June 20, 2003

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World Economic Forum
Clashes between protesters and police have broken out in Thessaloniki, Greece, where the European Union summit is being held. 10,000 demonstrators were met by 5,000 police and tear gas. While inside, European leaders endorse a new European Union constitution. Back in Jordan, global participants are flocking to take part in an extraordinary summit for the World Economic Forum on Saturday. High on the agenda, held for the second time in its history outside Davos, Switzerland, for the quartet members – the US, Russia, the UN and the EU – is the middle east process and how it can be salvaged, as it has been battered by days of Israeli and Palestinian violence. Secretary of state Colin Powell who, today accused the Palestinian group Hamas as being ‘the enemy of peace’ is attending the high-profile meeting on Sunday and is also delivering a keynote speech at the World economic forum meeting. Oula Farawati looks into how the US is using what analysts term as “economic pressure” on Arab countries to carry out its policies, no matter how flawed, in the Middle East.

Baltimore Sun Protests
Hundreds of members of the Washington-Baltimore Newspaper Guild rallied outside the headquarters of the Baltimore Sun yesterday in protest of the paper’s proposed new labor agreement. This is the first contract Sun employees have sought from the Tribune Company since the Chicago-based media conglomerate bought the daily newspaper from the Times-Mirror company two years ago. And as John Hamilton reports from Baltimore, many Sun employees fear their company is hoping to consolidate its media empire by squeezing concessions from its workers.

Civil Rights in Benton Harbor
For two days, citizens of Benton Harbor, Michigan took to the streets to protest the death of a young black man, Terrance Shurn, who lost control of his motorcycle during a high-speed chase and died. Benton Harbor, Michigan is over 90% Black, but the officers in this case were White, prompting hundreds of citizens to protest. FSRN talked with Richard Winslow, Director of Civil Rights Group, Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN) about how the residents of Michigan feel.

World Refugee Day
According to United Nations High Commission for Refugees, of the 22 million refugees under their care, 18 million are women and children.  And as events around the globe recognize this day as the third annual United Nations World Refugee Day, refugee organizations in New York City gathered to celebrate the efforts of a young group of refugees trying to educate their peers and the public about the refugee experience in the United States. From Pacifica Station WBAI in New York City, Jackson Allers reports.

International Ministerial Conference
Talks between the United States and the European Union over opening up Europe to genetically modified foods broke down in Geneva this week. Meanwhile, the Bush administration is hosting an international ministerial conference in Sacramento, California this weekend. The conference will touch upon many technology and agricultural issues, one of which includes the promotion of genetically engineered crops to developing countries. The conference will also serve to formulate a complaint by the United States and other countries to the World Trade Organization that the European Union’s moratorium of Genetically Modified Organisms is illegal. The first World Trade Organization related meeting in North America since Seattle in 1999. It is predicted that thousands of demonstrators will protest the conference in Sacramento this weekend. They say Genetically Modified Organisms have not been proven save, and that the conference is part of the Bush administration’s agenda to promote the corporate take over of the Global Food Production. Mitch Jeserich has more from Sacramento.

African “Blood-Stones”
Today, the Pentagon issued what it called a ‘serious terror threat’ in Nairobi, Kenya’s capital city, prompting a closure of the US Embassy in the city. The Pentagon has focused its counter terror activities in Kenya and other countries in the region. Whilst the US concentrates its efforts on this activity, they have turned their backs consistently on another deadly front. Three quarters of the world’s gem diamonds come from Africa. Of these, about 5% come from regions involved in intense civil strife and conflict, including the Democratic Republic of Congo and Liberia. Global activist groups have long argued that this $7 billion a year industry has directly contributed and prolonged many of these conflicts. After years of intense advocacy from these groups, the international diamond industry has finally responded with a scheme to eradicate so-called conflict or blood-stones. But as Brendan Sweeney reports, their remains a number of troubling questions about the effectiveness of the system will be and indeed how transparent the industry will be.


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