tv Democracy Now PBS February 4, 2016 12:00pm-1:01pm PST
02/04/16 02/04/16 [captioning made possible by democracy now!] amy: from pacifica, this is democracy now! the bbc is reporting a united nations panel has ruled in favor of wikileaks founder julian assange who says he has been arbitrarily detained in the past 3.5 years. he has taken asylum in the ecuadoran embassy. we will speak with one of his lawyers, jen robinson. then the transpacific partnership is signed amid protests around the world. >> we don't support the tpp, because it is not for the people. it is more toward big businesses
and not people like us. there are more negatives than positives effects. there's no strong reason to support claims it will bring us benefits. amy: we will get reaction to the tpp from lori wallach. then we feature highlights from the congressional hearing into lead poisoning in the water supply of flint, michigan, where -- and in an democracy now! exclusive, we hear from prisoners in the genesee county jail in flint who have had no option but to drink and shower in the contaminated city water. >> i was concerned. i had two bottles at lunchtime and two bottles at dinnertime. not only drink this water, but i have to brush my teeth. i drink coffee will stop we have been told there is nothing wrong with washing ears, bodies, or hence with this water. amy: and we'll look at the zika virus, which scientists have linked rising temperatures from global warming to the increased incidence of mosquito-borne infections such as zika.
we'll speak with dr. anne schuchat,, principal deputy director for the centers for disease control and prevention, and with amy vittor, assistant professor of medicine at the university of florida's division of infectious disease. all that and more, coming up. welcome to democracy now!, democracynow.org, the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman. syrian peace talks have been put on hold in geneva as a russian-backed offensive has intensified north of aleppo. u.n. mediator staffan de mistura said he hopes the talks will resume in three weeks. >> it is not the failure of the talks. why? both sides insisted on the fact they are interested in having the political process started. amy: the peace talks are the first attempt in two years to negotiate an end to syria's war that has claimed the lives of nearly 300,000 people and displaced roughly half the country's population. meanwhile, new footage filmed from a drone shows shocking images from the syrian city of homs.
five years ago, 1 million people lived in the city. today, the city is devastated, a virtual ghost town. the footage was shot by a russian television station. the bbc is reporting a united nations panel has ruled in favor of wikileaks founder julian assange who says he has been arbitrarily detained in the ecuadoran embassy for the past 3.5 years because he cannot leave without being arrested by the british authorities. assange sought asylum in the embassy to avoid extradition to sweden. earlier this morning, assange had said he will accept arrest by british police if the u.n. rules against him. in campaign news, former secretary of state hillary clinton and senator bernie sanders sparred over who was a true progressive at a town hall event in new hampshire. >> i do not know any progressive who has a super pac and takes $15 million from wall street. that is not progressive.
as i mentioned earlier, the key foreign-policy vote of modern american history was the war in iraq. the progressive community was pretty united in saying, don't listen to bush. don't go to war. secretary clinton voted to go to war. amy: later in the town hall event anderson cooper of cnn , asked hillary clinton about her ties to goldman sachs. senatorf the things sanders points to, you made three speeches for goldman sachs who paid $675,000 for three speeches. was that a mistake? was that a bad error in judgment? >> i make speeches to lots of groups. i told them what i thought. >> did you have to be paid $675,000? >> well, i don't know. that's what they offered, so. amy: in related news, goldman sachs ceo lloyd blankfein described bernie sanders' candidacy as a "dangerous moment" during an interview with cnbc. sanders recently attacked goldman sachs in a campaign ad.
in 2008, blankfein endorsed and donated money to hillary clinton's campaign but he has , not endorsed her this time around. he said on wednesday -- "i don't want to help or hurt anybody by giving them an endorsement." politico reports his wife laura blankfein has donated the $2700 maximum to clinton's 2016 campaign. in other campaign news, donald trump has accused senator ted cruz of stealing the iowa caucus by spreading rumors that ben carson had suspended his campaign just prior to the opening of the caucuses. trump, who ended up placing second behind cruz, demanded a redo of the vote. >> oh, that voter fraud. you know, these politicians are brutal. they are brutal. they are brutal. they are a bunch of dishonest cookies, i want to tell you. that is one of the reasons i'm doing this. one of the reasons. amy: on wednesday, ted cruz defended the actions of his campaign team. >> our political team passed on the cnn news story that cnn
broke, the new story says that ben carson was not continuing on to new hampshire, was not continuing to south carolina. instead, he was going home to florida. that was a new story cnn had posted. in our political team passed it on to our supporters. it was breaking news that was relevant. amy: cnn responded to cruz's comments by saying -- "senator cruz's claims about cnn are false. at no point did the network indicate dr. carson would suspend his campaign." president obama visited the islamic society of baltimore in catonsville, maryland, on wednesday in his first trip to a mosque as president. he declared that attacks on islam were an attack on all religions. >> if we are serious about freedom of religion, and i'm speaking out to my fellow christians who remain the majority in this country, we have to understand an attack on one faith is an attack on all of our faiths. amy: republican presidential candidate donald trump, who has a record of suggesting president obama might be secretly a
muslim born overseas, later discussed the trip on fox news. to lots of places. right now, i don't know if he -- maybe he feels comfortable there. we have a lot of problems in this country. there are a lot of places he can go and he chose a mosque. amy: one of the world's biggest multinational trade deals, the transpacific partnership, has been signed by 12 member nations in new zealand. it will now undergo a two-year ratification in which at least six countries must approve the final tax for the deal to be of limited. more on the tpp with lori wallach in the broadcast. a congressional hearing was held wednesday to probe lead poisoning in the water supply of flint, michigan. lawmakers sharply criticized ash state officials as well the environment protection agency. the crisis began after an unelected emergency manager appointed by governor rick snyder switched the source of flint's drinking water to the corrosive flint river.
