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tv   Democracy Now  PBS  April 20, 2018 12:00pm-1:01pm PDT

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04/20/18 04/20/18 [captioning made possible by democracy now!] amy: from pacifica, this is democracy now! situation,current and this is typical of latin coup that ispe a done a military coup. it does not destroy the rights of everyone. it corrodes institutions from within as if it was a sort of parasite. so in this case, what are they doing? speak, but we can speak for him. amy: today in a democracy now! exclusive, former president dilma rousseff on the political
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crisis in brazil as protests mount over the imprisonment of luiz inacio lula da silva. rousseff said the coup began with her impeachment and is expanded with the recent imprisonment of former president lula, who is the front runner in this year's election. then to earth day. this year's theme end plastic , pollution. >> 2/5 of the plastic men of the world is in the united states. it is huge corporate interest in maintaining plastics. we cannot mine this area giant nets. fix is a cultural fix, by changing our use of plastics. amy: we will speak with environmental scientist marcus eriksen, author of "junk raft: an ocean voyage and a rising tide of activism to fight plastic pollution."
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and we will go to houston to talk to priscilla villa of earthworks, which is part of that break free from plastics movement. all that and more, coming up. welcome to democracy now!, democracynow.org, the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman. "what follows are notes i typed in the vehicle immediately upon exiting trump tower." so begins one of the newly-released memos written by former fbi director james comey before he was fired by president trump last year. on thursday night, the justice department sent 15 redacted, declassified pages of comey's detailed memos to congress. these memos have been at the center of a public dispute between the president and former fbi director comey, which has escalated in recent days with the publication of comey's book "a higher loyalty." he writes -- but with this president is
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unethical and untethered to truth." he districts trump as distracted by political rivalries and afraid about his presidency being undermined by members of his own government, including the fbi. just after midnight, trump attacked comey on twitter writing -- "james comey memos just out and show clearly that there was no collusion and no obstruction." he also leaked classified information. will the winch had continue." this comes as former new york city mayor rudy giuliani is set to join president trump's legal team dealing with special counsel robert mueller's investigation into whether the trump campaign colluded with russia in the lead up to the 2016 presidential election. florida lawyers jane raskin and martin raskin are also joining the president's team, which has been looking for new lawyers since trump's top attorney, john dowd, quit last month, reportedly resigning after trump repeatedly ignored his legal advice and attacked robert mueller by name on twitter. hundreds of thousands of students, teachers, school
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staff, and their supporters are expected to walk out of their classes today to protest gun violence. plans for today's walkout began with an online petition started by 16-year-old connecticut high school sophomore lane murdock, who spoke last month in new york city during another nationwide day of student walkouts. >> this is an uphill climb. we have a lot of powerful people against us. and they're going to want in fighting. they're going to one division. they're going to want us to look at our differences so they can take a stab easier, and we're not going to let that happen. this is about people -- they, straight, black, white, religious, nonreligious -- coming together so their kids don't have to be afraid to go to school. amy: today's protest comes on the 19th anniversary of the columbine high school massacre in littleton, colorado, and less than a month after the historic march for our lives in washington, d.c., which saw hundreds of thousands flood the national mall to demand an end to gun violence. meanwhile, dick's sporting goods has announced it plans to
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destroy the assault-style rifles and accessories that were left over after it implemented a ban on the sale of assault-style rifles at its 35 field & stream stores nationwide. the destruction of the firearms comes as a number of companies and banks are facing widespread pressure from youth activists to cut their ties to the weapons industry and the nra, the national rifle association. the trump administration moved thursday to open the arctic national wildlife refuge for oil and gas drilling. the interior department's bureau of land management issued a notice of intent to begin an environmental impact analysis about the effects of oil exploration and drilling in the refuge, which is rich in biodiversity and has been home to indigenous people for thousands of years. the trump administration reportedly wants to begin issuing leases for oil drilling in the pristine arctic area as early as next year. the trump administration also announced thursday a new policy aimed at expanding the sale of
