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tv   Democracy Now  LINKTV  January 17, 2019 8:00am-9:01am PST

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01/17/19 01/17/19 [captioning made possible by democracy now!] amy: from pacifica, this is democracy now! >> i'm honored and grateful that president trump has nominated me for the position of administrator -- >> please remold -- please restore order. will the officers please restore order in the committee room. amy: protesters disrupt the confirmation hearing of former coal lobbyist andrew wheeler to head the environmental protection agency. we will air highlights from the hearing and look at wheeler's record downplaying the climate crisis. but first, federal workers stage protests across the country as the government shutdown enters its 27th day. >> we need a paycheck. we need a paycheck.
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this shutdown. amy: we will speak to barbara ehrenreich about her call for tsa workers to go on strike. plus, we will look at how the shutdown is disproportionately impacting native americans. >> our communities rely on federal funding to administer key government services, health care facilities, public safety, housing access, nutrition, and food distribution and social services. amy: all that and more, coming up. welcome to democracy now!,, the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman. house speaker nancy pelosi called wednesday for president trump to cancel his state of the union address later this month, arguing the government shutdown has left the secret service and the department of homeland security starved for funds and unprepared to simultaneously protect all three branches of government. >> that we would have the
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president of the united states, the vice president of the united states, the entire congress of the united states -- house and senate -- the supreme court, the joint chiefs of staff, the cabin of the united states -- did i say that? and the diplomatic corps all in the same room. this requires hundreds of people working on the logistics and the security of it. most of those people are either furloughed or victims of the shutdown. the president's shutdown. amy: speaker pelosi said trump should cancel the state of the union, move it to a later date or submit it in writing. republicans dismissed pelosi's warning as a political stunt. meanwhile, the longest government shutdown in u.s. history, now in its 27th day, continues to punish more than 800,000 federal workers who have gone without a paycheck since december 22. workers rallied in airports in sacramento, california, baltimore, maryland building on
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, wednesday, similar protests warning that the shutdown is threatening aviation security. there are reports of skyrocketing absences among federal workers forced to work without pay. on capitol hill, federal contractors held a protest outside the offices of senate majority leader mitch mcconnell and other republicans, saying the shutdown is to deprive formally and contractors of hundreds of millions of dollars in expected payments each week. on wednesday, president trump signed legislation that would pay back pavement there is no indication that will come anytime soon and will not apply to federal contractors. the trump administration is planning a massive expansion of the pentagon's anti-ballistic missile program on a scale not seen since president reagan's star wars initiative's of the 1980's. trump is expected to announce the plan during a scheduled stop at the pentagon today. the planned announcement comes as the trump administration is
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withdrawing the u.s. from the landmark intermediate range nuclear forces treated on nuclear arms signed with russia in president trump's nominee to 1987. lead the environmental protection agency, former coal lobbyist andrew wheeler, told senators wednesday he believes climate change is real but doesn't consider it the biggest crisis facing the planet. this is andrew wheeler being questioned by vermont independent senator bernie sanders at the confirmation hearing. >> president trump has indicated his believe that climate change is a hoax, perhaps perpetrated by the chinese. do you agree? >> do i believe climate change is real? onelieve man has an impact it. >> the president has said it is a hoax. do you agree? >> i have not used the hoax word myself. amy: wheeler has been the acting head of the epa since scott pruitt resigned in july amid an onslaught of financial and ethics scandals. wheeler is a former lobbyist for
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murray energy, the nation's largest underground coal mining company. we'll have more on andrew wheeler after headlines. in more climate news, a new study finds earth's oceans reached their warmest temperature in recorded history in an ominous sign that 2018, greenhouse gas emissions are fueling risi seas an everore poweul storm the analis publied in th urnal adnces in mospheric sciencesinds oce warmingas accelerad sharplsince th 90'at a pacthat's much fasterhan prevusly cognized inyria, a icide boer stck a resurant inhe northern city of manbij wednesday, killing 19 people including four u.s. troops. -- including four americans, two of them u.s. troops. the bombing was claimed by isis, and came just weeks after president trump declared victory over the group and ordered u.s. troops to withdraw from syria, prompting the resignation of pentagon chief jim mattis.
