tv KQED Newsroom PBS April 22, 2017 1:00pm-1:31pm PDT
♪ hello, and welcome to kqed "newsroom." i'm thuy vu. workers and h1v visas. president trump orders a full review. we take a look at the impact on bay area tech companies. plus, the lone republican. attorney and venture capitalist john cox is the only republican so far to declare he's running for governor. we'll talk with him about why he wants the state's top job. and reflections on civil disobedience. a bay area activist who's made protesting her life's work is the subject of a new film. first, we turn to berkeley where a pro-trump rally that included white nationalists turned violent last weekend. several people were injured, and at least 20 were arrested. the university town has been the
scene of intense political clashes in recent months. so much so that on wednesday, u.c. berkeley canceled the appearance of right wing pundit ann coulter out of safety concerns. a day later, the university reversed itself and invited coulter back. joining me to talk about this further is frances dinkelspiel, co-founder of berkeleyside.com. thank you for being here. >> thank you for having me. >> there's been a flurry of activity in the last 24 hours. bring us up to speed. what are the details of u.c. berkeley's new proposal, and how are ann coulter and the berkeley college republicans reacting to that, that group being the group florida invited her? >> the university -- that group that invited her? >> the university extended an olive branch to coulter and the college republicans saying, look, we can't accommodate you april 27th, but we'll accommodate you may 2nd. it turns out that that date is not available supposedly to ann coulter, and she's not happy it's in the middle of dead week,
when no students are in classes. this morning she's been tweeting that she's not coming to berkeley on may 2nd but will show up on the 27th. >> the berkeley college republicans are not being represent -- represented by attorney harvey dylan. in a letter to the university, dylan is demanding that coulter's speech be allowed to take place next thursday as originally scheduled. and that it's centrally located, a venue be provided during evening hours. she wrote this to the university, "it is ironic that u.c. berkeley, known to many americans as the birthplace of the free speech movement, is now leading the van guard to silence conservative speech on campus." what are your thoughts on how the university is handling all this? >> you know, i think the university has found itself in a very difficult spot. i think the university believes in free speech. i think under most circumstances they would be happy to accommodate ann coulter. it's important to realize that since february 1st, there have
been three violent rallies in berkeley where people have come with sticks and m80s, a form of firecrackers, and you know, bats and knives, and they've beat -- beat themselves up and beat other people up on the streets of berkeley. so the same supreme court decision that guarantees freedom of speech on university campuses also says if there is a real threat of violence, a public institution has the right not to guarantee that freedom of speech. so i think that's what the university is relying on. of course, it gives them a big black eye. they don't look great. i think you that are truly concerned about what's going to happen when ann coulter speaks. >> in fact, the university officials is said that, that they did not cancel coulter's speech initially because of her views, but rather because of safety concerns. all of the violent protests that you mentioned in berkeley, in a recent article you said that you feel berkeley is now becoming
the ground zero of a new civil war. can you expand on that? >> yeah. so the big rally on april 18th that took place in a park in central berkeley was very different in tone and scope of other demonstrations, berkeley is the heart -- there are demonstrations in berkeley all the time. this was really different. it wasn't demonstrators protesting against the united states government, the state of california, or the university. it was people beating up people. it was citizen against citizens. and i've been in the news business for a really long time, i've never seen that before. it. like a civil war on the streets of berkeley, and it was disturbing. >> in addition to the latest controversy, had the violence in february which you alluded to. that had to do with a scheduled appearance by milo yiannopoulos. that and coupled with what is happening now, what are -- what's the impact of these
incidents on the legacy of u.c. berkeley as a bastion of free speech? >> well, i think the university is in an awkward position, as i mentioned earlier. i mean, i think that free speech today and the beltway's bei-- a it's being used by right wing and left wing groups is almost developing a new definition. the united states is alone among many developed countries that allows hate speech. france does not allow hate speech. germany does not allow hate speech. in the united states, people are allowed to say whatever they want. there's a groundswell movement by ant infishists saying -- anti-fascists saying, no, hate speech is not innocent, and we're not going to let it happen. i think unfortunately for berkeley and u.c. berkeley, that is happening in berkeley. that's something that's going to have long-standing implications.
