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tv   Democracy Now  LINKTV  May 3, 2019 8:00am-9:01am PDT

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05/03/19 05/03/19 [captioning made possible by democracy now!] amy: from new york, this is democracy now! >> the occupation of ella stein also -- palestine also depends american.ion of amy: "not backing down: israel, free speech, and the battle for palestinian human rights." that's the title of an event set to take place saturday at the university of
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massachusetts-amherst. after three anonymous umass students filed a lawsuit to stop the event, a judge ruled thursday the event can proceed saying "there's nothing that comes even close to a threat of harm or incitement to violence or lawlessness." we will be joined by roger waters, one of the participants on the panel, cofounder of the popopular rock band pink floyd. >> that is the standard go to startse is to call -- calling you names and hopefully to discredit you. amy: then to do award-winning teachers try to teach trump a lesson. they are boycotting this week's white house ceremony honoring them. seekingrants are here asylum, seeking peace, and truly seeking better lives.
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so when the administration entrance and calls people like andamily animals dehumanizes people like me and my own, i cannot in good faith go and smile and shahake their hahand. amamy: andnd it is the 100th anniversary of the birth of peace seeger. -- pete seeger. all that and more, coming up. welcome to democracy now!, democracynow.org, the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman. house speaker nancy pelosi has accused attorney general william barr of committing a crime by lying to congress. >> he lied to o congress. if anybody else did that, it would be considered a crime. nobody is above the law. nothing president of the united states and not the attorney general. being attorney general does not give you a back to go say whatever you want.
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amy: speaker pelosi alleges barr lied when he told congress he did not know whether special counsel robert mueller supported his preliminary public description of the mueller report. lawmakers learned this week that mueller had written barr a letter saying his summary of the report "did not fully capture the context, nature, and substance" of his work. a justice department spokeswoman said pelosi's comment was "reckless, irresponsible, and false." meanwhilile, jerry nadler, the chair of the house judiciary committee, is threatening to hold barr in contempt for refusing to comply with a subpoena for the full redacted mueller report. >> we will continue to negotiate for access to the full report for another couple of days and we will have no choice to move quickly but holy attororney general in attempt if he stalls or fails to negotiate in good faith. amy: congressmember nadler made the threat after william barr refused to appear before his committee on thursday.
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a category 4 cyclone has smashed into northeastern india. forecasters predicted it would be the strongest storm to hit india in over 20 years. over a million people have already been evacuatated from coastal regions. secretary of state mike pompeo has announced plplans to meeeeth russian foreign minister sergey lavrov next week to discuss the crisis in venezuela. the u.s. and russia have accused each other of meddling in venezuela's affairs. on thursday, venezuelan president nicolas maduro appeared on national television flanked by military commanders in the latest sign that he maintains the support of the military in the wake of opposition leader juan guiado's attempted coup on tuesday. meanwhile venezuelan court has , a issued an arrest warrant for opposition politician leopoldo lopez, who escaped house arrest earlier this week on the same day his protege, juan guaido, attempted to launch the coup.
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lopez is now staying in the spanish ambassador's residence in caracas. meanwhile, in washington, d.c., two activists were arrested outside the venezuelan embassy thursday as they attempted too throw food inse e the buildidin, which peoplele have been occupug to protest u.s.-backed efforts at regime change. while critics of regime change remain inside the embassy, backers of guaido have surrounded the embassy, preventing food supplies from getting in to the activists. the european union is threatening to sue the united states in the world trade organization over the trump administration's move to allow u.s. nationals to sue any company that does business in cuba using private property seized during the cuban revolution. the carnival cruise lines became ththe first u.s. company to be sued under a provision in the 199595 helms-burton act which wt into effect on thursday. in n news from capitol hill,l, e
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senate has failed to overturn president trump's veto of legislation that would have ended u.s. support for the saudi-led war in yemen, which has killed thousands of civilians and sparked the world's worst humanitarian crisis. this comes as the united nations warns the death toll in yemen could reach 233,000 if the war continues through the end of the year. this is senator bernie sanders speaking on thursday j just befe the vote. >> the war in yemen has led to the worst military disaster on the face of the earth. there are studies out there which unbelievably tell us that hundreds of thousands of people will starve to death by the end of 2019 if we don't stop this war. what we're trying to do, and for the first time, have used the war powers act in an effective way to get the united states out of an unauthorized war. amy: julian assange has officicially begun h his fight o avoid extradition to the united states. the wikileaks foununder told a
