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tv   Democracy Now  LINKTV  January 22, 2021 4:00pm-5:01pm PST

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[captioning made possible by democracy now!] amy: from new york, this is democracy now. >> our national plan ramps up production to protect energy, syringes, you name it. as i said last night, 400,000 americans died. that is more than died in all of
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world war ii. amy: president joe biden unveils a sweeping covid strategy after president trump left him with no plan for a national vaccine rollout. on his first full day in office, biden issued 10 executives orders and invoked the defense production act. we will speak to dr. ashish jha head of brown university school of health. then, we will look at the devastating impact of the pandemic on indigenous communities. we will go to standing rock where tribal leaders are prioritizing vaccines for elders who speak the dakota and lakota languages in an effort to keep the elders and the languages alive. >> language comes from the creator. it does not belong to one of us, it belongs to all of us. my message to all of the young people, two young men, young women, boys, girls, this is your language.
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when you learn it, you will be able to learn more about this beautiful thing called life. amy: those are the words of standing rock elder jesse taken alive who died from covid last month just weeks after his wife died. we will be joined by their daughter, as well as a standing rock elder and a member of the tribe who served in the obama white house. plus, we will look at new calls for biden to shut down the dakota access pipeline after he revoked a permit for the keystone xl pipeline. all that and more, coming up. welcome to democracy now,, the war and -- quarantine report. i'm amy goodman. on his first full day in office, president joe biden unveiled a 198-page national plan to tackle the coronavirus pandemic, calling it a wartime undertaking against covid-19. adding to the urgency, the u.s.
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recorded another near-record global high death toll thursday, with over 4,100 deaths. biden signed 10 executive orders to create a new national covid-19 testing board to help schools reen, to mante international travelers to quarantine upon arrival and to mandate masks on many forms of interstate transportation. >> our plan starts with mounting an aggressive, safe and effective vaccination campaign, to meet our goal of administering 100 million shots in our first 100 days in office. we are on day one. this will be one of the greatest operational challenges our nation has ever undertaken. amy: on thursday, the nation's top infectious disease expert, dr. anthony fauci spoke to reporters at the white house and was asked about the difference between working under prident trump and biden. >> the idea that you can get up
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here and talk about what you know, what the science is and know that is it, let the science speak. it is somewhat liberating. amy: here in new york, vaccination clinics have begun canceling appointments and turning away seniors as supplies of pfizer and moderna covid-19 vaccines dwindle. it is a scene that has been repeated across the united states. this is new york city councilmember mark levine. >> because of the unreliability of supply, the city has to cancel tens of thousands of appointments this week. this is a desperate situation. at the pace at which we are receiving vaccine, it would take as well into 2022 to achieve heard immunity in new york city. that is unacceptable. amy: on thursday, president biden invoked the defense production act to increase covid-19 testing and the production of vaccine supplies including glass vials and syringes. many public health experts are calling on biden to use his
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executive powers to demand that vaccine makers share their patented technologies with other manufacturers in order to end production bottlenecks and speed the vaccine to people across the u.s. and around the world. after headlines, we will have the latest on the pandemic and joe biden's response with dr. ashish jha, head of brown university school of public health. innternation news, chinese officials are rushing construction of a massive quarantine camp outside beijing that can hold more than 4,000 people in isolation. cities in northern china that are home to millions of people entered lockdown earlier this month as authorities tried to stamp out several small coronavirus outbreaks. the lockdowns come ahead of the chinese lunar new year, an annual holiday that normally sees hundreds of millions of people travel within china to visit family. portugal has the world's highest seven-day average rate of new
