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tv   Democracy Now  LINKTV  May 6, 2019 8:00am-9:01am PDT

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05/06/19 05/06/19 [captioning made possible by democracy now!] amy: from pacifica, this is demoacacy now! >> t this t truce wilill be thee as the previous ones. each time there is a truce for a week or two and ththey are b bao fightingng again. we are suffering from the fight. airstrikes that target civilians, page strikike residential buildings - -- they stririke residential bldldings amy:y: a ceasefire agreeeement s been reaeached in gaza after an intense three days of fighting
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leleft 25 paleststinians and f r israelis dead. it has been described as the heaviest combat since the israeli assault in 2014. we will go to gaza city for the latest. we will speak with raji sourani, human rights advocate. then house democrats are accusing blackwater founder erik prince of lying to congress over his attempt to establish a backchannel of communication between the trump campaign and russia. we will speak to matthew cole about how prince has used trump to make an improbable comeback. all that and more, coming up. welcome to democracy now!,, the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman. leaders in israel and gaza have reportedly reached a ceasefire after an intense three days of fighting left 25 palestinians d four i israelis dead. the last round of f violence
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began frfriday. according to "the washshington post" israeli forces shot dead two palestinians and injured dozens taking part in the great arch of return, which have been taking place every friday for the past 13 months. palestinians reportedly shot and killed to the israeli soldiers near the border. israel carried out an airstrike on a refugee camp, killing two palestinian militants. the heaviest combat took place on saturday and sunday as litants inin gaza fifired about 700 rockets into israel while israel launched airstrikes on over 350 targets inside gaza. palestinian authorities said the dead in gaza included two pregnant women, a 12-year-old boy, and a 14-month-old girl. this is the father of the killed infant speaking at her burial. >> the children were playingng. they were struck and missile shot from a drone. amy: the weekend has been described as the heaviest combat in the region since the 2014
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israeli assault on gaza. we'll have more on the situation in gaza after headlines. we will go to gaza to speak with human rights leader raji sourani . an alarming new report by a panel of leading scientists warns human activity is causing the disappearance and deterioration of wildlife at a rate that could represent an existential threat to humanity within our lifetimes. the united nations intergovernmental science policy platform on biodiversity and ecosystem services released its conclusions today and found that species could go extinct in the one million foreseeable future unless current trends are reversed. the report will be released in full later this year. this is chair of the u.n. panel, sir robert watson. >> we are losing s species at historical r rate, potentially 500,000 to one million specieses are threatened with loss. we have lost much of our natitie foforest and wetlands.
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effectively, bioiodiversity nees to be considered a as a nuclear important issue as climatate change. it is not just an environmental issue, it is an economic issue, a development issue, a security issue, a social, moral, and ethical issue. amy: president trump has former fbi agent mark morgan to be the new head of immigration and customs enforcement. morgan was the head of border patrol during the final months of the obama presidency, but was removed after trump came into office. he also previously led internal affairs at u.s. customs and border protection. mark morgan's position on immigration issues has shifted further to the right during trump's presidency. he has publicly backed the president's immigration policies -- namely via appearances on fox news -- including declaring a national emergency to build a border wall. last month, , he voiced support for trump's proposal to send migrant pririsoners to o sanctuy cicities.. >> the border patrol, the ice
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facilities a are overwhelmed. they have no choice. they're going to have to start pushing these individuals out. shouldn't we share the burden throughout the country? amy: that was mark morgan speaking on fox news. morgan's nomination, announced by trump on twitter sunday, follows a recent purge in top immigration officials, reportedly led by adviser stephen miller in an effort to steer the administration towards even more hard-line immigration policies. morgan will still need to be confirmed by the senate. cbs news is reporting former white house chief of staff john kelly has joined the board of caliburn international, the parent company of comprehensive health services, which runs the nation's largest detention center for unaccompanied migrant children. before becoming chief of staff, general kelly led the department of homeland security. jess morales rocketto, chair of the immigrant rights coalition families belong together, responded to the news, saying -- "john kelly and the family
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separation policy he enabled will go down in the history books as a stain on our nation's moral character. if a company sees john kelly's experience terrorizing thousands of children and putting babies in cages as a job qualification, it cannot be trusted to care for children." in a dramatic escalation of ththreats against iran, national security adviser john bolton has announced the u.s. is deploying a carrier strike group and a bomber task force to the region to "send a clear and unmistakable message to the iranian regime that any attacks on united states interests or on thosose of ourur allies s will t with unrnrelenting force." cnn is r reporting thahat u.s. officials arified boltlton's remamarks were meantnt as a deteterrent, ratheher than a response to any imminent threat by iran. many also o inted to the fact that the u.s.s. regularly deplos warships to o the region, , andt bobolton's prpress release e was likelyly intended asas another public provocacation against ir.
