Democracy Now! May 16, 2003

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Democracy Now! May 16, 2003
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Radiation is 1,000 Times the Normal Levels Where US Troops Used Depleted Uranium Shells in Baghdad INTRO: a discussion with the Christian Science Monitor s Scott Peterson, who visited four randomly chosen sites in Baghdad and reports that while women and children haven t been warned, US troops have orders to avoid the sites; Chinese-American journalist, author, activist, feminist, and queer person Helen Zia speaks on the nature of evil and the politics of identity in the post-911 U.S.A.

8:00-8:01 Billboard 8:01-8:06 Headlines 8:06-8:07 One Minute Music Break 8:07-8:20: An article in yesterday s Christian Science Monitor begins like this: At a roadside produce stand on the outskirts of Baghdad, business is brisk for Latifa Khalaf Hamid. Iraqi drivers pull up and snap up fresh bunches of parsley, mint leaves, dill, and onion stalks. But Ms. Hamid's stand is just four paces away from a burnt-out Iraqi tank, destroyed by - and contaminated with - controversial American depleted-uranium bullets. Local children play "throughout the day" on the tank, Hamid says, and on another one across the road. No one has warned the vendor in the faded, threadbare black gown to keep the toxic and radioactive dust off her produce. The children haven't been told not to play with the radioactive debris. They gather around as a Geiger counter carried by a visiting reporter starts singing when it nears a DU bullet fragment no bigger than a pencil eraser. It registers nearly 1,000 times normal background radiation levels on the digital readout. Those are the words of journalist Scott Peterson in yesterday s Christian Science Monitor. Peterson reported extensively on the trail of toxic war debris. In 1999, he wrote a series of articles on the effects of DU bullets used in the first Gulf War and in the war in Kosovo. He joins us today from Moscow. <sum> Scott Peterson, reporter with the Christian Science Monitor. Recent article Remains of toxic bullets litter Iraq investigates the radioactive contamination caused by the US military's use of controversial depleted-uranium bullets in Iraq. The bullets, which release toxic and radioactive dust, now litter a number of sites in the country. In his report, Scott examines the health risks for Iraqi citizens and the politics that surround the DU debate. Link: 8:20-8:21 One Minute Music Break 8:21-8:40: We spend the rest of the hour with author, journalist and political activist Helen Zia. Zia was born in New Jersey in 1952, the daughter of immigrants from Shanghai. At the time, there were fewer than 150,000 Chinese-Americans in the country, and most of whom were concentrated on the West Coast. Helen Zia attended Princeton University as a member of one of the first classes that allowed women. In between her studies, she helped found the Asian American Students Association and the Third World Students organization. She helped organize protests against the Vietnam War and began to speak publicly. Zia later moved to Detroit and began to write on labor issues for local newspapers. In 1982, two unemployed white autoworkers attacked a 27-year-old Chinese American named Vincent Chin with a baseball bat, and beat him to death. The killers blamed the Japanese carmakers for Detroit s problems in the auto industry. They received two years of probation. The Chinese American community was outraged, and Helen Zia helped to found an organization dedicated to achieving justice for Vincent Chin. Eventually, the killers were found liable for Chin s death and were forced to pay one and a half million dollars to Chin s family. But they never served time in jail. Zia is the author of the book, Asian American Dreams: The Emergence of an American People, which traces the history of Asians in America from the first Filipino settlers in Mexico in the 1500s to the struggles of a diverse group of communities today. The book includes a discussion of the perceptions of Asian Americans in the popular media, the conflicts between Korean American grocers and African American communities in LA and New York, and the fight for acceptance by Asian American gays and lesbians. In 2001, Helen Zia published My Country Versus Me: the story of Wen Ho Lee. Wen Ho Lee is a Chinese American nuclear scientist who was falsely accused of being a spy for China. Lee spent nine months shackled in solitary confinement and forbidden to speak his own language. In the end, federal prosecutors dropped all counts but one, that of mishandling of secret information. The judge who approved the agreement actually apologized for the U.S. government, saying it had "embarrassed this entire nation and everyone who is a citizen of it." Zia's work has appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The San Francisco Chronicle, The Detroit News, A.Magazine, Essence, The Advocate, OUT!, and numerous other publications. She is also the former executive editor of Ms. Magazine. On Tuesday, Helen Zia spoke at Stony Brook University in New York. Her lecture is called The Politics of War and Remembrance. <sum> Helen Zia, author, journalist, and activist, speaking at Stony Brook University on May 13, 2003. 8:40-8:41 One Minute Music Break 8:41-8:58 Helen Zia Cont d 8:58-8:59 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: 
May 16, 2003
Date Broadcast on: 
May 16, 2003
Item duration: 
59 min.
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WBAI; Amy Goodman, host., May 16, 2003
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