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covid-19 cases and the second highest per capita death rate. the surge is wreaking havoc with portugal's presidential election sunday. in india, a maive fire at the serum institute of india killed five people thursday. the institute is the world's largest producer of vaccines, though officials said the blaze did not affect produion of the oxford/astrazeneca vaccine. meanwhile, hungary has become the first european union member nation to give emergency use authorization to russia's sputnik v covid-19 vaccine. president biden has proposed a five-year extension with russia to the only remaining nuclear treaty between the two countries, before it expires on february 5. the new strategic arms reduction treaty, or new start, limits the number of deploy strategic nuclear warheads to 1,550 each. this is white house press
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secretary jen psaki. >> the new start treaty is in the national security interest of the united states. this extension makes even more sense when the relationship with russia is adversarial, as it is at this time. amy: this comes as the treaty on nuclear weapons goes into effect today. it was ratified by 51 countries, but those do not include any of the world's nine nuclear powers -- britain, china, france, india, israel, north korea, pakistan, russia and the united states. lawmakers on thursday overwhelmingly approved a waiver allowing retired army general lloyd austin to become pentagon chief. austin left the military four years ago, now serves on the board of weapons. normally, a minimum of seven years is required before taking the civilian job unless a waiver is granted from both houses of congress. many of the house democrats who voted for the waiver opposed a waiver for president trump's
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first pentagon chief pick, retired marine general jim mattis. the senate could vote on austin's confirmation as soon as today. if confirmed, he would become the first african-american defense secretary. meanwhile, biden will keep fbi director christopher wray, who was appointed by trump in 2017, in his position. in other news from biden's administration, the president has appointed the acting chair of the federal -- the president has appointed jessica rosenworcel as acting chair of the federal communications commission. digital rights activists praised the move, pointing to rosenworcel's record at the commission which includes supporting net neutrality, treating the internet as a public utility, and increasing access for under-served populations. in a setback for palestinian rights, secretary of state nominee tony blinken said during his confirmation hearing this week that the biden administration will not reverse trump's contested move of the u.s. embassy to jerusalem, also recognizing jerusalem as the capital of israel.
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palestinian journalist lama khater tweeted quote "everything is subject to change in the agendas of successive u.s. administrations, except for absolute loyalty to israel." senate democrats have rejected a proposal by republican minority leader mitch mcconnell to preserve the 60-vote legislative filibuster as part of a power-sharing agreement. democrats are seeking to prevent a minority of senators from derailing ambitious legislation like president biden's proposed $1.9 trillion coronavirus rescue package. mcconnell has threatened to block an organizing resolution laying out rules and committee assignments for the new senate session, unless democrats agree to maintain the filibuster. meanwhile, senator mcconnell called thursday on democrats to delay former president trump's impeachment trial until february, in order to give trump's legal team more time to prepare. his call came as house speaker nancy pelosi said she would send the article of impeachment to the senate soon.
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>> the fact is, the president of the united states committed an act of incitement of insurrection. i don't think it is very unifying to say, let's just forget it and move on. amy: several senate democrats have filed an ethics complaint against republican senators ted cruz and josh hawley over their role in inciting the deadly january 6th insurrection at the capitol and seeking to overturn the results of the 2020 election. the complaint with the senate -- the complaint seeks an investigation into whether cruz, hawley, or any of the senato' staffers were in contact with organizers of the riot or helped to coordinate their actions. this comes as federal agents in michigan have arrested former u.s. marine michael joseph foy for assaulting a federal officer and other charges related to the january 6th insurrection at the capitol.
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video appears to show foy using a hockey stick to repeatedly bash a prone police officer who was dragged into a violent mob trying to push its was inside the capitol. npr reports nearly 1 in 5 people charged over the january 6th attack are u.s. military veterans. a coalition of 135 civil rights organizations is calling on congress not to pass new anti-terrorism laws in the wake of the january 6th attacks, warning they could be used to expand racial profiling, or to surveil communities of color and political opponents in the name of national security. wade j. henderson of the leadership conference on civil and human rights said quote, "the government's inadequate response to rising white nationalism is a disgraceful policy failure. the problem is hardly new, and prosecutors have long had a multitude of criminal statutes at their disposal to confront white supremacist violence."
