreme version of something that has been going on just for years in the republican primaries. take a look back at the
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preceding ones. every time a candidate came up from the base -- bachmann, mccain, santorum, huckabee, one crazier than the other -- every time one rose from the base, the republican establishment sought to beat them down and get their own -- get their own man -- you know, romney. and they succeeded, until this year. this year the same thing happened and they didn't succeed. the pressure from the base was too great for them to beat it back. now, that is the disaster that the republican establishment sees. but the phenomenon goes way back. and it has roots. it's kind of like jihadis -- you have to ask about the roots. what are the roots? the republican -- both political parties have shifted to the right during the neoliberal
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period -- the period, you know, since reaganan, goes back to lae carter, escalateded under reagan -- during this period, which has been a period of stagnation and decline for much of the population in many ways -- wages, benefits, security and so on -- along with enormous wealth concentrated in a tiny fraction of the population, mostly financial institutions, which are -- have a dubious, if not harmful, role on the economy. this has been going on for a generation. and while this has been happening, there is a kind of a vicious cycle. you have more concentration of wealth, concentration of political power, legislation to increase concentration of wealth and power, and so on, that while that has been going g on, much f the population has simply been cast aside. the white workining class is bitter and angry, for lots of reasons, including these.
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the minority populations were hit very hard by the clinton destruction of the welfare system and the incarceration rules. they still tend d to support the democrats, but tepidly, because the alternative is worse, and they are taking a kind of pragmatic stand. but while the parties have shifted to -- but the parties have shifted so far to the right that today's mainstream democrats are pretty much what used to be called moderate republicans. the republicans are just off the spectrum. they have been correctly described by leading conservative commentators like norman ornstein and thomas mann, as just what they call a radical insurgency, which has abandoned parliaiamentary polilitics. and they don't even try to conceal it. like as soon as obama was elected,d, mitch m mcconnell sa, pretty much straight out, "we
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have only one policy -- make the country ungovernable, and then maybe we can somehow get power again." that is just off the spectrum. now, the actual policies of the republicans, whether it is paul ryan or donald trump, to the extent that hehe is coherentnt,d cruz, you pick him, or the establishment, is basically enrich and empower the very rich and the very powerful and the corporate sector. you cannot get votes that way. so therefore the republicans have been compelled to turn to sectors of the population that can be mobilized and organized on other grounds, kind of trying to put to the side the actual polilicies, hoping, the establishment hopes, that the white working class will be mobilized to vote for their bibitter class enenemies, who wt to shaft t them in every w way,y appealing to something else, like so-called social conservatism -- you know,
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abortion rights, racism, nationalism and so on. and to some extent, that's happened. that is the kind of thing that fritz stern was referring to in the article that i mentioned about germanany's collapse, this descent into barbarism. so what you have is a voting base consisting of evangelical christians, ultranationalists, racists, disaffected, angry, white working-g-class sectors tt have been hit very hard, that are -- you knknow, not by third world standards, but by first world standards, we even have the remarkable phenomenon of an increase in mortality among these sectors. that just doesn't happen in developed societies. all of that is a voting base. it does produce candidates who terrify the corporate,e, wealth, elite establishment.
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inin the past, they havave beene to beat them down. this time they are not doing it. and that is what has happening to the so-called republican party. we should recognize -- if we were honest, we would say something that sounds utterly shocking and no doubt will be taken out of context and lead to hysteria on the part of the usual suspects, but the e fa off the matter is that today's republican party qualify as candidates for the most dangerous s organization in humn history. liliterally. just take e their posisition one two major issues that face us: climate change, nuclear war. on climate change, it is not even debatable. they are saying "let's race to , the precipice. let's makeke sure that our grandchildren have the worst possible life."
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on nuclear war, they are calling for increased militarization. it's already way too high, more than half the discretionary budget. "let's shoot it up." they cut back other resoururcesy cutting back taxes on the rich, so there's nothing left. there has been nothing - -- liteterally, this dangerous, if you think about it, to the species, really, ever. we should face that. amy: do you think that president obama has intensified this threat, i mean, now with the trillion dollar plan to "moderninize" the nuclear arsrs? >> it is a very bad stetep. and it is not just modernizing the arsenal, which ought to bebe reduced. worth remembering we have even a legal obligation to cut back and, ultimately, eliminate nuclear weapons. but it's also something you you mentioned earlier developing , these small nuclear weapons. sounds kind of nice. there are small not big.