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the trumump administration has been ratcheting up pressure against the nation following its withdrawal from the landmark iran nuclear deal last year. lastst month, the e u.s. designd iran's elite revolutionary guard as a terrorist organization. the trump admininistration ao said it t will end a a waiver program that allowed some nations to circumvent u.s. sanctions and continue buying iranian oil without suffering penalties. north korean state media confirmed sunday they conducuctd a rocket and tactical guided weapons test over the weekend, the first test of its kind since in what many view as a november 2017 provocation to the united states installed negotiations. the white house downplayed news of the north korean tests. speaking to abc news sunday, secretary of state mike pompeo said that the administration was still hopeful for a denuclearization deal. president trump has also repeatedly made similar claims since walking away from talks with north korean leader kim jong-un in hanoi, vietnam in february. on saturday, trump tweeted, "i believe that kim jong un fully realizes the great economic
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potential of north korea, & will do nothing to interfere or end it. he also knows that i am with him & does not want to break his promise to me. deal will happen!" in more news from north korea, the united nations warned friday around 40% of the e population s urgegently in need of f food aid after the country exexperienced its worst harvest in a decade. international sanctions imposed on north korea are a major contributing factor to its food insecurity. kim m jong-un hasosought relieif from sanctions as part of any denunuclearizationon deal with e uniteded states. leading afro-colombian activist francia marquez survived an attack saturday by a group of armed men who launched a grenade and opened fire on a group of activists in the southern town of santander de quilichao. saturday's attack came amid a spate of violence against community leaders in colombia. rights groups say the number of murders increased by nearly 50%
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in 2018 over the previous year. marquez has been recognized for her work combating illegal gold mining by armed groups. francia marquez joined us in our new york s studio one year ago n may 2018 shortly after winning the goldman environmental prize. , even know there is a peace process, hundrereds of anders are being prosecuted murdered. every day there are leaders that are being killed and nothing is being done to stop that violence. that is the circumstance of many people across the country of social leaders, many in different organizations of ethnic communinities.. amy: i in afghanistan, taliban officials claimed responsibility for a raid on a police headquarters in the northern province of baghlan sunday, which killed at least 13 people
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and wounded dozens, including at least 20 civilians. the attack came following a proposed ramadan ceasefire by afghan president ashraf f ghani on friday. the taliban rejected the proposal among ongoing peace talks with the united states. following widespread international outrage, the sultan of brunei announced he would not implement new laws that wouould have broughght bace death penalty for morality-based offenses, so-called, including homosexuality and adultery. the laws were set to go into effect last month, but brunei will instead extend its moratorium on the death penalty, in place since 1957. the sultan also pledged to ratify the u.n. convention against torture. the massive global backlash included a celebrity-backed boycott of luxury hotels owned by the sultan. president trump said sunday he plans to hike up tariffs on $200 billion of chinese goods at the end of this week, raising the current rate from 10% to 25%.
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he also threatened to impose news tariffs o on another r $325 billion of chinese productcts. trump's comments come ahead of a new round of trade talks between china and the u.s. and after a temporary truce e on a trade w r between the two countries. "the wall street journal" reported china was considering its participation in the talks following trump's renewed threats. the talks are expected to begin on wednesday. on sunday, boeing revealed it knew of a possible safety flaw on its 737 max aircrafts in 2017 but did not notify airlines or regulators until after last october's lion air crash in indonesia that killed all 189 people on board. a sensor warning on the planes only worked if an additional optional safety feature was also purchased. boeing told the federal aviation administration about the issue after the lion air crash but the
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faa decided no o urgent action s needed. today is the deadline set by house democrats for attorney general william barr to hand over special counsel robert mueller's full report and underlying materials. last week, jerry nadler, chair of thehe house judiciary committee, t threatenened to hod barr in contempt if he failed to submit the report by today's deadline. last thursday, barr refused to appear before the house judiciary panel for questioning about the report.. meanwhile, president trump tweeted sunday that mueller should not t testify before congress, adding, "no redos for the dems!" the tweet reversed a statement twtwo days prior, saying the decision about mueller's testimony should be up to barr, who previously said he had no problem with lawmakers questioning ththe special couns. the city of minneapolis has settled a lawsuit with the family of justine ruszczyk damond, an australian woman who was shot dead by police in 2017 after she called 911 to report a possible sexual assault in the alley behind her home.
