Democracy Now! 2019-05-16 Thursday
I am Amy Goodman. If you're tuning into this podcast right now, you know that democracy, now is news. You can trust democracy now is independent, which means we're funded by you, not the oil, gas and coal companies when we cover climate change or the weapons manufacturers when we cover war and peace. Not the insurance industry when we cover healthcare. No, we're brought to you by viewers listeners readers like you committed to independent information right now. A generous supporter will double your donation to democracy. Now that means if you donate fifteen dollars, we get thirty dollars. Take advantage of this generous offer, and go to democracy now dot org to make your donation today. Thank you so much. From New York. This is democracy now. The Syrian security system has a network of prisons that have sucked in an estimated hundreds of thousands of people during this conflict. There's one hundred twenty eight thousand people who have entered the system and have never come out, and that's probably an under an undercount inside serious secret torture prisons. We look at a shocking New York Times, expose on torture, and execution inside serious prison system. And the detentions are continuing, even as the fighting wines down. Then a California jury has ordered Monsanto to pay a record two billion dollars to a couple who say they've both got cancer after using Monsanto's roundup weed killer Monsanto keeps denying that it causes cancer. And these two people here are casualties of that deception. This is going to continue until Monsanto and now Bayer takes responsibility. For its product. People are dying. People are getting sick and they have no idea that it's being caused by roundup then nearly every country in the world has agreed to curb plastic pollution. But the United States refuses to support the global agreement. Rustic every way, and we need a force to sort of be responsible to women one country to be all the countries of the world, all Schumer's all organizations have to come together. I the private sector of the plastic producers, you know have to come together before us to find. All that, and more coming up. Welcome to democracy now, democracy now dot or the Warren peace report. I'm Amy Goodman. Alabama governor Kay Ivey Wednesday signed the nation's most restrictive ban on abortion into law. The Bill, which faces immediate court challenge makes no exception for cases of rape, or incest. It was approved Tuesday by Alabama Senate with the support of twenty five Republicans, all of them white men under the Alabama law. Doctors could face up to ninety nine years in prison for, for performing abortions decades longer, than prison sentences typically given to rapists, even far right Christian. Evangelical leader, Pat Robertson called the Bill extreme saying quote it goes too far. Meanwhile, Missouri's Republican led Senate passed Bill early today banning abortions at eight weeks of pregnancy. The legislation now heads to the Republican lead, Missouri house of Representative. Cbs Republican governor Mike parson has promised to sign the Bill into law architects behind the bills, and Alabama Missouri and other states say they're aimed at overturning Roe v. Wade, the landmark nineteen seventy three supreme court ruling that recognizes the constitutional right to an abortion. President Trump declared a national emergency Wednesday over what he called threats to American technology, barring US telecoms from installing foreign made equipment, the move appears to be aimed punishing. Hallway, the Chinese maker of telecommunications gear, and consumer electronics. It's the latest esscalation of the US trade war with China, after Trump followed through last week on the threat to hike tariffs on two hundred billion dollars of Chinese imports. Meanwhile, the White House has delayed plans to place tariffs of up to twenty five percent on imported cars and auto parts. This comes this candidates, trade minister has left Washington DC without an agreement on lifting US tariffs on steel and aluminum. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin has said the US won't ratify successor to NAFTA, the North American Free trade agreement until Canada and Mexico reached an agreement to end tariffs. President Trump set to unveil a sweeping immigration plan today. That would prioritize high skilled workers in English speakers while further cutting the number of immigrants granted asylum, or allowed to reunify with family members living in the US. The plan would cap immigration rates at their current levels changing the percentage of those receiving green cards based on so-called merit system from twelve to fifty seven percent, it could even require Magritte's hoping to enter the US to pass a civics test. Trump is set to announce the plan, which was crafted by a son in law has senior adviser Jared Kushner at a ceremony today at the white House Rose Garden. Meanwhile, Guatemala's US, console says a two and a half year old migrant boy died in US, custody Wednesday, three days after he and his family were detained by customs and border protection. He's believed to be the fourth migrant child. Old to die in US custody. Since December the White House says it won't need a request by the House Judiciary committee to turn over documents and sweeping investigation into whether President Trump obstructed Justice in a letter to House Judiciary chair, Jerrold, Nadler, White House counsel, Pat sip baloney accused Democrats attempting to do over special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation of Trump. Congress member Nadler, accused sip baloney of quote, claiming that the president is a king. He said he was considering holding Trump administration officials who refused to testify in contempt and may Levy, very large fines against anyone defying a congressional subpoena in Paris, the leaders of France and New Zealand Wednesday, unveiled an agreement to combat online. Extremism, the so-called Christ's church. Call is named after the New Zealand city where in March a white supremacist gunman killed fifty one worshippers to mosques and live the massacre on. Facebook. This is new Zealand Prime Minister just send our Dern, the social media dimension to the attack was unprecedented, and Dow response today with the adoption of the crushed coal is equally unprecedented as well Neva before have countries and companies come together in the wake of horrific attack to commit to an action