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tv   Democracy Now  PBS  February 22, 2018 12:00pm-1:01pm PST

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02/22/18 02/22/18 [captioning made possible by democracy now!] amy: from pacifica, this is democracy now! >> i don't understand. i turned 18 a day after. woke up to the news that my best friend was gone. understand why i could still go in the store and buy a weapon of war, an ar. amy: a week after one of the deadliest school shootings in u.s. history, students and parents confront president trump and republican lawmakers in a pair of extraordinary meetings. first, president trump holds a listening session at the white
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house you suggest arming teachers. then at a town hall meeting in florida, of 7000, republican senator marco rubio hears directly from students who survived the massacre and parents who lost children. >> your comments this week in those about president heaven pathetically weak. -- have been pathetically weak. [applause] amy: we will speak with one of the students who was at the town hall, a former intern for similar rubio. the stoneman douglas high school graduate is begging rubio to act on guns. she has been near four mess .hootings that mass shootings then to syria, where the united nations is accusing the al-assad government of waging a monstrous campaign of annihilation as the death from the assault on eastern ghouta rises to over 300. >> what is going on in eastern
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ghouta and other parts of syria may constitute war crimes. intentionally targeting hospitals, medical facilities, may constitute a war crime. access to getting basic health care that they need in these situations may constitute a war crime. amy: we will hold a roundtable discussion. all that and more, coming up. welcome to democracy now!, democracynow.org, the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman. the united nations is warning of humanitarian catastrophe in syria describing a salt on the damascus suburb of eastern ghouta as a monstrous campaign of annihilation. aid workers report at least 300 people have been killed over the past three days. many of the victims are women and children. targets have included hospitals and residential apartment buildings. ravina shamdasani is spokeswoman for the u.n. office of the high commissioner for human rights.
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>> the high commission for human rights is talking about this being a monstrous campaign of annihilation of eastern ghouta with no regard for civilian lives. how many more children dying to have to see? , the more hospitals bombed? , and more doctors killed before we see the international community come together with one voice and take resolute action on the situation to bring this violence to it and? and turned of iteris called for an immediate halt to fighting, calling the situation hell on her.houta ehl we will host a roundtable discussion about the crisis in syria. of theida, survivors marjory stoneman douglas high school massacre dissented on the state capitol in tallahassee wednesday, demanding lawmakers address gun violence before the legislative session ends in two weeks. this is ashley santoro, a student who survived the massacre.
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i sat hiding in a closet fearing for my life, for my future, went -- if we're going to protect our future, where we know protecting our children? >> students lobbying efforts came a day after florida lawmakers rejected an open debate on whether to ban large-capacity magazines and semiautomatic rifles like the ar-15 used by the shooter, a former student named nickolas cruz. meanwhile, students across the united states, from minnesota to colorado to arizona, walking out of class to demand stricter gun laws. they carried signs reading "make us safe" and "bring on the politicians! we will rise!" hundreds of students students from washington, d.c.-area high schools rallied outside the white house, staging a sit-in protest. inside the white house, president donald trump, vice president mike pence, and education secretary betsy devos hosted a listening session with students and families affected by school shootings.
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from columbine to the pulse nightclub to the most recent valentine's day massacre. this is stoneman douglas student samuel zeif, who lost his best friend during last week's shooting. >> i don't understand why i can still go in a store and buy weapon of war, an ar. i was reading today that a person 20 years old walk into a store and bought an ar-15 in five minutes with an expired id. how is it that easy to buy this type of weapon? how are we not stopping this after columbine, after sandy hook? i'm sitting with a mother who lost her son. it is still happening. amy: president trump proposed ending gun free zones at schools and called for teachers to be armed with concealed handguns. pres. trump: it is called concealed carry, were it teacher would have a concealed gun on them. they go for special training.
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and you would be there don't longer have a gun free zone. gun free zone to maniac, because they are all cowards, a gun free zone is let's go in and let's attack because bullets aren't coming back at us. amy: wednesday evening, survivors of the massacre at stoneman douglas high school sparred with politicians during a town hall hosted by cnn. this is shooting survivor, cameron kasky, questioning republican senator marco rubio of florida over his nra ties in -- nra ties. >> this is about people who are to making a difference service of those against it and are for money. senator rubio, can you tell me you will not accept a single donation from the nra? do support the second amendment and support the right of you and everyone here to be a blue go to school and be safe. i do support any law that would give guns out of the of deranged killer.