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armed drones, particularly the large armed drones such as the predator and the reaper. trump's trade adviser peter navarro said the policy change will allow u.s. weapons companies to increase their direct sales of armed drones to so-called authorized allies and partners. this comes as a new report from the security assistance monitor revealed that trump approved an unprecedented $82 billion in arms sales during his first year in office. in voting rights news, kansas secretary of state kris kobach has been found in contempt of court by a u.s. district judge in kansas in a lawsuit brought by the aclu against a state law requiring voters show proof of citizenship for registering to vote. he led the trump so-called voter fraud commission and is a key architect of the gop's voter suppression efforts nationwide. in cuba, outgoing president raul castro gave his final address at the national assembly thursday, after handing power over to his successor, miguel diaz-canel. during his speech, castro
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slammed the trump administration. >> since the current u.s. president came to power, there is been a deliberate -- deliberate setback between cuba and the united states in an aggressive threatening tone. american imperialism creates conflict they generate waves of refugees. he pursues racist and discriminatory policies against migrants. it builds walls, militarize his borders, makes unsustainable the pattern of production and consumption and gets in the way of cooperation in confronting climate change. amy: that was raul castro, who served as cuba's president since 2008 when he succeeded his brother, fidel castro. in nicaragua, thousands of people took to the streets for a second-straight day of protest on thursday to denounce a new law that will decrease people's pensions even as it requires workers and employers to
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contribute more money to the social security system. on thursday, pensioners, employers, students united for the nationwide protests, which were met by riot police firing tear gas and rubber-coated steel bullets. there are reports at least four people have been killed in this week's protest. in chile, more than one hundred thousand students and professors poured into the streets of the capital santiago and cities across the country thursday for the first nationwide student mobilization since conservative, billionaire president sebastian pinera took office. the students were protesting a recent ruling by chile's constitutional court, which overturned a law prohibiting for-profit companies from controlling universities. pinera also served as president between 2010 and 2014, during which time chile was rocked by massive student protests demanding an overhaul to the education system. back in the united states in detroit, city officials are set to begin shutting off the water supply to as many as 17,000 homes whose residents are 60
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days or $150 behind on their water bills. the united nations has condemned the water shutoffs as a violation of international human rights law. this comes as flint mayor karen weaver said her city is planning to sue the state of michigan, after republican governor rick snyder canceled a state-subsidized bottled water program earlier this month. even though many flint homes still have dangerously high levels of lead in her tap water. this all comes as michigan has allowed nestle to withdraw 400 gallons a minute from the state's groundwater table despite receiving over 80,000 public comments against the project. nestle is not required to pay anything to extract the water, besides a small permitting fee to the state and the cost of leases to private landowners. to see our full coverage of nestle, flint, detroit water shutoffs, you can go to democracynow.org. wall street giant wells fargo is expected to be hit with a $1 billion fine imposed by federal
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regulators accusing the bank of forcing people to buy auto insurance polices they didn't need, for improperly charging mortgage holders, and for other financial crimes. despite being hit by a series of high-profile scandals and fines in recent years, wells fargo continues to reap billions of dollars a year in profits, reporting $5.9 billion in earnings in the first three months of this year alone. in israel, the organizers for the genesis prize, known as israel's nobel prize, have been forced to cancel the upcoming award ceremony after the winner of this year's prize, american-israeli actress natalie portman, said she is refusing to travel to israel to participate because of her distress over recent events. portman has starred in the new star wars trilogy as well as the and thelacks one, genesis prize comes with a $2 million award.
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portman's decision not to participate in the ceremony comes as the israeli military is in the midst of her brutal, deadly crackdown against palestinian protesters in gaza. israeli snipers have killed dozens of unarmed palestinian protests servers -- protesters in the last weeks. and in arizona, immigrant rights and reproductive justice activist alejandra pablos has been freed from the for-profit eloy detention center, where she was detained for more than 40 days after she reported to a routine ice check-in on march 7. advocates say she was detained in retaliation for her activism, particularly for protesting outside the homeland security department office in virginia earlier this year. this is alejandra pablos, speaking in a facebook video after being released on thursday. >> i come out with so much, like more intel, more stories inside, more ideas, dreams of how we're going to get these women back. the fight has just begun.
