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tv   Democracy Now  LINKTV  April 22, 2015 8:00am-9:01am PDT

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amy: from pacifica this is democracy now. doug: my name is doug. i flew into the capital building. i'm here to talk about campaign reform, and overall corruption in the congress working through lobbyists and not working for
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the people. amy: last week a u.s. postal carrier named doug hughes flew a gyrocopter on to the lawn of the u.s. capitol in an attempt to deliver letters to every member of congress calling for campaign finance reform. he was arrested and faces up to four years in jail. today he joins us while under house arrest in florida. then to earth day. >> after some test we discovered he had high blood lead levels, and that is the first time i decided to confront the issue. amy: we will speak with phyllis omido and an anti-dam campaigner, both winning prestigious 2015 goldman prize for environmental activism, one
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-- activism. and then "how many more? -- a new report by global witness finds killings of environmental activists on the rise with indigenous communities hardest hit. at least 116 environmentalists were killed last year more than two a week. all that and more, coming up. welcome to democracy now, the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman. saudi arabia has resumed airstrikes against shiite houthi rebels in yemen, hours after announcing an end to its nearly month-long bombing campaign. the saudi defense ministry said it would conclude the airstrikes and shift to a new strategy focused on a political solution. but after rebels gained ground in the central city of taiz, the strikes resumed. meanwhile tuesday, two airstrikes killed at least 40 people, most of them civilians. on monday, the committee to protect journalists reports a tv journalist and three staff members of the tv station yemen today were killed in an airstrike in the capital sanaa. a united nations official has
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called for wealthy countries to collectively accept one million syrian refugees over the next five years in order to curtail the migrant crisis in the mediterranean. u.n. special rapporteur on the human rights of migrants francois crepeau told the crepeau told the guardian the plan could also extend to eritreans and other refugees who are fleeing from war. over 1,750 migrants have died this year in the mediterranean trying to reach europe, 30 times higher than the same period last year. libya says it has detained 600 migrants in the past few days after stopping boats poised to depart for italy. french authorities say they have arrested a man suspected of planning imminent attacks on paris churches. officials say the man is an algerian national who expressed a desire to travel to syria. he is also suspected of murdering a woman before being detained sunday when he allegedly shot himself by accident, and called an ambulance. authorities say they found a trove of weapons and notes about
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the planned attack in his car. in the united states, senate lawmakers have reached a deal on an anti-or -- abortion bill. senate majority leader mitch mcconnell refuse to proceed with the nomination of loretta lynch until after the senate passed the trafficking bill, but democrats rejected to a provision. the compromise separates the victims fund into two streams criminal fines that will be used for health care, and health related financing. president obama has criticized fellow democrats who oppose the transpacific partnership trade deal. the 12-nation pact would
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encompass 40% of the global economy and is being negotiated in secret. in an interview on msnbc obama responded to criticism from democratic senator elizabeth warren says the tpp would undermine sovereignty and help the rich get richer. president obama: i love elizabeth. we are allies on a host of issues, but this that she is wrong on this. everything i do is to measure the middle class is getting a fair deal. i would not do this trade deal if i did not think it was good for the middle class. when you hear folks make a lot of suggestions about how bad this trade deal is -- when you dig into the facts, they are wrong. amy: the senate is expected to vote on a bill that would grant president obama fast-track authority. the measure has received a growing chorus of protests, including from protests like
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senate minority leader harry reid, who said his stance is "hell no." a joint op-ed criticized the tpp which would allow companies to sue countries. analysts usually stand on opposing side of trade policy issues, but we find common ground in opposing this special privilege for foreign firms. the head of the drug enforcement administration will require -- retire next month following a scandal dea agents anticipated in sex parties with prostitutes hired by drug cartels. michele leonhart, who has served 35 years at the agency, has also opposed obama on marijuana policy, criticizing the justice department for deciding not to sue states that have legalized pot. the drug policy alliance has
