March 17, 2005

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Headlines (5:36)
Oil Hits New High
Oil prices scraped a new ceiling of $57 dollars a barrel on the New York trading floor today as forecasters predicted that oil demand would be higher this year than last.  Gasoline and heating oil prices are already at an all time high as much of the north is dealing with a colder and longer winter. Next week, OPEC will consider increasing oil output to keep prices low.  Most oil fields in the richest producing countries are already at or beyond daily pumping capacities. Multinational oil companies are reporting unprecedented profits on the higher prices. Meanwhile, the Bush administration is formally asking OPEC nations to increase production as US manufacturers cut back on petroleum based products.

Link Between Autism and Mercury Found
Texas researchers found strong links between exploding autism rates among U.S. children and exposure to mercury. From Houston, Erika McDonald has more.

Investigators Receive Money from Agency Investigating
Medical investigators are receiving money from the same U.S. agency they are investigating. Dan Stephens reports from D.C.

Irish on St. Patrick’s Day
Irish leaders are making the rounds in D.C. on St. Patrick’s Day while the family of man allegedly killed by political factions of those same leaders is given greater access to top U.S. officials. Maeve Conran reports.

Government Steps Into Family Life Decision
The Florida State legislature approved a measure that would keep a woman alive despite plan to remove her feeding tube tomorrow. For more than a decade Terri Schiavo has been on an artificial feeding tube following complications during treatment after a fall down a flight of stairs.  According to medical professionals involved in the case, she is in a persistent vegetative state. Her husband claims Schiavo would want all artificial life saving measures to be stopped.  But, Schiavo’s parents say her condition may be rehabilitated and along with their own caseload of physicians have unsuccessfully challenged Schiavo’s husband. Already one law giving Governor Jeb Bush the right to make the decision was overturned by the Florida Supreme Court. Bush says he supports this new attempt. (SOUND 0:11) Yesterday the U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill to move such cases to federal court where it is believed judges would rule with the parents.

Congressional Budget Resolution Make Significant Cuts Social Services (4:07)
The US Senate voted to restore some of President Bush’s proposed cuts for a health care program for the poor today. However many significant cuts to the healthcare system remain, as do other reductions to social service programs such as nutritional programs and housing.  The Congressional Budget resolutions outlay of next 5 years shows even larger reductions for such programs. But, as Mitch Jeserich reports, this is in large part due to a GOP attempt to extend President Bush’s expiring tax cuts through a back door procedure.

Reaction From Jericho After Israeli Handover of Power (3:01)
In Cairo today, militant Palestinian groups agreed to a conditional ceasefire with Israel thru the end of the year, as long as Israel halts aggression towards its neighbor and releases prisoners. Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon called the agreement a positive step, although it is remains highly unlikely that Israel will release the 8,000 Palestinian prisoners still pent up in Israeli jails. Meanwhile, more than 24-hours after the Israeli handover of power to the Palestinian authority in the city of Jericho, local resident remains skeptical. The city of Jericho, which was never occupied by the Israeli army during the Palestinian Intifada, was closed by six Israeli barriers, while a trench of two meters surrounding it from three sides. Five of the six barriers remain in place, and the surrounding trench still stands today. As Awad Duaibes reports from Jericho, residents feel they have plenty of reasons to be doubtful of any real change in power.

Contaminated U.S. Bases in the Philippines (4:12)
For much of the 20th Century, the Philippines was one of US’ closest allies. Even once the colonial relationship  officially ended a decade after World War II, the US military was allowed to continue operating two massive military bases in the country for several more decades. In1991, the Philippine Senate rejected the US application to extend the leases, and both the Air Force and Navy were forced to abandon their posts. Since that time, however, grassroots movements in both countries have been trying to get the US military to come back to its former bases and help clean-up the extensive toxic mess that they left behind. In the next couple of weeks, the US 9th Circuit Court of Appeals will decide on the first step of such a project – whether the US military must do a thorough and public environmental assessment of the areas in question.From the Philippines, FSRN’s Carey Biron has more.

The State of Human Rights in Oaxaca (3:55)
Amnesty International’s researcher for the Americas regional program concluded a visit to Oaxaca, Mexico yesterday. This marks the most recent international scrutiny of the human rights situation in the southern state. Shannon Young and Vladimir Flores file this report from Oaxaca.

U.S. Led Forced Cause Damage to Ancient Babylon (2:58)
A Polish former commander of multinational forces in Iraq denied claims by renowned British archaeologist John Curtis that troops under his command had devastated archaeological gems in the ancient city of Babylon. Curtis, senior archaeologist with the British Museum, had alleged that soldiers stationed in Camp Babylon under Polish command until mid-December last year, were responsible for “substantial damage” to the ancient site about 80 kilometers south of Baghdad. US military commanders set up a base in Babylon in April 2003 shortly after toppling Saddam Hussein and handed it over to the Polish contingent 5 months later. The Polish-led force occupied the base for about 16 months until handing it over to Iraqi authorities. Danuta Szafraniec reports from Warsaw.


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