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and that is why i support the things i have stood for and fought for -- >> more nra money? >> that is the wrong way -- first of all, people ion of my agenda. amy: we will have more of that exchange a more on the student led national uprising against gun violence after headlines when we go to fort lauderdale to speak with shana rosenthal, a former intern for republican senator marco rubio who is begging him to do something about guns. police in south whittier california say they have thwarted a planned mass shooting by a 17-year-old at the community's el camino high school. a school resources officer says he overheard the student mumble to himself that he was planning to bring a gun to campus. after serving a search warrant to the boy's home, police say they discovered a weapons cache of two semiautomatic rifles, two handguns, and 90 high-capacity magazines. amnesty international released its annual human rights report wednesday, warning that president donald trump set a tone hate-filled rhetoric for
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2017. speaking from washington, d.c., secretary-general salil shetty said amnesty was releasing the report from the usa for the first time ever because of the significant and serious new threats to human rights brought by the trump administration. >> the rising rhetoric of hate translated into horrific, real-world consequences. that is the bad news from 2017. but there's also a lot of encouraging news. 2017 showed us what happens when people march in great numbers to say they will not accept the injustices they face. capitulate to narratives of fear, ordinary people clamored for justice, breathing new life into long-standing struggles and igniting a new era of social activism. there is no better example of that than what we have seen with the kids in this country standing up against and violence
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in the last few days. amy: in nigeria, police say 111 girls went missing from the state-run boarding school in dapchi following a raid by militants with the group boko haram. parents of the children say fighters armed with machine guns abducted the girls, though there were conflicting reports over whether some of them were subsequently rescued by the nigerian military. reuters reports two of the girls were found dead. brazil's senate has approved such as with its support to president michel temer's decree ordering the military to take control of security in rio de janeiro, amid a spike in violent crime in brazil's second largest city. happily armed soldiers in armored vehicles are now patrolling rio's impoverished favelas. the military's deployment follows a wave of violence carried out by brazil's police, who killed over 4200 people across the country in 2016, with nearly 1000 of those killings in rio de janeiro alone. in france, president emmanuel macron unveiled a bill wednesday that would toughen france's
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immigration and asylum laws. the bill would allow authorities to double the time they can detain migrants to 90 days, while shortening the deadlines for migrants to apply for asylum. it would also allow for a one-year prison term and fines for migrants found to have illegally crossed into france. amnesty international france ctctctdirector catherine gaudard the legislation unfairly sorts asylum seekers into migrants and refugees. >> this reductive discourse is nefarious for two reasons. first of all, it contributes to persons who have been exiled, reducing them into a confrontation between good ones and bad ones in some way. in fact, migrants are individuals who have their own story, their own journey, their own reasons for leaving their countries. although they do not all have the same status, they all have rights. amy: back in the united states, "the washington post" reports the parents of first lady melania trump have become legal permanent residents and are poised to gain citizenship, likely relying on a family reunification process that's
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been attacked by president trump which he calls chain migration. during his state of the union address last month, president trump called for an end to the u.s. policy, which allows citizens to sponsor their parents and siblings for legal residency. legal experts say the program likely benefited melania trump's parents amalija and viktor , immigrants from slovenia who've been living in the u.s. on green cards. a spokesperson for melania trump refused to comment. a wealthy son-in-law of a russia-based billionaire has struck a plea agreement with special counsel robert mueller, pleading guilty to a charge of lying to federal investigators probing allegations of russian meddling in the 2016 u.s. election. alex van der zwaan, son of russian oligarch german khan, admitted tuesday he lied to fbi agents about his contacts with former trump campaign official rick gates. this comes as the "l.a. times" reports gates has agreed to plead guilty to charges of money laundering and illegal foreign lobbying, and will testify against paul manafort, trump's former campaign manager, who
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also faces charges of illegal lobbying and money laundering. back in the u.s., unusual weather patterns have seen record low temperatures in rocky mountain states and parts of the pacific northwest, while temperatures spiked to record highs along much of the eastern seaboard. newark, new jersey, saw thermometers top 80 -- the highest temperature ever recorded there in february. the wild weather came as the national snow and ice data center warned global warming has driven wintertime sea ice levels to the lowest levels seen since record-keeping began. january 2018 saw arctic sea ice reach just 13 million square kilometers, an area 10% smaller than the average for recent decades. this week, temperatures in the arctic rose by more than 45 degrees fahrenheit above normal, with the world's northernmost weather station in greenland recording winter temperatures above freezing. in wyoming, state lawmakers have introduced a bill that would bring steep penalties to protesters who engage in civil disobedience aimed at halting fossil fuel extraction.
