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tv   Democracy Now  LINKTV  September 2, 2022 8:00am-9:01am PDT

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[captioning made possible by democracy now!] ♪ amy: from new york, this is democracy now! pres. biden: there is no question that the republican party today is dominated and intimidated by donald trump and the magna republicans. and that is a threat to this country. amy: in a primetime speech in philadelphia, president biden has warned that donald trump and his maga supporters are
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threatening the foundations of the nation. we will speak to duke professor nancy maclean, author of "democracy in chains: the deep history of the radical right's stealth plan for america.” then as millions in california are under an extreme heat wave, we go to los angeles to look at the city's most vulnerable, the un-housed. >> when the pandemic hit, we knew who would be impacted the most and we worked hard to send resources to los angeles. it is not just the height of the pandemic but homelessness has continued and we need to have the support on an ongoing basis. amy: there are 60,000 unhoused people in los angeles county in a region where 20,000 hotel rooms remain vacant every night. we will look at plans to connect
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the two. all that and more, coming up. welcome to democracy now!,, the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman. president joe biden warned in a primetime speech thursday that donald trump and his supporters pose an existential threat to democracy in the united states. biden spoke in philadelphia in front of independence hall, where the declaration of independence and u.s. constitution were debated and signed. pres. biden: as i stand here tonight, equality and democracy are under assault. donald trump and the maga republicans represent an extremism that threatens the very foundations of our republic. amy: biden's remarks came less than 10 weeks before midterm elections, when control of both the house and senate are at stake. after headlines we'll air
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extended clips of biden's speech and get response from duke university professor nancy maclean. a federal judge in washington, d.c. has sentenced a former new york city police officer to 10 years in prison after he was filmed attacking a capitol police officer with a flagpole during the january 6, 2021 insurrection. thomas webster's sentence is the longest of about 250 handed down so far against people who followed then-president donald trump's order to march on the capitol to prevent congress from certifying joe biden's election victory. meanwhile the house select committee probing the january 6th attack has asked newt gingrich to testify, saying the former republican house speaker helped to incite the anger of trump supporters by repeatedly making false claims about the 2020 election. newly revealed public records show the wife of supreme court
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justice clarence thomas pressured republican lawmakers in wisconsin to overturn joe biden's 2020 victory. emails show that two days after media outlets called the election for biden, ginni thomas messaged wisconsin state representative gary tauchen and the chair of the wisconsin senate elections committee, kathy bernier, asking them to "take action to ensure that a clean slate of electors is chosen for our state.” the washington post previously reported ginni thomas emailed 29 arizona lawmakers asking them to choose an alternative slate of pro-trump presidential electors. the revelations have prompted calls for justice clarence thomas to step down -- or face impeachment. but so far, he has refused to recuse himself from cases related to the 2020 election and the january 6 insurrection -- even though his wife took part in the january 6th so-called
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“stop the steal” rally in washington, d.c. in ukraine, inspectors with you an international atomic energy agency arrived at the russian occupied zapper region nuclear power plant after intense shelling delayed their his by several hours. the aea chief said after touring the site, the physical integrity of the site had been repeatedly violated by fighting between russia and ukraine. russia's defense ministry accused ukraine terrorism by firing artillery at the complex. in kyiv, president zelenskyy hailed the visit but said russian soldiers have locked inspectors from entering the power plants crisis center. he called for the establishment of demilitarized zones near the nuclear site. >> for more than three decades,
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our specialist have managed these facities. the iaea ner had concerns regarding the activities of any of these facilities until russia invaded our territory and brought its madness here. amy: ukraine denies shelling zaporizhzhia, the largest power plant in europe. in moscow, the chair of the russian energy giant lukoil has died under mysterious circumstances. russia's news agency reported that he fell from a six story window of a moscow hospital thursday morning, then later reported that he had taken his own life. he presided over a meeting of lukoil's board short the after russia invaded ukraine in february where board members called for a speedy end to the conflict and expressed sympathy to the wars victims.