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london court thursday that he will not voluntarily consent to being extradited to the u.s. to faces charges related to the chelsea manning leaks. speaking by video link from jail, assange said, "i do not wish to surrender myself for extradition for doing journalism that has won many awards and protected many people." julian assange was arrested in april after spending seven years inside the ecuadorian embassy y london in political exile. after the court hearing, assange's lawyer jennifer robinson warned that assange's extradition could put a massive chill on investigative journalism. >> despite what you heard from the prosecutor in the courtroom today, this case is not about hacking. this case is about a journalist and a publisher who had conversations with the source about accessing material, encouraged that source to provide material, and spoke to the source about how to protect their identity. this is protected activity that
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journalists engage in all the time. and any prosecution in a tradition of mr. assange for having done so or alleged to of bensalem place a massive chill on the world over. amy: the pentagon is facing accusations that it is drastically underestimating the number of civilians being killed in u.s. airstrikes overseas. on thursday, the pentagon released a report saying the u.s. had killed 120 civilians in afghanistan, iraq, syryria, yemn and somalia last year. however, the watchdog monitoring group airwars says the total is at least 1 10 times higher. in iraq and syria, the pentagon admitted to killing 42 people but airwars put the civilian deatath toll frorom attacks by e u.s. led coalition at over 800. a a new report on n global miliy spending finds the united states spent $649 billion last year on its military. that's nearly as much as the next eight countries combined. the stockholm international peace research institute's
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report found china spent the second most at $250 billion followowed by saudi ararabia, ia and france. the children's defense fund is warning nearly 13 million american children are living in homes with incomes below the poverty line, even as the richest americans benefit from tax cuts passed by republicans in 2017. meanwhile, a new report by temple university's hope center finds more than half of u.s. college students have struggled to find housing, and almost half have experienced hunger at some point in their college careers. facebook announced it has banned nation of islam leader louis farrakhan, as well as several right-wing figures including conspiracy theorist alex jones of infowars and former breitbart columnist milo yiannopoulos. in a statement, facebook said -- "we've always banned individuals or organizations that promote or engage in violence and hate, regardless of ideology."
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several prominent hip-hop artists including snoop dogg and chuck d criticized facebook for bannnning farrakhan, who organid the million man march in 1995. president trump has dropped plans to nominate the right-wing economic commentator stephen moore to the federal reserve board. moore had come under intense scrutiny over past comments about the role women in society and for withholding hundreds of thousands of dollars in alalimoy to his ex-wife. interior secretary david bernhardt hahas announced planso roll back a number of safety regulations on offshore drilling put into place afterer the deady 2010 deepwater horizon explosion in the gulf of mexico caused the worst oil spill in u.s. history. the chief oil lobbying group, the american petroleum institute, pushed to weaken the safety regulations. the move is expected to save the oil industry over $800 million over 10 years. bernhardt is a former oil
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lobbyist. in medical news, the billionaire founder of insys therapeutics has become the highest-ranking pharmaceutical executive to be convicted in a case linked to the u.s. opioid epidemic. a federal jury in boston convicted john kapoor and four other colleagues of bribing doctors to prescribe a highly addictive fentanyl spray to patients who didn't need it. one of the defendants allegedly gave a lap dance to a doctor at a company event in order to persuade him to prescribe the drug. they face up to 20 years in prison baltimore mayor catherine pugh has resigned amid a growing investigation into her business deals. last week, the fbi and irs raided her two homes and her city hall office. part of the probe centers on the mayor making more than $700,000 by selling large numbers of her self-published children's books to businesses seeking city contracts and to the university of maryland medical system, where she served on its board of directors.
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in sudan, hundreds of thousands of protesters took part in another mass sit-in thursday outside sudan's defense ministry. the protesters are calling for civilian rule following last month's military coup that ousted longtime leader omar al-bashir. >> it took is four years are protesting to reach this point. we persevered. we will persevere through ramadan under any pressures, under any challenges. we will persevere until all demands are met. amy: in news from the u.s.-mexican border in texas, a 10-month-old honduran infant has died and three people are still missing, including two children, after a rubber raft overturned in the rio grande. survivors say the raft was carrying nine people as they attempted to cross the border. the florida senate has passed a bill that would require former felons to repay all financial
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obligations before their voting rights are restored. this comes six months after voters in florida overwhelmingly approved a measure to restore voting rights to 1.4 million people with nonviolent felonies who have fully completed their sentences. one in five african americans in florida and 10% of the state's adult population have been ineligible to vote because of a criminal record. in environmental news, the state of maine has become the first state to ban food containers made of styrofoam. democratic governor janet mills said -- "polystyrene cannot be recycled like a lot of other products, so while that cup of coffee may be finished, the styrofoam cup it was in is not. in fact, it will be around for decades to come and eventually it will break down into particles, polluting our environment, hurting our wildlife, and even detrimentally impacting our economy." the ban goes into effect in 2021.