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to see our interview with the aclu, you can go to in immigration news, the biden administration has suspended the controversial trump era "remain in mexico" program. the 2019 policy forced tens of thousands of asylum seekers to wait in dangerous conditions, in crowded, squalid refugeeamps across northern mexi while their cases make the way through u.s. courts. this is asylum seeker marlen, speaking to the advocacy group pueblo sin fronteras about facing homelessness with her family after being taken to -- sent to mexico. >> we vividly remember when we arrived to the immigration office in mexico, they did not give us a place to sleep or anything to eat. our children slept on the floor that night. amy: president biden is set to sign an executive order today speeding delivery of food aid
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and millions of stimulus checks to families struggling to afford rent, utilities and groceries. on thursday, house speaker nancy pelosi said lawmakers would move immediately on a new covid relief bill, with house passage likely in early february. in labor news, the grocery delivery app instacart is laying off nearly 2,000 workers, including a group of employees from illinois who created the first and only union of instacart workers and inspired others across the country to organize. the 10 illinois employees were in the process of negotiating their first union contract. instacart is reportedly offering fired workers a severance pay of just $250. in new york, congressmember alexandria ocasio-cortez skipped president biden's inauguration celebrations wednesday evening to join striking workers at the hunts point produce market in the bronx. workers have been on strike since sunday, demanding better wages. this is ocasio-cortez speaking at the picket line outside hunts market.
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>> you are not just asking for one dollar, you are asking for transformational change for your life and the lives of food workers across this country. there is a lot of things upside down right now in our economy. amy: and it union members at "the new yorker" magazine announced a 24-hour strike yesterday morning, denouncing quote "management's egregious wage proposal" in their ongoing contract talks. according to the union, the wage proposal includes the right to decrease union member'' salaries by up to 20% at any time. in a statement, unionized employees wrote quote "we are committed to "the new yorker," which is why many of us have worked here years, even decades, despite low and stagnant wages. however, much we may love our jobs, that love is not enough to live on." and those are some of the headlines. this is democracy now,, the war and
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-- the quarantine report. i'm amy goodman. on his first full day in office, president biden unveiled a 198-page national plan to tackle the coronavirus pandemic and ramp up vaccines as the u.s. death toll tops 410,000. this comes after president trump left biden with no plan for a national vaccine rollout. biden signed 10 executive orders to create a new national covid-19 testing board, to help schools reopen, to mandate international travelers to quarantine upon arrival and to require masks on many forms of interstate transportation. another order creates a covid-19 health equity task force. biden also invoked the defense production act to increase covid-19 testing and the production of vaccine supplies. >> today, i am signing executive action to use the defense production act and all other available authorities, to direct
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all federal agencies and private industry to accelerate the making of every means needed to take care of our people. amy: president biden said a war-time effort is needed to combat the virus. >> our national plan launches a full-scale wartime effort to address the supply shortages by ramping up production of protective equipment. when i say wartime, people look at me like, wartime? as i said last night, 400,000 americans have died. that is more than have died in all of world war ii. we will make sure that science and public -- scientists and public health experts will speak directly to you. that is why you're going to hear a lot more from dr. fauci again. we are going to make sure they work free from political interference, that they make
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decisions straightly based on science and health care alone, science and health alone, not what the political consequences are. the honest truth is, we are still in a dark winter of this pandemic. it is going to get worse before it gets better. it is going to take many months to get where we need to be. amy: on thursday, the nation's top infectious disease doctor anthony fauci spoke to reporters at the white house and was asked about the difference between working under president trump and president biden. >> i don't want to be going back over history, but it is very clear there were things that were said, be it regarding things like hydroxychloroquine and other things like that, that really was uncomfortable because they were not based on scientific fact. i can tell you, i take no pleasure at all in being in a situation of contradicting the president. it was really something that you did not feel you could actually say something and i wouldn't be any repercussions about it. the idea that you can get up
