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tv   Democracy Now  LINKTV  July 11, 2017 8:00am-9:01am PDT

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07/11/17 07/11/17 [captioning made possible by democracy now!] amy: from pacifica, this is democracy now! >> what we're seeing is a transformation of the internet where 1% get the fast lanes and a 99% get the slow lanes. that is not what the potential and the promise of the internet was. this was to be our town square of democracy. amy: the fight for the future of the internet. it heats of again as over 70,000 websites, including goooogle and
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facebook, prepare for a day of action to save net neutrality. we will speak with the formerr fcc commissioner michael copps. then we look at the crisis in venezuela as pope francis calls for dialogue between the maduro government and opposition leaders. >> i would like to assure this nation they are in my prayers and express my closeness to the families who have lost their children. i appeal for an end to the violence and a peaceful and democratic solution to the crisis. amy: we will host a debate on the crisis in venezuela. all that and more, coming up. welcome to democracy now!, democracynow.org, the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman. scientists are warning that the earth's sixth mass extinction is already underway. in a new study published in the journal "proceedings of the national academy of sciences," the researchers said billions of populations of animals have
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disappeared from the earth amid what they called a biological annihilation. they said the findings were worse than previously thought. the scientntists say the maiain causes of the mass extinction of wildlife is human overpopulation and over-consumption, especially ofthe rich, the destruction animals habitats, toxic pollution, and climate change. the report also warns that humans will be impacted by this mass extinction, writing -- "the resulting biological annihilation obviously will have serious ecological, economic and social consequences. humanity will eventually pay a very high price for the decimation of the only assemblage of life that we know of in the universe." a separate report, also published monday, reveals that only 100 companies are responsible for a shocking 71% of all global greenhouse gas emissions since 1988. the carbon majors report, published in collaboration with the climate accountability ininstitute, found that exxonmobil, shell, bp, and chevron are among the worst
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polluting investor-owned companies. secretary of state rex tillerson , former longtime ceo of exxonmobil, this weekend he received a lifetime achievement award from the world petroleum .ongress -- a heat wave shattered temperature records in southern california over the weekend, including in los angeles, long beach, and woodland hills, where the temperature soared to 110 degrees fahrenheit saturday. climate chanange-fueled wildfirs continue to burn uncontrolled across california a and canada's british h columbia, forcing thousands to flee their homes. on capitol hill, at least 80 people were arrested in more than a dozen protests at the offices of house and senate republicans, where activists demanded the lawmakers oppose the republican healthcare plans to repeal and replace the affordable care act. activists lay down outside texas senator ted cruz's office blocking traffic, while other
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protesters flooded the offices of ohio senator rob portman, tennessee senator lamar alexander, and arizona senator jeff flake, where activists yelled "you are killing people" as they were arrested and forced from the building in handcuffs. [indiscernible] amy: if passed, the republican senate healthcare plan could cause 22 million americans to lose their insurance over the next decade. cnn reports at least 10 senate republicans oppose the healthcare plan in its current form. president trump has heavily backed the effort to repeal and replace the affordable care act. "the new york timemes" is reporting president trump's son, donald trump junior knew before , agreeing to a meeting with a kremlin-linked lawyer promising damaging information about
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hillary clinton that the material was part of a russian government campaign to help his father win the u.s. election. "the new york times" reports trump jr. was told this information in an email sent by publicist rob goldstone, who helped arrange the meeting in june 2016. on monday, donald trump jr. hired a lawyer amid increasing calls for him to testify before the senate about the meeting. the white house is trying to downplay the revelations. this is white house deputy press secretary sarah huckabee sanders speaking during an off-camera briefing on monday. very shortor took a meeting from which there was absolutely no follow-up. nothing inappropriate about the meeting. at this point, i would also like to add, donald trump jr. has made a statement on this, the
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president's outside counsel has made a statement, and now i have as well. i'm not going to add anything further. amy: on monday, the white house again denied that members of the trump campaign colluded with russian to interfere in the 2016 election. the white house is contradicting president trump's own claims about whether he discussed sanctions during his meeting friday with russian president vladimir putin. on sunday, trump tweeted -- "sanctions were not discussed at my meeting with president putin. nothing will be done until the ukrainian & syrian problems are solved!" but on m monday, white house deputy press secretary sarah huckabee sanders said the conversation did include a discussion of the sanctions, whwhich were imposed by the oboa administration in december in responsese to the alalleged rusn interference in the 2016 u.s. election. this morning, russian media outlets cited russian foreign ministry sources saying they are considering expelling about 30 u.s. diplomats and seizing control of u.s. diplomatic buildings in retaliation for the sanctions.