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the cruise ship owned by the church of scientology has left the caribbean island of st. lucia. it had been quarantined after a case of measles was reported on board. the ship left the port after health officials on st. lucia provided 100 doses of the vaccine. the ship is now heading to herself. it is unclear whether the people will be able to disembar in seattle, washingtondodozens of people raieied th weeeek ththimmigratn court where promint t actist m mar momo-villalpando was orderedoo pearar. it was herer third hring sin ice veved toeporort r lastst year aft s she oanizized seriesf f resiancece wkshopsps acrossashington state. the judgset another heargg dateoror novber,r, a mora-villalpando veded to turn th m morprotesesrs. >> i think in a way coming to , it is definitely
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rtrt of our work and benefits our work because most pelele did nonot ow thihiplace existed. they had no idea the building hostsany offis of ice and department ojujustic here is whereecisions are made we're very happy to bngng peoe he eveveryime we comin f for people to understand this is anotr r placof r restance.e. amy: mora-villalpando so has a pending vivil rits l lawit challenging how e survei,, detains,ndnd depts o outoken immigranacactivis. the se citeshe arresof well-knownew y yoractivist raviagbir atis regular ice check-in. last w week, a federal appeals court ruled in favor of ragbir in his own free speech case, saying the first amendment bars ice from targeting activists for deportation based on their political speech. writing -- "to allow this retaliatory conduct to proceed would broadly chill protected speech, among not only activists subject to final orders of deportation but also those citizens and other
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residents who would fear retaliation against others." and those are some of the headlines. this is democracy now!, democracynow.org, the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman. we begin today in massachusetts, where a judge ruled thursday a panel on palestinian rights can move forward. "not backing down: israel, free speech, and the battle for palestinian human rights." that is the title of the event said to take place. three anonymous umass students filed the lawsuit to stop the event, claiming they will "suffer irreparable harm" if it takes place. but judge robert ullmann ruled thursday the event can proceed, saying "there's nothing ththat comes even close to a threat o f harm or incitement to violence or lawlessness." meanwhile, the university has
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backed the event despite the protests, saying it is committed to the principles of free speech and academic freedom. the event is cosponsored by jewish voice for peace. group member and attorney rachel attorneymember and responded to thursday's decision saying, "the judge ruled that to shut down this event would be to violate the first amendment. but we also challenged the false premise that criticism of israel is somehow inherently anti-semitic. we have every right to criticize israel's violations of palestinian human rights. as members of jvp, and as jews, we stand in solidarity with the event and with the panelists." saturday's event will include several high-profile speakers, including palestinian-american activist linda sarsour and gently university professor marc lamont hill, who was recently
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fired from cnn for speaking up for palestinian rights. it will also include our guest today, who's joining us in our new york studio. roger waters,nder cofounder of the ban. and joining us from the university of massachusetts-amherst is sut jhally, professor of communication at the university and founder and executive director of the media education foundation, which organized the event. we welcome you all to democracy now! sut jhally, thank you for joining us. let's begin with you. can you explain what has taken place since the announcement of this panel for may 4? >> good morning, amy. it has been a firestorm of criticism since we announced the panel. i know the chancellor of the administration have received
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scores of telephone calls protesting the event. the massachusetts republican party has protested the event and wanted to be canceled. there was a letter written by 80 organizations, 80 right-wing organizations demanding the event be canceled and the university disassociate itself from anything to do with the event. and of course, as you just mentioned, there was this lawsuit that was filed by this right-wing organization on this notion that somehow talking about israel-palestine was going to cause harm to jewish jews. amy: what was the organization you understood brought the suit? it was brought on behalf of three anonymous students. washat was -- i think that just a scam. the lawsuit was brought by a group called americans for peace and prosperity. which is a right-wing, really
