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tv   Democracy Now  LINKTV  July 9, 2012 3:00pm-4:00pm PDT

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07/09/12 07/09/12 [captioning made possible by democracy now!] >> from pacifica, this is "democracy now!" >> syria is heading to completing victory, victory has begun in syria and will be achieved thanks to its man, god willing. >> you in on what kofi annan is with president bashar al-assad. we will stick with activist rafif jouejati. the justice department goes to blocks the texas' voter id law. >> according to the state of texas' own analysis, anywhere from 600,000 to nearly 800,000
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registered voters did not have the required id and those were disproportionately hispanic. >> we will speak with nation reporter ari berman about the texas' voter id law and such laws around the country, and with the naacp attorney robert havingor the group as havinis its annual meeting in houston. a >> there should be no sympathy for goldman sachs. we should be doing everything to try to bring this matter forward. >> what is the matter? oakland city council votes to end its contract with goldman sachs that locked into a financial deal that cost the city millions. all of that and more coming up. this is "democracy now!,", the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman. a record-setting heat wave in the eastern u.s. is starting to
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ease after two weeks of scorching temperatures. the heat wave has been blamed for causing at least 74 deaths from the midwest to the east coast, including 18 people around chicago and 13 people in maryland. all-time highs hit major cities including philadelphia, washington, said louis, indianapolis, and louisville, with more than 4500 heat records broken overall. dry conditions and a lack of rain are also devastating corn crops across the plains, which faces its worst drought in 25 years. although eastern states will see a respite, western states are facing a potential heat wave that could bring record highs later this week. to see our coverage of the latest u.s. heat wave and global warming, go to president obama is expected to resume a long-running dispute with republicans to the of the bush era tax cuts that favor the wealthy and plunge the nation as a further deficit. in a rose garden address, obama will renew his call to limit the
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tax cuts extension to those making $250,000 less and only fofor a year. a separate vote on repealing president obama signature healthcare law. at least 15 people had been killed in u.s. drone strike inside pakistan. the attack occurred late friday in northwestern province. pakistan officials said the victims were suspected of being militants. friday's attack was the first known u.s. drone strike in pakistan since nato resumed supply routes there last week. over the weekend, thousands of people began a march from lahore to islamabad calling for the supply routes to again be shut down. >> the government has insulted parliament and the entire nation by reopening the nato supply. the of surrender the country to the americans once again.
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>> the supply routes resumed after the u.s. apologized for the november airstrike that killed 21 -- 24 pakistani troops. a recent poll shows anti-u.s. sentiment has grown in pakistan. according to the pulitzer center, 74% of pakistan is considered the u.s. to be an enemy, up 5% from year ago. violence continues to rage in afghanistan where at least 35 people were reported dead in nationwide attacks on sunday. at least 29 afghans, mostly civilians, died in roadside bombings and militant attacks across afghanistan. seven nato troops for killed in separate attacks including six u.s. soldiers who died in a roadside bombing in eastern afghanistan. a nato spokesperson announced the deaths. >> i can confirm this today, seven american soldiers have been killed in southern afghanistan. i cannot give you any further
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details on this incident for the time being. yesterday was a tough day for afghan civilians, coalition, an afghan forces. a number of people were killed or injured due to a number of roadside bombs and conflict. >> the latest violence comes after the obama administration announced it would accord special ally status to afghanistan. the symbolic move places the country in the same category as non-nato u.s. allies in asia and the middle east including israel, japan, and pakistan. secretary state hillary clinton announced the measure on the eve of a donors conference for afghanistan in tokyo. >> i am pleased to announce today that president obama has officially designated afghanistan as a major non-nato ally of the united states.