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in britain, london's high court has rejejected a bid to end weapons sales to saudi arabia amid the devastating saudi-led bombing campaign in yemen. the group campaign against the arms trade had tried to block the sale of british-made bombs and fighter jets, arguing their use in the bombing campaign in yemen has violated international law. on monday speaking at the british parliament, british labor leader jeremy corbyn has called on prime minister theresa may to block the weapons sales. >> will she hold the moral arms sales as germany has done and back g germany's s call to in te bombing in yemen? amy: b but on monday, the high case, jointissed thehe condemnation from human rights watch and other international groups. human rights watch has documented over 80 apparently unlawful saudi-led coalition attacks in yemen that have hit schools, markets, homes, hospitals. the bombing andnd saudi naval blockade has alslso devaststatee
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-- yemenen's healalth, water, ad sanitation systems, sparking a massive cholera outbreak that has now infected 300,000 people, with an estimated 7000 new cases every single day. "the new york times" is reporting eric grants of blackwater and billionaire stephen feinberg, owner of the military contractor dyncorp, developed proposals for the trump administration to use more private military contractors in afghanistan rather than deploy thousands more u.s. troops as the pentagon has requested. prince, the brother of education secretary betsy devos and feinberg, developed it at the request of jared kushner and stephenhief strategist bannon. a represents an obvious conflict of interest given both print and feinberg profit off the use of private military contractors in u.s. wars. the state department hasas alrey paid dyncorp $2.5 billion for its military contract work in
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afghanistan. in financial news, the consumer financial protection bureau has moved to bar wall street banks and other financial firms from forcing people into arbitration, and instead allow people to file class-action lawsuits that could cost the banks billions of dollars. currently, people who are trying to dispute banks o over credit card accounts or studedent or payday loans are forced into mandatory arbitration, a process that benefits the banks because it forces people to try to fight the institutions on their own. the change could take effect as early as next year, although it faces fierce opposition from wall street. in mississippi, a marine corps plplane crashed into a f fie i n leflorore county monday, kilillg all 1616 people on board.. the marine corpsps has n not released any more details about the cause of the crash of the military c-130 airplane. in brazil, the rapporteur for a lower house committee has recommending putting brazilian president michel temer on trial for corruption following acaccusations from federal
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prosecutors that temer accepted millions of dollars in bribes. on monday, protesters again took to the streets to demand temer be ousted or resign. this is protester marcio alves. >> not one less right. out with temer. this is bigger than temer. power, he comes into will do the same or worse. today is not just about ousting temer, but everythihing elslse. tomorrow, the brazilian senate will cut wages. amy: in turkey, more than 40 academics and university workers were arrested at two istanbul universities amid turkish monday president recep tayyip erdogan's widening crackdown. among those arrested on charges of alleged terrorist links was professor of political science koray caliskan. this is koray caliskan, speaking on democracy now! last summer about how he and more than 1000 other turkish academics signed a peace petition. >> of course, i sent a letter,
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too. first, it was signed b by more than 1200 academics. when erdogan called as terrorists, or voices of terrorists, more signed it. since then, more than 100 academics lost their jobs. -- ife's being criticized he doesn't agree with academics or journalist, he accuses them terrorists.h amy: to see the full interview, go to democracynow.org. in bahahrain, human rights activist nabeel rajab has been sentenced to two years in prison on charges of spreading fake newsuring his s television interviews. amnenesty international saidid - "imprisoning nabeel rajab simply for sharing his opinion is a flagrant violalation of human rights, and an alarming sign that the bahraini authorities will go to any length to silence criticism." rajab has been imprisoned
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multiple times in n recent years for paparticipating in pro-democracy protests and for criticizing the bahraini government. this is rajab speaking on democracy now! in 2014 just after he w was released fromom spending nearly two years in prison. >> struggle for democrcracy in this parof the wororld is not a easy thing, but a difficult thing. you are dealing wh the ruruling , 20200 yearago,o, treateded people l like slaves. now we wt to changnge the sisiation to m more democraticc environment. it i is not an easy thing. it has a cost. ththere will be more coststs. thousands of p people behind ba. hundreds of human rights and political activists behind bars. amy: to see our full i interview with nabeel resolve, go to democracynow.org. in the israeli-occupied west bank, the palestinian ministry of health says an 18-month-old baby has died after inhaling
