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tv   Democracy Now  PBS  May 3, 2017 12:00pm-1:01pm PDT

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05/03/17 05/03/17 [captioning made possible by democracy now!] amy: from tampa, florida, this is democracy now! >> the regime did not fight terrorism. it is the single biggest cause of isis in syria. if you talk to syrians, bashar al-assad and the regime is the biggest terrorist in the country. amy: as president trump and russian president vladimir putin agree to seek a ceasefire in syria we speak to journalist , anand gopal. first, we look at the plight of 55,000 haitians who could face deportation if the trump administration does not extend their temporary protected status enacted after the devastating
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earthquake of 2010. and we go back to north carolina to look at how a group of african-american residents are fighting back against factory farms that spray liquid manure on their communities. >> you don't open your doors or windows. the smell takes your breath away. then you start gagging. >> i shut my hog operation down and got out of it. i could not -- i just could not do another person that way, to make them smell that. amy: all that and more, coming up. welcome to democracy now!, democracynow.org, the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman. we are reporting from tampa, florida. president trump and russian president vladimir putin agreed tuesday during a phone call to work together to seek a ceasefire in syria.
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according to the kremlin, putin and trump agreed to meet in july to discuss a resolution to the protracted conflict. reporters were not able to ask questions about trump's phone call on tuesday, however, because white house press secretary sean spicer stormed out of tuesday's press briefing without taking questions as reporters shouted "sean! sean!" trump and putin's phone call commit same day isis militants attacked a makeshift camp for displaced syrians and iraqi refugees, killing nearly 40 civilians and kurdish fighters near syria's north-eastern border with iraq. we'll have more on the ongoing conflict in syria later in the broadcast. meanwhile, president trump is meeting with palestinian authority president mahmoud abbas at the white house today. trump already hosted israeli prime minister benjamin netanyahu in february. in afghanistan, at least eight
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civilians were killed and 28 more were wounded in a suicide bombing in kabul. officials say the target of the attack was a nato convoy. three u.s. soldiers were wounded in the attack. isis militants claimed responsibility for the attack. on capitol hill, the republicans' new bill to repeal and replace the affordable care act is facing major opposition from key members within the republican party, casting doubt on whether the latest effort will garner enough votes to pass the house. on tuesday, michigan republican congressman fred upton came out against the legislation, saying it does not protect people with pre-existing conditions. upton is the former chair of a house committee that helped draft an earlier version of the republican health care bill. trump has repeatedly claimed the latest bill guarantees coverage for people with pre-existing conditions, even though the bill would actually allow insurance companies to charge them significantly higher premiums. the republicans' previous effort to pass a healthcare bill failed
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in march due to party infighting. in baton rouge, louisiana, more than 100 people gathered for a vigil tuesday after the justice department announced it will not bring charges against two white police officers for the 2016 killing of alton sterling, an african-american father of five. bystander video shows sterling was pinned to the ground by the two police officers when they -- one of them shot him. his killing sparked nationwide protests. this is community organizer arthur "silky slim" reed speaking at the vigil tuesday outside the triple s food mart where sterling was killed. >> let this be a wake-up call to you. don't keep begging for justice. show them what justice looks like. standup, be strong, and refuse to then. this is an unjust situation. alton sterling did not have to die.
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amy: it was the justice department's first high profile decision on whether to charge police officers for killing civilians since president trump took office. trump has repeatedly vowed to be pro-police and pro-law enforcement. hours after his inauguration, the trump administration took down the white house website's pages on civil rights, and replace them with a page entitled "standing up for our law enforcement community." meanwhile, in charleston south carolina, former white police officer michael slater has pleaded guilty to shooting and killing african american walter scott in 2015. video footage shows scott was unarmed and running away from officer slater when slager opened fire, shooting scott eight times in the back, killing him. slager pleaded guilty to a federal civil rights charge. he had also been tried for murder, but a judge declared a mistrial in that case in 2016
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after jurors couldn't reach a verdict. slager now faces the possibility of life in prison. this is walter scott's brother, anthony scott. >> we will never be able to share walter again as a brother. to hear his laughter, here his jokes, hear him make -- sing a song. we will never be able to share that. never again. that is gone forever. but i hope he is looking down and saying, good job. job well done. appreciate you standing in there for me, brother. and family. got the sure that i justice. amy: meanwhile, in texas, the balch springs police department has fired police officer roy oliver, who killed 15-year-old jordan edwards on saturday, shooting the african american teen in the head while he was in a car leaving a party.
