May 15, 2003

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Lawsuit Against Gen. Tommy Franks
Relatives of victims of the war on Iraq are poised to file a lawsuit alleging war crimes against commander of the US coalition forces in Iraq, General Tommy Franks. The law suit will be filed under the Belgian Universal Competence Law which allows charges to be brought regardless of where the alleged crimes took place. And as Oula Farawati reports from Amman, Jordanian family members of those killed by the US war believe the incidents against civilians should not be allowed to pass unnoticed.

US Corporation Targeted in Saudi Arabia
On the heels of this weeks bombings of US interests in the Saudi capital Riyadh, one of the targets, the Vinnell Corporation, has come under scrutiny for the role it has played not only in Saudi Arabia, but worldwide. Vinnell has been active in Saudi Arabia for nearly 30 years training the Saudi National Guard, yet, as investigative journalist Pratap Chatterjee tells us, Vinnell has also been linked to the CIA and with the overthrow attempt of the left-wing government of Grenada in the 1980s.

California Budget Crisis
California’s budget deficit continues to spiral out of control, growing by billions due to lower than expected revenue and higher unemployment. Yesterday, Governor Gray Davis proposed sweeping budget revisions. In a major policy shift he suggested borrowing 10 billion dollars and paying it off over five years with a cent increase in the sales taxes. Left unaddressed by his revisions were concerns about deep cuts in social services, while the California Department of Corrections was spared budget scrutiny. Noelle Hanrahan reports from San Francisco.

Cuban 5 Case
As a bipartisan group of eight senators yesterday presented a bill that would reverse crucial elements of the crippling US embargo against Cuba, opening the island up to U.S. tourism and allowing American citizens to spend their dollars there freely, Cuba was dealt a blow by the European Commission which decided to shelve Cuba’s bid to join the so-called Cotonou Agreement, a trade pact that offers economic assistance to more than 70 developing nations. The European Commission cited concerns about the “deterioration of the political situation”. And on the heels of this week’s expulsion of the Cuban diplomats from the US, critics charge the US is pressuring its allies to join their crackdown on Cuba. The Cuban paper Grandma is reporting this week that for the third time, the United States has denied visas to Adriana Pérez O’Connor and Olga Salanueva, the wives of two of the so-called Cuban 5 who were convicted by a Miami court of conspiracy to spy. Our correspondent in Havana Joseph Mutti has the story.

Renewing Peace Process in Guatemala
More than five years after a peace accord ended Guatemala’s civil war, representatives of governments and international organizations that support the peace process have concluded a meeting in Guatemala City with the government. They made a call yesterday for the whole country to renew its commitment to what many have called a stagnated peace process. Catherine Elton has this report from Guatemala City.

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