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,it is the opposite. small nuclear weapons provide a temptation to use them, figuring, "well, it's only a small weapon, so it won't destroy, you know, a whole city." but t as soon as you use a small nuclear weapon, chances of retaliation escalate pretty sharply. and that means you could pretty soon be in a situationon where you are having a real nuclear exchange, pretty well known now that that wowould lead t to a nuclear winter, which would make life essentially impossible. amy: as president obama heads to hiroshima, do you think he should be apologizing for the only nuclear bombs, atomic bombs, dropped in the world, the u.s. dropping them, launching the nuclear age, on n hiroshima and nagasaki in 1945? >> i thought -- i mean, i'm old enough to remember it. and that day was jt the ---- maybe the grimmest d d i can
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remember. en came something even worse -- the b bombing of nagasaki, mainly to try to test a nenew weapon design. these are real horror stories. ththe carpet -- the bombing, firebombing of japanese cities a couple months earlier was not that much better, tokyo especially. we might even recall that there was what was called a grand finale in the air force history. after the two atom bombs, aftete russia had e entered the war, which enended any japanese h hoe for any kind of -- any hope that they had for anyny sort of negotiated settlement, afterer that -- it was all over -- after japan had officially surrendered, though before it had been made public, after that, the u.s. organized a
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1000-plane raid, which was a big logistic feat, to bomb japanese cities to kind of show the "japs" who was on top, and survivors, so like makoto oda, a well-known japanese writer who recently died, reported that as a child in osaka, he remembers bombs falling along with leaflets saying, "japan has susurrendered." now, that was not a lethal bombing, but it was a brutal one, a brutal sign of brutality. all of these events call for serious rethinking -- yes, apology, but mainly seriouss rethinking of just what we're up to in the world. and remember that this goes on. those were small bombs by today's standard. if you look at the record since, since 1945, it is an absolute miracle ththat we've s survived. new examples are discovered all the time. just a couple of months ago, it
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was revealed that in 1979, last carter year, the u.s. . automatd detection systems sent a -- determined that there was a major russian missile attack against the united states. protocol is this goes to the joint chiefs of staff, they evaluate it, g goes to the national security adviser -- zbigniew brzezinski at the time -- and he notifies the president. brzezinski was actually on the phone ready to call carter to launch a nuclear attack, which means the doomsdayay clock goeso midnight, on the phone when they received information saying that it was a. learn. another of the hundreds, if not thousandnds, of false alarms. on the russian side, there are probably many more, because their equipment is much worse. these things happen constantly. and to play games with
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escalating the nuclear arsenal, when it should be reduced, sharply reduced -- i mean, even people like henry kissinger, gegeorge shultz and so on, are calling for elimination of nuclear weapons. to escalate and modernize at this point i is just really criminal, in my opopinion. amy: world-renowned political dissident, author, noam chomsky. will continue our conversation with him and the minute talking about president obama's legacy, cuba, the death of michael ratner, coming up. ♪ [music break]
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amy: "o que sera" performed by nara leao. this is democracy now!, democracynow.org, the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman. we continue our conversation with world-renowned political dissident, linguist, and author, noam chomsky, institute professor emeritus at m.i.t.. his latest book "who rules the , world?" ii asked him for his assessment of the obama admdministration. >> it't's about what i thougught before he -- befefore the 202008
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primaries whenen i wrote about m just based on the information in his web page. i didn't expect anything. i expected mostly rhetororic and , you know, nice rhetoric, good speaker and so on, but nothing much in the way of action. i don't usually agree with sarah palin, but when she was ridiculing this -- what she called this "hopey-changey stuff," she had a point. there were a few good things. you know, , there were a few god things in the w. bush administration. but opportunities that were available, especially in the first two years when he had congress with h him, just were t used. and some -- by the standards of u.s. presidential politics, it's kind of f nothing special either way. nothing to rave about, certainly.