committee democrats criticize the republican leadership for not inviting snyder to testify. flint resident leeanne walters , who helped expose the posting testified at the hearing. ,>> the citizens in flint are relying on each of you because we have no choice. we trust no one but virginia tech. people in flint today are still not being assisted. disabled,migrants, and shut-ins. broken policy and procedures are smothering the outcry of an entire community suffering financially, physically, mentally, and emotionally. amy: we'll have more on flint later in the broadcast. as well as exclusive on prisoners in flint thing forced to shower entering the polluted water. in criminal justice news, a record 149 people in the united states were exonerated last year. on average the exonerated , prisoners had spent 14 years behind bars for crimes they did not commit. some had spent more than three decades. the majority of the exonerations occurred in texas and new york. and in news from baltimore,
deray mckesson, one of the nation's most high profile black lives matter activists, has announced he is running for mayor of baltimore. he joins 12 candidates in the democratic primary seeking to replace mayor stephanie rawlings-blake. and those are some of the headlines. this is democracy now!, democracynow.org, the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman with nermeen shaikh. nermeen: welcome to all of our listeners and viewers from around the country and around the world. the bbc is reporting that the united nations panel investigating the case of wikileaks founder julian assange has ruled he has been "arbitrarily detained." the u.n. says it will not confirm the report until friday at 11:00 a.m. geneva time. assange first complained to the u.n. in 2014 that he was being arbitrarily detained since he could not leave the ecuadorian was in london without being arrested. he took refuge in the embassy in 2012. assange wants to avoid
extradition to sweden over sex assault claims, which he has repeatedly denied. he says he fears sweden will extradite him to the united states where he could face trial for publishing classified information. amy: jillion assange had called for his arrest warrant to be dropped if the panel ruled in his favor. earlier on twitter he announced -- "i shall exit the embassy at noon on friday to accept arrest by british police as there is no meaningful prospect of further appeal. however, should i prevail and the state parties be found to have acted unlawfully, i expect immediate return of my passport and the termination of further attempts to arrest me." police say a warrant for assange's arrest remains in place. the bbc reports the panel's ruling will not have any formal influence over the well, for more, we are joined in london by jennifer robinson, legal adviser to wikileaks founder julian assange. she's also director of legal advocacy for the bertha foundation. welcome to democracy now!
can you explain what you understand the u.n. panel has found and what that means for your client, jillion assange? >> good morning, amy. we have received reports from the bbc that the u.n. has found in favor of his application, which would mean he has been found arbitrarily detained. we have not yet received formal confirmation of this. we expect to receive the decision at 9:00 a.m. tomorrow morning and i will be with julian to understand the implications of that decision. we're unable to give comment until then. but we understand as the report has said, this is what we expect. we expect and hope this outcome. the conditions of his detention over the past five years have been in credibly difficult. he needs international legal definition of being arbitrarily detained because he has been granted the right to asylum by the ecuadorian government in recognition of the risk of cruel and unusual punishment should he be returned to the united states. that is an important
international legal right. should he have to leave the embassy, the u.k. and sweden have refused, which is in breach of international law, to recognize that right to asylum, which means he is arbitrarily to attain. nermeen: what do you make of the fact this news was released by the bbc? the u.n.ocedures for working group is the states in question who the complaint is about in this case, the u.k. and sweden, received two weeks notification before we do as the complainants. consider the decision and correct any inconsistencies if there were any problems with that decision. that had advance notice that we have not had. it seems to me it must have been leaked by one of the states involved resources within one of those governments, because we don't have the decision yet. amy: i want to ask about the british government's response to the bbc report. speaking earlier today, a british government spokesperson said -- "we have been consistently clear that mr. assange has never been arbitrarily detained by the uk but is, in fact, voluntarily
avoiding lawful arrest by choosing to remain in the ecuadorean embassy. an allegation of rape is still outstanding and a european arrest warrant in place, so the uk continues to have a legal obligation to extradite mr. assange to sweden." your response to this, jennifer robinson? >> well, the u.n. working group and arbitrary detention as a body of international law experts who are -- which was created by the u.n. human rights commission to consider the international legal obligations of states like the united kingdom and sweden and reference to potential detainees. if the u.n. working group comes down and finds this detention is arbitrary and unlawful, this clarifies for the united kingdom and sweden their obligations with respect to mr. assange's case. if this is inconsistent with the way in which the united kingdom has been acting, they will be found in breach of their international obligations and have an obligation to implement this report. we hope and expect that if this