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former acting attorney general sally yates is slated to testify before a senate panel next week, in which she'll reiterate that she warned the white house about former national security adviser michael flynn nearly three weeks before he was fired. yates says she told white house counsel don mcgahn on january 26 that flynn was lying both publicly and privately about whether he'd discussed sanctions on russia in his conversation with russian ambassador sergei kislyak, and that she thought these lies made flynn vulnerable to being blackmailed. former house intelligence committee chair devin nunes canceled hearings in march in apparent efforts to block yate'' testimony after she and former cia head john brennan, who was slated to testify at the same hearing, informed the government they would contradict some statements that white house officials had made. former democratic presidential
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candidate are clinton claimed that fbi director james comey and russian hacking cost her the u.s. election during an interview tuesday. mrs. clinton: i was on the way to winning until a combination letter on october 28 and russian wikileaks raised doubts in the minds of people who were implying to vote for me -- inclined to vote for me, but got scared off. had the election mid-october 27, i would be your president. amy: that's hillary clinton, referring to the day before fbi director james comey sent a letter to lawmakers saying the fbi was once again investigating whether clinton had sent classified information from her private email server while she was secretary of state. comey is testifying to the senate judiciary committee today. in response to clinton's comments, trump tweeted -- "trump/russia story was an excuse used by the democrats as justification for losing the election. perhaps trump just ran a great campaign?" in greece, international creditors have once again forced
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the greek government to impose austerity measures in exchange for another round of bailouts. the austerity measures include raising taxes and cutting pensions. this is an eight year old pensioner in athens. >> we have been working for 40 years. unfortunately, they are taking it. now we don't have enough to live on. it is a shame they have reached such a leveled after exploit people who are in the last stages of their lives. this is really terrible. amy: the "washington post" reports that videos of president trump and his daughter ivanka promoting trump tower in the philippines were featured on the skyscraper's website until this week. this is a clip of the video, which was filmed in 2013. >> trump tower manila will be something very, very special, like nobody has seen before.
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amy: this promotional video remained on the skyscraper's website until the "washington post" asked about it earlier this week and it was subsequently taken down. trump developed the skyscraper outside the capital manila with one of the philippines' most powerful real estate moguls, who is currently philippine president rodrigo duterte's top trade envoy. over the weekend, president trump invited duterte to visit the white house sparking outrage from human rights experts who say the invitation condones the thousands of extrajudicial killings in the philippines since duterte launched his so-called war on drugs. cnn has refused to air and that from the trump campaign that calls the mainstream media fake news. cnn says it will not air the ad because it is false. in response, the trump campaign lashed out at cnn, accusing the network of censorship. kentucky republican governor matt bevin is threatening to close the state's only remaining
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abortion clinic, meaning kentucky could becoming the first u.s. state without a single abortion clinic. the aclu has sued kentucky on behalf of the last remaining clinic, the e.m.w. women's surgical center in louisville. kentucky has been forced to shut 16 abortion clinics since 1978 amid a slew of increasingly harsh anti-choice legislation. it is now one of seven u.s. states with only a single clinic remaining. in washington state, imprisoned immigrant women continue a hunger strike at the for-profit northwest detention center in tacoma, washington. organizers say some of the hunger strikers have faced threats of forced transfers or forced medical treatment from geo group, the company that operates the prison. organizers also say the strike has also spread across state lines to the norcor jail in oregon, which contracts with the immigration and customs
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enforcement agency, known as ice, to imprison immigrants, including some transferred from the tacoma prison. meanwhile, in texas, a state representative has admitted that the anti-immigrant bill he introduced into the state legislature was actually written by the for-profit prison company geo group. republican state representative john raney said -- "i've known the lady who's their lobbyist for a long time. that's where the legislation came from." the bill would allow texas prisons that hold immigrant families to be classified as childcare facilities, meaning ice could imprison women and children for longer stretches of time. the legislation, if passed, would directly benefit one of geo group's for-profit prisons karnes county correctional , center in texas. journalist and activist barrett brown has been released from federal prison after he was arrested again on only one day thursday, before he was slated to be interviewed for an upcoming pbs documentary. he was imprisoned for unknown
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reasons. his arrest came after he served four years behind bars on charges related to the hacking of the private intelligence firm stratfor, which exposed how the firm spied on activists on behalf of corporations. last year, barrett brown won the national magazine award for a series of columns he wrote for the intercept. united ceo oscar munoz and other airline executives testified to the house of representatives transportation committee tuesday amid the ongoing fallout about the violent removal of a doctor who refused to be involuntarily rebooked from a flight. viral video shows a bloodied dr. david dao being dragged semi-conscious down the aisle of a united jet by airline security officers. dr. dao reportedly suffered a concussion, a broken nose and lost teeth during the violent removal.
