Democracy Now! Ju;y 17 2002

Program Title:
Democracy Now! Ju;y 17 2002
Series Title:
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Its the "largest mass poisoning of a population in history." 35 million Bangladeshis are drinking arsenic as the World Bank and the Bangladesh government stall on a plan for safe water Two survivors of the Bhopal disaster are hospitalized after an 18-day fast protesting the Bhopal disaster 17 years ago, when poisonous gas leaked from US pesticide factory. The toxic legacy still haunts Bhopal: the death toll is 20,000 and counting. We''ll go to a hunger striker on the streets of Delhi. And then: protesting the School of the Americas: a woman locks herself to the main gate of Fort Benning with a bicycle lock after 35 protesters are convicted. All that and more coming up. 9:01-9:06 Headlines: JURY CONVICTS FORMER POLICE OFFICER CHARLES SCHWARZ OF PERJURY BUT DEADLOCKS ON MORE SERIOUS CHARGES A federal jury on Tuesday convicted former police officer Charles Schwarz of perjury, but deadlocked on the more serious charges. Schwarz is accused of leading Haitian immigrant Abner Louima to a precinct bathroom and holding him down while Officer Justin Volpe raped Louima with a broomstick. Schwarz was earlier found guilty of helping Volpe commit the assault, and with obstruction of justice. But a federal appeals court overturned the charges. Now, a jury has found Schwarz guilty of lying when he denied he had led Louima to the bathroom where the assault took place. But the jurors said they couldn't reach a unanimous verdict on whether Schwarz also lied about being present in the bathroom, or on charges of conspiring to deprive Louima of his civil rights. The jury was comprised of nine whites, two blacks and one person of Middle Eastern descent. Guest: Herb Boyd, national editor at the Black World Today and the author of nine books, including Brotherman: The Odyssey of Black Men in America. Boyd teaches African and African American history at the College of New Rochelle in Manhattan. Contact: One Minute Music Break 9:07-9:20 35 MILLION BANGLADESHIS ARE DRINKING ARSENIC AS THE WORLD BANK AND THE BANGLADESH GOVERNMENT STALL A PLAN FOR SAFE WATER A man with lesions and lumps the size of chickpeas on his hands and feet. A woman wasting away, warts and sores covering her palms and soles of her feet and dark spots speckling the skin of her chest. An incessant itching all ove the body that turns to dull pain. This isn't Chernobyl. It isn't Bhopal. Its Bangladesh, where tens of thousands of Bangladeshis show the signs of what the World Health Organization calls the "largest mass poisoning of a population in history." The poison is arsenic and its in the water that some 35 million Bangladeshis drink. After several years of drinking water from infected wells, it leads to cancer of the liver, lung, bladder or kidney. The water in some wells is 76 times the limit on levels of arsenic set by the World Health Organization. But thanks to the inefficiency of the government and the World Bank, most of the country's estimated 11 million wells have still not been tested. For two decades, the Bangladeshi government and UNICEF sponsored well drilling programs to wean the nation from pond water, often an incubator for lethal disease. They installed tube wells to tap into underground water sources. But no one tested these sources for arsenic. As far back as 1998, Bangladeshi government officials knew of an encroaching crisis. But they did nothing. In the mid-1990's, Bangladeshi officials finally admitted that another tragedy was unfolding. In 1998, the World Bank lent the government $32.4 million to act on the emergency. Every tube well was to be tested. Safe sources of water were to be provided. But critics charge that the government and the World Bank have become tangled in the bureaucratic inefficiencies. And the race against time has gone badly. Today we are going to talk to a roundtable of Bangladeshi medical officials, arsenic experts, and environmentalists to talk about what could be the worst health crisis since Chernobyl. Guest: Dr Quazi Quamruzzamann, Founder and Chairperson of the Dhaka Community Hospital Trust and professor of Pediatric Surgery at the Bangladesh Institute of Child Health Guest: Han Heijnen, environmental health advisor on Bangladesh for the World Health Organization who works in Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh Contact: Guest: Richard Wilson, Harvard Department of Physics Faculty and co-author of "Risk/Benefit Analysis: Nuclear, Chemical and other Risks." Contact: Dr. Dipankar Chakraborty, head of environmental studies at Jadavpur University, Calcutta Guest: Bozena Michalowska, lawyer for the injured Bangladeshis who are suing the British Geneological Society 9:20-9:21 One Minute Music Break 9:21-9:40 BANGLADESH CONT'D 9:40-9:41 One Minute Music Break 9:41-9:50 PROTESTING THE SCHOOL OF THE AMERICAS: A WOMAN LOCKS HERSELF TO THE MAIN GATE OF FORT BENNING AFTER 36 PROTESTERS ARE CONVICTED On Saturday, a woman chained her neck to the main gate at Fort Benning with a bicycle lock, with a banner that read, "Lock Up SOA/WHISC, Not Peacemakers." This after a federal judge last week convicted 36 human rights activists of trespassing at the U.S. Army's School of the Americas in Columbus, Georgia. Ten thousand people gathered peacefully last November outside the School of the Americas, which offers counterinsurgency and combat training to Latin American soldiers. Critics say its graduates have been implicated in human rights atrocities abroad. The school was renamed the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation last year after Congress narrowly defeated a bill to close the school. The defendants peacefully entered the grounds of Fort Benning in a solemn procession, chanting the names of those killed by soldiers in Latin America. U.S. Magistrate G. Mallon Faircloth offered to sentence the protesters to spend six months as a student at the school as an alternative to prison, but the defendants rejected the idea. 29 of the activists were sentenced to up to six months in federal prison and 7 placed on probation. Guest: Father Roy Bourgeois, School of Americas Watch IN STUDIO Contact: 9:50-9:58 TWO SURVIVORS OF THE BHOPAL DISASTER ARE HOSPITALIZED AFTER AN 18-DAY FAST PROTESTINGTHE INDIAN GOVERNMENT AND DOW CHEMICALS Seventeen years ago on the night of December 2nd, a poisonous gas leaked from a US pesticide factory in Bhopal, India. Overnight, several thousand people died painful deaths. And the toxic legacy still haunts Bhopal: the death toll due to exposure to the gas continued to climb and today, more than 20,000 people have died due to exposure. And at least 150,000 people suffer permanent health effects. The company who owned the factory, Union Carbide, was never held fully accountable. Union Carbide's CEO, Warren Anderson, jumped bail in India and has never stood trial for the outstanding charges against him, which are equivalent to manslaughter. The prosecutor wants to downgrade the charges to "harm by negligence." Several years ago, the company changed its name from Union Carbide to Dow Chemical. But survivors of the disaster and activists all over the world say that doesn't exempt Dow from responsibility. They say that Anderson should stand trial, and that the money should go to the survivors of the disaster. Bhopal survivors and activists have been on hunger strike for 18 days. Two of the activists were hospitalized yesterday. We are joined by a third hunger striker, speaking to us from the streets of Delhi. Just this morning he and the two survivors of the Bhopal disaster broke their fast after 18 days. Guest: Sathyu Sarangi, Bhopal hunger striker and head of the Sambhavna Trust, a charity for survivors of the Bhopal disaster. Contact: 9:58-9:59 Outro and Credits ---

Date Recorded on: 
July 17 2002
Date Broadcast on: 
Ju;y 17 2002
Item duration: 
59 min.
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WPFW; Amy Goodman, host. July 17, 2002
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