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want to look over my back. i want to be able to drive my car without thinking any police can change my life that day. stay with me. the governor to do the right thing and a pardon me, to let me stay here without fear. i am tired of feeling scared. i am tired of being persecuted for just defending my life defending everyone else. amy: reproductive rights activists from -- just freed from ice detention. and those are some of the headlines. this is democracy now!, democracynow.org, the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman. protests are continuing in brazil over the imprisonment of former president luiz inacio lula da silva. two weeks ago, lula began serving a 12-year prison sentence for a highly controversial corruption conviction. lula is the frontrunner for this year's presidential election. his supporters say his jailing is a continuation of a coup that begin in 2016 when his close
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ally, dilma rousseff, was impeached as president. both lula and rousseff are members of the left-leaning workers party which has been credited with lifting tens of millions of brazilians out of poverty since lula was first elected in 2003. last month, lula spoke on democracy now! in one of his final tv interviews before being jailed. the accusersiting -- for the accusers to show at least some piece of evidence that indicates that i committed any crime during the period that i was in the presidency. that is thebehind attempt to criminalize my political party. what is behind that is the interest in a part of the political elite of brazil,
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together with a part of the press, reinforced by the role of the judiciary in preventing lula from becoming a candidate in the 2018 election. amy: you can go to democracynow.org to see the full hour with lula. earlier this week, lula was dealt another setback when the fourth federal regional court denied his latest appeal. meanwhile, hundreds of lula supporters have set up an encampment outside the prison where lula is being held. on thursday, the argentine nobel peace prize winner adolfo perez esquivel traveled to brazil but was blocked from visiting lula. esquivel recently announced he would nominate lula for the nobel peace prize for his role in fighting poverty and economic inequality in brazil. esquivel spoke to supporters of lula outside the prison.
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>> i think that today brazil is the state of exception. there's a coup d'etat against president omar rousseff, now there's the entire campaign against lula. think what type of democracy do we have? not only here in brazil, but all of latin america. we have to continue developing an international campaign until lula recovers his freedom. free lula. amy: the nobel peace prize winner esquivel was speaking outside the prison. meanwhile, but hundred members of the homeless workers' movement briefly occupied the vacant beach apartment which is at the center of the lula case. lula was accused of receiving the apartment as a bribe, even though no documents have emerged actually linking lula to the apartment, which he never lived in.
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the protesters hung a banner reading -- "if its lula's, then the people can stay here. if it isn't, why is he in jail?" well, earlier this week, i had a chance to interview former brazilian president dilma rousseff, who was impeached in 2016 in what many describe as a legislative coup. her removal ended nearly 14 years of rule by the workers' "if its lula's, then the people party. rousseff is a former political prisoner who took part in the underground resistance to the u.s.-backed brazilian dictatorship in the 1960's. she was jailed from 1970 to that in 72. she was elected president in 2010 and re-elected in 2014. i spoke to her while she was on a speaking tour in berkeley, california. i began by asking her about why she had come to the united states and about the political crisis in brazil. >> it is a pleasure to be speaking with you on democracy now! once again. i would like to say the purpose of my trip to the united states is to clarify and raise awareness among people who live
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outside brazil and everybody that brazil is suffering a new sort of coup d'etat. this begin with me in 2016 when i suffered in impeachment without having committed any high crime or misdemeanor. the truth be told. i find myself in a situation and brazil finds itself in a situation in which there is a sort of legal protection. a legal cover that is hiding acts of corruption, acts of corruption by all others. and to produce his indictments against members of the workers party and against president lula. i suffered in impeachment. that impeachment was the opening t of the coup. i was impeached without committing any crime. from there, the process has become much more radical. in agenda was adopted that was the coup in the elections,
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an agenda that is about curtailing the rights of the poorest and of workers, to destroy social policies guarantee that 36 million would be lifted out of poverty. that took brazil off of the map of hunger of the u.n. what has happened? the coup mongers today do not have any political expression. they were condemned by the population. they don't have a relevant situation for the upcoming election in 2018. what they have done is to open up a pandora's box. a box of the monsters. and they took out of this box the extreme right which today is represented by president , who on the day that my impeachment was voted on in the lore house, he voted in favor of torture and a military dictatorship.
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so what is the situation in brazil? there is a strengthened, far right and center-right been going along with the coup has dissolved itself and has a minimal political expression today. they were our greatest adversaries in the last four residential elections. today, they are no longer politically significant because that only did they help carry out the coup, but they were also discovered to be involved in situations of corruption. the workers party and president lula were to be destroyed, but they weren't. president lula, from the beginning of last year, in every opinion poll, has twice as many votes as the candidate. lula has more than 30% and he has less than 16% support. there is not a center. the center gs 5% from a 4%,
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sometimes 6% of the support in the polls. so why have they convicted lula? the political reason is because if a coup d'etat is carried out, if a president who is legitimately elected is removed, it is a set of illegalities carried out including the coup, one can not allow the election of lula to be closed off. so what do they do the echo they've removed lula from the presidential campaign. accusing lula falsely of having committed a crime of corruption. what is the crime of which they accuse ? they accuse lula of committing a crime of passive corruption, which entails a 280 square meter with threer a home floors. they say he committed a crime in order to receive that house. now lula is not the owner of that house.
