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Friday, 9/19/14Democracy Now! 2014-09-19 FridayDemocracy Now! 2014-09-19 Friday [" Headlines for September 19, 2014 ", " A People's Climate Movement: Indigenous, Labor, Faith Groups Prepare for Historic March "] Download this show
Thursday, 9/18/14Naomi Klein on Motherhood, Geoengineering, Climate Debt & the Fossil Fuel Divestment MovementExtended web-exclusive interview with Naomi Klein about her new book, This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate. Watch Part 1 & Part 2 of our extended interview with Naomi Klein. AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org, The War and Peace Report. I'm Amy Goodman, with Juan González. Our guest for the hour is Naomi Klein, journalist, best-selling author, activist. He new book is called This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate. Her past books, No Logo and The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism. As we move into this weekend of climate activism, hundreds of events taking place not only in New York, where a U.N. climate summit will happen on Tuesday, but a major climate people's march will be taking place on [Sunday], "Flood Wall Street," a different kind of activism, taking place on Monday. But, Naomi, I wanted to go back to the beginning of This Changes Everything, because part of the beauty and the power of the book are the specifics, the details. You begin on a hot tarmac with a U.S. Airways plane. Tell us this story. NAOMI KLEIN: Yeah. Well, this was just, you know, a news story I came across while I was researching the book. And it was two summers ago, record-breaking heat in Washington, D.C., and it was so hot that the tarmac melted. And somebody posted a picture online of—he said, "This is my plane." And the wheels were stuck in the tarmac, and they couldn't get the plane out. So, everybody had to get off the plane, because they were hoping that by making the plane lighter, that they would be able to pull it out of the melting tarmac. But it didn't work, so they got, you know, a more powerful tow truck to pull it out, and they finally got it out. And so I start the book with this story. Everybody gets back on the plane, flies to their destination. None of the reports mention climate change or the fact that there could possibly be a link between emissions, like from flying, and the reason the tarmac is melting. It's just a sort of quirky story. But, you know, what I say at the start of the book is we are all metaphorically passengers on that flight. You know, we're all doing—you know, faced with this crisis, experiencing it and doing the very things that are making it worse. And that's what our governments are doing when they move from conventional oil to tar sands oil and when they move from conventional natural gas to frack natural gas, which has higher rates of methane leakage. We're all passengers on that flight. So that's why I started it, because I think it sort of shows us where we're at. JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Well, you also say that we shouldn't delude ourselves to thinking that we can achieve some kind of a transformation in our use of energy without reordering the way we live our lives, and it's going to cost. How do you see paying for the transition that has to occur? NAOMI KLEIN: Well, I mean, we often here, like, "We're broke." It's not that we're broke. It's that the money is in the wrong places, and we're not willing to go get it. We have politicians that aren't willing to go after the money that's stuck at the top of the economic pyramid. And we have corporations who fight every attempt to do so tooth and nail. So, you know, I don't like giving a sort of exact estimate for how much it would cost to seriously adapt to and mitigate, to use the U.N.—you know, lower our emissions and deal with the heavy weather already upon us. There's a lot of estimates out there. But, you know, at the low end, people talk in the hundreds of billions; at the higher end, a couple trillion dollars globally, that we need to do the transition away from fossil fuels and deal with the reality of climate change that's already locked in. So I do, yeah, a rundown in the book of some of the places where we could get the money, like a financial transaction tax, which just slows down a part of our economy that is generally just sort of fueling mindless consumption, just money making money. And obviously we need to slash fossil fuel subsidies. We can get money from cutting back military spending. We could have a billionaires' tax. We can have a carbon tax. So, yeah, I make a list, and, sure enough, you know, it easily adds up to a couple trillion dollars. And so, the issue is not that the money's not there; the issue is that we have politicians who are not willing to go after that money. And that comes back to the central thesis of the book, which is, we can talk all we want about how we have the technology and how we know what the policies are, but if we're not willing to have a full-throated ideological debate about what values we want to govern our societies, whether we believe that good can come out of collective action, whether we believe in defending the public sphere, then we're not going to get anywhere. And that's what I find hopeful, because there are so many movements that also are in the midst of defending the public sphere against, you know, brutal attacks. And that, if we are willing to link climate action with that broader ideological struggle, it'll build our coalitions for us. JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Well, you also talk about the divestment movement on the—and you mentioned it briefly earlier. Talk about more about that. That's really grown— NAOMI KLEIN: Yeah. JUAN GONZÁLEZ: —very rapidly now, and the impact that that's having. NAOMI KLEIN: Yeah. Well, the fossil fuel divestment movement, I don't think I've ever seen a student movement spread so quickly. And, you know, there were a few campaigns on a couple of U.S. campuses, like Swarthmore, where there was—there were divestment movements specifically focusing on coal. And those predate this sort of national, and now international, fossil fuel divestment movement, which really comes out of the research that was first published three years ago by British researchers at the—it's called the Carbon Tracker project, where they did this breakthrough research, where—you know, we know the fossil fuel companies have a business model to continue to grow, and that's antithetical to climate action. We already knew that. But they crunched the numbers in this extraordinary way, where they said, "OK, we know that there is such a thing as a global carbon budget." And Bill McKibben, you know, popularized this research in Rolling Stone, and then with the Do the Math tour, in a way that I think just woke people up, you know, in a way that hadn't happened before. And what Carbon Tracker showed and what Bill laid out so well, right, is we know how much carbon we can emit and still give ourselves a 50-50 chance of staying below two degrees' warming. The science on this isn't controversial. And what the Carbon Tracker people did is they added up what the fossil fuel industry already had in reserves. Now, these are the pools of carbon they've already laid claim to, that are already counted towards their stock price. They've essentially already spent the money, right? And that added up to five times more carbon than our atmosphere can absorb and still have that chance of staying below two degrees' warming. Two degrees is already a dangerous target. You know, as you guys know, it's very controversial at U.N. meetings when they set that two-degree target. You know, I remember in Copenhagen—and, Amy, I'm sure you remember, as well—African delegates were saying that this was a death sentence. But this is what our governments agreed to. The U.S. government agreed to it. The Canadian government agreed to it. And yet, the fossil fuel companies are planning to dig up five times more carbon than that. So they've essentially declared war on life on Earth, and they're also saying, "We don't believe these politicians are serious when they set that two-degree target." So, that's where the fossil fuel divestment movement comes in, which is, it's clear that, left to their own devices, you know, they will bring us towards this catastrophic warming. AMY GOODMAN: I wanted to go back to 2010. You know, we've been covering these climate summits. I remember, of course, seeing you in Copenhagen. We were in Cancún, in Bolivia for the People's Summit in Cochabamba. We were in Durban, Doha, this year in Warsaw, Poland. We're heading to Lima, Peru, next year in Paris. In 2010, Democracy Now! interviewed Bolivia's lead climate negotiator at the time, Angélica Navarro, when we broadcast from the summit just outside Cochabamba in Bolivia. She explained what the climate debt is and why it's needed. ANGÉLICA NAVARRO: What we are trying to explain to the developed countries is that they have to think their actions in—also having into account the consequences to the others. And what are these consequences is that peasants are suffering more of drought or that there are more typhoons, or there are more floodings. How can you express to a farmer that has lost, as I just heard, part of their crops due to drought, and that it's not the responsibility of them? How can I explain them that it's something very far in the north that is causing this increase in drought? We call it that they have to have a debt and that they have to repay this debt. But I want to reassure the public it's not