November 24, 2003

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Headlines by Randi Zimmerman
Today, Georgia’s interim president has pledged quick elections — in 45 days. On Sunday Eduard Shevardnadze resigned. For decades Georgia’s government has been marred by charges of corruption that culminated in accusations of fraudulent elections three weeks ago. Some observers say Shevardnadze’s resignation marks the beginning of the new era for Georgia with young leaders committed to democracy without ties to the old Soviet Republic. Professor Ronald Suny at the University of Chicago is a specialist in the politics and history of Georgia. …quote. As part of the planned pipeline running from the Black Sea to Turkey, U.S. foreign policy interests critically watch Georgia.

8-million American workers now stand to lose their right to overtime pay, according to the Economic Policy Institute now that Congress bowed to Bush administration pressure. From the Worker’s Independent News Service, John Hamilton reports.

People living with AIDS and their supporters marched in D.C. today calling for a re-ordering of priorities on federal spending. Darby Hickey was there.

The FBI is collecting information about tactics and training used by anti-war protesters as part of their expanded powers under the so-called Patriot Act. Brandi Howell reports from D.C.

(Two stories cut for time)
Environmental groups charge the so-called “Healthy Forests” initiative is a gift to the timber industry and will ultimately fail to protect communities. Leigh Robartes reports. ***(We didn’t have time to run this story, if you want a copy of it click here)***

In Texas, protestors supported the rally of 10,000 people who demand the closure of the School of the Americas, by holding their own vigil outside another facility. Stephan Wray reports from Austin. ***(We also didn’t have time to run this story, if you want a copy of it click here)***

Geneva Accords
After two years of secret talks between Palestinian and Israeli public figures, a peace proposal known as the Geneva Accords, has emerged – three million copies of the plan are to be distributed amongst Israeli and Palestinian families across Israel and the Occupied Territories. The plan will be presented to Nelson Mandela and former US presidents Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton in Geneva next week. The Geneva Accords detail an end to the Intifada by removing Jewish Settlements in the Occupied territories to pave the way for a Palestinian state, and agreements on the Palestinian right of return and the future of Jerusalem. Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has already denounced the plan calling the Israeli Negotiators traitors. This as thousands of Palestinians rallied in Gaza on Friday also denouncing the accords. Irris Makler has more from Jerusalem.

FTAA Arrests and Aftermath
The Free Trade Area of the Americas, (FTAA) meetings in Miami were marked by unprecedented police mobilization and violence, when as many as 125 Peaceful protesters were injured, while around 200 were arrested. The police security arrangements, which used 2,500 members of 40 departments, cost as much as $50,000 in new equipment alone and took six months to arrange, according to newspaper reports. Meanwhile, American civil Liberties groups yesterday denounced the FBI for using new counter-terrorist powers to spy on anti-war demonstrations. The FBI claims that this use of surveillance of the anti-war movement was necessary to prevent protests being used as a cover by ‘extremist elements’ of by terrorist organizations to mount an attack. The civil liberties groups were quick to point to an FBI memorandum on anti-war demonstrations distributed last month to local police forces which suggests that federal agents have also been monitoring mobilization techniques used by opponents of the war in Iraq. WORT’s Norm Stockwell reports on the arrests and the aftermath.

Medicare Debacle Continued
The Medicare bill in Congress is a step closer towards becoming law, as an attempted filibuster against it failed in the Senate. Senate Democratic leader Tom Daschle says he’ll support further attempts to defeat the bill with parliamentary procedures, though many people following the measure consider it a long shot. President Bush says he’ll will sign the bill – that would include prescription drug coverage in Medicare. But opponents to the measure say it is the beginning of the end of the Nation’s only nationalized health care program. Mitch Jeserich reports from Capitol Hill.

Viet Nam US relations
A US Naval ship, flying the Vietnamese flag, sailed into Ho Chi Minh City port last week. The visit — the first by a US vessel since the end of the war – follows a landmark meeting between Vietnam’s Defense Minister Pham Van Tra and US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld earlier in the month. According to Reuters, the US ambassador to Vietnam, Raymond Burghardt said the historic four-day port call shows that the worlds “former foes can be friends.” While the United States and Vietnam forge new military contacts, the return of more and more American Vietnam War veterans to the country is helping former foes meet again. Ngoc Nguyen reports from Hanoi.

Army School of the Americas protests
This weekend close to 10,000 people gathered outside the gates to Fort Benning, Georgia to call for the closing of the Army School of the Americas. Recently renamed the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation, the school trains Latin American military personnel in Counter-insurgency tactics – which demonstrators say are responsible for human rights abuses across latin America. Many of the demonstrators present at the annual march on the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation had also participated in the protests held against the Free Trade Area of the Americas meeting in Miami, FL and drew connections between the violence of the United States military and that of US economic policies. Laurel Paget-Seekins was there and files this report.

Turks Reacts to Bombing
The series of bombings which hit Istanbul last week killed some 50 people and injured hundreds more. Turkish prosecutors brought charges against 18 men the authorities identify as accomplices to the suicide bombings. This as Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has assured Turks the country will not be de-stabilized by the attacks. Ozlem Salidiz reports on how Turks are reacting to these attacks one week later.


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