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ofdoes not have possession the house. he does not use the house. he is never been in that house. so what we're seeing in brazil is the law is being used to destroy the citizens status of one's enemy. the enemy in this case is president lula. that means they're using the law and legal procedures to wage a political struggle and to engage in political persecution in a way that is very similar to what was done against me because in the process of my impeachment, they said, "but we are following through on every single legal seizure." yet the accusations were unfounded. they accuse me of being engaged in acts that ever president before me has carried out. when the not crimes other presidents engaged in such
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acts. and they were not crimes when i took such action. they were provided for by the law. many have asked does, why don't you choose another candidate since the polls show a person supported by the workers party and supported by lula would be well-positioned to run the election? because accepting this is excepting that lula is guilty. and for us, it is more than proven that he is innocent. so excepting that is accepting political persecution and it would make it official. they have taken lula prisoner for two reasons. first, to make the argument that he cannot be a candidate. but also for a very strong reason. that is not to let him speak. and that is clear and the very argument of the measure that requires that he begin serving the sentence immediately.
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because lula today is in a situation in which he is being isolated. he is in a situation of solitary confinement. i was a political prisoner to the military dictatorship that followed the military coup. at that time, no doubt the situation was one of open violence. people were taken prisoner. they were killed. they were tortured. all rights were violated. the rights to freedom of expression. the right to freedom of the press. the right to organize. all of these rights were done away with. in our current situation, and this is typical of latin america, you have a coup that is not a military coup. it does not destroy the rights of everyone. it corrodes the institutions from within, as if it was a sort of parasite corroding democratic institutions. so in this case, what are they
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doing? lula cannot speak, but we can speak for him. brazil's democracy is being mitigated. it is being diminished. what is our role and why am i traveling and why am i here in berkeley? i went to catalonia. i went to madrid. i was are ready in the east coast in some u.s. universities. i have been in france and germany. why? because we have to draw on all possible means to not allow this way of wounding democracy, which in our case, is a fragile democracy. we emerged from the dictatorship of the 1980's, and lula is an example of this phenomenon because they don't want lula to speak. they want lula to be isolated from the whole world at this
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time. because they see him as a representation of everything that turns back the coup in brazil. like any coup process, it cannot be sustained if it doesn't become radicalized. if it does not become deepened. is a very risky situation for brazil's democracy. indeed, it goes to the very cornerstone of democracy, which is to say that the justice .ystem must not be politicized he justice system has to be absolutely neutral. the law, notorce as a political instrument, but as an instrument for the truth expressed in the constitution. amy: former brazilian president temer rousseff, no running for the brazilian senate. only return, we will talk about the assassination of human marielle ofist
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franco. stay with us. ♪ [music break]
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and because studio recording from 1984 released for the first time this week. the song was made famous when sinead o'connor covered it in 1990. this is democracy now!, democracynow.org, the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman. as we returned to our exclusive interview with the former brazilian president dilma rousseff. i spoke to her this week and telephone you, raising support for the former brazilian resident luiz inacio lula da silva for the front runner of this year's election. i wanted to ask about the far candidateidential running in second place in the polls. on friday, bolsonaro was charged with inciting hatred and discrimination against blacks, digits communities, women, and game and and lesbians, trans people. he is facing three years in prison if you were convicted.