necessarily a financial debt. It's an emission debt. So you have to take out of the atmosphere the CO2 that you have put in and that is creating this problem to this farmer. That is the debt. AMY GOODMAN: That was Bolivia's lead climate negotiator at the time, Angélica Navarro, in Cochabamba for the World People's Summit on Climate Change, a sort of non-official summit. Now, you quote Angélica Navarro in your book. Talk about climate debt. NAOMI KLEIN: Yeah, well, in the introduction to the book, I talk about meeting Angélica in 2009. I was working on a story, and somebody suggested I meet with her. And she put the argument to me about climate debt. I had never heard it before. And she described it in this incredibly hopeful and inspiring way. She said, if we take out—if we respond to climate change based on principles of equality and historical responsibility, which basically means that the people who got a 200-year head start on emitting have to lead, then it is a chance for what Angélica described as a "Marshall Plan for planet Earth," that it really would close the inequality gap between North and South. And, you know, there's an intimate connection between climate change and colonialism, and the debts of colonialism and the debts of slavery, because it was when Europeans adopted the steam engine that the colonial project was sort of superpowered, because it meant—it seemed at the time that they had transcended the natural world. You know, the ships no longer depended on the winds, and the factories no longer depended on the vagaries of water levels to fuel their water wheels. They seemed invincible. But climate change is a delayed response, right? Because all of that—all of the time that coal was being burned, since the Industrial Revolution, it's been building up in the atmosphere. So, it wasn't that we had transcended our relationship with the natural world. It was just that it took a while for the world to talk back. And now it's roaring. And that is climate change. So, there is—it's really not a different story than the original story of how our world became so unequal. It's all the same story. It's another chapter in that story. And, you know, I'm arguing, Angélica has long been arguing, that we can respond to climate change in a way that heals those ancient wounds. And, to me, that is an amazingly inspiring and hopeful vision. JUAN GONZÁLEZ: You also talk about others who have other ideas of how to deal with the problem—geoengineering— NAOMI KLEIN: Yeah. JUAN GONZÁLEZ: —and one conference that you attended during your research on geoengineering. Could you talk about that? NAOMI KLEIN: Yeah, well, look, the point is, is that we have been emitting now for so long. We have been going in the wrong direction now for so long that, as Michael Mann says, the Penn State climate scientist who wrote The Hockey Stick and the Climate Wars, there's a procrastination penalty. So, we're now in a situation where, you know, if we had started in 1990 or 1992, we maybe could have done this gradually. But now, we have to do it so radically that it requires things like what we've been talking about—contracting, deliberately contracting parts of our economies, these huge investments in the public sphere. And this is so unthinkable to our economic elites that we are now increasingly hearing, "Well, it's inevitable, and because it's inevitable, we need to start thinking about these technofixes, like geoengineering." So, I mean, to me, it's very telling that it is more thinkable to turn down the sun than it is to think about changing capitalism. And— AMY GOODMAN: What do you mean, "turn down the sun"? NAOMI KLEIN: Well, so, one of the geoengineering methods that gets taken most seriously is called "solar radiation management." Solar radiation management, managing the sun. So, what you—so the idea is that you would spray sulfur aerosols into the stratosphere, then they would reflect some of the sun's rays back to space and dim the sun and cool the Earth. So, climate change is caused by pollution in the lower atmosphere, and so they're saying that the solution to that pollution is pollution in the stratosphere. And, you know, it's really frightening when you look at some of the modeling that is being done about what the possible downsides of this could be. And this is sometimes called the Pinatubo Option, because it would simulate the effects of a very powerful volcano. And we know that after these eruptions, these very powerful volcanoes, that send sulfur into the stratosphere, we do see cooler winters. And Mount Pinatubo is an example of that. But we also see interference with rainfall, interference with monsoons in Africa, in Asia. So we're talking about potentially playing with the water source, which in turn plays with the food source, for billions of people. And there's no way to test it. So, some models show this is very dangerous. Other models show that it can be managed. But the point is, you can't test something like this without deploying it. You know, you can test how—you could talk about nozzle test: You can make sure you can actually spray it. But the point is, we would not know how this would interact with an incredibly complex climate system until it was actually deployed. So you'd have to essentially use all of the world's population as guinea pigs. And I think what's—you know, this is why I say this changes everything. There are no nonradical options left. And this is why I think climate change is particularly hard for centrist serious liberals to wrap their minds around, because they're always looking for those nonradical solutions, you know, splitting the difference and something that will seem reasonable and politically sellable. The problem is, we've got climate change which will radically change our physical world, or geoengineering, which is, you know, a deliberate attempt to radically change our physical world with absolutely unknown consequences and untestable consequences. Or we, rather than try to change the laws of nature, try to change what we actually can, which is the laws of economics. AMY GOODMAN: I mean, you have the Heartland Institute describing geoengineering as, quote, "much less expensive than seeking to stem temperature rise solely through the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions"; Cato Institute arguing "geo-engineering is more cost-effective than emissions controls altogether"; Hudson Institute saying that geoengineering, quote, "could obviate the majority of the need for carbon cuts and enable us to avoid lifestyle changes." The very point you're making. NAOMI KLEIN: Yeah, so, I mean, some of the scientists who are at the heart of this research—you know, people like David Keith or Ken Caldeira—they would say, "We absolutely do not see this as an alternative to emission reduction. We see this as potentially a stopgap measure." And you can understand why many climate scientists, who have been sounding the alarm now for decades, saying, you know, "We are in huge trouble. We need to cut emissions," seeing no action—in fact, seeing us going in the wrong direction—would be desperate enough to start trying to propose these technofixes. AMY GOODMAN: What's wrong with seating the clouds over drought areas? NAOMI KLEIN: Look, all of this is a huge gamble. But what you're talking about is—you know, you're talking about a regional response. And actually, that's not entirely new. There have been these attempts to do regional weather modification. Actually, it's banned in international treaties, because it was the first—the sort of first wave of discussion around this was not about responding to drought, it was using climate engineering as a weapon of war. And this was actually attempted during the Vietnam War, to try to flood deliberately the Ho Chi Minh Trail. So, there's a whole Cold War history around weather modification. So this is a new incarnation of an old story and the idea that this could be done at a global scale as a climate fix. But, of course, once you unleash these technologies, you don't—it's not well-meaning climate scientists who decide how it's going to be deployed. It's governments who decide how it's going to be deployed. And you can easily see a scenario where, you know, say, the U.S. and Europe do a sort of emergency geoengineering response that has a negative effect on China and India, and they then retaliate with their own. You know, the point is, I don't think this is around the corner, but I do think it underscores just how radical a situation we find ourselves in, that serious people are seriously discussing this as if it's sane. It's not. And that should prompt us, I think, to talk about much saner solutions, like, hey, we can switch to 100 percent renewable energy. We have examples like Germany. They're heading for 60 percent renewable energy in a decade. You know, why don't we do that instead, because it's a lot lower risk? It does require us to challenge the—it does require that we have this ideological war, that we take on corporate power, which is why it is so important that we're having actions like Flood Wall Street and that we have a new generation of climate activists that understand who the actual barriers to climate action is, because I think most people would rather put a solar panel on their roof than turn down the sun. JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Well, Naomi, one of the climate scientists cited in your book is Kevin Anderson of the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research. Democracy Now! spoke to him last year at the U.N. climate summit in Warsaw. KEVIN ANDERSON: In the short term, the