tv Democracy Now PBS June 7, 2017 12:00pm-1:01pm PDT
06/07/17 06/07/17 [captioning made possible by democracy now!] amy: from pacifica, this is democracy now! isis is claiming responsibility for this morning simultaneous gun and suicide bomb assault on iran's parliament building in the tomb of the republic's revolutionary founder ayatollah khomeini. we will get response from trita parsi. then china is refusing to release three activists who were arrested while they were investigating labor conditions at a factory manufacturing ivanka trump brand shoes. the men worked for china labor watch, which says the supplier
forced workers into excessive overtime, verbally abused them and paid wages below china's legal minimum. we will get the latest. president trump kicks off his infrastructure week by announcing plans to privatize air traffic control. pres. trump: i am proposing new principles to congress for air-traffic control reform, making flights quicker, safer, and more reliable. crucially, these reforms are supported by air traffic controllers themselves. amy: we will speak with the consumer advocate group flyers' rights, which says trump's proposal amounts to giving the airlines control over a core public access for free and would allow them to extract new fees and increased taxes from passengers. then we look at the opioid epidemic and the new crackdown by the trump administration. >> for americans under the age
of 50, drug overdoses are the leading cause of death. those statistics are devastating. every one of those overdose victims represents a lost parent, child, or friend. amy: drug overdose deaths surged in 2016, killing nearly 60,000 americans. now many cities have filed lawsuits to hold drug companies accountable for the public health crisis. we will speak with professor dr. andrew kolodny, director of physicians for responsible opioid prescribing. all that and more, coming up. welcome to democracy now!, democracynow.org, the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman. in breaking news from iran, at least 12 people have been killed and dozens more injured in two separate attacks in tehran this morning. the attacks on the parliament building in the tomb of the republic's founder of the worst attacks in tehran in decades. the attackers opened fire, took
a number of hostages, but for all four attackers were killed by security forces. at least one attacker carried out a suicide bombing. isis has claimed responsibility. we will have more later in the broadcast. president trump has tweeted you will be nominating christopher ray to be the next fbi director. trump tweeted this morning -- he served as assistant attorney general from 2003-2005 under president george w. bush. since then, he has been working as a private lawyer at a law firm. tensions are mounting between president trump and attorney general jeff sessions, one day ahead of the much anticipated senate committee testimony of former fbi director james comey thursday. multiple news outlets are reporting sessions and trump
have had a series of tense exchanges in recent weeks, and that sessions offered to resign at least once. the white house is refusing to say whether sessions still has trump's support. this comes as the "new york times" is reporting in february, while still serving as fbi director, james comey told attorney general jeff sessions he did not want to be left alone with president trump. comey's plea to sessions followed a private meeting between trump and comey, in which trump reportedly pressured him to drop the fbi investigation into possible collusion between the trump campaign and russia. sessions have been in the oval office during the meeting, but trump asked him to leave so he could speak to comey alone. it has also beeneported that director of national intelligencean coats told associates that trump asked him to pressure comey to stop the investigation into former national security adviser general michael flynn's ties to russian officials. coats is testifying today before
the senate intelligence committee, alongside acting fbi director andrew mccabe, national security agency director michael rogers, and deputy attorney general rod rosenstein. rosenstein will face questioning about his participation in the firing of james comey. meanwhile, yahoo news is reporting lawyers at least four of the nation's most powerful law firms are refusing to represent donald trump in the ongoing investigation into trump's ties to russia. all this comes as comey is slated to testify to the senate intelligence committee on thursday, in which he is expected to reject trump's claims that comey told trump he was not under investigation. he's also expected to face questioning about why he didn't not tell jeff sessions that president trump had pressured him to end the fbi investigation. on tuesday, former director of national intelligence james clapper said the watergate scandal now pales in comparison
to the crisis currently engulfing washington. >> i lived through watergate. i was on active duty been in the air force. -- in the air force. it was a scary time. i have to say, compare the two, that watergate pales really, in compared to what we are confronting now. amy: the parents of nsa contractor reality leigh winner are speaking out after their daughter was arrested and charged with espionage for leaking a top-secret document to the news media. winner was charged less than an hour after the publication of an intercept expose that reveals russian military intelligence conducted a cyberattack on at least one u.s. voting software company just days before the u.s. presidential election last
november. this is winner's mother, billie winner-davis. >> she came home from the grocery store. she was followed into her driveway at her home by fbi agents. she said she was very scared. surprise.her by she was not expecting any of this. she said they were all armed. they took her into the back room of her house, which is a room she never goes into -- for reasons -- anyway, basically, she was arrested from that point. we did not have any information with regarto the chargesr anything until after the hearing on monday. 's motherity winner was speaking to anderson cooper on cnn.
