November 13, 2003

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Senate Passes Syrian Accountability Act  (3:51)
A leaked C.I.A. report warns that a growing number of Iraqis are supporting the U.S. resistance in the occupied country. The report indicated that more Iraqis are beginning to believe that U.S. lead forces can be defeated. This comes as today President Bush announced he is sending the top U.S. administrator in Baghdad Paul Bremer back to Iraq to develop a plan to expedite establishing an Iraqi government. Meanwhile spending on the military continues to increase as well. Before the U.S. Senate began its 30-hour so called “Talkathon”, it passed a 401 billion dollar Defense Appropriation, which is more money than the Department of Defense originally requested. The appropriation includes increased health coverage for soldiers and 9.1 billion dollars for missile defense programs. Also this week the Senate passed the Syria Accountability Act, which slaps new sanctions on Syria, which some people see as a first step to broader escalations. Mitch Jeserich has more from Washington D.C.

Wal-Mart Hit with Lawsuits  (3:29)
Today Wal-Mart reported record sales and earnings in the third quarter of 2003 – this despite a number of high-profile lawsuits charging the company with a range of labor law violations. Over the past week alone, the retailer has been hit with two class-action lawsuits alleging that store managers routinely forced employees to work off the clock; another lawsuit seeks class action status to represent immigrant workers who say they were denied the most basic of labor rights. John Hamilton has more.

EU Social Forum Kicks Off  (3:36)
Some 60 000 people from Europe and around the world are expected to come to the European Social forum in Paris  this weekend which will follow on from past forum’s in Porto Alegre, Brazil.  The World Social Forum gave birth to the popular slogan “another world is possible”. While a European constitution is being drafted, the forum will propose alternatives to the current construction of the European Union. The European Social Forum organizes have criticized both right and left wing French politicians who they say are trying to get mileage out of the forum. Raphaël Krafft reports from Paris.

FTAA to Strangle Media Freedoms  (3:49)
Next week in Miami, Trade ministers from 34 countries throughout the Americas will meet to advance the proposed Free Trade of Americas Area. This free trade agreement will further open up new markets for multinational corporations, but critics charge this expansion will come at the expense of diversity and autonomy at the national level. One of the many issues the FTAA will significantly affect is media regulation. Under the proposed rules of the FTAA, as well as WTO rules, media consolidation will grow even bigger, and allow the corporate media to expand throughout the Americas. Such rules would make it impossible for countries to roll-back failed policies that have been put in place, safeguard existing policies, or even institute media reform. From Madison, Patrick Beckett has the story.

Global Power Exposed: Part 14: Prisons for Profit  (4:24)
Yesterday U.S. Rep. Pete Hoekstra and West Michigan furniture makers won a 350-65 House approved bill granting private companies access to prison labor for the federal government’s furniture contracts. Currently the Federal Prison Industry, an agency under the Department of Justice’s Federal Bureau of Prisons, employs more than 21,000 prisoners and netted $678.7 million in 2002. And as Simba Russeau reports in part 14 of our special series looking at the corporations profiting from the global roll back of civil liberties, the private sector of the prison industry is cashing in on laws established to maintain what critics call a profitable slave market and clientele base.


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