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despite expressing outrage over the incident, lawmakers did not say they would move to impose more regulation on the industry, which was deregulated in the late 1970's, leading to massive mergers and near monopolies by the four major airline carriers. instead, lawmakers called on the industry to self-regulate. this is arkansas republican congressman rick crawford. >> i don't want to jump into a competitive model and apply reregulation. but that means the industry has to do some self-regulation to demonstrate that you don't need interference from congress. >> i couldn't agree more. amy: and that's united ceo oscar munoz, saying he couldn't agree more that the airline industry should regulate itself. and in new york city, the historic riverside church has announced it will divest its $140 million endowment from fossil fuels. the church was founded by john rockefeller jr., the son of the , founder of standard oil. in response, 350.org co-founder
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bill mckibben said -- "50 years after dr. king used its pulpit to call for an end to the war in vietnam, riverside church now issues a call of its own: for a future free of fossil fuels, where the gospel call to 'love one's neighbor' can be carried out effectively around the world." and those are some of the headlines. this is democracy now!, democracynow.org, the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman. we are broadcasting from tampa, florida. the sunshine state, particularly southern florida, is home to a very large, vibrant haitian population with many living in the miami neighborhood of little haiti. well, the haitian american community is now facing a looming deportation deadline. up to 55,000 haitians could be forcefully repatriated to their fragile, struggling homeland if the trump administration refuses to extend a temporary protected status that has allowed them to legally reside and work in the
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u.s. after an earthquake devastated haiti in 2010. haitians' temporary protected status, known as tps, is set to expire on july 22. earlier this month, the acting director of u.s. citizenship & immigration services, james mccament, wrote a letter to homeland security secretary john kelly suggesting haitians should be deported as early as january. in the letter, mccament said conditions in haiti have improved considerably. his conclusion and recommendation contradicts an assessment done by the obama administration in december. under obama, the state department examined the same circumstances and recommended haitians be allowed to remain in the united states. immigrant rights advocates note haiti is still reeling from hurricane matthew, which in october 2016, destroyed the country's southwest peninsula. the hurricane killed more than a -- 1000 people and decimated villages and farmland. haiti is also suffering from a devastating cholera epidemic
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that erupted after the earthquake. on the campaign trail in september, donald trump visited little haiti in miami, florida. he told the haitian community he was to be a champion. pres. trump: whether you vote for me or don't vote for me, i want to be a greatest champion and i will be your champion, whether he wrote for me or not. amy: that was donald trump speaking last year in little haiti. from more, we're joined in miami, florida, by marleine bastien, executive director of haitian women of miami. welcome to democracy now! can you talk about what you understand is happening right now to the haitian community, who came to the u.s. under temporary protected status? >> good morning, amy. thank you so much for having me. well, as you clearly indicated, over 50,000 haitians, some who have been living in the u.s. for years,age of 7.5 to 15
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who have made their lives are, build their homes and businesses here, facing deportation to haiti. haiti, as we know, is not equipped and ready to absorb all of these refugees. imposedsident obama tps, it was so haiti had a chance to recover. we know based on what we have heard that haiti has yet to recover. not only that it is suffering probably the natural disasters you mentioned, the cholera epidemic and hurricane matthew livestock,scribed forcing people to live in caves. these people are really living in fear of deportation because they have their families and businesses to consider. they have their homes to consider. inis wreaking havoc thousands of families in this country. amy: can you describe little haiti to us?
