Democracy Now! February 5, 2002

Program Title:
Democracy Now! February 5, 2002
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A top Enron executive charges that Enrons collapse was the result of a "a systemic and pervasive attempt" to inflate profits and hide losses : Interview with investigative reporter Greg Palast about Enron. Outraged Argentinians take to the streets and occupy banks : is another world is possible?- the final day of the World Social Forum in Brazil.

9:01-9:06 HEADLINES 9:06-9:07 ONE-MINUTE MUSIC BREAK 9:07-9:20 TOP ENRON EXECUTIVES CHARGE THAT ENRON CORPORATIONS COLLAPSE WAS THE RESULT OF A "A SYSTEMIC AND PERVASIVE ATTEMPT" TO INFLATE PROFITS AND HIDE LOSSES In testimony before a Congressional panel yesterday, a member of Enrons board of directors said that the companies collapse was the result of a "a systemic and pervasive attempt" to inflate profits and hide losses, not of a few rogue employees breaking company rules. The testimony from William C. Powers Jr., who is dean of the University of Texas Law School and an author of a scathing report about the energy trading company released over the weekend, will make it even more difficult for Enron's former leaders to deflect blame for the company's stunning collapse to lower-level employees or its auditor, Arthur Andersen. Powers testified before a House Financial Services subcommittee after Lay refused to appear before a Senate panel yesterday. Lay then resigned from Enron's board, closing out his involvement in a company he helped to form in 1986. The Powers report concluded that Lay and former chief executive Jeffrey K. Skilling were largely responsible for a "fundamentally flawed" decision to let Andrew S. Fastow, the company's chief financial officer at the time, set up and run Enron-funded partnerships that made him tens of millions of dollars and allowed Enron to hide huge losses and debts. Fastow received at least $30 million from running partnerships -- a fact that was never reported to shareholders. One of his colleagues, Michael J. Kopper, got at least $10 million from an initial investment of $125,000. According to Powers, Others received up to $1 million or more for doing virtually nothing. Meanwhile, in other testimony, Harvey L. Pitt, the chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission, told the House panel he cannot guarantee that other "Enrons" -- companies with massive accounting irregularities -- won't emerge. Within hours after Lay's testimony was to have begun, leaders of the Senate Commerce Committee and its subcommittee on consumer affairs said they intend to subpoena Lay to testify next Tuesday. The chair of the commerce committee also said the Justice Department should appoint an outside special prosecutor to handle the case because Enron was a major contributor to President George W Bush's campaign and had ties to an array of administration officials. He cited, among other things, Attorney General John D. Ashcroft's decision to recuse himself because of Enron campaign contributions. The Justice Department released a statement saying it "sees no reason to appoint a special counsel to investigate the Enron matter" because "no conflict of interest exists." In the House, Rep. Richard H. Baker (R-La.), chairman of the subcommittee that heard testimony yesterday, said the panel also would seek authority to subpoena Lay. We are going to turn now to investigative reporter Greg Palast, whose been looking at Enron for years. The British tabloid the Mirror calls him "The Liar" and British Prime Minister Tony Blair says his reports contain "Not one shred of evidence." Gregory Palast's undercover investigations of corruption within the Blair Government for Britain's Observer have made him "New Labour's Public Enemy Number One". He is an internationally recognized expert on the control of corporate power working with labor unions and consumer groups in the USA, South America and Europe. Greg Palast was named the BBCs Guerilla News Networks Reporter of the Year this year for his work on the world Bank and the IMF. I spoke to him yesterday about Enron. GUEST: GREG PALAST, investigative reporter who writes for the BBC, the British Guardian and the British Observer. IN STUDIO (already taped) CONTACT: 9:20-9:21 ONE-MINUTE MUSIC BREAK 9:21-9:30 ENRON CONTD 9:31-9:40 OUTRAGED ARGENTINIANS TAKE TO THE STREETS AND OCCUPY BANKSAND AN INDEPENDENT MEDIA CENTER BLOSSOMS A defiant Argentine