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just hours after the attack, vice president mike pence said in a speech "isis has been defeated" and "the caliphate has crumbled." wednesday's attack drew renewed calls from congressional hawks, both republicans and democrats, to reverse trump's syria withdrawal. the u.s. has an estimated 2000 troops stationed in syria, even though congress has never declared war on the country. in zimbabwe, at least five people have been killed and hundreds more arrested after government forces moved to suppress nationwide protests against the government's move to more than double the cost of fuel. as protests began monday, the government shut down internet access nationwide and deployed the military to the streets of harare and other cities. hundreds of people were reportedly beaten and arrested as authorities raided homes. >> soldiers broke into our house in the middle of the night, destroying property in the process. they took turns beating us and our room was full of blood.
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they had no mercy. they wanted to kill us, but i managed to escape. amy: fuel prices in zimbabwe are among the most expensive in the world. in kenya, the death toll from tuesday's attack on a luxury hotel in the capital nairobi has risen to 21, plus five assailants, with kenya's red cross warning that 50 people remain missing. in a statement, the somalia-based al-shabaab group claimed the assault was retaliation for president trump's decision to recognize jerusalem as the capital of israel. among the dead was at least one u.s. citizen, businessman jason spindler, who in 2001 survived the september 11th attacks on the world trade center. british prime minister theresa may survived a no-confidence vote in the house of commons wednesday, one day after her brexit plan to withdraw from the european union was crushed in an historic defeat. it's the first time a british leader has held power after losing such an important parliamentary battle. this is labour party leader jeremy corbyn, speaking just
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after lawmakers signaled their confidence in the prime minister. >> last night the house rejected the government's deal emphatically. a week ago, the house voted to condemn the idea of a no deal brexit. before there can be any positive discussions about the way forward, the government -- the , clearly, must remove once and for all, the prospect of the catastrophe of a no deal brexit and all the chaos that would come as a result of that. amy: there's no clear path forward for britain, which has just 10 weeks before a deadline to withdraw from the eu. "the new york times" reports president trump's inaugural committee received an unprecedented $107 million from private donors, at least twice the amount raised by any of trump's predecessors. despite the lavish spending,
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trump's inauguration was far smaller affair than president obama's first inauguration in 2008 with just three official inaugural balls and a fraction of the crowd size. it's not known how most of the money was spent, but among expenses uncovered by "the times" was $1.5 million paid to the trump international hotel in washington, d.c. "the new york times" report came as the inspector general for the general services administration said wednesday the agency ignored concerns that donald trump's lease on the federally-owned building that houses the trump international hotel violates anti-corruption clauses of the constitution. the inspector general said that after trump's election, regulators failed to consider whether trump's continued lease violated the emoluments clauses, which bar the president from receiving payments from foreign leaders or u.s. states. meanwhile, "the washington post" reports that top executives of t-mobile booked thousands of
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dollars' worth of stays at donald trump's washington, d.c., hotel just one day after their company announced plans for a $26 billion merger with sprint. "the post" reports the executives have repeatedly returned to the hotel, for at least 38 nights, as they seek the trump administration's approval for the merger. president trump's personal attorney rudy giuliani falsely claimed he never said there was wednesday no collusion between russia and trump's 2016 campaign. giuliani was speaking to cnn's chris cuomo. >> i never said there was no collusion between the campaign were between people in the campaign. >> yes, you have. not ai said there is single bit of evidence the president of the united states committed the only crime you could commit here, conspired with the russians to have the dnc. amy: giuliani's statement directly contradicts his past comments, made as recently as last july, stating that nobody
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in the trump campaign colluded with russia. giuliani's shifting claims came amid new revelations about former trump campaign chair paul manafort's efforts to share internal polling data with a suspected russian intelligence operative named konstantin kilimnik. michigan state university's interim president says he'll resign next week amid a furor over his comments about survivors of former sports doctor larry nassar, who has been convicted of sexually abusing hundreds of women and girls. the interim president, former michigan governor john engler, told the detroit free press last week that women who were sexually assaulted by nassar are in the spotlight and "still enjoying that moment at times, you know, the awards and recognition." the comments prompted michigan state administrators and the board of trustees to demand engler's resignation. his predecessor, lou anna simon, will go on trial later this
