February 13, 2004

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Rumsfeld Says Gitmo Prisoners to Be Held for Years
Today, U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld confirmed that the more than 600 people being held at the military base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba will remain prisoners for a long time to come. Rumsfeld reiterated the administration’s contention that the detainees are not deserving of lawyers, have no rights under U.S. or international law, are required for constant interrogations, and called them terrorists.

Pentagon Investigates Sexual Assaults
A team of Pentagon investigators is on its way to a North Texas Air Force base following a string of reported sexual assaults against women serving in the military. From KPFT in Houston, Erika McDonald reports.

22-Thousand Refugees Obtain Permanent Status
A federal judge in Minnesota grants permanent status to 22-thousand people seeking asylum in the United States saying the government is dragging its feet. Ann Alquist reports from KFAI in Minneapolis.

New England Grocery Strike Pending
Labor negotiations in Connecticut continue as the region’s biggest grocery story chain talks with union leaders for more than 43-thousand New England Workers. Melinda Tuhus reports from New Haven.

Same-Sex Unions in CA and MA
Same gendered couples in San Francisco continued to get married today. Despite the state’s prohibition on the unions, Mayor Gavin Newsom insured that 100 couples could obtain the certificate that means little outside the city. The Campaign for California Families asked a judge to stop the process and nullify those handed out as more couples line-up at City Hall today. The gavel dropped in Massachusetts late last night in the state legislature without an amendment to curb same sex marriage in that state. Unless one is passed at the reconvening in March, Massachusetts will become the first state to marry same gendered couples mid-May.

Due to technical problems this headline did not make the newscast: A blow to the peace process in Sri Lanka this week as the Tamil Tigers of Elam are denied World Bank support and the stakes are raised in the dispute between the President and Prime Minister. Ponniah Manikavasagam has the story.

Sri Lankan government and the Tamil Tigers agreed during their peace talks last year to appoint World Bank as the custodian of millions of dollars in foreign aid that could be given by donors to rebuild the war torn north east regions. However, a fund to manage the money is yet to be activated. The World Bank’s country director Peter Harrold said the international community was unable to give money directly to the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam or LTTE, as they are not officially recognized. Meanwhile, a power struggle between the Sri Lankan President Chandrika Kumaratunge and the Prime Minister Ranil Wickremasinghe deepened further after she sacked 39 non-cabinet ministers this week. Prime Minister Ranil Wickremasinghe accused the president, his political rival of seriously jeopardizing peace efforts through her action by dismissing ministers who are in charge of rehabilitation activities in the affected areas.

Senate Budget Committee
Today Secretary of the Treasury John Snow told a Senate Budget Committee that Bush’s economic proposals would grow the economy with tax cuts for stock market investors and make cuts in government spending so as to lower an estimated 1.27 trillion dollar budget deficit that the tax cuts are estimated to cause. This comes just a day after the Chair of the Federal Reserve Alan Greenspan expressed his support to Congress for Bush’s tax cuts, some of which are set to expire. Greenspan urged Congress to implement spending controls and consider making cuts to the Social Security System to lower the massive deficit. With approximately a quarter of all proposed government funding going to the Bush administration’s war of terror, child advocates worry that it will be programs for poor families that will put on the chopping block. Mitch Jeserich reports from Capitol Hill.

Radio Active Waste Disposal
Pursuant to an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, The United States Environmental Protection Agency, the EPA is currently taking public comment on a proposal that could allow so-called low-activity radioactive waste to be disposed of in municipal landfills. The EPA says It’s looking for safe ways to dispose of low-activity radioactive waste. But first the EPA has to decide what low-activity waste really is. Kellia Ramares files this report.

Virginia Jihad Case
The federal court in Alexandria was crowded with spectators this week for the opening of the trial of four Muslim men accused of using a paintball game as a training exercise to join separatist guerrillas fighting against the Indian government in the disputed province of Kashmir. Their trial is the first since Sept. 1l in which the defendants are charged with an alleged “terror conspiracy”. The DC radio co-ops Tom Gomez has more.

American Voters in Paris
Democratic party primaries are currently taking place around the United States. But less noticed are the groups of American voters living abroad who are mobilizing around the 2004 elections. Avishay Artsy has this report from Paris.

Cops in Schools
President Bush visited Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, yesterday seeking to bolster campaign support and to promote the no child left behind or NCLB Law amid mounting criticism from many states. According to a four part study released Monday by the civil rights project at Harvard, the federal accountability rules have derailed state reforms and assessment strategies. Educators at all levels are struggling to implement the guidelines of the NCLB law but somehow funding is being allocated to beef up security at local schools. Last month New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced his plan to flood 12 problem schools with more cops, safety officers and the opening of off-site suspension centers. Safety officers say they need more equipment while students believe that with the historic use of discriminatory and aggressive force against minorities has resulted not in protection but in criminalization. Simba Russeau files this report from New York.


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