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wyoming's senate file 74 would make impeding critical infrastructure a felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison with a fine of up to $100,000. one of the bill's co-sponsors has said it's a reaction to protests against the dakota access pipeline led by the standing rock sioux tribe. the wyoming bill comes on the heels of similar bills introduced in iowa and ohio -- legislation that hews closely to a template bill written by the conservative american legislative exchange council, or alec. in west virginia, schools are closed today, after some 15,000 public school teachers launched a two-day strike in order to protest for better healthcare and pay. teachers haven't seen an across-the-board pay raise since 2014, even as health care costs have risen sharply, leaving many teachers with dwindling take-home pay. west virginia is a so-called "right to work" state where strikes by public employees are prohibited. asked by reporters about the legality of today's action, west virginia education association president dale lee said, "what are they going to do, fire
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15,000 people?" and christian evangelical leader billy graham has died at the age of 99. over a career that spanned decades, graham built a ministry that saw him preach in so-called crusades to millions of people around the world, bringing christian evangelism into the mainstream. graham famously told the "saturday evening post" in 1963 -- "we are selling the greatest product on earth. why shouldn't we promote it as effectively as we promote a bar of soap?" graham served as investors to donald trump, harry truman. in 2002, graham apologized after he and former president richard nixon were heard making anti-semitic remarks on a presidential tape recording. graham was stridently anti-communist and backed wisconsin senator joe mccarthy. billy graham died wednesday morning at his home in north carolina after a long series of illnesses. and those are some of the headlines. this is democracy now!, democracynow.org, the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman.
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"the time to act is now." that's the message of survivors of last week's school shooting in florida. on wednesday, the nation witnessed grieving students, parents, and teachers powerfully confront lawmakers over gun control in pointed -- and often tense -- televised exchanges. the day began with students across the united states, from minnesota to colorado to arizona, walking out of class to demand stricter gun laws. they carried signs reading "make us safe" and "bring on the politicians! we will rise!" students at coral springs high school formed a giant human heart on their school football field, as did students at cooper city high school to honor the 17 victims of the marjory stoneman douglas high school shooting meanwhile, survivors of the shooting descended on the florida state capitol in tallahassee to demand lawmakers to pass legislation addressing gun violence before the legislative session ends in two weeks. this is student sheryl acquaroli. >> dear congress, how can you
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claim to stand for the people when your kids are slaughtered like animals in their school? time wet that every take a step forward, you pull us back? congress, [indiscernible] don't mean anything without something behind it. frank, thoughts and prayers. my brothers and sisters from dying. dear congress, who will die next because of your lack of action? who will you murder next because your lack of action is causing
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people to die. the next person who dies because of an ar-15 will be on you. amy: in the afternoon, president trump, along with vice president mike pence and education secretary betsy devos, hosted a listening session with students -- survivors of recent shootings, including students and families from the parkland parkland student samuel zeif who school shooting. lost his best friend during the shooting spoke during the session. >> i turned 18 the day after. woke up to the news that my best friend was gone. and i don't understand why i could still go in a store and ar.a weapon of war, an i was reading today that a person 20 years old walked into a store and bought an ar-15 in
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five minutes with an expired id. how is it that easy to buy this type of weapon? how are we not stopping this after columbine, after sandy hook? i am sitting with the mother who lost her son and it is still happening. in australia, there was a shooting at a school in 1999. after that they took a lot of ,deas, put legislation together and they stopped it. can anyone here guess how many shootings there have been in a school since then in australia? zero. to do something. that is why we are here. amy: during the listening session, trump suggested the solution to school shootings is arming teachers. pres. trump: it is called concealed carry, where a teacher would have a concealed gun on
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them. they would go for special training and they would be there and you would no longer have a gun free zone. done free zone to a maniac, because they are all cowards, a gun free zone is, let's go in and let's attack because bullets are not coming back at us. amy: among those who objected to trump's plan is mark barden, a father who lost his 7-year-old son daniel during the sandy hook shooting. he's the founder and director of sandy hook promise. this is barden speaking during wednesday's listening session with trump. >> this is my son daniel. he was seven years old. he was shot to death in his first grade classroom in sandy hook elementary school just a little over five years ago. my wife jackie could not be here today because she is a schoolteacher and she takes that job seriously and sent me as the ambassador. jackie is a career educator. she will tell you she has spent