plan that will deliver collaboratively would can new technology built, to my cow communities, ultimately Sipho so far, the Christ's church. Call has support of sixteen countries the European Commission and eight tech giants, but the Trump administration said Wednesday it, quote is not currently in a position to join the endorsement, the White House cited concerns, the agreement could violate first amendment in New York Times opinion, piece last weekend, prime minister, ardor and wrote she supports free speech rights, but that quote that right does not include the freedom to. Broadcast mass murder in Yemen. At least six civilians were killed and dozens more wounded today as US Bax Saudi led coalition warplanes bombed residential areas of Yemen's capital sonata, the violence came as the rebels and Saudi back forces clashed in the port city of data threatening to unravel a ceasefire in a plan pullout from the city by the forces in Sudan's, capital, Khartoum government, troops opened fire on pro democracy. Protesters Wednesday with live on munition wounding at least fourteen people. The violence came just days after at least six protesters, and one soldier were killed a similar protest after the latest shootings, the head of Sudan's ruling military council said he'd suspended talks with pro democracy demonstrators for three days, accusing them failing to de-escalate tensions demonstrators have been demanding transfer military to civilian rule following last month's military coup that ousted longtime leader Omar al-bashir in the Gaza. Strip is rarely troops opened fire on Palestinian protestors Wednesday with live on munition and chemical agents injuring at least sixty five people, the protesters, marking the seventy first aniversary of the knockabout or catastrophe when hundreds of thousands of Palestinians were forcibly expelled from their homes after the state of Israel was formed one protester was left in serious condition yesterday and sixteen injured by gunfire. Others were treated. For gas and hellacious from tear gas and skunk, spray chemical concoction that smells like corpses and feces Trump administration officials said, Wednesday photograph showing Ronnie and boats equipped with missiles, where the cause of the recent esscalation between the US and Iran, claiming they were evidence that Iranian paramilitaries and the Persian Gulf were preparing to target US. Naval vessels, the New York Times cited three unnamed officials who made the claim which widely contradicts other officials including Europeans Iraqis members of both parties in congress. And some Trump administration officials who reportedly said the missiles are likely defensive weapons. This comes just two days after the top British general in the US led coalition against ISIS said there is no increase threat from Ronnie, and backed forces and Iraq. Syria. There is no increase threat from Iran and back forces in Iran or Syria. Major General Christopher Geico was speaking via video link from Baghdad during a Pentagon news conference, though, there's been no increase threat from Iranian. Full Susan ero-, consider aware of the presence clearly and Mona to them, along with a whole range of others because that's the Lauren. Just hours after General Chris made those comments central command disputed them. In a statement, the US department of transportation has ordered a halt to all passenger and cargo flights in and out of Venezuela in the latest move by the Trump administration to ratchet up pressure on President, Nicolas Maduro as backs efforts by position groups to stage, a coup d'etat. Meanwhile, in Washington D C civil rights leader, Reverend Jesse Jackson, successfully pass through police lines Wednesday to drop off food and water to four activists who remain inside Venezuela's embassy building, at the invitation Venezuela's government in order to prevent it from being taken over by Venezuela's US-backed opposite last week authorities. Cut off water and electricity to the embassy to see our coverage of the occupation and protest at the end. The visit our website democracy now dot org in climate news. Temperatures near the end. Terance to the Arctic Ocean in northwest Russia reached a record shattering eighty four degrees Fahrenheit over the weekend, an area where high temperatures are normally thirty degrees, cooler this time of year. This comes as the national snow and ice data center, recorded a record low sea ice extent for the Arctic Ocean. In April noting, almost all of the sea ice, more than four years old is gone over the weekend meteorologist measured carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere over four hundred fifteen parts per million the highest level and human history and concentration. That's not been seen on earth in over three million years, California fire, investigators said Wednesday the Pacific ask electric company PG ni was to blame for last year's campfire the deadliest most destructive wildfire in California's history, which left eighty five people dead and scorch more than. Hundred fifty thousand acres. Investigators concluded the fire began after PG any electrical transmission lines ignited, Dr education, in at least two spots in a statement PG needs said it accepted the determination California has seen increasingly deadly blazes in recent years as climate change drives higher. Temperatures extreme droughts and severe weather that make wildfires far more destructive in New York City, the American Museum of natural history and the Metropolitan Museum of art. Both said Wednesday they'll stop accepting donations from the Sackler lers, the billionaire family that owns Purdue pharma maker of Oxycontin, the highly addictive drug at the center of the opioid epidemic. Other cultural institutions, including the Guggenheim in London's Tate modern museum have also severed ties with the Sackler 's President Trump has poured former Canadian Press baron. Conrad Black a longtime political ally, and former business partner who in two thousand. Thousand seven was found guilty of fraud and obstruction of Justice black. Donald Trump has described as a friend wrote a glowing book about the president last year. Titled Donald J Trump of president, like no other black was convicted for fleecing millions of dollars from shareholders of his company, Hollinger international his media empire included, the Daily Telegraph, in London the Chicago, sometimes the Jerusalem Post national post and Canada and four hundred other