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last night we were in miami. i was speaking to a haitian man who spoke to the fear that the whole community is facing right now. how many haitians live in miami? in the 55,000 goes well beyond miami, right? it is throughout the united states. for example, another concentration of haitians is in new york. >> yes, indeed. miami has the highest concentration of haitians. there are other places in the u.s. mainly our tps holders, 40% of them, do live in miami. that hasiti is a place been built by immigrants. when haitians were freed in the late 1970's, early 1980's, they were set free in little haiti. it was a very depressed and drug infested area at the time. but through resilience and determination and hard work,
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haitian immigrants have turned little haiti into a vibrant, culturally diverse and culturally rich neighborhood, which is considered the fastest gentrified area in the u.s. we are facing the hard process of gentrification. at the same time, we're also risking being deported to a country that is in trouble right now. a makeup why the change of heart? can you talk about the trump administration's reversal, what it looks like from the obama administration? well, then candidate trump, now president trump, did promise greatesttian's champion. i guess some voted for him. we were all expecting him to do the right thing. we hope that he will do the right thing because sending all
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of these people back to haiti will be a travesty because he did promise. these people have created a life here. -- it is in the best interest, the national interest of the u.s., for the 55,000 haitians to remain here. keep things flowing so people will not risk their lives to theseere as a result of waves of deportation. it is in the best interest of the u.s. to keep the haitians here, to allow them to continue living here with their families. plus, it is the humane things to do. president trump needs to keep his promise. inc. real, we say a promise is a debt. a promise is a debt. 500 walt disney
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employees could be affected by the looming removal. can you talk about disney world in orlando coming out for the continuation of tps? >> yes. the ceos of disney world did come out over a week ago advocating for tps because they have over 500 employees who have been model employees. haitian immigrants, like most immigrants in this country, are hard-working people. they work to or three jobs and have strong work ethics. we are very encouraged by the decision of disney world to come out in support of temporary protected status. we hope that the chambers of commerce and other employers, some of whom are already laying off people, they will heed the call of disney world to keep these people employed and put
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pressure on the trump tpsnistration to renew sooner than later. employers are getting my not bee people are being fired right now. amy: but disney and the union that represents many of the company's workers calling for extending the temporary protected status. this is walt disney company in a statement saying -- "given the current situation in haiti we support efforts to extend the temporary protected status for haitian nationals. the more than 500 cast members who are currently part of this program have been and are an important part of our walt disney world workforce in central florida." also legislators, congress members. can you talk about what their response is right now, but republican and democrat? desk lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have advocated for renewal of tps. they have written letters.
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now we are encouraging them to pick up the phone because we are beyond letters. they have been supportive thus far, but now they need to go up a notch. in florida, we're focusing on bill nelson and senator marco rubio to pick up the phone and call mr. trump and president trump and ask him to renew tps now. and also encourage listeners and tv viewers to do their part by tweeting -- supporting us on renewtpsnow. # it is the fair and humane thing to do. amy: marleine bastien, thank you for being with us, giving us a sense as we cover the movements that are changing america, what is happening here in florida. marleine bastien executive director of haitian women of miami. thank you. when we come back, we speak with
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anand gopal, who is covered the middle east for years, talking about what is happening in syria. 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. in cap,n the road today florida. i will be speaking at the seminal church in tampa tonight. we're broadcasting from camp of pbs. president trump and russian president vladimir putin agreed tuesday during a phone call to work together to seek a cease-fire in syria. according to the kremlin putin , and trump agreed to meet in july to discuss a resolution to the protracted conflict. the phone call came the same day isis militants attacked a makeshift camp for displaced syrians and iraqi refugees, killing nearly 40 civilians and kurdish fighters near syria's
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north-eastern border with iraq. meanwhile, human rights watch has concluded that syrian government forces have used chemical nerve agents, such as sarin gas, in attacks at least four times in recent months, including in the april attack that killed 86 people, including dozens of children. human rights watch said new evidence, including photos and videos of weapon remnants, suggest the april attack came from a soviet-made air-dropped chemical bomb specifically designed to deliver sarin. one of the other attacks, on december 12, reportedly killed 64 people. the syrian government has denied using chemical weapons. meanwhile, u.s.-led coalition airstrikes continue in syria. the journalistic monitoring group airwars says these airstrikes reportedly killed at least two dozen civilians in the final week of april in and around raqqa. almost 500,000 people have been killed in the war in syria, which has entered its seventh year, with more than 6 million syrians displaced inside syria
