December 30, 2003

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Ashcroft Recuses Self from Leak
John Ashcroft’s top deputy announced today that the Attorney General is recusing himself from the investigation of a White House staffer or staffers who leaked the name of a CIA operative.  Ashcroft was criticized for a possible of conflict of interest in the matter — charging he would be unable to thoroughly investigate the Bush White House.
Others claimed his close ties to Presidential political advisor Karl Rove make him impartial.  The Justice Department is investigating who leaked the name of a CIA operative – a federal offense.  The name of the agent was leaked to the press after her husband discredited Bush claims that Iraq had nuclear weapons.
Canada and USDA Moving on Mad Cow Investigation
Today Canadian officials are performing their DNA testing hoping to confirm the origin of one of the two cows found in Washington Sate with mad cow disease.  Leigh Robartes has more.
Death Toll in Iran from Earthquake
The expected death toll in Bam, Iran is climbing from 30-thousand to a possible 50-thousand.  Mahdis Keshavarz reports from Qazvin, Iran.
Increase Nursing Staff Law in CA
On New Year’s Day, California’s first in the nation Safe Staffing law will go into effect, requiring all hospitals in the state to comply with minimum nurse to patient staffing ratios. More from Kellia Ramares in Oakland.
Corporate Crime Report
Today the organization Corporate Crime Reporter listed the top 100 settlements reached by US corporations with the US government for making false claims.  Approximately 50-percent of the companies are from the health and pharmaceutical business.  25-percent of the companies are defense contractors.  Russell Mohkiber is the senior editor of the report.  Also the Associated Press reported today, the U.S. Energy Department paid out 330-million dollars to reimburse private contractors for legal bills that included sexual harassment suits, wrongful terminations, and false settlement claims listed in the Corporate Crime Reporter investigation.

Orange Alert Curbs Civil Rights  (3:52)
Today Secretary of Homeland Security, Tom Ridge, announced that the nation will remain at a code orange level alert at least through the end of this week.  This comes just a day after Secretary Ridge announced emergency regulations that are not subject to a comment period that allows the United States to require some international airliners to have an armed marshal on board.  Ridge said the U.S. might deny landing by an aircraft if it does not comply with the arbitrary order.  Secretary Ridge also urged the public to look for suspicious behavior that could be related to terrorist activities.  This concerns some civil rights groups who say the public hysteria of Orange Alert can result in the racial profiling of people who look Middle Eastern. Mitch Jeserich reports.

Guatemalan Presidential Elections  (4:15)
A conservative businessman and former Guatemala City mayor will be Guatemala’s next president. He was declared the winner of Sunday’s elections on the seventh anniversary of the end of Guatemala’s decades long civil war.  Catherine Elton has more on this story from Guatemala City.

Pakistan Shuffles Political Powers  (4:05)
Pakistan’s parliament has voted General Pervez Musharraf President – giving him extraordinary powers including the authority to dissolve the elected government.  In return, Musharraf agreed to step down as army chief by the end of 2004.  The deal would allow the US-backed leader to serve out his term as president, which ends in 2007.  But many in Pakistan say the new law undermines their sovereignty. Masror Hussain reports from Pakistan.

Vietnam’s Economy  (3:50)
This year international business leaders gathered in Southeast Asia and met with world leaders such as US president George Bush, Japan’s Prime Minister Jonichiro Koizumi, Russian President Vladimir Putin, and South Korean President Roh Muh-Hyun to strategize economic opportunities in the region.  Such strategies often exclude poor nation such as Vietnam. Vietnam is making its own economic transition, hoping to join the ranks of these first world nations. And as Ngoc Nguyen and Aaron Glantz report from Ho Chi Minh City, they’re getting help from a team of American lawyers who are re-writing the country’s laws.

Senegalese Farmers Ignite Corn Revolution  (3:39)
Trade ministers from the Americas met in Miami last week to discuss plans to complete negotiations on free trade of the Americas in the western hemisphere in the hands of corporations. Failed talks in Cancun in September forced Senegalese farmers to spark a corn revolution. From Senegal, Ndiaga Seck reports.


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