February 04, 2003

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Powell to Address UN
US Secretary of State Colin Powell is at the United Nations today, seeking support from the other 14 members of the Security Council for a US-led war on Iraq. Powell is slated to give a briefing to the Council tomorrow that is widely expected to begin the countdown to war. President Bush promised in his State of the Union speech last week that Powell would present damning evidence of Iraq’s determination to thwart UN weapons inspections.  Today Powell himself played down expectations, saying there would be “no smoking gun.” Skepticism of the administration’s case remains strong, with most countries saying inspections must continue. Yet there is an increasing sense that war is inevitable. Susan Wood reports from the UN.

No Nukes in Space
Today President Bush was at the Houston Space Center at a memorial for the Columbia 7, the seven astronauts who were killed when the Shuttle Columbia exploded on Saturday morning. Meanwhile, international propulsion scientists and industrialists are meeting in New Mexico to plan the next generation of nuclear-powered space engines and other  technologies. But protestors outside that meeting are pointing to the crash of the space shuttle Columbia as proof that nuclear material does not belong on spacecraft. From Albuquerque, Joe Gardner Wessely reports on the Institute for Space and Nuclear Power Studies Forum.

Inside the Bush Budget
President George W. Bush yesterday sent Congress a US$2.23 trillion Budget for next year that would expand the military, slash taxes for the rich and overhaul Government-subsidized health care while literally breaking the bank with record deficits. And the budget does not even include the cost of a possible war with Iraq. Deepa Fernandes reports.

AIDS in the Caribbean
Meanwhile, when President Bush tabled his Budget in Congress yesterday, he included $15 billion dollars to be spent on the global fight on AIDS, with areas of focus being Africa and the Caribbean. While some Aids activists say this is nowhere near enough money to fight the global pandemic, as Ian Forest reports, activists in the Caribbean welcome the increase even while it is unclear how much of the money will actually go to them.

US Companies Role in Venezuela
The Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez today rejected an opposition call for a vote on a constitutional amendment to allow his term to be cut short to send the country to early elections. However, the government said it endorsed another plan – to hold a binding referendum on Chavez’s presidency in August as per the constitution. Meanwhile, the re-opening yesterday of most businesses across Venezuela after being shut down for 2 months lead to many workers, who had been shut out of their work places being able to return. Johnny Moreno and Yajaira Hernandez file this report from Caracas where they look at the role US multinationals played in the also shutting up shoe and firing employees. The English translation is read by Carlos Fabara.

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