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the lukoil chair is the latest in several high profile business elites to die under unusual circumstances in recent months. russia has begun live fire military exercises involving troops from china and other nations. the week-long war games in russia's far east and the sea of japan involve some 50,000 troops from russia, china, several former soviet republics, as well as algeria, syria, mongolia, laos, and nicaragua. india also sent a small, 75-soldier strong contingent to join the drills. this comes as a combined force of south korean and u.s. troops are staging their largest live-fire exercises in years less than 20 miles from north korea's border, and just two weeks after troops from australia and canada joined u.s.-led wargames with off the coast of hawaii with the militaries of south korea and
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japan. taiwan's government says it has shot down a civilian drone from china for the first time. on thursday, taiwan's prime minister said his government had taken the "appropriate" response to repeated incursions by pilot-less aircraft crossing the taiwan strait. >> china has a drones flying into our country and the send video to send back for use in internal propaganda. we have warned and repeatedly asked china not to invade or intrude. also the taiwanese people feel resentment toward these actions. amy: in afghanistan, at least 18 people were killed today21 injured in an explosion at a mosque in the western afghan city. the blast went off during friday noon prayers. the dead included a prominent
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cleric who was close to the taliban. he is the second proton been cleric to be killed over the past month. in argentina, vice president cristina fernandez de kirchner survived an apparent assassination attempt outside her home in buenos aires thursday evening. video from the scene shows kirchner greeting supporters when a man suddenly points a pistol at her face at point-blank range. the weapon apparently misfires, and after several seconds of confusion, the attacker is taken into custody. police later named the gunman as a 35-year-old brazilian man who's lived in argentina since 1993 and has a history of carrying weapons. his motive remains unknown. the attack came just days after prosecutors called for a 12-year
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prison sentence and a ban on public office for kirchner, who is accused of a scheme to divert public funds during her term as president from 2007 to 2015. kirchner denies the charges. in chile, thousands of people rallied in the capital santiago thursday evening as campaigns both for and against a new constitution came to a close ahead of a national referendum on sunday. voters will decide whether to replace the constitution created under the dictatorship of augusto pinochet, who came to power in a 1973 coup supported by the united states. chile's new draft constitution enshrines human rights and social programs, including free universal access to healthcare, higher education and reproductive rights. this is carlos diaz, president of the chilean teachers college. >> the teachers of chile on the fourth of september will vote on your proof, because we finally have a constitution where
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education is perceived as a fundamental human right. amy: the niece of a palestinian-american journalist who was shot dead by israeli troops is demanding the biden administration launch a formal independent investigation into her killing. on may 11th, shireen abu akleh was wearing a press uniform while reporting on an israeli army raid in the occupied west bank when she was fatally shot in the head. several media organizations, including cnn, the new york times, and al jazeera have all determined the israeli military killed abu akleh. her niece, lina abu akleh spoke from the national press club in washington, d.c., thursday, after it honored shireen with a posthumous award. she said president joe biden has done nothing to hold israel accountable for her aunt's killing. >> he still has not taken action. he continues to ignore the importance of this case.