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hateful -- hate filled group of reactionaries and bigots. they started this about four weeks ago when they first heard about the panel. they then found students at umass to front the injunction. but this is not a suit that has been brought by the students. this is a suit that has been brought by in external organization trying to shut down any kind of critical speech around israel-palestine. i am very happy that the university and the chancellor has held so far to the principle of academic freedom and has not with ourterfered planning for the event. amy: talk more about the university standing up to the protest saying the panel would move forward and then, of course, you have the judge, hearing this case yesterday -- and we will talk about that. said, the university has
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been steadfast in its defense of academic freedom. they try to take what they call a content-neutral approach, saying this is not about this particular issue, but this is about the ability of the university and faculty to sponsor events that talk to the main issues of the day, as controversial as they may be. budgeduniversity has not from that at all. i have to tell you, i have to tell you, i'm not even heard from the chancellor with any kind of concerns whatsoever. i think that is a great credit to the university. to: i want to turn right now rachel weber, who is joining us from western massachusetts. she is an attorney and member of jewish voice for peace of western massachusetts chapter. can you talk about your involvement t in the court casae yesterday, rachel? -- 'm sorry, can you
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amy: can you talk about your involvement in the court case yesterday? what jewish voice for peace, one of the cosponsors of this event that is set to take place tomorrow in ththe what he said o the courtrt? >> certatainly. we intervened as defendants in the case because we wawanted to mamake sure ththat the judge ine coururt was able to hear our t theerns contesting plaintiffsfs use of a defifinitn of anti-i-semitism that c confls ananti-semitism with any criritm of i israel. so we argued to t the court, fit of all, that allowing the injunction absolutely would have been a restraint on free speech, which is impermissible according to the first amendment. the judge was very clear on that. and also argued to the judge both in front of -- in open
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court and with our filings, that the plaintiffs use of the definition of anti-semitism, which includes any criticism of israel, any advocacy for palestinians, is both incorrect, inflammatory, and offensive to jews, jewish communities, and historically inaccurate. break.'re going to go to when we come back, we're going to turn to roger waters from the legendary musician, cofounder of pink floyd. he is one of the panelists to speak on saturday. stay with us. this is democracy now!, democracynow.org, the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman.n. ♪ [music break]
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amy: roger waters performing "we shshall overcome," accompand by alexander rohatyn on cello, in the democracy now! studio. well thee seeger's,
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100th anniversary of the late great folk singer and songwriter. this is democracy now!, democracynow.org, the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman. "not backing down: israel, free speech, and the battle for palestinian human rights." that is the title of the panel said to take place saturday at the university of massachusetts amherst. free anonymous students filed a lawsuit to stop the event claiming they will "suffer if it takesharm" place. a judge robert ullmann ruled on thursday the event can proceed saying "there is nothing that comes even close to a threat of harm or incitement to violence or lawlessness." the university has backed the event despite the protests saying it is committed to the principles of free speech and academic freedom. so we're joined right now by pink floyd founder roger waters, who was one of the participapans in that event. welcome to democracy now!
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talk about why you are doing this on saturday and significance of the court rule. >> asked me to come to be on the panel and i'm delighted to be able to do it. thank you, judge. he was very explicit and brief and to the point in his ruling. he is obviously sound. my view is that it is a good areg that the organanizationsns attacking the event because what it does is it serves to shine a light on that predicament of the palestinian people who we support. and the more light shone on any question of human rights, the better, in my view. i'm very glad they failed. in a way, if they had succeeded in illegal -- in their legal maneuvers, he might've gone further to shine a light on the predicament on the palestinians, which is what this is about.t.
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something i say every show i do now, because i find my speeches down, they're very short, and at some point everybody has to decide whether or not they believe in the 1948 declaration of human rights in paris. either you believe in it or you don't. you can't have it both ways. if you do believe it, you have to stand up for people's human rights all over the world, irrespective of their ethnicity or religion or nationality, which is what we are doing in this panel at the university of massachusetts on saturday. amy: can you talk about the backlash against pro-palestinian backlashncluding the that you, roger waters have experienced as a musician, as a human rights activist, as you travelled the world? >> this particular issue is far more divisive than any other.