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the $20 million settlement comes days after officer mohamed noor in days after officer mohamed noor was found guilty of third-degree murder and manslaughter. damond's family has pledged a portion of the settlement to a charity combating gun violence in minneapolis.. a federaral judge has ruled thaa lawsuit challenging president trump's muslim travel ban can proceed. the lawsuit argues that trump's ordeder is based on ananti-muslm bias. judith tucker of the middle east studies association, one of the groups represented in the lawsuit, said in a statement, "president trump's attempts to impose a muslim ban violate the u.s. constitution specifically prohibits actions disfavoring or condemning any religion and offers fundamental protection for all of us." last year, the supreme court reinstated a version of trump's muslim ban after lower court judges repeatedly blocked it from going into effect. a group of 10 transgender migrant women who traveled to the u.s. as part of a central
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american caravan are celebrating after they won their asylum cases last week and were released from a migrant jail in texas. the migrants were represented by lawyers for the immigrant rights group ices. >> i feeeeextremely happy because my dres s haveomee true.. i won my some case. they key to myttorney. thank you, danny, for all wi suortiting me. i i fe so happy because i'm heading to my new life. my future starts now. amy: around 20 other transgender migrants who traveled in the same group are still detained. raices has warned that transgender migrants face additional threats and mistreatment both en route to the u.s. and while in migrant prisons hehere. and thousands gaerered surday r "not backing dn:n: isrl, free sech, andhe battle for lestiniahuman rits," a pro-pastine evt at the univsity of ssachuses herst. the ent was lowed toroceed despe e threanonymouumumass studen filing lawsuit
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stophe panel, which atured -- panel. speakers included palestinian-american activist linda sarsour, who has faced death threats for her outspokenness, temple university professor marc lamont hill, who was recently fired from cnn for speaking up for palestinian rights, and roger waters, co-founder of the group pink floyd. this is dave zirin, sports editor for the nation, speining at satury's event.t. there is nothing anti-semitic ouout cricizizinthe acacons of the israeli state. it iababsurd eveven ve to o y that. there is nothing ananti-sitic aut this nel or the opople othisis pel, and isis damn slander to say otherwise. the people up he have en on the frontlines fighting antiemitism,spspeciay ththe
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moststire threat to me and my fellow jews, the resurnt white nationism of t trump era amy:nd thosere some the headnes. this idemocracnow!,, e war an peacreport i'amy goodn.n. aders insrael angaza hav repoedly reaed a ceafire agreemt after intensehree daysf f fighng left pastiniansnd four raelis dead lestiniaauthorits said t de in gazancluded o pregnant women, a 14-month-old girl, and a 12-year-old boy. the latest round of violence o on friday. accordrding to "the washinington post," israeli forces shshot ded two paleststinians and injured dozens t taking part in the e gt were to rereturn, , which began3 months ago. palestinians reportedly shot and killed to do israeli soldiers to the border. in response, israel carried out an airstrike on a refugee camp, killing two palestinian militants. the heaviest combat to lay
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saturday and sunday as militants in gaza fired about 700 rockets into israel while israel launched air strikes on over 350 targets inside gaza. the weekend has been described as the heaviest combat in the region since the 2014 israeli assault on gaza. residence for the cease-fire will not last. >> this trucuce will be the same as thehe previous ones. each time there's a truce for a weweek or two and then t they're back to fightiting. this has been how it has been throughout the history. airstrikes targeget civilians. they strike residential buildings and we're left with the clothes we are wearing. there is no time to take personal stuff. amy: the violence comes at a time when israel is facingng accusations it has reneged on an agreement to ease the devastating 12-year blockade on gaza. in late march, israel and hamas agreed to a deal brokered by egypt for israel to expand the
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fishing zone for palestinians off the coast of gaza, but israel shrank the fishing zone last week. the israeli rights group gisha described the move as an act of collective punishment. to talk about the crisis in gaza, we go to gaza city where we are joined by raji sourani, an award winning human rights lawyer. he is the director of the palestinian center for human rights in gaza. he is a member of the board of the international federation for human rights. he received the robert f. kennedy human rights award in 1991. he was also twice namemed an amnesty international prisoner of conscience. i know there willll be a delalay between my questions and raji sourani's response, so bear with us as he speaks to us from gaza city where cease-fire has just gone into effect which allowed raji sourani to even make it to the studio. raji sourani, welcome to democracy now! can you describe this latest escalation of violence, what you understand took place?
