June 06, 2003

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Sierra Leone Indictment – A Step Towards Peace?
This Wednesday, the Special Court for Sierra Leone unsealed an indictment  against Liberian President Charles Taylor, while he was attending a peace conference in Ghana. Taylor is perhaps the biggest figure indicted by the court thus far. He is accused of actively coordinating and funding the activities of rebel Revolutionary United Front (RUF) during Sierra Leone’s decade long civil war. However, as Brendan Sweeney reports, the Taylor indictment could potentially further plunge a war ravaged region into more fighting, as the last two days – the aftermath of the indictment – have shown, the Taylor government has resisted an unsuccessful coup attempt and increased activity by the country’s main rebel group.

SF Protests Against Bechtel
Activists in the San Francisco bay area wrapped up 4 days of action against Bechtel, a corporation that they claim is profiting greatly from the U.S. led bombing campaign against Iraq. With over 20, 000 projects in a 140 nations,  Bechtel is one of the worlds largest engineering and construction firms. In 2002, Bechtel earned 11.6 billion dollars in revenue, and most recently Bechtel received one of the first and largest of the rebuilding contracts in Iraq worth $680 million over 18 months. Sarah Olson reports from the week-long protests against Bechtel.

Turkey on Path to Joining EU
European Union justice minister’s agreed today to sign an extradition deal with the US, a move that has alarmed human rights advocates. The deal has been in negotiations for nearly one year and also includes accords that will allow U.S. and EU police officers to set up joint investigation teams and share evidence and information in crime and terrorism cases. Meanwhile, the Turkish foreign minister Abdulah Gul declared that Turkey will not wait for the approval of the military in order to pass a reform package that was required of Turkey as a condition for EU membership. As Ezgi Saritas reports from Ankara, the ruling Justice and Development party seems to be more courageous in challenging the long-standing military dominance of Turkish politics because of the growing EU support.

Al-Arian Loses Bid for Quick Trial
A prominent anti-Castro Cuban who has been in the US for 36 was arrested this week for being out of status. Ramon Saul Sanchez, director of the anti-Castro group Democracy Movement said he never applied for permanent residency – which he was supposed to do one year after arriving in the US – because he claims he was a political refugee. However Sanchez, unlike the vast majority of non-immigrants arrested since 9-11, has not been held in custody awaiting trail, he was allowed to go the same day and must appear before an immigration judge on September 23. Meanwhile, also in Florida, former University of South Florida Professor Sami Al-Arian lost his bid for an immediate trial, meaning he could spend the next 18 months in jail before his case is heard.  Federal Judge James Moody ruled yesterday that Al-Arian, Sammy Hammadouh, Haten Naji Raiz and Ghassan Zayed Ballut who were all indicted in February as U.S. operatives of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, will not go to trial until January 2005. WMNF’s Kristen Friend-Weaver reports.

Office Max Targeted by Environmentalists
Shareholders of the Office Max corporation got a bit of a surprise at a shareholders meeting in Cleveland, Ohio yesterday as a national coalition of environmental activists circled Office Max’s headquarters with a banner accusing the nation’s third largest office supply retailer of environmental irresponsibility. Evan Davis has this report.

Controversy Over Community Center in S. Dakota
Controversy over a planned community center on South Dakota’s Pine Ridge Reservation erupted into violence last week outside a meeting of the Oglala Sioux Tribal Council. Wounded Knee community members – mostly women – and their invited guests, allege that they were verbally abused and assaulted when they attempted to ask the tribal council about the fate of their independently financed community center. Free Speech Radio correspondent Jim Kent spoke with members of the Wounded Knee community, their non-tribal guests and representatives of the Oglala Sioux tribe and files this report.


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