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we see this as a powerful symbol of our commitment to afghanistan's future. >> mexico's electoral board has confirmed the victory of pri candidate enrique pena nieto and mastics presidential election. he belongs to the institutional revolutionary party that ruled mexico from 1929 to 2000. his chief rival, obrador, has accused the group of electoral fraud and has vowed to challenge the results in court. on saturday, lopez obrador led a march of tens of thousands of people in mexico city to protest the election results and demand a government probe. the u.s. has confirmed agents with the drug enforcement ministration have carried out another killing in honduras. the dea says two agents shot and killed a man who made a threatening gesture after u.s. and honduran agents converged on the site of a plane crash in eastern honduras linked to drug smuggling. it was the second killing by
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u.s. agents inside honduras in less than a month. in may, four civilians -- including two pregnant women -- were killed in a raid involving u.s. agents although honduran forces are said to have fired the fatal shots. egyptian president morsi has openly defied the country's ruling military council and ordered the egyptian parliament to resume its duties. egypt's supreme council of armed forces dissolved parliament last month after egypt's top court ruled its election was unconstitutional. the news comes as morsi received an invitation to president -- visited president obama at the white house in september. the invite follows morsi's first meeting with top u.s. official, deputy secretary of state william burns, since his election. >> we're committed to working with the president of egypt, its new government, and all parties to sustain our partnership and advance our shared interests and a strong, democratic, and economic fiber egypt that is a force for peace and stability in
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the region. >> hundreds of palestinians rallied in the occupied west bank saturday to celebrate the designation of bethlehem's church of nativity is a world heritage site. the u.n.'s education, scientific and cultural organization or unesco declared parts of bethlehem and the church to be in danger world heritage site. over the objections of israel and the u.s. the palestinian authority has sought the designation in a bid to speed up urgently needed repairs and help protect the city from israeli occupation. palestinian prime minister hailed the unesco recognition as a major milestone. >> it is wonderful to have the celebration. it is a major event. this is the most significant event [unintelligible] >> billy disclosed records show the nation's wireless carriers have received a surge in law
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enforcement requests for customers' cell phone records. and in reports to congress, cell phone company said it received 1.3 million inquiries from law first and agencies last year for information including text messages and callers' locations. many carriers rejected demands they found the legally suspect in at least one carrier referred some requests to the fbi for potential improprieties. a large number of the requests were made without the backing of warrants or court orders. hundreds of protesters rallied in the new york area of the hamptons over the weekend to protest three separate fund raisers for republican candidate mitt romney. the finns were held at the hamptons mansions of revlon chair perlman, former u.s. ambassador and billionaire oil and chemical magnate david koch. george zimmerman and trayvon martin murder case has again they're released from jail after posting $1 million bond. zimmerman had initially been
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freed after posting bond in april, but was sent back to jail for lying about his finances. in a fund-raising appeal to raise money for the new bond requirements, zimmerman's attorney mark o'mara had asked for donations by calling on all supporters who also would have shot and killed trayvon martin, who was unarmed when zimmerman took his life. he wrote in part -- democratic congressmember barney frank has become the first sitting member of congress that a same-sex wedding. on saturday, he married his longtime partner jim ready in a ceremony in massachusetts. democratic congressmember jesse jackson, jr. of illinois has taken a leave of absence to receive treatment for unspecified physical and emotional ailments. jackson's office says he has been institutionalized in an inpatient medical facility to receive extended care.
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wikileaks founder julian assange remains holed up in the ecuadorian embassy in london as he continues to fight extradition to sweden. speaking to "democracy now!" last night, assange says he remains in good spirits and revealed 7 wikileaks staffers and volunteers are under grand jury investigation in the united states. those are some of the headlines. this is "democracy now!,", the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman. we begin today's show with syria, where u.n. and arab league envoy kofi annan met today with president bashar al- assad in the midst of worsening violence. syria's 16-month conflict has so far claimed more than 15,000 lives. kofi annan said today's last ditch attempt to salvage a peace effort ended with an agreement on how to in the violence, but he did not disclose details. earlier he had knowledge of the six-point peace plan had failed to halt the fighting between anti-government forces in the al-assad regime.
