April 29, 2003

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Detainee Dealt Set-back
Dealing a setback to civil liberties groups,  a divided U.S. Supreme Court today upheld a law requiring that legal immigrants who commit certain crimes in the US to be detained in prison while awaiting their deportation hearings. The high court sided with the U.S. Justice Department and rejected a constitutional challenge to a 1996 law that provides for detention of criminal immigrants during deportation proceedings. The justices reversed a U.S. appeals courts ruling that keeping immigrants in custody without a hearing to determine their flight risk and their dangerousness violated their constitutional due process rights. The Justice Department said more than 75,000 criminal non-citizens have been detained under the law. It applied to thousands of criminal immigrants in custody and to hundreds of others for whom deportation proceedings begin each week. Meanwhile, in Portland Oregon Mike Hawash, the Arab-American detained in solidarity as a material witness, has now been linked to the Portland 6 and charged with conspiring to go to Afghanistan to fight US troops. Lisa Hamid reports.

SARS Serves Big Business Interests?
Paranoia and fear are sweeping the world as a global outbreak of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, or  SARS, gathers momentum. The virus has killed over 300 people worldwide and infected more than 5200. China reports over 3000 cases and Hong Kong over 1500. News agencies across the planet have fueled economic isolation of the far east. The World Health Organization has issued travel advisories and suggesting extreme quarantine and decontamination programs, while urging increased screening at borders for travelers entering and leaving countries impacted by the disease. Yet as Stephen Gehlbach reports from KPFA, there are those who claim the outbreak is being manipulated for other means.

DynCorp Polices Iraq
As we reported in the headlines, US troops shot and killed fifteen and injure 500 Iraqi civilians celebrating Saddam Hussein’s 66th birthday last night, in a town of just outside of Baghdad. This as in Baghdad, around 250 Iraqi delegates continue to meet with Jay Garner, the retired US general running Iraq, while thousands of angry Shiites rallied calling for a say in running their country.  Meanwhile as the reconstruction of Iraq gets underway, DynCorp, a multi-billion dollar private military company, began recruiting for a contract to police Iraq a full week before the contract was awarded. Despite premature reporting by several media outlets, the State Department did not officially award the contract until last Friday. State Department sources refuse to divulge who or even how many companies DynCorp competed with. Under the $50 million contract, DynCorp is licensed to send up to 1,150 officers to train and advise Iraqi police. Karem Said reports from KPFT in Houston.

FCC Hearings in Los Angeles
Hundreds gathered in a University of Southern California hall yesterday to discuss FCC chair Michael Powell’s intention of loosening long-standing regulations on media ownership. Only 1 FCC member showed up yesterday, and left to catch a plane during public comment, promising to review the tape. Patrick Burke was at the hearing, and files this report.

First Nations Gather in Protest
Yesterday over 1000 First Nations people from across Canada converged in the nation’s capital to protest against new legislation that, they say, will undermine their rights. Many had traveled thousands of miles to rally on Ottawa’s Parliament Hill. Kristin Schwartz has the story from Toronto.

Great African Drummer Remembered
Arguably the best African drummer to grace the world stage in the last century, Michael Babatunde Olatunji was celebrated yesterday at New York’s legendary Riverside Church in a funeral that saw few tears. Ian Forrest was there.

VAT Comes to India
Value Added Tax, popularly known as VAT, is in force in more than 120 countries  including European Union member states, the UK, most of Asia-Pacific, some African nations, Canada, and Australia. Only the USA and India were among the more populous countries to not have a VAT. But after more than 20 years of lobbying by the Corporate world and the IMF, India recently adopted VAT. Experts say, this is going to have long lasting ripples in the Indian economy. From New Delhi in India, our correspondent, Vinod K. Jose reports.


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