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over a decade in the bronx and will tell you that school teachers have more than enough responsibilities right now than to have to have the awesome responsibility of lethal force to take a life. thank you. nobody wants to see a shoot out in a school. in age arranged sociopaths on his way to commit an act of murder in a school with the outcome, knowing the outcome is going to be suicide, is not going to care if there's somebody there with the gun. that is the plan anyway. amy: on wednesday evening, survivors of the massacre at marjory stoneman douglas high school sparred with politicians during a town hall hosted by cnn. this is shooting survivor, cameron kasky, questioning republican senator marco rubio of florida in one of the most powerful exchanges of the evening. >> this is about people who are for making a difference to save
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us and people who are against it ever for mining. senator rubio, can you tell me right now that you will not accept a single donation from the nra? >> the positions i hold on these issues and the second amendment, i have held since i entered office. the answer to the question is, people buy into my agenda and i do support the second amendment and support the right of you and everyone here to be illegal to school and be safe. i do support any law that would keep guns out of the hands of a deranged killer. and that is why i support the things i have stood for and fought for -- >> more nra money? >> that is the wrong way to look -- first of all, people buy in to my agenda. >> [indiscernible] >> the influence of these groups comes not from money, the influence comes from the millions of people that agree with the agenda. millions of americans that
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support the nra and support gun rights. >> you can ask that question and i can take buy into my agenda. i will answer any questions you guys have about any -- >> guys, be quiet. ultimately,ink that that is not our goal. our goal is to move for -- >> hold on. in the name of 17 people, you cannot ask the nra to keep their money out of your campaign? >> i think in the name of 17 people, i can pledge to you i will support any law that will prevent a killer like this -- >> no, i'm talking about nra money. amy: that was cameron kasky, questioning republican senator marco rubio of florida last evening. we are going to break. when we come back, we're going to ft. lauderdale to speak with another person who attended the 7000 capacity town hall last
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night held by cnn, shana rosenthal will join us, a former intern for senator rubio. her "new york times" of that is headlined "i interned for senator rubio. now i'm begging him to act on guns." 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. to cover the fallout from last week's valentine's day massacre in florida. we turn now to a former intern for senator marco rubio of florida stop she is also a graduate from stoneman douglas high school. shana rosenthal just wrote a piece for "the new york times" headlined "i interned for senator rubio. now i'm begging him to act on guns." the 21 euro reveals she has already been near four mass shootings at florida state university and a ft. lauderdale airport, the massacres at the
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pulse nightclub in orlando, and stoneman douglas high school last week. she attended the cnn town hall meeting last night of 7000 people. shana rosenthal, welcome to democracy now! what was last night like? >> good morning, amy. last night was incredibly empowering to see my community come together and really speak directly to their elected officials. amy: so marco rubio did show up. the governor of florida, rick scott, did not come? president trump was invited to be there in person or to attend by video from the white house, but did not respond. he did not come. your senator, marco rubio, did come. i want to to play yet another clip from last night's town hall where survivors of the massacre at stoneman douglas high school question republican senator
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marco rubio. this is fred guttenberg, whose daughter jamie was killed in parkland shooting last week. >> your comments this week and those of our president have been pathetically weak. [applause] so you and i are now i to i because i want to like you. look at me and tell me guns or the factor in the hunting of our kids in the school this week and look at me and tell me you accept it and you will work with us to do something about guns. >> i think what you're asking about is the assault weapons ban. >> yes, sir. >> let me be honest.
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if i believe that law would have prevented that from happening, i would support it. but i want to explain you why it would not. daughter, rubio, my running down the hallway at marjory stolen douglas -- stoneman douglas, was shot in the back with an assault weapon, the weapon of choice. it is too easy to get. the fact that you can't stand with everybody in this building and say that? i'm sorry. amy: that was fred guttenberg who lost his daughter jamie, gunned down in her high school. shana rosenthal, what was your response to your senator who you interned for and when did you interned for him? foremost, senator marco rubio did show up to the town hall meeting, but i do believe this our elected officials job. they work for us.
