July 02, 2007
WHITE HOUSE COULD FACE CONTEMPT
Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Patrick Leahy says he is willing to take the president to court if the White House refuses to comply with congressional subpoenas. The Bush Administration indicated last week that it will invoke executive privilege to keep two former White House officials from testifying under oath as part of the congressional investigation into the dismissals of 8 US attorneys. The Chairmen of the Senate and House Judiciary Committees have given the White House until July 9th to provide a legal basis for its lack of cooperation with the subpoenas. If the sides do not reach an agreement, the matter could proceed to the courts.
LIBBY’S APPEAL WON’T KEEP HIM OUT OF PRISON
In other legal news, A federal appeals court has ruled against delaying Lewis “Scooter” Libby’s prison sentence while the former vice presidential chief of staff appeals his conviction. The three-judge panel wrote that Libby’s appeal does not raise a “substantial question” to merit postponing the start of his 30 month prison term. The former White House aide was found guilty earlier this year of perjury and of obstructing the investigation into the leaked identity of a CIA agent. The agent’s husband publicly denied the claim that Iraq had attempted to acquire yellow cake uranium, a claim used by the Bush Administration to justify the invasion of Iraq. No date has been set for Libby to report to prison, but his supporters are calling for a presidential pardon.
US AIRCRAFT CARRIER ANCHORS OFF INDIAN COAST
The anchoring of US nuclear aircraft carrier USS Nimitz in the Indian port of Chennai has sparked protests by political, union, and environmental organizations. FSRN’s Vinod K. Jose reports.
The huge aircraft carrier arrived today in the South Indian port of Chennai as part of a four-day goodwill visit to India. But it has received a less than warm welcome. Local organizations have raised concerns about possible radiation risks associated with the two on-board nuclear plants used to power the USS Nimitz. Protests in Chennai prompted Indian authorities to assess safety on board. An Indian Navy ship equipped with a radiation-monitoring laboratory will keep watch on the American aircraft carrier. But officials of the nuclear-powered ship said they could “neither confirm nor deny” whether any nuclear missiles were on board. While on the mainland, the crew of US sailors and airmen will celebrate American Independence Day and participate in community work like cleaning a local beach and painting the walls of an old-age home, to spread what they call “Goodwill”. The presence of a US aircraft carrier in Indian waters, fully loaded with 65 fighter jets and a crew of 6000, is a highly unusual occurrence and has lead anti-war activists to join those protesting the arrival of the ship. For FSRN, From New Delhi in India this is Vinod K. Jose.
AFGHAN HUMAN RIGHTS GROUPS CALLS FOR PRUDENCE IN AIR STRIKES
Afghanistan’s Independent Human Rights Commission claims that recent NATO and US-led coalition air raids have killed more civilians this year than attacks launched by suspected Taliban militants. An intense air assault on the Helmand province reportedly killed 45 civilians this weekend alone. The human rights group is calling on US and NATO forces to increase foot patrols in the area and decrease the use of air strikes. The recent spike in civilian deaths has led to widespread calls for the withdrawal of foreign troops and for the resignation of Afghan president Hamid Karzai.
PROTESTS IN MAINE AGAINST BUSH AND PUTIN
A meeting between Russian President Vladimir Putin and President George W Bush triggered demonstrations in the state of Maine on Sunday. Meredith DeFrancesco has more.
Two to three thousand people marched as close as police would allow to the Bush family vacation home in Kennebunkport Maine, where Russian President Putin and George W Bush met on Sunday. The demonstrators called for the impeachment of President Bush and Vice President Cheney and denounced the ongoing occupations of Iraq and Chechnya. David Swanson, founder of After Downing Street.org spoke at this weekend’s rally (sound): “We are here to say to the people of the world; we know George W Bush as well as you do, and we trust him even less…and we are deeply sorry. We are deeply sorry for the death and destruction he has caused and we are working to impeach Bush and Cheney and remove them from office.” The protests come as a Bush’s approval ratings have hit an all-time low. According to a the results of a CBS survey released last week, only 27% of those polled approve of President Bush’s job performance…while 2 out of 3 Americans want a troop withdrawal from Iraq to begin immediately. For Free Speech Radio News, I’m Meredith De Francesco in Blue Hills, Maine.