only way we can get our emissions down is to actually reduce the level of energy we consume. Now, we can also put low-carbon energy supply in place, you know, power stations that are renewable—wind, even nuclear, as well. These are all very low-carbon power stations and other energy sources. But they take a long time to put in place. And we now—we've squandered the opportunity we had to make those changes. So, we still need to do that, but it's going to take us 20, 30 years to do that. So what we need to do in the interim is to reduce the amount of energy we consume, and therefore reduce the amount of carbon dioxide that we emit. And the levels of reduction we now need in carbon dioxide, and therefore energy consumption, are such that for many of us—for the wealthy of us, certainly—we can't carry on as we're going now. So we'll have to consume less. And there's absolutely no way out of that. The maths are absolutely clear. JUAN GONZÁLEZ: That was Kevin Anderson of the Tyndall Centre, who took a 25-hour ride by train to get to the conference. NAOMI KLEIN: I quote Kevin a lot in the book, and Alice Bows. You know, their research is really hard to argue with, and they're the ones who are saying that we need to cut our emissions by 8 to 10 percent a year in the industrialized world. And that is not compatible with the economic system that we have. The only precedent for emission reductions at that level in a sustained way is in the aftermath of the Great Depression. Now, we don't want that. We don't want to just let our economy crash. So we need to manage it. We need to have a strategic economy, a deliberate economy. We need to grow the areas that are helping people and that are low-carbon, and we need to contract the areas are just mindlessly emitting. AMY GOODMAN: So take us on a tour of this great transition. What would it look like today if the United States was serious about dealing with climate change? What first needs to happen? NAOMI KLEIN: Well, I think two things need to happen at once, and this is what the German experience shows us. You need to have bold national policies, like you need to have feed-in tariffs. You need to have clear goals—how much of your grid is going to switch to renewable energy, by what time. You need to have the right incentives in place. I think what Germany shows, too, is, you know, we often think that—and, you know, there are these groups that exist just to make this argument—that it's a big problem, so we need only big solutions, and so they argue in favor of nuclear power and industrial agriculture. But actually, what Germany shows is that the fastest transition we're seeing anywhere in the world is happening through a multiplication of small-scale solutions, with well-designed, smart national policies. But that's not enough. You also need to say no to the fossil fuel companies. So we need to close those carbon frontiers, right? We need to have clear no-go zones—no drilling in the Arctic, no new tar sands, and wind down the tar sands. We need to enshrine these fracking moratoriums into law. We need to turn the moratoriums into bans, and we need to expand them. So, it's the yes, on the one hand; it's the no, on the other hand. And it's also—you know, I talk in the book about the connection with—in my country, in Canada, I think there's a really clear connection with respecting indigenous land rights, because some of the largest—it's simply a fact that some of the largest pools of carbon are under the lands of some of the poorest people on the planet, and much of it is under indigenous land. So, there are tremendous fights being waged by indigenous people around the world to keep the drillers out of the Amazon, to slow down the tar sands. But one of the most important things that needs to happen is that the benefits of this new economy, of this next economy, of the transition, the people who have been hurt the most, who have been on the front lines of the extractive economy and have got the worst deal in the unequal exchange powered by fossil fuels, need to be first in line to benefit, so that there are real options beyond just extractive economies, because people are being asked to choose between having running water and having an extractive project in their backyard which will potentially poison their water. That's a nonchoice. People need better choices than that. AMY GOODMAN: So talk about the position of the United States. I mean, we were both in Copenhagen when President Obama swooped in. This was in 2009. Describe the role of the U.S. in the climate negotiations. NAOMI KLEIN: Well, I think the most destructive role that the U.S. plays in these negotiations is insisting on pretending that the world was born yesterday. And, you know, the way these debates play out, the central stumbling block, the central debate, is over whether we are going to respond based on the principle of common but differentiated responsibility. And that means that we have to acknowledge that we have known about this, we have known about this for a long time, that the rich world got rich burning carbon, and that there is a historical debt that's owed to the developing world precisely because the effects of climate change are being felt first and worst there. So there needs to be an equitable response. And the most destructive role that the U.S. plays in these negotiations is just coming and saying, you know, "We don't acknowledge that. We don't accept the concept that we're more responsible because we started first." And that just derails every discussion. And I think part of the responsibility for this, you know, is shared by the environmental movement in the United States, because there is this sense that that is a political no-go zone. You can't talk about any kind of redistribution of technology or wealth between North and South, that that is toxic. You hear that phrase a lot. And, you know, I don't think it's impossible for the U.S. government to have an equitable, equity-based response to climate change. But I think if they're not being pressured internally by the environmental movement to make equity a priority, then it's not going to happen. And I don't think that that has been enough of a priority for the U.S. environmental movement. JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And what about the impact—much is made of the growing influence of the more advanced of the countries of the South and East, of China, India, Brazil. What's your sense of whether they're having any kind of a different road on the whole issue of being able to attack climate change? NAOMI KLEIN: Well, so, I mean, part of the reason why it is so important for countries like the U.S., Canada, the European Union to lead by example, to lead by cutting our emissions decisively, and also by committing to an equity response, which means, you know, helping the developing world to leapfrog over fossil fuels, whether that's with money or technology or both, is that if we don't, if our countries don't do that, it's an incredibly convenient excuse for governments in China and India to go, "Well, why should we do anything? They started it." And that's exactly what's happening. So we're in this no-win, tit-for-tat fight. So, you know, by leading, we take away the best arguments of regressive governments in those countries, which are using it with abandon. The other thing that I think we need to acknowledge is that, you know, the fossil fuel resistance movement is a global movement. And, in fact, it was born in the Global South. You know, we talked about these amazing movements in North America, but in the book I talk about really how if we want to talk about where this all started, I would say it started on Ogoniland in the Niger Delta. I mean when Shell Oil was kicked out, and they still have not returned, and a huge amount of carbon has been kept in the ground because of that tremendously courageous struggle. And the whole slogan, "Leave the oil in the soil, leave the oil in the ground," I mean, this is a slogan born in Nigeria and Ecuador, in the incredible movements to save the Amazon from oil drilling and to save the Yasuní. And so, in a sense, what's happening now is that, you know, as the fossil fuel frenzy moves north and we pillage ourselves, we are starting to see some of the forms of resistance that were born in the Global South come to the North, yeah. AMY GOODMAN: Naomi, you spent something like seven years writing this book, but you not only wrote the book in seven years, you also had a baby, Toma, who's two now. Can you talk about how you relate trying to get pregnant and issues of fertility with the environment? NAOMI KLEIN: Mm-hmm, yeah. I have a chapter at the end of the book called "The Right to Regenerate." And it's a very personal chapter. I struggled with whether or not to include it in the book or not. But I wrote about it because I kind of needed to write about it in order to write the rest of the book. I wrote it first, and it ended up being the end of the book. But it was—it's seven years since The Shock Doctrine, but I've really been working on this book for five years. And five years, you know, in my personal life, what I was going through is I was trying to have my first child. I lost several pregnancies, and then eventually was lucky enough to have a baby and become a new mother. So this was—you know, I was going through this process, doing these sort of high-tech fertility treatments, having a sort of disastrous experience with that, and then I started to see sort of intersections between what I was going through and the research I was doing into climate change. Because I was sort of