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month facing charges she lied to police as they investigated dr. nasser's crimes. she faces up to four years in prison. in los angeles, the union representing more than teachers 31,000 is set to resume bargaining today with the los angeles unified school district, as a strike by educators enters its fourth day. teachers are demanding smaller class sizes, higher pay, the regulation of charter schools and more nurses, counselors, and librarians. elsewhere in new york state, police arrested four people wednesday as they used tractors to block a road to the construction site of a massive gas-fired power plant. although new york banned fracking in 2014, activists say the 1100-megawatt plant in wingdale would rely on imports of fracked gas from other states. and on wall street, the investment giant blackrock was
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forced to deny on wednesday it is taking bold action on climate change after the activist group the yes men sent reporters a hoax letter posing as blackrock ceo larry fink. the letter claimed blackrock would require companies it invests in to align their business models with the goals of the paris climate agreement. after the financial times, cnbc , and other media outlets ran with the story, blackrock tweeted -- "don't be fooled by imitations. larry's real ceo letter coming soon." as the world's largest investment company, blackrock is also the world's largest owner of fossil fuel companies and has been the target of environmentalists and shareholder activists calling on it to divest from coal, oil and gas. meanwhile, the yes men struck in washington, d.c., wednesday, circulating a phony version of "the washington post" proclaiming the end of the donald trump era. the phony newspaper featured the
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post's familiar masthead with the altered slogan, "democracy awakens in action." and those are some of the headlines. this is democracy now!,, the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman. the longest government shutdown in u.s. history is now on day 27. as 800,000 federal workers continue to go without pay, federal employees around the country are rising up to demand an end to the shutdown, which has run public institutions ragged and left hundreds of thousands financially strapped. on capitol hill, federal contractors held a protest outside the office of senate majority leader mitch mcconnell and other republicans saying the shutdown threatens to deprive some 4 million contract workers of hundreds of millions of dollars in expected payments. there are reports of skyrocketing absences among federal workers forced to work without pay. this is congressman are alexandria cortez delivering her
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first speech on the floor of the house. >> the truth of this shutdown is that it is actually not about a wall. it is not about the border. it is certainly not about the well-being of everyday americans. this shutdown is about the erosion of american democracy and the subversion of our most basic governmental norms. it is not normal to hold 800,000 workers paychecks hostage. it is not normal to shut down the government when we don't get what we want. it is not normal for public servants to run away and hide from the public that they serve. and it is certainly not normal to starve the people we serve for proposal that is wildly unpopular among the american people. amy: that was the congress member alexandria ocasio-cortez. house speaker nancy pelosi called wednesday for president trump to cancel his state of the
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union address later this month, arguing the government shutdown has left the secret service and department of homeland security starved for funds and unprepared to simultaneously protect all three branches of government. meanwhile, the transportation security administration has become a flashpoint for growing outrage over the mistreatment of federal workers due to the shutdown. in florida, the 10th the airport has set up a food bank for unpaid tsa workers. in phoenix, arizona, a food bank served nearly 300 tsa employees from a mobile pantry. tsa workers rallied in airports in sacramento, california, and baltimore, maryland, wednesday, warning the shutdown is threatening aviation security. hundreds more around the country have been calling in sick with the agency reporting more than 6% unscheduled absences in what some are calling a "blue flu" protest.
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on wednesday, tsa employees protested outside dallas/fort worth international airport and the los angeles international airport. this is tsa union leader bobby orozco speaking in los angeles where tsa agents signed up for food cards after rallying. >> as you see behind me, a lot of the folks are getting food, trying to get whatever they can get in order to survive. right now it is just high anxiety. not only do we not get our last paycheck, but it seems very likely we will not get our next paycheck. amy: as the workers continue to go without pay, airports are expensing staggeringly long security lines and a host of other problems. the tsa recently acknowledged a man with a loaded pistol passed through airport security at atlanta international airport. we turn now to someone who says it is time for tsa workers to strike. in washington, d.c., we are joined by barbara ehrenreich.
