AS ISRAEL INTENSIFIES ITS OCCUPATION IN PALESTINIAN TERRITORIES, A CONVERSATION WITH EDWARD SAID : U.N. WARNS OF A HUMANITARIAN CATASTROPHE IN AFGHANISTAN: UP TO ONE MILLION AFGHANIS COULD FACE STARVATION IN THE FACE OF US PREPARATIONS FOR WAR : LAWMAKERS CONFRONT ASHCROFT OVER ADMINISTRATION'S PROPOSED "ANTI-TERRORISM" LAWS : BUSH ADMINISTRATION TRIES TO LIFT ALL RESTRICTIONS ON ARMS SALES, UNDO DECADES OF WORK BY ARMS CONTROL AND HUMAN RIGHTS GROUPS : BROOKLYN COMMUNITY THWARTS GUILIANI ADMINISTRATION ATTEMPT TO SHUT DOWN A FIRE STATION AFTER 12 OF ITS FIREFIGHTERS WERE KILLED IN THE WORLD TRADE CENTER.
AS ISRAEL INTENSIFIES ITS OCCUPATION IN PALESTINIAN TERRITORIES, A CONVERSATION WITH EDWARD SAID Since the attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon political commentators have flooded the mainstream media with superficial commentary about the nature of Islam, its relation to the Taliban and the challenges the US faces in being understood and appreciated in the Muslim and Arab world.The Bush Administration is continuing in its efforts to convince Arab and Muslim states to support its plans for wide ranging military action against the Taliban, using a combination of threats, diplomacy, and the lure of military and economic aid. But there has still been little reflection on the social, political and economic basis of the resentment that US power has engendered, not just in the Middle East and Central Asia but around the world. There has been even less discussion of what a just relationship with Arab and Muslim states might look like, or how the US might get there, ideas that seem lost in the Bush administration's single-minded preparation for a war we still know almost nothing about. Guest: Edward Said, Professor of Literature at Columbia University. Author of many books including Orientalism, the Culture of Imperialism, and his memoirs, Time out of Place. He is also considered a leading voice for Palestinian self determination. U.N. WARNS OF A HUMANITARIAN CATASTROPHE IN AFGHANISTAN: UP TO ONE MILLION AFGHANIS COULD FACE STARVATION IN THE FACE OF US PREPARATIONS FOR WAR The United Nations has launched an unprecedented operation to prepare for a "massive crisis" in Afghanistan as people scramble to escape feared US-led military strikes. UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) spokesman Peter Kessler told reporters yesterday that an emergency contingency operation in neighboring Pakistan was the biggest in the agency's history. Crisis management specialists and equipment to deal with hundreds of thousands of refugees were continuing to pour into Pakistan, on Afghanistan's eastern border, amid reports that more than a million people could try to flee in the event of US strikes. Pakistan today reopened a southwestern border crossing point to allow the entry of several thousand refugees. The U.N. World Food Program decided today to attempt to resume food aid shipments to northern and western Afghanistan suspended after the September 11 attacks in the United States. Yesterday the ruling Taliban shut down the U.N. Afghan communications network, took over its office in Kandahar and seized 1,400 tons of U.N. food aid, crippling the UN's aid operations in the country. Many international aid officials fear a humanitarian catastrophe is looming in Afghanistan, already one of the poorest nations on earth, and that the catastrophe would only be worsened by US bombing. Guests: Yusuf Hassen, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees for Afghanistan, speaking from Peshewar. Gordon Weiss, UNICEF, in Islamabad. Related links: United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees UNICEF [listen to the entire second hour] SECOND HOUR NEWS HEADLINES LAWMAKERS CONFRONT ASHCROFT OVER ADMINISTRATION'S PROPOSED "ANTI-TERRORISM" LAWS The Bush administration's hastily prepared package of so-called "anti-terrorism" laws bogged down in Congress yesterday. Lawmakers from both parties confronted Attorney General John D. Ashcroft and other senior Justice Department officials on a number of administration proposals. They said that the package could expand police powers at the expense of privacy and other civil liberties. One of the laws would permit the indefinite