U.S. military seeks freedom to dump spent munitions, pollute the air and poison endangered species without risk of liability: Pentagon quietly seeks major exemptions from environmental laws; Easter Bunny-dressed protester arrested at Kmart at demonstration against Easter baskets containing toy soldiers; in other protest news 11 arrested at Boeing HQ in Chicago; University of New Mexico agrees to stop investing in World Bank bonds; Acclaimed writer Tariq Ali calls on Kofi Annan to go to Baghdad as a human shield: A discussion with Ali and Gilbert Achcar
9:00-9:01 Billboard: 9:01-9:06 Headlines 9:06-9:07 One Minute Music Break 9:07-9:20: The Pentagon is quietly seeking exemptions from the nation s most important environmental laws. The exemptions would give the military free rein to dump spent munitions, pollute the air and poison endangered species at its bases without risk of liability for any damage. The proposal was slipped into the fine print of the 2004 military budget last week. The Pentagon says it needs the exemptions because environmental laws get in the way of training troops. But a recent report from the General Accounting Office contradicted that claim. The GAO report concluded environmental statutes do not impact military readiness. The exemptions were rejected last year by a Democratic Party-controlled Senate. * John Kostyack senior counsel, National Wildlife Federation, expert on Endangered Species Act. * Dan Miller, First Assistant Attorney General in Colorado. Contact: www.ago.state.co.us 9:20-9:21 One Minute Music Break 9:21-9:30: Protests are intensifying over the arrival of heavily armed soldiers at Kmarts, Walmarts, and Rite Aids around the country. The soldiers are not guarding the retail giants from attack. They are toy soldiers armed with assault rifles and machine guns, and they have replaced the traditional front-and-center chocolate bunny in children s Easter baskets. Christians celebrate Easter as the day the peace-loving Jesus Christ rose from the dead. In Nevada City, some 30 people converged on Kmart on Wednesday and demanded the removal of the militarized Easter Baskets. Kmart said it would not restock its shelves with the baskets. The day before, Joanna Robinson, was arrested after refusing to stop pointing out the war toys to customers inside the store. She is the wife of famed folk singer Utah Phillips. In New York on Sunday, a 28-year-old mother was arrested at the Astor Place Kmart in downtown Manhattan. She was wearing a sweater fringed with cellophane grass, white pants, plush slippers, fuzzy white rabbit ears. * Amy Hamilton-Thibert, arrested for dressing as Easter Bunny at a K-Mart in New York to protest the sale of Easter baskets that included army action figures. * Joanna Robinson, anti-war organizer who was arrested at K-Mart protest 9:30-9:33: At Boeing s world headquarters in Chicago, 11 people were arrested for protesting Boeing s role in the possible war in Iraq. Boeing is the nation's second largest defense contractor after Lockheed-Martin. Last year the government paid Boeing $25 billion in contracts. Boeing makes many key weapons that may be used in Iraq including Apache combat helicopters, guidance systems for the Tomahawk Cruise missile and integrated systems for laser-guided "smart bombs" as well as nuclear weapons. * Ceylon Mooney, member of Voices in the Wilderness who was arrested yesterday, http://www.nonviolence.org/vitw/9:33-9:36: The University of New Mexico agreed Monday to stop investing in World Bank bonds. The decision follows a two-year organizing campaign by the World Bank Bonds Boycott Committee which argued the school should disassociate itself from the lending institution because of its lending practices. Guest: Timothy Canova, Associate Professor of Law at the University of New Mexico School of Law Links: World Bank Bonds Boycott: http://econjustice.net/wbbb/9:36-9:58: A Naked Display of Military Power. That was the headline of a recent piece on Iraq that appeared in Newsweek International written by Tariq Ali. The article concludes, The real prize is oil, and influence over big producers. U.S. hawks aim to privatize Iraq s oil industry, once Saddam is ousted which would thoroughly destabilize OPEC. They also want to reimpose the dollar as Iraq's reserve currency. In 2000, Saddam began demanding that all oil exports be paid for in euros; if other countries, such as Venezuela and Iran, were to make the same switch, the effects on an already weak U.S. economy would be difficult to conceal. That surely has not escaped the thinking of President Bush, whose strategic philosophy can be simply stated: when the Empire needs a fillip, send in the Marines. Today we are joined by Tariq Ali in our firehouse studio. Tariq Ali is an author, journalist and filmmaker. His latest book is The Clash of Fundamentalism: Crusades, Jihad and Modernity. It traces the emergence of Christian and Muslim fundamentalism in contemporary politics. Tariq Ali was born in British-controlled India in 1943 and permanently exiled from Pakistan for his vocal opposition to the country's military dictatorship during the 1960s. Since then, he has made his home in Britain. He is the author of more than a dozen books on politics, history and culture, a regular broadcaster on BBC, and a contributor to the Guardian. And we are also with Gilbert Achcare. He is a professor of Politics and International Relations at the University of Paris. He moved from Lebanon to France in 1983. He is also the author of several books including The Clash of Barbarisms: September 11 and the Making of the New World Disorder. And he is a frequent contributor to the French newspaper Le Monde Diplomatique. They are both here in New York City for the Socialist Scholars conference which begins tonight. * Tariq Ali, Author, Clash of Fundamentalisms: Crusades, Jihad and Modernity * Gilbert Achcar, author, The Clash of Barbarisms: September 11 and the Making of the New World Disorder 9:41-9:58 Tariq Ali in Studio continued 9:58-9:59 Outro and Credits Democracy Now! is produced by Kris Abrams, Mike Burke, Angie Karran, Ana Nogueira and Elizabeth Press. Mike Di Filippo is our music maestro and engineer.