Democracy Now! January 13, 2003

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Democracy Now! January 13, 2003
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Illinois governor commutes sentences of 167 inmates on death row; The United States listed [North Korea] as part of an 'axis of evil' and singled it out as a target of pre-emptive nuclear attack, openly declaring a nuclear war : a discussion about North Korea s perspective on the nuclear stand-off with the Bush administration; Thousands rally in support of the Somali community in Lewiston, Maine, as white supremacists call for their expulsion; Two Towns of Jasper : Two filmmakers, one black and one white, explore the black and white communities where James Byrd was lynched in 1998

9:00-9:01 Billboard 9:01-9:06 Headlines In the sharpest blow to death penalty in 30 years, the governor of Illinois has granted clemency to 167 inmates on death row. Gov. George Ryan said, "How many more cases of wrongful convictions have to occur before we can all agree that this system in Illinois is broken?" Ryan, who leaves office today, stopped short of pardoning the prisoners but reduced their sentences to a maximum of life in prison. The blanket commutation follows an examination of the state's capital punishment system that determined 13 prisoners on death row were innocent. Ryan said he was a staunch supporter of the death penalty when he took office four years ago, but began to change his mind after watching a wrongfully convicted man walk free -- only 48 hours before he was scheduled to be executed. On Friday Ryan also pardoned four men convicted of murder, saying confessions were tortured out of them by police in Chicago. In Washington, Sen. Russ Feingold of Wisconsin called for a national review of the death penalty and a moratorium on executions. Guest: Richard Dieter, executive director of the Death Penalty Information Center in Washington D.C., One Minute Music Break 9:07-9:15: A US envoy flew to Seoul yesterday in an attempt to regain the initiative in the standoff with North Korea. At a news conference today, Assistant Secretary of State James Kelly reiterated the US offer to open talks with North Korea and acknowledged the country s deepening energy crisis. The diplomatic crisis has severely escalated in recent days. On Friday, North Korea withdrew from the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. That same day, Pyongyang warned the US that a new Korean War would lead to World War Three. And yesterday the government newspaper said: "If the United States evades its responsibility and challenges us, we'll turn the citadel of imperialists into a sea of fire." The US press is widely reporting that North Korea started the crisis this fall, when it admitted it is pursuing a nuclear program in violation of a1994 agreement. But from North Korea s perspective, President Bush started the crisis. The official statement North Korea issued when it pulled out of the Nonproliferation Treaty reads: "After the appearance of the Bush administration, the United States listed [North Korea] as part of an 'axis of evil' and singled it out as a target of pre-emptive nuclear attack, openly declaring a nuclear war. A million people rallied in Pyongyang on Saturday to support President Kim Jong Il s withdrawal from the treaty. The New York Times buried a photograph of the rally on page A14, and placed a rare pro-American rally in South Korea of 30,000 on the front page. A South Korean official told the London Guardian, Pyongyang believes the US wants war with the North after war with Iraq. "They think delay works only to the US advantage, so they want to bring things to a head." Guest: Bruce Cumings, Professor of History at the University of Chicago and author of Korea s Place in the Sun: a Modern History 9:15-9:25 Some 4,500 people gathered in Lewiston, Maine on Saturday to rally in support of the Somali community. Three miles away, the white supremacist group World Church of the Creator held a rally of their own. David Stearns told the crowd: "These people (Africans) are the enemy. Make no mistake. If they get the chance, they will probably slit your throat." The city of Lewiston, Maine has a population of just 35,000. In the last two years, over a thousand Somali refugees have settled there, looking for low-cost housing, safe streets, and a family-friendly environment. The anti-immigrant rhetoric heated up in October, when Lewiston Mayor Laurier Raymond wrote a letter to the local newspaper asking that no more Somalis move to Lewiston. He said Lewiston is as unable to afford services for them. World Church of the Creator leader Matt Hale used the perception of a besieged white majority to promote Saturday's hate rally. (The mayor was conspicuously absent for the weekend, on a golfing vacation in Florida.) Matt Hale himself could not be at the rally. He was arrested in Chicago last week for allegedly plotting to murder a federal judge. Tape: Lewiston high school students Cara Gaumont and Sifia Nur, talking about their inter-racial friendship at the anti-racism rally at Bates College on Saturday. Guest: Stephen Wessler, Director of the Center for the Prevention of Hate Violence at the University of Southern Maine. The center conducts workshops on preventing hate violence. Wessler directed the civil rights enforcement effort at the Maine Department of the Attorney General from 1992 to 1999. Guest: Omar Jamal, executive director of the Somali Justice Advocacy Center in St. Paul, Minnesota, the home of the largest Somali community in the US. Jamal is leading a National Tour Against Hate, which has brought him to Somali communities in Seattle and now Lewiston, Maine. Contact: 9:20-9:21 One Minute Music Break 9:21 - 9:25 LEWISTON CONTD 9:25 - 9:40: It was June 7th, 1998 in Jasper, Texas. James Byrd was chained to a pick-up truck and dragged to his death. James Byrd was black. The three men who murdered him were white. The town of Jasper was forever altered, and the nation woke up to the horror of modern-day lynching. There is a new film now, called Two Towns of Jasper . In it, two film crews, one black and one white, set out to document the aftermath of the murder, by following the subsequent trials of the local men charged with the crime. The result is an explicit and troubling portrait of race in America. One that asks ow and why a crime like this could have occurred. We re going to begin where the film begins, and that is with a description of the crime. It begins with Sheriff Bill Rowls. Guest: Marco Williams, filmmaker, Two Towns of Jasper Guest: Whitney Dow, filmmaker, Two Towns of Jasper 9:40-9:41 One Minute Music Break TWO TOWNS CONT. 9:58-9:59 Outro and Credits Democracy Now! is produced by Kris Abrams, Mike Burke, Angie Karran, Ana Nogiera and Alex Wolfe. Mike Di Filippo is our engineer and webmaster.

Date Recorded on: 
January 13, 2003
Date Broadcast on: 
January 13, 2003
Item duration: 
59 min.
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WBAI; Amy Goodman, host., January 13, 2003
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