detention without trial of immigrants suspected of ties to terrorist groups. They also said that the administration is trying to force the package through Congress without giving lawmakers time to adequately digest proposals that could have serious, unforeseen consequences for rights that Americans now take for granted. Guest: Nadine Strossen, President of the American Civil Liberties Union. Janine Jackson, Fairness and Accuracy In Reporting (FAIR). Related link: American Civil Liberties Union Fairness and Accuracy In Reporting BUSH ADMINISTRATION TRIES TO LIFT ALL RESTRICTIONS ON ARMS SALES, UNDO DECADES OF WORK BY ARMS CONTROL AND HUMAN RIGHTS GROUPS This weekend President Bush asked Congress for authority to waive all existing restrictions on U.S. military assistance and weapons exports for the next five years to countries he says are helping the US fight against international terrorism. Separately, on Saturday, Bush lifted all military and economic restrictions on India, and he also removed restrictions that barred Pakistan from economic assistance and that prevented it from making commercial military purchases from U.S. companies. The new proposal would allow the president to lift human rights restrictions imposed by Congress on U.S. military cooperation with other countries, effectively undoing decades of work by human rights and arms control groups. President Bush is anxiously cultivating support from countries like Indonesia, which is prohibiting from receiving US military assistance because of its horrific record in East Timor and Indonesia itself. Guests: Kurt Biddle, Washington Coordinator, Indonesia Human Rights Network. Tamar Gebelnick, Federation of American Scientists, Director of the Arms Sales Monitoring Project. John Roosa, post-doctoral student at the Center for International Studies at UC Berkeley. Related links: Indonesia Human Rights Network Federation of American Scientists BROOKLYN COMMUNITY THWARTS GUILIANI ADMINISTRATION ATTEMPT TO SHUT DOWN A FIRE STATION AFTER 12 OF ITS FIREFIGHTERS WERE KILLED IN THE WORLD TRADE CENTER Even before the last of the fires at the World Trade Center complex are extinguished, developers and city, state and federal officials are jockeying for control of the rebirth of Lower Manhattan. At a meeting last week with 30 of the city's largest developers and brokers, local officials insisted that the city must direct re-development efforts. And the city's powerful real estate developers, meanwhile, are promoting their own plans for downtown. They are demanding tax breaks to subsidize the construction of new office towers and incentives to lure tenants back to a section of the city devastated by the Sept. 11 attack. On a smaller scale, the city of New York informed a Brooklyn firehouse that it would be closed. Squad One lost twelve of its firefighters as they fought to save people's lives at the World Trade Center. The city said that all the remaining firefighters would be reassigned to other FDNY houses. The city has tried to close the firehouse before, and community members speculated that the Guiliani administration may have been trying to cash in on the tragedy: the firehouse sits on prime real estate in the rapidly gentrifying neighborhood. But in a victory for the little people, the Park Slope community rapidly mobilized, hammering city officials with phone calls and flocking in the hundreds to a protest outside the firehouse last night. The city announced yesterday that it never intended to close the station. We go now to last night's protest-turned-celebration with Democracy Now! in Exile producer Kris Abrams. Tape: Protest outside the firehouse in Park Slope, Brooklyn, 9/25/01 At 12 noon on Saturday, September 22, over 100 artists all wearing black filed onto Union Square in New York, where many people have been gathering for the last ten days to grieve and try to make sense of what happened on September 11. A hush fell over the crowd as the artists took their places in a semi-circle. For one hour, they stood in silence wearing face masks and placards silk-screened with the words, "OUR GRIEF IS NOT A CRY FOR WAR." Guest: D'lo, a spoken word poet with the Artists' Network of Refuse & Resist. Related link: Refuse & Resist.