decision is in julian's favor, the u.k. and sweden will take immediate action to implement the decision of this eminent working group within the u.n. nermeen: the decision by the u.n., if it is in favor of julian assange, is not legally binding. is that correct? >> the u.k. and sweden are both parties of the international covenant on civil and political rights, and ought to welcome this decision from an eminent u.n. panel. on the content and the method of implementation, with respect to julian assange's case. they are bound to implement that decision as a matter of international law, but it doesn't have enforcement value within the u.k. domestic legal system. amy: julian assange tweeted out -- "i shall exit the embassy on noon on friday to accept arrest by british police as there is no meaningful prospect of further appeal. however, should i prevail and the state parties be found to
have acted unlawfully, i expect imdiate return of my passport and the termination of further attempts to arrest me." this is our last question, jennifer robinson. what will happen tomorrow? >> we will be hosting a press conference around noon want to discuss the implementation -- implications of the decision. it -- we have already written to the australian government and will be speaking about requesting the immediate return of julian's passport or the immediate issue of a new passport so that the implementation of this decion, if in his favor, can be -- can take place immediately. we hope and expect if this is in our favor, the u.k. and swing will act accordingly. amy: we want to thank you for being with us, jennifer robinson legal adviser to wikileaks , founder julian assange. as we turn now to the tpp. nermeen: one of the world's biggest multinational trade deals, the trans-pacific partnership, has been signed by 12 member nations in new zealand.
it will now undergo a two-year ratification period in which at least six countries must approve the final for the deal to be implemented. new zealand prime minister john key applauded the deal at the signing ceremony in auckland. >> the transpacific partnership ultimately represents a giant vote of confidence in an optimism for the future prosperity's of our economy and our people. today is a very, very important day for the 12 countries involved in the transpacific partnership. nermeen: the trans-pacific partnership encompasses 12 pacific rim nations, including the united states and 40% of the world's economy. opponentsay it will benefit corporations at the expense of health, the environment, free speech and labor rights. , activists have kicked off a worldwide series of protests around the signing of the trade pact, including a nonviolent blockade of the convention
center in auckland where the signing took place. a maori tribe refused a request to perform at a welcome ceremony for trade ministers, saying the tpp threatens sovereignty. over the weekend, thousands of malaysians demonstrated against plans to join the trade pact. here in the u.s., the white house warned congress that a delay in ratifying the deal will cost the u.s. economy. trade representative michael froman said the obama administration is doing everything in its power to move it forward. >> we are working with our stakeholders. we are working with embers of congress. we're working with the leadership of congress educating everybody as to what is in the agreement, addressing their questions and concerns, and i'm confident at the end of the day because of the strong benefits to the u.s. economy, which have been estimated to be over $130 billion a year of gdp growth, as well as more than $350 billion of additional exports, that
embers of congress will see the benefits for their constituents and will have a necessary bipartisan support to be approved. amy: meanwhile, the transpacific partnership has become a major issue on the campaign trail. during a town hall wednesday night with democratic presidential candidates, bernie sanders spoke against the trade pact and suggested his rival, hillary clinton, has flip-flopped on the issue. >> virtually all of the trade unions and millions of working people understand that our trade etc.,es -- nafta, cap to, have been written by corporate torica and the goal of it is be able to throw american workers out on the street, move to china and other low-wage countries, and bring their products back into this country. that is one of the reasons why the middle class of this country in the working class is struggling so hard. secretary clinton has been a supporter in the past of various trade policies, nafta, with
china. reluctantly and after a lot of pressure, she came out against the tpp, and i'm glad that she did. amy: democratic presidential candidate hillary clinton advocated for the tpp agreement while she was secretary of state, arguing it would set a "gold standard" for trade accords. however, she did come out against the deal shortly after it was completed last year. for more we go now to , washington, d.c., where we're joined by lori wallach, director of public citizen's global trade watch and author of, "the rise and fall of fast track trade authority." lori wallach, welcome back to democracy now! the significance of the signing yesterday and what happened next? locks the legal text, so in a sense, it is the end of negotiations. it is really just the beginning of the fight. doorstops a 5000 page unless congress approves it, and then whomever is president signs it. so the first thing all of us who
are concerned about tpp need to do is make sure that every member of congress is now publicly saying they're agains it, they will not support this agreement. there's no more time for generalities or vague statements. there is a signed text, so they have to make a decision. that agreement may or may not even be sent to congress for approval in this congress. because right now, there has been enough pushback that there isn't a clear majority in support, particularly in the house of representatives. it could also very well be that whomever is now running for president -- democrats and republicans alike -- they will be the ones, one of them, will be deciding next year whether or not to even send the agreement to congress. and if congress were to take it up on their own, whomever is president will have to decide whether to sign it and enacted. for everyone, basically, now's the time to make sure that every democratic and republican candidate for president says
