March 11, 2003

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UK Arrests for UN Spying
Judges to the International Criminal Court were sworn in today in the Hague with the notable absence being the United States. The court has jurisdiction in the 89 countries that have signed and ratified the 1998 Rome treaty establishing the court, or in cases referred to it by the Security Council. Britain is among the signers, along with the rest of the European Union nations. Questions have been raised about whether a British soldier could be tried before the court for war crimes that might be committed in a war with Iraq. Meanwhile, the British government has made at least one arrest in the scandal surrounding alleged US and UK spying in the United Nations security council. The story broke last week in the British newspaper the Observer. The paper reprinted what it said was a US memo telling US diplomats to step up surveillance of security council members who might be wavering on the vote to authorize force against Iraq.  US officials have yet to take credit for the memo, but the arrest in the UK suggests that this will not be the last. Josh Chaffin reports from DC.

FARC Blames Colombian Government
Yesterday, Colombia’s largest guerrilla group, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, the FARC, issued a communiqué stating that they were not responsible for the Feb 7th bombing of Bogotá’s exclusive Club Nogal that left 36 dead and 107 wounded. Breaking their silence regarding the bombing, the communiqué states that the incident was an act of state terrorism with the intention of creating a counter-guerrilla hysteria both nationally and internationally. After the bombing, the Colombian government was quick to blame the FARC for the incident and swiftly initiated an international campaign to condemn them as terrorists. Then on February 13, a US government plane with four Americans and one Colombian aboard was either shot down or crashed in FARC territory in Southern Colombia. One American, Thomas Janis, a decorated veteran and a Colombian army sergeant were found dead near the scene of the crash. The other three Americans, whose names remain undisclosed, have been taken as prisoners of war by the FARC. From Bogotá, Nicole Karsin has more.

Update on the Occupied Territories
Two Palestinians and an Israeli Soldier were killed in separate incidents today in the Occupied West Bank and Gaza.  This follows a bloody week in the territories after two major incursions in to the Gaza strip claimed the lives of dozens of Palestinians and a suicide bombing killed 15 Israelis in Haifa. Kristen Ess has more from the Gaza Strip.

More on CA 3 Strikes
For the last decade, the state of California has been applying what is called the Three Strikes law which allows sentencing Californians for 25 years to life on their third conviction of a felony. Supposedly designed to take violent offenders off the streets, this law has targeted largely poor, non-violent offenders, and largely people of color. On April 1st 2002, the United States Supreme Court agreed to take on two California Three Strike cases: the case of Leandro Andrade who received 50 years to life for stealing video tapes and the case of Gary Ewing who received 25 years to life for stealing 3 golf clubs. Last week the Supreme Court ruled that the three strikes law did not constitute cruel and unusual punishment. Sonali Kolhatkar has more from Los Angeles.

Sri Lankan Women
This week, the sixth round of peace talks begin between the Sri Lankan government and the separatist guerrilla army the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, or LTTE. For twenty years, Sri Lanka has been torn apart by ethnic conflict between the majority Singhalese Buddhists and the minority Tamil Hindus. Last month Sri Lanka celebrated one year of ceasefire, but both the army and the LTTE continue their recruitment of soldiers and arms. Women, who have fought in the LTTE’s guerrilla war for years, say joining the LTTE has liberated them from the constraints of South Asian society. As part of FSRN’s coverage for International Women’s Day, Miranda Kennedy reports from Sri Lanka.

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