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most importantly, he is not upholding the values that he continues to preach. amy: the number of sexual assaults reported by u.s. military service members rose by 13% last year. that's according to the associated press, citing u.s. defense and military officials, who blamed a rollback for coronavirus restrictns for t rise in sexual violence. in a survey, nearly 36,000 military memrs reportethey had experienced unwanted sexual contact -- that's almost double the number rorted in 2018. california state lawmakers have approved $54 billion in new spending to combat the climate crisis. the legislation puts new limits on oil and gas drilling and orders california to transition to 90% renewable electricity by 2035. it also provides billions of dollars for electric vehicles -- and controversially, postpones
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e planned closure of california's last nuclear power reactors at the half-century old diablo canyon power plant south of los angeles. construcon of thnuclear plant gan i1968. sevesemic faullines ha nce beeniscoverenear the site, prpting fears at an earthqke or tsami coul trigger a disasterikthe 2011 meltwns at fukushima, pan. a warning to our audience: our next story contains graphic images and descriptions of police violence. in columbus, ohio, the family of an unarmed black man shot dead by police in his own apartment is calling for the officer responsible to be held accountable. early tuesday morning, 20-year-old donovan lewis was fatally shot by an officer just one second after police burst through the door to his bedroom to arrest him, they said, on
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outstanding warrants. bodycam footage shows officer ricky anderson -- a 30-year police veteran -- shot lewis just one second after opening a door to the bedroom. officers then handcuffed lewis, who died less than an hour later at a hospital. rex elliot is an attorney for donovan lewis's family. >> donovan was unarmed. he was abiding by police commands to come out of his room when he was shot in cold blood by officer anderson. there was no justification. let me be clear, no justification, for officer anderson to shoot and unknown unarmed man trying to get out of bed as police officers were instructing him to do. amy: u.s. senator bernie sanders has joined a rally of striking british workers in london, saying workers need to stand together to fight against corporate greed and billiaires anuncing more wealth. it is amona series of strikes
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impacting public services with workers demanding better pay and response to higher inflation. >> what we have seen is a massive distribution of wealth going exactly in the wrong way. the middle class is shrinking, and the people on top are getting wealthier. our job is to take on these oligarchs. our job is to imagine a world of justice. it is not radical. it is not radical to say that every worker in the u.k. and in the united states is entitled to a different standard of living. that is not a radical idea. amy: vermont senator bernie sanders speaking in britain. tune into our labor day show on monday where we bring you a howard zinn special, including a major address that he gave at the university of vermont in
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burlington. and those are some of the headlines. this is democracy now!,, the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman. coming up, president joe biden warns donald trump and his maga reporters pose a threat to democracy. we will get the reaction from professor nancy maclean. stay with us. ♪♪ [music break]
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amy: this is democracy now!,, the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman. president biden gave a primetime speech thursday night warning that donald trump and his maga supporters are threatening the foundations of the republic. biden spoke in philadelphia in front of independence hall, where the declaration of independence and u.s. constitution were debated and signed. this is part of president biden's speech. pres. biden: too much on what is happening in our country today
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is not normal. dold trump and the maga republicans represent an extremism that threatens the very foundations of our republic. i want to be very clear, very clear upfront. not every republican, not even the majority of republicans are maga republicans. notvery republican embraces their extreme ideology. i know, because i've been able to work with these mainstream republicans. but there is no question that the republican party today is dominated, driven, and intimidated by donald trump and the maga republicans. and that is a threat to this country. maga republicans do not respect the constitution. they do not believe in the rule of law. they do not recognize the will of the people. they refuse to except the results of a free election. they are working right now as i speak, in state after state, to
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give power to partisans, cronies, empower election deniers, to undermine democracy itself. maga forces are determined to take this country backward. backward to an ameca whe there is no right to choose, no right to privacy, no right to contraception, no right to marry who you love. they promote authoritarian leaders and they fan the flames of political violence that are a threat to our personal rights, to the pursuit of justice, to the rule of law, to the very soul of this country. they look at the mob that stormed the united states capitol on january 6, brutally attacking law enforcement, not as insurrectionists placed a dagger at the throat of our democracy, but they look at them as patriots.
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they see their maga failure as preparation for the 2022 and 2024 elections. they tried everythinlast time to nullify the votes of 81 million people. this time, they are determined to thwart the will of the people. that is why respected conservatives like federal circuit court judge michael ludwig has called trump and the extreme maga republicans " a clear and present danger to our democracy." amy: president biden speaking in philadelphia on thursday night. he went on to say the soul of the nation is at stake. pres. biden: i ran for president because i believe we are in a battle for the soul of this nation. i still believe that to be true.