what he or she would do were he or she president, and the agreement was the responsibility . as well, we have to make sure every member of congress says, no way, we're not going to do this. and that is the end of the tpp. it can only go into effect the way it is written in both the u.s. and japan both approve it, plus four other countries. so it is really on us. , could youri wallach tell us what some of the concerns are about the tpp? >> n it includes the kind of language that was inafta that makes it easier for big corporations to offshore more american jobs. for job offcentives shoring. the tpp also would push down our be left,jobs would because it would fit american workers more directly in competition with those in vietnam who make less than $.65
an hour. the tpp includes the new monopoly right for big pharmaceutical companies that would raise medicine prices. in the developing country members of tpp, that could be a death sentence. thateople in the u.s., means higher prices. there even provisions that would allow pharmaceutical firms to challenge decisions by medicare and medicaid, vis-a-vis, what kinds of medicines they will reimburse. they try to focus on generics to keep the price down. the tpp would flood us with more unsafe food. for instance, including malaysia and vietnam. they send us a lot of shrimp and other seafood. right now, a large percentage of it that is inspected gets rejected for a lot of different dangerous things. tpp, thosehe inspections could be challenged as an illegal trade barrier. plus, the tpp would expand the outrageous investor state system. those are the own desk those
tribunals where a foreign corporation can see the u.s. government, going around our courts and laws and demand cash compensations from us taxpayers. for any law they can violate their new tpp privileges and rights as a foreign investor. and they get compensated for lost future profits. everyone saw the xl pipeline fight start. transcanada demanding $15 billion under nafta. that case is just the tip of the iceberg because the tpp would allow 9500 more japanese, australian, and other companies to use that kind of regime against our domestic laws. so that is a snapshot of what it would mean if it went into effect. there is a lot more. nermeen: in a written statement wednesday, president obama said the tpp "includes the strongest labor standard and of our middle .ommitments in history and in unlike past agreements, the standards are fully
enforceable." lori wallach, your response to that? >> with respect to the environment standards, just objectively false. it is really disappointing that the president would say that. for instance, congress forced president bush, the second one, to put into his trade agreements environmental chapters that were fully enforceable, so since bush, that has been the standard, and forcible labor and of our middle chapters, with the same kind of enforcement at some of the commercial provisions in the agreement. but president bush was forced to print the agreement, the enforcement of seven different multilateral environment agreements. those are the standards. you had to adopt and enforce new domestic law, though seven big environmental treaties. the tpp roles that back. the other countries would not have it. one of the seven environment agreements. so the entire standards enforced just went from this down to this
one set of standards. the other environmental -- roles are things like, we shall strive to reduce death and distraction of marine mammals. the "shall strives" is not enforceable. enforceable we shall not killed off and standards. just objectively, it is rolled back. that is why a lot of the environmental groups of the administration had touted with support the tpp came out against it. amy: we have less than a minute, but you mentioned the positions of the presidential candidates. this has been interesting. barack obama joining with republicans in congress to support this, but you have hillary clinton, secretary state at the time, supported it and now under pressure from bernie sanders has said, well, she would have to see the agreement, although has raised serious questions about it. bernie sanders is against it. donald trump says he is against.
what are the positions of the other candidates? >> what is interesting, there is pulling over 5% in any state who says he or she is for the tpp. what that person would do were they elected, i think, is an open question and we need to all as citizens get clearer, stronger commitments from all of the candidates for president, everyone who is running for congress about what he or she would do when directly confronted with the agreement. so for the presidential candidates, the standard we need to get pledged to is, if i am president, i will not sign it if it is not signed. i will not send it to congress for approval. i would not sign the implementing legislation or congress to approve it. those two i will not send it, i will not sign it, is the presidential standard now that mean something. that is what we have to have all of the candidate saying. right now some of them -- they have all said, those are doing well, have all said there a
againsit, whetr or not all them really would not send it to congress an not sned it if commerce passed it is what we havend ot. amy: can it be reopened? >> that is an interesting question. the answer is, yes, politically it can be reopened. if it can get passed, it will have to be reopened. alternatively, it will just become a 5000 page door stop. amy: lori wallach, thank you for being with us director of public , citizen's global trade watch . we will continue to follow one of the largest trade agreements in the world. when we come back, we go to washington, the flint water hearings happened yesterday. in a democracy now! exclusive, what happens to prisoners in flint? they are forced to shower in the polluted water, to drink it? stay with us. ♪ [music break]
amy: "sympathy for the devil," the rolling stones. this is democracy now!, democracynow.org, the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman with nermeen shaikh. nermeen: we turn now to the ongoing investigation into the flint, michigan, water crisis. congress held its first hearing wednesday on lead poisoning in flint's water supply.