newspapers and New York City. Mayor Bill de Blasio is running for president joining crowded field. Twenty four contenders for the democratic nomination to Blasios kicked off his campaign today with video highlighting his experiences. Mayor of New York promising to fight for working families combat climate change and take on Donald Trump. I will take on the wealthy will take on the big corporations. I will not rest until this government serves people as mayor of the largest city in America, I'd gun just. Is that the president guys Donald Trump must be stopped? I've beaten in before and I will do it again. And those are some of the headlines this is democracy now democracy now dot org. The Warren piece report, I mainly Goodman, and I mean, Shaef welcome to listen view is around the country and around the world. Inside syria. Secret torture prisons, that title of shocking expose by the New York Times looking at how showed us ads government has jailed and tortured tens of thousands of Syrian since the uprising began in two thousand eleven according to the Syrian network for human rights. Nearly one hundred twenty eight thousand people have disappeared there presumed to be either dead or still in custody, the group estimates almost fourteen thousand individuals have died under torture, and detentions are continuing, even as the fighting wines down over five thousand six hundred Syrians reportedly arbitrarily detained last year, a twenty five percent jump over the previous year while the Syrian government has denied running the secret torture and detention program. More evidence into internal Syrian government documents has emerged showing. The extent of the torture program over the past seven years times has been documenting what takes place inside the secret prisons, the accounts are hiring the times report into graphic descriptions of torture, sexual violence and murder. One form woman inmate Meriem Khalif told the New York Times, she and six other women report, tortured and repeatedly raped in a basement cell where quote blood from violent rapes stained the floor. Survivors also reported guards force detainees to eat excrement a prisoner named Mugniyah, faquir recalled guard, who called himself as rile, the angel of death who is also a nurse at a medical facility, where prisoners were often tortured and killed faquir told the times up to six patients, where chained naked to each bed faquir said patients were taken by us row at. At night, and quote, we'd see the shadow of someone hitting, we'd hear the scream then silence suffocating silence in the morning, we'd see the body in the hallway to the bathroom. You would see bodies piled. We stepped on our comrades bodies barefoot. The New York Times also heard testimony from former prisoners who said they were forced to act like animals by guard who went by the name of Hitler. The prisoners were beaten if they didn't, quote Bank bark or Bray correctly, a United Nations, panelists that the conditions in the prison including the positive toilet facilities rampant illness, minimal, and rotten food, and the absence of medical treatment are tantamount to extermination. Find out more, we're joined by the story's author and Bernard. She's a reporter at the New York Times fellow at the council on foreign relations. She was the New York Times bureau chief in Beirut from two thousand twelve to two thousand eighteen it's great to have you back onto mock. Crecy now. And we last spoke to when you were invaded. This is horrific story. Talk about the scope, the number of people you believe have been detained the number of people disappeared and killed, and serious prisons. Unfortunately, nobody knows the exact number because the government keeps all of this behind closed doors and doesn't release any information to the families of most of the people who are taken, but according to the Syria network of human rights. They have counted not estimated, but counted, one hundred twenty eight thousand people who have been reported by their families, or by witnesses to be taken by the security forces and not emerged from the prisons, that Eighty-one thousand of those people. Their families have not had any word from them whatsoever. So this is a sprawling system human rights groups estimate that the total number of Syrians who have passed through, it could be in the hundreds of thousands. Well, and you've been working on this fa- several years. Pining this evidence, as have a couple of other rights organizations, Amnesty International in particular, now, I'd like to go to the Syrian government's response to earlier, research, and documentation on these torture, prisons in an extended interview with Yahoo news in two thousand seventeen Syrian president, but shot said, claimed that Syrian refugees were quote definitely aligned with terrorists. And when he was shown, photographs exposing the torture of political prisoners by his government, he dismissed the allegations, as quote, fake news. Dick before to any court in your country. Good. They convict any criminal regarding this competitive was this question, who committed if you don't have this full picture cannot make judgment in just propaganda. Just taking us. They want to unite the government in everyone, you can have any individual crime, top overboard anywhere, but it's not the policy. So that was a President Assad in two thousand seventeen responding to earlier reports. And in fact, he was shown photographs. Of these prisoners. And then he denied the veracity of the photographs. So what do you think how has the Syrian government responded at all to your much more extensive report? And the fact that you make the case that his success in this war has been contingent on these prisons. They haven't responded at all, which is pretty typical. They're not very responsive to direct queries. From the press. Look, I think that, that their MO has always been to just deny deny deny anything no matter how much evidence there is. And he said, to, to my face in two thousand sixteen when I met him in Damascus that, you know, we have a normal Justice system operating here, any family, who's missing their relatives should just go and ask. But of course, families that I know personally thousands of fam-. Have been going for years to ask after their families on sometimes family for asking. Where do they ask who they make the rounds of dozens of different security offices? There's four different intelligence branches and each one operates dozens