June 21, 2002

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Colombian President-Elect Visits Washington (3:00)
Colombia’s president-elect Alvaro Uribe was in the US this week asking Washington for help fighting the drug trade. Uribe was elected in May with a hard-line mandate to end the country’s drug-fueled civil war, which has killed 40,000 people in the last ten years. Among the greatest recipients of US aid, Colombia follows only Israel and Egypt. And now the US looks ready to commit to new and more violent forms of assistance. Joshua Chaffin reports from Washington.

Plutonium to be Shipped to SC (3:35)
Yesterday a U.S. 4th Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Virginia rejected the appeal of South Carolina governor Jim Hodges and upheld an earlier U.S. District Court ruling barring the Governor from blocking a federal shipment of bomb-grade plutonium bound for South Carolina. The Energy Department wants to ship the plutonium to South Carolina to be converted into fuel for nuclear reactors. But Governor Hodges filed a lawsuit last month to prevent the shipments, threatening to lie down on the road if necessary to block the trucks. Governor Hodges, like many anti-nuclear activists, worries that the program will never be funded, leaving the nuclear material in the state indefinitely.  And as Jack Hickey reports from South Carolina, plutonium shipments to the state could begin as early as this weekend.

Pro-Palestinian Activist Wins Open INS Hearing (3:09)
On May 30th, Palestinian solidarity activist Ahmed Bensouda was taken from his home in handcuffs by federal officials, ostensibly the result of a minor visa violation. Bensouda, who carries Moroccan and Gambian passports, was picked up by INS agents shortly after visiting the Israeli Consulate in Chicago in an attempt to get a visa to visit Palestine, and has been repeatedly interviewed by both INS and FBI officials. Last week, federal officials closed a bond hearing for Bensouda’s case to the public, citing issues of “national security,” and announced plans to present “secret evidence” showing why Bensouda should be denied bond. But today Bensouda won a major victory when, in the face of public pressure, a federal judge forced the INS to open Bensouda’s hearings and allow his family to post bond so he can be released. Chris Giovannis files this report from outside the federal courtroom in Chicago.

Iranians Demonstrate in Denmark (4:26)
Thousands of exiled Iranians were in Copenhagen today demonstrating against the government of Iran and the European Union. The demonstration was organized by the National Council of Resistance, which is ultimately fighting to overturn the current Iranian regime. But the NCR’s militant wing, the Mujahedin-e Khalq, has recently been added to the European Union’s list of Terrorist organizations. From Copenhagen, Patrick Beckett has the story.

TV Industry and Pentagon Collaborate (5:51)
The Bush Administration this week backed down and said the Justice Department won’t push for a military tribunal for Jose Padilla, who John Ashcroft accused this month of plotting to make dirty bomb. The issue of military tribunals is one element of the so-called war on terrorism that has met with widespread opposition. Most Americans will never know what really goes on in a military tribunal… unless you tune in to the new TV show JAG. Like other TV productions, JAG is made with the assistance of the Pentagon and depicts a military tribunal. From Hollywood, Patrick Burke has this report.

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