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prison if you were convicted. going back in time during his vote in favor of your impeachment as you pointed out, bolsonaro dedicated a moment to one of the men who tortured you while you were in prison, while you were a political prisoner? can you talk about both? >> yes. i can, indeed. the far right in brazil, like the far right everywhere, is anti-woman, anti-black, anti-indigenous person. it is in favor of ending all oversight. they want to end in oversight of labor work situations, slavery that continues to exist in brazil. they are full of prejudice and intolerance. and they believe that they can resolve the most complex problems using brute force or violence, open violence. what has happened in the impeachment process that i suffered, bolsonaro cast his
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vote paying tribute to the military dictatorship and torture. .n the torturer he paid tribute to this man who was a torturer in sao paulo and recognize and all of the processes of truth and justice that them folded in brazil. he said the following to pay tribute to someone who brought terror to president dilma rousseff. a person who is capable of doing an impeachment proceeding to justify his vote in this manner is a person of hatred. he spreads hatred because he only understands the language of violence. the history of humankind has already shown that it is repeated. but in recent years, democracy has been growing worldwide. and today, what we are bearing witness to, unfortunately, in brazil, is the return of the far right. ofce the re-democracy asian
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the country's never expressed itself in such clear terms. and that is due to the fact to bring about political conditions, to carry out a coup by means of an impeachment when there has been no high crime or misdemeanor, they had to open up that box of monsters. and the brazilian far right pushed that and has destroyed the political center. in the center right. because the center-right was pro-coup. as it dropped out of the picture, the far right gain strength. this is the main result of the coup in brazil. his strengthening of the far right. because having a democratic political center was those crucial in brazil for guaranteeing governor ability in that sense which was always democratic sense the 1988 constitution, since the democrat's desk democratization, it has played a huge role in the .rocess in terms of social base
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it has now been swallowed up by the far right. it was unimaginable that a candidate of the far right might run in presidential elections and be in second place while polling second in the political parties were always of the center left in the center-right. lula is that a radically minded person. he is a conciliator. he has not compromised on his commitment to the poorest of the poor, the workers, and the national sovereignty. but he is known as someone who builds bridges. now you have no way to build bridges when those with whom you had been building bridges become coup mongers and are suffering a huge defeat. this is what resulted from a process that began in 2016 with my impeachment.
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just myp is not impeachment. the coup is a process that began with high impeachment. it has a second phase, which is adopting an agenda that was defeated in the election. the effect of all of this, with no doubt, is to destroy the center-right in brazil, to lift up the far right, and therefore, they only have one way to win -- which is to believe that if they remove lula, a candidate of the center-right, might be constructed. president -- do you see, president rousseff, entry by bolsonaro? could the brazilian military come to power through him, the brazilian military dictatorship -- of course community well in prison during that period and tortured yourself. >> yes, indeed. i was a prisoner.
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i was taken prisoner in 1970 by the military dictatorship, and i was in prison for three years. i believe in brazil, there's no situation of a military coup today. i think the far right in brazil is a civilian far right. it may include army officers, such as bolsonaro, but the far right is not a result of the military. it is that a military product. what is the far right in brazil? it has very deep roots in brazil's history. brazil was the last country to abolish slavery. we abolished slavery formally in 1888. unlike the united states, we had slavery in every state of brazil. in brazil, we had a tradition of filing control of the population. and there is an appearance of what i would say is the softest sort of situation, because violence is severed by those who are at the bottom of the social scale. and here is much less violence
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faced by those who are middle-class and up. what is the situation in this impeachment process? routes, manythose of them encouraged by different organizations and foundations in brazil and outside of brazil, they create movement such as the dl, movements introducing a very major form of violence. for example, we had a caravan going through the south of brazil 20 days ago. now to prevent us from reaching the cities and the public plaza and to keep us from talking with the people, they did not want to let our caravan entered the cities. so they shot at our buses. i don't believe that violence in brazil has military roots. this man captain bolsonaro was expelled from the army for lack of discipline and misconduct. i am not sure if i understood your question exactly, but this is my answer to what i
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understood the question. meant, good his becoming president be a half for the military -- path for the military to take more power? >> it is hard to know, but i believe if you were to win the election, it is not a question of the military gaining power. the civilian right in brazil is extremely violent. during the military dictatorship, it was civilians who also instigated the coup. after they instigated the 1964 coup, the military came to power because it was the right wing political leadership that instigated the coup. they went to the military barracks to instigate the coup. they believe that they would come to power after the coup. it was the military powers that assumed control of the process 24 -- ibrazil for believe the situation is different today. majority of the armed
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forces, i say, defend the constitution and defend democracy. but there are obviously segments that do not. and that could align with the government on the former captain bolsonaro. now i can assure you, he is sufficiently far right to come up with and present a fascist proposal for brazil with all of the characters is -- after a six of fascism. resolving simply by resorting to to violence. they consider all women's issues . they are considered to be a deviation. they have a position that is very much against the lgbt population, especially gates. at this point, they are insisting that they have no racial prejudice. but throughout the history, they displayed great prejudice against blacks in brazil, who
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represent the majority of the population. amy: i wanted to ask you president rousseff, as you talk gay men ands on lesbians, i want to ask about the leading lgbt activists, human rights activist -- i would ask about the assassination of marielle franco and her driver on march 14. just this past weekend, thousands of people took to the streets. she was assassinated in rio. two to the streets once again demanding answers and her murder. of thetingly, the son presidential candidate jair bolsonaro, which it was killed, wrote a tweet that said -- "my sympathies to her family and the family of the driver. we disagree politically, but he condemned the assassination.