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and 5 million syrian refugees living outside syria's borders. democracy now!'s nermeen shaikh and i talked about syria with anand gopal, journalist and fellow at the nation institute, who has reported extensively from the region. anand gopal is the author of "no good men among the living: america, the taliban, and the war through afghan eyes." he began by talking about the u.s. policy in syria. >> i think it is important to understand that there is no regime change policy from the united states toward syria. there is never been a regime change policy. the obama administration said numerous time, assad must go, but what they mean is he should step down in some wheels should takeover initiative continuation "stability"e in the and the interest of fighting terrorism. this is essentially the model
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that took place in yemen where down,d a dictator step but you had the continuation of the dictatorship in a way. it is a continuation of what happened in egypt. that has been the goal from the beginning. u.s. is never pursued a policy of regime change. if you want to see how regime change looks, you can look at afghanistan in the 1980's or even -- nermeen: in that sense, russia and u.s. are in agreement. in other words, that they would rather retain assad himself or someone from his regime as the head of state or in control of syria because of fears of whom i take over in the event he goes or that his regime goes. >> exactly. i was a bit only difference between russia and the us is that russia probably wants assad to continue and u.s. once the regime to continue. we see this in many ways. there are cases when rebel groups are fighting against the regime, getting weapons and
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funding from u.s., the u.s. will cut off funding to them unless they focus their fighting on isis only. this has happened numerous times. theirgroups have lost funding. then they went and joined al qaeda. there's a narrative that says if the u.s. is supporting extremist now a cut of groups, it is false. u.s. is punishing groups that are trying to fight assad. then there going and joining al qaeda or extremist groups. nermeen: but there supporting the kurdish militia force that is fighting the assad regime. >> the closest ally of the u.s. is the ypg. amy: talk about who they are. offshoot ofly, an the pkk, the kurdistan workers party, which was a group in turkey that has been waging a left-wing insurgency against the turkish government for kurdish rights or decades. in the last three or four years, they have expanded sure nearly
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rapidly in syria. they have set up councils all across northern and eastern syria. they become the main partners of the united states in this battle against isis. the battle for rocco, the de facto capital of the caliphate, it is the ypg who is the main ally of the united states. nermeen: can you say a little bit about what the impact of the russia military intervention in syria has been in terms of the situation on the ground, in terms of civilian casualties, and so on? >> any discussion of syria, it is important to state at the outset two biggest sources of violence, number one, the assad regime. it has killed, tortured, maimed, ,xecuted anybody who resists essentially. the second-biggest source of violence in syria is the russian regime. russia's role has been to prop up the syrian government at a time when it was looking very weak. when the syrian government
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retook aleppo a few months ago, they would not have been able to do that without russian airpower. nermeen: last week, democracy now! spoke to a correspondent jonathan steele. he questioned whether the assad regime was responsible for the earlier attack in idlib this month saying the principal beneficiaries were the u.s. military-industrial complex and those in the trump administration wanting to prove their president is not a puppet of putin. he would on to outline the benefits to the opposition groups in syria from the chemical weapons attack. >> the third group that will benefit, the armed opposition to assad because they suddenly got a new lease on life when it looked as though they were on the verge of losing their last sliver of territory around idlib in northwest. perhaps being defended by nato with airstrikes. they've had one airstrike and
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there have been more. there certainly not going to compromise in the geneva talks. so everyone who is benefited is on the non-syrian, non-russian side. nermeen: that his former guardian moscow correspondent jonathan steele speaking on democracy now! last week. can you comment on what he said in the speculation amongst certain people that the assad regime could not have been responsible for the chemical weapons attack because it did not benefit from it? it had already in fact, the assad regime, is winning the war, so why would they do something like this, use chemical weapons? >> the principal beneficiary of the chemical attacks were the people who carried it out, the assad regime. you ve to understandthis comes in the conte of a week bere that, you had statements from the american administration, tillerson and yrian -- it is up
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to syrians to decide. that is an implicit way of saying even our very weak statement prejudice that assad must go, even that we are dropping. he is operating from a position of what he sees as basically impunity. it is under tho conditions under which he carried out the chemical attack. it is also coming under the circumstances that russia was drawing closer to the ypg and also having a rapprochement with turkey, which is cking some elements of the fsa. in the speculation that assad carried out the attack is forcing russia back to its corner. amy: can you talk about why you feel tillerson and nikki haley made these comments, saying syria, the syrian people should determine who is their president, signaling some kind of change in u.s. policy -- not as if president obama took out assad, but had a different rhetoric around it? >> this is a logical culmination