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thank you. gaza are rather mission impossible to move anywhere inn gaza. no singular place is safe here in gaza. bombed everywhere from south to north. s storm, were e the civilian targets.. ththat is why the sisituation ws very tensese. retaliated with hundreds of rockets agagainst israel. when israel explain says it hit 350 military targets, what those targets are? that is nonsense because a
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bubunch of hamas and jihad activist have been killed by the israelis. beingerwhelming majority killed or injured are civilians, p pregnant t women, children, and many other civilians. erased.e family they do not exist anymore. father, mother, and their children. the same thing happened in the middle area. downally, israel knocked -- i mean, many towers in gaza. ordinary people. that is why there is hundreds, if not thousands, of people in after the right now towers and apartments have been
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destroyed. gaza is one of the most heavivit populated arareas on earth.. the density of population is incredible. israel was like an elephanant in the garden, shooting everywhere. amy: on sunday evening, president trump tweeted, "once again, israel faces a barrage of deadly rocket attacks by terrorist groups hamas and islamic jehad. we support israel 100% in its defense of its civilians." trump continued, "to the gazan people, these terrorist attacks against israel will bring you nothing but more misery." toward violence and work peace. it can happen." raji sourani, your response? well, ihink mr. trump's the last one who should speak about peace and who should speak about terrorism.
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againstwhat he is doing palestinian people, against internrnational and humananitarn law is evil and unacceptable by all standards. i do not want to dig deep into history. i don't want to go back to your ago when he promised israel having jerususalem -- which is totally y illegal andd unaccepte by international community and by international law. when his security advisor ththreatened the international criminal court prosecutors and promisend they gave a that they will hold accountable any of them who take any or israelagainst jews
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for the crimes they are e doing, and he expired their visasas and ththeir promomise to freezeze -d the promise to freeze their account and even take for the procedure against them,m, he is not the one who can talk about terrorism. nots doing, effectively,, the rule of law. if he's talking precisely about gaza, the crimes against humanity for the last 20 years it -- it isre doing not we the palestinians, it is the palestinian-israel human rights organizations and the bodies including human rights council and the u.n. commission who says israrael who were crim. and they are doing it once a and
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again becausese they feel they e immune, israel and its leaders, feeling fully immune because the american administration, especially the trump administration, provide them with full legal, political communities. they have a free hand. they are doing these things in the daylight. they are not held accountable at all. amy: on sunday, commerce member ilhan omar tweeted -- "how many more protesters must be shot, rockets must be fired, and little kids must be killed until the endless cycle of violence ends? the status quo of occupation and humanitarian crisis in gaza is unsustainable. only real justice can bring about security and lasting peace." republican congresswoman liz cheney of wyoming attacked omar
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tweeting back, 1. hamas controls gaza. 2. hamas is firing rockets at civilians in israel. 3, omar is defending hamas. real question, is how many times will ilhan omar rush to the defense of terrorists?" can you talk about the role of islamic jehad and hamas and also the great marginal return that has gone on for more than a year every friday after prayers? almost a month ago, the commission of inquiry, which was formed by the u.n. human rights council, concluded its report and they said in an unequivocal way, palestinians do have the right to freedom of expression. palestinians do have t the right to have their demonstrations. nobody has the right to tell
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them where to do it, onon the border or in gaza. these demonstrations for one full year in designated areas provided for t these peaceful demonstrations were entirely peaceful and no evidence whatsoever after a thorough investigation by the commission of inquiry showed there was any level of violence being practiced. not a singngle israeli soldiers life has been threatened. no israeli soldier was injnjed or killed in these five designated areas where peaceful demomonstrations took place. bubuthe commisission of inquiry and human n rights organizations human rights watch and others that the israeli did war crimes,
