January 21, 2004

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Arab Response to State of Union
George Bush’s State of the Union speech was watched around the world. Many in the Arab world were displeased by much of what they heard. Oula Al-Farawati reports from Amman.
Lawyers Request Blair Investigated by ICC
The International Criminal Court received papers asking for an investigation of British Prime Minister Tony Blair for war crimes. Naomi Fowler reports from London.
UN Back to Iraq
There’s much uncertainty around how and when the United Nations will lead Iraq towards the next political step. Haider Rizvi has more from the U.N.
WEF Opens in Switzerland
Amnesty International is requesting Swiss officials mind standard practices of human rights during the World Economic Forum and planned counter protests during the event. During today’s peaceful political ballet, police surrounded 50 people and arrested 10. Diletta Varlese reports from Zurich.
Former Guatemala Military Officer Sentenced
Human rights activists were anxiously waiting for the arrest of a former army colonel and intelligence chief after Guatemala’s supreme court sentenced him to thirty years of prison this week. Catherine Elton reports from Guatemala City.

Bush with State of the Union  (4:00)
Last night President George Bush gave his last State of the Union Address for his 4-year term.  In his address to Congress Bush stated his support for a constitutional amendment to ban same sex marriage, he proposed making his faith based initiatives permanent, increasing funds for drug testing in schools and starting a campaign to combat sexually transmitted diseases through abstinence.  Bush also proposed re-authorizing the two previous year’s tax cuts and the Patriot Act before provisions in those measures expire. While Bush defended the invasion of Iraq, he made no mention of last year’s dubious assertions of Iraq trying to buy Uranium from Africa or that Saddam Hussein was close to unleashing weapons of mass destruction on the U.S. and its allies. FSRN correspondent Mitch Jeserich was at Capitol Hill last night and he brings us this report.

Military Families Mourn Lost Soldiers  (0:57)
Though President Bush has attended dozens of fundraisers for his re-election campaign since the invasion of Iraq began, he has yet to attend a single funeral for any of the more than 500 U.S. military personnel that have died during the war and occupation of Iraq. During the State of the Union Address, military family members and peace activists held a vigil outside the capitol for all the people who have died in the war. Jenny Johnson, from our DC Bureau, brings us this sound collage.

Russian Outrage over US military Bases in Poland  (4:10)
There is growing outrage in Australia over US moves to station military bases and troops on Australian soil. Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman Richard Myers is currently visiting Australia where he is laying the groundwork for what he says is not a military base but a joint military training facility in northern Australia which will pre-position equipment and materials in case of war. Myers told the Australian press that in its global reassessment of its force deployment the US has developed a ‘places not bases’ doctrine under which it will store large amounts of equipment from tanks to aircraft, and fuel and ammunition around the world to allow the rapid deployment of troops into US war-fields. Meanwhile debate is also raging in Russia over U.S. military moves closer to its border. Russian military expert, Rus’an Puchow, speaking on Polish Radio in Warsaw claimed that the location of American military bases in Poland will influence the Polish-Russian relations in a very negative way. Danuta Szafraniec reports from Warsaw.

Booming Garment Sector in Vietnam – At What Expense?  (4:03)
Vietnam today reported that it has bridged its trade deficit, bringing the figure down by $120 million from the same time last year to $170 million, one of the lowest in trade deficits in Asia. One of the reasons for the reduced deficit is the country’s booming garment export sector, which is growing at a rate of 20 percent each year.  Garment exports, second only to crude oil, is expected to earn more than 3 and a half billion dollars this year, with goods headed to the United States, Europe and other Asian countries. The sector is employing a growing number of Vietnamese, who are leaving farms for factories. Ngoc Nguyen reports from Hanoi.

SEIU Waits on Election Results  (3:15)
Yesterday was the last day for many retail Candy workers with Fannie May in Chicago, as the plants shut down. While the Service Employees International Union, or the SEIU, Local 1 is in negotiation to ensure the worker’s pay and benefits, SEIU local 36 in Philadelphia is waiting for election results from an election that has been long due. Dante Toza has more from Philadelphia.

LGBT Series: Part 2: Argentina  (2:32)
Buenos Aires is the first Latin American city to recognize the civil union among people of the same or different sex. Two weeks ago, the Nation’s Chamber of Representatives included the sexual orientation and gender identity into the Anti-Discrimination Act. Many applaud Argentina President, Néstor Kirchner, for welcoming the LGBT Community for the first time in Argentine history. However, in Part 2 of our special series looking at the world-wide assault on the rights of LGBT communities, as Miguel Lara reports from Buenos Aires, the issue has opened a fierce debate among human rights activists, the Catholic Church, and traditional political parties.


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