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i believe the soul is the breadth, the life, the essence of who we are. the soul is what makes us, us. the soul of america is defined by the sacred proposition that all are created in the image of god. that all are entitled to be treated with dignity, decency, and respect. that all deserve justice and a shot at prosperity. and that democracy, democracy must be defended. for democracy makes all of these things possible. amy: just after the speech, democracy now! reached ben jealous, president of people for the american way, former president of the naacp >> tonight we saw joe biden give the most presidential speech he has ever given as president. i say this as somee who has been ariend of joe for a lg
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time in politics but has so taken serious issue when i thoughhe was moving in the wrong direction. i was arrest for votinrights protest five times in front of the white house last year. but what we saw last night was exactly the president that we need in the moment. he was confident, clear about big victories for the climate, big victories for students, the economy, but he was also very clear that he was drawing a line between maga extremists, and patriots and the rest of the nation. he was clear that we are at annex attention moment, -- existential moment, a moment that we all feel in our bones, but also that we have been tried like this and have come over it. amy: we are joined by professor from duke university and author of "democracy in chains: the
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deep history of the radical right's stealth plan for america.” she is joining us now from raleigh. welcome back, professor mclean. start out by sharing your overall response to the speech from independence hall in philadelphia. nancy: thank you. it's good to be with you again. this was the most important speech of president joe biden's political career, and it was a wake-up call to the nation and particularly to the mainstream media and the cuff time. -- in the nick of time. he was absolutely right, in my opinion, that the trump wing of the republican party and maga republicans has jumped the rails of actual universe and represented democracy. you cannot have a democracy in which one party does not accept the legitimacy of the other party's candidates, elected officials, the outcomes of
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elections. but that is where we are with donald trump and the maga faction since they first questioned the legitimacy of president obama's election, denied that he had been born in america. that was the start of all of this, and it is really important that president biden call that out for the nation. amy: i want to go back to president biden speaking last night. pres. biden: today, there are dangers around us that we cannot allow to prevail. you heard it. re and more talk about violence as an acceptable political tool in this country. it is not. it can never be an acceptable tool. i want to say this plain and simple. there is no place for political violence in america, period, none, ever. [applause]
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we saw a law enforcement brutally attacked on january 6. we have seen election workers, poll workers, volunteers subject to intimidation and death threats. and can you believe it? fbi agents just doing their job as directed facing threats to their own lives from their own fellow citizens. on top of that, there are public figures today, yesterday, the day before, predicting and all but calling for mass violence andioting in the streets. this is inflammatory, this is dangerous, it is against the rule of law. and we, the people, must say this is not who we are. amy: president biden speaking at independence hall last night in philadelphia, the second of three trips to philadelphia in a
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matter of days. his third will be in the next few days. professor maclean, as he talks about political violence, you say the best predictor for a successful coup is a failed coup for which there is no accountability. talk about the political violence, how it has been dealt with, what it means, what should be done. nancy: thank you. i think that is extremely important for people to understand, and that is not just me speaking, that is the consensus of comparative political science of those who study coups. we do not yet have accountability at the highest levels for the events on january 6 and the ongoing criminal conspiracy against our country that has been more than demonstrated by the house select committee to investigate the events of january 6.
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the problem is if you don't have accountability, those acts become normalized, and the people who engage in them become more emboldened to become more violent, more threatening. something that biden said at the top of his remarks is extremely important, that so much that has happened in recent years, certainly in the last year, is not normal. the problem that i see as an educator is that there are young people growing up who have known nothing else but this moment. there are many of us who have been so bruised by the pandemic, innured by this trump rhetoric and aggression, coming from his followers, that we can start to think that this is how we normal democracy functions. but it has not. the united states has slipped erratically down the scales of healthy democracies. 10 is the highest rating that you can get.