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crimes a against humidity by -- of the children they killed, of the women they killed, of the nurses, of the handicapped, old and young people who were demonstrating hundreds of meters away from these israeli soldiers where they did not pose any sort of threat. so israel wanted this. israel wanted to kill and shoot at children, nurses, women -- civilians who demonstrated for one year or more. to say one thing, we cannot tolerate this criminal, illegal, which is considered by
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international law, by international humanitarian law, by geneva convention, and by the international court -- criminal court, it is a crime against humaninity. cannot be tolerated. they suffocated us. movears we are unable to in o or out of gaza. gaza turned to be the biggest man-made disaster due to that. we cannot trereat our w water. we cannot treaeat our sewage. we cannot treat our electricity. , weel said 13 years ago will send a gaza to the middle ages. gaza are disconnected from the outside world. person -- 90% of the population. to of the population s shifted
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be receiving rations from charities. their are 65% unpaid or unemployed. this is the biggest man-made disastster and it is not because we are -- we have one of the highest percent of university graduates in the world. we have no illiteracy. we have skilled working class. we have very strong business community. that israel wanted to send u uso the middlele ages. ineffectively they did. that once and are part the jihadist of the spectrum. they are part of the resistance against the occupation. oreer seven years of n nakba, m
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than 50 years of occupation, and 25 years of records, nobody -- of thetalking about end occupation. occupation, crime of aggression. is the israeli occupation not holy. this is a crime and should end. palestinians deserve dignity and freedom. are takingy and to factor and the jury of serious ethnic cleansing for palestinians in --usalem and prprocess off , notole of jerusalem negotiated of all -- negotiable.
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what is left, almost 30% and not a single israeli leader in the last election said there will be a palestinian state in the west of the jordan river. itit is vice versa. all of them said no palestinian state. regarding gaza, gaza is like an animal farm after this criminal, illegal, and human siege and suffocation and three wars launched in five years. these measures against the palestinian civilians, the palestininian civilians are in the eye of the ststorm. they are the target by israel. if there targeting hamas or jihad or others, we as a human rights organization have nothing
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to do with that because they are part of the resistance. they have rules of engagement. but when we are talking, we're talking about bold, clear-cut war crimes, crimes against humanity happening against palestinian civiliansns and they are the ones who are in the eye of the storm. and that is why israel is doing something ugly, bad whehen theyo the policy of rule against -- joint amy: raji sourani, we have to go to break but we will come back to this discussion. award winning human rights lawyer. on the executive board of the international federation for human rights. received the robert f. kennedy human rights award in 1991. he is speaking to us from gaza city. stay with us.
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♪ [music break]
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amy: this is democracy now!, i'm amy goodman. we're j joined by raji sourani, award winning human rights lawyer. he is speaking to us from gaza city. was able to make it to the broadcast studio because a cease-fire has been declared. since friday, the numbers vary but it is believed 25 palestinians have been killed, four is relieved have been killed, and the latest escalation of violence. jehad abusalim is also with us, a scholar and policy analyst from gaza. he is now working in the united states for the american friends service committee's gaza unlocked campaign. he is speaking to us from chicago. i wanted to ask about the comment of jared kushner this
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past week in a 45 minute conversation, although he really speaks publicly, at the washington institute where he said, if you say two-state, means one thing to israelis, one thing to palestinians. let's just say we said, you know, let's just not saved. let's just say let's work on the details of what this means. what he is talking about is supposedly the trump administration is releasing a peace plan at the end of ramadan which begins on monday. jehad abusalim, have you been following this conversation, what this peace plan looks like, and your response to what has taken place in gaza over the last few days? kushner's peace plan is but ato be nothing formalization of the status quo.
