February 20, 2002
Bush: “No Wonder I Think They’re Evil”
President Bush toured the demilitarized zone separating North and South Korea today. He reiterated his belief that North Korea is evil but said the United States has no intentions to invade the nation. However, he also said North Korea must demonstrate it does not intend to threaten its southern neighbor or as the US will honor its commitment to defend South Korea. Alan Lewkovitz files this report from the Korean DMZ.
The Legality of Executing the Mentally Retarded
The state of Virginia fought in the US Supreme Court this afternoon to keep its right to execute mentally retarded capital offenders. The Court ruled thirteen years ago it couldn’t ban the practice because there was no national consensus that such executions are cruel. Virginia argues that in spite of increasing support for a ban on capital punishment for the mentally retarded, it’s still too soon to abolish the death penalty in these cases. Joshua Chaffin reports from the Supreme Court.
The Legality of School Vouchers
In other news at the nation’s highest Court, the starkest church-state conflict before the Court in years sparked spirited debate among the justices. Today, the high court heard a challenge to Cleveland’s school voucher program which uses taxpayer money to subsidize private and religious education. Several justices say the program could pass constitutional muster if parents have a wide selection of choices beyond public and religious schools. Justice Sandra Day O’Connor is considered crucial in this case. She repeatedly asked whether quasi-public schools — such as charter schools — shouldn’t be part of the mix. And Justice David Souter expressed concerns about the program –and the fact that most of the kids use the vouchers to attend religious schools. In 2000, a federal appeals court declared the program unconstitutional; if the high court reverses that decision, it will open the floodgates to further school privatization. John Hamilton reports.
Immigrant Baggage Screeners Rally As They’re Fired
A coalition of labor, civil rights, and community activists rallied at airports across the west coast yesterday. Their protests were part of a national campaign calling for the elimination of a new requirement that all baggage screeners be US citizens. The mandate is part of the federalization of airport security. Yesterday was the first day that private security companies could legally begin to replace non-citizens. Max Pringle reports from Oakland.
Pastor Rabiyah Haddad: In Solitary, Not Charged With A Crime
Last December, the FBI seized the assets of the Global Relief Foundation, which raises funds for humanitarian projects in 22 countries, including Afghanistan and Chechnya. Officials said at the time that they believed Global Relief could be funding terrorism – an allegation the charity flatly denies and for which the government has yet to provide proof. The same day, Immigration and Naturalization Service officials arrested Rabiyah Haddad, a co-founder of Global Relief and a respected local Muslim ecumenical leader, at his home in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Haddad, who was seeking status as a legal permanent resident, was charged with overstaying a tourist visa. Chris Geovanis of the Chicago Independent Media Center, filed this report.