the crisis began after an unelected emergency manager appointed by republican governor rick snyder switched the source of flint's drinking water to the corrosive flint river. flint's former emergency manager, darnell earley, refused to testify at yesterday's hearing, despite a subpoena. on tuesday, earley announced he was resigning from his current position as emergency manager of the detroit public schools. republican congressman jason chaffetz of utah, chair of the u.s. house committee on oversight and government reform, which convened the hearing, said of earley that he would direct u.s. marshalls to "hunt him down" and serve him with a subpoena. among those who did testify were keith creagh, snyder's handpicked appointee to run the michigan department of environmental quality, or mdeq, and joel beauvais, deputy assistant administrator for the environmental protection agency's office of water. beauvais faced tough questioning from congressman chaffetz.
>> it is important for the epa to tell the public that their poisoning their kids if they drink the water. >> i absolutely agree. >> then why did they do it? they sat on that promised a year. >> them in a straight or mccarthy issued in elevation policy this january emphasizing -- january. they had it for nearly a year. the epa administrator went to flint yesterday. the epa first went to her home in february of last year. why did it take a year? >> i can't answer that question. all i can say is they were -- >> then why don't we fire the whole lot of them? if you're not going to tell the citizens -- my daughter, she's getting married, ok? i get emotional about that. she is moving to michigan. are you telling me that the epa knowing that they're putting led -- there's lead in the water. that they are not going to tell those kids? because that is exactly what happened. nermeen: the poisoning began in april 2014 after darnell earley, flint's fourth emergency
manager, switched flint's water source to the long-polluted flint river in a bid to save money. for over a year, flint residents complained about the quality of the water, but their cries were ignored. early last year, and maybe earlier, the government knew of tests showing alarming levels of lead in the water, but officials told residents there was no threat. flint resident lee anne walters was one of the first to sound the alarm about lead contamination in the water. she testified at wednesday's hearing. >> i started doing independent testing with virginia tech and 30 test were done, test performed in accordance to the lcr. my average was 2500 parts per billion. my heist was 13,500 parts per billion. hazardous waste is 5000. regardless of this information, and the fact that my son had left was then, the city still continue to tell everyone the water was safe as the epa sat by and watched in silence.
amy: the epa silence was not for lack of effort at least on the , part of one official. epa employee miguel del toral, alarmed by the amount of lead he found in lee anne walters' water, issued a memo to the michigan department of environmental quality warning about lead contamination a memo , that walters made public. del toral was taken off the case by his epa superior who has since been forced to resign. walters then teamed up with virginia tech scientist marc edwards, testing on the more than 300 samples they collected from flint's residents revealed that flint's water supply was unsafe. as lawmakers questioned mdeq and epa officials about compliance with standards established by the safe drinking water act and the lead and copper rule, the concealing of information, and the failure to notify residents of a public health emergency, the committee also attempted to uncover what agency or individual was ultimately responsible for the decision to switch flint's water supply. congressman elijah cummings, a democrat from maryland, questioned mdeq chief keith
creagh about an oft-repeated assertion that flint's city council ordered the switch. >> we received -- we reviewed the resolution passed by the city council in the minutes from the meeting, and at no point during the meeting to the city council vote to allow the flint river to be used for drinking water. isn't that correct? those -- iiewed haven't reviewed this personally, but that is my understanding. >> i would like to introduce into the record a letter we just received yesterday from sheldon neeley who served on the city 22014. from 2005 he was actually there. he was there. in his letter, he expenses city council did not make the decision to use the flint river because "the flint city council had no power to actually an act mostaws for the community
of everything with you the emergency manager." amy: flint has been under emergency management since 2011, when michigan governor rick snyder appointed the first of what would be four emergency managers to deal with flint's financial crisis. the fourth emergency manager appointed by snyder, darnell earley decided to save $5 , million by switching to the flint river as the city's water source. they used the detroit water source for more than 50 years. the change will now cost upwards of $1.5 billion by most accounts, including replacing flint's entire water system, loss of revenue, the cost of bottled water, and the cost of caring for children who now live with the effects of elevated blood lead levels and worse, lead poisoning. nermeen: if this sounds criminal, several lawmakers at wednesday's hearing agree. texas congresswoman sheila jackson-lee raised the specter of a 1970's cult leader who led the mass murder-suicide of his more than 900 followers, nearly 300 of them children. >> as i sit here today, the
memories of a jim jones who gave a poisoned concoction to children causes me to say that there is a jim jones in michigan who gave a poison concoction to children and their families. if any of us should demand accountability, we should. mr. edwards, you have given a recounting of not putting phosphate in water. and i know that you're not a judge or jury, and i know you're a man who believes in the constitution, but if you had to reflect, would you say there were criminal activities or results of this in action? >> if it is not criminal, i don't know what is. >> i join you in that questioning and i have asked the department of justice to investigate individuals that may be engaged criminally to hold them criminally responsible for