nsa whistleblower edward snowden has spoken out about winner's arrest, saying -- "to hold a citizen incommunicado and indefinitely while awaiting trial for the alleged crime of serving as a journalistic source should outrage us all." meanwhile, the intercept has published a statement, saying -- "while the fbi's allegations against winner have been made public through the release of an affidavit and search warrant, which were unsealed at the government's request, it is important to keep in mind that these documents contain unproven assertions and speculation designed to serve the government's agenda and as such warrant skepticism. winner faces allegations that have not been proven. the same is true of the fbi's claims about how it came to arrest winner." president trump has exacerbated tensions in the persian gulf by saying he was behind saudi arabia's recent move to cut diplomatic ties with qatar. on tuesday, president trump tweeted -- "during my recent trip to the middle east i stated that there can no longer be funding of
radical ideology. leaders pointed to qatar -- look!" qatar is a major us military ally, home to two major u.s. command posts. pentagon officials, meanwhile, are trying to show their commitment to qatar amid the regional diplomatic crisis. on monday, a pentagon spokesman said -- "the united states and the coalition are grateful to the qataris for their longstanding support of our presence and their enduring commitment to regional security." meanwhile, there are news reports that russia might have been behind a cyberattack two weeks ago that was used to publish a fake news article on qatar's state news agency website. the article, which has exacerbated tensions in the region, falsely cited qatar's leader making friendly statements about iran -- saudi arabia's regional opponent. a new investigation by forbes has revealed that donald trump's son eric trump used his foundation to funnel at least $100,000 in donations for children with cancer into
revenue for the trump organization. the fundraisers were to raise money for st. jude's research hospital in memphis. the investigation also reveals donorsic trump lied to who gathered for fundraisers at the trump national golf club in westchester county, new york, saying that more money could go to children because he was able to use his father's golf course for free. in fact, donald trump billed his son eric trump for the use of the golf course for the fundraisers. in yemen, nearly 700 people have died from an ongoing cholera outbreak as the u.s.-backed, saudi-led bombing campaign has devastated the country's health, water, sewage, and sanitation systems. unicef says it fears as many as 300,000 people could become infected with cholera in yemen next month. meanwhile, in more news from yemen, the "new york times" coordinator scott darden was secretly working for a u.s. military ctrtor to oversee shipments ofargo being
transported to elite military commandos at the same time he was coordinating aid deliveries for the red cross and unicef. darden was kidnapped in yemen and held for six months before being freed in 2015. the u.s. has launched airstrikes against a group of pro-syrian government forces who were amassing near a u.s. military base in southern syria where u.s. soldiers train syrian opposition forces fighting isis. the coalition says it destroyed artillery and an anti-aircraft weapon, but did not say whether it had killed or injured any soldiers. it is the second time the u.s. has launched airstrikes against syrian government forces in a military base. in a statement the u.s.-led coalition said -- "the coalition does not seek to fight syrian regime or pro-regime forces but remains ready to defend themselves if pro-regime forces refuse to vacate the de-confliction zone."
in paris, france, a man attacked a police officer with a hammer outside and notre-dame cathedral tuesday, reportedly shouting "this is for syria" during the attack. the attacker was killed. the police officer suffered only minor injuries. france is part of u.s. led coalition launching airstrikes against isis in syria. airwars says they're responsible for killing thousands of civilians in iraq and syria ends 2014 -- since the chair of 2014. amnesty international in turkey has been arrested by pole, along with 22 other human rights lawyers. amnesty said -- "the fact that turkey's post-coup purge has now dragged the chair of amnesty international turkey into its web is further proof of just how far it has gone and just how arbitrary it has become. taner kilic has a long and distinguished record of defending exactly the kind of freedoms that the turkish authorities are now intent on trampling." in colombia, resident of point of interest coverage to do with
the colombian government after a massive three-week long general strike in the afro colombian city. under the deal, the government pledges to invest $1.5 billion to fund basic ever structure for clean water, health care, and sanitation services. the deal will spur an investigation into human rights violations committed by police and soldiers against the peaceful protesters during the general strike. organizers said ongoing vigilance will be needed to ensure the terms of the deal are met, but called it "major and , not only forent the people, but for the black movement of people in colombia." back in the united states, hawaii has become the first u.s. state to enact laws to carry out the landmark 2015 paris climate accord. on tuesday, hawaii's governor signed into law two bills designed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions statewide and to improve soil health and promote carbon sequestration. the move comes after president trump announced he was pulling the u.s. out of the paris accord sparking widespread domestic and , international outrage.