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here and talk about what you ow, what the evidence, what the science is and know that is it, let the science speak. it is somewhat of a liberating feeling. amy: to talk more about the biden administration's covid plan we are joined by dr. ashish brown university school of public health. he was previously the director of harvard university's global health institute. welcome back to democracy now! can you respond to the series of executive orders that president biden has just unveiled and signed in his first days in office? what is most significant? dr. jha: thank you for having me on. you look at the whole package of activities, it just feels like the federal government is back and will play a constructive and helpful role in this pandemic and response. that is critical because the strategy under the trump team was let every state fure it out on their own and the federal
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government was largely absent. there is a series of things that are important. one is the executive order to start collecting data in a more systematic way. data is the lifeblood of any pandemic response, and we have been hampered by lack of good federal data. there so much more than that, rejoining who, getting our defense production act powers for testing and vaccinations. i am pretty pleased with the whole package. it is straightforward, basic public health. i don't mean to denigrate it by calling it basic, but it is science driven stuff i wish we had a year ago. amy: let's talk about what is happening right now in this country. you have more than 900 thousand vaccines being administered every day, which sounds like a lot, but is not. here in new york, people are waiting in the freezing cold hour after hour to get a
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vaccine. they will sign up for an appointment, get an appointment for a past date or it is canceled, clearly running out of vaccines around the country. can you explain what the use of the defense production act, what so many were calling on trump to invoke month after month, what it actually could mean? could companies and factories that have been closed down, this also involves employment for people going back to fdr, a kind of entire public program of actually making these vaccines or parts of the vaccines, either the chemicals or the actual -- not only the ingredients, but what is needed in making the needles in the vaccines? dr. jha: absolutely. first of all, the reason we a having those long lines and canceled appointments is because
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of the approach the trump administration took through operation warp speed. it did have its successes, but in the last month, they did a terrible job of communicating to states how many vaccines people were going to get. states would be told, you are going to get 100,000 vaccines into days and then it would be canceled or they would be changed. it made planning for this incredibly difficult. what the defense production act can definitely do is help with all of the things that go into getting a vaccine into somebody's arm. it is about the vials, the syringes. the way that these vials are filled, you can often get an extra dose out of them if we have the right syringe. this simple, basic stuff that the trump administration paid little attention to, that president biden's team has been very clear they are going to maximize every single thing. e question of, can we use the dpa to somehow make more
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vaccines, turns out to be a far trickier question. the problem there is these are complicated vaccin to make you cannot just have somebody else step in and make these mrna vaccines without a lot of technical expertise and specialized equipment, much that comes from countries outside of the united states. there are going to be challenges to ramping up a lot more production. i do think the biden team is definitely going to try to do that. there are going to be some technical limitations that will make it hard for us to start producing tens of millions of these vaccines every day. i think that is not going to be possible because of technical challenges. amy: it raises very interesting questions when it is a massive shortage in the world of vaccines. was it the world health organization said, of the 46 countries now vaccinating their populations at whatever speed,
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only one of them is a low income country. these vaccines have to get out all over. i was just going back years in "health affairs," the magazine, to an article that talked about a little known law that could allow the federal government to substantially lower prices for high cost drugs allowing the government the right to use patented inventions without permission while paying the patent holder reasonable and entire compensation, assessing the potential for the federal government to invoke it to make important, new, high cost therapies widely available to patients. this is well before the pandemic. you already have, is at the factory in belgium that they had to stop because they had big problems with the manufacturer of the vaccine? there are factories all over the country that have been shut down.
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pushing harder on this, will they have to be mages very carefully, or because of the capitalist system that we work in, there is this sacrosanct, we will not challenge the purview of these corporations when there is such a lack of necessary vaccine right now that so many hundreds of thousands of people are dying? dr. jha: there are several pointshat are worth pickin apart. one certainly is that we have got to have a global strategy. this is one of the many atrocious policies of the trump administration. we were the only major country, along with russia, that was not part of kovacs, the global effort to get vaccinations out to people around the world. we need to rejoin kovacs, in the biden administration has been clear that they will. second, there is a whole host of vaccines that is going to be possible.