of torture in detention facilities. The New York Times expose begins with the story of Muhammad above his testimony echoed by many other survivors reveal that by two thousand twelve quote. There was an industrial scale transportation system among persons, detainees were tortured on each leg of their journeys and helicopters buses cargo plane, summer called riding hours and trucks, normally used for animal carcasses, hanging by one arm chain to meet hooks. Mr bashes? New cell was typical twelve feet, long nine feet wide, usually packed. So tightly prisoners had to sleep in shifts. Tell us Muhammed story how you met him. How you. Learned of the situation and then why you say you think actually the uprising in two thousand eleven was caused by this kind of sadistic tortures person system. Mahanta bash was very typical of the types of people that were sucked into this system. He was a protester and eventually, led peaceful protests in Aleppo when the uprising began in two thousand eleven and he was arrested the first time in two thousand eleven was arrested several times that year an inch thousand twelve and was taken to a number of different facilities. He said he was like a tour guide to torture, and he was forced to, as you said, act, the roles of animals, he was in kind of pseudo plays for officers and guards dinner kind of entertainment, so but, but also much more, I shudder to call it routine. But, but the more routine types of torture being hung by. Wrists being put into stress positions and beaten until he made a false confession which was something that happened to most of the prisoners. Look, I think the, the, the use of this system, followed a playbook that Assads father began in Hama in nineteen eighty two when there was an uprising and it the idea was to suck up the people who were non violent protesters because it's easier to go after the ones that are violent. Of course, there were all kinds of people arrested, but there was special focus on arresting civilian protesters because those are the biggest threat at the end of the day, we're talking about a state with all the machinery of state power and violence at its disposal. It's in a way easier for them to fight the people that pick up arms, and it's harder for them to face people that are using civile civil methods. You also say, though, in the piece that simultaneously, as the Assad regime was arresting more and more civilians, they also released radical Islamists, who had been imprisoned for decades. Yes. The vision, of course, helped funnel jihadists into Iraq to fight the US occupation there and arrested, many of them when they return now at the in one of the first big steps after the uprising began in two thousand eleven a lot of those people were released including the top leaders, the people who became in the future top leaders of the most hardline Islamist rebel groups at the very same time that those people were released into the population, they were vacuuming up people literally including followers of Gandhi, who followed a Islamist and his Lama cleric who believed in nonviolence and called on. People to adopt a form of jihad that was not violent, but it was based on non-violence this person's followers among the civilian leaders of the revolution at the beginning and many of them were killed right away or sucked into the prisons, and have not come out. We're going to break and then come back to this discussion and Bernard reporter at the New York Times fellow at the council on foreign relations. Her latest piece came out Sunday in the New York Times inside Syria secret, torture Persians, how Charlotte said, crushed dissent. This is democracy. Now, we'll be back with her in a minute. Saying to. Early. Water, too. Have you ever figured? What you gonna do. When you finally falls and even. Monsanto. No children. Be on your time. And live to fail. Shame. Your every. Donalds by now even say. A mess fries. Monsanto by the American folk singer Michael Hurley, a California. Juries ordered Monsanto today, a record two billion dollars to a couple say they got cancer after using Monsanto's roundup, we killer that's next but we're continuing right now with an Bernard. She's a reporter at the New York Times fellow at the council on foreign relations. Her latest piece inside Syria secret, torture prisons, how sharla side crush dissent. I made me Goodman, with Nurmi shape and tell us the story of Mariam clay and what has happened to her. Is the woman from Hama, who her crime was helping injured protesters which was considered terrorism by the government if it was considered a form of terrorism. So she was arrested in two thousand twelve and take into one of the facilities in Hama, and she was raped. She said every night, by the chief of investigations of the prison whom she Colonel Sulaiman. She knew him by name and documents that we've seen show that the head of investigations in that facility was, in fact, a Colonel Sulaiman Juma, and she was held in the prison with a number of other women in a basement cell where the six women barely fit. They were taken to the to the colonel's office, and he used to even bring his friends to join him in raping them. Well, I wanna ask about another question that you're a piece raises. I mean something that every. One has seen the torture prisons, of course. Scarcely known about and scarcely covered in the media. But of course, is the Syrian refugee crisis, the millions and millions up to six million refugees who are now living outside their country. President Trump welcomed Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban's to the White House on Monday, the far, right nationalist leader is known for his hardline anti immigration policies and rolling back democratic institutions and checks on his power. This is or ban. And then Trump speaking from the Oval Office. Approaches. And I would like we press that we are proud and together the United States on fight against illegal migration. On terrorism and to protect the Christian communities all around. I know he's tough man, but he's a respected man and he's done the right thing. Courting too many people on immigration. And you look at some of the problems that they have in Europe that are tremendous because they've done it a different way than the prime minister so von has toes down, Hungary, southern border building razor wire fence to keep out refugees. Many of them from Syria, and has also deported refugees already in the country. Now, the Assad