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the destinyeave deleted the tweet. can you talk about the 'sgnificance of marielle assassination and what you feel needs to happen right now? >> i believe that marielle franco's assassination shows a moment of opening the door to open violence in brazil for two reasons. first, because of her imports in the struggle for racial equality and against prejudice in brazil. she was a tough militant activist who defended principles that helped make us more civilized, who defended the rights of black women to control their own lives. she fight in the peripheries of rio de janeiro in the peripheral areas. she fought against all of the mechanics that subjugate black people. all of the mechanics that function in this way and the life of the city. and she was for a committed to evaluating processes that would associate crime with politics.
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so, first, marielle's assassination is a crime against a black woman o activist. since she was a member of the city council, it is a very open way to challenge power. why? because the legitimate president -- legitimate president i believe that the most important thing is to realize that her assassination supposedly by the militia should be considered a very important moment. those responsible must be investigated and punished. thus far not a single due till of the investigation has been made known to the public to say that they're getting anywhere close to punishment. we hope the brazilian state will punish the assassins as soon as
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possible. now it is important to note that the assassination of marielle is part of a rising wave of violence. violence against activists and social organizations such as the workers movement, such as students, such as homeless persons. those persons have also been subject to imprisonment. some have been killed. i believe it is part of this general picture of institutional lack of control that was greeted by the recent coup, so much so that the state of rio de janeiro is under federal intervention an extreme measure that was never adopted in brazil ever since the return to democracy. the federal government has intervened in the public security situation of a state, has assumed control by deploying the armed forces. i believe, as is being denounced in brazil, that this was a maneuver by the illegitimate president to hide his own
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irrelevance and to create a popularity of the president. we all know that one of the solutions often turns to buy a popular presidents are presidents facing problems is armed intervention in other countries. in brazil, it is a military intervention within the country itself. it was during this intervention lle was assassinated. it is an extreme situation. think we need to do first? we have to know that in brazil, the brazilian population always won when it was democracy. the rights were recognized. conditions to struggle for better opportunities improved that would be more broadly acceptable. the rights of the population were recognized.
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conditions to struggle for better opportunities improved for services. that would be more broadly assessable to the population as a whole. today we are living in a mitigated corrupted democracy. we have to struggle to expand the democratic spaces. they often told me the following -- why are you going to the senate if you know the outcome? it is like you are playing with a marked deck of cards. accepting the conditions of impeachment? no. institutions and opening up more space is fundamental. fory we have to fight honest elections, clean elections. it is typical of a coup situation. coup d'etat tends to repress. they seek to keep people from talking. presidentr brazilian the first female
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president of brazil. she was impeached in 2016. she said the first chapter of the coup was my impeachment, but there's a second chapter and that is stopping president lula from becoming candidate in the presidential elections. while lula is now in prison, dilma rousseff is running for the brazilian senate. when we come back, it is earth day. the theme, ending plastic pollution. ♪ [music break]
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amy: "plastic beach" by the gorillaz. this sunday more than a billion people will celebrate earth day. this year's theme is ending plastic pollution by earth day 2020. of the nearly 300 million tons of plastic sold each year, about 90% ends up landfills, in the oceans, and in our bodies.
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well, our next guest is considered a leading expert on microplastics, those small bits of plastic that are seemingly everywhere. marcus eriksen has led 20 expeditions around the world to research plastic marine pollution. in 2008, he embarked on an 88-day journey from california to hawaii on a raft built from 15,000 plastic bottles and recycled junk. dr. eriksen documented the journey in his book "junk raft: an ocean voyage and a rising tide of activism to fight plastic pollution" and on video. >> what you see here is a bunch of plankton and plastic. the same size pieces we find in the stomachs of fish. you're here in the middle of nowhere, and you still find this trash. the human footprint is everywhere. everywhere you go. on top of mountains in the bottom of the ocean.