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astrazeneca, johnson & johnson. we should see data from them in the next few days. we are going to really need a global strategy. on the issue of patents, the issue on my mind is i don't think the biden the ministration is going to let americans die because of a desire not to infringe patents. if you think about it from a moderna or pfizer point of view, if there were other companies that could make their products, they would be happy to license it. there are mechanisms to do it. i really do believe there are capacity issues on this that are not unsolvable, but i think there has been no effort to try and solve them from the previous team. what i expect others in the biden administration is to look into those questions and say, how do we put the power of the federal government towards ramping up production of these specific vaccines? the one last thing i will say about these vaccines is because they are technically
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complicated, you have to be careful about making qualities. that is not my way of saying whether or pfizer can do it, lots of companies can, but we have to be careful we don't end up testing of the really high quality of these vaccines that are so important to keeping people confident that the vaccines are going to be safe and effective. i think all of this is going to be looked at, but there are a set of challenges that go beyond patents. amy: you have written an article "it's time to consider delaying the second dose of coronavirus vaccine." it is an op-ed that was in "the washington post." on what science are you basing this? we all know that moderna and pfizer will not be true with johnson & johnson. it requires two shots. why do you think you can get away with one shot? usually, people have a reaction to the second shot, which is about a month later, which suggests the bolster shot -- the
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booster shot is the one that basically kicks up the reaction and in unity. dr. jha: as the title says, it is timto consider delayi the second shot, not foregoing the second shot. everybody needs to shots, there is no doubt about that in my mind. if you look at the data from the clinical trials, it is also very clear that one shot provides about 80% to 90% protection at least until the second shot is given. the question in front of us, is in a normal situation, would we even think about doing a second shot? no, we would give everybody their second shot on time. the question that me and my colleague, we spoke to a large number of immunologists and asked the question, if we delay the second shot by a few weeks,
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what are the chances that the protection from the first shot was somehow waned dramatically after four weeks -- wane dramatically after four weeks? everyone agrees it is extremely unlikely that you could delay it by a few weeks. our idea was that we have a set of vaccines sitting on shelves. let's get them out into people's ms. let's assume that because we have done the checking, the production of the vaccines will continue to go well. as the new vaccines come off the production line, give everybody their second shot, and let's do this particularly for high risk individuals. i would rather have all of those folks have their first shot, and most of them will get there second shot on time. in my mind, that is not a particularly risky thing based on the data. what we know is that if we don't do that and we don't vaccinate more people, given the u.k. variance that is circulating in
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the u.s. that has all of us extremely concerned, we are looking at another 100,000 americans dead in the next four to six weeks and things getting worse after that. that is the alternative. in that context, this felt like it was both science based and would not be people at risk -- put people at risk. definitely not forgo it or delay it by many months. amy: i'm trying to cram and some any questions. >> today, i am formalizing the health equity task force that we announced in the transition, led by the brilliant doctor, who is going to ensure that quality is at the core ofverything we make. that means building trust in communities as well as fighting disinformation campaigns that are already underway. amy: i don't think people
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understood that information on who is getting sick, who is dying the most was actually not being kept for months, is that right? dr. jha: that is absolutely right. when i started off earlier saying that one of the these executive orders i am most excited about is collecting better data. one could say you coulhave predicted it given our nonstructural inequities in society, but we did not know. it became clear much later. i think what we are going to see from the equity task force is far better systematic data collection, making sure policies on vaccinations and tesng don't leave behind people who are disproportionately being impacted. i am very pleased to see that, so we will see where the equity task force goes, but there is important work here -- amy: very quickly because we are almost one minute over. are the variance going to lead
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to non-immunity with these ccines? dr. jha: i think that is pretty unlikely. i think the u.k. variant looks like the vaccine is going to be effecte. there is some question about thatith the south africa variant. i remain very optimistic. we have got to get people vaccinated because we don't want to keep pushing our luck and having more variance pop up. the best way to stop more variance is to get the pandemic under control. amy: thank you so much for being with us. this is democracy now! when we come back, we are going to north dakota, to the standing rock sioux, to the decision to vaccinate the elders, the keepers of the language so that not only do the elders not die, but the languages don't die with them.
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♪ ♪ [music break]
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amy: that is "amazing grace" during the covid national memorial at the reflecting pool. she sings in her hospital, and so, president biden asked her to come and sing for the country. this is democracy now! i am amy goodman. as the coronavirus death toll in the united states passes 410,000, and the vaccine rollout continues shakily across the country, we spend the rest of the hour looking at the fight to save tribal elders and native-language speakers who have been devastated by the virus.
