November 17, 2000

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The Presidential Election may – or may not – be officially over this weekend. For the past 10 days,
the nation’s focus has been on Florida, and the voting irregularities that have led to various law
suits being filed in state Courts…Free Speech Radio’s Mitch Perry reports that most of the
complaints – particularly in South Florida, come from blacks and Jews who feel their votes will not be counted, in one of the closest Presidential Elections in U.S. History.



On Thursday, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a thirty day stay of the execution of John Paul Penry in Bush’s home state of Texas. Penry’s execution would have been the third in three days in Texas and the thirty-eighth this year, a record total for a U.S. state. Death penalty opponents condemned the planned execution of Penry because they say he is mentally retarded. This week’s string of planned executions has also renewed concerns about just how much attention Bush gives to the death row cases that cross his desk. Free Speech Radio News Kellia Ramares when the stay was issued and files this report from Huntsville, Texas.



After fifteen years of military rule, Nigeria’s return to democracy has kindled international interest
in the country. The U.S. has shown the greatest interest, renewing ties severed during years of
dictatorship. But less than two years on, the nascent democracy is threatened by ethnic and religious crisis. Most important is the controversy over the introduction of Islamic law, or Sharia, in the northern parts of the country. Sam Olukoya has more from Lagos.



Argentine President Fernando De la Rua’s new economic reforms faced formidable challenges this week, as state workers blocked key roads in Buenos Aires, and opposition leaders pushed for modifications to his austerity plan. The president hopes to push through the measures in order to secure more international loans and increase investor confidence, but, as Travis Lea reports from Buenos Aires, popular protest may derail or reshape De la Rua’s plans.



On Sunday, more than 15,000 people are expected to converge on Ft. Benning, Georgia, home of the School of the Americas. The U.S.-financed military school has been targeted by protesters since the late 80’s for its training of Latin American military officers who’ve gone on to commit terrible human rights abuses in their own countries. One of the School’s graduates to make headlines recently is Vladimiro Montesinos, the disgraced right-hand man of Peruvian President Alberto Fujimori. As head of Peru’s intelligence service, Montesinos was tied to torture and murder, and is believed to have run a death squad which killed nine university students in 1992. Host Matt Martin spoke with Father Roy Bourgeois, founder of School of the Americas Watch.



In Vancouver, British Columbia this week, the 7th Annual Pacific Rim Biotechnology Conference brought together some 1,500 scientists and business leaders to discuss an industry which is drawing increasing attention from investors and the broader public. Critics of genetic engineering used the conference as an opportunity to educate the public on the downsides and dangers of the fast-developing and unpredictable technology. Thatcher Collins reports from Vancouver.

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