the actions in flint, michigan. amy: congresswoman sheila jackson-lee, democrat from texas, speaking with virginia tech's marc edwards. while many michigan residents have called on michigan governor rick snyder to resign over the crisis, he was not asked to testify at yesterday's hearing. maryland congressman elijah cummings asked why. >> the problem is that today, we are missing the most critical witness of all, the governor of the state of michigan rick snyder. he is not here. governor snyder was the driving force behind michigan's law, which heger signed in 2011 and then invoked to take over the city of flint from his local elected leaders. the governor hand-picked
appointees to run the city, and they decided to use water from the flint river. he also led the michigan department of environmental equality, which failed to protect the people of flint. according to the governor's own task force charged with investigating this crisis. there is a fellow who had a song never used to love, he had any hits in my district, but he sang a song that said -- his name was cat stevens. and cat stevens said, what will you bring us this time? your only dancing on this earth for a short time. what will you leave us this time? and i've often said that our children are the living messages we send to a future we will never see. the question is, what will they leave us? how will we send them into that future?
will we send them strong? will we send them hopeful? will we rob them of their destiny? will we rob them of their dreams? no, we will not do that. amy: that was democratic commerce men allies your comings. well, we turn now to some of the voices of flint residents who were not heard at yesterday's congressional hearings -- the hundreds of prisoners at the genesee county jail in flint. while many flint residents have been buying bottled water throughout this crisis, inmates at the jail have had no option but to drink and shower in the city water following the switch to the corrosive flint river more than year ago. in october, after flint's newly elected mayor karen weaver declared a state of emergency over high levels of lead in the city water, the jail briefly switched to distributing bottled water. but five days later, the jail switched back to the city supply after the sheriff said a water quality test showed the water was safe. that means the inmates were
forced to drink, bathe in, and eat food cooked in city's contaminated water. finally, last friday, the jail again switched to using bottled water. amy: in this exclusive democracy now! report, we hear the voice of former genesee county jail prisoner jody cramer. he was just released from jail this week after serving two months. while inside genesee county jail, cramer worked as a trustee in the kitchen, and he helped distribute food and more recently bottles of water to , other inmates. he says that once water distribution began this past friday, he was instructed to distribute two 12 ounce bottles of water twice a day to inmates -- or a total of 48 oz per day. that's less than half the amount of water the institute for medicine recommends adult men drink daily. cramer also says there are a number of pregnant women in the jail, and that they too were drinking the tap water up until last friday's switch. lead poisoning puts pregnant women at risk for miscarriages, and can cause permanent damage to the brain, kidneys, and nervous system of newborn children.
jody cramer is joined in this interview by his mother, linda. but first, we start with jody. >> in jail, we were jerking from the taps. our food was being made from the taps. prior to this, the head are he started handing out bottles of water when this first broke in october, and then they stopped saying their water was good. many inmates made complaints due to the fact that the deputies would not drink from the faucets. they all carried bottled water. and on that same token, we were consistently told that the water in the jail was good. when i made phone calls home, i explained the situation to my family members. from what we were told, the water in the jail was good. i when i called down there, did not write the deputy stand down, he was just kind of short and i said, i'm concerned my son is in there and i'm concerned about the water, you know, how
-- what is your water come from? he says, we have a filtration process, or whatever. and he said, our water is fine. >> and they started giving you bottled water on january 23. >> right. water was starting to be distributed the 23rd of january. but the food they sll serve that day was already made with the water, so we were like him all right, we are distribute in water, but what about this food we have been eating all they were all much or prior to this? i was very concerned that i would get four bottles of water a day, two bottles at lunchtime, two bottles a dinnertime for inmate. not only did i happen to this water, but brush my teeth. i drink coffee. we have been told there's nothing wrong with washing your ,ody were hands with this water it is just consuming. that is what they have told. there are pregnant women inside
joke of a several women. i know this because there are diet traits that are distributed. there allowed so much for they get a double portion because they are pregnant. so when you make less you have a list of how many people and there's a lot of pregnant women in genesee county jail. as far as i know, they get the same amount of water as anybody else. this has also been happening -- a lot of the deputies were panel -- passing out water filtration systems in the city. if you had warns, that award sweep so they tricked you. if you answered your door there was a, how are you doing, mr. cramer? if i responded, then i just confirmed i am me. here's your water filtration system. by the way, you have a warrant for your arrest. amy: that was former genesee county job prisoner jody cramer, and his mother, linda. jody was just released from jail this week. special thanks to kate levy and to the rise up media collective for this exclusive report.