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facing woefully inadequate health care, lack of government support and the living legacy of centuries of colonialism, tribal communities have faced staggering losses as covid-19 ripped through indian country. native americans have died at at least twice the death rate of white people across the u.s. pillars of tribal communities have been lost along with their knowledge of native languages. jason salsman, a spokesman for -- spokesperson for the muscogee (creek) nation, told the "new york times" the losses were akin to a "cultural book-burning." to combat this crisis, the standing rock sioux tribe has prioritized elders who speak the dakota and lakota languages to receive the covid vaccine. this is tribal health director margaret gates speaking in december. >> we had met with tribal
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council, and at the request of leadership as well, we added in the 65 and older affluent speakers to be first in line because usually, they will come down, but we bump them up to the top because they are our most important asset to our tribe and people because of the language. amy: for more on this critical issue, we're joined by three guests. in bismarck, north dakota, jodi archambault is a citizen of the standing rock sioux tribe and the former special assistant to president obama for native american affairs for the white house domestic policy council. in manderson, soh dakota, alex white plume is the former vice president and president of the oglala sioux tribe of the pine ridge reservation. he is a lakota interpreter. and in standing rock, north dakota, nola taken alive is a member of the standing rock sioux tribal council. both of her parents recently died of covid-19. her father, standing rock sioux
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elder jesse "jay" taken alive, was a fluent lakota speaker and an ardent defender of the language, spoken by only 2000 people. he was just 65. we welcome all of you to democracy now! nola, our condolences on the loss of both of your parents. if you can talk about them with us, she their life stories. nola: good morning, ank you for havi me on. it is my pleasure to speak about my parents. but first of all, i want to send my condolences out to those people who have also lost family members and relatives and loved ones to this uy virus. it is my honor, again, to speak about my parents. i want to say that my parents were very humble people. to be able to speak about them, will try to do my best.
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i lost my mother in november of 2020. about a month later, i lost our father to the virus as well. they played a very important role not only in my siblings' and our family's lives, but the entire community of standing rock. i would also say how important my dad's role had played in all of indian country and all of probably north and sth dakota with hisisdom, his knowledge of t lakota language, of treaties, of humanity, just humanssues that my dad would bring to the forefront, especially about healing. my dad was the hugest advocate of not only being lakota or understanding who we are as a people and the huge
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losses that we have suffered since time immemorial, but he continued to believe and even to his last breath, people will label him as a spiritual warrior, which he was, both my parents were. amy: i wanted to share the words of your father. this is jesse taken alive speaking directly to young people about preserving the lakota language. >> the language comes from the creator. it does not belong to one of us. the language belongs to all of us. my message to all of the young people, the yog man ash to young men, young women, boys, girls, this is your language. when you learn it, you are going to be able to learn more about this beautiful thing called life because it comes from the opportunity to share your feelings, your thoughts, to
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express yourself, comes with our language. i ask you to take the courage -- [speaking lakota]. i believe that they will be a day when all of you will talk [speaking lakota]. finally, in closing, i ask you to do this on behalf of all the -- of us that are older tha you. take the courage to learn the language. amy: jesse taken alive, who,
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with his wife cheryl, both came down with covid and were taken in the last months. when was your mom and dad diagnosed? nola: i believe it started out in the middle of october. my dad was diagnosed first. about 1.5 weeks later, my mom was diagnosed. they fought hard and tried to stay with us, but it is a tough virus. amy: i wanted to bring jodi into this conversation. she worked in the obama white house and also the sister of the former chair. she is speaking to us from bismarck. you are the special assistant to president obama for native american affairs for the white house domestic policy council. talk about the policy of the
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standing rock sioux around the issue of elders and keepers of the language. jodi: i think that every tribe has the ability to prioritize and make preferences for who receives the virus first. amy: you mean the vaccine? jodi: yes, sorry. knowing that there were a lot of elders who were at really high risk, this was a concern from the very beginning, from the onset of covid. i think it took the leadership of the tribal council to understand from just going over the previous year's losses and what has happened throughout the
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time, and i am just really proud ofhem. this is something that is in the decision-making powers of every tribal nation in the country. amy: i wanted to ask nola first about your name, taken alive. if you can talk about the origins of it. and then, you are a member of the tribal council that decided to prioritize the elders who speak the dakota and lakota languages. i was wonding if y could respond, if you could tell us about the community response, but begin with your name, taken alive. nola: i think that there is a couple of stories that originate back to our last name, taken alive. one of those stories being that a long te ago, o of our
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ancestors was what you would call a police officer or would take those in who would do such wrongdoings in the community and instead killing them, would take them alive. it wasn't a thing where we held that in honor as far as killing people. that was one of the stories. as far as prioritizing our elders, and this is something dad always talked about as far as our language, and he will always say that our langua is spitual. when we talk about spiritual, we talk about our identity of who we a. it must be known that throughout the world that native americans or american indians were not granted freedom of religion act unti 1978.