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evidence of us. amy: five years earlier, dr. eriksen had rafted the mississippi river and wrote about his experience as a marine in the 1991 gulf war in the book, "my river home." eriksen's work on discovering plastic microbeads in the great lakes led to the federal microbead-free waters act of 2015. well, marcus eriksen joins us now from los angeles. welcome to democracy now! as we lead into earth day, first explain what microplastics are. lay out the challenge to the world. >> microplastics are small broken down fragments from larger items. those are your secondary microplastics, formed by things falling apart. for example in the oceans, we often find bottles -- you can see the edges is all bitten off. animals are during larger plastics and the smaller bits. waves crush it. we're finding a lot of trash dishleaves their land
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leaves our land are forming bigger items in the smaller items that microplastics forms nearshore. by the time it gets to the middle of the ocean, i'm hardly finding any big items. but a smog a small particles are everywhere. amy: explain these microplastics beads everywhere. -- they wereeads designed to be small. those are the ones we saw in our facial scrubs and to face that obama signed the microbead-free waters act in 2015. microbeads, we been able to do away with because of great campaigning. at the microplastics are everything that breaks down into small particles. we have found them in the middle of the oceans -- antarctica, the arctic am a frozen in ci's. and the deep seafloor sediments. distribution has gone global of the small bits. as big of a grain of rice or smaller.
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they're everywhere. amy: what is the impact of plastic song human beings? >> on us, you can say it is twofold. the issue of plastics as waste that contaminates other living things, including sash the world depends on, think 16 of the planet if the protein from fish. we are seeing this explosion, these clouds come the smog of foodplastics impacting the chains. and the toxins that stick to plastics are also polluting organisms in that food chain. pre-consumer product, which you might grab off the shelf, we're still finding some synthetic chemistry in those that you don't want in your body or the bodies of your children. disruptors,ine carcinogenic. there's a pre-consumer and the post consumer impact of throwaway plastics on human health. amy: i want to go to another clip from your documentary that you produced on the junk raft project.
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>> two fifths of the plastic made in the world comes from the united states. it is a huge corporate interests in maintaining production of plastics. this is what the ocean looks like 2000 miles from the colorpoint it goes. this is roughly three football and consolidated into one jar. keep in mind, there 9 million football fields of area in the north pacific, and it all looks like this. we can't mine this very with giant nets to clean the problem. the only fix is a cultural fix, by changing our use of plastics. we decided to build a boat out of the same plastic trash we consume every day. we built it out of 15,000 plastic toddles, old fishing nets to hold the bottles together, and 20 sailboat masts,
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and you're claiming to make a flat deck. project muchcame a bigger than ourselves. amy: there are so many directions to go in, but let me ask about the efforts to get rid of bpa in plastic bottles and microbeads in beauty products. how pervasive is this? >> i would step back and talk about the process. a colleague of mine has been studying bpa in mice all of his life. he was finding the bpa was leaching out of the containers where the mice were living. he found bpa was there. it is all around us in adding machine tape when you get a receipt. if it is wet, you might see a white residue on your hands. that is bpa. the plastic lining in metal cans. in many children's toys, you find phthalates. in talking with my colleague,
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his science work with such a challenge to get that into the hands of producers and say, ok, your site says it is a problem, let's stop. instead, it was a long, john out fight to get it out of toys and water bottles and other areas where bpa gives us exposure. i think that was a challenge -- real challenge. with microbeads, the same thing. another colleague of mine, that was just the start. there was a huge coalition organized by many colleagues and different organizations that do advocacy work on a working together with the same science foundation -- the information was there. we're the videos and the photography to share of animal impacts by microbeads. then we had several legislation and some champions in the white house. within a couple of years after publication, this massive
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coalition brought the bill to obama's desk and he signed it. it is this long, john out fight for things that are obviously wrong and need to be fixed. amy: from seattle to malibu, cities have banned certain plastics. u.k., and kenya, for example, have announced plans to ban some plastics countrywide. talk about the efforts around the country and the world and states also circumventing cities, try to prevent them from banding plastics. thereis fabulous to see is this movement growing around the world. the break free from plastics movement established a couple of years ago, we now have over 1060 organizations that have come under this value statement about plastics and that there no place in society because of the negative extra tonalities. straws, plastic bags, stress sticks. things you use once and throw away.