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they need to take action and the need to do it now. i interned for him my sophomore year at florida state university during the fall. amy: what did you think of his responses? what is very interesting, and as you pointed out, he did attend this session and he did answer questions. and it does look like he is changing his position on a number of issues around guns. were you satisfied? it is a first step, but as you could tell by the voices you heard at the town hall meeting and the community as a whole, it is not enough. i think we need to reinforce that by writing letters to our senators, as i did to senator marco rubio. everyone has an important point
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of view on this issue. everyone has a story. that is why my sister and i to yourr "your letter senator" campaign. amy: and what is that campaign? >> you can find us at t or senator or people post letters on social media and they tag their elected officials and use connectg so we could while the students are marching out in the streets as you think, what can i do? you can write a letter to your senator and be empowered. and you can use the hashtag and read other people stories and maybe this will keep the conversation going and hold our elected officials accountable. and you be clear, marco rubio was not saying he was supporting the ban. i have a feeling if there were more of these 7000 person town
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halls, he might be on the way. he was not willing to renounce support from the national rifle association. you had the students from your alma mater, from the stoneman douglas high school, going to tallahassee. when they arrived, the republican legislators voted i think you know what, 71 people do not even begin a discussion about an automatic weapons ban. and cnn pointed out almost all of them have close to "a" ratings by the national rifle association. president trump at his listening session at the white house where he had survivors from columbine to the latest valentine's day massacre, he suggested arming teachers. at the opening of last night's
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town hall meeting that you attended, broward schools superintendent robert runcie addressed the crowd. >> the law that have heard recently is about arming teachers. we don't need to put guns in the hands of teachers. do you know what we need? we need to arm our teachers with more money in their pockets. [applause] pays a lot of lip service to the teaching profession, but we never put our money behind it. let teacher compensation, benefits, and working conditions be part of this national debate as well. amy: that is broward schools superintendent robert runcie. clearly responding to president trump just hours before at his listening session where trump
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was countered by people in the listening session when he called for arming teachers. shana rosenthal, what was your response to the proposal? >>to trump's proposal? ithink we should be arming -- don't believe we should be arming our teachers. their teachers first and foremost. to expect them to be armed and protect their students at these great links is sad that it would even have to come to that point and we should really focus on the main issues. but if that is someone's point of view and they express that, tothey write their letter their senators expressing that, i think we could begin to understand other people's point of view. we are all after the same goal, which is to protect our students, the children of this country. i believe we deserve more than a quick fix.
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that is my view on that. back to theto turn white house listening session earlier in the day. this is florida shooting survivor alfonso calderon. >> we are not being taken seriously enough. now, i personally don't know the steps we're going to have to take. but once we figure it out, we are going to take them and you better believe we are one and take them as soon as possible. because although we are just kids, we understand, we know, we are old enough to understand financial responsibilities. we're old enough to understand why senator cares about reelection or not. we're old enough to understand why someone might want to discredit us further on political purposes. but we will not be silenced. it has gone on long enough that we, just because we are kids, we're not allowed to understand. trust me, i understand. i was in a closet locked for four hours with people who i would consider almost family
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crying and weeping on me, begging for their lives. i understand what it is like to bye, iy parents "good love you." i understand what it is like to fear for your life. i don't think we should ever be discredited because of that. i don't think we should ever be silenced because we are just children. amy: he is a high school student from the stoneman douglas high school, but speaking in tallahassee after the republicans voted down, opening the debate on automatic weapons ban. the nra's dana loesch took part in the cnn town hall last night. here she is being questioned by a woman whose son was killed in the parkland shooting. son's and my
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inalienable rights not protected as fiercely as the right to bear arms? [applause] >> i am sorry for what you experienced and i'm not -- as i said, i am a parent, but i have not been in this position. as a parent, iteris finds me -- it terrifies me. it is terrifying. lifesked whether it is a or firearms or the second amendment thing, i think all lives should be protected. all lights should be protected. that is why next week there's going to be good guys with guns that are going to be in school protecting lives, just as there is armed security here. we're in the presence of firearms protecting lives. you, if you believe in your right to self-defense, you hate kids.