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launched a petition calling for obama to appoint a replacement who will quote "help reduce mass incarceration that is a result of the failed war on drugs." president obama has criticized fellow democrats who oppose the -- at least 1000 people rallied tuesday at the side of the arrest of freddy gay -- freddy gray. police have received the names of the officers involved in his arrest, including the lieutenant who led the initial chase, who said gray made eye contact with him, then ran away. according to the guardian, lieutenant brian rice has been accused of domestic violence twice, and was ordered by a judge to stay away from a second person who took him to court. an attorney for freddie gray's family said questioned lieutenant rice's decision to pursue gray in the first place saying quote "running while black is not probable cause. felony running doesn't exist, and you can't arrest someone for looking you in the eye." protesters who walked over 200
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miles from staten island, new york to washington, d.c., to oppose police killings of unarmed people of color rallied at the us capitol tuesday. carmen perez, an organizer of the nine-day march 2 justice said the march should be part of a cultural shift. carmen: we cannot sit on our couch anymore. we cannot wait for someone to save us. the march is one of the tactics in a larger strategy. we need to change the hearts and minds of individuals. we need a cultural shift. we are coming with three pieces of federal legislation that will address police brutality, racial profiling, and invest back into our communities and our children. amy: in detroit, michigan, the police officer who shot and killed seven-year-old aiyana stanley-jones in her own home during a night raid being filmed by a reality tv show has been reinstated for active duty. joseph weekley fatally shot aiyana as she slept on the couch
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with her grandmother in 2010. two attempts to prosecute him resulted in hung jurys. detroit police chief james craig told the detroit news, weekley will operate on limited duty and won't work in the field. amy: here in new york activists rallied at the office of andrew cuomo to reject a deepwater port that will be used to import natural gas. patrick robinson said cuomo should reject and support me noble energy. patrick: we are here to tell governor cuomo to veto. we have other options. we know we can build offshore wind in the same area. that is with the people want, what they need. we want clean, renewable jobs. we are governor cuomo to stand with the people, and not the private equity that wanted to be
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built. amy: it marked the second day of marching on climate change. on monday, they marked the anniversary of the deepwater horizon disaster. kate mcneilly and ana said they were standing in solidarity. kate: we are standing in solidarity with communities that are asking bp. ana: it is going to happen again. it is not a matter of if but one. our communities cannot be sacrificed. there are alternatives. amy: last month was the hottest march on record worldwide. according to the national oceanic and atmospheric administration, the first quarter of the year, from -- was the hottest start to any
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year on record, beating the previous record set in 2002. arctic sea ice meanwhile hit its smallest extent for the month since record-keeping began 35 years ago. we will have more on the moment as we mark earth day later in the broadcast. actor ben affleck has apologized after hacked sony emails published by wikileaks showed he asked that information about his slave-owning ancestor be omitted from the pbs documentary "finding your roots." in a post on social media, affleck said he regretted the request, but had been, quote "embarrassed" by his link to a slave owner. the sentencing phase of the trial of convicted boston marathon bomber dzhokhar tsarnaev has opened in boston, with the jury to decide whether tsarnaev faces the death penalty of life in prison. a pair of newlyweds who lost limbs in the bombings have become the latest to call on the federal government to drop its pursuit of the death penalty. in a statement, jessica kensky and patrick downes wrote, quote, "the defendant's objective on april 15, 2013, and our objective in deciding his punishment should not be one and
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the same. we must overcome the impulse for vengeance." the parents of eight-year-old martin richard, who was killed in the attack, have also opposed the death penalty. hundreds of students have sent a letter to authorities in orange new jersey, to reinstate a teacher suspended for letting her students write get-well cards to imprisoned journalist and former black panther mumia abu-jamal. abu-jamal was convicted of killing a philadelphia police officer but amnesty international has found he was deprived of a fair trial. speaking before the school board last week after her suspension marilyn zuniga said her students wanted to send him letters after learning he was seriously ill. marilyn: so long as one just person is silent, there is no justice.