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u.n. secretary general ban ki- moon warned sunday that the conflict had taken a turn for the worse. >> the situation on the ground has deteriorated dramatically and has become more militarized , violations of human rights continue to take place, and at least 1.5 million people are in need of urgent humanitarian aid. >> kofi annan's arrival in syria comes as dozens more were reportedly killed across the country and secretary of state clinton warned that time was running out to save syria from a "catastrophic assault." >> the future to be should be abundantly clear to those who support the assad regime. the days are numbered. and the sooner there can be an end to the violence in the beginning of a political transition process, not only will fewer people die, but there
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is a chance to save the syrian state from a catastrophic assault that would be very dangerous, not only to syria, but to the region. >> earlier at an international friends of syria gathering in paris, clinton pressed for greater sanctions against the assad regime, invoking the threat of chapter 7 under the u.n. charter, which includes measures ranging from economic embargoes to military force. in a rare television interview with the german public broadcaster ard aired on sunday, syrian president bashar al-assad was asked about the role of the united states and accused the country of complicity in the violence. >> it is part of the conflict. political support is given to those things to create instability or destabilize it. >> you say the united states is
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politically supporting the rebels, correct? >> exactly. >> you call these rebels terrorists have killed civilians. so you're accusing the american government and is partially responsible for the killings? >> of course. as long as any support whether it is armament or money or public support, political support, any kind of support. >> the interview came as the regime suffered its highest level defection to date. on thursday, syrian general tlas, a member of assange's inner circle, fled to turkey, reportedly over his anger at the syrian government's killing of civilians. for more, we are going to washington, d.c. to be joined by rafif jouejati, the english-
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language spokesperson for the syrian local garnishing committees, a network of activists throughout the country. >> it is significant in that it is very high level. friend ofas a very close the deceased and continued of friendship with bashar al-assad. the defection also signals the wave of high-level defections that are taking place with increasing rapidity. >> talk about the situation over all right now in syria, estimates of what 15,000 deaths? >> there are some 15,000 dead, there are some 200,000 people in prison. we have more than 1.5 million displaced people, internally displaced people who are at risk of starvation. we have disaster cities all
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around the country. we have some entire villages and towns that have been obliterated. so it is very dire, indeed. the humanitarian situation is probably the most critical we have ever seen. >> in this rare tv interview that president al-assad did with the german public broadcaster ard, he was asked whether he was scared of meeting the same fate as former egyptian president mubarak or libya's colonel muammar gaddafi. this was his response. >> different situations, talking about describing what happened as savage, a crime. nobody in the world except what happened to kill someone like this. [unintelligible] when you watch is a trial, he would think, i do not want to be in this position. but to compare or to be scared
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you have to compare to we have anything in common question it is totally different. what is happening in egypt is totally different than syria. our policy is different. you cannot compare. >> that syrian president bashar al-assad. rafif jouejati, your response to that point and also the one he raised earlier that the u.s. is funding the opposition. >> his point that you cannot compare libya and egypt to syria, he is partially right. he has committed far more atrocities, we believe, that muammar gaddafi managed to do or that hosni mubarak managed to do. the other thing is, muammar gaddafi and hosni mubarak did not inherit power from their father. there is a little different situation. now what has happened to gaddafi and mubarak may very well be the fate al-assad suffers. he may suffer a worse fate.
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we are pushing for full prosecution in the international criminal court, that you never know if the syrian people, the syrian street does not take matters into its own hands. >> and his point about the u.s. and its involvement in supporting the opposition or the terrorists, as al-assad calls them? >> the u.s. has been very vocal in pledging support to the opposition. they are pledging non-lethal aid, an increase in humanitarian assistance to help the people suffering in syria. i do not know this makes the united states a terrorist country. in fact, al-assad has claimed almost everybody in the world but himself. we have to keep in mind that he is responsible for the massacres. he is responsible for the current chaos in syria. >> in the german interview that he did this weekend, bashar al- assad said most of the people being killed in the country sympathetic to his regime. >> if you want to know who