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or if you believe in your right to self-defense you don't believe that people have the right to live. that is not what this issue is. this issue is about making sure we are protecting innocent lives. no innocent lives should be lost. none of them should. >> with the second amendment was ratified, they were talking about muskets. we are not talking about muskets. we are talking about assault weapons. we're talking about weapons of mass distraction that kill people. [applause] >> at that issue, the time, there were fully automatic firearms. the continental congress reviewed a purchase of one of those firearms -- >> does it -- >> what i'm saying, is there were more than just mask is
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available. we don't have the right to freeze each. -- free speech. they point you raise, and i think it is a good one, and i know what you're saying. believe me, i understand that. i think all innocent lives should be protected. i don't the you should have ever had to go through that. if i could change time and change circumstances, i would have done anything in my power to prevent that. i think you have the power. amy: that was the nra's dana loesch taking part in the town hall, a spokesperson for the nra, being questioned by linda biegel schulman, her son scott biegel was a teacher who was saved many and was killed in the valentine's day massacre. i want to turn now to the nra's ad. in june, they produced a recruitment video which came under fire from liberals and conservatives for stoking violence. the video was narrated by conservative television host
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, the woman who was there last night dana loesch. ,>> they use their media to assassinate real news. they use their schools to teach children their president is another kittler. they use their movie stars and singers and comedy shows and award shows to review their narrative over and over again. and then they use their ex-president to endorse the resistance, all to make them march, make them protest, make them scream racism and sexism in xenophobia and homophobia, to smash windows, burned cars, shut down interstate and airports, bully and terrorize the law-abiding until the only option left is for the police to do their jobs and stop the madness. and when that happens, they will use it as an excuse for their outrage. the only way we stop this, the only way we save our country and our freedom is to fight this violence of lies with the clenched fist of truth.
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i am the national rifle association of america and i am freedom's safest place. amy: meanwhile, nra television has announced they will be launching a new show in march hosted by dana loesch. right before the town hall meeting, they released a statement saying that the nra is rejecting proposals to raise the minimum age for purchasing rifles. shana rosenthal, you have a major force that has captured many politicians, republican and democrat, has them in their crosshairs if they ever dare step out of line. what about this new movement of young people that you are a part of, student survivors of the marjory stoneman douglas high school killing and others? what is your response. absolutelyents are
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inspiring and incredible. i think what is unique about this is, one, the victims are -- in the same community don't want to say it is easier, but the collective action is strong. students who can speak up, who are tomorrow's voters, tomorrow's leaders, and that is why it is unique. it sparked something across the karen's areh joining, which neighbors are joining. and they have inspired everyone. they have inspired me. the shana, it sounds like namesake of the school, the school was named for marjory stoneman douglas, who was a true crusader, the suffragist fighting for women's right to vote, civil rights activist, and she was considered the grandam of the everglades, a great
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environmentalist saving the everglades, which your community parkland is right next to. do you see your self and other students following in her footsteps as she took on the entrenched developer and business interest? >> of course. -- you have see heard it all before, our motto at our school, be passionate, be proud to be an eagle. that is exactly what is embedded in the parkland community. that is what is embedded in marjory stoneman douglas. i have to say it is embedded in the surrounding area, the greater area of south florida. i live right around the corner from marjory stoneman douglas. every day i hear students marching from other schools all the way to douglas. i think it is beautiful and incredible what they are doing on the ground.
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we need to complement that. we need to write letters. we need to march alongside them. we need to do whatever we can to support these students. amy: i want to thank you, shana rosenthal, for being with us, former intern peru public considered or marco rubio. by the way, did he respond to your letter to him in "the new york times"? you were his intern. >> i have not gotten a response yet, but that is why i'm going to great lengths to get a response, just mimicking what my community is doing. i think the town hall was a first step in that. i hope we can continue this conversation. shana rosenthal is a former student of marjory stoneman douglas high school. we will link to your keys, does your piece "i interned for , senator rubio. now i'm begging him to act on guns." when we come back, the horror that is syria.
