November 21, 2005

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Headlines (4:31)
General Motors announced today that the company will cut 30,000 manufacturing jobs. At least ten production plants and service facilities in the U.S. and Canada have been slated for closure. The company estimates that planned cutbacks will save seven billion dollars a year.

Canada’s Foreign Ministry is looking into allegations that a privately-owned aircraft used by the Central Intelligence Agency to transport detainees stopped over at a Canadian airport on Friday. The government of Spain began an investigation last week after similar allegations were made regarding the use of an airport on the island of Majorca.

Earlier this month, Tony Blair suffered a crushing defeat in Parliament over his anti-terrorism proposals which included new powers to detain terrorist suspects without charge for up to 90 days. Tomorrow, the House of Lords may vote to overturn even the compromise bill eventually passed by Members of the British Parliament. From London, Naomi Fowler reports.

This anti-terrorism bill has given Tony Blair some of his worst days in office when even 49 Members of Parliament from his own party refused to back him. Parliament finally passed a watered down version of the bill but as it progresses through the House of Lords for what’s known as the second reading, it looks like even this compromise deal between politicians is in danger. Many in the House of Lords are expressing their doubts over the legitimacy of holding terrorist suspects without charge for 28 days, amended down from Blair’s original plan of 90 days. Even police support for the anti-terrorism proposals is not as firm as Tony Blair has been claiming; the Association of Chief Police Officers is worried that the measures are counter-productive and alienate British Muslims and they’re actually opposed to some of the bill; in particular, amending human rights laws to get around obstacles to new deportation rules and making the justification or glorification of terrorism anywhere an offense. Another defeat on this for Tony Blair will force yet another rethink on anti-terrorism laws. The House of Lords will vote tomorrow. This is Naomi Fowler in London for Free Speech Radio News.

The Brazilian government has created a law to make public many of the confidential documents produced during the country’s military dictatorship. Natalia Viana reports from Sao Paolo.

The federal decree published last Saturday states that all documents should be made available to the public in the National Archive Museum in Rio de Janeiro by the 31st of December. The decree creates an exception for documents deemed to pose a risk to national security. The files were produced by the National Information Service, The National Security Council, and the General Commission of Investigation; responsible for political prosecution during the period of military dictatorship that lasted from 1964 to 1985. The archives contain the names of 28,555 people investigated by the military regime. Due to a 1979 Amnesty law, no military official was ever punished in Brazil for practices like torture committed during the dictatorship. The UN Human Rights Commission stated earlier this month that the release of the confidential documents is crucial to defeat the tradition of impunity in Brazil.

The former deputy Defense Minister of El Salvador, Nicolas Carranza, has been found guilty of torture and murder by a court in Memphis, Tennessee. The verdict was handed down on Friday, along with an order to pay $1.5 million dollars to each of his four accusers. A mistrial was declared in a fifth case. An amnesty law passed in El Salvador in the 1990s shields former military personnel from prosecution for crimes committed during the country’s civil war. Carranza has lived in the U.S. for 20 years and holds U.S. citizenship. During the trial, former U.S. Ambassador to El Salvador Robert White testified that Carranza was once on the CIA payroll.

Former Detainees Gather to Demand End to Indefinite Internment (3:09)
Japan and Russia signed a major bilateral agreement today, covering issues ranging from trade to terrorism, engineered with the help of the Bush administration. The two nations have agreed to cooperate in the prevention of terrorist acts, information sharing, and extradition of those involved in terrorist activities. They will also collaborate in the exploration and development of oil, natural gas and coal deposits. The new agreement comes just days after President Bush and Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin met Friday to discuss joint counter-terrorism measures. The US has now detained an estimated 83,000 people in the name of the war on terror, some held in undisclosed locations. This weekend, former detainees and their family members gathered in London to demand an end to the indefinite internments. Kat Aaron was there, and files this report.

Ariel Sharon Quits Likud Party (3:08)
Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has announced he is leaving the right wing Likud Party and forming a new centrist political party, to contest the next national elections. And, as Irris Makler reports from Jerusalem, new elections are now likely to be pushed forward to March of next year.

Washington’s Battle over the War in Iraq (4:09)
Vice President Dick Cheney is continuing the White House’s defense over allegations that it manipulated intelligence in a speech he made at a conservative think tank organization in Washington DC. Cheney also rejected the increasing calls for a withdrawal from Iraq. Cheney’s statements come on the heels of a rancorous session of the House of Representatives on Friday night in which lawmakers heatedly debated a GOP-sponsored resolution calling for a withdraw of troops from Iraq. At one point, exchanges between lawmakers almost resulted in fisticuffs. Mitch Jeserich reports from Washington.

International Activism to Save Stanley “Tookie” Williams (2:42)
Stanley “Tookie” Williams is scheduled to die via lethal injection at San Quentin’s death row on December 13. The co-founder of the LA-based Crips gang was convicted in 1981 of murdering four people. While in prison, Williams has written an autobiography, 9 children’s books decrying violence, and developed a protocol for peace that has been used in cities around the country to end gang violence. He has also been nominated multiple times for the Nobel Peace Prize. As Sarah Olson reports, with less than a month until his scheduled execution, his case is drawing international attention and activism.

APEC Summit Discuss Trade, Pandemics, and North Korea (3:36)
Leaders of Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) economies close their two-day summit today in Busan, Korea with a declaration promising efforts to resurrect stalled global trade talks, reaffirm the Bogor goals and fight against health threats like bird influenza. Alongside the comprehensive declaration, leaders agreed to issue a separate joint statement urging swift completion of the Doha Development Agenda in the World Trade Organization by the end of next year. The leaders will announce another separate initiative on preventing avian influenza, minimizing damage from sharing information, technology and assuring transparent management of any possible pandemic. But one of APEC’s biggest issues remains the so-called North Korean nuclear crisis and 6 way talks. Eunji Kang has more in Korea.

Activists Protests Against the School of the Americas (2:27)
A record number of people, nearly 19,000, gathered in Ft. Benning, Georgia, over the weekend to call for closing the School of the Americas. Activists from the School of the Americas Watch charge that the School has trained military leaders from Latin America who have committed rape, torture and murder in their home countries. 41 people were arrested when they trespassed onto Ft. Benning, which houses the School. Activists say they have the best chance in years of closing the School through Congressional action. Melinda Tuhus has the story.

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