April 18, 2002

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The Israeli Checkpoints
Israel’s international reputation slumped to its lowest point for two decades yesterday, amid condemnation in Britain and Europe of the Israeli army’s behavior at the Palestinian refugee camp in Jenin in the West Bank. Palestinians in the shattered Jenin refugee camp clawed through rubble in search of missing people today, hours after Israeli troops withdrew. Israel said troops would leave the West Bank cities of Nablus, Jenin and parts of Ramallah by Sunday but would stay at Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat’s compound and Bethlehem’s Nativity Church until a standoff with militants they say are inside was resolved. In Nablus, the military today apprehended Husam Badran, one of the leading members of Hamas’ Nablus military wing. Helicopters fired two missiles at a house with Badran and others inside, killing three Palestinians. With more from Nablus, is International Peace Observer and FSRN reporter Kristen Shurr.

Somali Owned Grocers Can’t Take Food Stamps
Since September 11 one of the more unnoticed governmental crackdowns has been directed at Somali immigrants. Back in November US Customs agents raided the offices Barakat Wire Transfer, a Somali community bank, allegedly to crack down on Osama bin Laden’s Al-Qaeda terrorist network leaving one of the largest East African communities in America with no way to wire money home. Customs also seized the assets of many local businesses. Then last month, the US Department of Agriculture, notified three Somali-owned grocery stores that they were permanently disqualified from accepting food stamps because of what they claimed was “a clear and repetitive pattern of unusual, irregular and/or inexplicable activity.” Martha Baskin has more from Seattle.

Thousands Plan Peace March on Washington
On Saturday afternoon anti-war protestors will march on Washington. The mass convergence is the culminating action in a four day series of events aimed at changing current American domestic and foreign policy. Diverse interests will be represented, ranging from those calling for increased funding for non-military-based financial aid for education to calls for an end to racial profiling and military recruitment targeting youth of color and working class youth. From Washington, Malaika Gordon previews the upcoming weekend.

The Toxic Power of Coal Bed Methane
Since the mid 1990’s, Wyoming has experienced a boom  in Coal Bed Methane. But as the industry grows, so do concerns about its  environmental consequences. From Rapid City South Dakota, Joshua Welsh reports.

Big Oil and Ecuador
As the controversy continues as to how many Bush administration fingers were in the weekend’s Venezuelan coup, one thing the US will openly admit is that it needs Venezuela to continue providing the oil that is vital to US markets. Oil in the America’s, and who controls it is not a new issue. There is the struggle of the U’wa Indians in Colombia against Occidental Petroleum and now the US and Multi national oil companies are attempting to build yet another oil pipeline, this time in a cloud forest in Ecuador. The proposed pipeline will occur on the ancestral lands of multiple Ecuadorian indigenous groups and the majority of oil will be headed directly for the United State. Chris Strom and Yvonne Zimmerman report from Quito, Ecuador.

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