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and of the reality that exists on the ground riright now. what kushner and the trump isinistration want to do basically make sure the facts on the ground that israel has created over the past decades are to be considered formal and to continue and for the status quo to be perpetuated. and for palestinians, this will not change things because palestinians already experienced these conditions on a daily basis. for palestinians in the west bank, a deal on a daily basis with the settlement enterprise, which has been expanding continuously nonstop seizing palestinian land and turning palestinian cities down and turning them into open your
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prisons surrounded by checkpoints and fences. in the gaza strip, the blockades will continue, rendering the lives of more than 2 million people into a living hell. these policies, these facts that were created on the g ground wil peaceue with kushnhner's plan or without a because these are realities that palestinians experience on a daily basis. and what is happening in the gaza strip is insufferable fromm violencetop system of that has been targeting palestinian lives and perpetuating their suffering and pain. i joined your show almost a month ago to talk about a surge of violence in gaza and around gaza.
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in between the beginning of march and the end of march and the beginning of may, although gaza did not make it to the headlines, the situation in gaza was still unbearable. the media only pays attention to what is going on in gaza only when there is military violence. but for palestinians in the gaza earlier, raji sourani they are expensing violence on a daily basis. every minute that passes inin ga is a minute of violence. aery moment that passes is moment of violence. when people are deprived of their basic rights, unable to travel to move freely to secure their basic necessities, this is violence. that t weof violence just witnessed over the past few days is nothing but a manifestation of frustration on
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the part of palestinians as they are trying to tell the world that they are suffefering -- thr suffering and pain will not go -- don amy: i want to bring back raji sourani because w we will lose himim on thehe satelellite. raji souourani, the middle east regional clerk director has said we may have entered the most serious stage in this crisis since the 2014 gaza war. yet suggested these attacks are even worse than what happened in 2014 from the so-called operation protective edge. your final comment on what you think needs to happen now? need is not a big thing. basic, fundamental thing. i mean, all we want is freedomm of movement for goods and individuals. is that too much? freedom of goods and individual for movement of goods and
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individuals between gaza and the west b bk and betwtween gaza and the outside world. that is all we need. been here forever. we will continue here forever. , am not worried aboutut our fae about our destiny. we will not give up. we have no right to give up. we know that t there is total imbalance in power between us and israel, between us and israel and its allies. right know we are in the side of history and we know we rightust, fair, and goals.s. tomorrow i is ours. we will continue having our
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moral,l, legal, ethical superiority on a criminal occupation, who do work crimes in the daylight -- war crimes in the daylight against civilians. civilian people. eveny did not understand what happened in the sececond we are the, and victims of the victims. international law, international humanitarian law and human rights. it is not something invented by the palestinians. we did not invent the icc. the creme de la creme of the human experience. andave the right to use it to use its protection for us. all we need is rule of law, not jungle israel isis
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practicing against palestine people. thank you sorani, much. >> we want protection for civilians. >> thank you for being with us from gaza. , ramadan begins today. do you expect the cease-fire to hold? and what is your message to the u.s. congress, as you live here now? i don't think the cease-fire will hold because when we talk about violence in gaza or in palestine in general, so long as the conditions that could use violence are in place, we will not witness new surges of violence. and like there was escalation more than a momonth ago and like there was escalation over this weekend, we're going to witness
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more of these escalations in the coming newew m months. i am afraid that we actually might witness a large-scale confrontation this year. and the reason is that so long the root causes of why there is violence and why there is frustration in palestine are not addressed by the international community and by the concerned parties, there will never be a calm and quite will be in existence. when there is a cease-fire in gaza, and this has been the experience of people over the past months and years, even when there is a cease-fire, the blockade this not ceased to affect people's lives on a daily
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basis. like i mentioned earlier, military confrontation is put to that doesporarily, not mean people's lives improve in gaza. we are still d dealing withh unemployment, with collective trauma as s a result of these large-scale bombardment campaigns. we are still dealing with people's inability to have their basic rights such as freedom of movement, electricity, water, and so on. unfortunately, the current political formulas that are put in place, mainly by the u.s. administration, do everything but addressing the root causes of why there is injustice in palestine. my message to the u.s. congress is very clear and simple. palestinians deserve to live in dignity. palestinians deserve to have