i don't think we know what the implications are. sg >> if you don't allow people to have their say -- something that robert reich, former labor secreta secretary, said. if you don't allow people to have their say, people like ann coulter, whom you may not agree with, how will students know what her views are and have the opportunity to question her, challenge her, and up their own minds? >> i think that's an excellent point. i mean, i think it's very important to allow people in the united states to say what they believe. that's one of the rocks of -- one of the foundations of our constitution. however, you can't look at that in a vacuum. you can't say, why free speech has to happen under every circumstance because if that person arriving on a u.c. berkeley campus is going to cause -- not cause, is going to sort offin cite riots or have -- of incite riots or have people drawn to her or him and will
beat each other up outside the speech, that's what happens. >> in the time remaining, what can we do to try to stop the cycle of viont protests and stop berkeley from being the ground zero of the new civil war as you call it? >> yeah. i'm not optimistic that there is a solution. i don't think that the radicals on the right or left are interested in allowing free speech -- they're not interested in creating a good dialogue so long is there is that attitudes. i don't think this is going to stop. i think for the foreseeable future we'll have a lot of action on the streets of berkeley. >> frances with berkeleyside.com. thank you for being here. >> thanks for having me. now to our coverage of president trump's first 100 days. this week, one of the executive orders president trump signed calls on the department of homeland security to review the way h1b visas are given out. the program allows american companies to hire foreign workers for high-skilled jobs as
long as they cannot be filled in the u.s. but critics contend there's widespread abuse, with foreigners replacing american workers often for less pay. joining me is buzzfeed's senior technology writer. welcome. >> thanks for having me. >> how are companies responding to the latest order on the visas? >> i think they're responding with a wait-and-see attitude, the same way they've been toward the trump administration. like you said, trump is asking the department of homeland security and the department of labor for feedback about the process. so it's not quite sure how it will play out. you know, like compared to the rhetoric about it where he said, buy american, hire american, that he wants to do away with the program, it's not clear that he will actually will have that much impact. so i think they want to stay on his good side now. >> so let's say hypothetically if president department of homeland security views this, decides on even more stringent restrictions, which companies
will benefit from h1b reform, and which stand to lose the most? >> you know, i think that because part of the reform that they suggested is -- rather than having a lottery system which privileges contracting companies like tata and infocis which flood the zone with a ton of applications and so, therefore, end up getting more workers visas -- >> outsourcing companies primarily. >> yes, outsourcing companies. those have been called out specifically by trump and the trump administration as people -- institutions that they want to cut out of the process. in that case, companies like facebook which 15% of its american work force is on h1 abouh1bs might benefit because they pay higher salaries. in these are genuinely high-skilled workers getting better payment, they should be winning the visas. that also means that facebook has to pay them more. you know, everything is a mixed
bag now. >> president trump has said repeatedly that there's abuse in the h1b program. is there a lot of abuse going on? >> yes. i mean, with the -- with the outsourcing companies, it's true. they have found a way to game the system. i don't know that f it's -- if it's necessarily abuse if it's allowed by the restrictions that exist. the other side of -- the other downside of the program is the fact that the workers who come over here, they are limited in their options. you know, they can't negotiate, they have to stay with the company that sponsored them. and so tech companies are able to pay them less. you know, so it's not even necessarily that they're replacing american workers. it's partly that they can be, you know, they are kind of stuck in their position, and they can -- be more affordable for the company. >> what does it take to get an h1b visa? what kinds of education and skills do you need? >> so you need at least a
bachelor's degree, and it's an employment-based visa for highly skilled workers. usually that applies to biotech, chemistry, law, accounting, those types of professions. and if you have a more advanced degree, a master's or ph.d. you don't have to abide by the cap in the number of h1b visas. >> a quick note. this year, 1999,000 h1b visas were received. that's down from 236,000 the previous year. why the drop? >> i think they've been listening to president trump and hear that, you know, workers who came here for a better opportunity, even if they're not paid as much as their american colleagues, it's a wonderful opportunity to work for the silicon valley firms. when they know that they're not wanted -- especially because it had been kind of a privileged status like if you -- h1b is pretty great, you can bring your dependents, your family, your wife, your husband. if they hear that they're not
