March 15, 2005

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UN Investigation into Hariri Assassination Ends
A UN fact finding team has finished its investigation into the assassination of former Lebanese Prime minister Rafik Hariri. The team will report its findings to UN Secretary Kofi Annan today, and is expected to charge a “devastating cover up at the highest levels of Syrian and Lebanese intelligence” – both Syrian and Lebanese officials deny any role in the assassination.  Meanwhile Syrian intelligence officials are packing up and leaving the Lebanese capitol today after a million people showed opposition to Syria’s presence at demonstration yesterday in Beirut.

Condoleeza Rice Begins Asia Tour
Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice arrives in India today, beginning her six nation tour of Asia. Binu Alex has the story.

Groups say Delay Weakened House Ethics
The Congressional Ethics Coalition held a press conference today calling for more accountability in the House of Representatives ethics committee. Shirley Chang reports from DC.

Assassination Attempt Against Kosovo President
One week after Kosovo’s Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj resigned and surrendered to the Hague to face war crimes charges, Kosovo’s President, Ibrahim Rugova, survived a bomb blast which tore through his motorcade early this morning.  The bomb was detonated in a near by trash can while Rugova’s motorcade drove by on a Pristina street.  President Rugova was unharmed- but the bomb injured one passerby.  At the time of the blast, Rugova was on his way to a meeting with EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana to discuss the creation of a new government in Kosovo. Rugova publicly blamed the attack on “elements which want to destabilize Kosovo”, while the UN’s top administrator in Kosovo condemned the attack as one against the fledgling Democratic institutions in the UN run province. No one has been officially charged with the bombing. This report was prepared by the Kosovo Radio Collective in Pristina.

UK Drops Controversial ID Scheme
government has quietly abandoned its controversial plans to introduce bio-metric ID cards. Naomi Fowler reports from London.


Bush’s $81-Billion Wartime Request Set to Pass in the House (3:32)
The House of Representatives is poised to pass President Bush’s $81-billion request for Iraq and Afghanistan.  Most of the request is earmarked towards buying weaponry, ammunition and body armor for soldiers in Iraq.  And, as Mitch Jeserich reports, in a last minute deal the House attached the controversial immigration measure know as the Real ID Act to the wartime supplemental request, an act which critics say was meant to force the anti-immigration bill into law.

San Francisco Court Says Same Sex Couples Have Constitutional Right to Marriage (3:26)
A San Francisco court handed-over a victory to the gay rights movement yesterday, saying same sex couples have a constitutional right to marriage in California. Superior Court Judge Richard Kramer struck down the state’s voter-approved ban on same-sex marriages. The ruling follows San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom’s decision last year to grant marriage to same-sex couples. The California Supreme Court ruled that he had exceeded his authority but asked a lower court to consider broader issues. Kramer said in his new ruling “It appears that no rational purpose exists for limiting marriage in this state to opposite-sex partners”. Christopher Martinez reports.

Exploration and Drilling Plan for Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (2:12)
The U.S. public has until March 17th to comment on a plan that would allow oil and gas drilling in the wildlife area of Wyoming’s Great Divide. Meanwhile in Washington, DC, the senate is set to vote on a controversial plan would allow exploration and drilling in parts of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Selina Musuta of the DC radio coop reports.

New Mercury Emissions Rules Come Under Question (2:07)
The Environmental Protection Agency announced its new mercury regulations for the nation’s power plants today. The new rules are expected to reduce mercury emissions by nearly 50 percent by 2020. But critics of the new rules say that’s not soon enough to curb the dangerous effects of the toxic element. As Leslie Clark reports, in states like New Mexico, there’s concerns too many people will be harmed before mercury emissions are curtailed.

Activists Protest US Forest Service Plan to Cut Old Growth Forest (2:28)
Authorities arrested 21 women attempting to block logging in the Biscuit Fire Recovery area in southern Oregon. This is the third time in one week that environmentalists  unsuccessfully attempted to stop loggers from reaching an old growth reserve in the region- and now the US Forest Service has closed the area to prevent more protests. As Amy Merwin reports from Eugene, Oregon a plan being used by the US Forest Service to justify cutting old growth forests is facing strong resistance from activists, attorneys and local citizens near the Biscuit Fire Recovery area- who want to halt the logging until and appeals court rules on the legality of the sale of the land.

Insurgent Group De-Mines Field at Community’s Request (4:07)
An estimated 100,000 antipersonnel landmines are buried throughout rural Colombia as a result of the 41-year-old armed conflict pitting insurgent armies against paramilitary groups and the government. Last year alone, 183 Colombians were killed and 616 wounded after stepping on landmines. However, last month in an unprecedented gesture, the 5,000-strong Cuban-inspired National Liberation Army, responded to the plea of local peasants in mid-northern Colombia’s Sur de Bolivar by clearing the road and removing 71 mines from the region. Nicole Karsin reports from the community of Mico Ahumado.

Another Police Officer Lynched in Oaxaca (2:02)
After three days of blockades, Oaxacan state police have gained access to a town that was the scene of a lynching over the weekend- where a mob of residents killed a police officer. In Oaxaca, Mexico, Vladimir Flores has the story.


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