May 21, 2004

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Israeli Army Says it is Pulling Back from Rafah
The Israeli military is partially pulling back from its incursion into Rafah. More from the International Middle East Media Center in Bethlehem.

US Military Personnel Exempt from Criminal Court
Bush administration diplomats are moving forward to extend the exemption of U.S. military personnel from prosecution in the International Criminal Court. Haider Rizvi reports from the United Nations.

Concientous Objector Found Guilty of Desertion
A military court in Georgia has found a conscientious objector guilty of desertion. Staff Sergeant Camilo Mejia, a member of the Florida National Guard, refused to rejoin his unit in Iraq after a two-week furlough in October. Mejia said he applied for conscientious objector status after witnessing the violent deaths of children and other innocent people in Iraq. But, the military judge said he refused to let his court become a venue for criticism of the U.S. military offensive in Iraq. A jury will decide this afternoon on a sentence. Mejia could face up to a year in prison and will likely be deported to Costa Rica where he is still a citizen despite serving for nine years in the U.S. national guard.

Communications Workers Continue to Strike
One hundred thousand members of the Communications Workers of America began a four-day strike today — 5,500 of those workers are in Connecticut. Melinda Tuhus reports from New Haven.

Boston Sued Over DNC Protest Permits
The City of Boston is being sued over their process for getting permits to demonstrate at the Democratic National Convention. Chuck Rosina reports from Boston.


Congress Questioning Operation Iraqi Freedom?
The House Armed Services Committee met today to explore rising concerns over the US occupation of Iraq. Among those who testified was Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Richard Myers. Questions were raised about the detainee abuse pictures, the raid by Iraqi police backed by U.S. soldiers of Governing Council member Ahmed Chalabi, and the increasing attacks on U.S. Troops which some committee members said cast doubt over the success of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Selina Musuta reports from Capitol Hill.

100 Days of Summer Protests Begins Against RNC
Activists’ 100 days of protest leading up to the Republican National Convention began today in NYC.  The 100 days will see marches, rallies, and spontaneous demonstrations to oppose President Bush’s policies. But protest organizers have run into major obstacles — the City of New York has denied many of their plans to vocalize dissent. FSRN’s Leigh Ann Caldwell has this report from WBAI in New York.

Claims of Racism at Sodexho-Marriot
Managers of one of the nation’s largest institutional food suppliers – Sodexho Marriot went to court yesterday over their claim that their employer is engaged in racial discrimination. Karen Mitchell reports from D.C.

Part 1: US Moving on Free Trade Agreements: Colombia
Negotiations have wrapped up in the Free Trade Agreement talks between the United States and Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru, in Colombia’s Caribbean port of Cartagena.  These talks were seen by the US as a chance for negotiators to meet each other, and set dates and locations for upcoming rounds. The US wants the deal to be signed by February 2005. And while the Andean country’s leaders are pleased with these first meetings, many thousands throughout Ecuador, Peru and Colombia have been showing their disgust with the proposed trade agreements. In Colombia’s main cities, thousands have protested the Free Trade Agreement with police swiftly repressing the largest march of 15,000, in Cartagena. From Cartagena de las Indias, Nicole Karsin has more.

Part 2: US Moving on Free Trade Agreements: Australia
The US-Australia Free Trade Agreement may have been signed, but it still needs to be passed by the US Congress and the Australian Parliament before it takes effect. Meanwhile, the debate over its merits is still raging in Australia, with recent studies focusing on its potential impact on the cost of prescription drugs. Christine Baker reports from Sydney.

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