March 23, 2004
Both the pre-September 11th Commission hearing and a meeting at the Senate Judiciary committee were standing room only. Today, the packed house heard from Senators seeking to change the U.S. Constitution so that marriage is narrowly defined as a relationship between one man and one woman. Prior to the beginning of the hearing, teens with gay, lesbian and transgender parents explained why they believe this constitutional amendment is a bad idea.
Benton County Oregon is no longer issuing marriage licenses, any licenses. County commissioners decided that officials should wait until the court decides whether same gendered marriages are legal. Commission chair, Linda Modrell said straight couples can still go to other counties to get a license. The Oregon Supreme Court is expected to hear the case in the upcoming months.
Medicare trustees announced today that unless the system is changed, it will be bankrupt by the year 2019 – seven years earlier than predicted in last year’s report. The trustees say the new prescription drug benefit is draining the trust and demand is growing. They also announce the Social Security fund is expected to go broke as predicted in 2042.
Today in the Supreme Court, justices heard arguments in a case that challenges whether health maintenance organizations, HMOs can deny medical treatment. David Enders reports from D.C.
Palestinians in the occupied Gaza Strip attacked an Israeli military vehicle and a nearby settlement in two separate incidents. There were no reported casualties. Representatives with the armed wing of Hamas say they will continue to retaliate for the assassination of Hamas leader Sheik Ahmed Yassin. Israeli government officials say they will continue to hunt down and kill Hamas leaders.
In New York, peace activists and Arab Americans respond to the assassination of the Hamas leader. Meanwhile the New York Police Department has increased security throughout the area fearing retaliatory attacks, particularly in Jewish neighborhoods. Leigh Ann Caldwell reports from WBAI.
SEPTEMBER 11 COMMISSION HEARINGS
Today the 9/11 Commission held its 8th hearing in Washington DC, where former and current top administration officials testified on how the U.S. dealt with the potential threat from Al-Qaeda before the 9/11 attacks. Mitch Jeserich was there and he files this report.
TENTATIVE PEACE IN KOSOVO
A fragile peace is holding in Kosovo in the wake of ethnic violence between Serbs and Albanians last week, which claimed at least 28 lives and injured more than 800 others. 2,000 NATO reinforcements remain there as the international community and Kosovo’s interim UN administration are poised to revisit the issue of Kosovo’s status in the Balkans. The Serbian government has repeated their demand for the partitioning of the region into ethnic cantons. But the Albanian leadership has rejected the idea – saying 90% of the population wants to form an independent state. And as Jackson Allers reports from the capital of Pristina, five years of UN control has not put Serbs and Albanians any closer to reconciliation.
US EMPLOYS ISRAELI TACTICS IN IRAQ
Two thousand Iraqi’s marched through the center of Baghdad today to protest Israel’s killing of Hamas leader Sheik Ahmed Yassin. It’s a demonstration that’s not surprising given the increased cooperation between the US occupation force in Iraq and the Israeli military. According to the Guardian of London, Israel has sent two consultants to Iraq to advise the American Army. The Guardian also reports Israeli urban warfare experts have also traveled to American military bases in North Carolina to train US troops. As Aaron Glantz reports from Abu Siffa, Iraq Israeli military tactics such as house demolitions are becoming a regular feature of US-ruled Iraq.
INDIA BUILDS BARRIER FENCE IN KASHMIR
Kashmir’s main separatist alliance, set to resume peace talks with India, said today it will again press New Delhi to stop human rights violations in the Himalayan region. The moderate faction of the All Parties Hurriyat Conference last month threatened to pull out of talks with India, saying there had been no promised fall in the alleged violations by security forces in Kashmir. The Hurriyat and the government are due to hold their second round of talks this weekend. There is a cease-fire along the line of control that divides the Indian and Pakistani held Kashmir.. But even as the peace process progresses, the Indian army is constructing a fence along the line of control that divides the two countries, to prevent infiltration into India. Shanawaz Khan has more from Kashmir.
COLOMBIAN ZONES – WE GO INSIDE
Today President Bush met with President Alvaro Uribe of Colombia, one of the US’s staunchest supporters in the global war on terrorism. This week in Washington Uribe will request more military aid for Colombia and also ask the US to become more involved in Colombia’s 40-year civil war. The Bush administration, a key ally to Uribe in his war against the country’s leftist insurgencies, recently requested that Congress raise the limit of US military personnel working in Colombia. Earlier this month, the general secretary of the Organization of American States reiterated that unless one paramilitary group — the Unites Self Defense Forces of Columbia – or AUC — agrees to concentrate in zones, the peace process in Colombia will fail. The paramilitary group pledged to disband all its 12,000 fighters by the end of 2005. But top AUC Commanders, who are wanted by the United States for charges of drug-trafficking, say that they will not concentrate their troops in zones unless the government guarantees that they will not face stiff prison Sentences and extradition to the US. Nicole Karsin takes us to Medellin, Colombia’s second largest city and one of the world’s most violent urban settings to investigate what’s really happening since the first demobilization last November of 870 AUC combatants.