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for a just been on tour couple of years all over the world. and in many countries, certainly in europe and france and germany, i came up against an absolute wall of silence, really, particularly in germany where nobody in the press, except one journalist with the newspaper from munich, nobody would speak to me. on the grounds they have been told i was anti-semitic and i could not be spoken to. and the germans are very sensitive about jewish affairs. and in consequence, they're not -- eveneven speaking speaking about human rights within the context of palestine. amy: can you talk about the equation of being critical of the israeli government with anti-semitism? >> well, i could talk about it, but what is the point? amy: respond to it. clearly any quite
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criticism of any government is nothing to do with anti-semitism pulse up certainly criticism of the israeli government's flouting of international law and abuses of human rights has nothing to do with the jewish faith or jewish people. i have had lots of meetings all over the world with jvp sponsored events. did was inne we vancouver. it was not jvp, but another jewish organization, something else. of course, they are just as humane and cared just as much about human rights as everybody else who cares about human rights. unfortunately, the israeli government does not care about human rights and neither does this government in this country, which is why this administration is supporting the annexing of golan heights and the moving of the embassy to jerusalem and blah blah blah and all the rest
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of it. it is very important that those of us who do care organize, meat, have meetings, and continue to protest the situation of palestinians. amy: i want to bring rachel weber back into this to address this particular issue of equating being critical of the state of israel, of the current government in israel, with being anti-semitic. you are an attorney, a member of jewish voice for peace. >> yes. it i is a polilitical movement. from the beginning of f that movement in the late 19 cenentuy there s bebeen dissesent within jewiwish committ iss about whether or n not sun is him wawa good idea. and in fact, right around whwhen the balfour declclaration was
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about to be enacted, which gave s sensually -- the beginnings of the estatablishmet ofof the state of israel through the british mandate, there e wee m membersprominent j jewish of the british have jewish community y that issueued a statement in the titimes of lonn about t how this is a dangerous idea. there hass been discussion and debate and disagreement about zizionism from the very beginnig within jewisish committed ththe. to sayay that alall jews feel tt israrael -- the israeleli govert speaks for them, is inaccurate and d incredibly offensive. i have a an absolutee obligatioo protest t injustices that arare happening in my name, both as a ju and an american, given the amountnt of aidid and military resources that thihis country gis s to isrsrael. suggestquite offenensive to
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-- justt becacause off because of the identitie of the people who a r runni the vernrnme in isisel, because i share some heritage whh those people's s identieses, th pport anything they do. the's a growing icice inhiss untrtry d arouou the world of doenotying israel speak fous and we have to speaup against the human rights abus that a h happeng agnst palestinians. and to say that any criticism of israel is anti-semitic, it is incredibly dangerous. it is actually bad for jews because it prevents us from doing the hard work that needs to happen. white supremacy is what is dangerous for jews in this country and around the world. use a definition of anti-semitism that includes criticism of israel, , that
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divides us i internall a huge divide within the e jewih commmmunity in this couountry. and separates us from a allies n woworking totogether to fight we supremacy. it is dangerous, obviously,y, fr palestinians because it mamakes anyonene who stands o or ca steny and rights fefear there wl be accused of beining antnti-sec and d smeared, j just like i ins lawsuit. it is also dangerous for jews bebecause it prevents us from working together internally and with allies to fight white supremacy. amy: i want to bring in sut from the university of massachusetts, professor of communications, head of the media education foundation. according to reports, you had hoped to bring the palestinian leader and activist but she did not receive a visa in time. is this true? whatat do you understand happen? >> it is very true. when a was organizing the event, i sent an invitation to hannanah
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and she rereplied and said she very much wanted to come but she was s waiting for a visaa and tt she would be back in touch witih me if shshgot the vivisa. and she got back in touch with me about two months later and said that she could not include the united states in anything she was going to o do because se was not receiving a visa. hanan h has been cocoming to the united states for d decades. i don't know people know, but she is a famed palestinian legislslatorelected representative of the palestinian people. and d she cannot now come into e issues to talk about the that confront palestinians. ththis goes along with two weeks ago, , the founder of -- cofounr of bds was denied a visa to come in. i t think what is happening at umass's economy for cosan of what is happening everywhere. there's this kind of intense
