Democracy Now! April 24, 2003

Program Title:
Democracy Now! April 24, 2003
Series Title:
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Hour 1: U.S. and North Korea talks begin in Beijing: University of Chicago professor Bruce Cumings discusses North Korea; The role of poets in a time of war: Grace Paley, Vermont s official state poet, talks about the peace movement. Hour 2: San Francisco Chronicle reporter fired for protesting: Henry Norr discusses his dismissal after he took part in an anti-war protest; Free press in Iraq?: We speak with an editor of Tarieq Al-Shaab, the first independent newspaper to be distributed in Baghdad; Columbia University Professor Edward Said on colonialism, his classic book Orientalism and the future of the Middle East

8:00-8:01 Billboard 8:01-8:10 Headlines 8:10-8:11 One Minute Music Break 8:11-8:30: Envoys from the US and North Korea have begun a second day of face to face talks in Beijing about North Korea s nuclear program. Negotiators on both sides have refused to comment on the progress of the talks. But North Korea s official news agency said the US invasion of Iraq shows that other countries need a strong physical deterrent force to protect themselves. A memo from Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld urging removal of the North Korean government and leaked earlier this week has exacerbated tensions. The U.S delegation is being led by the Assistant Secretary of State James Kelly. The last time Kelly met with a North Korean delegation, he accused them of pursuing a clandestine nuclear weapons program, sparking the crisis in October. President Bush then suspended all aid shipments. North Korea restarted its nuclear program, expelled UN inspectors and withdrew from the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. Last week, North Korea announced that it is already reprocessing spent fuel rods- a necessary step to produce weapons grade plutonium. All of this comes as the Pentagon has acknowledged for the first time that the Bush administration intends to produce -- not just research -- a thermonuclear bunker-busting bomb. Federal officials signed documents in Washington this week to launch a preliminary design contest between Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico. The San Jose Mercury News reports the so-called Robust Nuclear Earth Penetrator will be a full-power hydrogen bomb that would throw up enormous clouds of radioactive dust while wreaking large-scale damage and death if used in an urban area. The bomb will be thousands of times more powerful than the conventional bunker busters dropped on Baghdad. * Bruce Cumings, history professor at the University of Chicago. He has written several books including Korea's Place in the Sun: A Modern History. 8:20-8:21 One Minute Music Break 8:30-8:58: It has been a tough year for poets. Two months ago Laura Bush cancelled a White House poetry symposium honoring Emily Dickinson, Langston Hughes and Walt Whitman. The First Lady feared the invited poets may invoke poems critical of invading Iraq. A spokesperson for Bush explained the cancellation at the time by saying: While Mrs. Bush respects and believes in the right of all Americans to express their opinions, she too has opinions and believes that it would be inappropriate to turn what is intended to be a literary event into a political forum." Across the country thousands of poets protested the decision and countless poetry readings were held from coast to coast. In Vermont, the 80-year-old Grace Paley took part in one of these readings alongside Jamaica Kincaid, Galway Kinnell and other well known poets. According to a local press account only Paley received a standing ovation. One of her poems dated from the 1960s and compared the mountains of Vermont to those of Vietnam. It included the line: The holes in the mountains are red. Paley has been active in the peace and poetry movements since the 1960s. Living in New York she helped found the Greenwich Village Peace Center in 1961. Eight years later she went on a peace mission to Hanoi during the war. She attended the World Peace Conference in 1974. She would go on to actively take part in the antinuclear and women's peace movements. In 1980, she helped organize the Women's Pentagon Action. And in 1985 Paley visited Nicaragua and El Salvador, after having campaigned against the U.S. government's policies toward these countries. She was also one of "The White House Eleven," who were arrested in 1978 for unfurling an anti-nuclear banner on the White House lawn. On the literary front, she is the nation s most acclaimed writers. She has received countless awards and glowing reviews for her poetry and fiction. Among her books are The Little Disturbances of Man, Later the Same Day, Enormous Changes at the Last Minute. She has received, among other prizes, a Lannan Literary Award, a National Book Award, a Guggenheim Fellowship, and an award from the National Institute of Arts and Letters. She also is the recipient of several awards from the National Endowment for the Arts (including a Senior Fellowship in recognition of her lifetime contribution to literature). And last week for the second time she became an official state poet. First she was the official state poet of New York from 1986 to 1988 and now she has been selected as Vermont s official state poet. * Grace Paley, poet, writer and activist who was recently named Vermont s official state poet. 8:58-8:59 Outro and Credits 9:00-9:01 Billboard 9:01-9:10 Headlines 9:10-9:11 One Minute Music Break 9:11-9:30: The San Francisco Chronicle has fired technology columnist Henry Norr who was arrested while taking part in an anti-war rally last month. Norr was participating in the massive direct action protests that spread across the Bay area on the day after the U.S. invasion of Iraq began. The next day his column on computers and technology was pulled. He