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author of the best selling book "nickel and dimed: on getting by in america." she is also the founder of the economic hardship reporting project. and recently wrote a piece for "the new york times" titled "it's time for tsa workers to strike." barbara ehrenreich, welcome to democracy now! talk about the shutdown, its effect on workers, and what you are demanding. >> i could say that my co-author on this beast is -- he's is a longtime union organizer who was in fact the director of organizing for the teamsters them also worked for government workers, unions, so there is a lot of experience that goes into this little op-ed we did for "the new york times." -- an hourint is point is, don't just take this lying down. yes, there is a blue flu and
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people are looking for other jobs and everything, but look at the way airport workers and federal employees in general are being treated. they are being treated in a mean and humiliating fashion. when trump said this week, essentially, you can come back we can tell you when you will get paid. when? when the shutdown is over. that is not how you respectfully treat american workers. work for money. otherwise, it is in violation of the 13th amendment, which bans involuntary servitude and slavery. on federalre a ban workers striking? >> yeah. there are plenty of bans. in 2018, there were teachers
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striking all over the country, five every states. those were illegal strikes. technically speaking. sector,ly in the public the right to strike has been so limited. you have to go ahead anyway. in the 1960's and 1970's, there was a tremendous amount of private sector striking. all illegal. striking as well as illegal in. the a with the turn to baltimore-washington national airport. >> i have 18-year-old daughter -- i have 18-year-old daughter that is my pride and joy. i had to take her out of cheerleading because i did not have the money to pay for her to continue it. it is hard. it is. as a man personally, and my
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daughter being my pride and joy, -- like, we don't make a lot like everybody thinks. oh, you're supposed to have three months to six months eight. that is hard when you're not making that much to have three months to six month saved when you have bills and you have to pick out if you want to pay your car payment or your rent. you basically have to pick options. it has been very hard, actually. especially when you do it on your own. cobb, leadt is lamar tsa officer at the airport. what is astounding about this, barbara, president trump says he is doing this for national security. yet among those who are hardest hit are those who enforce national security -- the tsa
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workers, the border guards, the coast guard for the first time is not being paid. >> well, yes. please, don't ask me to explain anything trump says. another element in all of this -- and i am not being spurred real here, but one of the goals in the far right of this country for long time has been to shrink government or at least shrink the parts of government that they don't like. , as they like welfare call it, or social security, etc. and that may be one of the part of the motivation and certainly part of the outcome of the shutdown. because you have so many tsa workers, for example. i focus on them because they are among the lowest paid of the airport workers, not counting the people who push the wheelchairs and clean the
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bathroom. and they haveaid to eventually look for other work. and maybe that is the idea, just shrink the workforce and then you can say, well, we did not do it, they walked away from the job. amy: it is interesting you should raise this, barbara. i want to turn to fox news, which, welcome to how they are covering the shutdown. in this clip you will hear steve doocy of fox & friends but first fox contributor charlie hurt. >> you can shut down half of the government agencies and literally it wou be years, so or not for the media, it would be years before the regular person, the normal, average working american, would even know the department had been shutdown in terms of how much it affects their lives. >> a lot of people across the country don't even know parts of the federal government are shutdown. amy: barbara ehrenreich, your
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response? >> i think a lot of people are noticing it. think of all of the groups affected -- the contractors, as you mentioned, amy, actually had a sort of demonstration, the federal government contractors. and all of their employees, which amounted to, what? they estimated 4 million around the country? amy: this is significant. you're talking about outside mitch mcconnell's office. these millions of people, of course much smaller group in front of his office, but they will never be paid. these are not workers that are paid directly to the government. the reverberations of this are very easy to see. certainly, here in the washington, d.c., area that has a many federal workers. but there are things like food stamps that depend on being processed by federal agencies.
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so many things -- income tax collection. well, they have straightened that out a little bit because they need the money. yeah, this -- there is a huge impact. and if enough airport workers were to either walk away from , thatb or go on strike would shut down the airport. and that would just shutdown the economy. trump would not let that last for more than a few hours. so that is one possibility. and i think what we are saying in this op-ed piece is a more dignified to strike then to be and then veryawns quietly, one by one, walk away from the job perhaps, get a second or third job.
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there should be a collective action. there should be some sense of principle. just some response to the insulting way so many workers are being treated right now by trump. which, you know, puts me in mind of the way he treated jeff sessions before jeff sessions was thrown out, essentially. he tortured that man for months. in a sense, we have that kind of oniliation process now going with government workers. oh, you can come to work, we just won't pay you. amy: the veteran labor reporter why not aalon saying, general strike in support of the 800,000 federal workers currently not receiving a paycheck? >> that is fine.
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that is an awfully big undertaking. i think the iron is hot right now around these federal agencies. anybody want to call a general strike? i will get behind it. but it is a hard thing to do. amy: i want to go to one of the shutdownthat has been talking about the various places in the country. i want to go to the coast guard. branch of the run government. 42,000 active-duty members will miss a paycheck for the first time in history. the coast guard support program published a five-page tip sheet titled "managing your finances during a furlough," which was obtained by "the washington post." the tip sheet suggests coast guard members stay financially
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afloat during the shutdown by holding a garage sale, babysitting, and dog walking. there also setting up food banks throughout the country. to takeoast guard had that down off its website because they had so much mockery at the suggestion that workers could support themselves by dog walking and garage sales. this is laughable, insulting responses. one reason a strike might be a good thing is it would help know,gnite the old, you fighting spirit of american labor. i cover major addition of union people who did not take certain kinds of.