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killed [unintelligible] you cannot know about the criminal without knowing about the victims. the majority are government supporters. how can you be a criminal and victim at the same time? the majority support the government and a large part of the others are innocent people who have been killed by different groups. >> he went on to explain who he holds responsible for the houla massacre in may, where according to the united nations, 108 people were killed, including 34 women and 49 children. >> gains came from outside the city and attacked. they attack the law enforcement unit inside the city. then they killed many families, women and children. both families that had been killed for government
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supporters, not opposition. >> rafif jouejati, your response? >> i am not sure it bashar al- assad is simply experiencing a lapse in reality or it if this is part of a misinformation or disinformation campaign. the bottom line is, the majority of the country is engaged in a popular revolution for freedom, for democracy, for dignity. and he cannot take that away with a few simple words. we have mountains of evidence indicating that his armed forces have been engaged in systematic torture, rape and detentions, massacres across the country. when we talk about the houla massacre specifically, he does not mention that his regime forces had surrounded the area for days and were shelling in it. opposition -- armed opposition elements could not have penetrated if they had wanted to. he does not mention the ongoing
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30-day shelling of additional parts of homs. so i think he perhaps has lost touch with reality and maybe does not know what is actually happening in his country. >> in may of this year, "democracy now!" spoke to charles glass, specializing the middle east, and a just returned from syria. he said most of the people he spoke to there were opposed to military intervention. >> they all remember when iraq was invaded by the u.s. and they do not want that kind of chaos. they do not want a prolonged civil war they saw in iraq. they received over 2 million refugees from iraq who were fleeing the chaos that came after the american invasion, and they do not want the subject to that themselves. those who use the massacre as a justification to call for western air strikes or western invasion is should think this massacre should be a reminder of
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what could happen not only without an invasion, but because of an invasion. >> rafif jouejati, your response? >> i really think that no syrian wants military intervention simply for the sake of military intervention. we have been pushing along the lines of civil disobedience, a creative non-balance supporting of the sanctions. we had some very successful shellings yesterday. the al-assad regime only knows violence. it appears he and his cronies will only go through violence. we have to look at the options available to us. rafif jouejati what about what is happening right now? meetingut kofi annan with al-assad today? >> kofi annan by his own emission has tendered a failed
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peace plan and apparently he has reached some agreement with bashar al-assad on a political solution, but they have not communicated what that is. what i do know is there is a lot of talk of a peaceful transition and there is some talk about power-sharing. i can tell you the power sharing scenario is most likely totally unacceptable to the syrian street. any sort of dialogue with the regime is tantamount to negotiating with once executioner. i believe that is entirely unacceptable. >> what have you heard about the latest news of security forces shelling parts including damascus, reports of more than 100 people killed, mainly civilians? >> yes, this happens every day. this is part of what we wake up to, go to sleep with. the daily killings are routine for the al-assad regime.
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you name a city, it is either been shelved or the people who are going out and demonstrations are being shot at. this is daily. >> so right now in terms of the syrian activists you have been communicating across syria and also outside of the country, what do you demand at this point, rafif jouejati? >> many of us are demanding increased sanctions, enforceable sanctions. we're demanding more pressure on russia to halt arms shipments to syria, the very weapons that are killing civilians. we are demanding that the u.n. step up to the plate that kofi annan stop reassuring us with his hopes for a better future, and realize that hope is not a strategy. if we're going to move to any sort of negotiated peace plan or any sort of transitional framework, we want to make sure there are mechanisms to enforce a ceasefire. those are the kinds of things we
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are demanding. >> where d.c. president al- assad killing and his family? >> i would like to see that we would proceed with prosecution in the international criminal court. i think the longer this issue goes on and more violence he commits the more likely he will wish to have a state such as that of gaddafi. >> rafif jouejati, thank you for being with us, english-language spokesperson for the syrian local coordination committees. when we come back, voter id laws in texas along believes more than 600,000 people would be prevented from voting. this week, an unusual judicial hearing will take place in washington around the challenge to the loss of taxes. stay with us. ♪ [music break] ♪ [music break]
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>> this is "democracy now!,", the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman. and our next segment, we will be looking at holding goldman sachs to account, at least in oakland, california. the right now we turn to voting rights. the department of justice in the texas legislature head to court today over texas' controversial voter id law which requires voters to show their photo id at the polls. texas hopes to implement before the november elections. a three-judge panel here the ground backing case, which could challenge the landmark voting rights act of 1965, a cherished safeguard for minority voters.