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in april i mentioned to my students that mum wasi ill, and they told me they would like toa right get-well letters. the important matter is my love for and commitment to my students. amy: in their letter urging zuniga's reinstatement, top educators including noam chomsky, marc lamont hill, and kevin kumashiro, dean of the university of san francisco school of education, wrote quote, "it seems to us that we are at a moment in world history where it is important to encourage teachers to help their students develop empathy for others, and to see themselves as people who want to strive to make the world a better place. how we pursue these aims is a legitimate question, but threatening to fire teachers who are trying to engage students' hearts seems to us to be profoundly wrongheaded." and those are some of the headlines. this is democracy now!, the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman. juan: i am juan gonzalez and
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welcome to our viewers around the country and around the world. we begin today's show with doug hughes, the u.s. mail man who made headlines when he flew a helicopter known as the gyrocopter onto the u.s. capitol lawn in an active civil disobedience. the letter began with a quote from john kerry farewell speech to the senate. "the unending chase for money, i believe, threatens to steal our democracy itself." hughes flew about an hour from maryland into restricted airspace and onto the capitol's west lawn, stunning authorities and bystanders. homeland security secretary jeh johnson said hughes literally flew below the radar, going undetected, before landing on the capitol lawn. before taking off, hughes had spoken about his plans to the
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"tampa bay times." doug: i am going to violate the no-fly zone, nonviolently, for no one to get hurt, and i'm going to land on the capitol lawn in front of the capitol building. i will have 535 letters strapped to the landing gear, and those letters are going to be addressed to every member of congress. i do not believe that the authorities are going to shoot down a 60 euros mailman in a flying bicycle. amy: after landing on the capitol mall, doug hughes was arrested and could now face up to four years in prison on charges of violating national defense air space and operating an unregistered aircraft. he is under house arrest and wearing a gps monitoring device. doug hughes has decided to keep speaking out about the need for campaign finance reform. he joins us now from his home in ruskin, florida. doug hughes, welcome to democracy now!
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doug: good morning. thank you for inviting me. amy: it is very good to have you with us. we will try to bring up the sound of your microphone because we can hardly hear you. can you describe it -- what exactly you did? doug: well, a key part of my plan was -- amy: it looks at we just lost doug hughes. you have to understand we have a truck as he is under house arrest inside of his house. let's go to congress member walter jones of north carolina who took to the house floor and talked about the gyrocopter protest and the need for campaign finance reform. representative jones: onto the
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capitol lawn to make a point about the influence of money and politics, but i do not condone putting innocent people at risk by flying a gyrocopter onto the capitol lawn. mr. hughes does have a point about the influence of money in politics. i have seen it get worse. the citizens united decision by intensive supreme court in 2010 created super packs and multimillionaires that by candidates. amy: that was republican congress number walter jones speaking on the floor of the house. that was one day after doug use landed his -- one day after doug hughes landed on the lawn, we spoke with alan grayson. representative grayson:
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thousands of people came to our website and made contributions. i am one of 435. on the other side of the building, but the u.s. senate, there is only one member that raised from small contributions, and that is bernie sanders, who you heard earlier in this broadcast. that tells you something. to a large degree, in both parties, because of the absence of campaign-finance reform, the place is bought and paid for. the only question is do the members stay on. that is what corporate lobbyists stay up late at night wondering about. i was in the courtroom when the disaster citizens united decision was decided by musical. mitch mcconnell was two seats -- was decided five years ago. mitch mcconnell was two seats to my left. he was the happiest i have ever seen him that day. i said that night that if we do nothing you can kiss this country goodbye.