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kinds of crap. at some point, you go on strike. assert your dignity. make your demands and problems known to the general public in every way that you can. so i think this would be the moment. back in time, barbara, i want to go to 1981 to the agco when it went on strike to protest wages and working conditions. this famous moment when president ronald reagan responded by firing the 11,000 highly skilled workers, replacing them with military personnel. this is reagan speaking august 3, 1981. >> must tell those who feel the report to duty this morning they are in violation of the law and if they do not report for work within 48 hours, they have forfeited their jobs and will be terminated. amy: that is president reagan in 1981, breaking patco.
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describe what happened next. >> the impact was to terrify the union. after that, there was much less talk of strikes. the ghost of patco hangs over unions today. say anything about the need for a possible strike, and summit is going to say, but look what happened to patco. my biggest response to that is 1981 to 2018 when we saw a wave of strikes around the country. teacher strikes. and as i mentioned, those were in most cases, illegal strikes. and people did it anyway. and that inspired or helped inspire other forms of labor
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militancy. when people see that someone andds up to gross injustice insulting behavior, then that person is empowered to stand up, too. at the very top of your "new york times" op-ed, you write -- "lastly in a democratic meeting with leaders, president trump called the government shutdown a strike." he called the government shutdown a strike. can you explain this? >> no, i can't explain that. you know, it was like some desperate effort to shift the blame. is always blame the democrats for the shutdown and here he made a stupid bid to blame the workers themselves for the shutdown. i am saying, why not just call it a strike?
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they're not being paid anyway. maybe you will come out of this with greater power over the conditions of your work. to thewant to turn dallas airport, to the federal workers protesting outside dallas/fort worth international airport. this is sarah fry. >> it is your neighbors. your neighbors are the ones having this anxiety, having the stress. we just bought a new house in june and i have been aggressively paying down my student loans. i expected to have a paycheck. i plan on working all through the holidays. it is tough and really stressful. amy: and you have a state department eloyee who told he washiton pt" the governnt shutdn is putng a rain on s colleaes and him. >> imakes meeally sa thinng about peoplright w siing atome eati dinr
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wither familand not owing whetheor not t next paheck coming . makthatuld ha to cision. i don't thinthose ofs who signed ufor the vernment wand to seeer nothinlike thahappen. i haveeenhrough furloug before bk in t 1990's. quite frank, it was frighting backhen. d i thinhat civi svants in partilar, and will sa this obehalf o my foign service lleaguesmy mility lleagues, all us deserve a little more respect. amy: so we talking about millions of people affected. finally, barbara ehrenreich, is go back to the beginning and the headline of your op-ed. why do you think in particular if tsa airports struck, if the airports were closed, it would in the government shutdown immediately? >> because business would be so directly impacted. who is in the airports on a normal week a?
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it is business people traveling from one meeting and one city to another. if they could not do that, well, maybe they would learn to skype, which would be a good thing, but the impact would be immediate and very serious. affecting business, that means phone calls will be made to washington and things would get straightened out pretty fast. amy: finally, nancy pelosi's response to president trump because she has to invite him into the house for the state of the union, a great theatrical affair, saying go back to what they did for years -- the presidents -- you can just write down your state of the union address, your report about the country or wait until the government shutdown is over, but you're not welcome here now, to dangerous she said. don't have the security forces, but it is great. it is so wonderful to see nancy pelosi developed this strong
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spine recently and stand up to trump. and in the process, infuriate him. amy: barbara ehrenreich, author of the bestseller "nickel and dimed: on not getting by in america." she is also the founder of the economic hardship reporting project. barbara ehrenreich recently wrote a piece for the new york times, written with jerry stephenson, called "it's time for tsa workers to strike." when we come back, how is this affecting native america, indian country? stay with us. ♪ [music break]
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amy: died january 27 at the age of 75, a legendary backing vocalist who worked with some of the biggest names in music, including the rolling stones, linda ronstadt, and bob dylan. this is democracy now!,, the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman. we continue to look at the devastating impact of the longest government shutdown in u.s. history, now turning to native america. communities feeling its effects at a disproportionate rate. native americans reporting shortages of medicine as the indian health service goes understaffed, while a federally
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funded food delivery program to indian reservations has halted. in a recent letter sent to president trump, a coalition of native groups wrote -- "on tribal lands, the federal government assumed the responsibility to provide basic governmental services like health care, public safety, and education as a part of its treaty negotiations with tribal nations. the bureau of indian affairs and the indian health service, the primary agencies responsible for providing these services, either directly or through compact and contracts with tribal governments, are both currently hamstrung by the shutdown." democratic congress members held a hearing tuesday on the effects of the shutdown on health, education, and employment in native communities. this shutdown violates the trust responsibility to tribal governments and aunts to the trail of broken treaties. federal agencies that provide critical government services to our nations are caught up in unrelated politics over funding for a southern border wall.
