January 12, 2004

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The U.S. government is getting serious about their plans to obtain and store vast amounts of personal information on all air travelers, even U.S. citizens and others with valid residency papers. More from D.C.

Will the death penalty in NY State Courts require more than “reasonable doubt” to carry a death sentence? From WBAI in New York, Ian Forrest reports.

A University of Idaho doctoral student from Saudi Arabia faces new charges of providing material support to terrorists by maintaining websites. One of his attorney’s says he’ll plead innocent. Leigh Robartes reports from Idaho.

Guatemala’s highest court ordered the government to stop payments to former civil patrollers, who some say are responsible for human rights atrocities. From Guatemala City, Catherine Elton reports.

President Bush will be in Monterrey, Mexico today supposedly to discuss with his Latin American counterparts how to benefit the poor and develop democracy. However, Bush has scheduled closed-door bi-lateral meetings with some of the hemisphere’s more friendly although still left leaning leaders in Chile and Brazil. At this time, there is no scheduled meeting with populist President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela, a major US oil supplier. Chavez is also leading the growing consensus among developing nations to fight U.S. economic dominance and create trade partnerships with terms more favorable to home based groups rather than U.S. or European based multinationals. Analysts say this is a chance for Bush to mend fences with President Vicente Fox of Mexico, who the U.S. president distanced after the invasion of Iraq.

Bush plotted Iraq war in Jan 2001
President Bush was plotting the war against Iraq just days after he took power in January 2001, according to a former Bush cabinet member, Former Treasury Secretary Paul O’Neil. O’Neil revealed the information to CBS’s “60 Minutes”. FSRN Anchor Deepa Fernandes speaks with Senior Pacifica Political News Analyst Larry Bensky.

Jewish settlers protest Sharon
Syria’s president Bashar Asad today turned down an invitation from Israel to visit the country and begin peace negotiations. This diplomacy takes place as Israeli construction crews today hoisted 25 ft high concrete slabs into the middle of a main road in a Palestinian suburb of Jerusalem, cutting off thousands of people from the city they consider their home. The impenetrable wall is part of a series of barriers Israel is building around much of the West Bank, they say to keep out Palestinian suicide bombers. Palestinians call it an apartheid wall. The concrete wall has cut Palestinians off from their fields, schools, hospitals and businesses. Meanwhile some 20,000 Jewish settlers and their supporters took to the streets protesting against prime minister Ariel Sharon and his plans to relinquish some Jewish settlements in a possible peace settlement with Palestinians. Irris Makler reports from Jerusalem.

US on Libya
Reports this weekend indicated that the US may be planning to set up an office in Libya for the first time in over 20 years. As first reported by the Washington Post, the office would be a diplomatic mission, but US officials later disputed that description, according to AFP. The two countries do not have diplomatic relations. The news outlets said the office would provide logistical, technical and secretarial support for US and British arms inspectors overseeing the dismantling of Libya’s unconventional weapons programs. Washington and London announced last month that the North African state had vowed to abandon its efforts to develop weapons of mass destruction after nine months of secret negotiations. United Nations sanctions against Libya were lifted in September after Libyan leader Muammar al-Qaddafi signed a compensation deal for the 1988 Lockerbie bombing over Scotland, but President Bush last week said US sanctions would remain in place until Libya’s intentions are verified. Susan Wood reports from the UN.

Addicted to Oil? – Protests of LA Auto Show
Over the course of 10 days, over one-million people attended the Annual LA Auto Show, held in Downtown’s Convention Center. On Thursday, Rainforest Action Network and Global Exchange unfurled a large banner outside a 32-story building near the convention to highlight American’s addiction to oil, leading to the arrest of 5 activists. This past weekend, hundreds of demonstrators turned out to protest the show. The march and rally, organized by The Labor/Strategy Center, The Bus Rider’s Union and Global Exchange, drew a large mix of public-transportation, human rights, and environmental activists. From KPFK Aura Bogado files this report.

Living in a gas chamber – Report from Eloor, India
Three years after the first World Social Forum (WSF) in Brazil’s Porto Alegre, this week in the Indian city of Mumbai, tens of thousands of participants, will attend over a thousand seminars and conferences, testimonies and cultural events as part of the first WSF in Asia. The WSF movement was launched in Brazil in 2001 in opposition to the model of neo-liberal globalization, making popular the slogan, “another world is possible”. Meanwhile as Bombay prepares for the forum, the people of Eloor, a small island in Kerala, the most literate state of India, are hoping the international attention on India will spotlight their island which residents liken to living in a gas chamber. International environmental groups have named Eloor one of the world’s most toxic spots. Environmentalists charge that the companies have bought off the people by giving employment to at least one member of each family in Eloor. The companies make it clear that any form of protest will result in closure of these pesticide producing companies. The people of Eloor say they are in a catch 22 situation — inhale the poison or protest and die of starvation? Our correspondent, Binu Alex visited Eloor. He files this report.


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