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Between The Lines
For The Week Ending Dec. 22, 2000


LISTEN to this week's half-hour program of Between The Lines by clicking here! Individual interview segments and news summary will be posted soon. (All in RealAudio, needs RealPlayer 7 or 8).

This week we present Between The Lines' summary of under-reported news stories and:

Former Senator Says Supreme Court's Partisan Intervention in Election Will Cloud Bush Presidency
Interview by Scott Harris.

Editor's note: This interview was conducted prior to the U.S. Supreme Court's Dec. 12 decision in the Florida Gore vs. Bush case, reversing the Florida Supreme Court's decision to continue the hand recount of ballots. Vice President Al Gore announced on Dec. 13 that he would concede the election.

By reversing Florida's high court ruling to hand count ballots in all of the state's 67 counties, the U.S. Supreme Court has taken on the responsibility of making the politically charged decision as to who will serve as the nation's next president. The partisan nature of the Supreme Court's decision to halt the vote count was evident in the breakdown of the 5 to 4 decision.

Concerns about conflicts of interest among the Supreme Court's conservative Justices in making this historic ruling emerged in several press accounts. Justice Clarence Thomas' wife was engaged in gathering resumes for appointments in a future Bush administration as part of her work for the Heritage Foundation, a Republican Party ally. An earlier report revealed that Justice Antonin Scalia's son Eugene is a partner in the same law firm representing the Bush campaign before the Supreme Court. The New York Daily News also presented an account in which Scalia threatened to leave the Court if a Democrat were to win the presidency because he would have no chance of being named Chief Justice by Al Gore.

Between The Lines' Scott Harris spoke with former U.S. Senator Michael Gravel, who represented Alaska in Congress from 1969 to 1981. The senator, an energetic advocate for environmental protection and arms control in Washington, critically assesses the Supreme Court's intervention in the five-week long post-election dispute.

Former U.S. Senator Michael Gravel currently serves as president of the group, Direct Democracy. Contact Direct Democracy by visiting their Web site at

Related interviews, articles:

  • "Justice Scalia's Legal Vision Is Blinded by His Ambition," by Jim Dwyer, News and Views columnist, New York Daily News, Dec. 11, 2000
  • "Democrat Urges Justice Scalia Recuse Himself," The Associated Press, Dec. 10, 2000. A former Clinton White House counsel suggested Sunday that conservative Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia may want to recuse himself from the Florida recount case because his son works for a firm that represents George W. Bush. (Search for this article in the AP's free archive.)
  • Challenging A Justice: Job of Thomas's Wife Raises Conflict-of-Interest by Christopher Marquis, New York Times, Dec. 12, 2000
    (Search for this article in the New York Times, or click here if you are already a NYT online subscriber.)

Disputed Election Spurs Progressives to Launch National Pro-Democracy Campaign
Interview by Scott Harris.

In the view of many citizens, whoever takes the oath of office on the steps of the Capitol this January, will lack legitimacy. As the post-election dispute dragged on for more than a month, moving from courtroom to courtroom, the nation and the world were exposed to the shortcomings of the often glorified U.S. electoral system.

But beyond the accounts of malfunctioning voting machines and the public shock that tens of thousands of ballots are routinely thrown out, many citizens are for the first time recognizing the systemic failures of U.S. democracy. Growing public disgust with the influence of big money in political campaigns, the limitations of our winner-take-all system and the anti-democratic nature of the Electoral College are but a few of the issues which may resonate with citizens long after the next president takes office.

Between The Lines' Scott Harris spoke with Ted Glick, national coordinator of the Independent Progressive Politics Network. Glick describes a Pro-Democracy campaign motivated in part by this year's disputed presidential election. The campaign was launched by a progressive coalition that recently met in Washington, D.C.

Contact the Network by calling (973) 338-5398 or visit their Web site at

U.S. Labor Rights Lawsuit Filed in Support of Fired Nicaraguan Factory Workers
Interview by Scott Harris

The Taiwanese-owned Chentex factory in Managua, Nicaragua makes blue jeans for the U.S. military and American-based companies such as Kohl's, Target and other large retailers. Chentex workers, paid as little as 18 cents per pair of jeans which are sold in the U.S. for about $30, formed a union in 1998 to demand improved working conditions and a living wage. When workers asked for an 8-cent wage increase, Chentex management fired union activists and hundreds of other employees.

In response, the National Labor Committee, unions and human rights activists have organized protests at Kohl's stores and recently initiated a lawsuit in U.S. courts against Chentex parent company Nien Hsing, which owns a subsidiary in Los Angeles. The court action was brought under the Alien Tort Claims Act, which has previously been used to prosecute those accused of human rights abuses and war crimes.

The groups pressing the court case are hoping that the litigation combined with growing protest actions will force the company to re-instate its workers. Between The Lines' Scott Harris spoke with Barbara Briggs of the National Labor Committee, who describes her group's campaign to support the fired Chentex workers and how this fight relates to the larger issue of corporate globalization.

Contact the National Labor Committee by calling (212) 242-3002 or visit their Web site at

This week's summary of under-reported news
Compiled by Bob Nixon

  • Brazil's infamous prison conditions getting worse. (Economist, Nov. 11, 2000)
  • Gay rights becoming more integrated into South African law. (New Internationalist, Oct. 2000)
  • Environmental Protection Agency forces General Electric to clean up PCB pollution in New York state's upper Hudson River. (Westchester Weekly, Dec. 14, 2000)

... MORE ...

Between The Lines/WPKN Election Crisis Archive:

"Law Professor Calls Electoral College a Relic of Slave Era"

"Racial Discrimination Against Florida Voters Unexamined in Election Controversy"

"GOP Injection of Anger, Resentment into Election Politics Dangerous"

"Civil Rights Groups Continue to Investigate Racial Voter Intimidation in Florida Election"


"Electoral College Unfair from Day One" New York Times, Nov. 9, 2000. NYT online subscribers Click here.

"If the Vote Were Flawless..." Miami Herald, Dec. 3, 2000

"Fla. Spoilage Likelier for Blacks," Washington Post, Dec. 3. 2000

"57 Red Flags: Proof Bush Never Won Popular Vote in Florida"

"Black Leaders Sue to Overturn Election", by Scott Gold, Los Angeles Times, Dec. 6, 2000."


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