July 29, 2002

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Interview with Hans Von Sponeck  (3:03)
The Senate Foreign Relations committee will hold hearings beginning Wednesday on a potential US war against Iraq. The hearings are being billed as a fact-finding investigation, but the list of announced speakers includes no voices opposed to US military action. Today, anti-war groups across the country participated in a national call-in day aimed at pressuring the committee to call experts who say that there is no justification for a US attack on Iraq. One person who has not been called to testify is the former head of the UN humanitarian program in Iraq, Hans Von Sponeck. He resigned his post in 2000 in protest of the US-led sanctions. Now he is touring the US, trying to stop any new war on Iraq. He spoke with FSRN correspondent Jeremy Scahill.

Post-Vietnam War Reconstruction Conference  (4:00)
The end of the Vietnam war was more than 25 years ago, but the ecosystems of Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam are still recovering from the devastation inflicted by the war.  At a conference in Stockholm, Sweden this weekend, scientists, NGOs and veterans of the war drafted a declaration they hope will pave the way forward for new, post-war reconstruction efforts. Free Speech Radio News correspondent Patrick Beckett was there.

Sadhvi Ritambra Visits NY  (3:20)
On Sunday Secretary of State Colin Powell held talks with Pakistani leaders aimed at defusing tension between India and Pakistan over Kashmir. Powell said relations had improved but refused to back claims by Pakistani president Pervez Musharraf that his government had stopped militant Muslims from crossing the Kashmiri border into India. Before traveling to Pakistan, Powell asked Indian leaders to do more to ease tensions with Pakistan. On Saturday, India again ruled out talks with Pakistan, saying conditions for such negotiations did not exist. As Colin Powell traveled to South Asia, Sadhvi Ritambra, one of the most well known demagogues of the Hindu ultra right in India, traveled to the US this weekend. For many years, Ritambra represented the RSS, the core paramilitary organization of the Hindu Right and affiliated with the political party the BJP. On Friday, dozens of non-resident Indians gathered at the Hindu Ganesh Temple in Queens, New York to greet her. Miranda Kennedy has the story.

Logging in Papua New Guinea  (4:00)
In Papua New Guinea, a new government is about to be sworn in after an election marred by violence, death and voting discrepancies. In the lead-up to the election, official corruption, especially in the forest sector, became a crucial issue as a string of controversies in this industry played out.  One of the most divisive logging concessions is in the country?s Western Province, where a Malaysian company is logging at a rapid rate under the guise of a road building project. The project came to wider prominence recently when Greenpeace stopped a log ship from leaving with illegally and destructively logged timber – at the request of landowners.  Michael Bushell looks at the impact of this “road to nowhere” on Papua New Guinean politics and people.

Political Prisoners in Mexico  (4:30)
In the final days of our July special reporting from Mexico, we look at an initiative before the Mexican Congress – amnesty for Political Prisoners. The Mexican government has long used imprisonment of political opponents as a tool to suppress dissent, and now there is a civilian movement to grant amnesty to all political prisoners. Activists hope their initiative will get a hearing in these last few days of July, during the Mexican Congress’ extraordinary meeting period which only happens once a year. If the amnesty proposal is accepted as an initiative, it then goes before the full congress for approval into law. Deepa Fernandes reports from Mexico City.

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