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a roundtable discussion. 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. a monstrous campaign of annihilation. that's how the united nations is describing the syrian government's recent deadly barrage of airstrikes and artillery fire against the rebel-held enclave of eastern ghouta, outside the capital damascus. aid workers report at least 300 people have been killed over the past three days. many of the victims are women and children. targets have included hospitals and residential apartment buildings. ravina shamdasani is spokeswoman for the u.n. office of the high commissioner for human rights. >> what we're seeing in eastern ghouta is a repetition, if not worse, of what has happened in other parts of syria. the high commissioner for human rights is talking about this in a monstrous campaign of annihilation of eastern ghouta, with no regard for civilian lives. how many more children dying do we have to see? , and more hospitals bombed and doctors killed to we have to see before the international
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community can come together with one voice and take resolute action on the situation in syria to bring the violence to an end? amy: medical workers in eastern ghouta accused government forces of targeting hospitals and ambulances. >> even an ambulance come if it is driving the street, the regime will strike it. cannot leave at all. this hospital is out of service completely. hospital,just this but most of the hospitals of eastern ghouta have been hit and are out of service. all of the hospitals that have been hit by the regime are completely out of service. amy: the attacks on eastern ghouta, as tensions in syria have escalated sharply amidst a series of strikes and clashes involving israel, iran, russia, turkey, and searing government. we're joined by three guests. rawya rageh is senior crisis adviser at amnesty international. she has been working on documenting human rights abuses and violations of international law in syria. alia malek is an award-winning journalist and a former civil
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rights lawyer. her book is titled, "the home that was our country: a memoir of syria." wendy pearlman is author of "we crossed a bridge and it trembled: voices from syria." she is associate professor of political science at northwestern university. we just came out of talking about the massacre in florida. the horror of 17 people being gunned downed on valentine's day. multiply that over and over and people in the united states to understand what people are going through in syria every day. rawya rageh, talk about what people should know in this country. >> there truly is no words to describe the extent of the horrors we are seeing in syria. when we talk to people on the ground in eastern ghouta, they tell us the mountain attrition, the deprivation, the massacres they keep witnessing are a shame on humanity and they themselves cannot come up with the words to describe their own horrors.
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what we're seeing in eastern ghouta in other parts of syria is a government that is deliberately targeting its own people. and this is not something new. this has been going for more than six years now. it is part of a wider military strategy by the government of syria referred to as surrender or starve. you legacy each to a near held by the opposition, starve the population, bomb them from the air and ground, the prime them from access to humanitarian aid, then force the surrender. s andw it happen in hom aleppo and now in eastern ghouta, now dwindling attention. eastern ghouta is just a stones throw away from the capital. children dying from out nutrition just feet from the united nations.
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amy: and what is the scale of the suffering there? >> what we're seeing essentially is -- it is a catalogue of abuses, war crime after another. we're talking about 400,000 people that have been the seized for more than five years -- besieged from one of five years now. --gine being deprived of any we're talking from diapers to water, care and seeing dying, skin and bones is how medical workers are describing to us the conditions of children there. all000 people deprived of of that from most six years now in what has been one of the longest seizures in history. -- seiges in history. >> people have turned into syria since 20 11, terms of the seven-year period, but violence has been a central and preferred tactic of the regime to maintain its rule and legitimacy. they goes back to the founding
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days when it came to power in 1970. i think there's a misconception that somehow violence is forced on the regime for the regime suddenly has embraced violence because of the conditions and the circumstances of how many different foreign players are involved. we do have to keep it in peoples's forefront of their minds that violence is not only the preferred tactic, they have been rewarded for using it. amy: you've expressed concerns about how syria appears and disappears from the news, and you're talking to people in syria and you have been to damascus and other places in syria. >> yeah, we are here because there is been an uptick in violence. i just wanted fsis, violence has been part of the daily reality. -- i want to emphasize, violence has been part of the daily reality. now what we're seeing in eastern ghouta, it is using it as a tactic to demographically engineer the kind of body politic in syria that will thane its rule last longer it should because of any of the ideas that it has put forward.
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amy: talk about what people are saying, even if you can't be there right now, you're talking to people. >> in the lead up, you said, why can't the international community speak with one voice? i think they have the voice says russia al-assad can stay, can act with impunity and we will add flame to fire, but we're not going to take the steps that we require to bring all of the stakeholders, the people that enabled the regime and armed opposition to the table, and get them to come to an agreement that would spare this civilians that are paying the cost for the proxy war in the regime's assault on its people for the last seven years, and really the last almost 50 years. amy: wendy pearlman, the title of your book "we crossed a bridge and it troubled," comes from someone from ghouta? >> absolutely. it is from a testimony. this is from a passage of a man, a doctor from eastern ghouta. protestscribing a mass
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that happened in early 2011. one thing that has been buried is the memory of that civilian uprising from the civic uprising calling for freedom, for dignity and millions of people going out into the streets risking their lives to call for change. reform, multiple he, for the collapse of this authoritarian regime. he went out and described a protest that was so large, had so many people that people marched from one town in the damascus suburbs to another, literally crossed a bridge and he said, "we crossed a bridge and it trembled under the weight of so many people." that is from the exact same place that we see now under the bombs and under the siege my colleagues have described. amy: rawya rageh, it is interesting we raced 2011. the uprising in egypt. talk about what has happened in egypt and in syria. >> obviously, the way these uprisings have unfolded is not the happy trajectory that we had
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been hoping when our people rose up against our authoritarianism. there are so many questions as to whether we should have done what we did, whether we were prepared for that. it is just important to remind people that after years of a talker this kind of see, people had to resort to essentially speaking out -- a to resort, people had to essentially speaking out. we should not time and again be put in the situation where either we ask for our rights or we face absolute chaos. not inevitability. some of the factors came into play, so many external players sort of robbed people of their dreams and their hopes and our ability to bring about the basic reforms and democracy they were
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asking for. no one in syria was asking for this kind of civil infighting. this just shows you the lengths to which the syrian government and its supporters were willing to go just to maintain the role of one man in power. amy: russia maintains veto with the united nations, a main ally of syria. it says it could support a 30 day truce, but not one that included the islamist militants. it says eastern ghouta operation is meant to target. >> russia has been a big backer in thea on the ground military operations and in the security council providing protection for repeatedly blocking attempts to investigate chemical weapon attacks, or has any sort of resolution or breakthrough within the security council. we have another session today at the security council. that is been called for by russia. there's a resolution being tabled by kuwait that calls for a 30 day cessation of hostilities.