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tear gas shot by israeli forces into his bedroom twowoonths ago. the baby, abdul rahman barghouti, was exposed to the gas on may 19 when israeli soldiers attacked palestinians demonstrating in the town of aboud near ramallah in support of the palestinian prisoner's hunger strike e and fired tear s into r residents' homes. the palestinian ministry of health says israeli jeeps then blocked an ambulance from reaching the baby, so he was instead rushed to the hospital by members of the palestinian red cross by foot. 18-month-old abdul rahman barghouti died on friday of asphyxiation. and the award-winning media critic, author, professor jack shaheen has died at the age of 81. the author of the groundbreaking book "reel bad arabs: how hollywood vilifies a people," shaheen dedicated his life to challenging the media's stereotypes of arabs and arab negative americans. he was also professor emeritus at southern illinois university-edwardsville. he was also a former consultant
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on middle east affairs for cbs. this is jack shaheen speaking on on democracy now! 10 years ago after the publication of "reel bad arabs." more than 1000 films, from the earliest, most obscure days of hollywood's to today's vista blockbusters. what i try to do is to make visible what too many of us seem not to see -- a dangerouslyy consistetent pattetern of hatefl arabs. stereotypes that rob and entire people of their humanity. all aspes of our cture project the air of as a villain. that is a given. amy: jack shaheen died monday in south carolina at the age of 81. and those are some of the headlines.
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this is democracy now!, democracynow.org, the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman. juan: and i'm juan gonzalez. welcome to all of our listeners and viewers from around the country and around the world. we turn now to look at the five for the future of the internet. on wednesday, nearly 70,000 websites and organizations are planning to take part in a massive online protest to save net neutrality. participating websites will reportedly disisplay messages on her homepages and encourage users to take action to save the internet as we know it. supporters of ththe action incle internet giant such as twitter, amazon, facebook, google, and reddit. supporters of net neutrality say the rules are needed to keep the internet open and prevent corporate service providers from blocking access to websites, slowing down content, or providing paid fast lanes for internet service. amy: but net neutrality has come under attack by the trump
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administration. earlier this year, federal communications commission chairman ajit pai outlined his plan to dismantle net neutrality rules, despite polling that shows most americans support a free and open internet. the fcc has a ready received a record 5.6 million comments on net neutrality. for more, we're joined by two guests in washington, d c, michael copps, served as the fcc commissioner from 2001 to 2012. he is really special adviser on media and democracy reform at common cause. and joining us from boston, massachusetts evan greer, the , campaign director of fight for the future. she is helping organize wednesday's day of action to save net neutrality. evan, let's s begin with you. talk about this nationwide wednesday, what it is all about, what specifically you are targeting. >> this is a moment for everyone, whether you are in ordinary -- internet user with a few hundred instagram fans or a
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major website with hundreds of thousands of daily visitors, to harness the power of the web to distend this profoundly democratizing technology that has given more of us a voice than ever before. we need to stop companies like comcast and verizon from being able t to control what we can se and do online. forprotect this platform freedom of expression and social change. , couldommissioner copps you go over for our listeners and viewers the importance of this title two decision that the new chairman of the fcc seeks to overturn? theell, first of all, network is so vital to economic andrtunity and innovation especially to democracy. i think evan said it well. this is a tool of unparalleled power that can help us to build democracy. when you look at what has
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happened to mainstream media, radio, television, and cable, how it has been corporatized and commercialized and consolidated, how much realism we have lost, you really get down to the essential question, is me to providing the news and information that citizens need in order to make intelligent decisions for the future? so a lot of evidence that that is really not happening right now. net neutrality, however, is a free speech issue. , the abilitynter of americans to go where they want on the internet, to access the content they want, and to be treated like everybody else is treated. so you don't have comcast and at&t and verizon acting as gatekeepers and having the power to slow down sites they don't like or two block or to throttle or to get fast lanes to a few, while the rest of us struggle along on slow lanes.
