February 21, 2003

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Japan Will Strike North Korea First
Japanese government officials have announced their intentions to launch pre-emptive strikes against North Korea if they discover North Korean plans of a missile attack against Japan.  Japan’s defense minister, Shigero Ishiba, declared that Japan is ready to strike first against North Korea calling the possible strike “defensive” not “preemptive.” And while the Bush Administration has  expressed strong concern about North Korea making a provocative military move, US military officials are saying little about the Japanese declarations. Miles Ashdown has more from Tokyo.

Jordan’s Palestinian Refugees
More than half of Jordan’s population is of Palestinian origin. 50% are refugees that fled British mandate Palestine in 1948 and the West Bank under Jordanian rule in 1967. Today, only 20% of them live in refugee camps as Jordan is the only Arab country that has encouraged Palestinian refugees to settle by giving them Jordan’s citizenship despite it could threaten its fragile demographic balance. With a war looming in Iraq, Jordanians fear Palestinians from the West Bank could be transferred into neighboring Jordan. Rafael Krafft has more.

California’s Huge Budget Deficit
California is grappling with a 36 billion dollar budget deficit, the largest of any state in US history and the state’s political forces cannot agree on how to solve it.  Democratic lawmakers want to close the deficit, in part, by releasing non- violent criminals early. But Governor Gray Davis, a Democrat and Republican lawmakers demur the plan, and prefer instead to cut billions of dollar in state spending, with major reductions in education, where California already ranks near the bottom in spending per student nationwide. Cuts are also proposed to health care which community activists say would kick half a million people of the states Medicaid program. Mitch Jeserich reports.

Patriot Act II
Americans security concerns are becoming increasingly focused on the administrations assault on civil liberties rather than perceived terrorist threats. Federal legislation drafted since 9/11 such as the USA Patriot Act and the recently disclosed Domestic Enhancement Act of 2003, also known as Patriot Act II, have heightened efforts by cities to protect the constitutional rights of their residents. 38 civil rights and constitutional related resolutions have passed to date. 100 more are in the works. Seattle is the most recent city to challenge the Justice Department and reaffirm landmark legislation that prohibits local law enforcement agencies from spying on individuals and organizations. Martha Baskin has the story.

Oil Series: Jamaica
As we continue our FSRN special series examining oil around the world,  today we go to Jamaica. The threat of another war with Iraq has triggered an increase in the price of oil. But the Jamaican Government is working on an energy project that will reduce its dependence on oil. Patrick Scudder reports.

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