May 03, 2004

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The death penalty may be back on the books in Massachusetts. A commission appointed by Republican Governor Mitt Romney today offered what they call a “foolproof” formula for carrying out state sponsored executions. In their report they recommend that the death penalty only be used for what they call “the worst of the worst murders” like torture murders, murders of multiple victims and murders of police officers. They also recommend raising the bar from “beyond a reasonable doubt” to “no doubt about a defendant’s guilt;” and, insisting on physical and scientifically verifiable evidence to issue a death warrant. The governor’s office refused to comment on the report or say when they would try to reinstate the death penalty in Massachusetts where they’ve had a 20 year reprieve from the ultimate state imposed penalty. The commissioners were not tasked to investigate the moral issues surrounding state sponsored executions.

The U.S. government’s use of wiretaps to investigate possible terrorists outpaced other criminal wiretaps in the year 2003. Darby Hickey from the D.C. Bureau reports.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations reports discrimination against Muslims rose dramatically last year. Sogomon Tarontsi reports from D.C.

New York City’s university system is about to implement a plan they hope will increase the dwindling number of African-American and Caribbean-American men enrolled at the 19 campuses. Gail Walker reports from WBAI.

Report from Inside Fallujah
The CIA announced today that its inspector general is conducting an investigation into the death of an Iraqi prisoner while being held at Abu Ghraib prison outside Baghdad. This comes as the New Yorker magazine is reporting this week that a US military investigation carried out by Maj. Gen. Antonio Taguba uncovered evidence of “war crimes” against inmates of Abu Ghraib prison, with such “crimes” as breaking chemical lights and pouring phosphoric liquid on detainees; pouring cold water on naked detainees; beating and threatening male detainees with rape and sodomizing a detainee with a chemical light. The graphic images of torture being committed by US soldiers has also brought to light the growing and largely unregulated role of private contractors in the interrogation of detainees. While today seven soldiers have been reprimanded for their involvement, lawyers for some of the soldiers say the soldiers are acting in part under the instruction of mercenary interrogators hired by the Pentagon. Meanwhile, FSRN’s Iraq correspondent Aaron Glantz spent the weekend visiting Fallujah and he brings us this report.

Gaza Part 1: Likud Votes Against Pulling Out of Gaza
Israel’s Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has failed to convince his party to support his controversial plan for removal of Jewish settlements from Gaza and parts of the West Bank. As Irris Makler reports from Jerusalem, the referendum of right wing Likud voters showed the strength of the minority settler population.
Gaza Part 2: Palestinian React
Meanwhile for Palestinian react we turn to Bilal al Amin, Editor of Left Turn Magazine. He tells Deepa Fernandes that Sharon’s overture towards pulling out of Gaza was a smokescreen that the Israeli Prime Minister knew would get shot down by his party thereby making him look like the man of peace.

New Medicare Card to Benefit Seniors of Businesses?
Today senior citizens can begin registering for Medicare’s new prescription discount card that the Bush administration says will save seniors anywhere from 17 to 40% for drugs.  However critics contend that even with the discount the price of prescriptions will still be substantially more than drugs from Canada.  They also say the discount card program is confusing and that this will advantage the program’s business sponsors over the consumers. Mitch Jeserich has more.

Cuba Part 1: Report from Mexico
This morning U.S. Secretary of State, Colin Powell, praised the administrations of Mexico and Peru for severing their diplomatic ties with Cuba. We begin this two part report with Vladimir Flores in from Mexico City.
Cuba Part 2: Report From Havana
Our correspondent in Havana, Joseph Mutti, has the latest react from Cuba.

Praise for the Soybean in Argentina?
Two years after hitting rock bottom, Argentina’s economy is on the rebound.  And while the 10-month-old government led by President Néstor Kirchner has taken credit for the upswing, economists are praising the soybean. Reed Lindsay reports from Córdoba, Argentina.


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