December 11, 2003

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Free Speech Radio News Headlines by Randi Zimmerman
No Iraqi Death Count
Iraqi civilian deaths from the U.S. led invasion and occupation will no longer be counted, according to the Associated Press. The Iraqi health minister denied the allegation. Yet the head of the Iraqi Ministry of Health’s statistics department made the comment to an AP reporter, saying the order had come down from the US-led Coalition Provisional Authority. The ministry issued a preliminary number of 1-thousand, seven hundred and 64 Iraqi deaths during the summer. According to Pentagon officials, 115 U.S. soldiers were killed during the invasion. 195 died since President Bush announced that the hostilities ended. 85 so-called coalition forces have also been killed in Iraq.
Iraqi Trade Unions Crushed
Trade union federations around the world are protesting the treatment of Iraq’s fledgling trade union movement at the hands of the US-led Coalition Provisional Authority. From the Workers Independent News Service, John Hamilton has more.
Israeli Military Raid in Gaza
The Israeli occupation army has conducted its largest raid into the southern Gaza strip town of Rafah since early October. Mohammed Ghalayini reports from Gaza City.
Lional Tate Gets New Trial
A 16-year-old African American boy sentenced to life in prison with no possibility of parole for killing a 6-year-old playmate when he was 12 is entitled to a new trial. From WMNF in Tampa, Mitch Perry reports.

US Defends Decision on Iraq Contracts  (1:15)
CNN is reporting that 300 of the 700 members of the new Iraqi army have resigned. The reasons given by a representative of the US Administration in Iraq were unhappiness with the terms, conditions and pay and with the instructions of the commanding officers. Meanwhile there is more criticism today of the White House decision to bar opponents of the invasion of Iraq from reconstruction contracts. UN Chief Kofi Annan said the United States is hurting efforts to build a consensus on rebuilding post-invasion Iraq. The policy effectively shuts out Russia, France, Germany and Canada – as well as many other nations. President Bush says he hopes those nations will still forgive Iraq’s debt burden. Joining us now is Rania Masri is the co-director of the Campaign to Stop the War Profiteers and End the Corporate Invasion of Iraq at the Institute for Southern Studies.

Does Campaign-Finance Decision Go Far Enough?  (3:44)
A report released today called the Color of Money shows that approximately 9 out of 10 people who make economic political campaign contributions are affluent Caucasians. The authors of the report say that privately financed elections are disenfranchising ethnic minorities while providing disproportionate power and access to wealthy and predominately white neighborhoods. The report comes just a day after the U.S. Supreme Court upheld two of the major provisions in the McCain-Fiengold campaign finance law that prohibits the donations of soft money to political parties.  Though campaign finance organizations applaud the decision, they say there still exists many other ways for corporations to fill the pockets of politicians. Mitch Jeserich reports.

US Denying Worker Rights  (3:32)
Making the case that workers’ rights are human rights, hundreds of unionists from around the country marked Human Rights Day on the steps of the Labor Department yesterday. The internationally-recognized holiday commemorates the anniversary of the signing of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, a document that states unequivocally that everyone has the right to form and join a trade union for the protection of his or her interests. According to the many union members in attendance at yesterday’s rally, the Bush administration is denying US workers that human right. Sarah Turner reports from Washington.

French Commission: Ban Headscarves  (4:03)
In France today, a state commission released its findings on issues relating to religion and the state, recommending a ban on Islamic headscarves in schools as well as Jewish skull caps and large Christian crosses. France’s Muslim population is around 5 million, the largest Islamic population in Europe. French president, Jacques Chirac will announce next week whether he supports the commission’s recommendations on the question of French secularism. Zeenat Hansrod has more from Paris.

Texas StaysThree Executions  (3:51)
Five Texas Death Row prisoners were set to die in a two-week period, but only two were carried out. As Renee Feltz reports from KFPT, three stays of execution this week resulted from a variety of pressures on the state known as the death penalty capital of the world.

Humanitarian Exchange in Colombia?  (3:25)
Gearing up for International Human Rights Day, yesterday 25 relatives of people kidnapped by Colombia’s largest guerrilla group took over Bogotá’s main Cathedral in a pacific action, demanding that the government begin negotiations to free their loved ones. Most are families of policemen and soldiers who have been held as prisoners of war, many for five or six years, by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or the FARC. The FARC are holding dozens of political prisoners, soldiers, policemen, politicians and 3 US Defense contractors, whom they want to exchange for guerrillas held in government jails, in what in Colombia is referred to as a humanitarian exchange. From Bogotá, Nicole Karsin has more.


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