January 03, 2005

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Life-Long Detention?
The White House is considering plans to build a permanent prison in Guantanamo Bay that would hold terrorist suspects for the rest of their lives. Selina Musuta reports from Washington, DC.

Japan Increases Tsunami Relief Support
The UN says the international community has pledged over two billion dollars in aid for tsunami stricken regions in South Asia. Japan initially promised some thirty million dollars but ahs since announced a dramatic increase. Miles Ashdown is in Tokyo.

Colombia Extradites FARC Leader to U.S.
Colombia has extradited a prominent FARC leader to the United States. A US plane picked up Simon Trinidad after heavily armed troops took him to an airfield outside Bogota. The FARC leader, whose real name is Ricardo Palmera, was extradited to Colombia from Ecuador last year. Colombian President Alvaro Uribe agreed to the new extradition after rebels failed to free more than 60 hostages. Among those held by the group are former Colombian presidential candidate Ingrid Betancourt, three US citizens and dozens of Colombian army officers and political figures.

Fox Television Affliate’s FCC License Renewal Questioned
Two television journalists filed a petition with the FCC today calling for the denial of a license renewal for FOX TV affiliate WTVT in Tampa Florida. Jane Akre and Steve Wilson claim that the television station is not operating on the public interest and lacks the good character to do so. The reporters charge that while employed by WTVT station executives demanded they falsify news stories they were preparing about bovine growth hormones manufactured by Monsanto. At a press conference today announcing the petition, Steve Wilson compared the actions of station management to an issue near and dear to the FCC – indecency.
In 1998 the other reporter, Jane Akre, won a 425,000-dollar jury award when she filed a whistleblower suit seeking employee protection regarding the stories. That award was overturned by an Appellate Court who ruled that it is not technically against the law for a broadcaster to distort the news. It’s unclear when or if the FCC will respond to the petition.

Prominent Deaths
Today we note the deaths of three public figures in recent days. India’s national security adviser JN Dixit died this morning after suffering a massive heart attack. Dixit led India’s peace initiatives with Pakistan and brokered boundary talks with China. He was the first Indian High Commissioner to Afghanistan and had also served as High Commissioner in Islamabad. On New Years Day, US Representative Robert T. Matsui died as a result of a rare stem cell disorder. Matsui was an influential California Democrat who served in the U.S. House of Representatives since 1979 and was a major force on trade and Social Security issues. He was the third-ranking Democrat on the House Ways and Means Committee and among the highest-ranking Asian Americans in House history. As an infant, he was interned in a detention camp for Japanese Americans during World War II. And also on New Years Day, political pioneer Shirley Chisholm died. She was the first African American woman ever elected to Congress. Chisholm served seven terms and was one of the first women ever to seek the presidential nomination of a major party, winning 151 delegates to the 1972 Democratic National Convention in Miami. She served in Congress until 1982. We’ll have more on the legacy of Shirley Chisholm later in the newscast.

Report from Banda Acheh
One week after one of the world’s worst natural disasters, recovery efforts are still moving slowly across Asia and Africa. US Secretary of State Colin Powel and Florida Governor Jeb Bush are en route to the affected nations where they will assess the situation. Meanwhile, in all the affected countries, the death tolls are rising and the scope of the crisis is beginning to set in. In the worst hit region, the Acheh province of Indonesia, the death toll is estimated to be upwards of 80,000. Rescue workers are only managing to airlift out some 6000 bodies per day. 45,000 bodies have been buried in mass graves and as our correspondent Meggy Margiyono reports from Banda Acheh, the more remote areas of Acheh are yet to receive any aid or evacuation services.

Interview with Achenese Prime Minister
Meanwhile, members of the Free Acheh Movement (GAM) who have been fighting for independence from Indonesia for decades, today accused the Indonesian military of using the disaster to step up its campaign against the GAM rebels. The Indonesian military said its troops killed three separatist rebels in Acheh. A guerrilla commander with the Free Acheh Movement (GAM) and two of his men died in a clash with troops in northern Aceh yesterday, a military spokesman said. The military spokesman said the clash occurred after the rebels tried to ambush a convoy of military trucks carrying relief supplies. Achenese Prime Minister in Exile is Mr Malik Mahmud. He spoke with host Deepa Fernandes from Sweden.

Latest in Palestine
As we reported last week on FSRN, the Israeli army is in the midst of a renewed invasion of the Khan Younis refugee camp, the fourth major attack on Khan Younis in the last two weeks. Muhammed Omar has the latest from Palestine

Faith-Based Funding Controversy
The White House has released figures showing an increase in federal money granted to faith-based organizations in 2004. A keystone of President Bush’s social policy, federal funding for religious organizations has caused controversy, as reports Darby Hickey from DC.

International Effects of WTO’s Multi-Fiber Agreement
The World Trade Organization’s, WTO, Multi-Fiber Agreement which sets quotas on textile exports came to an end on December 31, last year. With this development, major textile producing countries like China will as from January 1, 2005, be free to flood the international market with cheap textiles. The cheap goods will force many textiles industries to close down and thousands of jobs will be lost. Africa will be the worst affected. In Nigeria, more than 70 of the countries 113 textile industries have closed down as textile imported from China dominate the market. Sam Olukoya reports from Lagos.

Lasting Effects of Asbestos in Egypt
The Egyptian government announced it’s banning asbestos. The toxic material has been banned in the United States for over two decades, but the industry has thrived in Egypt which after Canada has the second largest source of asbestos deposits in the world. Environmentalists and workers hailed the move as a victory, but now they wonder what will happen to those who worked in the asbestos industry, since many are now dying of cancer. Aaron Glantz reports from Cairo.

In Memory of Shirley Anita St-Hill Chisholm
Shirley Anita St-Hill Chisholm, the first black woman elected to Congress and the first woman to seek the Democratic nomination for President in 1972, has passed away in her Florida home at age 80. Chisholm was a fierce activist representing the impoverished people of the Bed Stuy section of Brooklyn and was a founding member of the Congressional Black Caucus and the National Organization for Women (NOW). When Chisholm served her first term in Congress she hired an all women staff. Chisholm was an outspoken critic of the Vietnam war and a staunch supporter of civil rights and women’s rights.


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