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in march, the department of justice blocked texas' voter id law saying it will disenfranchise at least 600,000 voters -- a disproportionate number of which are latinos and other minorities. this is u.s. attorney general eric holder speaking in april at reverend al sharpton's national action network 14th and a convention. >> we will continue to up all discriminatory practice and defend section 5 of the voting rights acts. that may be clear. this administration will do what ever is necessary to ensure the continued viability of the voting rights act. our nation's most important civil-rights statute. [applause] >> however, supporters of voter id laws claim such measures are crucial for preventing voter fraud. this is republican governor rick perry of texas defending his state's voter id law on fox news. >> we had multiple cases where
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voter fraud in various places across the state occurred. this is not a democrat or republican issue. i think any person who does not want to see fraud, believes in having good, open, honest elections, transparent it one of the best ways to do that is to have identification, photo identification so you prove you are who you are and keep those elections fraud-free. >> taxes is one of nine states that must get any changes cleared. currently 16 states have passed restrictive voting laws that have the potential to impact the 2012 election. these include vital swing states such as florida and pennsylvania. altogether, these states account for 214 electoral votes, or nearly 79% of the total needed to win the presidency. for more we go to houston, tx to
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speak with robert notzon, the legal redress chair for the texas state conference of the naacp and co-counsel in a lawsuit challenging texas' voter id law. he is in houston for the naacp national convention, which is focusing this year on voter participation in the wake of restrictive voting laws. the theme of the conference this year, "naacp: your power, your decision -- vote." can you explain, robert notzon, about the lawsuits that the naacp has brought? >> the state of texas has brought it because they're seeking pre clarence for the section 5 of the voting rights act to get the voter id law to become law and a federal law, under the voting rights act. so they have asked the district court in the district of columbia for pre-clearance in the trial starts today at which they need to prove their law has been discriminatory intent or no
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discriminatory effect in the way it is operated. >> talked about the significance of this hearing that is taking place this week. >> it is critical. as you said, several states have attempted or have passed voter id laws. in texas, we do things different. they seem to be -- i do not want to sit unapologetic because they do not wear race on their sleeves to an aide to it, but the way they go about passing their voting laws in the state of texas is starkly, for decades, regardless of party, is to take advantage of race and use it as a tool to stay in power and to keep the minority vote down. in texas when they pass a law like this voter id law, it is different than other states. they restrict the number of ids available to be used. the impact on that is disproportionately on the minority community. >> explain more wide impacts the minority community.
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in texas, particularly we're talking about latinos, african- americans as well. >> i like to call them the pursuit of happiness indexes on the senses. the minority populations in texas in the past and currently are on the lower end of the economic scale. the effects of having to get voter id's, having have the documentation necessary to get those voter id's, having to get to the place where you need to get the id, having to take off work, get transportation, having to -- i guess, if you move often, the minority populations are going to have more trouble keeping a current voter id. also, the voter id -- >> robert notzon what are the
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requiring in this law? what photo id? passport,s license, there is a fishing and hunting license, there is a state id. some of these you need to have a birth certificate before you can get it. i think there's been some argument these voter id's are free. some are, but you need to have these documents with you and you need to build a get there and get the id's. >> we're also joined by ari berman who covers voting rights for "the nation" and "rolling stone" magazines. the hearing that is taking place on the national context? >> it is very important rid texas probably has the strictest voter id law on the books right now. as robert mentioned, you can vote with a handgun permit, but
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not a student id. hispanics are anywhere from 46% to 120% more likely to not have an id than white voters. it is more difficult because there mower likely to giving counties without -- they're more likely to live in counties without a dmv. texas has such a strict law, they're so brazen in terms of what they're doing, and the minority growth in texas is so rapid that it is an indicator for the country is moving as a whole. in some ways it really is "as goes texas, so goes the nation." >> i want to go back to the not a student i.d., but in at a gun licence. talk further about that. >> look at who is going to own guns in texas and look at who students are in texas, in which parties their corn to support. it is very likely gun owners in texas will be overwhelmingly
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republicans will young voters will be more democratic. similar with hispanics, african- americans, and people of color in the state. they will be more democratic than republican-leaning. this is the theme of restrictive voting laws in general. the attempt by republicans to shake the electorate and their own favor and make it harder for democratic and progressive leading voters to have access to the elector of process at every level. harvester to register, harder to cast a ballot, harder to participate in the political spectrum is out. >> and what it means for the 2012 election. are you saying this could definitely throw the election? >> it could. the states that passed restrictive voting laws account for 214 electoral votes. that is debate 8% of what is needed. we're talking about significant