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pressure now to make sure the provost invoices or any kind of rational discussion of israel-palestine from happening. at umass, it is the phone calls from the letters that came in, the lawsuit and i think this is an act of desperation onn their part. for example, they knew the injunction would never stop this event from taking place. and so the question is, why did they go through with it? why did they spend the thousands of dollars on the lawyers to go through the courts. i think it was not an attempt to stop this event because they knew they could not. it was an act of intimidation and bullying for the next one, to tell people, if you start to think about organizizing events around this or star speaking out about this, this is what is going to come down on you. i think that after five ---- think they are terrified of coalitions b building betweenn palestinian students and jewish
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students and organizations like groups, terrified of the links they can place between the battttle for black liberation in the united states and blalack liberation in palestine. and they want to destroy thohose d make susure those voices are not heheard througugh intimidatn and threat. at the name of our p panel is called "not backing down." i think we are in a new moment right now where there wawas a spspace for different kinds of voices to come through. and people are not backing down and are forcing this conversation into the mainstream. amy: that was omar barghouti. one of the organizers of the boycott, divestment, sections movement who was not allowed into the united states despite the fact he has come here together times and was also coming for his daughter's wedding. people can see the interview we did with him at democracynow.org . spoke to noamly chomsky, the world-renowned political dissident, ling was,
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and author. he said democrats are supporting palestinian rights morore now tn in the past. he said times have changed. i> the support for israel expansionism, repression, the whole alliance that is developing, that support has shifted in the united states sectors --re liberal roughly, the democratic party -- to the far right. not very long ago,o, support for israel was based passionately in the liberal sectors of the population. it was a democratic issue. it isn't anymore. in fact, if you look in the polls, the people who identify democrats, by now tend to support palestinian rights more than israel.
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that is a dramatic change. [applause] now isupport for israel in the most reactionary parts of the population -- evangelical christians, ultranationalists, basically, it is a far right issue. among younger people, this is even more the case. amy: that was noam chomsky, who are just returned to boston, to massachusetts. i was interviewing him at the old south church. about 1000 people packed into the church. roger waters, do you feel that kind of optimism? here noam chomsky has been so critical of the israeli state for so long, yet he feels there is a different climate right now. >> absolutely. i have been involved in the struggle for the past 12 years. for the past 12 years, it has changed dramatically. noam chomsky is exactly right. anand so is sut.
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they are desperate now. that is why they pulled the silly legal stunt about this meeting in umass. i am so happy to see it. working with people from jewish voice for peace and other jewish organizations as well has developed dramatically over the years as the demographic within the jewish communityty and unitd states has changed, and they're becoming more and more around to saying "not in my name." which is hugely encouraging. joyel overcome almost with even to be able to speak about it in these terms. and i'm really looking forward to saturday in massachusetts and speaking to young people and meeting also the other panelists, all of whom -- amy: why risk this criticism? you are a world-renowned
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musician, and yet you take this on everywhere you go. why? >> my mom. my mother, when i was young, she said to me, at some point in your life, you're going to be faced with difficult decisions. you should think about things, find out as much as you can about anything that you're confronted with, then make up your own mind what it is that you're going to do. there is nearly always the right thing to do, just do it. this is the right thing to do. and i'm just doing it. there is never any sort of question. amy: and what message do you have to other mumusicians andd artists? >> get on board. a lot of my colleagues in my industry are still very frightenened of the industry and of the power in the industry, of the israeli lobby. just as members of congress are
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still terrified of aipac and the nd their elections. it is diminishing. amy: it has been quite remarkable to see the number of democratic presidential candididates who did not address aipac this year. >> it was a huge change, hugely encouraging to us all. amy: i want to thank you all for being with us. waters, cofounder of pink floyd. sut jhally, professor ofof cocommunication at the universiy of massachusetts and founder and executive director of the media education foundation. and rachel weber, jewish voice for peace. we will be back in 30 seconds. ♪ [music break]
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amy: "clandestino" cover by lila downs. her new album is out today. visit democracynow.org to see the full performance and interview in our studio. this is democracy now!, i'm amy goodman. we turn now to two award-winning teachers who are trying to teach trump a lesson. on monday, jessica dueñas, the 2019 kentucky state teacher of the year, and kelly holstine, the 2019 minnesota teacher of the year, boycotted a white house ceremony honoring them and other state winners of the award in protest of the trump administration's education policies.