hitting a biological wall myself, or being told that I was, I became—I felt like it helped me to understand, you know, in a kind of really personal way, what it means to hit those boundaries, those natural boundaries. See, I think we tend to see our bodies as machines, and we see the Earth as a machine, and we are incredibly resilient, we have all these built-in redundancies, but we are not invulnerable. You know, we bend, but we break. You can hit the wall. And having had that experience of just hitting a wall, of my body just telling me no, while I was doing this research, I found it actually really helpful to believe, actually, it is possible to hit the wall. So, you know, I tried to learn from that. And I also started to notice that the way in which climate change was playing out in the natural world is also often as a fertility crisis, that we were making the world less fertile, whether we're making the soil less fertile, whether we're deliberately making seeds less fertile so that they can be patented and owned, or simply that warming temperatures and acidifying oceans are wreaking havoc on many species' ability to reproduce. The first example I noticed was a story about how the eggs of sea turtles were—you know how sea turtles amazingly go through that process of going up on beaches and digging holes and burying their eggs in the sand. Well, because the sand is just a little bit warmer, the eggs are cooking in the sand and not hatching. Or, the male eggs are dying, and the female eggs are hatching, and of course that creates a reproductive crisis later on. So I started to see all kinds of the examples of how climate change was playing up as a bottom-up extinction crisis, meaning that it wasn't the adults that were dying, but it was the very young who were losing their food sources or were just simply losing their ability to fight for life in those early days—you know, the ability of oysters to form their hard shells in the earliest days. We know that acidification has that impact. But what we didn't know, what scientists were surprised by, is how much more vulnerable the young are to that, that in those first early days of forming the shell, if there's even a slight change in pH levels, they won't be able to do it. So, these are some of the earliest signs of how climate change is playing out in making our world less alive. So, just going through that personal experience, I think, kind of attuned me to see some of this. I always see my books as a process of pattern recognition, you know? Once you sort of identify a pattern, you kind of see it repeat. That's what happened to me with The Shock Doctrine. And that happened to me with fertility in this book. JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And you also talk in the book about, once your son was born, the impact it had on you of bringing much closer to home what climate change will mean for the future, for our offspring— NAOMI KLEIN: Yeah. JUAN GONZÁLEZ: —for our children and our children's children. NAOMI KLEIN: Yeah, yeah, yeah. You know, I didn't write the book because, you know, I was worried about my son's future. I started writing the book before he was born. But it has brought the crisis into my heart in a new way. And what I find is, you know, we all get scared reading these reports about melting glaciers, but sometimes it's kind of hard to wrap your head around, you know? And so, what I found in my personal experience, the moments where I was just sort of blindsided by the reality of this crisis and just sort of overwhelmed by emotion were not—was not when I was reading those scientific reports or even doing the reporting. It was when I was reading—when I read children's books to my son. I had this moment early on when—you know, so, basically, this was my life for a while, just like writing this book, taking breaks and reading stories, board books, to Toma. And he has this favorite book, Looking for a Moose, where a bunch of kids set off on a journey to see a long-legged, bulgy-nosed, something-something-antlered moose. And I had read this book, you know, 75 times. And this slogan that they keep saying, "Have you ever seen a moose? Have you ever seen a moose? We've never seen a moose," and finally, they see all these moose. They say, "We've never, ever seen so many moose!" And it just hit me. I'm like, "Wait a minute. He might never see a moose," because I had been in northern Alberta and I had been talking to members of the Beaver Lake Cree First Nation, and they had been describing how the moose were sick, when they would find moose covered in tumors, or they were just disappearing. And this is happening all over North America. You know, they're extremely affected by climate change and extremely affected by the toxins associated with fossil fuel extraction. I've only seen a moose a couple of times in my life in the wild, this extraordinary experience. But I just have those moments where it's like, "Wait a minute. He may never have these experiences that I've had." AMY GOODMAN: What's happening to the oceans? NAOMI KLEIN: So, it's a big question, but—you know, I wrote a lot of this book while I was living in British Columbia, is where my family lives. And it's an interesting vantage point from which to think about this, because the Pacific Northwest, the waters along that coast are some of the most rapidly acidifying waters, and it's for a variety of reasons. And one of them is climate change. Some of it's natural upwellings. But we're already seeing the impacts on oysters. I mean, oyster farms, some of them—there's one oyster farm that is actually—oh, I think it was in Washington state, and now it's opened a hatchery in Hawaii because it can no longer hatch—they can no longer have the hatchery in those waters, and they bring the oysters back—not exactly a low-carbon solution—back after they form their shells. We've seen scallops just wiped out in British Columbia in the past couple of years, linked to acidification. Strange starfish diseases—there's a wasting syndrome where suddenly like the limbs are falling off, and this is happening on a massive scale all along the Pacific Northwest. We don't know if that's linked to climate change or something else; it isn't exactly clear yet. But the oceans are definitely changing. And you see it. It's not like, OK, this is happening down the road. It's happening a lot faster than was predicted. AMY GOODMAN: Well, Naomi Klein, I want to thank you very much for being with us. Naomi Klein is a journalist, best-selling author, activist. Her new book is called This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate. Thanks for spending this time with us. NAOMI KLEIN: Thank you, guys. AMY GOODMAN: I'm Amy Goodman, with Juan González. Thanks so much for joining us.
Thursday, 9/18/14Democracy Now! 2014-09-18 ThursdayDemocracy Now! 2014-09-18 Thursday [" Headlines for September 18, 2014 ", " Capitalism vs. the Climate: Naomi Klein on Need for New Economic Model to Address Ecological Crisis ", " Naomi Klein on the People's Climate March & the Global Grassroots Movement Fighting Fossil Fuels "] Download this show
Wednesday, 9/17/14"The Throwaways": New Film Spotlights Impact of Police Killings and Mass Incarceration in Upstate NYAmidst national outrage over police brutality across the country, we look at a new film that documents police shootings and the consequences of mass incarceration in upstate New York. The Throwaways focuses on the idea that certain lives in our society are considered disposable. It follows activist and filmmaker Ira McKinley, a former felon, as he seeks to document and mobilize his community of Albany, the state capital of New York. One of the voices featured in the film is Michelle Alexander, author of The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness_, who has said of the film, "_The Throwaways courageously explores the most pressing racial justice issue of our time: the mass incarceration and profiling of poor people of color." We're joined by the film's co-directors, Bhawin Suchak and Ira McKinley, who is also the subject of the film, along with Messiah Rhodes, associate producer of The Throwaways and a former Democracy Now! video fellow. AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org, The War and Peace Report. I'm Amy Goodman. The past few months have seen protests over police shootings across the country, from Ferguson, Missouri, to Ohio, where John Crawford was shot dead while holding a BB gun in a Wal-Mart, to right here in New York, where Eric Garner died after being placed in an illegal police chokehold in Staten Island. As he shouted, "I can't breathe! I can't breathe!" he died. We turn now to a film about the connections between police brutality, mass incarceration and the idea that certain lives in our society are considered disposable. This is a trailer for the new film, The Throwaways. IRA McKINLEY: They're not even listening to us, and it's going to stop. It's going to stop. INTERVIEWER: And you gave me your name at the beginning. Can you give it to me one more time and spell it? IRA McKINLEY: Ira McKinley, I-R-A M-C-K-I-N-L-E-Y. INTERVIEWER: And how did you identify yourself? Community activist? IRA McKINLEY: I'm a community activist. They know who I am. UNIDENTIFIED: I know who he is. IRA McKINLEY: Yeah, he knows who I am. You can research all that stuff, you know what I'm saying? INTERVIEWER: All right. Thank you. IRA McKINLEY: You have a blessed day. I want to get my community involved. I want to show the people that are being affected the most by these economic crises, these budget cuts, that you can stand up, and you can