Democracy Now! May 20, 2003

Program Title:
Democracy Now! May 20, 2003
Series Title:
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Hour 1: This is not American troops going after Saddam s folks. This is violence in the streets and it s out of control. : John Alpert and Sharif Abdel Kouddous join us in our studio to discuss their recent visit to Baghdad; In an Exclusive U.S. Interview, Democracy Now! Talks with the Widow of the Al Jazeera Journalist Who Died When U.S. Forces Shelled His Office in Baghdad : Look at the American Dream and how it was Implemented Here: We Lost Our Happiness, We Lost Our Lives, We Lost Our Liberty, says Dima Tahboub who is suing Iraq war commander General Tommy Franks for war crimes; U.S. Bombing of Basra Kills One Iraqi Boy and Wounds His Brother. Their Mother, Umm Haider, Speaks About Her Family s Plight. Hour 2: Will changes in the nation s media ownership rules mark "the beginning of the end of our democracy"? A debate between the publisher of the Seattle Times and a Vice President at the Tribune Co. which owns 15 newspapers including the Los Angeles Times and Newsday as well as over 25 television stations; Who, What, When, Where, How? Did the U.S. Media Follow the Basic Rules of Journalism, or did they Follow the Flag ? Journalism professor Robert Jensen argues the U.S. media would fail Journalism 101

8:00-8:01 Billboard 8:01-8:06 Headlines 8:06-8:07 One Minute Music Break 8:07-8:20: Some 50 electrical workers staged a demonstration today outside the headquarters of US-British coalition forces in a former presidential palace in Baghdad. They were protesting against the appointment of a former Baath party official as the director of the electricity department. The electricity department workers handed over a letter to US forces. The Agence France Presse reports the letter says: "We were shocked and horrified to see the same old guard come back." It says, "We ask you to hear our appeals for help and to sack the clique of corrupt hypocrites. It reads: "Do not let the excuse of restoring electric power prevent you from carrying out your sacred duty to make Iraq a free country." The demonstration comes just a day after some ten thousand Shiite Muslims rallied peacefully in front of a Sunni Mosque in Baghdad. They demanded the US hand over power to the Iraqi people, and withdraw its troops from the country. The Shiite protest comes after the new US ruler of Iraq, Paul Bremer, announced the US has indefinitely put off plans for Iraqi self rule. Meanwhile, the Washington Post reports Iraqis have begun tracking down and killing former members of the ruling Baath Party. The assassinations appear to have picked up since the US issued a decree last Friday that prohibits senior Baath Party officials from holding positions in Iraq's postwar government. The Post reports former exile groups and Iraqis familiar with some of the killings say the number of Baath party members assassinated since the invasion could reach several hundred in Baghdad alone. We re joined right now in the studio by filmmaker and founder of the Downtown Community Television center Jon Alpert as well as by Democracy Now! producer, Sharif Abdel Kouddous. They both have just returned from Baghdad. They were in Baghdad to set up a live dialogue via satellite between Iraqi and American youths, and also worked on a documentary for HBO. * John Alpert, filmmaker and founder of Downtown Community Television center * Sharif Abdel Kouddous, Democracy Now! Producer 8:20-8:21 One Minute Music Break 8:21-8:40: An anonymous adviser to the Prime Minister of Belgium told the Agence France Presse the Belgian government will block a lawsuit filed there against the US commander in the Iraq war for alleged war crimes. Seventeen Iraqis and two Jordanians filed a suit against General Tommy Franks this month. The lawsuit accuses US troops of using cluster bombs in civilian areas and firing on ambulances in three separate incidents. The lawsuit is brought under a law in Belgium called the "universal competence" law. That law allows charges to be brought regardless of where the alleged crimes took place. But under US pressure, Belgian lawmakers in early April amended the law, enabling federal prosecutors to decide whether a suit can proceed. The anonymous advisor told the AFP the prime minister will call a special cabinet session this week to apply the amended law, and stop the lawsuit. The BBC reported last week that the Jordanian plaintiffs are the widow and the father of Tareq Ayoub. On April 8, US forces bombed the Baghdad offices of Al Jazeera, killing correspondent Tareq Ayoub. Moments later and less than a mile away, another explosion, reportedly from U.S. artillery, damaged the offices of Abu Dhabi TV, trapping as many as 30 journalists in the debris. And then, a US tank fired on the Palestine Hotel, where almost all the international journalists were staying. A Ukranian cameraman with the Reuters news agency Taras Protsyuk, and Jose