in san francisco activists were , seven arrested inside the immigration and customs enforcement building monday at a protest to demand freedom for two undocumented immigrants who were arrested by ice while they were doing a construction job on the travis air force base in may. hugo mejia and rodrigo nuñez are facing expedited deportation to mexico. this is hugo's wife, yadira munguia, speaking at the rally on monday. feel.ple ask me how i my children and i are destroyed. we feel sad and abandon. i have not had a rest since this happened. i am reeling from the cruel separation from a husband. as a mother, i have to stay strong for my kids and hugo. my kids are heartbroken, as an eye. amy: more than 100 painters, carpenters, and other construction workers showed up for monday's rally in san for cisco -- san francisco to
support hugo mejia and rodrigo nuñez. meanwhile, in new hampshire, hundreds of faith leaders and supporters gathered for a vigil tuesday outside the immigration and customs enforcement office in manchester to support a group of more than 70 undocumented immigrants from indonesia who had scheduled ice check-ins. the new sanctuary coalition says all members of the group were allowed to check-in and then return home to their families. and in jackson, mississippi, social justice activist and attorney chokwe antar lumumba has been elected to be jackson's next mayor after winning in a landslide. lumumba is the son of late jackson mayor chokwe lumumba, a longtime black nationali organizer and attorney dubbed "america's most revolutionary mayor" before s deh in 2014. this is mayor elect lumumba, celebrating his election victory tuesday night with supporters. >> [indiscernible]
when i become mayor, you become mayor. amy: 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's show in china , which is refusing to release three activists arrested while investigating labor conditions at a factory that manufactured ivanka trump brand shoes. the three men were working with the new york-based nonprofit, china labor watch. the group was reportedly planning to release a report next month revealing that factory workers at the supplier, huajian international, were forced to work excessive overtime, verbally abused, and paid wages below china's legal minimum. china accuses the three investigators with using illegal surveillance equipment and interfering with the operation of the factory. china labor watch denies the allegations and says this is the
first time in nearly two decades of its existence that any of its investigators have been detained and faced criminal charges. amnesty internatinedional has in demanding the release of the trio. on monday, china rected a state department request to release the men in a statement that also marked the first time the government has confirmed their detention. this is china's foreign office spokesperson. >> the people you mentioned work summoned and investigated on suspicion of interfering with the company's normal operations and production activities. public security officials found they were in illegal possession of and under suspicion of using wiretapping or other for vestal surveillance equipment. they were detained in accordance with the law. the case remains under investigation. amy: the ivanka trump brand has declined to comment on the case. the arrest came just weeks after ivanka trump secured three new exclusive trademarks in china -- the very same day she and her father, president trump, had
dinner with chinese president xi jinping at trump's private resort in florida. ivanka has also recently filed numerous additional chinese trademark applications. according to the "wall street journal," 14 applications were filed by her business on 28 march, a day before she was named a white house adviser. her company has said the applications were filed to prevent others from profiting from her name rather than as an attempt to boost sales in china. ivanka trump no longer manages her $50 million company, but she retains an ownership stake so can still benefit from the company's profits. it was not ivanka trump herself that filed for the trademarks in china, but it was the company. to talk more about what this ians, ware joined washington, d.c., by kevin slaten, who was program coordinator for china labor watch until last year. he knew the three investigators currently detained in china and
has researched chinese labor conditions for over seven years. he continues to closely monitor human rights and foreign policy developments in china. kevin, welcome to democracy now! where are these three investigators, these three human rights activists investigati labor conditions that the ivanka trump brand factory, where are they being held? >> according to information we have from one of the investigators lawyers who spoke to the media a couple of days ago, as well as according to other news media, they are being in the southern part of china. that is where the investigation -- one of the factories they were investigating is located. amy: under what conditions are they being held? a lot of that information is not really known. we know from what the lawyers said, they were being held --