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well, pucker up, because the millionaires and billionaires, and the multinational corporations are calling the shots of whatever they want in tpp, whatever they want in fasttrack -- generally whatever they want. the bailouts, the tax breaks the deregulation. they get what they want here because they get what they paid for. juan: that was congressman alan grayson talking about campaign reform. doug use is -- doug hughes, i wanted to ask, were you surprised that you are able to get as far as you were able to get onto the capital lawn? doug: my thought was it was less dangerous to let me land since i
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had been vetted. that did not work. it turned out i was able to land safely anyway. juan: you did everything possible to warn folks ahead of time that you were doing this protest. doug: yeah. i sent an e-mail, which some people said was inadequate, but the e-mail give the reasons why they did not need to shoot me down, and i had a website. on the website, i asked people to call the website to tell them to read the e-mail, what address it went to, and who it was from. and "the tampa bay times" called him through the white house to tell them that i was coming in. every effort was made to give homeland security advanced warning of my arrival, who i was, and that i was not a threat. amy: so, you fly under the radar, in this flying bicycle
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contraption, and you land on the west lawn of the capital. you could have been blown out of the sky. was capital finance reform that important to you? doug: yes. i'm a father, i am a grandfather, and i can see the change over the decades as we slide from a democracy to a plutocracy. just like alan grayson said, the fat cats are calling the shots. they are getting everything they want, and the voters know it. across the political spectrum, center, left, and right, they know this congress is not representing the people, and yes, it was worth risking my life, risking my freedom to get reform so that the congress works for the people. amy: you are a letter carrier, a
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postal carrier, and mailman. how many letters were you carrying to deliver to congress? doug: i believe the count was 535, but i never actually counted them. i handled a lot of them in the process of printing them signing them, stamping them. there were a lot of hours that went into getting the letters done. amy: were you planning to hand deliver them individually to each member of congress? doug: no. at no time did i expect that was going to happen. the plan was to get the letters there in such a way -- let me step back. congress knows what is going on. i was not telling congress anything they are not aware of. i was telling them something they do not want the people to be aware of. i was telling the people that there are solutions in place. they know there is a problem. i am telling people something they do not know. there are solutions.
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they have to be limited. it is in our power to implement them. juan: can you talk about some of those solutions, and what your letter actually said? doug: what my letter actually said to the congress critters was they have to decide whether they are going to deny that corruption exists, or that they are going to pretend they are doing something about it, or they are going to will up their sleeves and be part of reform. but i am looking to the local media, particularly the print media at the local level, to hold the candidates feet to the fire, and forced them to take a stand on real reform, and whether or not they will vote for it, or whether or not they will try to take a halfway stand, which means they will try to preserve the status quo. the idea is the voters can decide well if they are informed. the national media can't and
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won't inform the voters about where the candidates stand, but the local media, which has been you know, very weak and impotent in the political process, can really take the ball and they can be the moving force in informing the voters. juan: and can you tell us about yourself and your own evolution of your thinking. if you were formerly in the u.s. served on the uss enterprise. can you talk about your thinking on this issue? doug: well, i wound up hanging up with a friend of mine, mike shanahan, and over a bunch of beers in his with a written action plan that we were not able to take anywhere. that was called the simplest -- civil list -- civilist papers,
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and mike came up with a plan to send letters to every member of congress, and that was the nuclear of the idea. we assumed it would not work because congress really knows we need to get that letter to the public. they need to be aware. during the time we were working on this, we discovered the existence of other groups, and other very sophisticated plans that have been written by people a lot smarter than me. but we also observed these groups were not getting any traction. they had managed to get through to the people that were sympathetic to the idea, but it was not knowing a lot or the than that, nor did they get any attention in the media about what they wanted to do. amy: earlier this month, hillary rodham clinton kicked off her bid for the democratic presidential nomination with her first formal campaigning in iowa. she talked about this issue as
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she has for a few days now campaign finance reform. mrs. clinton: we need to fix our this marginal political system and get unaccounted money out of it once and for all, even if it takes a constitutional amendment. amy: is that what you are calling for, doug hughes? does that hurt in you? doug: yes, i am glad to hear they are talking about this. a political figure has been working on an article five convention and this does an entire end around on congress so that the congress does not ever even vote on the amendment. it can be done completely through the states through an article five convention that would be called. the amendment would be designed, and then it goes back to the states, and three quarters of the state have to ratify the
