Democracy Now! March 22, 2002

Program Title:
Democracy Now! March 22, 2002
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ENRONS PAWNS: How Public Institutions Bankrolled Enrons Globalization Game : Hollywood film John Q takes on the insurance industry : Oscar-nominated film Promises: Israel & Palestine through the eyes of children

9:01-9:06 HEADLINES 9:06-9:07 ONE-MINUTE MUSIC BREAK MUSIC GUESTS: DENI BONET, violinist, and TONY SALVATORE, guitarist CONTACT: 9:07-9:20 STUNNING DEPTHS OF GOVERNMENT COLLABORATION WITH ENRON REVEALED We are going to begin with a Democracy Now! exclusive. The Institute for Policy Studies in Washington DC today will release an explosive new report saying that Enron Corp. was able to become a global giant only because government agencies, both American and foreign, gave it more than $7 billion in publicly funded financing over the past decade. The report is called Enrons Pawns: How Public Institutions Bankrolled Enrons Globalization Game. The report begins: Many public officials have described Enrons demise as the product of corporate misbehavior. This perspective ignores a vital fact: Enron would not have scaled such grand global heights, nor fallen so dramatically, without its close financial relationships with government agencies. Since 1992, at least 21 agencies, representing the U.S. government, multilateral development banks, and other national governments, helped leverage Enrons global reach by approving $7.219 billion in public financing toward 38 projects in 29 countries. For example: In the Dominican Republic, eight people were killed when police were brought in to quell riots after blackouts lasting up to 20 hours followed a power price hike that Enron and other private firms intiated. The local population was further enraged by allegations that a local affiliate of Arthur Andersen had undervalued the newly privatized utility by almost $1 billion, reaping enormous profits for Enron. In India, police hired by the power consortium of which Enron was a part beat non-violent protesters who chal-lenged the $30 billion agreementthe largest deal in Indian historystruck between local politicians and Enron. The president of Guatemala tried to dissolve the Congress and declare martial law after rioting ensued, following a price hike that the government deemed necessary after sell-ing the power sector to Enron. In Panama, the man who negotiated the asking price for Enrons stake in power production was the brother-in-law of the head of the countrys state-owned power company. Rioting followed suspicions of corruption and Enrons price hikes and power outages there, too. In Colombia, two politicians resigned amid accusations that one was trying to push a cut-rate deal for Enron on the state-owned power company. While all this was occurring, the U.S. Government and other public agencies continued to advocate on Enrons behalf, threatening poor countries like Mozambique with an end to aid if they did not accept Enrons bid on a natural gas field. So linked was Enron with the U.S. Government in many peoples minds that they assumed, as the late Croatian strongman Franjo Tjudman did, that pleasing Enron meant pleasing the White House. GUEST: JIM VALLETTE, Institute for Policy Studies, co-author of report IN STUDIO GUEST: DAPHNE WYSHAM, Institute for Policy Studies, co-author of report CONTACT: 9:20-9:21 ONE-MINUTE MUSIC BREAK 9:21-9:40 THE HOLLYWOOD FILM JOHN Q TAKES ON THE HEALTH INSURANCE INDUSTRY The Oscars are this Sunday. In 74 years of the Oscars, the most prestigious movie awards, only six acting trophies have gone to African-Americans. But this year, much is being made about it being a good year for African Americans. The honorary Oscar will go to Sidney Poitier for his life's work. 38 years ago, Poitier won best actor for Lilies of the Field. This year is the first time African-American performers could win both major acting categories. Halle Berry is up for best actress in Monster's Ball and Denzel Washington for best actor in Training Day. Today we are going to take a look at another Denzel Washington film, one that was released too late to be nominated for the Oscars this year. John Q was released five weeks ago, and this week it was the number 8 top-grossing movie in US theaters. John Q may be unique among Hollywood films in its explicit intention to affect people's opinions on health policy issues. Washington plays a father whose son is denied access to a heart transplant because his insurance policy doesnt cover the $250,000 operation. The hospital refuses to put the boys name on the heart recipient list unless his parents pay $75,000 up front. So Washingtons character takes the matter in his own hands. Even before John Q was released, the health insurance industry had begun to spin its counter-message. Almost a week before the film was released, Blue Cross Blue Shield charged that the film "reinforces ridiculous stereotypes about health care, glorifies violence as a means of problem-solving and needlessly frightens the public." The day before the movie opened, the American Association of Health Plans began running full-page ads in Washington and Hollywood newspapers declaring that "the fictional character John Q. has the wrong answer for America's health care cost crisis." What is it that has the HMO industry in such a tizzy? Lets take look at and listen to the film. VIDEO: John Q preview clip (2:30) GUEST: ELIZABETH BENJAMIN, supervising attorney in the health law unit of the Legal Aid Society. IN STUDIO GUEST: ARCHIE LAMB, a lawyer in Birmingham, Alabama. He represents the California Medical Association, Texas Medical Association, Florida Medical Association, Medical Association of Georgia, and a large class of individual physicians in suits against various HMOs. Lamb was designated lead counsel in the RICO lawsuit against HMOs pending in the Federal Court in the Southern District of Florida.LINKS: 9:40-9:41 ONE-MINUTE MUSIC BREAK 9:41-9:58 AN OSCAR NOMINATED FILM, PROMISES, LOOKS AT ISRAEL AND PALESTINE THROUGH THE EYES OF CHILDREN Israelis and Palestinians resumed truce talks today, despite two recent Palestinian suicide attacks, including one that killed three Israelis yesterday. The attacks initially prompted Israel to walk out on the talks, and sparked a sharp rebuke from President Bush. Meanwhile, even before the bombings that rocked the truce talks, Israeli forces entered a number of West Bank villages meant to be under full Palestinian control. Early yesterday morning, armored tanks moved into the towns while a throng of troops arrested at least 25 Palestinians. Later, Israeli bulldozers destroyed all roads leading to the West Bank city of Nablus, effectively sealing it off from the rest of the Palestinian territories. Well, as the newspapers continue to list the daily death-count and to track the diplomatic back-and-forth, it is sometimes easy to forget that lives real lives are being lived on both sides of the conflict. Among these lives are millions of children. They are kids who are not only innocent victims but also future protagonists in the decades old drama. Their voices, however, are rarely heard. Well, today we are going to hear some of their voices. A new Oscar-nominated documentary by the name of PROMISES brings the stories of 7 Israeli and Palestinian children to the big screen for perhaps the first time. Though they live only 20 minutes apart, the seven children exist in completely separate worlds. EXCERPT FROM PROMISES GUEST: B.Z. Goldberg, co-director and co-producer of the film, Promises. He was born in Boston but grew up in Israel, just outside of Jerusalem. He covered the first Intifada as a television journalist with Reuters TV, the BBC, NBC, CNN and NHK. In 1995, he left his television job to begin making , his first feature-length film. The movie was shot primarily in 1997, 1998, and 2000. It is a collaboration between Goldberg, Justine Shapiro, and co-director and editor Carlos Bolado. It is nominated for an Oscar in this years Best Documentary category. CONTACT: 9:58-9:59 OUTRO AND CREDITS

Date Recorded on: 
March 22, 2002
Date Broadcast on: 
March 22, 2002
Item duration: 
59 min.
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WPFW; Amy Goodman, host. March 22, 2002
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