demand certain things. Everything here is just take, take, take—take away from everything, take away your dignity, take away your self-esteem, take away everything. Even your rights are being taken away—slowly. But I'm standing up. When I was 14 years old, my father got shot and killed by a police officer. I've been beat up twice. This past summer, I almost got tased. So I know these things happen to those of us of color. I was told not to do this, because—man said, "They're going to kill you," all this other stuff. And I was like, "Man, what else do I have? What do I got to lose right now? I mean, I'm homeless. I ain't got no job. You know, I'm cold. I'm hungry. What do I have to lose by me speaking out?" I said, "They're killing me already by not speaking out." VAN JONES: We don't have any throwaway cans. We don't have any throwaway children, either, OK? We don't have any throwaway bottles and cans and paper. We don't have any throwaway neighborhoods, either. That's true environmentalism, because it's all sacred. God didn't make any junk. MICHELLE ALEXANDER: That's ultimately what The Throwaways is all about, right? IRA McKINLEY: Yes, that's what it is. MICHELLE ALEXANDER: Groups of people who are defined as different enough that you don't have to care and can be just thrown away. ALBANY RESIDENT 1: This is the hood. This is where black people are supposed to—well, we do what we do, but we're supposed to die. ALBANY RESIDENT 2: People's friends and families is getting shot, killed. [bleep] Everybody in prison. Half the people I grew up with, they in prison right now. CAROLYN McLAUGHLIN: One at a time, Miss! SANDRA McKINLEY: They're killing off our kids! They're killing our kids, Carolyn! UNIDENTIFIED: One at a time! CAROLYN McLAUGHLIN: Speak one at a time! COURTNEY: Stop! Stop! Stop! Stop! Stop! CAROLYN McLAUGHLIN: Thank you, Courtney [phon.]. COURTNEY: Stop! CAROLYN McLAUGHLIN: Thank you, Courtney. COURTNEY: Stop! What the hell, y'all? UNIDENTIFIED: We angry. COURTNEY: I know! I'm angry, too! UNIDENTIFIED: Everybody knew the end of the story before it even started. IRA McKINLEY: These are whole city blocks—decimated, you know? To me, it's by plan. Yes, I'm saying it. This is a planned thing for gentrification, to get these people out of here. And if you want—make me a liar. Make me a liar. Make me—show me that what I'm saying is not true, by helping us put together some community buildings and getting some jobs for our own community. If you could do that, then I'm a liar. AMY GOODMAN: That's activist and filmmaker Ira McKinley, the subject and co-director of the new film, The Throwaways. Ira and the film's co-director, Bhawin Suchak, join us in the studio, along with Messiah Rhodes, associate producer of The Throwaways, also a former Democracy Now! video fellow. We welcome you all to Democracy Now! Can you talk, Ira, about why you made this film? IRA McKINLEY: Well, I made this film from my years of after coming out of prison in 2002. I was actually in prison at Arthur Kill in Staten Island, and I was there when the World Trade Center went down. But coming out and years and years of just trying to get back into society. I thought my debt was paid to society after I came out of prison. But just knowing that, like Michelle Alexander talks about, that, you know, you have to—you're always subjected to being, you know, a convict. And just going through my life, you know, being—felt like that nobody really got me and to being thrown away in different situations. AMY GOODMAN: Let's go to where you talk about this in your film, The Throwaways. IRA McKINLEY: Before I went to prison, I was addicted to—you know, I was addicted to crack. And, you know, I had to be real about it. And I got addicted to the lifestyle more. I really did. I got addicted to the lifestyle more, and the women, the drugs, all that, you know? So, it got to the point where it got really bad for me, the addiction, that I started robbing bodegas around here. And I got sent to prison for robbing a bodega. It was just a lifestyle of getting that quick fix, and it all is just a vicious cycle. AMY GOODMAN: In this next clip from The Throwaways, Ira McKinley talks about the struggles he faced after he was released from prison. IRA McKINLEY: I'm not going to say I always been like this, but, boy, I tell you, for the last 10 years of my life, since I've been out of prison, it's been a reality for me to see how hard the struggle is, you know, that new Jim Crow system, you know, a way of keeping me down, you know. Once you get that felony, you're marked. You can't get food stamps. I went through that. They turned me down for food—how do you turn a homeless person down for food stamps? You know what I'm saying? This is the kind of scams that's being run on the people that are poor. AMY GOODMAN: That's from the film The Throwaways. Ira McKinley is with us, who is both the subject of it and the co-director. Explain how food stamps works for people who have been in prison. IRA McKINLEY: You go in, and you try to apply. They have control. It depends on which county you're in. They have control if they want to give it to you or not. And if they don't give it to you, there's a process which you can appeal it. And basically, if they tell you know and you appeal it, you're not going to get it anyways. And so, you know, it's a demeaning process, in the whole thing of coming out, you know, going through the process of trying to get the food stamps to get some food. And, I mean, what can I really say? Because they turned me down, and for like years I didn't have any food stamps. So I had to go to soup kitchens and learn—in different places to eat. AMY GOODMAN: Bhawin Suchak, you co-directed the film with Ira McKinley. How did you get involved with The Throwaways? BHAWIN SUCHAK: Yeah, so, you know, my involvement started when Ira literally walked up to me in the street. I run a program called Youth FX, which I teach young people filmmaking. AMY GOODMAN: Called Youth? BHAWIN SUCHAK: Youth FX. And I was standing outside the site that we do our summer program, and Ira literally just walked up to me and said, "You're Bhawin, right?" And I said, "Yeah." And he said, "You make films." I said, "Yeah." And he says, "You're going to help me make this film called The Throwaways" And, you know, as you see in the film, Ira is a very outspoken person, and he really goes after what he believes in and what he feels. So, he kind of just, you know, pursued me and said, "You know, this is something that I want to make." And actually, after a few weeks of helping Ira to film of the stories he was documenting, and learning Ira's story himself, you know, being an ex-felon and trying to struggle to sort of have a voice and find himself, you know, as a social justice activist, and how much—you know, how many challenges he was facing, I said, "You know what, Ira? I think your story is really the story we should be focusing on." And, you know, Ira, it was hard for him to get on board, because he didn't want to be in front of the camera, but, you know, after a little bit of coaxing and after visiting Michelle Alexander, who also said, "Ira, you have a powerful story that needs to be told," we actually started turning the camera more on Ira, and he became the focus of the film. AMY GOODMAN: You had had video training. You trained as a journalist in Western Mass, right? IRA McKINLEY: Yes, through community television. When I was homeless, sleeping in a tent, I wanted to document my journey. So I put—actually, what happened, I put together a homeless artist showcase one year. Because of me being homeless, I wanted to show the goodness of homeless people. And I wanted to document that. But I lost control of the project, so they said, "Well, if you want to do it, you need to learn how to do it yourself." So I went to Northampton Community Television, and I learned how to film and edit there. AMY GOODMAN: I was particularly affected by the description of the capital of New York. Many people outside New York might think it's New York City, but it isn't. It's upstate, Albany, New York, where most of the film takes place. In this clip in The Throwaways, we hear from residents about what it's like to live in New York's capital. ALBANY RESIDENT 3: It's terrible how this is supposed to be the capital, and it seems like the city is very misguided, to the point where there's different areas that's all fixed up, and you're like, "Oh, this is the capital," and then you can go around the corner, and then these buildings look like this. And then, it's a very—from what I understand, it's a very big population of homelessness. It just doesn't seem like it's a community-based capital of New York. ALBANY RESIDENT 4: The landlords are slum landlords. They live out of town. They don't fix nothing. Nobody lives across the street. Nobody lives down the block. Nobody lives down the block. We have to call National Grid. The lights don't work. It's dark outside. You know what I mean? Come on, it's crazy. They got all this money out here they spend on wars, right? They spend trillions and trillions of dollars on foreign aid for other countries, right? And then over here, where we live at, in our own backyard, it's terrible. IRA McKINLEY: These are whole city blocks—decimated, you know? To me, it's by plan. Yes, I'm saying it. This is a planned thing for gentrification, to get these people out of here. And if you want—make me a liar. Make me a liar. Make me—show me that what I'm saying is not true, by helping us put together some community buildings and getting some jobs for our own community. If you could do that, then