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tong a material designed last forever. that is grating mountains of waste around the world. yours in communities rise and take, we are done with this linear system of companies making stuff for selling it, and washing her hands clean of the responsibility of the stuff where it resides. when i go from island to island around the world and our sailing voyages come ecb's mountainous landfills, sometimes next to the sea, and islets saying, we don't know what to do with this stuff. i can talk about one of the challenges in the u.s., a concept called preemption. without preemption, for example and safe i california and a few across the country, grassroots movement in the city by city can say, we don't want plastic bags. we owe one plastic straws. -- we don't want plastic straws. we're tired of playing for keen for cleanup.
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they are succeeding town by town. what preemption does is -- in this sponsored bill that goes from state to state to mattel's the states to tell their cities that you can't to it anymore. has toision to ban bags come from state level policy. it makes it illegal for grassroots movement toban these products. amy: i want to bring in another guest. you mention the break free from plastics coalition. let's go to houston, was some call the petro metro, the petrochemical capital of the united states. texas alone produces nearly three-quarters of the country's supply of one of the basic chemical building blocks for making plastics -- ethylene, much of which is derived from oil extracted through fracking. we are joined by priscilla villa, south texas organizer at first -- whoho recently helped host the first u.s. meeting of the "break free from plastics" movement that seeks to raise awareness about
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the link between plastics in our water and oceans, and pollution from oil and gas extraction and refining related to plastics. priscilla, welcome to democracy now! talk about what you're doing and oilwhole cycle from fracking to plastics. good morning. thank you so much for having me. so the meeting that we had in houston was the first u.s.-based break free from plastics meeting that we hosted alongside with tejas. one of the main reasons that we had this meeting was so that organizations who are working across the lifecycle of plastics to really get together and talk about how we can support our lifecycle ofis plastics. the work that earthworks specifically does, we focus on extraction and the issues that go along with fracking. when you are talking about frack well or fracking for oil and
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gas, one of the byproducts is a natural gas liquid called ethane. ethane in and of itself is not necessarily useful. it has been considered a waste product. but in order to make it something -- to turn it into plastic, you first have to crack it. there are these facilities along the gulf that are called crackers. these facilities crack ethane into ethylene. ethylene pellets then get exported out and eventually turn into plastics. those are the main building blocks of plastics. amy: and texas aiming to be the plastics capital or houston, of the country? >> the oil and gas industry is investing around $86 billion in facilities that would
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be turning ethylene into plastics. and a lot of the build out is being focused in the gulf south, so in texas. portland, texas, were exxon is proposing to build the world's largest cracker facility, there are folks out there who are posing that particular facility. there is even more build out for houston, for example. one of the big issues there is that considering the impacts that came along with hurricane place, it is a vulnerable to be building this kind of infrastructure because you had incidents like the explosion at the argument plant that a lot of people at risk. not to mention the ongoing emissions that come from a lot of these facilities in the gulf also contribute to that air quality and health. so more of these facilities been more people are put at risk.
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when we talk about plastics and pollution, we also need to be talking about the pollution that peaced to the production in the very first stage of plastics. amy: we have to leave it there but we will continue to cover this. sunday is our a, celebrated around the world. the theme is, and classic and plastic pollution. priscilla villa, south texas organizer at earthworks, part of the #breakfreefromplastics movement. and marcus eriksen is an environmental scientist and research structure. that does it for our show. democracy now! is accepting applications for our paid year-long social media fellowship. find out more at democracynow.org. democracy now! is looking for feedback from people who appreciate the closed captioning. e-mail your comments to
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outreach@democracynow.org or mail them to democracy now! p.o. box 693 new york, new york
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>> colameco: we're on the bowery, which is this crazy boulevard in new york city that's been up and down and mostly down. and now it's just completely ascending. across the street, they're building an ace hotel. the building on the corner, aby rosen just bought it for, like, $52 million. and there's a chair store across the street and restaurant supply stores up and down the block. but it's changing for the better. gentrification is pushing the borders of manhattan in every direction till it's bursting. so today's story, two restaurants -- rebelle, same people that do pearl & ash. i love patrick cappiello, one of the best somms in the city. we're gonna talk to him, to his chef. then we're gonna go up to the corner of bowery and houston to visit cherche midi, one of keith mcnally's restaurants. think minetta. think balthazar. think pastis. yeah. that guy. shane mcbride and chino oversee the food. really classic old-school french with super ingredients. so it's all french. and it's all good. and it's all on the bowery. that's what's next. ♪ i'm mike colameco -- industry insider. been in the business my whole life, and i know what it takes to sce

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