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life like any ordinary people in the world. it is unfair that the world continues to watch as palestinians suffer in this illegal form of collective punishment that is the israeli blockade and palestinians in the west bank continue to suffer on a daily basis -- amy: we want to thank jehad abusalim,, just lost his satellite feed as well. he now works in the united states for the american friends service committee's gaza unlocked campaign. this is democracy now! we will be back and 30 seconds to talk about a new peace out of about erik prince. stay with us. ♪ [music break]
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amy: this is democracy now!, i'm amy goodman. the house intelligence committee sent a criminal referral to the justice department for erik prince, founder of the mercenary firm blackwater. house democrats are accusing prince of lying to congress during his november 2017 testimony before the committee, when he described a meeting in the seychelles with a russian banker before donald trump's inauguration as a chance encounter. according to the mueller report, the meeting was an attempt to establish a backchannel between the incoming trump administration and russia, and may have been arranged by the trump team. the move is one of the latest actions placing erik prince in the spotlight after more than a
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decade of largely working in the shadows after blackwater shut down. in a major new report, the intercept takes a look at prince's latest actions, including his pitch to privatize the war in afghanistan, his creation of a mercenary army for the united air of mismanaged projects that have soured his relationships with leaders around the world, and his comeback made possible with the help of the trump administration. he is also the brother of betsy devos, the current education secretary. we're joined now by matthew cole, the investigative journalist who wrote the story. the article is titled "the complete mercenary: how erik prince used the rise of trump to make an improbable comeback." matthew, welcome to democracy now! talk about why you're focusing on erik prince today. >> i think part of the genesis of this story was that erik prince was sort of gone from the public eye for about 10 years by large after he left the united states.
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amy: would you say fled the united states? >> that is probably right. he moved his entire family to the united arab emirates. -- the u.s. he was government and the obama administration had soured on erik prince and blackwater and so he needed a new start and he went to the emirates and he found a benefactor there in crown prince mohammed bin ziad, to factor leader of the united arab emirates. he built himself a new program, a new job, a new form of income which was to secret armies, one for the emirates and one in somalia. i think as he has come back with the trump administration, it was important to understand what hit been doing for the last 10 years and really gender stand as he try to pitch in afghanistan and report what he was tried to sell and aogram in venezuela
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mercenary army there to understand who he really is both as a businessman, a strategic thinker, and more than anything else, sort of where he is politically -- which is, what people don't realize, really on the dirty tricks side of things. that is something that was surprising as i went through the reporting was that he took his skills yet picked up and worked and sold around the world and ended up sort of coming around using them domestically in fighting domestic partners for them. amy: for people are not familiar with erik prince, go back to blackwater and what was known things,ng other nisource or. >> blackwater was a private military consulting group, a company that provided armed guards, security operatives for the u.s. military, for the state department, and for the cia in wars in iraq and afghanistan. blackwater, the name, became known and understood around the world or infamous for american
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hubris because they had a series of incidents, massacres, mismanagement, and violence that occurred in afghanistan but most memorably and unfortunately in iraq. by the end of the obama administration, the bush demonstration, rather, erik prince was forced to change the name because it becomes toxic after nisource square. amy: that was the killing of 17 iraqi civilians with this land of blackwater guards in a square in baghdad where they opened fire. >> right. he became too toxic and blackwater became too toxic so they changed the name and then he was forced to sell. once the obama administration comes in, they make it very clear that blackwater was no welcome in the government contracting world. so he had to find a new gig. amy: jump for to that meeting in the seychelles. >> in january 20 17, week before the inauguration of donald
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trump, erik prince gets on a plane and goes to the seychelles where he is attending the private strategy session of mohammed bin ziad. erik prince previously had been court, as anoyal adviser on counterterrorism and fighting islamic militarism and militants in the middle east and northern africa, east africa. he is there, we now know, it's really from reporting, and in the mueller report, he is there to meet with top russian banker who is the emissary for putin. mbz is trying to put together a new world order within new incoming dust with a new incoming u.s. a administration to try to solve syria, to try to figure out what to do in yemen, and try, from their standpoint, the gulf arab standpoint, beat back iran. all of those things are things that erik prince has been obsessed with for 20 plus years.