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to be a a fully parartipating citizen into the 21st century america, you have to have access to high-speed, affordable broadband. that is what is at issue now. this issue has been at the federal courts three times in the last 10 years. and three times the court has said, if you want to protect net neutrality, the only a forcible way is to do it through the rules that were passed in 2015 by the tom wheeler federal communications commission. there is no other way to do it. for chairman pai to say, well, i'm going to figure out some other way to do this that is not title two, it just means that he is trying to get rid of net neutrality, just like they're trying to get rid of privacy, just like they're trying to get rid of subsidized broadband for the poor in america. it is really -- it is really full speed in reverse. amy: you have called this fcc ,ommission, commissionercopps
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the worst you have ever seen. why? >> well, because we have been building for the last five or six years and doing good things onto medications, on e-rate to expand, to expand lifeline so all americans could enjoy it no matter what their economic status, to spread broadband around the world in hard reach america.ies and rural and now we're doing away with all of that. there is no question in my mind sot a communications important as broadband has to have some public interest oversight. it has to be used for the benefit of the people. and it cannot be turned over wholesale to a few isp's. for along time, people in the early stages of the internet thought, well, you don't have to worry about the internet because it is so open, so dynamic, it is
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immune from the laws of consolidation and all this stuff. cowers at the edges. it did not take too many years for us to figure out that is not the direction it was going. it was going down the same road as radio and television and cable. and we cannot let that happen to this most powerful tool -- technology tool in all of history to help us expand democracy, to build a society where democracy is paved with the broadband bricks engine at the outset of the show. juan: i want to turn to ajitt pai. >>he economics are simple. momo heavivily your regugulate something, the less ofof it yo'e going to get. lesss you talk aboutut infrastructure invnvestmenent, y people's eyeyes glazed ove i think it is s important to explain in plain teterms what te consnsequences a are. needs fewersestments
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americanss wilill have high-sped internet accccess. it meansns fewer americans w wil have jobobs. enemies less competition for american consusumers. -- a a it means s less opppposin for american cononsumers. what happens a after the fcc-tie twtwo? ininfrastructure to o ves investmentnts decline. increasedexpenenditures by $3.6 billion between 2014 and 2016. the first two years of the title two era. juan: what about this issue that ajit pai raises that infrastructure investment by the private sector has declined rapidly since the title to net neutrality laws were put in place? >> it is absolutely nonsense. i don't know where he got his facts from. not too many weeks ago, the former chair of the fcc talked about how phenomenal the
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investment was in the internet. open up your papers every day and you see these companies paying billions and billions of dollars for one another. the bizarre is really open at the fcc now, because everyone knows this fcc is going to approve more and more mergers, more and more acquisitions in transactions, leading to further commercialization and consolidation. it is a huge threat. most of the studies are telling us that investment is more than holding its own. this is one of the most dynamic sectors in the economy. i think that is a case of fear mongering tied to ideology and tied to the special interests. amy: i would to turn to comedian john oliver. earlier this year from he dedicated nearly 20 minutes of his hbo program to explaining that net neutrality is under threat. he directed much of his criticism to fcc chairman ajit pai. is we's the argument
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don't need title to to have net neutrality. but some of his ideas are almost laughablbly l lax. he reportedly floaoated just. isp's voluntarily agree not to obstruct or slow consumer access to web content by putting that promise in their terms of service, you know, the thing that no human being has ever read and that can change whenever companies want them to. that idea would basically make net neutrality as binding as proposal on "the bachelor." amy: john o oliver enended his w by calling on his viewers to write to the fcc, just as he did after a similar segment in 2014. once agagain, the enormous response broke the commission's website. which goes to the issue of activism, which is why we go back to evevan greer. specifically tomorrow, what are you going to be doing tomorrow? whereorrow is a day
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everyone can come together. so i many of your favorite netflix,from amazon, you will see prominent messages that will direct people to a place where they can easily take action. we have a site battlefor thenet.com where anyone can and a a letter to the fcc member of congress at the same time. as commissioner coops said, this commissioner ajit pai has made it clear he is that listening to the public. he is a listing to the cable companies that he used to work for any intends to give them exactly what they want -- the power to pick and choose what we can all see and do on the internet. answers tos, the fcc congress. our members of congress are supposed to answer to us. the polling shows that voters from across the political spectrum -- immigrants, independents, republicans -- overwhelmingly agree we don't