one of the people was being held cell of 20 people, that he had to sleep just a couple of feet away from a urinal. they said it was a bucket people would use as a urinal. he had to sleep ke that. said it was very uncomfortable. problemse overarching here is a lot of access is being denied, and china does not really have -- has a terrible record of guaranteeing prisoners rights and of torture, especially for people to be political prisoners like the story. amy: can you explain, kevin slaten, where this factory is, what it does, how you know then how these researchers new that it was making ivanka trump brand shoes? >> just to be clear, i left china labor watch in february 2016. i was not part of the investigation. however, i know from what i have read and some communication recently with china labor watch
that they sent people undercover, these three investigators -- i don't know if all of them were undercover, but at least one of them was undercover. they were doing worker interviews outside of the factory and gathering other information around to factories, through worker interviews -- i've not seen video or pictures, but typically you would get video and pictures to prove it. the report has not come out yet so i don't know from the report if they got that information. typically, that is how you would show the products that you were -- like ivanka trump's products are others were being produced there. mark fisher, an intermediary for election, and did not deny they were being made there. her company did not deny they were being made there. that is not really a question of whether they are being made in those factories. the chinese government said in the quote we just played that being held under
suspicion of using wiretapping or professional surveillance equipment. what has beenis said by the foreign ministry. it is also what the official charges, at least for one person -- only one person we know about their actual charge. that intremely unusual the context of labor investigations in china, someone who is been involved in this and many years and know many people who have done these investigations in china, it is extremely unusual to actually bring this charge against somebody. in fact, it is unprecedented. these sorts of investigations are not unusual in china. the undercover -- whether it is undercover or just asking workers into the labor conditions connected to global supply chains, as china labor said, from his two decades
they have done hundreds of these investigations. this sort of national level reaction by the government is unprecedented. and it suggests something beyond just the investigations that they say they have arrested these individuals for. there is somhing unusual about this. we can surmise that it might have something to do with ivanka trump's company, but we don't have direct information. amy: and what does the state department under president trump -- what is it doing to have these men released? >> i only know what you may know from what the state department statement it made a calling for the release and calling for the guarantee of their legal rights, for the protection of their legal rights. that was quickly dismissed by china's government. other than that, behind the
scenes, i am unclear about what they may be doing. --o think the statement made may have had an effect because the lawyer who was denied access repeatedly to one of the investigators was given access shortly after it was reported. and was given a good amount of time to talk to him. it does matter when the u.s. government says something -- even more, it matters when the buyers of these companies say something. in the past, it is not unusual for local governments -- we talk about these investigations in the past. it is not unusual for local governments to retaliate in some way toward investigators. that retaliation is usually a slap on the wrist, kicking them out of the city, you know, making sure they are out of the factories so they are not revealing more information. some of the reon that has ton taken -- denying access lawyers and family, not notifying family, blocking them from leaving the country days before they were even arrested,
apparently -- this shows this is a national level to my core dated, political case. the state department comments, the u.s. government commenting, and the companies that may be at the center of this, particularly ivanka trump', the and ivanka trump are self, calling on the protection of the rights of these investigators is extremely a could have a dramatic effect on their treatment. amy: i want to go back to ivanka trump speaking in april. by gaylenterviewed king. >> you are no longer running the day-to-day. >> i've no involvement with any , like proximity to my father and the white house with my husband taking such an influential role in the administration. i did not want to also be running a business.
