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Between The Lines
For The Week Ending March 16, 2001


LISTEN to this week's half-hour program of Between The Lines by clicking here or any of the individual segments below. (All in RealAudio, needs RealPlayer 7 or 8.)

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

Major Pharmaceutical Companies Sue to Overturn South African Law Making AIDS/HIV Drugs Affordable
Interview by Scott Harris.

Major U.S. and European drug companies through their South African subsidiaries are currently mounting a legal challenge to a recent South African law. This legislation, referred to as 15C, allows the government to bypass patent protections and purchase or manufacture less expensive generic drugs to treat their citizens suffering with HIV and AIDS. South Africa, with the highest number of identified AIDS cases in the world, drafted this law in 1997 in order to make affordable anti-viral medicines available to those who otherwise could not afford them. These same drugs have extended the lives of tens of thousands suffering from HIV and AIDS in western nations.

As the case got underway before Pretoria's high court March 5th, thousands of AIDS activists in South Africa and around the world took to the streets to accuse major drug companies such as GlaxoSmithKline of profiteering at the expense of those afflicted with AIDS, 95 percent of whom reside in the world's poorest nations. Brazil, under similar legislation, produced its own generic HIV drugs for free distribution and cut its AIDS mortality rate by over half since 1996. But the U.S. has jeopardized this program by filing a complaint against Brazil before the World Trade Organization.

Between the Lines' Scott Harris spoke with Sharonann Lynch, an activist with the Health Gap Coalition, who examines the South African drug companies' lawsuit and the precedent the outcome could set for making life-saving drugs affordable across the globe.

Contact the Health Gap Coalition by calling (212) 674-9598 or visit their Web site at:

Related interviews:

Bush Administration Launches Drive to Partially Privatize Social Security
Interview by Scott Harris.

In his first major address to the nation Feb. 27th, George W. Bush outlined his administration's priorities and proposed budget before a joint session of Congress. In addition to his controversial call for a $1.6 trillion dollar tax cut skewed to the nation's wealthiest citizens and new spending for education, Mr. Bush also reiterated his campaign pledge to work for the partial privatization of Social Security. As a first step toward that end, he called for the formation of a presidential commission to make specific recommendations to reform Social Security by next fall.

In his speech, Mr. Bush advocated the creation of personal investment accounts that would allow workers to invest in the stock and bond markets. The president justified these proposed changes by citing the system's projected shortfall by 2037 and the fact that Social Security currently delivers only a two percent rate of return on funds paid into the program. But as many critics of the proposed overhaul point out, Mr. Bush has never provided details on who would pay the estimated $1 trillion required to establish private accounts.

Between the Lines' Scott Harris spoke with Mark Weisbrot, co-director of the Center for Economic Policy Research, who takes a critical look at the Bush plan to partially privatize Social Security, the nation's most popular and successful government program.

The Center for Economic Policy Research can be reached at (202) 293-5380 or visit their Web site at:

Zapatista Rebel Caravan Presses for Indigenous Rights in Mexico
Interview by Melinda Tuhus.

A caravan of 23 indigenous commanders of Mexico's Zapatista National Liberation Army, accompanied by rebel spokesperson Subcomandante Marcos and hundreds of local and international supporters, is on the road from Chiapas state to Mexico City. The group left Feb. 24 and is due to arrive in the nation's capital on March 11.

The Zapatistas burst onto the international stage when they seized several cities and towns in Mexico's poorest state of Chiapas on Jan. 1, 1994. The guerilla army, made up mostly of impoverished farmers, was fighting against corporate globalization and in defense of indigenous rights. After years of growing tension and unsuccessful negotiations with the government, the Zapatistas and former president Ernesto Zedillo signed the San Andres Accords five years ago. The agreement promised autonomy for Mexico's indigenous people and respect for their culture, but was never implemented. Through their caravan, the unarmed rebels hope to open a dialogue with federal lawmakers in support of legislation to finally implement the accords.

Although Mexico's new president, Vicente Fox, has promised to make this issue a top priority, the Zapatistas are skeptical and say he must fulfill certain conditions before they will meet with him. Between the Lines' Melinda Tuhus spoke with Jason Wallach, national grassroots coordinator with the Mexico Solidarity Network, a group which has supported the Zapatistas. He discusses the goals of the caravan and the enthusiastic response it has generated all over Mexico.

Mexico Solidarity Network can be reached at (773) 583-7728 or visit their Web site at:

Related interviews

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

  • Albanian rebels attack Yugoslav troops in the disputed buffer zone separating Serbia from Kosovo.(In These Times, March 19, 2001 and World Press Review, March 2001)
  • Bloomington, Ind. union workers facing pink slips as General Electric continues its efforts to push production offshore. ( "GE Brings Bad Things to Life," The Nation, Feb. 12, 2001)
  • Health studies alert environmentalists to possible harmful effects of long-term exposure to fluoride. (E: The Environmental magazine, January/February 2001)

Senior news editor: Bob Nixon
Program narration: Arch Currie
News reader: Elaine Osowski
Distribution: Anna Manzo, Harry Minot, Jeff Yates
Web editor/producer: Anna Manzo
Producer: Melinda Tuhus
Executive producer: Scott Harris

... MORE ...

Between The Lines Special Report on White Supremacist Protest in Wallingford, Conn.

"Protesters Confront World Church of the Creator Founder Matthew Hale" Between The Lines report, March 10, 2001 in MP3 format

April 17-22, 2001 FTAA Summit Protest Resources

"Labor, Environmental and Human Rights Groups Organizing to Oppose April Americas Free Trade Treaty Summit in Quebec City" Between The Lines interview with Alliance for Responsible Trade's Karen Hansen Kuhn, Feb. 26, 2001

"Quebec City Crackdown,", by Darryl LeRoux, Feb. 20, 2001

People's Summit of the Americas II, Grassroots coalition Schedule of Events for people's forums, teach-ins, rallies, mass demonstration. (

Quebec Independent Media Center

Between The Lines/WPKN Report on Pacifica Radio Network-WBAI, N.Y. Crisis
Jan. 8, 2001 Interviews with Utrice Leid, Leslie Cagan, and Bernard White

Foreign Reports on the U.S. Election Cover-Up

"Silence Of The Lambs: The Election Story Never Told", Whistleblowers Section, by Greg Palast, March 1, 2001

Post Inauguration and Electoral Reform Resources

"Making Every Vote Count", The Nation Magazine, Special Section

"Hailing the Thief," The Nation Special Web Exclusive Report, by Ben Ehrenreich

Between The Lines/WPKN 'Profiles Bush Cabinet Nominees' Archive:

"John Ashcroft Sought White Supremacist Political Support"

Interior Department Nominee Gale Norton at Odds with Public Support for Protecting the Environment

"Attorney General Nominee's Career Marked by Opposition to Reproductive Rights and Civil Rights Law"

"From Vietnam to Florida's Disenfranchisement of Black Voters: Unheroic Moments in Secretary of State Nominee Colin Powell's Career"


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