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swing states like pennsylvania, florida, wisconsin. these are going to be very close states in november. what is going on in the states could swing the election in terms of who makes it, who makes it to the ballot box and why their votes are counted. i've always said, this has been one of the biggest sleeper issue since the 2010 elections, where people were not paying enough attention but clearly had a major impact. now people are starting to pay a lot more attention, that many of these laws are already on the books. >> pennsylvania? >> it is huge. it will be a major swing state. a study released last week said 758,000 pennsylvania may lack the id to vote. 18% of people in philadelphia to not have the id. philadelphia is a democratic club of the state, 44% african
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american. you're looking at a state where voter id is carried out that it is disproportionately going to impact democratic and progressive leading voters and going to make a lot harder to vote in the next election. the number of people in pennsylvania without id is larger than the margin of victories for barack obama in 2008. >> say that again. >> the number of people out ideas larger than the margin of victory for barack obama in the state in 2008. he won by about 600,000 votes in pennsylvania. 758,000 pennsylvania still not have id. >> the justice department has ordered florida, a likely key swing state in the 2012 election, to end a controversial voter purge that has primarily targeted latino, democratic and independent-minded voters. i want to turn to a clip of republican governor rick scott of florida on fox news defending the voter purge. >> i want fair, honest
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elections. i don't know anyone that doesn't. >> holder says your suppressing votes for the >> i want people to register to vote, the u.s. citizens. >> he says your suppressing democrat votes. >> i only want u.s. citizens to register to vote. >> let's bring robert notzon back into the conversation. the significance of what is happening right now, the showdown between the justice department and florida? >> that is really what is happening in texas. there tried to link the immigration issue with the alleged voter fraud issue. they have a solution searching a problem but there really is no voter fraud problem. the clip you played from governor perry is inaccurate. i think between 2002-2009, there
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were zero prosecutions for voter fraud during that time. even the kind of voter fraud that has been prosecuted the has not been addressed by the voter id law. it is about the -- it is about protecting voter impersonation. there already voter id laws on the books. in texas, when you link the immigration issue with voter fraud, which is not there, it creates this fear. it is driving the public's opinion. there is no voter fraud in any degree in texas. >> ari berman? >> >it is true. there were five potential cases in which voter id would potentially have stopped, out of 13 million votes. this is clearly not a problem in texas. but there is this idea that illegal immigrants are some of
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voting and influencing american elections has been peddled not only in texas, but florida. rick scott in florida had a huge voter purge list of so-called non-citizens. when people took a closer look, the state's data was finally discriminatory, but totally inaccurate. right now, 98% of the people on the so-called noncitizens list remain on the voter rolls because the county election supervisors could not confirm they were actually non-citizens. so what florida did was essentially put out a list of people of color, because the purge list was 80% people of color, even though minorities and florida are only 30% of the electorate, they put out and an accurate list of people of color. florida had to backtrack when it was scrutinized. but the larger method that leads are voting in u.s. elections, which is unproven, is still something republicans are saying every single day on fox news and similar outlets. >> former republican
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presidential candidate herman cain and former ohio secretary of state ken blackwell have a new video arguing that voter id laws are actually on the side of civil rights. let's go to that clip. >> demanding that florida stop removing illegal voters from their roles. >> elections should never be about color. >> unless it is purple. >> purple is a very nice color. >> yes, it is. >> states should not have to sue the federal government to protect their citizens sacred right to vote. >> help us keep america free. >> help us protect your vote. >> tell eric holder to do his job. >> which is to keep politics out of the justice department. >> there you have it, former presidential candidate herman cain and former ohio secretary of state ken blackwell, both of course, african-american. ari berman, your response to their point that passing these
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voter id laws is actually a civil rights issue? >> it is incredibly it ironic what they're saying. if you look at who is affected by voter id laws, it is disproportionately affecting people of color. 18% of hispanics and 25% of african-americans do not have these ids. they're not only passing is restricted loss, but challenging the voting rights act. when these people said the gop is trying to five also for rights, yet to question, why are they doing it -- to fight for civil rights, you have to question, why are they doing it against these people? >> robert notzon, what to expect to come out of the hearing today in washington, d.c.? >> it is actually a trial but it will go on all week. texas gets to go first because
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they are the plaintiff. i think texas will show they have woefully little evidence to support their claims about what the voter id does and the fact it does not have a description for purpose or there is no discriminatory effect. we felt very confident the experts and the evidence will bear out that this law should not be pre-cleared. everything pre-to get clear creek in texas, there has not been an election cycle where there has been an issue that has not been objected to by the doj or fail to gain pre clearance because they're always try new and different ways to harm minorities the opportunity to vote >> ari berman, michigan, mississippi? >> michigan is the first place for a gop governor actually vetoed restrictive voting laws since 2010.
