January 16, 2004

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Pickering Appointed by Bush
President Bush has taken an extraordinary step and named Charles Pickering Sr. to the federal appeals court as a Congressional recess appointment. Senate Democrats sited Pickering as one of a handful of judges too right wing to appoint to the court. Their objections led to a 40-hour standoff last year. In 1959 he wrote an opinion later adopted by the Mississippi legislature in support of criminalizing inter-racial marriage. More recently, in 1993 he criticized the one person, one vote principle. And, in 1994 he handed down a light sentence to a man charged by federal authorities for burning a cross on an interracial couple’s front lawn. The NAACP says Judge Pickering has a record of obstructing civil rights for African-Americans in Mississippi. Done infrequently, and always controversial, the recess appointment will stand for one year unless the Senate acts on the stalled nomination.

Seattle Man Sues Feds Over Iraq Sanctions
Seattle man sues government over his 10-thousand dollar Treasury fine for violating US sanctions on Iraq because he delivered humanitarian aid. Martha Baskin reports from Seattle.

Acrobatic Troupe Fires HIV Man
World famous acrobatic troupe Cirque du Soleil admits firing a performer because he has HIV. Now, a third California municipality follows Los Angeles and San Francisco in protesting Cirque du Soleil’s appearance there. More from Kellia Ramares.

Political Tensions in Sri Lanka Rise
Sri Lanka is heading for another political and constitutional crisis that is further stalling the peace process and frustrating factions within the Tamil Tigers. Ponniah Manikavasagam reports from Sri Lanka.

Bremer is Washington, Thousands Protesting in Iraq
The Chief US Administrator in Iraq, Paul Bremer, was in Washington today where it was announced that Monday he and the US appointed Iraqi Governing Council will go before the United Nations and appeal for greater UN involvement in Iraq. Specifically Bush Administration officials say Bremer will ask for UN involvement in the process of handing sovereignty back to the Iraqi people. Current US plans to appoint an interim government via a caucuses system have been criticized as undemocratic by many in Baghdad. White House spokesperson Scott McClellan this morning told reporters that the election process would follow the November 15 agreement between the US and the Iraqi governing council. FSRN Host Deepa Fernandes reports.

4th World Social Forum hits India!
The fourth World Social Forum kicked off in the Indian city of Mumbai today. FSRN correspondent Binu Alex is there.

What the Media Missed at Monterrey
After a week of heavy media attention surrounding the special Summit of the Americas, the industrialized Mexican city of Monterrey is returning to its usual routine. While the presidential visits received close attention in the local media, those protesting the summit’s agenda were portrayed as dangerous criminals. Notably absent from the media coverage was what the protesters named “two days of collectivity”- organized in the same spirit as the upcoming World Social Forum. Vladimir Flores files this report from Monterrey.

Color-Coding Airline Travelers
The Department of Homeland Security is about to start color-coding travelers. Under the government’s new ‘Computer Assisted Passenger Pre-Screening Program Two’ (CAPS Two), the government will use a computer program designed by Lockheed Martin to sift through public and secret government databases assigning a color to  everyone who wants to fly — green-coded passengers will be free to fly after passing through regular security, yellow-coded passengers will be subjected to thorough searches. Red coded travelers will not be allowed to fly. Passengers won’t be able to check their color before flying. And the Department of Homeland Security also is now into week 2 of finger-printing and eye-scanning most non-European visitors before they’re allowed to enter the United States. From San Francisco International Airport, Aaron Glantz has the story.

Victory for Hmong Refugees
The Lao American Congressional Policy Conference and the Center for Public Policy Analysis today held a discussion about reports by the UN and Amnesty International on the Lao regime’s use of starvation as a weapon against Laotian and Hmong civilians and other opposition groups. And while Hmong immigrants here in the US have for many decades fought for many basis rights, just last month the State Department announced that resettlement eligibility would be extended to all Hmong refugees. As Carey Biron and Kristin Lerstrom report, this news has put in motion the beginning of the end of a thirty-year long struggle for a group of over 14,000 Hmong refugees.


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