Couso, who worked for Telecinco Spanish televison, were killed. That evening, Al Jazeera broadcast an interview with the widow of Tareq Ayoub, Dima Tahboub. Tears streamed down her face. She said: American forces, British forces are in a war that was claimed to be clean. I cannot see the cleanness in this war. What I see is blood, destruction and shattered hearts. She said, The Americans said it was a war against terrorism. Who is doing the terrorism now? She said, My message to you is that hatred grows more hatred. The Americans are asking why are there suicide bombers, which we do not consider as such, we consider them as martyrs. Let them ask Bush and Blair who targeted their families and friends. We are going to fight back. Let Mr Bush know what he sows in Iraq, what he sows in Palestine, what he is going to see is the tip of the iceberg. We are joined right now on the telephone by Dima Tahboub from her home n Jordan. She cannot comment on the lawsuit at this time. * Dima Tahboub, the widow of Tareq Ayoub, the al-Jazeera journalist killed by a US tank shell in Bahgdad. She is a lecturer at the University of Jordan and a member of the Islamic Action Front. 8:40-8:41 One Minute Music Break 8:41-8:58: In January 1999, a U.S. cruise missile smashed into a Basra neighborhood in southern Iraq killing 6-year old Haider and spraying his brother, Mostafa, with with shrapnel. Mostafa, who still has over 130 pieces of shrapnel in his body had some of his fingers amputated and much of his liver removed. He has recently arrived in the U.S. with his mother, Umm Haider, for much-needed medical care. * Umm Haider, 6-yr-old son died in U.S. bombing 8:58-8:59 Outro and Credits 9:00-9:01 Billboard 9:01-9:06 Headlines 9:06-9:07 One Minute Music Break 9:07-9:30: Sen. Russ Feingold yesterday called on the Federal Communications Commission's chairman to postpone a vote on loosening the rules on media ownership. But FCC Chairman Michael Powell turned down a similar request from the two democratic FCC commissioners last week. The FCC is poised to vote on the proposal to relax the rules on June 2nd. The rules have not even been made public. Still, some things are known about the upcoming vote. Under the expected changes, for the first time ever broadcasters will be allowed to own television stations that reach more than 35 per cent of the country. They will be allowed to own a newspaper and broadcast outlet in the same market. And the four largest TV networks will be free to merge. That means that a single CEO could theoretically own all of the largest media outlets in the country. Analysts say if the revised rules are passed, the US will see a wave of media mergers and consolidation that is unprecedented in the country s history. Major media conglomerates such as AOL Time Warner, General Electric, Disney and Viacom, and Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. are all lobbying for the changes. Today, we continue our series on the FCC, with a debate looking at the impact on the newspaper industry. * Frank Blethen, publisher of the Seattle Times and five other papers in Washington and Maine. He has been a vocal opponent of the proposed FCC changes to the media ownership regulations. * Shaun Sheehan, Vice President and lobbyist of the Tribune Co. which owns the Chicago Tribune, the Los Angeles Times, Newsday and 12 other papers and over 25 television stations. The Tribune has backed rewriting the media ownership regulations. 9:30-9:31 One Minute Music Break 9:31-9:58: The BBC producer who had his foot amputated after stepping on a landmine in Iraq has called on news organizations to continue using independent journalists in war zones despite the risks. Stuart Hughes was part of a four-person team filming the Iraq War in Kurdish-held territory. A local guide accidentally led them into a minefield. In the explosions, Stuart's colleague, cameraman Kaveh Golestan was killed. Thirteen reporters, cameramen and other media workers lost their lives in Iraq. Hughes told the London Guardian it was a terrible war for journalists. But Hughes is still insisting on the importance of independent journalism. He said: "We will always need people on the ground, independently forging ahead, finding the stories." He warned that the deaths of the journalists may be used as an excuse to push aside independent and freelance journalists in favor of embedding journalists with the military. Last night, media critic Robert Jenson spoke at St. Francis College in Brooklyn on the US coverage of the invasion of Iraq. * Robert Jensen, Associate Professor at the University of Texas School of Journalism at Austin. He is author of Writing Dissent: Taking Radical Ideas from the Margins to the Mainstream. 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: 
May 20, 2003
Date Broadcast on: 
May 20, 2003
Item duration: 
118 min.
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WBAI; Amy Goodman, host., May 20, 2003
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