I'm a liar. AMY GOODMAN: Again, that last voice is Ira McKinley, the subject of this film. But I want to go to another voice, a young resident of Albany, New York. ALBANY RESIDENT 2: A lot of [bleep] that, you know what I mean, the city do, I don't understand it. This is deserted now. You know what I mean? IRA McKINLEY: Yeah, yeah. ALBANY RESIDENT 2: This is deserted. Everybody's in prison, you know what I mean? People's friends and families is getting shot, killed. This one strip alone, used to be a hundred people out, 200 people, up and down the street. You're lucky if you see five people out here right now. There's probably about two houses that people live in on this whole block right here. It's ridiculous. It's got more abandoned houses than anything out here. AMY GOODMAN: These are voices describing the capital of New York state, Albany. But it could be many cities in this country. Messiah Rhodes, you're the associate producer of The Throwaways. You worked very hard on this, also covered Occupy and were recently in Ferguson. Talk about the connections. MESSIAH RHODES: Well, the first connection is, I guess, the militarization, like the war on drugs. You know, pretty much my mother, Ira, like pretty much everyone around me have been affected by the war on drugs, incarcerated, faced police raids, you know, and that's the connection I see, when I went down to Ferguson. Also, I went up to Newburgh, New York, which is almost a carbon copy of Albany. It's desolate, desolate, desolate. You know, so that's the connection that I've seen. So... AMY GOODMAN: Interesting, in Newburgh, in some of the interviews you did, people talked about a food desert. MESSIAH RHODES: Mm-hmm, mm-hmm. AMY GOODMAN: Explain. MESSIAH RHODES: Some people called it a food apartheid, in the sense that it's like it's kind of planned, you know. In Newburgh, there's only one meat market for a population of about 5,000 people. There's only one homeless shelter, with beds—about 20 beds. So, pretty much people have to like go outside of the community to get food. And because of that, the nutrition is bad. You know, the job prospects are bad. And that's the same thing that's happening in Albany. That's the same thing that was going on in Ferguson. So... AMY GOODMAN: And, of course, Ferguson is about the killing of a young black man, a teenager, 18-year-old Mike Brown. At a key moment in the film The Throwaways, there's a police shooting of Nah-Cream Moore. This is a clip from the film of a young man speaking at a makeshift memorial at the scene of the shooting. ALBANY RESIDENT 5: So, I just wanted to let people know that Nah-Cream was a good, loving kid, man. He was funny as hell. He also knew about what goes on in these streets. So he was a victim of whatever goes on in the streets. I mean, the whole main thing is I want justice—justice for me, justice for him, justice for everybody who it could happen to. AMY GOODMAN: A climactic moment in The Throwaways takes place when Albany residents attend a police news conference the day after the police shooting of Nah-Cream Moore. Police Chief Steven Krokoff tells a room packed with community members that police were conducting a traffic stop when a struggle ensued, and Nah-Cream Moore went to lift a loaded handgun, leaving police no choice but to shoot him. A woman questions the chief's account. ALBANY RESIDENT 6: You said that the two officers were— UNIDENTIFIED: Hey, can we hear, please? ALBANY RESIDENT 6: You said that the two officers were riding behind the vehicle that Nah-Cream was in. And you said at some point they determined that they were looking for that person. They recognized him from behind? While he was still in the car? POLICE CHIEF STEVEN KROKOFF: I did not—I don't know yet exactly what led up to the traffic stop. ALBANY RESIDENT 6: Well, could you repeat what you said? ALBANY RESIDENT 7: You have trained officers on whatever you had to do. He didn't let off no gun. He didn't shoot at your officer. So you should have been trained to get the gun away from him. ALBANY RESIDENT 8: That was a kid! He was a kid! ALBANY RESIDENT 7: You lied! You lied! ALBANY RESIDENT 8: You ought to be trained for the kids! That was a kid, shot and killed! POLICE CHIEF STEVEN KROKOFF: We understand, and we are—we feel it. We want—we are part of this community also. We are not against you. We are with you. And we will continue to work with you. ALBANY RESIDENT 9: The community is here! We're here! The community is here! POLICE CHIEF STEVEN KROKOFF: I promise you. There are so many people in this room— ALBANY RESIDENT 10: I have something to say to my community, because this right here now, all of y'all n****s put them guns down! It's about us now! Put the guns down, and let's come together! Let's come together! CAROLYN McLAUGHLIN: Wait a minute! Wait a minute! Can I just ask—I know everybody was given the opportunity to come here, because we wanted you to hear from the chief himself. Wait! Wait! Wait! Wait! Wait! Wait a minute! But everybody is speaking at one time! But everybody is speaking at one time! Why don't you give him a chance to answer each question? SANDRA McKINLEY: They're killing off our kids! They're killing our kids, Carolyn! AMY GOODMAN: That's activist Sandra McKinley, Ira's sister, interrupting Albany Common Council President Carolyn McLaughlin, from the film The Throwaways. Messiah, we just recently saw a City Council meeting in Ferguson, you know, after weeks of protests and arrests, tear gas and armored personnel carriers in the streets of Ferguson. Then, the funeral, there was a period of no more protests, and then the protests erupted again, because of the distrust, the anger. MESSIAH RHODES: Yeah, I mean, when I went down there, Amy, like the first people I talked to was the kids, like, you know, pretty much like—now there's a group called the Lost Voices, but, like, pretty much verbatim they said, like, you know, "You failed us in the '60s. You failed us in the '70s. You failed us in the '90s. You know, and now it's our turn." And these are like kids who have already been in and out of jail like three, four times already. So they're not afraid, and they know what's at stake. So, and that's what I've seen. And you're actually seeing it now, like you saw the highway blocks. We saw what happened in the council meeting. So they're not afraid, you know, and they're willing to fight, because, you know, what happened to Mike Brown, like they had his body laying there for four hours. That could have been anybody. AMY GOODMAN: Laying on the street, much of the time not covered, outside of the apartment buildings where he was living with his grandmother and so many others lived. At one point in The Throwaways, Ira McKinley actually films his own encounter with police. This clip starts with Ira speaking. IRA McKINLEY: I was told not to do this, because—man said, "They're going to kill you," all this other stuff. And I was like, "Man, what else do I have? What do I got to lose right now? I mean, I'm homeless. I ain't got no job. You know, I'm cold. I'm hungry. What do I have to lose by me speaking out?" I said, "They're killing me already by not speaking out." POLICE OFFICER: Back up a few more feet. IRA McKINLEY: No, I'm not going to back up, bro. POLICE OFFICER: Back up a few more feet. IRA McKINLEY: Oh, that's right. Don't touch me. Don't touch me. POLICE OFFICER: Back up. IRA McKINLEY: Don't touch me. Don't touch me. POLICE OFFICER: Back up. [inaudible] right now. IRA McKINLEY: Don't touch me. I have a right to film you. I have a right to come over here. Don't touch me. Don't touch me. Don't touch me. Don't touch me. Don't touch me. I have a right to film you. EYEWITNESS: You asked him to back up. POLICE OFFICER: Step back, or you'll get arrested. IRA McKINLEY: I backed up. EYEWITNESS: He's doing what you asked him to do, but you're still walking up on him. Just give him a break. POLICE OFFICER: So "back up" means to stay right here, not walk up on me. IRA McKINLEY: Stay right here? And do what? EYEWITNESS: He did back up. He did what you asked him. IRA McKINLEY: And do what? Yo, take the film. Take the film. Take the film. Take the film, because I'm about to get arrested. AMY GOODMAN: And so, that's what happened, Ira McKinley? When was this? And did you get arrested right then? IRA McKINLEY: This happened—and all this stuff led up, because we were—we'd seen Trayvon. This happened like right after Trayvon. And that right there, in that incident, they had stopped these young men. And we were in a community center right across the street. And I'm looking at it, and I'm like, "Well, why do they got all these cops here for these men?" So I brought my camera out, because I wanted to film what was going on. And so, I went across the street to get a better angle, and that's when they approached me. You know, I guess the felt—you know, when you start filming the cops, they get nervous, so—and that's what you've seen. You know, I just wanted to make sure that they handled that situation with those young men correctly, so I wanted to capture it on film. AMY GOODMAN: I mean, you had already been to jail. Were you afraid of being arrested. IRA McKINLEY: No. No, I've been—Amy, I get stopped and arrested like—since this, since we've been there, I've been stopped and arrested, charged with things, about 10 times. I have a case in Albany, New York, right now that I have to go through. But I'm not scared to get arrested, because that's part of it, you know what I'm saying, to stand up to it, you know what I'm saying, and to have your voice. AMY GOODMAN: Now, it's about filming. I wanted to go to an