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want our cable comedies to be able to since her arrest, charge us extra fees, or essentially be the editors in chief of the internet. this is why it is so important that people use these tools, speak out, show up at the member of congress' office and make this an issue that they know they will be burned by if they bring their constituents. these members of congress are already reeling from the backlash to their attack on our internet privacy rules just a few months ago. there particularly sensitive to this right now. this is an incredibly important moment for everyone to be's eking out. -- to be speaking out. there lots of tools. whether you are internet user ont posting on social media, a small business, there are lots of ways to get involved. we can't sit back and expect big companies to save us. in the end, this is about all of the weird, interesting, small, alternative things that make up the beautiful fabric of the internet, whether it is
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chess.com were on engaging forms or community's were people find alternative news. this is our free speech fight of our generation post that net neutrality is the first amendment of the internet and we intend to fight to defend it. amy: evan greer, thank you for being with us, campaign director of fight for the future. we will cover what happens tomorrow in the day of action to save net neutrality. and fcc commissioner michael copps, former commissioner, we would like you to stay with us as we address other issues around your former time at the fcc and the current fcc commission. we will be back in a minute. ♪ [music break]
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amy: "new orbit" by the matthew shipp trio, from the album, "rock the net: mususicians f for
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nenetwork neutrality." this is democracy now!, democracynow.org, the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman with juan gonzalez. juan: we are talking with michael coppss, the former fcc commissioner from 2001-2012 and continue our discussion with him . commissioner, i would like to ask you about what has been in the news a lot lately, the at&t-time warner merger. i know the commission may not eventually be ruling on this, but your sense as we see this continue, as you mentioned earlier, this continued concentration of ownership by so many off the telecom and media and cable giants of the united states. >> it is just giving too much powerto one company, a that no one company should be able to exercise in a democracy like ours. we have gotten to the point now with the trump administration and the new fcc where just about any merger proposal is possible.
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it used to be four or five years ago we would say, well, that merger is so off the charts that nobody would ever consider itt will stop i think that is gone. wall street loves these mergers. but you have to stop and think about the price we're paying for that. the cost billioions of dollars. the first thing they do after the fcc rubberstamps the proposal is, where can we make economies? oh, how about the newsrooms? let's shut down the local news station we are buying or consolidate three or four voices into one voice. it really is a democracy issue and a free-speech issue. i would like to go back for a second to the, that chairman pai made in your clip about big companies voluntarily doing this. let's be real here. when you're talking about companies that have monopolies in so many markets, where they control distribution and content
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and you're going to expect them to voluntarily protect the public interest, you're talking about something that is not going to happen. i was at the fcc for 11 years as commissioner and for a time as interim chairman. believe me, i never saw these voluntary guidelines work. finally, the only reason this issue is admissible as it is right now is the tremendous resources and the money -- let's be frank, the money that these big isp's like comcast and at&t and verizon put into the political, financial bloodstreams. if they did not have that big-moneyyy influence, thesese to deny that neutrality would probably be dead on arrival in washington would have been many years ago and is issue would have been settled.
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amy: let me ask about donald trumps perhaps opposition to this, too, perhaps using it as a threat to his adversary. cnn wrote -- so of course, cnn is discussing it, too, on the air. what about this? >> this is a typical exercise in trouble: six, i guess, because during the campaign he expressed opposition and skepticism about this whole merger. it wasn't a good idea and indicated strongly it would not go through under his administration. and now in this regard, as some in the other issues, he seems to be really bearish -- reversing field. i don't know what strange machinations are going through
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the minds of people in the white house or political folks at the department of justice. i hope the real experts there will be allowed to do their job and come up with an opinion on this. we will have to see where it goes. but i am concerned. the sinclair tribune merger out there right now -- sinclair is probably the most dangerous company out there that people have never h heard of. it doesn't have quite the cahe of the big networks, but it will , wayundreds of stations over 250 stations and markets across the usa, and it has a reputation for less than bipartisan coverage of the news. it has an ideological agenda. editorials come out of the home office in maryland that are supposed to be read all over the stations across the country. i spent all of my time and a lot of my time -- when i first went
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to the fcc, i thought this was the coolest job on god's green earth. entrepreneurs. it turns out i probably spent over half of my time talking to one ceo after another, media and telecom companies coming in -- will you at the fcc " let companya" get larger so now you have to let us do it. the fcc would more often than not, often over my objection, do that, and it went on and on and on and i think the era w we're going into now is even going to be worse than that. they're going to be more such mergers, some of them really are kind of an thinkable. amy: it is interesting that trump is against it. donald trump junior race criticism saturday when he read tweeted a doctored clip of the movie "t"top gun," edited so it appears that president trump i s a fighter pilot shooting down a jet with ththe cnn logo.o.