regime has conflicted the refugees with terrorists and in your piece, and you say that many millions of Syrian refugees are now unlikely to return even once the war is over. If these torture, prisons remain in operation and also the fact that Trump a corroborated or, or said that what or Bunn has done is right. And the fact that the US in two thousand eight. Eighteen admitted only sixty two Syrian refugees. Right. I think that, you know, at the beginning of the Syrian conflict Syrians would say, if this kind of rights violations are allowed to go with impunity in Syria. It will affect freedoms in the west and that seemed at the time kind of history onic, but in fact was happened is that refugees have flowed out of the country? The refugee crisis proved to be fuel for the rise of the right wing and the divisions within Europe and the rise of leaders like our von who is eroding, civil liberties, and certainly fighting immigration and Trump is enjoying the same rhetoric. And as you saw agreeing now this just reflects asides own conflation of refugees with terrorists when, in fact. These are terrorism both ISIS and the violence of the state used against them is what these refugees are fleeing. Can you talk about the internal memos that you got hold of this question of we just listened to Assad the president, how much he knew. And how much is being directed directly from the top. So this is a state where there's a very close coterie of advisers and officials around, and they decide almost everything that after the uprising began. There was a crisis cell that was created to respond to it, and it reported directly to the memos show that, that cell ordered crackdowns on protesters on people who tarnish the image of Syria in the foreign media, that just means people who talked to lists, and the these types of people now later, the top security officials also asked for every death to be reported to them so that they would it was clear that they knew about the killings in detect. Shen they referred to by bodies piling up. They referred to the need to deal with all kinds of bad conditions that were leading to all these death, now it sounds in vacuum as if they're trying to correct these problems, but there's no record in eight hundred thousand documents that have been smuggled out of Syria of anyone being punished for any of these actions. It really just shows that they were aware of them. Can you talk about your methodology over? I mean, you've been working this for years and what first prompted you. I mean, there is some coverage of the catastrophe of war and Syria, the obvious barrel bombing all of that. But what about what's happening behind closed doors? Assads been very careful and would it means to talk to people about those who survived the lucky ones about this level of torture. They have endured. So in a way, this is something that everyone knew in Syria, in the sense that is not a new system. It's been around for a long time, but what we decided to do over the years. And of course, we did this while covering the daily news of Syria over the years was to try to go deeper to try to get accounts of survivors, who corroborated one another, and we're corroborated by documents, it took a very long time to get enough people who had their families safely out of Syria, and felt safely safe to talk and to get documents and to basically over the years. Many human rights organizations and journalists and lawyers worked on this issue. So we're talking about evidence that has a created over the years, and as up to this big picture. Now, one of the toughest parts is speaking to the survivors about what they've been through, and we spoke to dozens of them me, and my wonderful team of Syrian and Lebanese colleagues now. You need to be sensitive when you're dealing with victims of trauma, and without sacrificing journalistic rigor without sacrificing vacation. But this was a long process. This had a huge emotional impact on us as well as of course, on the survivors, who had to retell their stories. So it took time it took energy. And, and it does sort of make you ask yourselves, a lot of questions about humanity and how this kind of thing can continue to happen in the twenty first century. How did you know what survivors to speak to at some point, you ten a story of someone who sneaked out the names of some of the detainees can you talk about that? Well, so in terms of who to talk to basically almost every Syrian that we talked to who had any connection to the protest movement, and even many who did not had relative or friend, who was in the system. So it was not difficult to find people. And then through those people and also through networks of survivors, we would get different names of people who, especially in our quest to find people that were willing to use their names. That was that was the toughest part. But yes months woulda Omori is one of the prisoners who, who worked together in a cell underground, in the fourth base run by the fourth division, which is controlled by brother mad, and this group of prisoners decided, let's write down all the names of the people in our cell, and get them out with whoever manages to get out, I just to let people know to their families, and the world that these are the names of at least these people that we could identify here. Now they had to write the names in blood on a piece of fabric. They were so into the seam of a jacket and monsoon was the first one to be released and he managed to wear that. Check it out a shirt, I guess, and, and to bring those names out to first they were displayed in the holocaust museum in Washington DC. They were shown to many different officials, and they were recently submitted to thirties in Sweden as part of a complaint by survivors trying to get Sweden as France and Germany have done to open a war crimes prosecution against Syrian officials on behalf of refugees, and citizens who are in Sweden who have been subject to the system. And the Syrian government is very aware of this, and trying to protect themselves from any kind of war crimes or crimes against humanity charges. How are they doing this? Well, first of all, by stating in Syria. I mean there is already a an arrest warrant against Jamila Hasson, who's the head of the air force branch of intelligence and against Ali Mahmoud. Who's the top? Security official overall and those guys just aren't going to come to Europe to end up getting arrested. And but there are lower level officials some