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it was passed in concert. governor snyder of michigan said, no, i don't want to get my state involved in this so close to the elections. to me, it was a sign of public push back against these restricted voting laws, even among republicans. mississippi, to actually get the free voter id required by the state, you have to have a birth certificate or some sort of idea to obtain a birth certificate, so it really is a catch-22. you need an id to get an id. the same situation as plan that and other states like south carolina a. that is why these laws are being referred to as a 20th- century poll tax or new jim crow law. the fact is essential to exclude certain people from the political process who either do not have the money to pay for the documentation or do not have access to contain the documentation needed to vote in the next election. >> robert notzon, as your at the naacp national meeting in
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houston, talk about the grass- roots organizing that is going on to challenge these laws around the country. >> we are having people stay vigilant, keep records of what is happening, why people are being affected this way. the fact they're being affected. we do not just, these laws when they happen, but we're always protecting against them because every election cycle it happens. we keep records. we keep communications open. we document when these voter intimidation and voter fraud cases -- alleged voter fraud cases are put forward in the minority votes are impacted. so that is what we do. i am in the middle of the continuing education program and we had a discussion on the redistricting in texas. section 5 ntc in section 2 of the voting rights act trial in
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san antonio. we are still waiting for the resolutions from those trials as well. texas does not stop. they do not sleep. they continue to come after the minority vote doggedly. >> thank you for being with us, robert notzon, at the national meeting of the naacp in houston. ari berman here, covering voting rights for "the nation" and "rolling stone." when we come back, goldman sachs and notice. an interesting law passed by the oakland city council, challenging the contract goldman sachs has with the city. we will go to berkeley, california. stay with us. ♪ [music break] ♪ [music break]
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>> this is "democracy now!,", the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman. as in today's show looking at the break through vote in oakland, california, that could of implications for cities struggling with budget deficits around the country. last tuesday, the oakland city council voted unanimously to end a contract with goldman sachs that locked it into a financial deal called a high interest rate
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swap. oakland signed a deal with goldman sachs in 1998 on the premise it would reduce the costs of its bonds as interest rates were expected to rise. but after the 2008 financial meltdown, the federal reserve cut interest rates to near zero. as a result, goldman's rate dropped to 0.15% -- even as it continued to require oakland. it almost 6%. since then, the city has paid more than $4 million annually in bonds -- $26 million more than it originally owed. the resolution passed tuesday calls on the city to refuse to do business with goldman sachs unless it ends the deal without requiring a $15 million payout. the vote comes after a long campaign by city workers, unions, the occupy movement and local clergy. this is one of the group members testifying tuesday before the city council. >> my name is reverend daniel buford.
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we're located in east oakland. i am from a community that is of the opinion and believe the city should be too big to fail and not banks. i think the city should be billed out and not banks. [applause] i think with respect to the agenda item that has been moved and are concerned about legalities, you should be concerned about the legality of doing business with the corporation that is being investigated by the fbi, investigated by the securities and exchange commission, and the subject of at least four different class-action suits filed in u.s. against banks, including barclays, over the issue of libor fixing. [applause] libor, the london interbank offered rate, which two referred to before, right now as we're having this meeting here in the
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united states, the banks that have conspired to create the libor rate are in turmoil. check the international headlines right now about what is going on in britain with barclays and 15 other banks, including goldman sachs, that they are including in their investigations for criminal activities. the problem is, the flaw in the system is thanks to an estimate their own libor rates. you as the city of oakland, we have bought into a synthetic rate that was concocted by libor people who are betting on your failure. so how can you honor a contract with people that were betting on your failure and made money off of your failure on the international market? >> that was reverend daniel buford testifying before the oakland city council voted unanimously tuesday to in its interest-rate swapping contract with goldman sachs. for more we're going to
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berkeley, california, the journalism school, to speak with alysabeth alexander, a political action chair for seiu local 1021. she helped organize the oakland community and present testimony to the council members. talk about the significance of this boat. >> thank you so much. this is very significant because in the past, we have been looking at budget cuts in the city of oakland just like the entire country, where workers are being asked to give up more or the public being asked to accept your services. this is the first time a city is actually standing up and demanding wall street actually do the right thing and get them out of this toxic contract. libraries and schools and roads and all kinds of important services have been cut in the city of oakland, yet continue to