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meanwhile, our tribal welfare hangs in the balance. no matter who is at fault, it threatens to abrogate the treaty and trust obligation to tribes. federal funding that tribes received is woefully inadequate to begin with, yet it is based on the cessation of 500 billion acres of land and american indian tribes ceded to the federal government. my tribe and four others in seededn in 1836 treaty 14 million acres in exchange for our rights to hunt and gather and fish and health, education, soulful welfare into gratuity. for ourid in full federal funding. since we cannot foreclose on the land, we expect the federal government to fulfill the treaty and trust responsibility. i'm here to remind the trump administration that your mortgage payment is due. amy: for more, we go to washington, d.c., where we're now joined by mark trahant, editor of indian country today, member of the shoshone-bannock tribes. mark, describe what is happening as a result of the shutdown to indian country.
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>> it really is across the country any significant, devastating impact. health would be a great one where people are worried about access to medicine, access to basic services. is indian health service still operating, but folks are not getting paid. it is getting harder to refer people outside of the system. once that people don't know is 60% of the indian health system is actually run by tribes or nonprofit organizations, not the federal government. so to have those organizations have to basically bail out the federal government is really -- amy: talked about the number of federal workers who are native american or the number of native americans were federal workers. >> most of the employees across dusty and in health largest employer in indian country. over 10,000 people. we mentioned the coast guard earlier, but there are seven uniformed branches of the u.s. three of those branches, the coast guard, noaa officers, and
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public health service are all in different aspects of the shutdown. in many reservation clinics, it is the public health service that has physicians and dennis and some of the other folks serving tribal members. amy: what you think about the fact the whole shutdown is based on president trump wanting to build this wall on the southern border? especially think it is not a $5.7 billion project, just a down payment. itthis is to go end to end, will be longer-term because we're really talking about $25 million or $30 billion or $40 billion. i think it is so important conversation get broader than what it is. amy: would just played the clip from the congressional hearing. what difference does it make just thisve this, month, to native american women for the first time have entered congress? yet deb haaland from new mexico and sharice davids from kansas.
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the significance of this? it was striking. for the first time involving a native community that leadership of the house democrats turned to these two native american congresswomen is it, why do you as the questions first? so it started with a frame up, here is what indian countries think defined by indian country. if you think of the long narrative of this country, that is a shift in many, many ways. it is inspiring. that part of the story i think is, this is the way it should've been a long time ago. amy: this is the executive director of it of american life by that offers health services in baltimore and boston, addressing the hearing tuesday. >> the partial government shutdown is having dire consequences for american health care including urban indian people. the federal government has an affirmative obligation to provide health care to our
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people. this trust responsibility stems from treaties and long-standing u.s. policy and jurisprudence. of ihs is directly at odds with that obligation. the impact of an ihs shutdown is already chronically underfunded facilities are forced to make extremely difficult decisions without any other options. facilities will not be able to provide care to patients. , final commentnt on what you feel people need to understand about how this government shutdown in all aspects is affecting native america? is hard to understate how important a role of the federal government is in a tribal community. you are already dealing with a very poor community, in many cases. and i have that money stripped out of a community that circulates, not just the payroll, but so many other ways, to have that taken away so suddenly -- i mean, one of the things that was striking in the
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testimony was how poorly planned the shutdown was. during the last shutdown, the bureau of indian affairs and other agencies started talking to tribes early, pre-paid a lot of bills, try to arrange for think so there would be a mitigation. this time it just happened. it happened so suddenly because it was after trump changed course. that really added to the misery, i think, of what is going on. exampleealth is a great because it is already so underfunded. it is the lowest cost health system in the country. taking resources out of that just makes it worse. amy: mark trahant, thank you for being with us editor of indian , country today. member of the shoshone-bannock tribes. when we come back, we go to the first day of hearings for the epa chief-designate andrew wheeler, who is former coal lobbyist. stay with us. ♪ [music break]