of whom have joined the refugee flow and have been arrested once they've been identified in Germany, and France. Now, they also in the memo's interestingly one memo from the military intelligence department says when you make these death certificates about each detainee, who dies, and no remember all these death certificates claim that the people died because their heart stopped, so that's kind of a tall j, of course when you die, your heart stops, and obviously all these young people that are in the prisons are not all suddenly, having an epidemic of heart disease. So the memo instructed them to write the memo's in such a way as to ensure judicial immunity from prosecution for the work of the intelligence officials in the future, one of the other things that you an international mechanism that you point to is the fact that the UN general assembly. Has voted in favor of establishing the international independent and impartial mechanism. What is the status of this, and what will it, what kind of mandate is charged with or will it be if it's a stylish? No, it has been established and funded, which is a big step and that was done through a general assembly vote in the UN in order to get around the impasse in the Security Council. The Security Council is blocked by Russia from referring Syria to the international criminal court, but the triple IM that you mentioned is a new body, which is going to be kind of a clearinghouse for all the documents and, you know, court ready evidence that's being collected by different groups Syrian, and European groups to try to build war-crimes cases now it has a mandate to, to build those cases for use in any future, prosecutions in international or national courts. But it does not have the ability to arrest or charge. Anyone? It's, it's a it's a sort of like a prosecutor waiting for a court, I guess you can say, well, we want to thank you so much for joining us today for explaining your piece and for the peace it self your years of work, and Barnard is a reporter at the New York Times fellow at the council on foreign relations. We will link her piece in the times inside Syria. Secret torture prisons, how Charlotte side crushed dissent. She was the New York Times bureau chief in Beirut from two thousand twelve to two thousand eighteen coming up a California jury has ordered Monsanto record two billion dollars. And then we'll talk about the US refusing to sign onto a global treaty around plastic stay with us. Sniffle party. All the snow is gone later in the show. We'll talk about climate change, but right now. Well, this is democracy. Now, I made me Goodman, with Nermeen Shaef. We turn now to the stunning verdict in the case against US business giant Monsanto, which has been ordered to pay its highest damages yet in the third lawsuit over the popular weed killer roundup, a jury has ordered Monsanto, which is owned by German pharmaceutical giant beta to pay more than two billion dollars in punitive damages to out of an out Berta Pilat, a couple who were both diagnosed with non Hodgkin's lymphoma cancer off to using round up on their properties for over thirty years. The main ingredient in the herbicide is life Assad and said to cause the cancer this has plaintiff Alberta. Pilat we've been finding kids for. Nine years now on the me and it was caused by round up. Changed our lives forever. We can't do the things that we keep be able to. And we really resent Montalto for that. We wish that monks Ondo had warned us ahead of time about the dangers of using Fava, and that there was something on the front of their label that said danger may cause cancer at that point, we could've used. Round up. We wouldn't have used it. But I'm sure a lot of people choose to. And they weren't giving it said a choice because from their ads. We felt that it was incredibly safe to you in turn, as for the plaintiffs estimate there tens of thousands of similar cases, against roundup pending and courts around the country last year during California ordered Monsanto to pay two hundred eighty nine million dollars damages to a school grounds keeper who developed cancer after regularly using the weed killer roundup, the forty six year old man, Dwayne Johnson also has non-hodgkin's lymphoma doctor says unlikely to live past twenty twenty earlier this month. The EPA said glysophate is not carcinogenic other scientific studies and the World Health Organization found human exposure can in fact lead to cancer will for more, we're joined by attorney Brent Wizner co lead trial counsel for alva-, Albert Pilat. Welcome back to democracy. Now can you start off by responding to this wreck? Third verdict branch two billion dollars. And what the says about money center, we've been litigating this case for over three years now and this, obviously, is the third trial that has gone to jury, and we presented all the evidence and we've been growing, we have a growing mountain of evidence that we've, we've been accumulating as part of this litigation. And I, we had finally had a chance to show at all and show, the jury that Monsanto is gauged, essentially corporate malfeasance the last forty five years, and in so doing, I think juries punitive damage awards speaks volumes about what the evidence shows a lot of people talk about how Monsanto you know, the says it safe or whatnot. But the simple fact is, when you look at the evidence, it's overwhelming and juries are resoundingly saying, stop it. I'd like to go to statement, from bay obey of the quote is disappointed with the jury's decision and will appeal the verdict in this case which conflict. Directly with the US environmental protection agency's, interim registration review decision release just last month the consensus among leading health regulators worldwide that Dreyfuss based products can be used safely, and that life is, is not personal genyk, and the forty years of extensive scientific research on, which their favorable conclusions are based Brent was no, your response to what bear has said. Well, it's the same response that the same thing they said to the jury it's the same thing. They've been saying for the last three years, and it's just simply nonsense. Simple fact, is that the EPA has got it wrong on life eight. We have study after study after study showing that in fact, does cause a specific type of cancer called them foam. And we see it happening and thousands and thousands of people across the country, you know, currently this administration and this