June 27, 2003

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Headlines: Produced by Randi Zimmerman.
Cease Fire Agreement in Mideast
Talks between India and China Binu Alex reports.
Bush Vs. Overtime John Hamilton reports.
Soft Money Campaign Ellen Ratner reports.
NYC School Funding Affects People of Color Ama Buodi.

Medicare Bill Before Conference Committee
11 Democrats this morning voted against a Medicare prescription drug bill saying that it held only “empty promises” for senior citizens. This as the Medicare bill is now behind closed doors in Congress, having passed through both chambers of Congress it is now up to the Conference Committee to hash out the differences in the bill. Democrats accuse Republicans of trying to privatize Medicare. Host Deepa Fernandes spoke with Mark Weisbrot is the co- director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research.

Oil in Chad
President Bush yesterday called for Liberian president Charles Taylor to step down while various media reports today are suggesting there is a possibility of US troops being sent to the African nation. With Bush scheduled to travel to Africa next month, many Africa policy experts are questioning this sudden public US interest in the African continent, Bush yesterday also pledged about $US100 million to help Kenya and other countries fight terrorism and told African business executives that trade is the most powerful engine for fighting poverty on the continent. Oil exploitation in Africa is undoubtedly one area that the Bush Administration is tapping into, with ongoing controversy regarding projects in Angola, Nigeria, Equatorial Guinea, Congo Brazzaville and Sudan. However, in Chad, where significant reserves of oil have been found in the south of the country, a new World Bank-sponsored approach has been adopted for the Chad-Cameroon oil pipeline, which will go into operation later this year. Chad is a very poor country, where 75% of the population go without access to health-care or potable water, and with an annual capita income of $230. So any oil revenue accrued by the government could be of massive benefit to the nation. Yet, controversy nevertheless rages over the social and environmental impact of the project. Rupert Cook reports.

Kashmiri Voices Forgotten in Conflict
In meetings between President George Bush and Pakistani president General Pervez Musharraf at Camp David this week, the two presidents have focused on the need for bilateral talks between India and Pakistan. The US announced that Musharraf has committed to “a hundred percent effort” to stop cross border terrorism, which India accuses Pakistan of perpetrating across the shared border into Kashmir. But as preparations continue for talks between India and Pakistan, Kashmiri separatist groups are demanding a seat at the table. They insist Kashmir is not a part of either India or Pakistan. The Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front, one of the leading separatist organizations in Kashmir, has started a campaign to involve the voices of the Kashmiri people. Shahnawaz Khan reports.

Racism Dictates City Construction Contracts
Yesterday, black representatives of Seattle’s construction industry and community allies, held a demonstration in front of the city’s mass transit agency, Sound Transit, to protest the way in which federally funded contracts are awarded. Members of the group say the that over 97% of the city’s construction contracts go to white, male owned companies, pointing to a “pattern and practice” of discrimination. Members of Seattle’s Black Contractors Assoc. call the problem systemic, and say it is totally unacceptable. If the issues are not addressed, the group threatens to shut down job sites, one at a time. Correspondent Martha Baskin has the story from Seattle.

IMF Pressures Turkey
The International Monetary Fund is stepping up its pressure on Turkey to privatize its economy. Speaking at an economic forum in Mediterranean port Antalya Tuesday, the IMF’s Turkey Representative Odd Per Brekk demanded Turkey act more quickly to restructure its economy as it tries to pay off the country’s more than $100 billion debt. Even before the new IMF pressure, Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party had already decided to freeze wages and speed up the country’s privatization process. But as Ezgi Saritas reports from Izmir, trade unions are taking to the streets in protest


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