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theas and holstine skipped event to register their opposition to trump's policies on immigration, education and lgbtq rights, saying many of the white house policies directly impact their immigrant and refugee students. well, democracy now!'s nermeen shaikh and i recently spoke to kelly holstine, an english high-school teacher at tokata learning center in shakopee, minnesota. and jessica dueñyas, a 6th grade special education teacher at the w.e.b. dubois academy in louisville, kentucky. dueñas is the daughter of a cuban refugee father and a latina mother who, at one point, was an undocumenteted immigranto the u.s. they joined us from washington, d.c. i began by asking kelly holstine why she decided to boycott the white house ceremony. >> i spent a lot of time thinking about this decision. acknowledged it is an honor, a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to be in the white house. i represent -- i mean, i respect that location and the position and i realally respectct the cot
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who chose to be a part of that. i very much am a believer in freedom of speech. i support that everyone shows that and demonstrates that right in different ways. and we also want to celebrate the national teacher of the year rodney robinson. we celebrate and champion and support him, bubut we needed to make her own choice ababout what felt right for us. for me, i work at a school that is extremely diverse, and alternative high school. the policies in the words and the actions of this administration show a great deal of discrimination and prejudice and hatred toward the students that i serve. i could not in good conscience even implicitly support people who hate my kids. also, as a gender nonconforming lesbian, there had been, if f yu lolook on the glaad website, toy there are 104 attacks against my community. i want to model for my students
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that even though you can respect someone's position, you also can have healthy boundaries and decide what is right for you. i don't generally go to other people's homes if i know they hate me for who i am without ever knowing anything about me, so i really want to model for students they can make those choices for themselves about what feels healthy for them. at the end of the day, i can't actively or implicitly support in a administration who treats my kids very, very poorly. amy: in what way do they doo that, , kelly? that is strong language, you did not want to meet with people who hate your children. you were going to be meeting and betsy devos p,ence, president trump. how do they hate your children? >> if you look at the words and actions and policies, the attacks against lgbtq people, the attacks against immigrants and refugees and people of the global majority and american
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indians and people with disabilities, there are so many statements that are made that are negative. it also createses an environment and culture and our country that emboldens people that have that hatred and fear of others. it causes those folks to be more verbal with their language. for example, i have a student who is muslim and somali and she wears a hijab. every time she is in public, people yell at her and call her a terrorist and tell her to go back home. she is the kindest human i've ever met. she gives the best hugs of anyone in the world. she is sweet and sassy and smart and articulate. she could so easily hate the world because of the way she's being treated, and she chooses not to. she chooses to come from a place of lightht and love. i can't support someone who hates someone like that. in my classroom, i really support healthy communication and discussion and differences of opinion, but there has to be ground rules for it to be
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healthy and productive. in my classroom, we respect each other's opinions, but there isfor prejudice or discrimination. you cannot attack other people. if i were to have an open opportunity to talk to members , then iadministration would welcome that if they would follow the ground rules and experience has taught us that there is a lot of attacking statements. there's a lot of prejudice, a lot of discrimination. i would not expect my students to participate in a conversation like that because it is not healthy or productive. amy: jessica dueñas, can you talk about the decision you made once you got this really incredible honor to be the 2019 ,eacher of the year of kentucky then coming to washington and deciding not to meet with president trump and vice president pence and the secretary of education betsy devos? >> absolutely. thehen i i first learned won
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award, i was informed i would have the honor of meeting the presesident and members of the administration. like i said, this s is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that i chose to miss out on. there are several reasons why. first, kentucky is my adopted home. i was born and raised in brooklyn, new york. i came to kentucky seven years ago because i married someone from global. when we divorceced two years ag, i could have gone back home but in a semi- rooted rural county of the time and i loved my students loved the friendships i've made in the connections i made. at that point, i felt like kentucky is home. representative and having e e honor toto represent this state, one of the biggest issues that kentucky is facing right now in terms of education is
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adequately funding our public schools. state know, kentucky is a that struggles a lot financially. we experienceded a lot of rollig poverty ----rural poverty. i was in an urban area and there is vast poverty throughout the state and it looks very different depending on the area. throughout the state, we have students who lack resources and have incredible barriers to their learning because the teachers may notot have technoly or basic materials to enable the students to learn. and so if we allow the privatization off gender the trump administration is pushing and also the state the administration in kentucky is pushing to happen, the funding that is already barely there for our public schools is going to diminish and get even worse. let's say we suddenly let in these scholarship tax credits. now the sailors are able to pull public school funds that could have helped many children and
