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Kurdish Leader Leyla Zana Released From Jail

In Turkey, the prominent Kurdish leader Leyla Zana was released on Wednesday after 10 years in jail. She is the leading symbol of the fight for Kurdish rights in Turkey. The former legislator, who has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize, first gained international attention in 1991 when she spoke in Kurdish during her oath of allegiance to parliament causing an uproar in the country. Three years later she and three other Kurdish legislators from the pro-Kurdish Democracy Party were jailed allegedly for having ties with the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party or PKK. Human rights groups and the European Union have long protested their detention. While Zana was released, her sentence has only been appealed, not dropped. On July 8 her appeal begins and she could face more prison time. Just hours before their release, Turkish state run television began for the first time broadcasting programs in the long banned Kurdish language. The moves come as Turkey is applying for membership in the European Union.

World Military Spending Nears $1 Trillion in 2003

Global military spending around the world reached nearly $1 trillion last year. The United States spent almost more money than all of the other countries in the world combined. The world total marks a 11 percent jump over the past year. The group Stockholm International Peace Research Institute said the jump was a "remarkable increase." According to the group, the U.S. accounted for 47 percent of the total spending. Japan accounted for 5 percent. And Britain, France and China, each accounted for 4 percent.

Private U.S. Firms Sued Over Iraq Prison Torture

The Center for Constitutional Rights filed a class-action lawsuit Wednesday against two private military contractors, Titan Corp and CACI International, for the role of their employees in abusing and torturing detainees in Iraq. The suit alleges contractors conspired to execute, rape and torture prisoners during interrogations to boost profits from military payments. The suit seeks payment for tortured detainees and a ban on future government contracts for the two corporations.

U.S. General: Iraqi Police Training Has Failed

The head of the Army training operations in Iraq said the country’s attempt to train an Iraqi police force has largely failed. He said "It hasn’t gone well. We’ve had almost one year of no progress." In April, the Iraqi forces faced their first big test when the resistance movement rose up in Fallujah, Najaf and Karbala. Half of the newly trained police and military forces deserted instead of fighting against fellow Iraqis.

State Dept. Rewrites Report Praising War On Terror

The State Department has been forced to correct major portions of its annual report on global terrorism that was released two months ago after major mistakes were cited. The original report concluded that the number of terrorist attacks in the world in 2003 had dropped to its lowest level in 34 years. Now the report will be rewritten and it may show that 2003 had more attacks than any year in the last two decades. Rep. Henry A. Waxman of California accused the administration of manipulating terrorism data so it could claim victory in the so-called war on terror.

11 Chinese Workers Killed in Afghanistan

11 Chinese workers have been shot dead in northern Afghanistan in one of the worst attacks on foreigners in the country since the fall of the Taliban in 2001.

50 Million Phone Customers Could Face Higher Bills

50 million telephone customers in the U.S. could soon face higher phone bills after the Bush administration announced that it no longer supports a law that requires the four regional Bell companies who control the phone lines to give their rivals access to the lines at discounted prices in order to spur competition. The Supreme Court is currently reviewing whether the four companies, Verizon, SBC Communications, BellSouth and Qwest must allow competing companies to use their phone lines at a subsidized cost since the Bells have a near monopoly on the phone lines. Not everyone in the Bush administration is in agreement of the policy change. President Bush’s chief advisor Karl Rove fears customers who face larger phone bills may be less likely to vote for Bush.

Haitian Singer So Anne Jailed For Month
The popular Haitian folk singer and voodoo priestess Anne Auguste, who was a backer of ousted President Aristide, has now spent a month in a Haitian jail after U.S. Marines arrested her. She is commonly known as So Anne, Creole for Sister Anne. On May 10 Marines raided her house in the middle of the night. Marines used explosives to break down her front door, killed her two pet dogs, handcuffed her 5-year-old grandson and arrested Auguste along with 10 others. In a statement from jail she said was being held as a political prisoner. "I think none of us will ever be able to forget the inhumane treatment we were subjected to in the course of this violent action undertaken in the name of the Bush government for what he calls 'building democracy' in my homeland." According to Newsday, the Marines allege that the singer met with a small group of Muslims in Haiti to organize attacks on the U.S. forces who have been in Haiiti since the coup that ousted the democratically elected President Aristide. Auguste lived in Brooklyn, New York for 20 years before returning in 1994 when Aristide returned to power after the first coup against him. In Brooklyn she regularly sang at massive gatherings including one event in Central Park that attracted 25,000 people. She writes from jail "They may imprison my body but they will never imprison the truth I know in my soul. I will continue to fight for justice and truth in Haiti until I draw my last breath."


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