was suspended for a month. And now he has been officially been fired. The paper has refused to comment on the case. Yesterday we talked to two of the Chronicle s top three editors, executive editor Phil Bronstein and assistant executive editor Narda Zacchino. They both declined to come on the show citing the newspaper s policy not to publicly discuss personnel issues. At the time of his arrest last month, Chronicle policies did not ban participation in demonstrations. The paper's ethics policy stated that "The Chronicle does not forbid employees from engaging in political activities but needs to prevent any appearance of any conflict of interest." In a statement published yesterday, Noor wrote, Since my job was writing about personal technology, not politics and war, I saw and see no conflict of interest. Since Noor s suspension, management has twice made modifications to the ethics policy. The most recent "clarification" imposed a strict prohibition against any newsroom staffer participating in any public political activity related to the war." The official line from the Chronicle is that Norr was suspended and then fired because he had allegedly falsified his time card. But according to unnamed sources within the Chronicle interviewed by the San Francisco Examiner there was only one reason and that was politics. Not only had Norr protested the invasion of Iraq but he was also outspoken on the Israeli-Palestinian issue. Norr joins a growing number of journalists who have lost their jobs or columns due to their views on war. Two months ago MSNBC canceled Phil Donahue s show. A leaked internal memo claimed that Donahue would present "difficult public face for NBC in a time of war.... He seems to delight in presenting guests who are anti-war, anti-Bush and skeptical of the administration's motives." The report warned that the Donahue show could be "a home for the liberal anti-war agenda at the same time that our competitors are waving the flag at every opportunity." Brent Flynn, a reporter for the Lewisville Leader in Texas, was told he could no longer write a column for the paper in which he had expressed anti-war views. Kurt Hauglie, a reporter and columnist for Michigan's Huron Daily Tribune, quit the paper after allegedly being told that an anti-war column he had written would not run because it might upset readers. War correspondent Peter Arnett was fired from NBC after he told Iraqi TV in which he said that war planners had "misjudged the determination of the Iraqi forces" and that there was "a growing challenge to President Bush about the conduct of the war." And Ed Gernon, a veteran TV producer who worked with CBS was fired after he compared state of U.S. affairs today with that of Nazi Germany. While plugging the CBS miniseries Hitler, Gernon described the series like this: "It basically boils down to an entire nation gripped by fear, who ultimately chose to give up their civil rights and plunge the whole nation into war. I can't think of a better time to examine this history than now." * Henry Norr, fired from the San Francisco Chronicle after attending anti-war protest 9:30-9:48: For decades, every legally published newspaper in Iraq devoted their front pages to a single subject the glorification of Saddam Hussein. In post-invasion Iraq, the front-page article of the first newspaper to be distributed in Baghdad speaks out against Iraq s new rulers. The leading article reads: Our people s joy at the fall of the tyrant and his rule did not mean in any way that they are happy with the invasion and occupation. From the beginning, the people expressed their condemnation of the war, the tragedies which it left behind, and the new calamities which they have suffered, especially as it ended The suffering of millions of our people has been aggravated as a result of the loss of even meager essentials of living such as clean water, electricity, medicine and food. No attention has been paid to ensure that these essentials are provided for the people, in clear violation of the obligations under international treaties. The paper, called Tarieq Al-Shaab, or the Way of the People, is published by Iraq s long-banned communist party. The paper provides a source of news for a population starved of information. Around 60,000 copies were distributed in Baghdad over the weekend. When the paper was banned by Saddam Hussein in 1979, Communist Party members kept running it as a monthly, printing it in northern Iraq and sneaking it into Baghdad. Members knew that every publication or movement of the paper could be a death sentence. Now, thousands of copies are being distributed for free in the capital and major cities throughout Iraq. * Mufid Jazairi, editor of Tarieq Al-Shaab, the Iraqi Communist Party newspaper. 9:48-9:49 One Minute Music Break 9:49-9:58: We turn now to Columbia University Professor Edward Said speaking in New York at a celebration for the 25th anniversary of the publication of his classic work Orientalism. Said is an internationally renowned writer and scholar, noted as one of the foremost intellectuals on the Middle East and colonialism. * Edward Said, University Professor of English and Comparative Literature at Columbia University. He is the author of many works, including Culture and Imperialism and Orientalism. 9:58-9:59 Outro and Credits Democracy Now! is produced by Kris Abrams, Mike Burke, Angie Karran, Sharif Abdul Kouddous, Ana Nogueira, Elizabeth Press with help from Noah Reibel and Vilka Tzouras. Mike Di Filippo is our music maestro and engineer. Thanks also to Uri Galed, Angela Alston, Emily Kunstler, Orlando Richards, Simba Rousseau, Rafael delaUz, Gabriel Weiss, Johnny Sender, Rich Kim, Karen Ranucci, Fatima Mojadiddy, Denis Moynihan and Jenny Filipazzo.

Date Recorded on: 
April 24, 2003
Date Broadcast on: 
April 24, 2003
Item duration: 
118 min.
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