October 21, 2003

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Free Speech Radio News Headlines by Randi Zimmerman
Historic Deficit
Today the Bush administration was proud of new numbers showing the federal deficit is lower than what was predicted.  Yet, the $374.2 billion dollar figure is the largest deficit in the history of the United States.  Bush administration officials say the deficit is mostly due to the so-called war on terrorism.  An official with the White House office of Budget and Management says next year, the deficit will be even larger at around $500 billion.
Congress to Give Business Advantage – Craig Murphey
Consumers who join together in class action lawsuits may face a greater challenge as Congress looks to give big business more leverage.
Protestors Heard at CAFTA – Renee Feltz
Protestors are actually being heard at the 8th round of negotiations for the Central American Free Trade Agreement or CAFTA.
Toxic US Navy Ships – Kellia Ramares
The Bush Administration has agreed to halt its export of toxic Navy ships pending further environmental review.  Meanwhile 4 other vessels are on their way to England.

More Workers, Less Health Insurance
A growing number of workers in big companies are without insurance. The report released by the Commonwealth Fund says that 32 percent of all uninsured workers in 2001 work for companies with more than 500 employees. One of the study’s authors says that as the U.S. government is offering incentives for small and midsize companies to encourage employer supported health benefits, large numbers of workers may actually be left behind.  Besides rising health care costs, the study also blames fewer union jobs and changing corporate structures that rely more heavily on temporary and part time workers.

Scathing report on US aggression in Iraq  (3:43)
Human Rights Watch released a report today suggesting there have been 94 credible reports of civilian deaths in Baghdad since President Bush declared an end of major combat in May. Human Rights Watch says excessive and indiscriminate force by the U.S. Military has caused 20 confirmed deaths. The human rights organization charges the U.S. Military with not conducting proper investigations into the incidences. And as Mitch Jeserich reports from Capitol Hill, it is unlikely the report will spur Congressional investigations either.

Bush in South East Asia  (2:09)
Yesterday the US budget deficit figures were released showing a record high deficit which many attribute to the massive increase in military spending to fund the so-called war on terrorism, which critics note will be the burden worn by generations to come. This as on his Southeast Asian tour, President Bush has been meeting with world leaders of the region at the 11th Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation summit, which closed in the Thai capital. The 21 members reaffirmed commitments to free trade, while the larger countries, such as the US and Australia, called for a greater commitment to fight global terrorism.  From Bangkok, Doualy Xaykaothao has more.

Pakistanis deported from Canada to the US  (4:19)
Currently in Montreal there are hundreds of Pakistani refugees facing deportation to the United States and Pakistan in the coming days, weeks and months. These Pakistani refugees who are mainly Shi’ia Muslim, fleeing religious persecution in Pakistan, are organizing to fight against the efforts of Citizenship and Immigration Canada to deport them. Today one Pakistani family with three children is scheduled for deportation to the US, their case has become a defining point in the fight to stop Pakistani deportations in Montreal. Stefan Christoff reports.

Bolivia’s next challenges  (4:12)
Despite the Bolivian people’s victory in ousting their president, it remains uncertain whether Bolivia’s new government, under President Carlos Mesa, will be able maintain power. Some challenges that the new government is facing include redrafting the constitution to include and respect Bolivia’s indigenous peoples who make up 70 percent of the population, confronting government corruption and the addressing the recent massacres of protestors committed by the army. However as Nicole Karsin reports from La Paz, perhaps the greatest obstacle right now is how the government will deal with free trade and neoliberal projects which the majority of Bolivian people have demonstrated they firmly oppose.

US attack on women’s rights continues  (4:07)
Barbara Boxer: “People don’t realize that our conferee’s just tossed out the support of Roe v Wade without really a discussion”
The first new federal restrictions on abortion in 30 years, legislation to ban late term abortions, also known by proponents as partial birth abortion, which, as we go to air, the Senate is set to vote on. It is expected to pass the Senate.
Boxer: “ What this really is about is overturning Roe…”

This as last month the State Department cut off funding for a British non-governmental organization doing family planning work in China, among other places. In response, half a dozen international public health groups took the unprecedented step of refusing their own US funding. The groups say it’s an ideological battle over abortion, which has repercussions for the health of poor people around the world. From New York, Josh Chaffin reports on some of the lessons public health groups have learned from taking a stand.


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