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profit off the city -- >> i want to play part of an seiu video explaining interest rate swaps. >> called bonds to people and businesses with the promises to pay them back with interest over a certain period of time. you said to pay for roads, police, and schools. the interest rates can vary. you should and the economy is bad, interest rates goes of. it made local and state governments nervous. wall street made them an offer they cannot refuse. if they play a fat fee, the banks would takeover interest payments. then came the bank filled economic collapse. you may have expected interest rates to skyrocket, but there were cut to all-time lows by the fed. they could not take advantage of the discount rates because they're locked into contracts with the big banks. now the banks are making huge profits on the sometimes 100
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millions of dollars in fees they're collecting in pain almost nothing on the state's bonds. for california alone, it is costing taxpayers more than $130 million a year. some of these bank deals are secret, so we do not know how much of our tax dollars is being sucked up, but the estimate is $28 billion nationwide. >> that is a video explaining interest raise once in 90 seconds or less. they say these interest rate deals are part of the reason states and cities are running out of money, some of them cutting services to pay off banks as alysabeth alexander pointed out. i want to ask about some of the figures involved. oakland pays about finding dollars each year to goldman sachs under the rate swap arrangement. goldman sachs has made $26 million of profits from the swap deal so far. in march, oakland's assistant
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city minister scott johnson wrote a memo to the mayor that -- your response, alysabeth alexander? >> we believe goldman understands that these are bad deals. we know that because they are approaching governments all over california and saying, do you want to get out of these deals? this is how much you can pay in order to get out of this deals. they are proactively -- many are actually approaching the government and saying, we know these are bad deals and their costing you money in this is how you can get out of them. goldman is single and $15 million for the city or: >> $15
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million to get out of the swap. the swaps are being renegotiated all of the country. cities and counties and school districts are choosing to get out because they know they're bad deals. if we had the original term, the original agreement would be a variable swap and we would not be in this situation. goldman came to the city of oakland and said, let's do this swap as a side deal because you will save money. they came to us with the promise of saving money. and it has not. so the terms were fraudulent, at least no longer hold up now. >> matt taibbi from "rolling stones" has reported on how interest rate swaps are extremely lucrative for banks. when he was on "democracy now!", he described how jpmorgan bribed city officials in jefferson county, alabama to get exclusive rights to finance its new sewer system. the project was supposed to cost $250 million, but the county ended up owing $5 billion
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in debt. an interest-rate swap was one of the tools jp morgan used. matt taibbi told juan gonzalez and i how it worked. >> it sounds very complicated. imagine the of a variable rate mortgage so you're paying a mortgage where the payment rises or falls every month along with interest rates. that is risky. so you may want some certainty in your rates. you go to your bank and say, i will agree to pay you a fee if you take over my variable interest payments and give me six payments. basically, you pay the bank a fee to assume your variable rate risk. you are swapping rates. what happened was, jefferson county had variable interest rates on some of the bond deals it had done and wanted fixed rates, so went to jpmorgan and paid them fees to get their fixed rate. >> so how did it blow up then? >> first of all, it costs you something. every time they went and did a swap, it pushed their debt
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situation farther into the future. so they did not just a once or twice, but 23 times in jefferson county. these politicians contumely kept pushing the debt in the future, adding more debt because it costs something. by the end, it exploded. of "rollingbi stone." alysabeth alexander, talk about how you have organized. >> we have been working with a large coalition of union members, teachers, community members, clergy. we have done action after action and on to the goldman sachs shareholders' meeting and called out dco to renegotiate the swap. it has really been through direct action and public pressure that we have been able to build for this. the next up, we will continue.
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give actions planned coming up at goldman sachs headquarters in san francisco. we're not going to stop there. this is the second swap that seiu 1021 has taken on and we will continue to do this with our community partners and take on wall street. it is not right in this crisis that there profiting off our local government. >> what has been goldman sachs's response that a shareholder meeting last month in new york city, the chair said, ending such contracts would not be in the interest of shareholders? >were you able to hear that, alysabeth alexander? >> h -- >> we have come to the end of the show. thank you, alysabeth alexander from the seiu. [captioning made possible by democracy now!]
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