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>> well, his arrest for an a fighter pilot. it is really amazing. dustlso after he beat up trump himself tweeted that video of himimself beatingng up someoe with the cnn logo on his face. what about the whole issue of trumps war on the media and the issue of fake news? is have gone beyond the fcc a former commissioner, dealing with issues of media and democracy reform at common cause. >> fake news is a difficult problem to handle, but i think the best way to do it is to get some real news, to rebuild journalism, to find a model for journalism on the internet. if the internet is really going to be our democratic tool in the future, there is no model there to sustain broadly based investigative journalism. so real news is part of the answer. media literacy is part of the answer. kids so they know-
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what is reliable and what is not where they should go on the internet for facts and all of that. likeis it up to people you. and you do a wonderful job of it, and many others, but not mainstream media and pointing out what is fake. but most of all, we need to have an informed citizenry in order to defend our ability to practice self-government. we are getting perilously close to not having that now, so this diminishment of journalism that we have seen in mainstream media and our inability to craft model on new media of the internet to bring reporters back is really costing us -- we have lost probably one third to one half of our newsroom employees since 2000. this need to protect democracy of protect the spread
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information is nothing new. it goes back to george washington and thomas jefferson who subsidized distribution of newspapers, who built postal roads so we could get information out to the fledgling young country and make sure that people were informed. it is a responsibility of government. it is a public good. it is something we have to have. to me, it is really about the most important issue we faced was that amy: michael copps, thank you for being with us, commissioner, currently special adviser on media and democracy reform at common cause. stay with us. ♪ [music break]
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amy: this is democracy now!, democracynow.org, the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman with juan gonzalez. juan: wewe turn now to look at e political and economic crisis in venezuela where nearly 90 people have died and more than 1500 have been injured since april when opposition groups began organizing a new round of street demonstrations. venezuelan president nicholas maduro has accused his opponents of waging a "armed insurrection" and econonomic sabotage backed y the united states. opposition groups have accused maduro of turning into a dictator. the recent round of street protests began after the venezuelan supreme court stripped the opposition-led
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national assembly of its legislative power. the protests come as venezuela's economic crisis is worsening as the country suffers from high inflation and food shortages. amy: last week, pope francis appealed for a peaceful and democratic solution to the crisis in venezuela. sisters,rothers and venezuela's independence day will be marked july 5. i would like to assure this beloved nation they are in my prayers and expressed my closeness to the families who have lost their children and the demonstrations out on the streets. i feel for an end to the violence and a peaceful and democratic solution to the crisis. let us pray for our lady for venezuela. pope is the first latin american p pope.
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he is originally from argentina. well, over the past few weeks, other dramatic events have occurred in venezuela. on june 28, a venezuelan police officer hijacked a helicopter and dropped grenades on the interior ministry and supreme court. then on july 5, a crowd of about 100 people -- reportedly supporters of maduro -- stormed the opposition-led national assembly and attacked lawmakers. meanwhile, on saturday, venezuela's most prominent opposition leader leopoldo lopez was released from military prison and put under house arrest. to talk more a about the situatn in venezuela, we are joined by two guests. in washington, d.c., is mark weisbrot, co-director of the center for economic and policy research and president of just foreign policy. joining us from chicago daniel , lansberg-rodriguez. he is a columnist for the venezuelan newspaper el nacional and an adjunct lececturer of finance at northwestern's kellogg school of management. we welcome you both to democracy now! let's go to daniel lansberg-rodriguez in chicago.
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your assessment of what is happening in venezuela right now? > first of all, thahank you r having me on the show. it is a really important topic to be discussing in such a form. reaching is really probably the worst situation that it has had in living memory. there isn't enough food. there is just gross, harrowing scarcities of medicine. this is something that has been building up for a long time. for many years, the government has focused on large electoral spending binges that despite the largest oil windfall in human history, have last -- left venezuela essentially broke and struggling to both keep imports at levels that allow their populations to have basic goods, given that they have done really nothing to stimulate domestic production of any of these
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staples, while at the same time making foreign debt payments binge the the indexerer government went through. so right now you have a government that is, what i would call, and a popopular populist government. its rhetoric is s very populist, but maduro's approval rating is just below 20%. there was an electoral in 2015, the opposition won an electoral super majority in the legislature. this new legislature has not been allowed to pass any laws because they are all struck down by the supreme court as unconstitutional. this is a supreme court that was freshly packed by maduro himself or by his national assembly right before the new national sibley took office. elections,norship slated for last year, has ststil not taken place. the government, despite talking
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a good line about democracy, is now afraid of the electorate. that is something that creates a sense of conflict in which even though the vast majority of venezuelans feell that t a didifferent future e will be be, have given up on thehe current regime as their leadership. there is really no democratic process in which they can move forward in that way. juan: mark weisbrot, your assessment -- clearly, maduro succeeded hugo chavez, who despite much criticism of him, clearly enjoyed much more popularity among the venezuelan people. your sense of what has been happening in venezuela the past couple of years? think a lot of what your other guest said is true. in terms of the overall situation, i could add to it in
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flesh and is over 500% and you have scarcities of food and medicine. in the economy is in a very deep recession. we could talk about that if we have time, but i think most importantly, going forward, it is very important to avoid a civil war, and escalating conflict there. that is why i'm glad you show andpope's call for dialogue the solution because that was not reported anywhere in the agor media a week or so when he said it. i think that is the most important thing going forward. i think, for example, the release of daniel lansberg-rodriguez, who was injured over three years, --leopoldo lopez, who was jailed over three years.
