December 26, 2002

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Russia Opposes War on Iraq (3:42)
The Iraqi government is stockpiling food and conducting military exercises in anticipation of a wider war with the United States. Iraq continues to insist it does not possess weapons of mass destruction, and UN weapons inspectors say the Iraqis are cooperating. Russia’s government is publicly contradicting the US position that Saddam Hussein is a terrorist threat, but the US is not backing down. This week the head of NATO challenged Saddam Hussein to disarm, in a statement that sounded suspiciously like the US line. Josh Chaffin reports

War on Iraq: Relief Agencies Brace for Worst (3:38)
Turkey yesterday approved a six-month extension of the mandate that allows U.S. warplanes to use its air base to patrol a “no-fly” zone over northern Iraq. The US wants NATO-member Turkey to play a frontline role if Washington wages war against Iraq, yet sentiment in Turkey remains firmly opposed to an attack on Iraq. Meanwhile relief agencies around the world are bracing for a massive human tragedy if there is a US sponsored war on Iraq. From Ankara correspondent Aaron Glantz reports that when 500 thousand refugees tried to flee Iraq during the first gulf war Turkey closed its doors

No Appeals When Cutting Trees (3:48)
The Bush administration is about to make it easier for state and local governments to gain control over roads and paths on federal lands, a move environmentalists and some lawmakers say will spur development in wilderness areas and national parks. Meanwhile, in the media coverage of the mid-December announcement on the Bush administration’s plan to by-pass Congress on it’s national forest fire-prevention thinning projects, another aspect of the announcement was barely noticed. The administration plans to end administrative appeals for nearly all logging, mining and development projects planned on national forests. Environmentalists call it an attempt to gut the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). This, combined with the plan to end appeals and studies for sensitive species for each national forest’s fifteen-year plan, announced the day before Thanksgiving, has environmentalists saying the administration is systematically marginalizing public participation in forest policy. Leigh Robartes has more

Kidnap and Murder Case in South India (3:43)
Tensions are rife in the Southern Indian state of Karnataka where today the entire BJP opposition legislative members of Karnataka had to be physically removed and later suspended until the New Year over the recent death of a former minister. Until now, the main suspect in the death of the former minister has been a forest brigand, who has kept two southern Indian states on tenterhooks for the last decade. The brigand has killed over a hundred policemen so far. The kidnappings that he has carried out ended in either paying huge ransom or release of his accomplices. The drama of the kidnapping of a former minister, for the release of one of his associates has took a new turn when the former minister’s body was found three weeks ago. The real cause of the death is not known but tension in the area is high. Binu Alex reports from India how a single individual has made a mockery of the two state governments and its police force.

Refugee Series: Australia’s Harsh Policy (3:10)
A much publicized refugee case in Australia will go before Australia’s Refugee Review Tribunal next week when the Sarwari family appeals their detention and possible deportation. The Afghan family of five was removed from a home the southern Australian state of Tasmania a fortnight ago after their temporary protection visas were cancelled. The family is now at the Baxter Detention Camp in South Australia and faces deportation unless a successful appeal can be made to the Refugee Review Tribunal. As we continue our refugee special series, correspondent Rachel Maher takes a look at the extremely controversial refugee policy in Australia, a country that receives many refugees arriving by boat and has a staunch policy of jailing asylum seekers on arrival.

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