earlier time in this next clip in The Throwaways where you talk about a much earlier encounter with the police, during a time before cellphone cameras. IRA McKINLEY: On New Year's Day, in January of 1989, I was charged with disorderly conduct, secondary assault. I was actually beaten up by the police. We didn't have any video cameras like we do today. This happened two years before Rodney King, the video of him being beaten up by the police. That was my first-ever arrest that night; I had never been arrested before in my life. By the time I went to trial, I had been arrested 10 more times. AMY GOODMAN: That's Ira McKinley in The Throwaways. Ira McKinley, with us here, the issue of police shootings goes way back in your family. IRA McKINLEY: Yes. AMY GOODMAN: Talk about your father. What happened? IRA McKINLEY: My father came from—first, I want to say he was a migrant worker, and he brought us up into Ithaca from the South and to give us a better education, during the civil rights movement. In 1979, he went back down to Florida and got into an altercation with a police officer, and he got shot and killed, when I was like 14 years old at the time. But— AMY GOODMAN: So you lost your father at 14. IRA McKINLEY: Yes, I lost—yes, at 14. But if you were to—the thing I want to connect it to was the Miami riots. So the next year, there was a bunch of police shootings, in 1980, and he was one of the statistics of why they rioted in Miami in 1980. AMY GOODMAN: So let's go to the bigger picture, which you do very well in this film, in The Throwaways, to Michelle Alexander, a frequent guest on Democracy Now!, the author of The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness. Actually, in this clip, she's speaking to you, Ira McKinley, this from The Throwaways. MICHELLE ALEXANDER: The system of mass incarceration itself stems from an effort to divide people along racial lines, poor people along racial lines, keeping them divided and distracted. It is in many ways a backlash against the poor people's movement and the civil rights movement that Martin Luther King launched. You know, as I describe in my book, the get-tough movement in the war on drugs was part of a deliberate strategy adopted by the Republican Party in an effort to appeal to poor and working-class white voters who were anxious about, threatened by many of the gains that were made by African Americans in the civil rights movement. And pollsters and political strategists found that get-tough rhetoric on issues of crime and welfare could appeal to poor and working-class whites and pit poor and working-class whites against poor folks of color. And that's ultimately what The Throwaways is all about, right? IRA McKINLEY: Yes, that's what it is. MICHELLE ALEXANDER: Groups of people who are defined as different enough that you don't have to care and can be just thrown away. AMY GOODMAN: That's Michelle Alexander, author of the best-selling book, The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness, speaking to the subject of The Throwaways, Ira McKinley, co-directed by Bhawin Suchak. Bhawin, talk more about putting this in this global context, and particularly how this relates to Ferguson. BHAWIN SUCHAK: Yeah, I mean, I think one of the things that's interesting when we show the film is that we screen it, and some people say, "Well, you're talking about mass incarceration and then talking about police brutality. There's too much going on. What's the connection?" And I think that, you know, it's interesting for people who are living in poor communities, predominantly African-American communities, that connection is very visible, because you see it every day. And I think, you know, Ferguson is just a perfect example of the sort of—you know, the storm of circumstances that collided, because Mike Brown was a tipping point for that community, because this is a community that's 70 percent African-American that has no representation in their city government and has been consistently and systematically, you know, abused by policies, by traffic stops and things like that, that result in—the increase in fines result in people having bench warrants, having police knock down their doors and take them to jail, continuously. I mean, three arrest warrants per household in 2011 was some of the statistics. And so, you see that— AMY GOODMAN: One of the highest in the country. BHAWIN SUCHAK: Exactly. AMY GOODMAN: Their statistics are off the chart. BHAWIN SUCHAK: It's completely, you know, the same as comparing the sort of racist policies of the drug war, that have decimated black communities across this country for decades, you know. And I think that when you see that coupled with the cops coming out and treating people through racial profiling and stop-and-frisk, and then just coming after people and abusing their rights, and then taking it that last step to shoot people and choke Eric Garner—on video. You know, John Crawford, it's been revealed that—you know, the video has not been released, but that he was simply just standing there in the Wal-Mart, in an open-carry state, but as a black man, he was immediately viewed as a threat. And I think that's the concept of a— AMY GOODMAN: He was holding one of their products. BHAWIN SUCHAK: One of their products, right. AMY GOODMAN: The plastic gun in the store— BHAWIN SUCHAK: A plastic BB gun, exactly. AMY GOODMAN: —in an aisle. BHAWIN SUCHAK: Right. And now the so-called witness is recanting his story— AMY GOODMAN: And they killed him. BHAWIN SUCHAK: —saying he never pointed at anybody, that that was completely fabricated. But again, it's like—you know, it's the same thing we're talking about with the film, is that, you know, black people, specifically black men, are viewed as throwaways. They are not—their humanity is not as valued as other people in the society. And I think that is at the core of the film, The Throwaways. And that's where, to me, mass incarceration and police brutality intersect. AMY GOODMAN: Messiah, you and I covered the protests around Eric Garner's death, right after we were in Ferguson. That was on Staten Island. And there—and this goes to your and Ira's work and, as well, Bhawin's work with filmmaking and the power of the camera, because when we were at the site of the death of Eric Garner, 43-year-old father of six who was taken down in a police chokehold in front of a beauty spa, we saw Ramsey Orta, the young man who had filmed that encounter with police, filmed the death of Eric Garner with his cellphone. And right after the coroner announced that this was a homicide, first Ramsey Orta, then his wife Chrissie, who we also saw, were arrested—the people who did the filming. Can you talk about your own experience with being a videographer, a journalist, covering these issues? MESSIAH RHODES: Yeah, I've had, I think, two sound recorders broken by police. I mean, I haven't been arrested. I just have—I was visited by counterterrorism FBI in 2008. And I was just doing an outline for a documentary, and I got visited by them. They're asking questions like "Who were you talking to? Who are you?" So I faced that kind of repression. I faced random cops asking me questions at a march. So I face that kind of stuff, you know? And as a filmmaker, and also just someone who has like a cellphone with a camera, you know, we shouldn't be afraid to film the police. AMY GOODMAN: Talk about how you came to become a videographer, how you came to use filmmaking as a way of documenting communities. MESSIAH RHODES: I mean, I guess growing up in Far Rockaway and growing up in a place that—now people know about Far Rockaway because of Hurricane Sandy and stuff, but before, no one knew what was going on in this town. And I just felt these stories, these amazing people, these strong people here, who are surviving such repression, such poverty, their voices need to be heard. And I started working doing stuff a little before Occupy. You know, there was like an occupation in Albany. There was Bloombergville, the two-week-and-a-half thing against Bloomberg. You know, he's out of here now, so that's good. AMY GOODMAN: How did you learn to use a video camera? MESSIAH RHODES: Oh, on my own. I mean, I started doing grip and electric work on film sets, and eventually I saved up money to get my own equipment. So, and then I just went out there. AMY GOODMAN: I mean, Ira got to this community media center in Western Mass. What was the center for you? MESSIAH RHODES: The center for me was DCTV, so that's where I went to get my—first saw the equipment. AMY GOODMAN: A community media center in New York, where Democracy Now! also used to broadcast from. MESSIAH RHODES: Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. AMY GOODMAN: So it's these open centers where anyone can come in and learn how to use a camera that have— IRA McKINLEY: You don't have to go to a film school. You can—you know, like community television. I think—was this a community television before? Yes, and see how it grew? And the same thing with us. And what, you know, Bhawin, with his Youth FX, and he learned how to do it, too. AMY GOODMAN: Now, that's FX, like the letter F, X. BHAWIN SUCHAK: Yes. IRA McKINLEY: Yes. AMY GOODMAN: Explain why it's called Youth FX. BHAWIN SUCHAK: Well, I mean, the FX is sort of like an acronym. It's like "film experience." But really what it is, it's about immersing youth from underresourced communities and giving them—providing them the tools and the training to become filmmakers, to become, you know, people who are going to document things that are going on in their community, because for these communities, a lot of young people, it's