i put it into trust. i have independent trustees. i have no involvement in its management and strategic decision-making. >> but the trustees our family members, right? >> they are. but they're completely independent. >> can you see from the public point of view, it is family members, thinking, is she really not involved? do you really not get on the phone and say, what is going on? a legal document very seriously, and i would not go through the pains of setting this up if i intended to violate it. y: that is ivanka trump. your response, kevin slaten, talking about her company that is now run by her brother-in-law and sister-in-law? >> at the time, she was not responding to this, it would be extremely disingenuous if she uses that as protection -- personal protection to disassociate herself with the human rights -- serious human rights violations and labor rights violations going on in her supply chain. whether or not she is directly
involved with the management, she is benefiting from the profits of this company. this company is using her name. she will benefit even more after she leaves office, whenever that happens. let's talk about the facts we do know. -- the, the company factory the center of this, according to reports produces something like 100,000 to 200,000 ivanka trump shoes for year. it is one third of her orders that come from this company every year. they have been working with them reportedly for 10 years, which means based on my experience in this field, that makes them a strategic supplier. they are not a new supplier. this is not a one-off. this is a long-term partner, which means the center of their business and supply chain in china. according to reports, they were produc up to this year, including in may when ese -- the release of
the preliminary investigations into. there is direct association with trump are serious company and she is to profiting off of these with the three investigators and their arrest and labor violations they were investigating, the widespread labor violations that we now are starting to get information about. so i think if she did respond, sheever legal separation has from the management of her company, if she were to reuse -- were to use that come it would be extremely unethical. to "the wallg street journal," 14 applications were filed by her business the day before to a standard white house adviser. ivanka trump's be a step he said he applications were filed to prevent others from profiting from her name, rather as boosting sales in china. "the wall street journal" points out your pocket no longer manages the company, but retains
ownership stake so she can benefit -- >> talk about disingenuous. amy: talk about the dinner where her daughter saying in chinese to the first chinese family. she had dinner with the chinese president and her father, president trump, at mar-a-lago. talk about what happened that day with the exclusive trademarks she was awarded. >> i d't know a tremenus amount of detail about the profits. know the timing of it. i know before she became white house staff, as you just --orted, she had applied for her company had applied for multiple trademarks. this is the same thing with donald trump himself. i think it was something like 30 trademarks were approved shortly after he became president in china. the trademarks were approved in china. it just highlights this tremendous number of conflicts
moreterest that trump has generally, but specifically them as it involves china and chinese companies and chinese state-owned companies were banks,i should -- or should say, news that trump's organization had a lot of debt with chinese banks. we mention the trademarks. trump himself has products or his company has products that are mostly produced in china. between china,s of different chinese companies, and even if their private companies, there --hey can be influenced by the government, as we can see in this case. so i think there is a lot of leverage they can use on the trumps or even curry favor through this sort of act. it could be an indirect signal that, look, we're protecting our interest, ivanka trump and the trump family, in china, and it
can be an unspoken favor. so i think there is a tremendous number of conflict of interest involved here. amy: you say this is highly unusual. amnesty has joined in the call for these men to be released. what do you think president trump can do? >> if president trump, forgetting for the second a conflict of interest, just as president of the united states, he still has influence and the ability when he speaks about specific people to bring -- to raise the status of their case. if you were to name these three, if you were to talk specifically about the case and call for the release, i do believe, at the very least, it will protect them in prison -- as we've seen in many cases over the years of political prisoners in china, they can get them protection from torture, but he could even secure their release or a quicker release and faster legal
process. i do think prioritizing this and mentioning them would benefit the three investigators. and if we add on top of that, the personal connections, i think there is a personal responsibility on the part of the trump family to do something about this. , formerin slaten program coordinator for china labor watch, knows the three investigators grilli being detained in china. when we come back, we will go to iran to learn what is happening in the attack in tehran. stay with us. ♪ [music break]
amy: this is democracy now!, democracynow.org, the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman. , at least 12n people are being killed, dozens were injured in two separate attacks this morning in tehran. the attack on the iranian parliament building and the tomb of the republic's founder ayatollah khomeini are the worst attacks in tehran in decades. the attackers opened fire and took a number of hostages before all four attackers were killed by security forces. at least one attacker carried out. isis is cramming responsibility. or more, we go to washington, d.c., where we are joined by trita parsi, founder and president of the national iranian american council.
can you talk about these significance of these attacks? we're just learning about what happened in tehran. can you talk about the significance of these attacks? >> sorry, amy, i could not hear the last part. amy: the significance of the attacks we're just learning about in tehran? >> this is quite unusual. tehran has not been struck by any terror attacks for a very longtime. iran as a whole has been quite spared from this, mainly because of a very, very tight security apparatus. but also because so much of the isis and al qaeda associated terrorist groups have a great difficulttraty peneg iran. as a result, have not managed to stage anything of this kind of until now. the fact they have been targeting the parliament as well of i toldsoleum khomeini is symbolism. we are seeing a very tense
situation between iran and saudi arabia. we saw last month the crown prince of saudi arabia threatening saying that saudi arabia will take the fight to the rent and into iran. yesterday, the saudi foreign minister said iran needs to be punished. whether saudi is connected were behind us, nevertheless, the sentiments in iran are very much right now such that they are seeing a link to what the saudis are doing in the region. claimeds responsibility. what does this mean? >> could you repeat? amy: isis has claimed responsibility. and about the two sites their significance. the parliament, and the side of the tomb of the founder. >> the parliament is tremendously important because iran has had a parliament for about 100 years now.