amy: yusef islam, formerly known as cat stevens, "oh very young." this is democracy now!, democracynow.org, the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman with nermeen shaikh. nermeen: we turn now to the zika virus. brazilian president dilma rousseff has declared war on the mosquitoes responsible for spreading the zika virus. brazil has been hardest hit by zika with over 4000 cases of infants with severe birth defects which could be linked to the mosquito-borne virus. president rousseff spoke in a televised address wednesday. >> all of us need to take part. we need the help and goodwill from everyone, collaborate, mobilize your family in your community. i will insist since science has not yet developed a vaccine against the zika virus, the only efficient method we have to prevent this illness is a vigorous battle against the
mosquito. nermeen: meanwhile, earlier this week, officials in texas reported the first case of zika virus contracted in the united states, saying it was sexually transmitted. if confirmed, it marks only the second known case of zika transmission through sexual contact. zika has continued to spread rapidly across latin america, with chile reporting its first three cases. the mosquito-borne illness, while generally not life-threatening, has been linked to the birth defect microcephaly, which causes babies to be born with abnormally small heads. amy: earlier this week, the world health organization declared the zika virus an international public health emergency. the world health organization says the zika virus is spreading explosively and that up to 4 million people in the americas could be infected by the end of this year. world health organization director-general dr. margaret chan spoke out at a news conference in geneva. >> i am now declaring that the recent cluster of microcephaly
another neurological abnormalities reported in latin america, formally similar cluster in 2014, constitutes a public health emergency of international concern. amy: scientists have linked rising temperatures from global warming to the increased incidence of mosquito-borne infections such as zika. to talk more about this, we'll be joined by two guests. we're going to start with dr. anne schuchat the principal , deputy director for cdc who has worked for several decades in the field of public health. we welcome you to democracy now! is and explain what zika what your major concerns are in the united states right now? >> the zika virus is a mosquito-borne virus that can cause mild illness or no illness in most people, but in some people who are pregnant, we believe it can likely cause
severe birth defects. viruss a mosquito -- a that is carried by the latin america and present in the southern united states as well. although the virus has been known since 1947, it is only recently that this possible link with birth defects has come to rise. and that, of course, has raised major concern around the world, including at the world health organization and that the center for disease control and prevention. nermeen: could you talk about the extent of the virus in the united states and the likelihood of its spread here? >> it is extremely likely that we will have many cases among travelers. we have already had dozens of cases among travelers who return from latin america with a mild illness and are tested and show to have history of the virus. we do expect there may be some
local transmission in the u.s. and the southern parts of the u.s. where there in the past has been tiny bits of local spread, mosquito borne spread, of other related viruses that are mosquito borne as well. but we don't expect that in the united states we will have a large outbreak that they have seen in parts of south america america.l or caribbean and that is because the living conditions are so different in the u.s., with air-conditioning pretty widespread, screens in use, and not the very dense population and its mosquito populations in the southern areas where the mosquito is present. amy: on wednesday, florida governor rick scott declared a state of emergency in the four counties where people have been diagnosed with the zika virus in florida. what is your response to this? >> i think it is important for
everyone to be taking this threat very seriously. we know that the mosquitoes are present in some parts of the country, and i think that idea of being on alert and responding quickly to make sure we don't get local spread or that we tamp it down if we haven't come is an important tool. the cdc is working 20 47 with the state of local health departments to make sure they can diagnose this disease and recognize it and also working hard to get guidance out for pregnant women and others who may be at risk. so we think it is really important for the u.s. to be following this story and the florida reaction to make sure they're on top of any risk that might occur in terms of local spread. nermeen: some in the united states have suggested that el niño is expected to bring heavy rain and the south over the next few months. and this may affect the spread of the virus here. >> you know, the weather conditions are always important in infectious diseases, but i think we believe there are other
factors that are more important in the emergence of such a large problem with zika and parts of south america. within globalization with a travel that we have any particular, urbanization, is particularly responsible for the large outbreak that brazil has described. when this mosquito-borne virus gets into very dense urban populations where there's a lot of mosquitoes and a lot of people living in close proximity, you have a chance for more efficient spread of the mosquito-borne virus. amy: i want to ask you, an issue not related to this, but because you're one of the heads of the , thedr. anne schuchat latest recommendation of the cdc that sexually active women who are not on birth control should reframe -- refrain from alcohol to avoid the risk of giving the risk to babies, even if those women are not pregnant, to which