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by 2021, global evaluators saying that we were at five, with poland, slovenia, and hungary. hungary is interesting because maga republicans look to victor orban as a model. he is a model for them on how to use democracy to undermine democracy, make it impossible to remove an authoritarian leader. biden calling out this is extremely important. we have allowed ourselves to get to the point where threats and intimidation and violence are routinely used to intimidate people. let me be frank. this is terrorism. it has been directed most recently at the fbi, at our national archives, where the declaration and constitution are housed, it's been directed at teachers and school boards, public health officials, it's been directed at dr. fauci and his family, and yet mainstream
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news continues to practice both sidesism, pretense that this is just partisan. i am so glad that you are doing this extended segment on president biden's speech because i was shocked last night to learn that three major news networks were not caring the speech. even npr, when i got up this morning and turned on the radio, they gave it the most minimal coverage, put it in the context of the midterms, as if this was politics as usual. i think that was the exact opposite the message that the president was rightly trying to send. we face existential threats to democracy in america, and they are coming from one place, from donald trump and those he has persuaded to follow him with the big lie, with a calculated system of media disinformation, and most important, he and the donors hind them, and that
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media, have also cowed every republican elected official in office except liz cheney and adam kinzinger, both of whom have been defeated, and others will less well known who have spoken the truth, stood up to the lies, who have lost office or leaving, because they know they cannot be elected by this maga party. as the president said, we are absolutely at an inflection point in our country, and we must take stock and treat the incoming midterm as truly the chance we have two save democracy from further wreckage. there is no point in talking about candidates for 2024 if we do not stop the election deniers and the election rigers from gaining control in state after state as they are trying to now. those are the people who want
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all republican primaries. amy: i want to go to donald trump who was on newsmax, who admitted he is finanally supporting the people that were arrested on january 6 and more. >> i am financially supporting people that are incredible. they were in my office two days ago. it is very much on my mind. it's a disgrace what they have done to them. what they have done to these people is disgraceful. mostly it is firemen, policemen, people in the military, and i will tell you, i will look very favorably about for pardons if i decide to run and i went. i will be looking very strongly about pardons, full pardons. amy: former president donald trump, who is signaling he might be running again, that he would give them full pardons.
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also talking about police and firefighters that he is supporting. a former new york police officer was just sentenced to 10 years in prison. that is the latest news from yesterday. he attacked a police officer with an american flag pole. if you can talk about what he just said, professor maclean? nancy: what he has just said, amy, is something that should terrify us all. we have seen a republican party over the years that has tried to treat the rival party of democrats as illegitimate, ever since the days of newt gingrich using language that is inflammatory, talking around words like treason. frankly, what donald trump just described was treasonous conduct. he is talking about issuing blanket pardons to people who waged an attack on our country
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and attack -- an attack that ultimately took the lives of seven police officers, that resulted in millions of dollars worth of damage, desecrated our capitol, shamed us around the world, and he is talking about financially supporting these people and plans to issue pardons for them. not only is he not calling them criminals, people who violated the law, engaged in violence, attacked our country, he is actually elevating them as heroes. i want to go back to something that joe biden said that got him in trouble with republicans because he called out something accurate. when he use the phrase "semi -fascist" to describe the maga republicans, that isan apt phrase. we have elected officials and followers in one party behaving in a vicious tick away.
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donald trump just illustrated that with his line is asian with people who engaged in criminal violence. this is extremely important. if you look back to the inter--war period that brought us the regime of mussolini, which is marking its 100th anniversary this year, and later hitler, they started with that kind of celebration of violence, and also an effort to conquer major institutions of ciety and make them serve his project. look at what donald trump and the maga republicans are doing. they are trying to conquer critical institutions. he has pardons people in the military who engaged in illegal conduct. he has lifted them up as heroes. as you are saying, he has elevated those police officers who violated the law on january 6.