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if you can thinkbout that, i was only one years old where my parents, my grandparents could actually pray and use our cemonies ithe open. before that, it was outlawed. with our ceremonies also was our language. we have to look back at the oppression that has happened to our people for generations, for centuries. you think back, one years old, it was not until the late, i want to say 1970's, early 1980's when my dad -- he grew up speaking the lakota language since he was born. it was his first language. he did not start practicing our ceremonial ways until he was in his mid-2's, late 20's because of how 1978.
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again, it goes bac to being able to openly and freely practice who we were or who we are. i just want to reiterate that because not all of the world understands where we are, that we even belong here or that we even exist. i think our people have been romanticized as far as, do you still live in teepees? honestly, my dad, i am proud of him. my dad was a lakota language teacher up until his passing. he actually taught from his teepee. he liv in a house, but he set up his teepee outside of his house and he would set up his laptop, run his extension cord
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and made sure the spirit of the language, through the teepee, because he always reiterated that the language is spiritual. beg inonnection with the earth, connection with everything around him, he wanted to make sure that he was teaching, that he was passing his knowledge on to the younger generations. i am really proud of that. that was just up until october my dad was still teaching from his teepee. amy: i wanted to bring alex in. speaking to us from south dakota. he is a lakota interpreter. if you can talk about the effects of covid-19 on your community, particularly the elders and keepers of the culture and language. you are an interpreter, what this means for the lakota and lakota languages.
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alex: good morning to everybody. i was really shocked last january when the first time we heard this covid. my wife and i deded to isolate. as we sat here on our land -- we don't live up in housing or built-up areas -- certain ings happened. they implemented a curfew. a while ter, they introduced a lockdown where we were prisoners in our own hse. me, personally, i served four years in berlin, germany with the u.s. army. i went to the german museum that ey made for the jews that they killed and you had to have two forms of id,nce out on the jacket and on paper. two years ago, the united states passed a law where we had to have two forms of id. the impact of that lockdown, to me, was frightening. it was too extreme.
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it seems le they cou have come up with more testing. bring more doctors a health people in and test people and if someone is sick, isolate them there. instead, we were locked down like we were in prison. psychologically, that had an impact on a lot of people that we knew we were not living free like we were supposed to but in a prison of war camp. it really had a negative impact on many ofs. on the pine ridge rervati, about 90% of us are unemployed. agine 17 people living in a house with no food, electricity is gting ready to get turned off, and then, you are locked down. the tribe never went to pay the electricompany's bill, so the lights were turned off. it waseally a negative impact on us. at the same time, many lakot speakers were dyg of this new disease. we did not now how it came here. we are not close to any bills of
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cities, but some of our people may have went to the towns and caught it and came home, and that is how it spread on the reservation. it was a real scary time for most of us here on the pine ridge reservation. amy: you are planning to teach lakota to children. can you talk about the importance of teaching lakota to more members of the tribe and why you feel this is so critical? alex: sure. my wifstarted and almost freedom school. we always talk culture. she taught them how to pick cherries, rries, turnips, butcher buffalo meat, tan hides. she was inging them culturally, and the language was really predominant. that is the one we needed to learn. i will share a story about how i asked to marry her. i was sitting in the house and
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we were speaking lakota in the living room and enjoying a discussion. she was sitting at the table. in lakota, i asked, how do you ask a woman to marry you in lako? he laughed and laugh. she kind of looked up at me with one eye. he said, you know you can't take a man and own her. you can't declare her your wife. our lakota women are matriarchs and they have power that you can't control. i recommend to you that you seeing a beautiful sg, and if she likes the song, maybe she will marry you. [laughter] athe table, i sang a song that i knew. she looked at me and says ok, white plume, i will take you for my man. what uncle mark described is the scription of marriage.