EPA will not. Take action against Monsanto. We've seen the internal documents the text messages, the emails between senior EPA fficials and Monsanto employee's. And the simple fact is they know that this will not take adverse action against them. It is a travesty that this truth about it, causing cancer, and this awareness that we're trying to raise has to be done in the context of litigation. We only these lawsuits only just because the has failed the American public for forty five years and Monsanto's allowed to get away with, with reckless conduct with essentially impunity during the trial numerous internal Monsanto documents emails came to light, including the July two thousand eighteen Email from an analyst from the corporate intelligence firm hack loot. They Email read, quote a domestic policy adviser at the White House said, for instance, we have Monsanto's back on pesticides regulation. We're prepared to go toe to toe on any disputes. They may have with, for example, the EU monster. Ntoni not fear any additional regulation from this administration after the SIEM became public the center for biological diversity asked the Trump administration for public records to assess the pesticide industries influence on the proposal to reapprove glysophate, can you talk more about this sprint Wizner. Well, it's really interesting in the middle of trial, after we had rested, our case in chief. But before closing arguments out of nowhere, the EPA issues, an interim analysis, it was written by an individual, Billy Mitchell who doesn't have any higher or specialized education or training. And if you read the document, it literally reads, like the opening statement for Monsanto during trial, it was Monsanto wants to report EPA brings it, and that is shows you just that the level of capture of this agency that essentially does not work for the American public, but works for industry, these documents from these these corporate Intel. Agencies they show us just how deep it runs. And it's not just, you know, a political thing, but it's actually in the staffers themselves, the fact that the White House is telling Monsanto we have your back. I mean, it is tells us that we're going to have to keep fighting his fight that we're not gonna get any support or help from the public agencies that ironically are supposed to be protecting the public health very quickly. Duane Lee Johnson. You also represented him the schools grounds keeper who want to two hundred eighty nine million dollars in damages the Pilate's one two billion dollars. But actually what happens in these settlements. How do you arrive at these numbers, and do they actually get this? And what does it do to Monsanto? Well, whether or not Mr. Mr. Johnson will see the entire award. It's an issue that's currently being fought in courts on appeal the periods obviously ward was substantially bigger. And that's, that's a product of the fact that mister Johnson's case was actually rushed to trial because of his failing health whereas the period, case we. We'd had time to develop the full body of evidence. So that's one of the reasons why the number so big. But I think we look at the overall situation, what these numbers say is a clear signal to Monsanto and now bear that they need to do something. And the simple fact is currently, the leadership at bear is refusing to take responsibility for this health crisis that, that Monsanto created and the refusing to do right by these people, and we're going to continue to file these lawsuits. Take him trial, and get bigger and bigger verdicts, and till they finally do right by these people are talking thousands of lawsuits. Well over thirteen thousand and those are filed lawsuits, that's not counting. The probably twenty or thirty thousand other lawsuits that are yet to be filed. I mean, this is a health crisis that we have, and Bayer needs to sit down with these lawyers and sit down with these victims and find a way through this. But right now they're choosing to fight. And if they wanna fight we'll see him in court and what happens to round up twenty seconds. You know. Hopefully, we get a warning, we want people to know and have a choice when they use the product. Hey, does it cost cancer? They have a right to now should it be removed from the market. That's a difficult question. We have people still smoke cigarettes. We know they cost cancer at the end of the day is America. People have a right to make a choice, whether it gets removed or not. That's a different question. They deserve at least to know that it causes cancer. Thank you for being with us, attorney and the co lead trial counsel for alva- and Berta Pilat and a lawsuit against Monsanto, the Pilate's, both develop cancer after using roundup weed killer, on property for decades, California jury has just order Monsanto to pay the couple more than two billion dollars in damages. This is democracy now democracy now dot org. The Warren peach report, I mean, he Goodman, with Shaef we end today's show with the growing crisis of plastic pollution, the every country in the world. But not the United States took a historic step to cook pasta waste last week when more than one hundred and eighty. Nations. Agreed to add Kostic to the Basel Convention, a treaty that regulates the movement of hazardous materials between countries. The US is one of just two countries that has not ratified the thirty year old treaty during negotiations last week in Geneva, the Environmental Protection Agency, and State Department joined the plastics industry and trying to thwart the landmark legally binding agreement despite this, the United States will still be affected by the agreement because countries will be able to block the dumping of mixed or on recyclable plastic wastes from other nations, the amended treaty will make it much more difficult for wealthy countries to send their plastic waste to poorer countries by prohibiting nations from exporting classic waste. That is not ready for recycling only around nine percent of plastic is recycled the UN estimates. There are one hundred million tons of plastic waste in the. Ocean swell. For more, we go to Anchorage Alaska, where we're joined by Pam Miller. Co chair of the international pollutants elimination network, or I pen, it's global network of NGOs, dedicated to toxics free future. Miller's also executive director of Alaska community action on toxics, welcome to democracy, now, pants great to have you in from Alaska. Can you talk about what