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of eight years of obama's policy in the middle east. obama said again and again that assad must go, but did not give the opposition the means to ask a make that happen. in fact, spent most of his time policing the opposition making sure assad would not be ejected. when the trump ministration took office, they dispensed with that and said, our focus is isis. we don't even need to talk about having a solid go. that is what that signaled, which was that, look, we need to focus on isis and al-assad can stay as long as he wants. that was the message sent to the regime. it is not a surprise a week later we saw the chemical attack. nermeen: the russians have said similar thin, namely that it is up to the syrians to decide what happens after assad, but there is bliss a goal is not retaining assad. last week, democracy now! spoke to stephen cohen. he explained why the russians
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were backing the assad regime. >> i would ask all of these americans who vilify assad, i would ask all of your listeners theviewers, if you destroy syrian state, who is going to do the fighting against terrorists in syria? are you going to ask russia to send troops? are we going to send troops? for russia, it is not assad. aboutould give a hoot him. it is what happens to the syrian state. that is why they will stand with assad until there's some kind of military victory. then a so-called political peace process begins, and then assad is on his own. nermeen: that was stephen: last week on democracy now! can you comment specifically on what he said and also this idea that both the u.s. and russia have that the syrians will be able to decide for themselves,
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despite the fact that for decades, syrians have not been able to decide for themselves? >> what he said is basically a perfect summary of american policy in syria. not russian policy. syria is a dictatorship. syrians do not have the ability to decide. when they wanted to try to decide for themselves, they had revolution. when people say it is up to the syrians themselves to decide, it is a coded way of backing the assad regime. he said the assad regime as the main fights -- force fighting terrorism. it is false. it is the single biggest cause of terrorism in syria. it is the cause of isis in syria. if you talk to syrians, bashar al-assad and the regime is the biggest terrorist in the country. the force is fighting isis, which are reform -- assume he is talking about, is ypg. nermeen: and you explain what you say, it gave birth to isis
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in syria, the assad regime? that is not what is commonly understood. >> i've spent a good portion of the last few months interviewing a number of isis fighters. one thing i made a point to do is ask him, why did you join this group? to a person, that all say they witnessed some horrific massacre conducted by the regime. i've never heard anyone give another reason other than that. what has happen is the sheer brutality of the regime has led people to join isis, especially in the context where they see there's not a lot of support for other groups. isis is one of the few groups in syria that does not get foreign support. it is a must entirely self-funded, which gives it a sort of staying power that other groups don't have. nermeen: is it your sense that isis pressed the power control over syria is weakening? >> absolutely weakening. not because of the assad, but in spite of the assad regime.
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mostly because of the ypg, but we should look back a couple of years ago when isis was taking over broad swath of territory near aleppo and pushing it into idlib. it was the free syrian army that pushed it back. amy: can you talk about the gas attack? what you actually think happened? you have assad saying, not only didn't us there in regime do this, but he says he doesn't even believe the children were dying. >> so to start with, we know the children died. we know through investigative reports they died of sarin. we also know that there was an airstrike that took place. the claim i russian intelligence and by the assad regime is that this was an airstrike on a warehouse that contained chemical weapons at us chemical weapons were being stockpiled by the opposition. we've had many, many syrians go to theite to photograph this
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and show the warehouse was never struck. there photographed the actual point of the impact of the bomb, which was on the street, not the warehouse. we had a guardian reporter do the same thing. remember, the regime carried out numerous typical attacks against its own people. this is nothing new. the idea is that the opposition somehow stockpiled illegal weapons and waited for the regime to strike so we could then use it to its benefit, that is just conspiracy theory. amy: anand gopal, journalist and fellow at the nation institute, who has reported extensively from the middle east. we will post our full interview at democracynow.org. go back toe back, we north carolina to look at how a group of african-american residents are fighting against factory farms that spray liquid hochman nor on their communities. 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. we are broadcasting today from tampa, florida, from tampa pbs. i'm amy goodman. we close today's show with a look at the battle between residents of eastern north carolina and one of the state's largest industries, hog farms. last week, the north carolina lawmakers passed house bill 467, which limits the damages that residents can collect against hog farms. the billion-dollar industry is primarily clustered in the eastern part of north carolina where hog farms collect billions , of gallons of untreated pig feces and urine in what are
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essentially cesspools, then dispose of the waste by spraying it into the air. in an investigation into the industry, filmmaker mark devries used drones to capture aerial footage of several massive facilities that supply pigs for smithfield foods. he spoke with steve wing, associate professor of epidemiology at the university of north carolina's giddings school of public health who described what happens in the facilities. >> the waste passes through the floors will stop get is fleshed out into an open pit, like a cesspool. >> it is easy for a big hog operation to have as much waste as a medium sized state. the pit will fill up, so it has to be emptied. there emptied by spraying the liquid waste. >> yes, you heard that right. >> if you're familiar with the garden sprayer, they are gigantic versions of that.