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constitutional amendment. at that point it becomes law without the house or the senate ever voting on it. so, the states can put limits on the congress, ok, and fix the problem so there is no backsliding that would ever happen. the constitutional amendment can protect legislation from it being struck down by the courts. so, this whole thing can happen and it can stay. juan: are you encouraging other like-minded americans who feel this way about campaign finance reform to come up with other creative ways to get the issue before the american public? doug: i am absolutely sympathetic to other people getting involved to whatever their view on it is. i think we're going to see a lot of trojan horse legislation and groups come up that are intended to misdirect people into
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solutions that have no power ok? i have pretty much signed on to the anticorruption act, and i will look at other ideas that are out there, but the anticorruption act which stands no chance to get out of committee as we are right now was written by a former head of the federal election campaign -- fec. this guy is as far to the conservative and as unger is liberal. that is why i say this spans the political spectrum. what this guy wrote will work if it is passed without any amendments. that has to be a key part of this. they cannot cut out the key parts so that it has no teeth and then say they passed reform. amy: one last question. your son committed suicide last year. did losing him in 2012 -- did
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losing him affect what you decided to do this year? doug: yes. no, i was not trying to commit suicide, but his death was pointless. it was a waste. and he had so much potential. i look at what i had done and accomplished and contributed and i looked at how we're going to leave this country and this world if things go on the way they are. i have kids -- i have two adult children and i have an 11-year-old daughter. i want to hand them a real democracy so that they have the power to control their destiny and their children's destiny, and right now they are losing that. we are losing that.
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it is in our power to restore democracy, and we can find the solutions to the problems that we have if the people have control. amy: we want to thank you from -- for being with us. doug hughes is a postal carrier from florida who landed a tiny personal aircraft known as a gyrocopter on the lawn of the u.s. s week in a protest to demand can't and finance reform. he was carrying letters to every member of congress. he flew about one hour from maryland into restricted airspace, stunning authorities and bystanders. he is under house arrest. we're speaking to him at his home in florida. he faces four years in prison. this is democracy now. we will be back in a minute. today is earth day. ♪ [music break]
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amy: that is the theme song from the movie "those magnificent men and their flying machines. health this is democracy now!,, the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman. juan: today is earth day. it began in 1970 as a "national teach-in on the crisis of the environment," and has grown to become a worldwide day of action. 40 years ago, one in 10 americans participated in earth day. now more than a billion people celebrate in more than 192 countries every year. this year's earth day comes as leading scientists have issued a quote "earth statement" warning that temperatures could rise by as much as 6 degrees centigrade by 2100 with catastrophic results if steps aren't taken to address climate change. amy: the statement includes a series of recommendations for the u.n. climate summit in paris this december, saying, quote "if we do not act now, there is
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even a one-in-10 risk of going beyond six centigrade by 2100. we would surely not accept such a high risk of disaster in other realms of society. as a comparison, such a one-in-10 probability is the equivalent of tolerating about 10,000 airplane crashes every day worldwide." in his weekly address president obama called climate change the greatest threat to the planet. president obama: wednesday is earth day, a day to appreciate and protect this precious planet that we call home. today there is no greater threat to our planet than climate change. 2014 was the planets warmest year on record. 14 of the 15 hottest years on record have all fallen the first 15 years of this century. this winter was cold in parts of our congress -- country, as some folks in commerce like to point out, but around the world, it was the warmest ever recorded. amy: president obama also said
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he would be visiting the florida everglades today to see how the environment is at risk from rising sea levels there. we talk now to two of this year's winners of the goldman prize, the world's most prestigious award for grassroots environmental work. phyllis omido is the africa 2015 goldman prize recipient. she organized protests to close a lead plant in mombasa, kenya that was exposing the community to toxic chemicals. her son was one of those affected. she is the founder of the center for justice governance and environmental action. we welcome you to democracy now. congratulations on the goldman prize. talk about the action you took in kenya. phyllis: thank you for having me on the program. what we did -- what i did together with my colleagues is we mobilized the community to stand up for our rights to a clean, healthy, and sustainable