government yesterday launched a last-ditch attempt to stave off complete financial collapse. Banks and currency exchanges remained closed in Argentina , and the decision to partially unfreeze bank accounts did not silence protests. In light of continuing protests, the embattled government instituted a six-month ban on further legal challenges to its economic plans. Over the weekend, the Argentinian Economy minister admitted that Latin America's second largest economy was "broke" as he announced an austerity budget and eased the unpopular deposit controls, which the supreme court ruled unconstitutional last week. Outraged Argentinians have taken to the streets and occupied bank branches to protest against the restrictions, which the previous government introduced in early December to stave off a run on deposits. Banks will now be banned from selling dollars. The government will allow the peso to float freely against the dollar when the foreign exchanges reopen tomorrow after a two-day bank holiday to calm the markets. But with no faith in local currencies after decades of devaluations and inflation, locals have voted with their feet and lined up at banks to buy whatever dollars they can. The measures received backing from the World Bank yesterday but the International Monetary Fund, which Buenos Aires is hoping will back the reforms with a fresh injection of cash, made no comment. GUEST: ALEJANDRO BENDANA, President of the Centro de Estudios Internacionales in Managua, Nicaragua, former Secretary General in the Foreign Ministry of the former Sandinista government of Nicaragua and former Ambassador to the United Nations. He is co-Chair of the Ethics and Justice Committee of the International Campaign to ban Landmines and the author of several books. GUEST: RICK ROWLEY, filmmaker WITH BigNoiseFilms at the World Social Forum who is setting up an Independent Media Center in Argentina CONTACT: 9:40-9:41 ONE-MINUTE MUSIC BREAK 9:41-9:58 WORLD SOCIAL FORUM IN BRAZIL CONCLUDES: NOAM CHOMSKY, A DALIT ACTIVIST, AND A YOUTH ORGANIZER SPEAK Today is the final day of the World Social Forum in Porto Alegre Brazil. Activists closed out the summit with a march protesting the US-proposed Free Trade Area of the Americas. Thousands of protestors marched and danced through the streets of this southern Brazilian city in a carnival-style parade, waving red flags and banners against the trade deal. The march was the climax of the five-day World Social Forum, held as a kind of "people's" counterweight to the World Economic Forum in New York. At this year's World Social Forum as many as 40,000 activists have gathered in Porto Alegre, including fisherfolk from India, farmers from East Africa, trade unionists from Thailand, and indigenous people from Central America. Strident criticism of the United States dominated the World Social Forum's Peace Conference, which drew to a close urging that a democratic mediation mechanism be created to deal with conflicts. Organizers say that the strong turnout at the forum demonstrates the anti-corporate globalization movement has regained some of the momentum it lost after September 11th. Here is the second part of a mix of the voices at the forum, sent to us by producers Kris Abrams and Deepa Fernandes. It begins with Noam Chomsky, an Institute Professor at MIT, speaking at a forum several nights ago during the forum. But first lets hear from one of our producers on the scene at the closing plenary of the World Social Forum. GUEST: Deepa Fernandes, Democracy Now! producer in Porto Alegre AUDIO TAPE: Noam Chomsky, professor an Institute Professor at MIT, he is a world renowned linguist, philosopher and political analyst. His latest book is Rogue States, The Rule of Force in World Affairs. Martin McWan, National Campaign for Dalit Human Rights Rick Rowley, independent filmmaker and Democracy Now! cameraperson Leyle, activist at the World Social Forum youth camp CONTACTS: TODAYS MUSIC 6 - Battle in Seattle by Mandrill (Special CD single 20 - Corporation Song by Johnny Hahn from Wacky Funky Political Mix (sent by KPFA's 40 - Now You Know Better by MG+4 End - Rocked by Rape by Evolution Control Committee 9:58-9:59 OUTRO AND CREDITS

Date Recorded on: 
February 5, 2002
Date Broadcast on: 
February 5, 2002
Item duration: 
59 min.
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WPFW; Amy Goodman, host. February 5, 2002
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