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they're making droplets of fine mist out of this liquid waste. intohat can drift downwind the neighboring communities. amy: residents living in the area of the spray complain of odors so bad that it limits their ability to be outdoors and adverse health affects. house bill 467, or the "agriculture and forestry nuisance remedies" bill, was introduced by republican state representative jimmy dixon, a longtime farmer who has received campaign contributions from the hog industry. speaking at a hearing about the legislation, dixon said -- "these claims are at best enormous exaggerations and at worst outright lies. is there some odor? yes. but i would like you to close your eyes and imagine how ham and sausage and eggs and fried chicken smell." the legislation comes as a class-action suit brought by nearly 500 primarily african-american residents of eastern north carolina seeks financial compensation from
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murphy-brown, the state's largest hog producer. the lawsuits have now moved to federal court. well, for more, we're joined by naeema muhammad, organizing co-director for the north carolina environmental justice network. and we are joined by will hendrick, staff attorney with the water keeper alliance, and manager of the organization's north carolina pure farms, pure waters campaign. we welcome you both to democracy now! liveou tell us where you and what you're dealing with today? >> yes. i live in rocky mount, north carolina. that is in the eastern part of the state. i am in the northeastern part of the state. i live away from where these animals are, but i work with communities that are living with these animals. i have been working with these communities since 1999.
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i am constantly going into the communities where these animals snow whatnow, and people living there are smelling. i see the spring going on. i see the hog houses and open-air lagoons just sitting out there. as you travel throh those communities, you can't help but see these houses that the animals are kept in, as well as the lagoons and the spray fields. amy: so i want to turn to the video.p from here he speaks with a resident of wallace, north carolina, part of the complaint filed with the epa seeking more protections for neighbors of hog farm operations. >> this is where they spray animal waste on us. it is about the people my mother's house. >> what is it like? >> you think it is rain. >> really? >> you think it is raining.
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you don't open the doors and windows because the odor takes her breath away. then you start gagging. you get headaches. amy: and i want to turn to former pig factory farm owner don webb. >> i shot my hog operation down and got out of it. i couldn't -- i just couldn't do another person that way, to make them smell that. a whole and the ground that you don't toxic waste in. i've seen dead hogs. i have seen it. i've seen the little children that say, mom and daddy, why do we got to smell this stuff? you get stories like, i can't hang my close out because of the smell. then people say, we are scared to invite neighbors. amy: that his former pig factory farm owner don webb.
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he closed his farm. explain exactly what is in the spray that people are inhaling and getting on their clothes, the residents in these north carolina? is theso the spray animal waste that comes out of -- the hogs are kept in tin metal housing. they have slats in the floor where whenever they go to the bathroom or abort baby piglets or whatever happens with them, it falls through the slats in the floor. it is piped out. their archives underneath the ground. the waste is piped out into the open-air lagoon. there are all kinds of chemicals. and fecal matter methane, ammonia gas, so you can smell it.
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when people say it smells like run next to miss sometimes rotten collard greens or does it is just a terrible smell. they have been forced off of their wealth because they were seeing remnants of the waste in their well water by the coloring in the odors coming out of their well water. amy: will hendrick but you are an attorney. can you describe how extensive this is, how many people are affected, and what the state carolina legislature house bill 467 is all about? >> certainly. this bill is an attempt to protect polluters over people, to deny rights to the victims of nuisance caused by agricultural operations, and to indeed deny equal rights to those who are disproportionately affected by this nuisance conditions.
