Democracy Now! August 15, 2002

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Democracy Now! August 15, 2002
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9:00-9:01 Billboard: Selective Memri? A debate on the secretive media institute disseminating articles about Arabs to the western media. Supporters of Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe evict white farmers who own over half the fertile land in the drought-stricken country: a debate between two Zimbabwean Members of Parliament. Millions for reparations in the United States: a march on Washington to demand reparations for African-Americans. 9:01-9:06 Headlines: 9:07-9:20 SELECTIVE MEMRI? A DEBATE ON THE SECRETIVE MEDIA INSTITUTE RUN BY ISRAEL S FORMER COUNTER-TERRORISM ADVISOR THAT IS DISSEMINATING ARTICLES ABOUT ARABS TO THE WESTERN MEDIA This week, the Guardian newspaper of London ran an article called Selective Memri that s M-E-M-R-I, and it focuses on a Washington-based non-profit organization known as the Middle East Media Research Institute. The article was by Brian Whitaker and it begins: For some time now, I have been receiving small gifts from a generous institute in the United States. The gifts are high-quality translations of articles from Arabic newspapers, which the institute sends to me by email every few days, entirely free-of-charge. The emails also go to politicians and academics, as well as to lots of other journalists. The stories they contain are usually interesting. Whenever I get an email from the institute, several of my Guardian colleagues receive one too and regularly forward their copies to me - sometimes with a note suggesting that I might like to check out the story and write about it. If the note happens to come from a more senior colleague, I'm left feeling that I really ought to write about it. One example last week was a couple of paragraphs translated by the institute, in which a former doctor in the Iraqi army claimed that Saddam Hussein had personally given orders to amputate the ears of military deserters. The organisation that makes these translations and sends them out is the Middle East Media Research Institute (Memri), based in Washington but with recently-opened offices in London, Berlin and Jerusalem. Its work is subsidised by US taxpayers because as an "independent, non-partisan, non-profit" organisation, it has tax-deductible status under American law. Memri's purpose, according to its website, is to bridge the language gap between the west - where few speak Arabic - and the Middle East, by "providing timely translations of Arabic, Farsi, and Hebrew media". Despite these high-minded statements, several things make me uneasy whenever I'm asked to look at a story circulated by Memri. First of all, it's a rather mysterious organisation. Its website does not give the names of any people to contact, not even an office address [Secondly], the stories selected by Memri for translation follow a familiar pattern: either they reflect badly on the character of Arabs or they in some way further the political agenda of Israel. I am not alone in this unease. Well, today we re going to have a discussion about the institute. GUEST: YIGAL CARMON (YeeGAL carMONE), president of the Middle East Media Research Institute. He was also the former Israeli prime minister Yitzhak Shamir's top counter-terrorism adviser. CONTACT: GUEST: ALI ABUNIMAH, Vice President of the Arab American Action Network and founder of CONTACT: 9:21-9:30 Selective Memri, Cont d 9:30-9:40 SUPPORTERS OF ZIMBABWEAN PRESIDENT ROBERT MUGABE EVICT WHITE FARMERS WHO OWN OVER HALF THE FERTILE LAND IN THE DROUGHT-STRICKEN COUNTRY: A DEBATE BETWEEN TWO ZIMBABWEAN MEMBERS OF PARLIAMENT Armed supporters of Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe last night evicted a family of white farmers who had defied a government order to abandon their land. The deadline for nearly 3000 white farmers to leave was last week. Earlier this week, President Mugabe said he is determined to redraw the colonial map that has left a tiny white minority with more than half of his country's fertile soil. Mugabe extended an olive branch to those white farmers who agreed to abide by the government's decisions. He said cooperative farmers who took part in the land redistribution program would be allowed to keep portions of their farms. But critics of Mugabe accuse him of cronyism. Prominent politicians loyal to Mugabe now control scores of fertile farms while many poor blacks are still stranded on arid stretches without adequate water or sanitation. And sub-saharan Africa is in the middle of a drought, which is endangering the lives of tens of thousands of people. The United Nations says the production of corn, the country's staple food, plunged by nearly 70 percent this year. Nearly half of Zimbabwe's population is in need of emergency food aid. GUEST: David Coltart, member of parliament for the Movement for Democratic Change (the main opposition party). He is the shadow , or opposition, justice minister GUEST: Munyaradzi Gwisai, Member of Parliament and with the Movement for Democratic Change and a leading member of the International Socialist Organization GUEST: RAJ PATEL, Policy Analyst with the Institute for Food and Development Policy CONTACT: 9:41-9:50 MILLIONS FOR REPARATIONS IN THE UNITED STATES The issue of redistribution of resources to blacks isn t unique to Zimbabwe. This Saturday, thousands of people will march on Washington to demand reparations for African-Americans. GUEST: ROGER WAREHAM, is a leading reparations activist and leader of the December 12th Movement. CONTACT: 9:58-9:59 Outro and Credits ---

Date Recorded on: 
August 15, 2002
Date Broadcast on: 
August 15, 2002
Item duration: 
59 min.
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WPFW; Amy Goodman, host. August 15, 2002
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