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we have had such a on election boards, public health workers in this country, teachers that we are seeing hemorrhaging in those fields. we don't have enough nurses, not enough public health people, not enough people in so many of the core institutions of our society. we also have republicans attacking the domain where i work, higher education, spreading lies, trying to divide students and faculty from community. we are at red alert stage. in military terms, it is devcon 14 democracy in america. it is time that mainstream america start to recognize that. president biden gave the call and said exactly what is happening in very clear and eloquent terms. we can only hope that americans respond calmly, deliberately, and with determination to alert their neighbors, to canvass for
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these midterms, to make sure people understand the high stakes of these elections. it is only the people who will be the guardrails of our democracy responding in a calm, nonviolent, determined way to ensure that we still have a democracy for generations to come, for our children and grandchildren. amy: professor maclean, you have also made it clear this is not just about president trump, that our situation is driven by our extreme right wing fossil fuel and dirty industry donors who have radicalized the republican party. can you elaborate? nancy: thank you for raising that. the donor question has all but fallen out of so much of the conversation, the media attention to the problems we are facing. this is what i research. particularly the koch network of
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donors convened by charles koch, the ceo of coke industries, one of the richest men in the world, who have convened other wealthy donors, not only in the u.s., but globally, particularly in the fossil fuel, tobacco, and other dirty industries, to try and shackle democracy. they have supported this republican party. they were the ones that drove it to the far right. it was the tea party, and then before that the efforts of the radical republicans like newt gingrich in congress. they are a serious threat to our democracy. this is one of the interesting thing that distinguishes our moment from the interwar period that saw mussolini and hitler's come to power. mussolini and hitler's came up through the streets, through radical violence, and then later won the backing of right-wing sections of capital and other institutions like the church and
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military. in our country, we have seen something different. this dark money fossil fuel donors led by charles koch have so poisoned the workings of our electoral system, we are in this position. we will not solve this problem that we face, will not get out of this crisis, unless we address that dark money, not only the money going to elected officials, but the money going tax-free to fund an apparatus of literally hundreds of organizations that are polluting our public debate, turning asked against one another, deforming our institutions, and have brought us to this precipice. amy: last question, before you wrote "democracy in chains: the deep history of the radical right's stealth plan for america " you wrote a book about the ku klux klan the kids ago. you look at that period in the
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1920's, right around that time where you had mussolini and hitler rising to power. in the u.s., you looked at how some 5 million ordinary protestant men joined the ku klux klan in the 20's. do you see parallels to toda nancy: yes, amy, and give the chills. sadly, the book is getting a second live all of these years later. ordinary americans see the parallels. donald trump has been this -- this radicalized republican party has breathed into these white supremacist, white national forces. it is no longer the ku klux klan at the forefront, but we see the proud boys, oath keepers, three presenters, all of these freelance militias who are committed to a set of ideas very much like those of the ku klux klan of the 1920's, and milder
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forms of which are embraced by this maga faction of the republican party, namely the idea that only certain people are legitimate americans. particularly white to class christians. that are the people do not belong. that they are there on suffrage -- sufferance. that white christian americans have the right to run the country, have the right to drive others out or subdue them, have the right to dictate, and that that is somehow god-given, and those elements of our history that president biden referenced last night, the ideals of the declaration of independence, that all men are created equal, that all people deserve dignity and voice, that is a reaction against that, a rejection of the multiracial democracy, the country that is supposed to be open to the progress and achievement of all.