the US is refusing to do? And the and the significance of the problem. Yes, it was appalling really to see the US government behave in the way that they did at the Basel Convention last week, especially knowing that, they're not a party to the convention. And yet, they tried to thwart efforts to establish plastics waste under the Basel Convention, because they have a vested interest US is the world's largest exporter of plastics mostly to developing nations. And this has created a global crisis of waste in countries in south and central Asia, as well as South America and Africa. Lane how this entire process works. Is it possible for these developing countries to refuse to accept this plastic waste? Under the new amendment to the Basel Convention, which had been proposed by Norway and twenty eighteen yes. Developing countries will now have the right to refuse imports from developed developed countries such as the US so that they have the right to refuse dirty plastics, mixed waste that have created such a huge problem in so many countries, particularly in Asia where we see that, as you mentioned, most of these plastics cannot truly be recycled. So they're essentially dumped on the land adjacent to communities where these plastics are burned creating a huge health hazard, too many communities in these developing nations loss to it was just last year that China put a ban on foreign waste imports. Can you talk about how much aplastic waste was going to China and where? That waste is now going. Yes. So China did make this landmark decision, which was really important for their country to have the right to refuse the sturdy plastic waste. That's highly toxic. These these plastics are not only physical hazard in the environment, but they're also a human health hazard because they contain many toxic additives such as foul aids and bis, Fino's, and persistent, pollutants that are endocrine-disrupting and cancer causing chemicals. So a country, such as China made the decision because this was such a huge problem in their country to have the right to refuse it, unfortunately, than the US began shipping it to other countries in Asia such as Indonesia, at as well as India, Malaysia, and others. American explorer, Viktor, Vesco, VO, recently broke the record for the deepest dive ever when he descended nearly. Seven miles into the Pacific ocean's Mariana trench on the ocean floor. He saw new species of crustaceans, but he also found a plastic bag and candy wrappers this has Visco VO speaking shortly after the dive it wasn't completely surprising. That was very disappointing to see obvious human contamination of the deepest point in the ocean. Because when I first got to the bottom seemed very pristine, almost like a moonscape, and I did see life. That's American explorer, Viktor Visco vote, if you can respond to that Pam, and also just described the scope of the problem. I mean how large are these plastic islands that are floating around the world right now? These the problem of plastics in the ocean is just a mess. Mean the plastics and the Pacific Ocean are just a huge mass of hundreds of thousands of acres of plastics in a huge plastic dump in the Pacific Ocean. So it's the men's problem and it's not just a physical threat in the marine environment. But as these plastics break up, certainly, we've all seen the images of how plastics can can choke see life such as C turtles and marine mammals and birds. But as these plastics break up, they create an even more insidious problem. They become micro-plastics, which then can be ingested by marine animals, such as fish, marine mammals and others, which then pose a threat to human health because these these plastic. At see not only contain toxic additives in themselves. But when they're exceed they absorb persistent, pollutants such as PCB's flame retardant chemicals, such as PD's. These are highly persistent toxics, and these plastics, simply continue to absorb these toxic chemicals. Then when they're ingested by marine life, these toxics conveyed into the bodies of these animals, which then. Create a problem for human health because we rely on fish and other marine life as a source of food. And how is very serious not only physical and unsightly problem in the marine environment, but it's also a toxic problem that, that we really have to solve by stopping the production of plastic upstream, the, the production of plastic relies on fossil fuels, and ultimately, this is also contributed to climate change. So the entire cycle of plastics, production waste disposal and use is really a toxic hazard and circling back to the United States, refusing to sign onto the Scoble trading talk more about the significance of the US the most powerful player in the world, certainly historic polluter when it comes to greenhouse gas emissions. What is it mean when they don't sign onto a treaty that would curb? Plastics. Will the US is not a very good player in the international convention arena, including the three chemical conventions that have met over the past three weeks. Including cluding the Basel Convention, the Rotterdam Convention in Stockholm Convention, the US party to none of those treaties. However, the US department of state and EPA show up and in the case of the Basel condensed convention play a very negative role in trying to persuade a small handful of countries to go against the will of the majority of the countries who really wanted to include plastics, in the Basel Convention. So the US played an extremely negative role their position that they vocalized in the plenary sessions, and also in the contact groups that met to hash out, the, the amendments really mirrored the positions of the plastics and the chemical industry, the American. Chemistry council was there representing the major petrochemical manufacturers, there were plastic waste trade companies and associations, Beauce position was essentially the same so is really not only disappointing, but appalling as American citizen in an international arena, such as this to see the US behaving so badly. We wanna thank you so much for being with us. Pam miller. Co chair of the international pollutants elimination network, known as I pen, executive director of Alaska community action on toxics speaking to us from Anchorage, Alaska that does it for our broadcast option produced by my pertain Karla Wilson Millar enough, semi Sam, John Hamilton, Rava carrying Honey nece- and Dr tamer studio Libby. Rainy, I made me shake.