despite the fact iran is not a democracy in the western sense, it is a country that has competitive elections. we just saw those elections two weeks ago for the presidency. people tend to participate in these elections with tremendously high participation rates. it is a very important symbol of what the struggle inside of iran has been for more than 100 years prompt ofr the more democracy. and the tomb of the founder current islamic republic carries a tremendous amount of symbolism. and the fact that isis has taken credibility -- it is a bit unusual. they usually do not take credibility when something is ongoing. but there is some video footage that has been released by isis -associated twitter accounts i does indicate there at least seems to be -- they had a finger in this. if that is the case, then isis has managed, they outright
androus accoun times to hit irn now they have done so in the very heart of the capital. amy: i want to go back to this diplomatic crisis that is brewing. arabia, egypt,di lemon, and the united arab emirates breaking off relations accusing qatar a backing militant groups. qatar denying the accusations. off licensee travel been suspended. saudi arabia also closing all ports between theqa seat of countriest. and then you have this developing story that the media's reporting on and in trump says he is responsible for this tension, probably, tweeting that aft being there in saudi arabia, he pressured for this. while at the same time, you have the state department trying to
smooth things over. then you have a story that it was russia that launched a cyberattack on the qatari new service, planting a false story. can you put this all together? >> regarding the last part, i am not 100% sure, but we can definitely say that all of this does seem to have some linkages to each other. first of all, the move towards anar, which was clearly not organic escalation. this was a well-prepared escalation by the saudis. there are many, many reasons as to why they may be doing this. but there is one reason that may have been a bit overlooked so far. not a superpower or particularly large country, but it is in the media world, a. particularly, in the arab media because of al jazeera arabic. qatar has long challenged its saudi narrative for the region.
it has been sympathetic to the muslim brotherhood. it has been quite supportive of the morsi government and the revolutions after the arab spring in egypt and elsewhere. the saudis have been on the opposite side of this. if the saudis are aiding to escort matters further toward meorm of confrti with iran, one thing they need to get rid of before they doo is qatar and its ability to challenge the saudi narrative inside the airport in case such a thing happens. take a look at 2006 when israel and has a lot went to war with each other -- hezbollah went to war with each other. the saudis did not managed to win the narrative and the war of narratives within the arab world. the air world overwhelmingly was siding with hezbollah in a conflict. it taught them a lesson of how important it is for them to have a much stronger media apparatus. the biggest challenge to that is
al jazeera arabic. these things seem to be connected. one thing that is very worrisome is that president trump right now with the approach he is having, hugging the saudis and selling them $110 billion worth of arms, whether intended or not, clearly the saudis have seen this as a green light for them to do things they otherwise would probably not have had the guts to fulfill. we saw that in bahrain as well, when in the daily after president trump's trip to saudi government bahraini started clamping down on human rights groups in a very ferocious manner. it was the european foreign minister yesterday that essentially said in a paraphrase that the united states under trump is now becoming a destabilizing factor in the middle east. has and finally, isis claimed responsibility, but can you talk about the iranian resistance group nek?
>> my first thought when i saw this happening was the mek would be unlikely culprit in this because it is a terrorist organization with a tremendous capacity for pulling off something of this magnitude. and one of the few groups that have been able to penetrate iran , precisely because they can blend in. it is a group that some powers have used in the past to do things inside of iran. for instance, the israelis were theg the mek to assassinate scientists a few years ago in the midst of the nuclear crisis with iran. but if it is true that this is done by isis and if it has no connection to the mek come of this would be a very different development. if it had been the mek, it would be a repeat of things that have happened in the past. it is been a while, but things that have pulled off in iran before.