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environment which is guaranteed in the kenyan constitution, but we realized they were asleep at the wheel, and therefore we needed to challenge the state to ensure this right for the community. juan: and how did you first get involved in the movement? i understand you notice that your son had gotten sick from lead poisoning? phyllis: yes, my son, over the years, had been with me at the plant because i am a single mom, and a lot of times he had to come with me after the babysitters time to go off, and during the short period he was with me, he contracted led poisoning, and this got me thinking about the needed community that it is located within. after my son was discharged from
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the hospital, i went to the community and tested three children randomly, and they all tested positively for lead poisoning. that was the first time we started this campaign. amy: i wanted to turn to the testimony of a resident to lives near one bossa. jaclyn: my youngest son was having trouble breathing. it was too late. he died soon after. all of the hope i had for my firstborn son and his life is gone. now i am left to worry about my youngest children. amy: that was jacqueline wandiri. we are speaking to phyllis omido
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. talk about how people responded to your protests. phyllis: we did not start by protesting. we wrote letters to officials public health, visited their office, and give you -- give them the results of the tests that we had. there were clear indications from 2000 and -- 2008 that the lead in the soil was .46. in 2009 it was 1600 per million. we presented this, but what we resisted what -- what we saw was resistance. they were not willing to look at the issue. instead, they would go in and tell us they were going to investigate, then come out and give us no feedback.
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so, -- this is what left us no choice but to start protesting, and we did a protest in 2009 where the community gathered, and went on the roads to create awareness around this issue. yes, the big traffic >> -- blocks, force them to send the assistant minister for the environment to address us, but when he came to address us, what perplexed us is he shared the podium with a local politician who had shares and they told us it was there to create jobs, and that all the noise we were making was because we were lazy and we did not want to work. that is what infuriated us even more because we have provided proof there was something going wrong in the community. juan: and eventually you and others were arrested as well and
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the final condition -- decision came to shut the smelter down. phyllis: yes, we were arrested and arraigned in court on inciting violence and illegal gathering. after that, we went through eight months of trial listening to the state giving evidence against us, but we were acquitted. after that, we did a petition -- the community did a petition and the senate committee on health was asked to come and investigate our claim. they came into the community and we provided them with the statistics and collected all of the data. they also saw for themselves how bad the situation was. we showed them the graves started in the community because of the infant mortality that was so high. by the time they visited in 2014, we had lost 300 newborn babies in the community.
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that is when they issued an order to the national environment management authority that the smelter should not operate again. amy: and you have gone from being arrested to saving many children and people's lives from this potent neurotoxin, which is led, to finding a center for justice, governance, and environmental action. tonight, you will receive the goldman prize in washington dc. what is the center doing now? phyllis: i realized after we started working that many other communities were going through the same issue. that -- in that vicinity, there were three smelters in total
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all right in the middle of this slum community. that is why i started the center, to assist these other communities to assure them the constitution gives them a right to a working, healthy, and sustainable environment. so far, to go -- to other smelters were shot, and we are -- shut senator vitter: , and we are working with others that are going through -- others and we are working with others that are going through the same. my center is working as well as mentoring the upcoming generation. we're working with schoolchildren helping the school to start environments clubs as a next regular activity, and we are also watching policies because we need policies passed that will address the evolving
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environmental challenges in kenya. amy: phyllis omido, thank you very much for being with us. a winner of the 2015 goldman prize. she is being referred to as the east african aaron brockovich. her son was one of those affected. she is the founder of the center for justice governance & environmental action. as we turn to a second goldman prize winner. juan: we want to turn to myint zaw an activist who used art to protest against a dam on the irrawaddy river that would have displaced 17,000 indigenous people and impacted millions more. welcome to democracy now. myint: thanks for having me. juan: tell us how you became
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involved. myint: when we heard about the proposed myitsone dam in the important watershed area of our main river inside the country we were very much compelled to act. back then, we were living under the military regime -- a quite oppressive military regime. we moved slowly, and we try to come up with the ideas and different approaches to raise awareness, and to communicate the message across to the people. amy: i want to ask about some of the problems you faced while organizing opposition to the myitsone dam on the irrawaddy river. this is social activist kyaw thu, who also participated in the protest. kyaw: to intimidate and subprocess, the intelligence service would try to find out