wanted, you know, they can look somewhere else. >> before you go, i have to ask on a related note -- some silicon valley companies are offering workers paid time off to attend protests including an upcoming one on pro-immigration. >> right. >> on may 1st. which companies are doing this? >> facebook notably is doing this. i think it's interesting because they were not the most vocal in terms of letting their companies -- letting their employees and having executives protest trump's initial immigration order. the ceo of google and one of the co-founders of google out at the airports protesting. facebook, now they have a chance to remake themselves as supportive. >> okay. we'll see how it shakes out for them. >> yeah. >> all right. natasha with buzzfeed. thank you very much. the last time a republican won a statewide election in california was 2006. that's not stopping one southern
california venture capitalist from trying. attorney john cox is the only republican running to replace termed out governor jerry brown next year. cox ran for political office in his native illinois but did not win. he's running for governor here, he says, to clean up government. he sat down to talk with kqed senior editor for politics and government, scott schaefer. >> welcome to "kqed newsroom." >> thank you for having me. >> as we sit here, you are not yet a household name in california. you're a cpa, attorney, venture capitalist, a businessman. what are you offering that california needs? >> political reform. we've got a system that rewards the funders of campaigns that basically allows the funders of campaigns to dictate what happens in sacramento. the result is that we've got a state that has one of the worst business climates in the country, has the highest income and sales tax rates. now one of the biggest gas tax
rates. it's almost becoming unaffordable for middle-class people. >> when you say political reform, what does that mean? >> that means we need to change a system that really allows a corruptive influence of special interest money to dictate what happens in sacramento. and the voters know it. i mean, we've done the polling, and 90% of the people believe that special interest money is the driving force behind just about everything that happens in sacramento. >> forgive me, though, because that's something that many elected officials talk about. cleaning up the system. bernie sanders talk. what makes you think john cox with a democrat-controlled legislature, two-thirds majorities in both houses, that you as governor, as a republican, could do the job? >> because we're going to get a new legislature that's going to be immune to the funding of the special interests. it's similar to what's being done in new hampshire. new hampshire is a small state,
obviously. but it has these tiny little microdistricts. and real people run for office. they do it by getting to know their neighbors and talking to them on their doorstep. i go to the top lawyers and political scientists in california. we've devised a plan, a system that's very much like the new hampshire system but is adapted to a state obviously so much larger like california. and it works. >> you're talking about the neighborhood legislature idea to put on the ballot that would carve up existing districts into much, much smaller districts? is that what it would do? >> yeah. it makes every single district only 5,000 or 10,000 people, so that real people can run, and they don't need phone do it so they won't be provi-- need money to do it so they won't be professional fundraisers. >> that's good. but the legislature would be almost 100 times as big. is that right? >> we do, but we devised a special system called a working committee that allows still only 120 people in sacramento to do
all the legislative work. but they're responsive to people in the neighborhoods, elected in the neighborhoods. >> you've run for office three times in illinois. you ran for the senate. i think you ran for congress, you ran for the cook county deed recorder. you lost all those races. you've also pushed the ballot measure you described and another to require legislators to put logos on their shirts and jackets saying who their campaign donors are. what would you say to someone who hears that you will and thinks he's a rich guy, kind of a political dilettante? >> i'm not a dilettante at all. i'm a political disrupter. i guess that's the term used now, especially in the bay area. i spent my life -- you know, i grew up on the south side of chicago with a mom who taught in a chicago public school. i saw firsthand corruption. if there's one theme in my life, i abhor political corruption. i've always worked against the