trita parsi, thank you for being with us, founder and president of the national iranian american council, talking out the latest of elements in iran right now. two attacks, one on the tomb of the founder and one on the iranian parliament will stop this is democracy now! we will be back in a minute. ♪ [music break]
amy: this is democracy now!, democracynow.org, the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman. we turn now to look at the opioid epidemic and a new crackdown by the trump administration. during a joint news conference with drug enforcement agency officials tuesday, deputy attorney general rod rosenstein sa drug overdose is now the leading cause of death for americans under the age of 50. >> not a subjective interpretation. people are dying of drug abuses ofpartly, people are dying drug overdoses in record numbers. we're not talking about a slight increase. there's a horrifying surge in drug overdoses in the united
states of america. some people say we should be more permissive, more tolerant, more understanding about drug abuse. i say we should be more honest and we should be forthcoming with the american people about the clear and present danger that we now face. amy: according to justice department numbers, 52,000 people died from drug overdoses in 2015. more than half of those deaths involved the use of heroin, the synthetic pain medication fentanyl, and other opioid drugs. early numbers for 2016 show the numbers of deaths attributed to drug overdose rose to 60,000. but what has experts alarmed is the skyrocketing number of deaths since 2011. the health services company optum published a graph that depicts nationwide deaths from opioids and heroin rose from 1999 to 2014, with a sudden acceleration in the last several years. to put the death toll into perspective, opioid deaths have surpassed the peak in death by car crash in 1972, aids deaths
in 1995, and gun deaths in 1993. after 20 years of heavy combat in south vietnam, u.s. military casualties represented only one-third of the death toll from 10 years of opioid overdoses. meanwhile, counties and municipalities around the country have filed lawsuits to hold drug companies accountable for the public health crisis. ohio attorney general mike dewine filed a lawsuit against purdue pharma, the maker of oxycontin, as well as teva pharmaceuticals and johnson & johnson, accusing the companies of spending millions on marketing campaigns that "trivialize the risks of opioids while overstating the benefits of using them for chronic pain." similar lawsuits have been filed in washington, new york, illinois, mississippi, california. for more on the epidemic, we're joined by dr. andrew kolodny, co-director of opioid policy research at the heller school for social policy and management at brandeis university. he is also co-founder and director of physicians for
responsible opioid prescribing. welcome to democracy now! can you respond to both the epidemic and opioid use and deaths and also how the trump administration is proposing to deal with it? suck sure. happy too. >> sure. happy too. u.s. is in the midst of its worst epidemic in history. i'referring tohe number of people addicted and the number of people dying from overdose deaths the epidemic began 20 years ago and has gotten worse every year steadily. as you mentioned, since 2011, it has gotten much worse very quickly. we have feet of groups of americans who have become opioid addicted over the past 20 years. an older group and a younger group. the older group are people in their 40's up through their
80's. their addiction has developed really honest entirely from medical use of opioids. the older group has been overdosing on prescription opioids. the younger group, mostly in their 20's and 30's, are developing their opioid addiction also from prescription opioids that were used either medically or recreationally or sometimes a combination of both. the younger folks, when they become addicted, they have a hard time maintaining their supply of opioids visiting doctors. it isn't that doctors just don't like to give young people opioids, unfortunate, we are pretty comfortable -- to comfortable doing that -- but doctors don't like to get healthy looking 25-year-old a large quantity on a monthly basis, so this figure group when they become addicted, to maintain their supply, they wind up on the black market. the prescription opioids are very expensive, so they have been switching to heroin.
this switching began 20 years ago. if the person was in the region of the country where there was heroin, they switched because it was cheaper. since 2011, there is been a sharp increase in overdose deaths -- excuse me -- involving these young heroin users because the heroin supply became much more dangerous stuff increasingly, it has fentanyl in it. fentanyl is many more times potent than heroin. we are the sharp rise in deaths in this younger heroin-music group. up until recently, we have seen more deaths in the older group using prescription opioids. the response to the opioid crisis from the federal government has been awful. from the very beginning, the federal government was really only focusing on the issue of nonmedical use. if you look at what was coming
from the federal government, it was a focus on kids getting into grandma's medicine chest. nobody was really looking at why every grandma now has opioids in her medicine chest. that started to change. we are seeing more attention on the root of the problem, which is doctors writing too many opioid prescriptions. before i answer your question about president trump, what i will say is that president obama, i think, really did an awful jobless to president obama crisised the opioid until his last year in office. in his last year, he did start to do many of the right things, for example, he sought funding om congress, $1 billion in funding, to address the problem. that prior to his last year in office, he was not speaking about it and he was not seeking funding for this problem. in many ways, i think president