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who was organizing these events, and then they would place us under surveillance. amy: can you tell us, myint zaw who most benefits from the dam, and who is most hurt by it, and where it is in burma, what the military regime calls the and mark -- myanmar? myint: it was funded 90% from china, and less than 10% for our country. even then, the 10% would mainly go to the military officials the military regime, and not going to benefit the people. the negative impact is quite huge, not only for the people displaced by the dam, but also it is going to impact the
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biologically diverse area. also, we worry most is the downstream impacts of the proposed dam because this is the main artery. the irrawaddy river is the main artery of our country coming from the north. it covers 60%, 70% of the country. the majority of our people are farmers and fishermen, so they need a healthy river. the changes in the river flow are going to impact usually -- hugely the population that resided along the irrawaddy river and that is most worrying for us. also, the proposed dam of which the traditional people in the area -- it cuts through their heartland.
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it is within respect to the indigenous and acceptable for the people for the downstream impacts and other negative environmental impacts. juan: myint zaw, how were you as a journalist, especially with the power in your country to get out the message of the problems with the dam? myint: initially we wrote about the dams in other countries so that they would get some knowledge, but later on we decided we should express directly, and then we got an idea about the art gallery. in our country we cannot go into a military regime law -- we cannot get more than five people
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for activities -- for social activities or political activities, but they allow us to have an art gallery. so, we thought this was a good place for us to get people from different communities artists media, and sybil's about -- society leaders. also we changed the gallery guidebook inform -- two raise awareness with facts and figures and concepts. this way we are pushing the limit and expanding the space available to us. [indiscernible] amy: myint zaw, thank you for
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being with us. and asia goldman -- prize recipient. he used art to protest this mega dam on the irrawaddy river. that would have people and impacted millions more. this is democracy now. we will continue our earth day special in a moment. ♪ [music break]
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amy: "shiva" -- a new song written and performed by hip-hop artist olmeca, as an earth day tribute to dr. vandana shiva. this is democracy now!, the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman. with juan gonzalez. juan: as we continue to mark earth day, we end today's show with a new report that finds at least two people working to save the environment were killed each week in 2014. in total, the group global witness documented the murders
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of at least 116 environmental activists last year. three quarters of them were killed in central and south america. amy: the report is called "how many more?" and it also looks in detail at an activist who stood up to a mining project in one of the deadliest countries, and survived. her name is berta caceres and and she is another winner of this year's goldman environmental prize. this is caceras describing how she helped organize the indigenous lenca community in honduras to resist the aqua zarca hydro-dam on the gualcarque river because it could destroy their water supply. berta: in more than one at 50 indigenous assemblies, our community decided that it did not want the hydroelectric dam. >> she filed complaints with the honduran government and organized peaceful protest in the nation's capital. as her visibility increased, she became a target for the government. berta: we denounce these dams
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and were threatened with smear campaigns, imprisonment, and murder, but nobody heard our voice until we set up a roadblock to take back control of our territory. >> for well over a year, the roadblock was maintained, withstanding harassment and violent attacks. tragically, the community leader was shot by the honduran military at a peaceful protest. berta: seen this man murdered, the community became indignant forcing a confrontation. the company was told they have to get out. >> we have 500 people here. we will defend rio banco and we will not let them pass. berta: and that is how they left the block of, -- rio blanco, but
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it cost us in blood. amy: for more we are joined by billy kyte, campaigner for global witness and author of their new report ""how many more?" as it went to press, three more environmental and land activists were killed in latin america in the space of three days . welcome to democracy now! layout this report and what you have found. billy: sure. we found last year one out of 16 people that we know about were killed -- 116 people were killed and a majority were in indigenous committees. juan: why so many in central and south america been killed? billy: there is a long history of social conflicts, movements in central and south america. it is also very resource-rich
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region, and many marginalized groups are being targeted for the fact that their lands are very rich in commodities that are wanted by companies and interests. it is also an area where the society is very strong, and it is a double-edged sword. they are more exposed to conflict, but there also better at monitoring the issues. in central and south america is where it has been hardest hit. juan: talk about the three indigenous leaders that were gunned down during an anti-mining protest in honduras. they had received death threats warning them to stop there attempts to protect the environment. billy: these were indigenous leaders that stood up against illegal mining and logging in that community, and they were gunned down, as you say, at a peaceful sit-in protest.