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these ideas, sadly, have come back to us. it is like a rock's have been lifted up around the country and oxygen has been given to these forces that were always there but not encouraged in the way they have been in the last several years donald trump's dominance of the public discussion. absolutely right to say, to mention white supremacists, and to say that this is an emergency for our country, and that we must all pay attention. if we care about democracy, commit to making sure it will last and work for all of us. amy: nancy maclean, author of the book "democracy in chains: the deep history of the radical right's stealth plan for america ." professor of history and public policy at duke university in north carolina. next, as millions in california face extreme heat, we go to los angeles to look at the city's most vulnerable, the unhoused,
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and programs to place them in vacant hotel rooms. 60,000 unhoused on any given night. 20,000 vacant hotel rooms. stay with us. ♪♪ [music break]
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amy: we turn to california in the middle of a record-breaking heat wave, with temperatures 10 to 20 degrees hotter than usual. we are talking about over 100 degrees in some places in the region. some of those most vulnerable to the heat are the more than 150,000 people who are experiencing homelessness across the state. in los angeles county, there are an estimated 60,000 people who are un-housed even as some 20,000 hotel rooms remain vacant. last week, governor gavin newsom announced new funding for the
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state's homekey program to create homes for people exiting homelessness. it builds on a program called project roomkey, which sheltered thousands of people experiencing homelessness during the pandemic at hotels and motels and is now set to end. governor newsom spoke at a press conference alongside democratic california congressmember karen bass, who is now running for mayor of los angeles. the event was in her congressional district, a neighborhood where she grew up. >> to be here today and see this development, this is a very exciting step in the right direction. when the pandemic hit, in congress, we knew who would be impacted the most, and we fought hard to send resources to los angeles for project room key and project home key. i want to congratulate again the governor for the leadership and the foresight to say that these projects have to continue. it is not just at the height of the pandemic, but homelessness
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has continued, and we need to have the support on an ongoing basis. >> i want folks to know that they should not give up. i want folks to know that we are just winding up. i want folks to know that we are just getting started. the congresswoman was instrumental in helping us draw down federal money to do something never done in the united states, and that is where this room key model came from. we were able to use $846 million of federal money, not one dollar of state money, drew down $846 million, and in six months, we were able to procure, bring into a portfolio over 6000 housing units, unprecedented in the states history. we took that model, and because of the leadership of karen bass and others, we were able to get the biden administration to extend that program. that is the spirit of this moment.
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and allow us to take that original vision and now replicate it, where, with today's announcement, in a few days when people move in, 12,500 units we have brought online in just a matter of a couple of years. amy: california governor gavin newsom's multibillion-dollar homeless housing project comes as the l.a. city council recently cited to put on the 2024 ballot and initiative called the responsible -- responsible hotel ordinance to house people in vacant rooms. the ordinance was proposed by unite here local 11 -- the union that represents most of the city's hospitality workers. they have also endorsed karen bass for mayor. for more be go to los angeles where we are joined by three guests. william sens is a member of the
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project room key program. he was an echo park lake encampment resident and has been in project roomkey since march 2021. we are also joined by hugh salai professor -- ucla professor an anya roy which works to brings together university and movement-based scholars with unhoused comrades to study displacement in los angeles. talk about this program. >> project room key, in our view, was a brilliant idea. during the pandemic, the entire city wasereft of tourists, so there were hundreds of thousands of vacant rooms. people were facing homelessness, housing insecurity, and we had
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hotel workers who were unemployed. the idea was could we marry those problems with this program? and it worked. we were able to put 10,000 unhoused folks into hotels, like will, in one of our downtown properties, the l.a. grand, where our members work. they found it beneficial because they were able to keep their jobs. we put people in these vacant rooms, and the hotel industry itself got a source of revenue that they otherwise would not have gotten. what we decided to do after that program, how can we further not only this program, but how can the hotel industry, our members alleviate this crisis? we went door-to-door and collected 126,000 signatures from l.a. voters. an overwhelmingly positive response on an initiative that
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would do two things. one, it would require that hotel developers, when they build those hotels, that they must replace that housing. in the last decade, thousands of units have been lost because luxury hotels have bulldozed and not replaced housing. secondly, let said -- we said, let put in place a voucher system for folks who are unhoused. going forward, hotels need to respect those vouchers and allow people to sleep theirooms because thats the rit thi, itorked dung the pandemi anwe thinkteeds tbe used goinforward. it will be on the ballot in march 2024. we feel confident it will pass. we feel it is the right thing do as angelenos who are facing this extraordinarily diffilt time of a lack of affordable housing, large on house population.