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amy: this is democracy now!,, the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman. we turn to the senate confirmation hearings for former coal lobbyist andrew wheeler, president trump's nominee for administrator of the environmental protection agency. wheeler has been the acting head of the epa since scott pruitt resigned in july amid an onslaught of financial and ethics scandals. wheeler is a former lobbyist for
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murray energy, the nation's largest underground coal mining company. he's also the former chief of staff for oklahoma republican senator jim inhofe, who is known as the most notorious climate change denying lawmaker in washington. shortly after wheeler began his opening remarks, he was interrupted by protesters. >> i'm honored and grateful that president trump has dominated me for the position of administrator -- >> please remove -- please restore order. will the officers please restore order in the committee room. >> this is an outrage! amy: since taking over as acting director, andrew wheeler has overseen proposed rule changes that would make it far easier for coal-fired power plants to release mercury and other toxins into the atmosphere. the plan proposed by the environmental protection agency would change how the federal government calculates the costs of pollution on human health, dramatically downplaying the financial burden to society from
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deaths and illnesses. wheeler pledged that if confirmed, he would continue to push the trump administration's deregulatory and pro-fossil fuels agenda. >> the american public has a right to know the truth about the risks they face in their daily lives and how we are responding. it is our responsibility to explain it to them clearly and consistently. this includes recognizing the progress we have made at the nation and where more progress still needs to be made. through our regulatory reforms, the trump administration is proving burdensome federal regulations are not necessarily -- necessary to drive. what makes her actions effective is our commitment to vigorously enforce them. amy: the hearing was marked by tense exchanges with democratic lawmakers, who questioned wheeler's understanding of recent reports assessing the impact and severity of the climate crisis, and his commitment to addressing it. this is vermont senator bernie sanders questioning wheeler. >> i found it interesting, mr. wheeler, you're the nominee to be head of the environment
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protection agency. in your opening statement you did not mention the word "climate change." how does it happen that the nominee to be the head of the epa does not mention the words " climate change" at a time the scientific committee thinks the climate change is a great environmental crisis facing this planet? should the american people have confidence that you are going to help us deal with this global crisis? >> yes, because we are moving forward to reduce co2. a proposal reduced co2 at approximately the same levels the clean power can would have if it had been implemented. we are also addressing greenhouse gases through our methane program as well. >> you are addressing. the scientific committee tells us we have a crisis and we needed unprecedented action. amy: well, for more, we're joined by two guests. heather mcteer toney is the national field director for moms clean air force. she is a former southeast regional administrator for the
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epa under the obama administration. she also served as the first african-american, first female and youngest mayor of , greenville, mississippi. more concerned and address our issues as mothers. when we see someone who is trying to be the top environmental protection person for our country who does not
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even knowledge climate as a world, that in this is a problem for us. our more than one william moms from around this country have dedicated themselves to fighting against air pollution that impacts our children's health. very, very concerned mr. wheeler is not only not concerned about our children's health and protecting it, but he is not making the active -- actions we know need to take place in order to really move this country forward. amy: i want to go to oregon democratic senator jeff merkley questioning the former coal lobbyist andrew wheeler. >> on a scale of one to 10 with 10 being used a wake at night worrying about it and one being it occasionally crosses your mind, how concerned are you about this devastating impact on our nation and the world? would say i stay awake at night worrying about a lot of things -- >> please answer my question. one to 10 scale, how concerned are you? >> eight or nine.