corrupt interests which may, in fact, be why i lost the races. because the corrupt interests are powerful. >> very powerful. >> i'm not giving up. and i think this now -- this neighborhood legislature which i've been working on for seven years, is really the tool that we're going to use to clean up sacramento. >> we haven't had a republican win statewide i think since 2006. and donald trump very unpopular nature california, i have to ask -- you're a republican, did you vote for donald trump? >> i'm singularly focused on the legislative idea. i will say that california has more than its share of republican governors. >> let me stop you because the question is -- did you vote for trump? are you saying that you don't want to say? >> i'm not -- i'm not really going to get into the wars over donald trump. and frankly, it's kind of dumb for california to be at war with washington. i'm glad he's president. i think hillary clinton, you know, had a lot of faults. i think donald trump won because he talked about cleaning the
swamp. >> he's got all these billionaires in his -- >> i understand. and that's the problem. see, i'm going to run for governor. i'm not going to ask people to trust me. i'm going to ask people to believe in a plan that i have, a structure with the neighborhood legislature that's going to allow us to finally elect people that represent us and not the special interests. i think the people of california will warm to that idea. and -- that's why i start early to get this going. >> real quick if i can get your positions, a yes or no on some things. do you support a woman's right to abortion? >> well, i am going to focus not on the social issues. if anybody wants to look me up, they can see where i stood -- >> why don't you just say then? >> because i want this to be all about the neighborhood legislature and getting an end to the corruption. and so -- >> if that's an issue that's important to someone -- you know, the governor appoints a lot of judges. >> i won't have anything to do with it because it a of's decided by the supreme court. so you know, these issues, social issues, guns, i'm a
supporter of the second amendment. i'm pro-life. you know, i'll -- i'll talk about those, but i want the focus of this to be on getting california in a sustainable position for the future, financially as well as cost-wise, as well as job-wise, you know, to produce the jobs that we need to allow people to have a future in the state. >> do you support donald trump's idea of building a wally at t - wall at the mexican border? >> i think the immigration issue is one we have to deal with. again, i'd like to see it built with a consensus, with the legislature that's representing the people -- >> you think it's a good idea general? >> no. i think we ought to enforce the law. i think we ought to deport people who have broken the law. i think we need to have a robust defense of the law. and i think a wall has done well for san diego in certain populus areas where it's needed. >> john cox, republican running for california. thanks for coming in. >> thank you. remember this scene from
last january? greenpeace activisted scaled a green near the white house to unfurl a banner with one word, "resist." one of the activists was chairmen chopokian, veteran of nonviolent protests. she's the subject of a film titled "arrested again." it's playing this weekend at the green film fest in san francisco. and here's the clip of all the time she's been arrested while engaging in civil disobedience. >> 2000, time to start getting arrested again because we're invading another country. 2001, 02, '03, '05, '06, '07, '13, 16 -- i've been arrested 32 times in five states on two coasts. >> and joining me now is the activist in person herself, chairmen chopokian, as well as filmmaker dan godis. thank you for being here. karen, the resist banner protest
took place one day after president trump signed orders intended to restart construction of two oil pipelines including keystone. were you just protesting that or other issues, as well? >> no. we were protesting all of his policies, promises, and practices. it just was fortuitous that it happened after that. ever being his administration, we were -- everything about his administration, we were encouraging people to resist. >> this weekend, we have earth day, the march for science in d.c., and satellite marches around the bay area. are the acts of civil disobedience you're seeing now, are they different from what you've seen in recent years you've been protesting for a long time? are the people involved different? do they plan out different in cities across america? >> civil disobedience happens all the time in this country, and people use similar tactics. there's been more and an escalation now because of the risks are much greater. i see that this administration has a great threat to our democracy and our planet. and i think with that, people