GRUESOME DISCOVERY IN ARGENTINA DAYS BEFORE HUMAN RIGHTS TRIAL OPENS
Argentina is preparing for a new human rights trial for crimes committed during the country’s military dictatorship. Just days before the new trial opens, Argentine police discovered a body thought to be that of a missing witness. Marie Trigona reports from Buenos Aires.
Police early this morning found a body of a man, who they believed to be Julio Lopez the key witness who went missing last year following the land mark conviction of a police official who ran a clandestine detention center. Forensic officials confirmed today that the body, found without its hands or feet, was not that of 78-year-old Julio Lopez. Police followed a tip off that a dismembered body had been found in an unmarked grave about 6 miles from the city of La Plata, where Lopez was last seen on September 18, 2006. The gruesome discovery could have a chilling effect on witnesses planning to testify in a new trial of an accused torturer. On Thursday, a federal court will open the trial of Catholic priest, Christian Von Wernich, charged carrying out human rights abuses while working in several of the clandestine detention centers used to disappear 30,000 dissidents during the 1976-1983 military dictatorship. For Free Speech Radio News, I’m Marie Trigona in Buenos Aires.
Putin and Bush in Maine (3:29)
President Bush is hosting Russian President Vladimir Putin today at his family vacation home in Maine. Yanmei Xie reports.
Opposition to US/South Korea FTA (4:11)
Just hours before President Bush lost his fast track trade authority, the administration reached a Free Trade Agreement with South Korea. It’s the largest bilateral trade agreement in 20 years and is a first with North-Asian nation. Fair trade groups oppose the measure, and Democratic leaders in Congress say they won’t ratify it. FSRN’s Leigh Ann Caldwell reports.
British Muslim Communities Brace for Backlash (3:46)
Today the British government confirmed that at least two doctors are among seven people who are being held as part of the investigation of the failed car bomb attacks. Jordanian Dr Mohammed Asha was arrested on Saturday night along with a woman thought to be his wife. The other is an Iraqi doctor, Bilal Abdulla, who is suspected of the attack on Glasgow Airport. Meanwhile, the British Muslim community braces itself for a potential backlash. Naomi Fowler reports:
USSF Social Forum Wraps Up (3:54)
The first ever United States Social Forum wrapped up on Sunday in Atlanta, Georgia. About 10,000 activists from around the country and world attended the 4 day forum that feature a diverse array of speakers and over 900 social justice workshops. In the main auditorium and under a banner that read Another World is Possible: Another US is Necessary, many speakers spoke of the need for different struggles to recognize a common bond. There were controversies at the forum that mostly surrounded around access to address the large crowd at the auditorium and media justice activists say they were segregated to a media center stuck in the back of the Civic Center and inaccessible to many. On several occasions the conference organizers admitted errors with not allowing some indigenous groups and a Palestinian liberation group from participating in the round table discussions. Another controversy was the pie-ing of well known activist Media Benjamin of Code Pink and Global Exchange. The pie-ing was done by the Bakers Without. They left a leaflet that accused Benjamin of being a self-appointed ‘spokesperson’ whose actions sabotage the movement as well as other things. Benjamin responded with a written statement that read it was odd the group chose the forum for the pieing when the forum was meant to grow the movement. She also wrote there were plenty of opportunities for her critics to address her at the forum.
First Nations Fight Poverty in Canada (3:28)
Across Canada a national day of action has been observed to focus on the ‘First Nations’ fight against poverty and the continual persecution facing the indigenous population. Stefan Christoff reports from Montreal.