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amy: eight or nine. mary anne hitt, your concerns? is anl, if andrew wheeler eight or nine, perhaps the skill should have been on 100. everything will action he has taken since he is been acting administrator has been to rollback climate standards and clean air and water standards. whether it is for power plants, for cars, or methane pollution from oil and gas drilling. and as a lead lobbyist for coal industry and murray energy, you know they have never met an regulation that they did not want to roll back. he is checking off that wish list of the coal industry. it is the fox in charge of the hen house, the bank robber in charge of the vault, you name it. this puts the everyday safety of americans at risk because this is the agency that is affecting our drinking water facilities and our power plants and
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chemical plants, cleaning up superfund sites. this man just cannot be trusted to lead that agency. amy: i want to go back to andrew wheeler during his confirmation hearing about rollbacks and mercury and air toxics standard. >> under our preferred option, i did not believe there would be a mercury weakening standard as farsi quitman that is our redeployed and implement it across the board. i don't think -- i get accused of rolling back the clean power plan. i don't you can rollback regulation that never took effect. mary anne hitt, explain this. >> mercury gets into our bodies because it comes out of the power plant and gets into the we eat.d the fish that it poses a real threat, specially two little babies and
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small children. -- hisey have done is commons are so cynical it is shocking. when they passed the mercury standards in the obama administration, it also cleaned up a lot of other pollution, a lot of other air pollution, the kind linked to things like heart attack and strokes. what they are trying to do here is to say in putting forward this mercury standard, you can't count all of those other benefits to public health. all you can count is the very narrow category of mercury, which is a big public health problem, very important move that you can't count all of those other benefits -- it is important to note, this rule has taken effect every coal plant in the country has complied with the mercury standard. levels have fallen 80% from power plants in the last 10 years. success butge they're trying to say he cannot count those other health benefits and ultimately tip the scales of the benefits of these public health rules look smaller, the costs look greater,
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and they can make the case going forward that they can really narrowly look at the benefits of these public health protections to make the case they should be weaker or should not have to comply with them at all. it is really trying to tip the scales in favor of polluters and against public health. mercury is an issue that affects all americans. it is in the fish that we eat. mom's care about it so much, any woman who is been warned away from eating fish with high levels of mercury. butter a real bread and issue for folks. they are trying to put their finger on the scale and be in favor of the big polluters, which is typical for andrew wheeler and typical i think of what we would expect of him going forward. ensco new research from harvard university finds trump's plan to rollback climate regulations from obama era in favor of more industry favor policy under the clean energy act will result in " "rebound in global warming and is worse in the government
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doing nothing to combat, which included delaying the closure of coal-fired power plants would lead to an increase in carbon dioxide emissions of 8.7% in 18 states and washington, d.c., by 2030, compared to having no policy. heather mcteer toney, if you can respond to this? >> unconscionable and unfathomable we're talking about putting someone in this position who is not even read the reports we are referring to. he is not even been brought up to speed or found it important enough or concerned enough to go and research this information for himself. our mothers have at least done that. the international report and even the national climate assessment that our own government conducted has confirmed from us that within the next 12 years, if we do not take some action to reduce carbon emissions in this country, that we will be in a position that is irreversible. i am the mother of three. my youngest is two years old.
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that means for the time he turns 14 -- before he is able to drive and before he is graduated from high school -- we will be in a position where we can not reversed the effects of extreme weather events in this country. this is not an issue he has the option of thinking about whether or not it is impacting our country. it is critical to the health and survival of all american citizens, particularly the least of us, our elderly and our children. it is very disappointing for mothers to know he is not even concerned about this. amy: i want to talk about the effects of the shutdown on the climate. website inside climate news reported the government shutdown has effectively halted several climate related government efforts. they include the epa's work on studying the impact of wildfires on air and water quality, health and the environment, and research and development from the national hurricane center on forecasting models for the next hurricane season. climate scientists are also concerned about possible gaps in data collection if instruments that assess planetary changes malfunction due to lack of maintenance.
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finally, heather mcteer toney, if you could comment on that but also -- you were the youngest mayor of greenville, mississippi, then went on to the obama administration. why have you focused your activism on the climate? and onegood question that a lot of good friends have asked is, why at this point in time is this the focus? i believe wholeheartedly that if this is not the activism, this is not the social justice movement, if this is that what we are concerning ourselves with right now, then every thing else is for not. we have one planet. we have one earth. it is imperatively important we do what we can right now within the limited time scope that we have to make sure that we are in a sustainable and livable community. working for the environmental protection agency, there's one thing i always remembered. that is the first part of our mission statement was to protect human health and the environment.
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human health. because without that, we have nothing. it is critically important for not only me, but also are more than one million moms, death, grandmothers, cousins around this country to come together and make sure we are very vocal in assuring that climate in our protections for our children are the top priority in this country. amy: can you talk about how community's of color are particularly impacted on the front lines in their proximity for example, the coal-fired power plants? >> over one million african americans live within one mile of an oil and gas operation. a lot of people don't recognize that fence line and frontline communities are the first people impacted by any change in regulation. so when we talk about the rollback of mercury and air toxics standards and the fact the simplest thing that we all should make sure of is we're not putting poison in the air that impacts unborn babies, that impacts children -- and when
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that is done, the first place it gets to are those fence line and those frontline communities of color. those are the people impacted first. to see this administration even moving in the direction of not ,nly impacting unborn babies their brains -- that is what mercury does -- but it is to the communities of color. again, it is unimaginable we are still considering having andrew wheeler as the nominee when he has so evidently shown his this regard for community's of color and for young children. as you can tell, i'm very passionate about this. i think it is also important for us to know our moms are working will stop we know there are activists out here that are not sitting quietly. amy:h, we have to leave it there. and mary anne hitt
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narrator: on this episode of "earth focus," climate change


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