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it is very important to distinguish that from what is going on in the organization of american states, which is just an attempt by the united states and its allies to use thehe organization to delegitimize the venezuelan government so that it can be overthrown step something they've been trying to do for the last 15 years. regime change is not going -- is not a solution. everyone should recognize that. there is over 100,000 people in the military there. there are hundreds of thousands of people's in militias. and d a lot more people that are armed. you really do have a danger of a civil war. and you have the trump administration and marco rubio, who seems to be listening to your advice, they want regime change. that is their playbook. -- so is this mediation there's been a hopeful sign in the last few days -- to go
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forward, there's a big danger that they could advertise that. they could help push the country more toward civil war. this is very important. and it is all political. in 2014, the obama --inistration tried to get intervene against venezuela and the whole assembly acted with a resolution supporting maduro because they were against regime change. 29-three was the vote. now you have right-wing government in brazil and argentina. they will do whatever trump and administration tells them on foreign policy.. they've become this insnstrument of regime change. that is very dangerous because the media, of course, mostly --orts it as though this they just care about human rights. threatened openly the governments of the dominican republic and haiti and el
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salvador that they would be punished if they did not vote with the u.s. against venezuela. i think that is the greatest danger going forward is that this really could escalate -- you remember the civil war's of the 1980's and central america. hundreds of people were killed. civil war in colombia, which is coming to an end now through the agreement from last year. this could really get -- spin out of control. juan: i would like to follow that point up if i can with daniel lansberg-rodriguez. the issue of the polarization of venezuelan society, especially of the role of the military. because if it is one thing that is achavez did leave legacy, it was as a military that pretty much defended the bull a very and revolution. olivarian revolution.
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even if the maduro government seems to lose support them in seems it would be silently olivarian unless some kinds of negotiations are reached. i'm wondndering your thoughts on that. >> that is the one million question, which would be about $200 at the current exchange rate. essentially -- before i answer that, there are couple of directions -- corrections i want to make on mark's discussion. he said the release of leopoldo lopez. leopoldo lopez is still serving out his 14 year sentence. but he is doing it under house arrerest. the supreme court ostensibly let him out for health reasons. and because of some sort of unusual aspects of the evidentiary findings againstt
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him, this was t the supreme court's criminal wing, which tends to be less solidly pro-maduro then the constitutional chamber, which is the one that has struck down all of the laws that the legislature has tried to pass. pope,so, returning to the this is not the first time the pope has made such a call. i think one of the reasons the international media may not have put as much attention on it is because this is the third or fourth time the pope has made a call for peace and venezuela. one of those times, the opposition actually engageded in dialogue with m maduro and wwith the current regime, and that t d to the people leaving the streets. they sat down and no concessions were made. nothing was agreed upon. so you can't look at the opposition's, let's call it in securities, about re-engaging with maduro in a basket.