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excuse the russian or syrian government is using that there are so-called terrorists in these areas is really an furthero go ahead with were crimes against civilians. there are 400,000 people besieged in eastern ghouta. i'm even think russia and the searing government would look anyone in the eye and say all of these people are terrorists. the reality is, the attacks are documentation clearly shows the attacks have been targeting civilian areas, residential areas, well away from borders. why prevent the exit of wounded and injured people? why prevent humanitarian access to the thousands of these people? these are all violations and crimes against civilians that human rights, the international human law show are a were crime and even a bigger pattern that amounts to crumbs against eumenides. amy: do you think there's a way for the violence to and and assad to maintain power?
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>> i don't have a crystal ball to answer that question. as mentioned, it has been frustrating to see the international community has made it clear more than once that assad can stay in power. make the my place to comments or analysis, but what i can say is what we have to have right now is in and to the siege and an end to these attacks on civilians. people?uta's, 400,000 >> i want to say the united states war on terror and the language in which it was framed and resulted in the inevitable islamophobia that came out of it has been a gift to these authoritarian rulers in the middle east who have been able to use the exact family which, not only for international legitimacy but domestic legitimacy. let's just say there are -- let's say a large portion of
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the 400,000 are terrorists. the regime is not using more -- the goal is not to rule out armed opposition but to clean out the area through demographics, for change what it looks like as to who surrounds them. this is a tactic regime has been using since the 1970's. power, he took supporters from the region he came from and brought it into the capital and had them live around him as a kind of barrier. when you say the violence ends, definends on how you violence. it is how it is controlled, how it has remained in power. this is part of the reason so-called evacuees will not opt to come into regime controlled areas and refugees will not return from abroad because the threat of the violence of detention, arbitrary detention were you basically disappear, will remain a constant. amy: our foreign powers more
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interested in a proxy war or cease-fire? yet israel shooting down a drone, you have the latest on the turkish border, reuters reported in ypg militia said today the fighters backing the syrian government to playing on the flight line to help repel a turkish assault. actors the international should be concerned about at this stage is primarily the welfare of civilians. international law cannot be more clear. direct attacks against civilians are unlawful and are war crimes. what we need to be seeing is these civilians have lived through horrors upon horrors for the past 6, 7, 8 years. they have been to liberally targeted and a private very basic necessities in order to survive. these kinds of behaviors another actions supporting these kind of violations is what we should really be concerned about. how do we secure civilians, this
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ongoing onslaught? -- how do we spare civilians, in this ongoing onslaught? amy: and the voices of syria, the voices that need to be heard? >> there are voices that are calling for primarily now and end to the war and an end to the violence. people want to be able to survive and live, provide for their children. there needs to be silly and protection. i agree with my colleagues, this is the ultimate priority at this stage. but there is a dream and a whole for freedom, for dignity, for a kind of political transition that allows syrians to live under a system of rule of law that protects basic rights, allow them to speak without fear. those political goals have not gone away. first and foremost, we need to protect civilians. amy: we will do part two and posted online at democracynow.org. on tuesday, unicef released a nearly blank statement on the killings, writing "no words will do justice to the children killed, their mothers, their
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fathers, their loved ones." fathers, their loved ones." i want to thank our
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