are feeling the urgency of taking that step on to protest, beyond the call into their center to putting bodies on the line and risking arrest. >> john, why did you decide to make this film -- dan, i'm sorry. >> i made this film because karen is such a great spokesperson for getting involved and doing what you believe in. that was clear from the first moment that i met her and heard her talking about all of these arrests. she approaches this in a thoughtful way. she engages in protests very deliberately and doesn't do it on a whim. that attracted me to her process. >> speaking of that deliberate process, you talk about it in the film. talk passion dwrately about whau go through, what's your mindset as you prepare for a mindset. let's look at that. >> when i'm preparing for a direct action to commit an act of civil disobedience, i think about the young students at the
lunch counter in north carolina and how they were beaten. i think about the people who tried to register people to vote and the violence that ensued. the people who went to vote, just tried to exercise their right to vote. then i think about ply own family. i think about my grandfathers in armenia who when the turkish military decided to con script christians knew they couldn't stay in their country. >> and you were so moved as you were talking there. what are you afraid will happen if you do not engage in civil disobedience? >> i fear that this administration will feel normal to people. i fear that people will become complacent. they will sit back on their sofa and will let egregious acts go by. they will let the "muslim ban" continue. they will allow the gutting of the epa. they will allow all of these things that we have fought for decades to fight for. women's right for reproductive rights and reproductive justice.
i team like all of those things we can lose unless we are out on the streets doing these things and demanding that we're not. they see that they work. nonviolent direct action is the basis for how we have the human rights that we had in this country and many of our other rights happen because people took to the streets and were willing to take that risk. >> it's funny. if feels like we've gone back in so many ways. we're going back to battle that's have been fought before. so let's use the protest methods that worked so well before. and we introduced them. >> is that what resonated the most for you in the making of this film? >>. >> absolutely. i'd been through the civil rights movement, women's rights movement, gay rights movement. those changes all happened because people got involved. people weren't afraid to sit back. with karen, i'm concerned that people confuse social media with actual activist with that. >> true. >> that can be a problem. she's willing to do it. >> you're no stranger to social media. >> not at all. >> let's go back to the protest.
you actually did a facebook live broadcast from there, and i had a clip from there, as well. >> going to get sick of it, and i hope he starts tweeting about it just to prove that we've gotten under his skin. right now i'm asking you, what are you going to do to resist? >> so even though dan says social media is not a replacement for civil disobedience, you're clearly using it. how has social media changed civil disobedience? >> well, i think what's it's done is shown that people are not alone. they live in the bay area in a bubble. i know that probably nine out of ten people share similar political values and thoughts that i have. there are people who live around the world that don't live in those places and live in places where there are repressive regimes where it is impossible for them to articulate their --
first amendment right. social media shows them they're not alone and, in many cases, they're not crazy. if they don't have family or friends whom they can share ideas with, there's a world of people they can share the ideas with. it doesn't substitute for getting up and going out. we've seen it with the marches. the women's march was huge. i was in washington for that. i've never seen that many people on the street. it shows people are willing to do it if the stakes are high enough. and they're high. >> not everyone agrees with what you're doing. >> absolutely. >> and there are those out there who say president trump was elected in a democratic country. there is democracy at work. and in fact, some have taken issue with the way you protest. for example, the crane protest. they have said it was dangerous, l' illegal, shameful. actually, it was the -- the only way it would have been dangerous is if someone tried to mess with the people up on the crane and them at the affect them or myself and another individual on the ladder blockading. that would have made it dangerous. what we did ourselves was not dangerous. shameful, no. it's my first amendment right.
for parents -- our foreparents fought for us to have the first amendment right to express ourselves. that is what i am doing is using that. i have the right to petition my government. this is how i'm choosing to do it. >> dan, quickly, the film is this weekend? >> yes, world premiere at the san francisco green femp at the roxy at 12:30 p.m. >> thank you for being here. karen and dan. >> thank you. >> thank you. that is it for us for tonight. for more coverage, go to kqed.org/newsroom. i'm thuy vu. thank you very much for watching. ♪
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