October 01, 2003

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Headlines by Nell Abram
Chicago opposes USA Patriot Act — Rita Sand
Superfund goes broke — Kevin Little
Israel to expand fence in Gaza Strip — Mohammed Ghalayini
Buddhist group alledges harassment by Vietnamese — Ngoc Nguyen
Florida extends DNA deadline — Sally Watt

Supreme Court Back in Session
The U.S. Supreme Court is back from recess, and yesterday the Bush administration told the Court that Vice President Dick Cheney’s records on the Energy Task Force should remain confidential. Last month a lower court ruled that the documents should be made public, agreeing with the conservative group Judicial Watch and the Sierra Club that the public has a right to know the genesis of the Bush administration’s energy policy. The Supreme Court also announced it will hear 50 cases in the upcoming session, three of which deal with the death penalty. As Mitch Jeserich reports, one case in particular could over turn dozens of death sentences.

Oakland Riders Acquitted
In one of the most notable police misconduct cases in the Bay Area, four Oakland police officers known as “the riders” were acquitted of conspiracy by a jury yesterday in the county’s longest ever jury trial. The officers were accused of assaulting and falsely persecuting residents in the city’s poorest neighborhoods. After 56 days of deliberation, the jurors returned a not guilty verdict on 8 counts and were unable to agree on the remaining 27 charges, prompting the presiding judge to call a mistrial. KPFA’s Tori Taylor reports from Oakland.

Colombian Amnesty for Paramilitaries?
Yesterday Colombia’s President Alvaro Uribe Velez addressed the UN General Assembly in New York where he defended his amnesty proposal for the right wing paramilitary group, the United Self Defense Forces of Colombia or the AUC. If passed, the amnesty would allow paramilitary leaders on trial to pay in cash as retribution for crimes committed against humanity instead of receiving prison sentences. Last July, factions of the AUC, often accused of working alongside the Colombian army, agreed to a ceasefire and to demobilize13,000 combatants by 2005. Yet last week, one AUC group broke the cease-fire as it battled a dissident front. The combat forced more than 700 campesinos to flee the region. From Colombia’s North-west region of Apartado, Nicole Karsin has more on Uribe’s proposed paramilitary amnesty

FTAA March to Miami
Members of a labor-environmentalist alliance are busing across the nation, recruiting activists for a march to Miami, site of the hemispheric ‘Free Trade Area of the Americas’ (FTAA) talks in November. The Alliance for Sustainable Jobs and the Environment is targeting environmental destruction and oppressive working conditions that they say will only increase if the FTAA talks result in an agreement between governments. Leigh Robartes caught up with the alliance at a stop in Spokane, Washington yesterday, and files this report.

FDA Rejects Cheaper Drugs from Canada
Springfield Mayor Michael Albano is in the spotlight as he yesterday began a campaign to have the city of Springfield divest monies from drug companies that he accuses of manipulating markets to protect high prices in the United States. Albano is asking the Springfield Retirement Board to sell all the city pension investments in drug stocks, representing about $6 million, or 2.6 percent of the $223 million fund. This as last week, Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich flew to Washington to press the Food and Drug Administration to reverse its policy prohibiting state and local governments from importing drugs from Canada, where prices are 30 to 50 percent lower than drugs in the United States. But the FDA has rejected his request, saying they can’t guarantee the safety of Canadian drugs. Meanwhile, yesterday drug store giant Walgreen’s announced record profits — largely driven by increased spending on prescription drugs. Chris Geovanis reports from Chicago.


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