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he has t this meeting with mbz t also has a secondary meeting with this russian banker who is the backchannel to putin. it for the out of next couple of 18 months is erik prince's insistence the meeting was am a by chance, here run into this russian at the bar and had a beer and it was just two guys who are talking commodities prices. itt my story did was look -- is where the story began for me in the reporting was i had done a lot of reporting on erik's business efforts in a private equity fund in africa. in that reportrting, what i discovered was he mostly had just lost his own money. yet ported anywhere from $35 million to $50 million in his own money and lost almost all of it. it seemed odd to me he was sent to congress the emirates said,
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hey, you're in the commodities business and this russian banker who manages $8 billion sovereign wealth fund is also an the commodities business, you have a lot to talk about. what struck me was that nothing to talk about. one was a guy who admdmitted too loose his own money and a small amount relative to world finance, and anonother is one of the biggest sovereign wealth bankers in the world. so unless theyey're passing messages between two entities, they really had nothing to talk about. that sort of begin my journey through air france's last 10 years -- erik prince's last 10 years as a businessman. amy: a close associate also to president putin. erik prince was with donald trump the night he was elected very close to hihim again, the brother of betsy devos. privatize his plan to
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the war in afghanistan. election, prince was back in the game. he hadn't out for eight years -- he had been out for eight years. the trump administration, which was largely backed by the mercer family during the campaign, also close to the prince family, bannon, breitbart, all the people that erik prince was close to, erik prince sans opportunity here to g get back into govererent contracting. and his plan was to pull u.s. troops out of afghanistan in their entirety and replaced them with something like what he called the east india corporation. that is what he compared it to. and the u.s. should have a viceroy and someone like erik prince should be the viceroy of the together private military that would do work with the afghan army. that proposal, which he plugged in beds come on television, was
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landed very poorly inside the national security establishment in the u.s. and also poorly in afghanistan were afghan president ashraf ghani said under no circumstances will erik prince for a private military, foreign military, be allowed t o opererate in afghahanistan. amy: you also have this latest report from reuters over the last several months, prince on investment and political support in operation involving venezuela from influential trump supporters and will the venezuelan exiles in private meetings in the u.s. and europe, prince sketch shot a plane to field up to 5000 soldiers for hire on behalf of venezuelan opposition leader juan guaido according to two sources. >> what makes erik prince so unique is there very few americans who have the wealth and the political power and his experience that someone who is never really worked for the government or been part of government is taken so seriously
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whenever there is or where ever there is a conflict, hotspot around the world. erik prince travels the world almost weeklkly going to capita, meeting with countries leaders, selling a mercenary concept, paramilitary arm. what he tries to do is own every piece of a supply chain for conflict. no surprise -- shocking, but no surprise -- he had a plan for venezuela. one hopes, and part of the reason why i worked on the story for so long, was one hopes by understandining how incocompetee is as a businessman and as a manager for these programs that no one would trust him to give him that kind of responsibility for the money to pay for something like this. amy: you broke news with this part of the peace, jen the 2016 election, he became involved with james o'keefe specialize in using hidden camera footage and secret recordings. saying is what i was
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about him coming back to must agree was as he failed abroad, he started to look at politics and come back home. .e found like-minded groups he is in pitched years before to be an investor in israeli intelligence company called black cube which got notoriety during #metoo movement with a harvey weinstein investigation. they are former israeli intelligence operatives who pose as journalists to try to gather information, usually for dirt. amy: weinstein hire them to try -- >> weinstein's lawyer heard them to try to figure which journalists digging into the stories new and to see if they could stop the stories. and prince has emerged provided them with training from former spies to teach them , weapons training. you brought them out after the election to his family's ranch
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in wyoming and gave them weapons training. what he has now is a team of dedicated people who have some training in being undercover. the question is, to what end? >> goes after groups like planned parenthood. >> i think what we're going to see, and we have some indication already that your rent is using project veritas to target his political enemies or political enemies of the trump administratition or his politicl associates. so that becomes a question, what is he doing with them? what are they capable of? as he has been denied the ability to sell let say tanks or plananes, he i is now trying tol undercover intelligence operatives but not for a covert war, for american politics. and that is what makes him particularly dangerous. amy: we will do part two of post it online at matthew cole is an investigative journalist for the intercept.
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we will link to his piece "the complete mercenary: how erik prince used the rise of trump to make an improbable comeback." that does it for our broadcast. democracy now! has an immediate opening for our paid, full-time digital fellowship here in new york city. go to
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