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they were stopping cars with illegal timber and minerals. they then left the community for six months. they were granted emergency protection measures by the inter-american human rights commission. they returned after six months but the perpetrators are still at large. they are still walking freely in the village even though they have police arrest warrants out for them. even a couple of weeks ago, one of the leaders was killed. this person had protection measures. it is still a very much ongoing crisis in the area. amy: can you tell us a little more about the 2015 goldman prize winner, who we just played a clip of, berta caceres, and her significance of what she is doing in honduras. billy: she's a courageous activist that fights for
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environmental rights and women's rights as well. her leadership in honduras has been inspirational for many, many people. she is suffered threats against her life. two of her children had to flee the country because of these threats. she continues to receive threats. even recently she received plans to kidnap her, and despite this, she still struggles on with the fight to protect indigenous areas. juan: what is the responsibility of international bodies or governments on the issue of continuing killings of environmental activists around the world? billy: our report shows a 20% increase last year from the previous year. it is a must -- modern journalist killed in the same period, but it does not have the same amount of attention. it is a hidden crisis. people need to stand up, have a wake-up call and realize this is an issue. what needs to happen is governments need to make sure
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that persons are accountable that it is dismantled systematically, people are put in jail for these crimes and the risk imposed to activists is recognized. the human rights council resolution would be helpful as a starting point to put pressure on government to act. the environment is seen as a key that about four human rights and people are dying every day for the protection of these rights. amy: in these countries that are seen to have somewhat progressive leaders like in bolivia or ecuador, in these particular countries, there are huge battles with the government and indigenous rights activists around the extractive issue -- industries and the government relying on this. can you talk about this? billy: sure. those governments -- we have to be careful -- they have to w a
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different discourses. one is the international and that is seen as the purveyors of mother earth. the reality is they are selling off resources. take the amazon region, for instance. an ecuadorian activist was killed during the u.n. climate change conference in lima last year, for instance, and there are links to his activism and the fact that he was murdered. so, yes, we see a lot of resource-rich areas being sold often in secret deals and this must end. the fact that governments and companies are allowing indigenous lands to be sold off to the highest that her. juan: you mentioned -- highest bidder. juan: you mentioned the amazon, and a key role of the amazon to save our earth, and the activism there. has there been a reduction of violence against environment of
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activists in that region of the world? billy: i would not say so, no. just recently, in november/december last year, four were killed by a legal bloggers. -- longer's. they have been fighting for the area. almost over 10, 15 years. the government refused to recognize their land. loggers were able to take advantage of this vacuum of power in those areas. anyone that step -- stands up is killed. it is prevalent in the amazon, and it is an issue which will continue to be -- amy: billy kyte, thank you for being with us. we will link to your report "how many more?" which annually documents the killings of environmental activists worldwide.
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i will be speaking at colorado college monday night. check out our website. democracy now! is looking for feedback from people who appreciate the closed captioning. e-ma
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