obama's response to the opioid epidemic was similar to the way president reagan responded to the aids crisis. reagan also ignored the aids epidemic, would not speak publicly about it, would not say the word "aids" in public until his last year in office. many people believe if reagan had responded more forcefully to the aids epidemic, it might not have gotten as bad as it did. it would have been very easy for president trump to improve upon president obama's performance. but unfortunately, he is off to a very bad start. what we have seen from the trump administration has been a lot of crisis, a the opioid commission he has formed. he certainly campaigned on the issue. but we have not seen any real action. and the actions that we have seen are potentially harmful. -- themple, there is
health care changes the administration is proposing could lead to less people being able to have their addiction treatment paid for, which would certainly worsen the opioid crisis. even a president trump talked about draining the swamp when he was campaigning for office, what we see now with his pick for the fda commissioner i would say that is the opposite of draining the swamp. he is put at the home of the fda, the agency that is supposed to regulate pharmaceutical companies, someone with a history of having worked very closely with the firm a single industry. amy: so what about the role of big pharma, of the drug companies? >>he reason we have this epidemic is because doctors have been writing too many prescriptions. that change in the way we treated pain began in the late 1990's and as prescribing took off, it led to parallel
increases in addiction and overdose deaths. community the medical started to prescribe opioids so much more aggressively is that in many ways, we were responding to a brilliant marketing campaign that was launched initially by purdue pharma, the manufacturer of oxycontin, but other opioid makers would participate in this campaign. it was a campaign that misinformed the medical community. doctors in the 1990's started to hear that we had been under prescribing opioids, that we were allowing patients to suffer needlessly because of an overblown risk of addiction. we start hearing that when opioids are prescribed for legitimate pain, the risk of a patient getting addicted is extremely low. the statistics used was much less than 1% of patients will get addicted. we start to hear the compassionate way to treat just
about any complaint of pain was with in opioid. and we did not just hear this directly from the pharmaceutical company. we heard it from pain specialist imminent in the field of pain. hospitals, state medical boards -- every different direction doctors begin here if you are lightened position in the know, opioids are a gift from mother nature and should be prescribed much ine liberally for patients pain. as we responded to this billion campaign, and as the prescribing took off, a lead to a public health catastrophe. amy: can you talk about the states and how from ohio to mississippi, states are taking on the drug industry? they are suing. >> we're now seeing the
disabilities in states across the country filing lawsuits against opioid makers. at the heart of these lawsuits, it is really a claim of false advertising. what these municipalities are saying is because the opioid makers promoted their medicines for conditions where they are not safe or effective, but promoted them as safe and effective for these conditions like low back pain, chronic had had a, fibromyalgia, it led to this expensive problem so now they are falling -- filing these lawsuits. the states administer polities have a very expensive problem. it is expensive because treating addiction is expensive as of treating hepatitis c, which has become enough of them at among injection drugsers is expensive. yet children winding up in the foster care system.
infants stuck in the hospital long after they have been born because they have to be treated for opioid dependency. yet this complicated and expensive problem and the municipality state funding to address the problem. it is since the -- sensible for them to seek that from the corporations that helped create this mess. at the litigation is also important because this is a way of trying to keep the opioid makers from continuing to promote their products for common conditions. opioids, drugse like oxycontin, these are very good medicines for using suffering at the and of life. but there is not much of a market in end-of-life cancer pain. the patients will not be on your drug for very long because there at the end of life. and of life cancer patient is not -- pain is not a common condition. they have been promoting opioids for chronic pain that is common
and that is why we are in this mess. amy: what you say, dr. kolodny, thehose who question treatment for opioid addiction when african americans and other people of color have suffered from addiction, particularly heroin, for decades and have been criminalized for it? >> well, i think they are correct in questioning that because during our last two addiction epidics, the heroin of the 1970's, the crack cocaine epidemic of the 1980's, those epidemics disproportionately had low income, nonwhite inner-city communities. what we got from policymakers during those epidemics was a war on drugs -- which really made a war on drug users. it led to mass incarceration. now that we have an epidemic that disproportionately white, very much so, we are seeing a very different response from
policymakers. even conservative public and politicians, when you hear them talk about the opioid crisis, they frequently start off by saying "we can't arrest our way out of this." "we need to see people get treatment for their addiction." thedid not see that in 1980's and 1990's during the heroin and crack cocaine epidemic. maybe there is a silver lining to this crisis. i think it is leading to maybe less stigma of addiction is really a more enlightened approach to responding to the problem post of amy: dr. kolodny , they can for being with us. dr. andrew kolodny is the co-director of opioid policy research at the heller school for social policy and management at brandeis university. that does it for our show. i will be speaking thursday night at league a center at 6:00 p.m., at saturday at nine:
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