The United Steelworkers of America is calling for the firing of Miami police John Timoney following last week’s protests against the Free Trade Area of the Americas and the dropping of all charges against peaceful protesters. The mostly peaceful protests were marred by scores of reports of police brutality. Police shot rubber bullets and tear gas at protesters and beat demonstrators with batons. Over 200 people were arrested and jailed. At least one protester remains hospitalized from injuries he said he sustained at the hands of the police The AFL-CIO and the American Civil Liberties Union are considering suing the city. And the president of the steelworkers union, Leo Gerard called for a congressional investigation into why $8.5 million from the Iraq reconstruction bill was used to pay for security at the protests. He said the money went towards “homeland repression.” The Alliance for Retired Americans also held a rally Tuesday in Miami to protest how the police handled senior citizens who attended the FTAA demonstrations. One 71-year-old man, Bentley Killmon, told the Associated Press he was arrested while he was looking for his organization’s bus. But then he encountered police dressed in riot gear. They pushed him to the ground, arrested him, handcuffed him for 12 hours and denied him water or a chance to make a phone call. Killmon said “The way I was treated, you would expect it in a third world country, not in this country.” The Miami police continue to defend their actions. A spokesman told the Associated Press: “The object of the show of force was twofold: one to let the peaceful demonstrators know they could protest safely and two to let the troublemakers know that we would not tolerate anarchy. It was successful.”
On Capitol Hill the Senate Tuesday approved President Bush’s package to overhaul Medicare by a 54 to 44 vote. The legislation is meant to help provide the nation’s 40 million Medicare recipients help pay for prescription drugs. But critics say it will give billions to private medical companies and lead to higher medical costs and the privatization of Medicare. Senator Edward Kennedy blasted the bill saying it will “force senior citizens into the cold arms of HMOs.” A new Los Angeles Times poll found just only 33 percent of seniors polled backed the new bill. In other news from Washington, the government reported yesterday that the economy grew at an 8.2 percent annual rate last quarter. It was the fastest rate since 1984.
In Iraq news, Jay Garner has admitted in an interview with the BBC that the U.S. made a series of mistakes during his short stint overseeing the U.S. occupation of Iraq before he was replaced with Paul Bremer. Garner said the U.S. should have communicated more efficiently with the Iraqi people, restored electricity quicker to the country, increased the number of troops in Baghdad and worked harder to establish an Iraqi government.
The New York Times is reporting that the White House has decided to take back nearly $300 million in loan guarantees to Israel to punish Ariel Sharon for building new settlements and a massive wall through Palestinian land in the West Bank.
A record three million people with AIDS have died this year across the globe including 500,000 children under the age of 15. Meanwhile the total number of people infected with HIV has grown to 40 million as the virus is spreading more quickly in places like India, Russia and China. This according to a report issued Tuesday by the organization UNAIDS. However UNAIDS did report that the infection rate was falling in portions of Africa.
In a rare interview, former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet described himself yesterday as a “angel.” After he took power in a U.S.-backed military coup in 1973, he oversaw the killing of at least 3,000 dissidents and political opponents. He added, “I never aspired to be a dictator because I considered that to be a dictator would end badly. I always acted in a democratic way.” Between 1998 and 1999 he was held under house arrest for 17 months in Britain on genocide charges.