, "anel wrote a headline unrealistic warning from the cdc to women, don't drink unless you're using birth control." your response? >> fetal alcohol spectrum disorder is a difficult a condition for children and our families. it can cause behavioral, intellectual, and physical disabilities that can be lifelong. it is 100% preventable if the developing baby is not exposed to our all. in the united states, one out of two pregnancies is unplanned and most women don't know they are pregnant during the first month or so. so if you want to make sure that you avoid alcohol exposure to your developing baby, it is important to be taking steps to not get pregnant or not drinking if you might become pregnant. so i think, of course, that is a difficult message for people. in my experience, most women are really keen to do everything they can to increase the chances they will have a healthy baby. and we were pleased to raise
awareness that you might be pregnant without even realizing it, so please be careful about your tracking exposure. over the years, science has advanced and we realize now there is no safe level of drinking during pregnancy. people used to think it was ok to have a drink now or then worms ok to have wine and beer but not hard liquor. now we know that any level about all can be risky to the developing fetus. of course, women will take that message as they want to, but we really do want to do what we can to help people have the healthiest babies they can have. amy: dr. anne schuchat, thank you for being with us, principal deputy director for the decent -- cdc. she has worked for several decades in the field of public health. domingo to look more at the zika virus, we turn to our next guest, amy vittor is assistant professor of medicine at the university of florida's division of infectious disease. she is joining us from
gainesville. welcome to democracy now! virusyou talk about this and how serious it is compared to other mosquito-borne virus its? >> i would be happy to. the zika virus is no doubt serious, however, placed in a larger context of diseases beund the world, it needs to remembered that for example, dengue virus causes 400 million infections ear with about 25,000 deaths. another that just blew through our continent, it led to about one million different cases. also in india, another one point finally in cases. thinkzika is important, i stepping back, we realize that actually, this is just a series of viral borne diseases that are now reaching our continent. nermeen: what you think accounts for the fact the world health organization has declared zika
of global health emergency? >> no doubt the microcephaly piece, and it is quite understandable with so many unknown factors in make sense to try to get ahead of the game and warned people, chordate efforts -- chordate efforts. with the microcephaly, definitely the stakes have been raised. and fear has definitely been also raised as people are affected. therefore, i think it is quite reasonable to sound the alarm and ensure that research be undertaken quickly and control measures, especially mosquito, be undertaken. amy: texas officials are reporting the first case contracted in the united states same-sex lee transmitted. can you explain this? >> well, we don't understand the pathogen of this. it has the second time been reported as far as i'm aware. the first time was in colorado and the traveler who returned from west africa.
it was known and can occur in the semen from a probably, the virus, but how long it stays there and what it does, we really don't understand. nor do we understand the implications of this in terms of how much the virus can spread sexually in addition to being mosquito borne. amy: it's elation shift of climate change? >> the best data we have is from the dengue, change world. there been many models that have looked to waddle the transmission of denga. what seems to be the case, there might be a slight increase in the range of the mosquito vector and also another, moving northward in the northern hemisphere and southward in the southern hemisphere. i same model because there many different effects and their very local. some areas might experience more rainfall and higher
temperatures, were other places might express the opposite. also got some areas that occur are ready war may become too warm for the breeding of the mosquito, so that's early as an element of complexity and furthermore, we don't really understand how the mosquitoes are going to adapt. there's been an interesting study looking at the mosquito adaptation to changing its climate and their very flexible, very plastic and they seem to be adapting to change climate in trinidad, for example, by picking new breeding sites. furthermore, we're not sure how humans will react and how we will change the way we interact with mosquito. in other words, we may increase our use of screens, change our mosquito control policies. all of this together asked for a very confusing picture. of course, for zika specifically, we don't have any data. nermeen: in another study, you examine the association between deforestation, mosquito vector factors, and the susceptibility of migrants compared with indigenous people in affected
areas. could you talk about the results of that research and how that might compare to the potential spread of the zika virus? >> well, that study is ongoing. inrelation to a virus panama, which has been renamed. it views are differently than zika. what we're starting to see following an outbreak in panama of this disease, there seems to be a household factor. lack of sanitation, for example, appears to be associated with increased risk for having been exposed to this virus. similarly, having particular agriculture exposure. what is interesting in this region, there's been a massive movement of people into the province which was formally forest it, now vast swaths are deforested as they become pasture lands for cattle.
and how exactly this will play out, we don't understand yet. we're in the process of figuring that out. i think it is in portland to understand west nile, dengue, and zika all probably originate from the central african forest. contact, ito human is possible that the virus and the mosquitoes ultimately adapt to the human cycles and from there it is able to spread worldwide. again, there are many unknowns in the sequence of eventss, but i think it is prudent to take a look at the ecological effects that may precipitate further vectorborne illness. assistantittor , thank you for being with us assistant professor of medicine , at the university of florida's division of infectious disease. for ours it broadcast.
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