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amy: i wanted to ask you about the passing of michael ratner. michael ratner, the former head of the -- or the late head of the center for constitutional rights, the trailblazingng human rights attorney who died last week at the age of 72. i had interviewed michael last year in washington, d.c., at the reopening of the cuban embassy after it was closed for more than five decades. and i asked michael to talk about the significance of this historic day. this is an excerpt of what he said. >> well, amy, let's just say, other than the birth of my children, this is perhaps one of the most exciting days of my life. i mean, i've been working on cuba since the early if not 1970's, before. i worked on the venceremos brigade. i went on brigades. i did construction. and to see that this can actually h happen in a country that decided early on that, unlike most countries in the world, it was going g to level e
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playing fielfofor everyonene --o more rich, no more poor, everyone the same, education for everyone, schooling for everyone, housing if they could . and d to see the relentlesess ud states go against it, from the bay of pigs to utter subversion on and on, and to see cuba emerge victorious -- and when i say that, this is not a defeated country. this is a country -- if you heard the foreign minister today, what he spoke of was the history of u.s. imperialism against cuba, from the interventition in the spanish-american war to the platt amendment, which made u.s. a permanent part of the cuban government, to the taking of guantanamo, to the failure to recognize it in 1959, to the cutting off of relations in 1961. this is a major, major victory for the cuban people, and that should be understood. we are standing at a moment that i never expected to see in our history. amy: that was michael ratner.
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it was july 22. it was that historic day in washington, d.c., when the cuban embassy was opened after almost half a century. if you could talk both about the significance of michael ratner, from his work around guantanamo, ultimately challenging the habeas corpus rights of guantanamo prisoners, that they should have their day in court, and winning this case in the supreme court, to all of his work. also talk about cuba, noam, something that you certainly take on in your new book, who rules the world? >> well, michael ratner has an absolutely fabulous record. his achievements have been enormous. a tremendous courage, intelligence, dedication. a lot of achievement against huge odds. the center, which he largely --
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it was a major -- he ran and was a major actor in, has done wonderful work all over the place -- cuba and lots of other things. so i can't be excessive in my praise for what he achieved in his life and the inspiration that it should leave us with. with regard to cuba-u.s. relations, i think what he just said is essentially accurate. in fact, it is even worse than that. we tend to forget that after the bay of pigs, the kennedy administration was practically in a state of hysteria and seeking to somehow avenge themselves against this upstart who was carrying out what the government called successfsful defiance of u.s. policies going back to the monroe doctrine. how can we tolerate that? kennedy auththorized a major terrorist war against cuba.
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the goal was to bring the terrors of thehe eaarth to cuba. that is the phrase of his associate arthur schlesinger, historian arthur schlesinger, in his biography of robert kennedy. robert kennedy was given the responsibility to bring "the terrors s of the earth" toto cu. and it -- he in fact described it as one of the prime goals of government, is to ensure that we terrorize cuba. and it was pretty serious. thousands of people were killed, petrochemical plants, other industrial installations blown up. russian ships in the havana harbor were attacked. you can imagine what would happen if american ships were attacked. it was probably connnnected with poisisoning of crops andnd livestock, cannot be certain. it went on into the 1990'0's, though not at thatat -- not at e
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extreme level of the kennedy years, but pretty bad. the late 1970's, there was an upsurge, blowing up of a cubana airliner, 73 people killed. the culprits are living happily in miami. one of them died. the other, luis posada, major terrorist, is cheerfully living there. the taking over of southeastern cuba b back -- at the e time ofe platt amendment, the u.s. had absolutely no claim to this territory. none whatsoever. we're holding onto it just in order -- it's a major u.s. military base -- it was. but we're holding onto it simply to impede the development of cuba, a major port, and to have a dumping place where we can send -- illegally send haitian
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refugees, claiming that they're economic refugees, when they're fleeing from the terror of the haitian junta that we supported -- clinton, incidentally, inin this case -- or just as a torture chamber. now, there's a lot of talk about human rights violations in cuba. yeah, there are human rights violations in cuba. by far the worst of them, overwhelmingly, are in the part of cuba that we illegally hold -- you know, technically, legally. we took it at t the force of a gun, so it's -- point of a gun, so it's legal. i mean, in comparison with this, whatever you think of putin's annexation of crimea is minor in comparison with this. all of this is correct. we have to ask, why did the u.s. decide to normalize relations with cuba? the way it is presented here, it was a historic act of magnanimity by the obama administration. as he, himself, put it, and