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you take part of the sun to create life. that is our definition of t people living togher. that is so important and so different from the word "married." you say my we like you o a woman. that is contrary to lakota belief. therefore,he lakota language is really important. it is a natural languagthat evolved over millio of years with many other different species that were existing at the time. amy: we have to break, but we are going to come back to talk about what is happening with the dakota access pipeline. alex, i would like you to stay with us because i want you to tell us about your late wife, the lakota water and land offender. also, -- defender. also, i would like to ask jodi to stay with us to understand why biden is now making a
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distinction between xl and the dakota pipeline. i want tohank, and again, our deepest condolences on the death of your mother and father. clearly, their legacy continues and lives on. nola taken alive speaking to us from the standing rock sioux reservation. we will be back in 30 seconds. ♪ ♪ [music break]
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amy: "song from mother earth" by lakota. on his first day in office, presidenjoe bideissued a execute order to sh dowthe keysto xl pipene. on tueay, the anding rk sioutribe, ang with e clate juste group earthjtice, reased a veo message preside biden i the lako languagpleadingim to also ut down e dakota access peline. still with us, jodi, also alex, a lakota interpreter who just
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lost his wife, deb white plume, who we are going to learn about. . jodi, can you talk about this distinction? while you understand keystone xl has stopd, but not dakota access pipeline and what your demands are? jodi: i don't understand the distinction the biden administration is making because the pipeline is illegal. dakota access pipeline is an illegal pipeline. it was stated in the lower d.c. district court that it violated nepa. basically, the energy transfer partners and the dakota access pipeline are encroaching on federal lands right now. president biden has the discretion to comply with the law, which is depa.
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he has the grounds to make this decision and it is not that hard. if he is worried about the legality of it, he is covered because this has been litigated. the best thing that he can do is drop the appeal to this and stop the oil from flowing. now. amy: i wanted to now bring back in alex white plume to ask about your wife and her legacy. lakota water and land defender debra white plume, who passed away this past november. born and raised on the pine ridge reservation in sth dakota. she helped lead the fight against fossil fuel extraction and oil and gas pipelines. in 2016, we spoke with her at a protest camp on the standing rock sioux reservation in north dakota, where she joined water defenders fighting the dakota access pipeline. this is some of what she said. >> if the pipeline is put in, it
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is going to leak or spill or burst or explode. that oil is going to get into the water. dakota access pipeline says they are going to bury it 30 feet under, and they are assuring everybody it is going to be safe. but i think western science doesn't really know everything it inks it knows. we need to make our decisions based on what is best for mother earth and our coming generations. that includes protecting our water. water is under threat all over the world right now. there are people that have no access to clean drinking water. amy: that is debra white plume. we met her at the standing rock reservation. can you talk about her commitment to stping the dakota access pipeline? alex: yeah. amy: i am so sorry on your loss,
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alex. i know to play the video, you relive your wife. alex: i remember a time when she said, white plume, come in here, i want to talk to you about something seris. e says, you know i am going to fight againstancer. these mining companies are destroying our water. i developed a plan. it is gointo takme 25 years to take on the largest uranium mining company in the world. to have a mining company 20 miles from our bder, she says, can i have you support me? i need you to stand by me. this is going to be a long fight. what she did, she d a lot of researchnd attacked them where they were the weakt.
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that is the permeating pcess. she did not just say we are going to go out and fig the mining company, she did studies and found out where they were going to apply the permitting. it took h 25 yea, but she shut down the uranium mines. -- mine. amy: we just have 10 seconds. alex: they were going through the permitting process, so she attacked them and that is how we shut them down the first time was through the permitting process. you just ca't take these llionaire corporions on. she always used strategy. amy: jodi, can you tell us that the biden administration is weighing what to do with dapl? jodi: i believe that they are and i think they understand this is a risk that the energy transfer partners knew they were taking. energy transfer partners said
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that $7.5 billion -- this has to be a statement. if the biden administration stands for racial justice and equity, climate justice, when are we going to have justice in standing rock? amy: jodi
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>> we cannot, will not let people go hungry. >> u.s. president joe biden signs executive orders to help millions struggling during the pandemic, calling it a national emergency. you're watching al jazeera. coming up. accused of inciting an insurrection, the impeachment trial of donald trump is set to begin next week.


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