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this is something that has been learned through multiple attempts of to this point. some of which have involved the vatican already. as for the military, the military and venezuela has traditionally been a strong social group in national decision-making. venezuela has not had a war against one of its neighbors since independence. has not had a civil war since the 19 century. the military traditionally in venezuela was very community-oriented. had riots.u there was a massacre that was ordered by a former government against rioters, which really hurt the military's credibility. in essence, chavez, who attended afterwards to overthrow that president in february of 1992 and then his supporters did so again in acreage and that killed hundreds of people in november
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of that year, that was something that created a bond between hugo chavez personally in the military that i will say transcended just the fact he came from them. that maduro inherited was very much designed to run and be fueled by chavez. it is a system that promises a lot, delivers much less, and that gulf is something that can be made up for in personal charisma and just lavish oil rents them and none of which apply in this new government under maduro. so the military's personal loyalty to maduro is much weaker than it ever was under hugo chavez. the reason i would think the military has taken less of an active role throughout this crisis has to do with two factors. one, during the largest oil windfall in human history, which essentially has disappeared, there is a lot of corruption. and much of the smuggling led to
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people who guarded the border. there's important narco trafficking that has gone on through venezuela, largely through the air force and the naval forces, so there a lot of the military brass who may not personally like maduro re-think used in a good job, but the fear of a transition that might investigate what happened to that bill windfall, which has now disappeared, is something that keeps -- makes peoplee prefer the devil they know to certain extent. said, while we're not seeing any sort of organizing insurrection within the military at a large scale, we're seeing a huge amount of affections full -- defections. it had hundred to a basically walked off. the read and sensing from the military right now is unlike in the 2002 coup attempt against hugo chavez where the military reinstated him, i don't think we would see that this time. i don't think the military will take an active role in toppling maduro and i don't think it
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should. but if there were to be, for example, a palace coup, i have serious doubts the military would rally to defend him the way they want stiffer chavez. amy: mark weweisbrot, your response to that? >> well, i think daniel is right a fear, not just in the military, but anyone who vista what would happen if a right-wing government word to come to power during a military coup like they did in 2002. and within a 36 hours said they were in power, dozens of people were killed and there was a round up of government officials that had begun. the opposition does not have a the lastc history in 15 years in venezuela, not only the military coup, but they repeatedly rejected result of democratic elections and went to the streets and tried to overturn them.
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so there is -- there is a lot of people who are afraid of what would happen to them, not just military, but ordinary people, people associated with the government. amy: i want to turn to president trump p speaking andnd may abobt venenezua. pres. trump: as well as a very, very serious problem. we haven't really seen a problem like that, i was a, mr. president, in decades, in terms of the kinds of violence we are witnessing. the president was s telling me, and i knew that t venezuela wasa very, very wealthy country, just about the wealthiest in y your neck of ththe woods, and had tremendous strength in so many different ways. and now it is poverty stricken. people don't have enough to eat. people have no food. there is great violence. and we will do whatever is necessary y and we will work together to do whatever is necessary to help with fixing
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that. i am really talking on a humanitarian level. amy: that was president trump speaking at a joint news conference with the colombian president sanchez. venezuelan president nicolas maduro recently warned president trump not to repeat the mistakes of his predecessorss. president donald trump tried to have some rationality in the crazy things that your people promote against venezuela. what the opposition has done is to trick you. let's talk seriously and where we have our differences. we have differences, but there are many points in common, including your administration, donald trump, in terms of overcoming dark times. may you, president donald trump, not be remembered as another failure like george bush and barack obama failed. amy: very quickly, the response to maduro and before that, trump
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speaking alongside the colombian president, daniel lansberg-rodriguez? interesthink trump's levels in venezuela are quite low. the reason that he has brought that focus, i would say, and talks with president santos and columbia that you cited and before that, a couple of months earlier with one of his first world meetings with the , that was --peru it is difficult for trump given some of the rhetoric that has vis-a-vis mexico, which alienated not just mexicans, but many latin american countries. and in peru and colombia in particular, these are countries that have -- i believe crew has more free trade agreements and any other country. columbia is not far behind. it is difficult for the trump administration to find common ground internationally and latin america. amy: let me get mark weisbrot's response as we wrap up.
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>> i think, again, the most important thing is that it is still a polarized country. 21% approvaln the rating. that is where it has been for about a year. imagine the people saying the president is doing a good job when there is deep depression and shortrtages of food. why is that? because there are a lot of people -- first of all, people still appreciate what the 10 years of progress they had under chavez. secondly, they are afraid of what might happen to them if a right-wing government takes power in a coup. that is why it is so important to have negotiations. that is why any constitutional guarantees. sue whoever loses the next presidential election doesn't face a government that controls all three branchehes of governmt and uses it to persecute them. those are the things that have to happen -- don't amy: i want to thank you for being with us. daniel lansberg-rodriguez speaking to us from chicago and
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mark weisbrot in d.c. that does it for our show. happy birthday to laura. democracy now! is looking for feedback from people who appreciate the closed captioning. e-mail your comments to ou
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