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commentators echoed, "we have tried for 50 yeaears to bring democracy and freedom to cuba. the methods we used didn't work, so we'll try another method." reality? no, we tried for 50 years to bring terror, violence and destruction to cuba, not just the terrorist war, but the crushing embargo. when the russians disappeared from the scene, instead of -- you know, the pretense was, "well, it's because of the russians." when they disappeared from the scene, how did we react, under clinton? by making the embargo harsher. clinton outflanked george h.w. bush from the right, in harsh -- during the electoral campaign, in harshness against cuba. it was torricelli, new jersey democrat, who initiated the legislation. later became worse with helms-burton. all of this has been -- that's how we tried to bring democracy and freedom to cuba. why the change?? because the united states was
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being driven out of the hemisphere. you take a look at the hemispheric meetings, which are symbol of it. latin america used to be just the backyayard. they do what you tell them. if they don't do it, we throw them out and put in someone else. no more. not in the last 10, 20 years. there was a hemispheric meeting in cartagena, in colombia. i think it was -- must have been 2012, when the u.s. was isolated. u.s. and canada were completely isolated from the rest of the hemisphere on two issues. one was admission of cuba into hemispheric systems. the second was the drug war, which latitin america are essentially the victims of the drug war. the demand is here. actually, even the supply of weapons into mexico is largely here. but they're the ones who suffer from it.
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they want to change it. they want to move in various ways towards decriminalization, other measures. u.s. opposed. canada opposed. it was pretty clear at that time that at the next hemispheric meeting, which was going to be in panama, if the u.s. still maintained its position on these two issues, the hemispherere wod just go along without the e unid stateses. now, there already are hemispheric institutions, like celac, unasur for south america, which exclclude the united stat, and it would just move in that direction. so obama bowed to the pressure of reality and agreed to make -- to accept the demand to -- the overwhelming demand to move slowly towards normalization of relations with cuba. not a magnanimous gesture of courage to bring cuba -- to protect cuba from its isolation,
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to save them for the isolation. quite the opposite. to save the united states from its isolation. of course, with the rest of the world, there's not even any question. take a look at the annual votes on -- the u.n. has annual votes on the u.s. embargo, and just overwhelming. i think the last one was something like 180 to two -- united states and israel. it has been increasing like that for years. so that is the background. as for michahael, michael ratnt, his achievements are just really spectacular. amy: and finally, noam, you've , and iitten this book mean, you have been a deep, profound thinker and activist on world issues, for what? i mean, more than 70 years. you were writing when you were
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14 years old, giving your analysis of what's been happening.g. and i'm wondering where you think we stand today, if you agree with -- well, with dr. martin luther king, that the arc of the moral universe bends towards justice. >> actually, it was 10 years old, but not -- nothing to rave about. if you look k over the past, sa, the roughly 75 years of my, more or less, conscioiousness, it's - in general, i think the arc of history has been bending towards justice. there have been many improvements, some of them pretty dramatic -- women's rights, for example, to an extetent, civil rights. it should be remembered that there were literally lynchchings in the south until the early
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1950's. it is not bebeautiful now, but that is not happening. there have been steps forward. opposition to aggression is much higher than it was in the past. there is finally concern for environmental issues, which are really of desperate necessity. all of this is slow, halting, significant steps bending the ararc of history in the right w. there's been regression, a lot of regression. things don't move smoothly. but there have been bad periods before, and we've pulled out of them. i think there are opportunities -- they're not huge, but they're real -- to overcome ththe -- ani stress again -- to overcome problems that the human species has never faced in its roughly
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200,0,000 years of existence, problems of, literally, survival.. wewe've already answerered these questions for a huge number of species - -- we have killed them off. amy: noam chomsky, world-renowned political dissident, linguist and author, institute professor emeritus at m.i.t.. he taught there for over half a century. his latest book "who rules the , world?" you can watch part 1 of our interview from monday's show, on our website, democracynow.org. i will be speaking today in chicago at 6:30 with jeremy scahill at chicago temple building, then on wednesday at the barrymore theatre in madison, wisconsin. toronto, canada on friday and thursday. then the sanctuary for independent media in troy, new york on saturday. you can check our website democracynow.org is to continue
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