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amy: let me bring in william sens jr. to the conversation. you have been at the l.a. grand hotel for over a year, you are joining us from there now. you are also a founding member of unhoused tenants of course are all housing. talk about this program, how you became unhoused, what it means to be at the hotel. will, are you there? >> can you hear me? amy: i can hear you now. >> project room key is important to help people have a place to stay, to get themselves together on the path to a place where they can gain stability.
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it should be like a satellite station for somebody to find employment, be able to get themselves together, get their things together, be able to move into a new situation and better their lives. unfortunately, it has not been happening for a lot of people in the program. amy: let me ask ananya roy, professor of urban planning, social planning, geography at ucla, where she directs the institute on inequality and democracy, home to the after echo park lake research collective that brings together scholars, unhoused comrades to study displacement in los angeles.
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talk about the significance of project room key. first, about t unhoused population of this country. >> tnk you for having us on the show. it is importantor us to take stock of the moment at hand. the moment at hand is a time of commitment. we are also on the cusp of mass eviction that will greatly increase homelessness. at the same time, whais going on is unregulated auisitionf properties. wall streehas gone on a buying spree in the pandemic. the policy response in so many cities has been inadequate, and as in the case of los angeles,
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overwhmingly criminalizing homelessness. this is not a question of resource scarcity. governor newsom spoke very much about the federal resources that are available for housing the homeless. california itself has a massive budget surplus. our concern with project home key, room key, is that these programs are minuscule in scale to mass homelessness. they also go hand in hand with the criminalization of homelessness. it puts people into programs.
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this allows us to make the move to permanent housing. we are seeing a purpose investment of public resources intohelter andontainment, rather than impermanent social housing. amy: let me ask you about the opponents to project room key, like stuart waldman, president of the valley industry & commerce association. representing hotels and businesses across north los angeles. this is m speaking to cnn. >> i would not want my kids around people th i'm not sure about. i wouldn't want to be in an elevator with somebody who is having a mental break. the idea that you can intermingle homeless folks with paying, normal guests just doesn't work out. amy: your respon, professor ananya roy?
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>> what we see here is the constant de-humanization of our homess neibors. it is now expressed in a whole seri of policies, including l.a.'s notorious anti-camping goal. what we ve is thracial baniment oour unhoused neighbors such that there is no place to go. it also comes from movements that point out that these hotels, which are seemingly private pperties, actually e backed by massive public subsidies, millions of dollars in tax breaks, for example, that makes possible this kind of urban development. these vacant hotels signify a
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public stake and we should think about how that property is used for housing. conce has to with the ale. my concern has to do with how it is not sufficient to do this if we are also criminalizing homeless communities. we cannot do this by imposing conditions and rules on those in private home key. amy: there is always infusion of funds. with the pandemic restrictions lifting, you are seeing the end of the subsidies. are you concerned about massive actions? >> yes, we were the first research center in the cotry to ring thalarm bes on evictions.
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a professor pdicted thahalf a million nters in l.a. couy would be facing eviction without protection. we are now on the sp of those evictions. it is cruciato keep pele in their hes, incling through rent debt cancellion and her forms. it is crucial to stop the criminalization of our unhoud neighbors. it suld be used for public resources inn ambitious program of social housing, warehousg is a socl right and is not conditional upon racialized and gendered rules and conditions. amy: william, a report has come out of ucla. 1500 unhoused residents died on the streets during the pandemic. as you speak from a hotel room,
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do you feel this is the answer, that attitudes are changing? will? let me put that question to kurt petersen. the local president of unite here, local 11. you're concerned that some of your own members in the hospitality community could become unhoused themselves. >> they are. we rently lost a member who died in her van because she could not keep paying her rent and was evicted. our folks are moving further and further out of los angeles because they cannot afford to live here. we need a massive infusion of resources to house folks in los
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angeles. project room key is one piece of the puzzle but much more is needed. we are supportive of everything that keeps school housed in los angeles. amy: we will look at so much more. thank you for being with us, kurt petersen
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