like they're not—they're not seeing themselves on television. They're not seeing themselves represented in films and in television shows. And when they do, often it's very stereotyped, you know. So what we do is we sort of—you know, we're trying to give them the power to learn how to use the cameras, learn how to edit. They actually do narrative short films and documentaries. And some of the stuff has been all over the country. And, you know, for a lot of them, it's like they're sick and tired of seeing all the negativity, and they want to show something positive. So that's really what we're trying to do with the program, is empower them in that way. AMY GOODMAN: It's a new weapon. BHAWIN SUCHAK: It is a new weapon, absolutely. AMY GOODMAN: I want to go to Van Jones, the environmental advocate, President Obama's former green jobs czar, filmed in The Throwaways. VAN JONES: The true environmental movement, there's no distinction between social justice and ecology. The true environmental movement says we don't have any throwaway cans. We don't have any throwaway children, either, OK? We don't have any throwaway bottles and cans and paper. We don't have any throwaway neighborhoods, either. That's true environmentalism, because it's all sacred. God didn't make any junk. OK? That's true environmentalism. So, this generation is going to have to tear down the distinction between human rights and ecology. If it's consistent, you can't be for people and be against the planet; you can't be for the planet and be against the people. AMY GOODMAN: Van Jones. Ira McKinley, you named the film The Throwaways. IRA McKINLEY: Yes. AMY GOODMAN: Talk about how it links to the environmental movement. IRA McKINLEY: Well, like we're saying, we have—we're living in a food desert. In a lot of ghettos, that's what's happening. And there's a way for us to get the nutritional value that we need—by growing our own food. And see, that, to me, is the solution to a lot of these issues that we're having. That's a trade that—you know, that's what I'm saying with migrant workers. That's something my family was doing from way, way back. And we—in this new age of technology, we lost that. But we need to learn to use those vacant lots and all these other, you know, rooftop gardens, and, you know, just to have food that we could grow our own food. There's things that I'm hooked up with, like Ted—Ron Finley, Ron Finley, the guerrilla gardener; Will Allen out of Milwaukee. There's Leah and—Leah Penniman and Jonah Vitale-Wolff, Soul Fire Farms. And we need to go and teach people how to grow food again. As you understand, Obama cut the food stamp bill by a considerable amount. And that is—that's something that's going to relate to how we're going to be able to eat. So, the thing is, is like we need to get back to our planet and back to the environment, by planting seeds again. And I want to—you know, so there's a big movement going on right now. And the movement is—it's also collaborating together with the New Jim Crow out of Riverside Church and other organizations—like I said, Ron Finley, the Growing Power in Chicago, and Erika Allen and Will Allen, and just growing food. AMY GOODMAN: Does this make you hopeful? IRA McKINLEY: Yes, it does. It really does make me hopeful, because right now I'm learning to grow, too. I'm in the process of—at a person's house in Corning, New York, and we're growing food, Arthur and Renata Brenner, and learning how—you know, how chickens in the environment, and how composting, and just how these things work. And, you know—and to grow seeds and to see it grow from a seed to a plant and to, you know, a fruit, that's something that's beautiful. AMY GOODMAN: Bhawin, how are you hoping to—what are you hoping to accomplish with The Throwaways, and where are you showing it? BHAWIN SUCHAK: Yeah, so, you know, I mean, I think the thing with The Throwaways, at this point, we're finishing. We're trying to—you know, we're screening it in as many places— AMY GOODMAN: It just screened at the Harlem Film Festival. BHAWIN SUCHAK: We were just at the Harlem International Film Festival this past weekend. Two weeks ago, we were at Long Beach Indie Film Festival, where we won best documentary feature there. And hopefully we'll be doing a week in L.A. screening it there. We're going to be in Colgate University and then in Toronto on Wednesday. Actually, it's a special screening for high school students who are from communities that are represented in the film. But ultimately, for me, it's like, you know, as a filmmaker and someone that's documenting these stories and these communities, I think it's important to put a human face to these issues and to humanize, you know, the stories, because ultimately, you know, when we don't have a connection with people and with certain communities, we don't care about them, and they become invisible and throwaways to people, you know? And I think I'm hopeful because what I see in this film is not just, you know, the tragedy of Nah-Cream Moore and the sadness and despair of a community, but I see a community that's fighting back, you know, and that has some hope and is not going to sit there and not—they're going to have their voice. And I think we see that happening in Ferguson right now with the young people raising their voices up, too. AMY GOODMAN: And finally, Messiah, you've made a number of films, from editing Wounds of Waziristan about drone attacks in Pakistan. You were in Ferguson, doing this film in Albany, at Occupy and all around dealing with brutality. Do you hold out hope? MESSIAH RHODES: Yeah. Yeah, I hold hope. I mean, at the screening last night, there was—Ira brought up about Palestine, and we had one Palestinian that was there. Like, you know, it felt so good that we were able to connect anti-blackness to what's going on in Gaza and Palestine. And I feel like internationalism is what we're trying to regain, what was going on in the '70s and stuff, like to regain that kind of solidarity with people all over the world who deal with white supremacy and deal with this type of oppression. And also, a shout-out to co-producer Adele. She's working on a piece now about nails and the nail industry and the Vietnam War and stuff like that. And yeah, because like drone strikes, you know, militarization of police, that's all the same thing. I mean, they're all using the same hardware. It's stop-and-frisk, and it's stop-and-bomb. IRA McKINLEY: I really would like to thank Michelle Alexander, because we cold-called her, and she picked up the phone, and I told her about what I was doing, and she jumped right on it. And it's people like her and Dr. Wilmer Leon and the people that, you know, seen this from the beginning that gave us and empowered us to keep—to continue and make this film. AMY GOODMAN: Well, Ira McKinley and Bhawin Suchak, thank you so much for being with us, the co-directors of the film, The Throwaways. And Messiah Rhodes, associate producer of this film. This is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org, The War and Peace Report. I'm Amy Goodman.
Wednesday, 9/17/14Democracy Now! 2014-09-17 WednesdayDemocracy Now! 2014-09-17 Wednesday [" Headlines for September 17, 2014 ", " U.S. Ground Troops Back in Iraq? General Hints Broader Military Effort May Be Needed to Fight ISIS ", " As Activists Gear Up for People's Climate March, Rep. Jim McDermott Pushes Carbon Tax ", " Debate: Should Scotland Vote for Independence? Musician Billy Bragg vs. Historian Sam Wetherell "] Download this show
Tuesday, 9/16/14Democracy Now! 2014-09-16 TuesdayDemocracy Now! 2014-09-16 Tuesday [" Headlines for September 16, 2014 ", " A Survivor's Burden: Columbia Student Carries Mattress on Campus Until Alleged Rapist is Expelled ", " \"We Will Not Be Silenced\": Students Denounce Rape at Columbia as Schools Face Scrutiny for Inaction ", " An NFL Wife Tells Her Story: Intimidated Spouses Followed \"Code of Silence\" Around Domestic Abuse "] Download this show
Monday, 9/15/14Democracy Now! 2014-09-15 MondayDemocracy Now! 2014-09-15 Monday [" Headlines for September 15, 2014 ", " Is There a Diplomatic Solution to ISIS Crisis? U.S. Could Turn to Aid, Arms Embargo & Engaging Foes ", " Who Pays the Pro-War Pundits? Conflicts of Interest Exposed for TV Guests Backing Military Action ", " Underestimated and Ignored, Growing Ebola Epidemic Requires Unprecedented Global Mobilization "] Download this show
Friday, 9/12/14Democracy Now! 2014-09-12 FridayDemocracy Now! 2014-09-12 Friday [" Headlines for September 12, 2014 ", " \"Insanity\": CodePink's Medea Benjamin on Obama Plan to Bomb Syria, Expand Iraq Attacks ", " James Foley on the Dehumanization of War: Acclaimed Filmmaker Haskell Wexler Shares 2012 Interview ", " The Untold Story of the Shejaiya Massacre in Gaza: A Former Israel Soldier Speaks Out "] Download this show
Thursday, 9/11/14Democracy Now! 2014-09-11 ThursdayDemocracy Now! 2014-09-11 Thursday [" Headlines for September 11, 2014 ", " Obama Vows to Destroy Islamic State, But Expanded Strikes in Syria & Iraq Point to \"Endless War\" ", " What Would Dr. King Do? As U.S. Moves to Bomb Syria, Tavis Smiley on MLK's Antiwar Legacy "] Download this show
Wednesday, 9/10/14Democracy Now! 2014-09-10 WednesdayDemocracy Now! 2014-09-10 Wednesday [" Headlines for September 10, 2014 ", " Exclusive: DA Joins the Climate Activists He Declined to Prosecute, Citing Danger of Global Warming ", " Internet Slowdown: Online Protest Warns Users of What's to Come if Net Neutrality Rules Redrawn ", " As Pot Decriminalization Advances in U.S., Former World Leaders Call for End to Failed War on Drugs "] Download this show