July 01, 2003

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Free Speech Radio News Headlines
300-Thousand People in Hong Kong Protest Anti-Subversion Laws
United Nations Treaty Protects the rights of Migrant Workers – Susan Wood
Police in Nigeria React to General Strike – Sam Olukoya
New Generations of US Weapons – Pamela Barnett
EPA censored Clean Air proposal – Ellen Ratner

Aceh Situation Worsens (3:39)
Reports are emerging today that the Indonesian army has begun aerial strikes on the province of Aceh where the population has been living under martial law for close to two months now. While the BBC and Reuters today place the death toll at 300, Acehenese say there are many bodies in refugee camps and in the jungle that are not being counted. This as today Indonesian President Megawati Sukarnoputri advocated the use of East-Timor style militia groups saying such groups of civilians deserved “fair space” to defend themselves. As Deepa Fernandes reports, the Indonesian military has been providing these militia groups with weapons and other support.

California Is Budget-Less (3:55)
Today marks a new fiscal year, and several states are without a budget. Lawmakers in Oregon, New Hampshire and Connecticut approved short-term spending plans allowing their governments to operate while debate continued,  while residents in Nevada and New Jersey began the year without a new budget. In California, which has the largest state budget deficit in the history of the United States, lawmakers have reached an impasse in negotiating whether to raise taxes or cut further in state spending to level out a 38 billion dollar budget deficit. Without a budget, the state’s community colleges may have to shut their doors, k-12 education will lose up to 400 million dollars, and almost 300 thousand state employees could have their wages reduced to minimum wage until a budget is agreed upon.  As Mitch Jeserich reports, it will likely be the poor and the non-profits that serve the poor who will most acutely feel the effects.

Murder In Gujarat (4:12)
After the worst religious violence in India since Partition between Hindus and Muslims that occurred in March 2002, where more than a thousand, mostly Muslims, were killed, a court ruled this past weekend that in one particular case where some 14 Muslims were burned alive in a bakery, that no one was guilty. All the accused were acquitted and in what could become a precedent for other cases being investigated, human rights groups say the eyewitnesses were bought off to change their stories. As Binu Alex reports from Vadodara, in the western Indian state of Gujarat, Muslims fear this decision will set a precedent whereby no one is brought to justice for the massacres.

Workers Demand Preservation of Labor Standards (3:46)
Yesterday 200 workers took to the steps of the Labor Department in Washington DC to demand the government preserve the Fair Labor Standards Act. In 1938, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt signed the Fair Labor Standards Act, outlawing child labor, establishing a minimum wage, and enshrining into law the forty-hour work week. Since then, generations of Americans have qualified for time-and-a-half pay whenever their employers required them to work overtime. But as John Hamilton reports, that could soon change for millions of workers if the US Department of Labor proceeds with its plans to revise the Act.

Deadline in US Exemption Pact for ICC (3:50)
Today is the US imposed deadline for countries to sign immunity pacts for US citizens before the International Criminal Court. Under the “American Servicemembers Protection Act” (ASPA), the US has threatened to cut military assistance to non-US allies  if they do not sign a exemption pact. Several Balkan countries are finding themselves caught between the EU and the US in the row over the International Criminal Court, which came into being last July. The Hague based ICC is the world’s first permanent court to try cases of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity, and has been ratified to date by 89 countries. The US has been stepping up a worldwide campaign seeking exemption deals for its citizens from prosecution by the ICC, apparently for fear of politically motivated prosecution. At their recent Washington summit, the EU and US agreed to disagree on the ICC issue – while a US deadline for Serbia and Montenegro to sign an agreement exempting US citizens from ICC provisions runs out on today. Sputnik Kilambi reports.

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