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take them out into schools that are not really being regulated also for example, if charter schools were to come into kentucky, you put these charter schools in, suddenly you're putting teachers that don't have to be highly qualified educators to t teach our children. you -- for example, i'm a teacher of students with disabilities. donon'tschools necessarily have to take students like the ones i teach, which are very high need students. i am very passionate about that. a few weeks ago, mr. voss came to kentucky to have a conversation about this and met with the governor r and the commission but there were some a single public school representative there. students showed up at a public school students showed up that wanted to see what was happening and i guess go back and reported. they were turned away. what a slap in the state. how could i in good faith represent the state as the state teacher of the year come to washington, smile and nodd and kind of put on a show for the
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administration when the administrationon could not even respspect the state with a representative there. the second piece to what i did not want to face the administration was i am a first-generation american. my father, a cuban refugee, had to cut sugar cane in cuba for two years without pay just to be released by the administration back then so he could come to this country in search of a better life. legally, whiched is why she was ultimately able to get citizenship, overstayed her visa to work. because of the sacrifices my parents made, i am now a special education teacher of 11 years. let's go back to the civil rights movement. what wouould it look like to my student if i, their latina teacher, gets called an animal by the president and then have to go shake his hand? i sending myam african-american male students that when people in power dedehumanize you, you smile and
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nod? or do i teach them and remind them, hey, back in the 1960's, what did martin is looking do? he spoke up. what did rosa parks do? she spoke up. what are the freedom riders do? up. spoke they went through great consequences. nermeen: i want to turn n to bey toos in march, she refused state whether schools should be allowed to discriminate against students based on sexual orientation or gender identity. ththis is devos being questioned by wisconsin democrat during testimony before a house education appropriations subcbcommittee. >> do you think it is all right for school to discriminate based on someone's sexual orientation or gender identity? coverhave laws that discrimination -- discriminatory efforts. our office for civil rights has continued to be very diligent in
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investigating any allegation of discrimination and wilill contie toto do so. >> is that a yes or no? >> we follow the law -- > personally, you don't t han opinion?n? you argiving money to some charter schools that do discriminate. nermeen: that was education secretary betsy devos posted meanwhile, second lady of the united states karen pence is working at a virginia private school that explicitly bans lgbtqp workers and students. ence is teaching at the immanuel christian school in washington, d.c., suburbs where an employment application requires job candidates too pledge not to engage in homosexual activity or to violate the "unique roles of male and female." the application also advises women that "a wife is commanded to submit toto her husband as te church submits to christ."
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whatuld you respond to devos said and also vice president pence's wife? >> it hurts my heart. what if a student while in her carere begins to figure out who they are in this world? what if they figure out they are gay or lesbian or bi or trans and then look to their teachers for that support and that love and a safety to be who they are? to suicide rate is five times higher for our lgbtq community that it is for our heterosexual community andyouth. youth are going to feel lonely and unsupported and it hurts my heart for them to be an environment that is so openly and hate. amy: that is kelly holstine and theica dueñas, teachers of
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year. they boycotted the white house or money honoring all 50 state winners of the award in protest of the trump administration. we end today's show with the words of the late folk singer and activist pete singer, born 100 years ago tododay. in pete seeger came into our 2004, firehouse studio. pete seeger, can y you tell l us about "w"we shalall overcome"e"? 1946 when in learned it from a white woman who taught in the union labor school in t tennessee that the in 1946 byen made up tobacco workers. they sang it to strike through the winter of 1946 interest in, south carolina. they taught the song to sophia horton, the teacher at the labor school.
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and she said, oh, my favorite song. and i printed it. our little magazine in new york. we willd it as "as overcome" in 1947. it was a friend of mine who made it famous. he picked up my way of singing it "we shall overcome." there was another teacher there, a black woman who felt "shall" it opened up the mouth better than "will." anyway, back care when taught it to the young people at the founding sncc. a month later, it was not a sound, it was thehe softer of te south. amy: you saying it for martin luther king? .> in 1967 said, we cannot
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have a celebration of 25 years of this goal without music. what you come down and helped lead some songs echo i went down and dr. king and reverend abernathy came up from alabama to say a few words andnd i sanga few songs and ththat was one off them. king was driven to kentucky the next day. she remembers him sitting in the saying "that song rereally sticks with you, does't it?" but it was not until another three years when gu but it famous. amy:y carawan the late folk singer and activist pete seeger speaking in 2004. he was born 100 years ago today. you can watch the full interview on our website. democracynow.org. you can sign up for our daily them out from our headlines and news alerts.
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