May 7, 2008

  • Clinton Vows to Stick it Out
  • Burma’s Need for Aid Must Transcend Political Rhetoric
  • Violence in Beirut over Lebanon’s Internal Crisis
  • Conflict Threatens Peace in the Caucus Region
  • Demonstrations Against the Acquittal of Three Officers Found Innocent in Sean Bell Case
  • IVAW’s Warrior Writers

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$195 Billion War Supplemental to Head to the Floor of Congress
Yet another War supplemental will head to the floor of Congress tomorrow. The bill calls for 195 billion dollars for the wars and for unemployment benefits and educational spending for veterans. Democrats supporting the bill hope that the social spending provisions will make it veto-proof but other Democrats who want to get out of Iraq say the bill should not pass at all. Karen Miller has more.

The supplemental will fund the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan through next year while including language for troop withdrawal timelines. It also tacks on 11 billion dollars for unemployment benefits and 1 billion for expanding education benefits for veterans. Critics accuse the Democrats of using the bill for political gain by including education and unemployment measures in a bill that President Bush must sign to secure funding for the wars. The Progressive Democrats of America advocacy group has joined forces with congressional candidates to say enough is enough. They are canvassing next week to tell voters to cast their ballots only for candidates who will match their anti-war campaign rhetoric with their votes in Congress. Meanwhile, the White House continues to demand a (quote) “clean” supplemental with no social spending or timelines attached. The president is calling for the the bill to be on his desk by Memorial Day. For FSRN in Washington DC, I’m Karen Miller.

San Diego Mayor Calls For Investigation into Blackwater Base Permit
San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders is calling for an investigation into the process by which the private military contractor Blackwater obtained permission to operate out of a 61,000 square-foot compound in Otay Mesa…just 3 blocks from the border with Mexico. Blackwater allegedly used the names of two of its subsidiaries in the permit application to avoid the level of scrutiny that led to the denial of a similar request a few months ago in the town of Potrero. Mayor Sanders has requested a report back from the investigation by May 23rd.

Colombia Extradites Former Paramilitary Leader to US
A former Colombian paramilitary chief was extradited to the US early this morning. Carlos Jimenez, also known as “Macaco”, will reportedly face charges of terrorism and drug trafficking. Manuel Rueda has more from Bogota.

Jimenez was flown out of the country shortly after midnight following a decision by Colombia’s judicial council to authorize his extradition. The panel said that Jimenez had been conducting criminal activities from his jail cell, like organizing cocaine shipments to the US, violating of the peace agreement he signed when his battalion gave up its weapons. But the court’s decision has angered human rights groups, who would rather Jimenez stay in Colombia to stand trial for war crimes and to provide reparation to his victims. Ivan Cepeda directs Movice, an association that represents victims of paramilitary violence. (clip) “In the United States, what we can do is explore the possibility of prosecution through the judicial cooperation agreement or also through civil lawsuits. We’re going to investigate what is the most convenient and prudent measure to take.” As head of the Bloque Central Bolivar, Jimenez allegedly masterminded the massacres of thousands of civilians while he fought against Colombia’s FARC guerrillas. His men are also said to have forced thousands to flee their homes. Human right groups fear that US courts will only try Jimenez for his drug trafficking activities. Manuel Rueda, FSRN, Bogota.

Former Political Prisoner Assassinated in El Salvador

Legal groups and community organizations in El Salvador are demanding that the country’s Attorney General and National Civilian Police immediately launch an investigation into the recent assassination of an anti-privatization activist. Meredith de Francesco has more from San Salvador.

19 year old Hector Antonio Ventura became a public figure though a high-profile legal case in which the Salvadoran government charged him and 13 other water anti-privatization activists with terrorism. The courts dropped all charges against the so-called Suchitoto 14 last month. Hector Antonio Ventura was stabbed to death by unknown assailants Friday night in a house where he and another man were sleeping. The Foundation of Study for the Application of Law in San Salvador says the killing has all the elements of a political murder as Ventura was a recently freed political prisoner and because the method of attack indicates prior planning. Legal experts and social leaders say Ventura’s murder is the latest in a string of unsatisfactorily investigated assassinations targeting people active in the political opposition movement in El Salvador. An activist couple was murdered in Suchitoto last year, as was a journalist who regularly reported on the Suchitoto 14 case. Prior to his murder, Hector Antonio Ventura had agreed to speak at the Day Against Impunity event to mark the anniversary of the arrests of the Suchitoto 14. For FSRN, this is Meredith de Francesco in El Salvador.



Clinton Vows to Stick it Out
After a big win in North Carolina and a narrow loss in Indiana for Barack Obama, calls are mounting for Hillary Clinton to drop out of the race. But as FSRN’s Leigh Ann Caldwell reports, Clinton vows to push on.

Burma’s Need for Aid Must Transcend Political Rhetoric
New, unconfirmed, figures put the number of dead from Burma’s Cyclone Nargis this weekend as high as 100,000 – with at least one million people displaced, in need to water, food, and shelter. Aid has been slow to trickle in, due to the military-controlled government’s delays in issuing visas and easing customs restrictions on much-needed supplies. Meanwhile, as aid agencies and western governments critique Burma’s junta, it’s the country’s people that are paying the price. Anchor Aura Bogado spoke with Paul Donowitz, Campaign Coordinator for Earth Rights, about the situations on the ground, and the need for international leaders and organizations to shift the focus from critiquing Burma’s brutal regime to helping those devastated by the cyclone.

Violence in Beirut over Lebanon’s Internal Crisis
Pro-government and anti-government militias squared off in gun battles around Lebanon’s capital Beirut today. The violence occurred after the country’s largest union called for a demonstration today over a wage hike they contend wasn’t high enough for the country’s poor. Lebanon is experiencing its worst internal crisis since the end of the 1975-1990 civil war, and as FSRN’s Jackson Allers reports from Beirut, the situation is predicted to worsen between the pro-government and anti-government camps as the two sides vie for power in a country that has been without a president half a year.

Conflict Threatens Peace in the Caucus Region
A brewing conflict is threatening a fragile peace in the Caucasus region. Following the collapse of the Soviet Union, Abkhazia – which had been attached to Soviet Georgia declared its independence. War broke out in 1992, in which the Abkhaz side declared victory. Now, Abkhazia says that Georgians are taking steps to re-conquer the region. FSRN’s Garegin Khumaryan reports from the Caucus region.

Demonstrations Against the Acquittal of Three Officers Found Innocent in Sean Bell Case
In the wake of the acquittal of three police officers involved in the shooting that killed Sean Bell, supporters of Bell and his family demonstrated at six locations in New York today. FSRN’s Rebecca Myles was at Police Plaza near NYPD headquarters.

IVAW’s Warrior Writers
Iraq Veterans Against the War organized three “Warrior Writers” workshops last year, giving about 20 former service members a forum to share their thoughts, stories and experiences from their time on duty in Iraq. Last month, the anti-war organization published a book compiling the works of dozens of veterans from around the nation. With local production help from Dante Toza in Philadelphia, Zack Baddorf produced this story of one soldier and his thoughts on service to the country.


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