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of question of the scope agricultural operations is an important one. the state of north carolina, unfortunately, does not know the location -- its own environmental agency does not know the location of many of the poultry operations that are in the state. often, there: ok to with the hog operations we have been discussing. as you alluded to, the hog operations are predominantly concentrated in low income and minority communities, predominantly in southeastern north carolina. the residents experience significant impacts to quality of life. it is important to note this bill would reduce property rights for nuisance victims across the state because it applies to any nuisance caused by any agricultural or forced reoperation, which do's and from the mountains to the coast. todo spam from the mountains
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the coast. amy: why isn't this act illegal? concernsare surly regarding its legality. ultimately, that may be tested in the courts. what we have heard from bill proponents is that they believe this is necessary to protect small farmers from frivolous lawsuits filed by out-of-state interest seeking to believe the industry dry. and none of those four features is accurate. first, none of the pending lawsuits are against small farmers. they are against the large billion-dollar corporation that is producing this meet. second, their existing statutory prottions against malicious or frivolous lawsuits filed a nuisance against agricultural operations. third, the lawsuits are being brought by north carolina
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lawyers based in thousand, north carolina, and most importantly, the attempt here is not to drive this industry out of north carolina. agriculture has been and will continue to be an important part of our economy. however, no industry is worth the impacts on public health and the environment that we've seen in this industry. not toempt here is believe that industry dry, but instead to make sure that industry is conducted, that these operations energy waste in a way that does not harm their neighbors. amy: i want to go to another clip from mark devries' investigation into smithfield foods factory farms. this is steve wing, associate professor of epidemiology at the university of north carolina's giddings school of public health. >> i think he and very correctly be called environmental racism or environmental injustice that people of color, low income
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people bear the brunt of these practices. , thiso, will hendrick was passed by both houses of the north carolina legislature. it now goes to be signed by the new democratic governor cooper. what is your understanding of what he will do? him to, we are urging veto the legislation. of course, that decision is his and he has to act by this sunday. we're hoping he will step in and be the champion of the people that he campaigned to be. we saw in the accra are he administration -- mccrory mis-direction, concerns about protecting corporate interests over the people of north carolina. the coal ash soccer was an important part of the electoral season in the campaign dialogue.
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similarly, we saw concern by north carolina voters in response to attempts to decrease the civil rights of many north carolinians in the hb2 fiasco. governor cooper rose to power, was put into office by north carolinians believing he would be a champion for the little guy. that he would. kowtowed to these corporations, that he would not solely be the governor for the well-heeled, booby the governor for all tar heels in the tar heel state. dixon is a primary sponsor of hb 467, or the "agriculture and forestry nuisance remedies" bill, which would limit damages people could collect against hog farms. dixon is a longtime farmer who received more than $100,000 in contributions from the pork industry over the last five years, including contributions
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from bill prestage, who served on the board of smithfield wendell murphy, jr., of murphy , family ventures, one of the county's largest pork producers, and the north carolina pork council. can you talk about the significance of this and just exactly who makes up the pig manure lobby? >> certainly. there are in army of individuals that make up that lobby. listing all of their names would be impossible on this segment. suffice it to say, there are various interest working to protect the hog industry, the poultry industry, agribusiness in this state. north carolina is the second leading producer of pork in this country behind only iowa. there is significant interest by the industry in ensuring that they can operate with minimized
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exposure to liability. indeed, they have externalized the cost of waste management. there attempting here to reduce the rights of people who are going to court saying they are harmed by the way in which waste is managed at these operations, and that they have property since recognized, gosh, 1611 back in old england. and send those rights deserve protection and there should be remedies in court in north carolina when those rights are violated. , i want to muhammad ask if you could talk more about the class-action suit against smithfield by those affected by the farms, and your organization also filing a title vi complaint with the epa. explain what that means. >> ok. so the north carolina environmental justice network, water keeper alliance, and reach
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-- rura empowermentl association for community health -- we joined together and filed a title vi complaint, which is an act under the civil rights act of 1964. under the title six, it states that government agencies cannot do business in a way that intentionally or unintentionally have a disproportionate impact on low-income communities. march 2013, deq, department of environmental thosey, it renewed all of rule permits without putting any protective measures in place for communities living with these they haveven though been well informed of the health impact, the environment will
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impact.- and by mental and also citizens talking with them, they attended the north carolina environmental justice network. we have an annual summit every year the third weekend in october. they all was had representative sitting on our government listening panel. amy: naeema muhammad, we have to leave it there is the show wraps up, but we will continue to follow this issue. naeema muhammad is organizing co-director for the north carolina environmental justice network. will hendrick with water keeper alliance and manager of the organition's north carolina pure farms, pure waters campaign. that does it for the show. i will be speaking tonight --
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