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HeadlinesJune 20, 2003

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Senate Panel Votes to Reverse FCC Decisions, Activists Call Vote 'Historic Victory'

Jun 20, 2003

The Senate Commerce Committee yesterday voted to prevent the nation’s largest media conglomerates from growing even larger.

The Senate legislation would reverse a vote the Federal Communication Commission took just two and a half weeks ago, to relax or scrap the government’s media ownership rules.

Washington May Consider Force Against Syria

Jun 20, 2003

The Israeli newspaper Haaretz is reporting that senior Pentagon officials say the United States may use force against Syria to quell up the opposition to U.S. forces in Iraq.

Haaretz reports that recent intelligence reports have lead the Pentagon to believe that the increasing attacks against U.S. soldiers in Iraq are being carried out by militants based and trained in Syria.

The State Department continues to support diplomatic measures for dealing with Syria.

American Soldier Killed in Attack on US Military Ambulance in Iraq

Jun 20, 2003

Meanwhile an American soldier was killed and two others injured yesterday when a rocket propelled grenade was fired at a US military ambulance in Iraq.

It was the third attack on American personnel or their offices in the last 24 hours.

In Samarra, a US tank was also struck yesterday with rocket-propelled grenades. And west of Baghdad an Army truck was hit with another rocket-propelled grenade.

Powell in Israel

Jun 20, 2003

Secretary of State Colin Powell is meeting today with Israeli and Palestinian officials as the Bush administration continues to try to revive the Middle East peace process.

USA Today reports that Powell is there in part to lower expectations over the possibility of peace.

21 Settlers Arrested at Yitzhar; Molotov Cocktails Found at Site

Jun 20, 2003

Meanwhile Israeli troops arrested 21 Jewish settlers Thursday after they refused to evacuate their illegal outpost south of Nablus in the West Bank.

And more than 30 settlers and 15 Israel troops were injured after fighting between the two groups. Israel Radio also reported that seven Molotov cocktails were found hidden at the outpost.

Despite the danger, Israeli troops have been ordered to leave their weapons behind when they attempt to close illegal settlements.

Justice Dept. Nabs Truck Driver, Accuses Him of Terror Plot on Bkln Bridge

Jun 20, 2003

The Justice Department has arrested a truck driver from Ohio it says had ties to al Qaeda and planned to blow up the Brooklyn Bridge.

The man Iyman Faris was arrested three months ago but his arrest was kept secret until yesterday.

Attorney General John Ashcroft said yesterday that Faris has already plead guilty to the lesser charges of providing material support to al Qaeda. He faces us to 20 years in prison and a $500,000 fine. USA Today reports he may face lesser time and then go into the Witness Protection Program in exchange for his cooperation.

Ashcroft refused to tell reporters how the government picked up Faris who was born in Kashmir and became a U.S. citizen in 1999. The government charges he went to Afghanistan in 2000 and met with Osama Bin Laden and Khalid Sheikh Mohammed

There is some doubt as to the danger the man posed and whether his plans to blow up the bridge could succeed.

One FBI official told the New York Times, “Obviously he had contacts with people at al-Qaida so he has to be considered somewhat important, but to say whether he really could have accomplished this or not, we’re still not sure.”

Pentagon Drops Charges on ‘Friendly Fire’ Pilots who Bombed Canadians

Jun 20, 2003

The U.S. Air Force has dropped criminal charges against the two US fighter pilots who mistakenly bombed and killed four Canadian soldiers in Afghanistan last year.

The Pilots Major Harry Schmidt and William Umbach had faced more than 60 years in prison if they were convicted on manslaughter, aggravated assault and dereliction in the line of duty.

But now the Air Force is now recommending the pilots face “administrative sanctions.”

This comes despite the findings of a joint US-Canadian investigation, which said the two pilots were at fault for the deaths.

The Canadian troops were training near the southern Afghan city of Kandahar on April, 17 2002 when they were bombed and killed.

The pilots reported what they believed to be enemy activity and requested permission to fire. US air controllers never gave permission but they dropped a 500-pound laser guided bomb on the target.

Panel Urges Caution on Smallpox Inoculation

Jun 20, 2003

The team of medical experts overseeing the Bush administration’s smallpox immunization campaign advised yesterday against expanding the effort to millions of emergency response worker. This according to The Washington Post.

The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices said a series of unexpected heart complications raises concerns about the safety of the vaccine.

At least 27 military employees and 21 civilian workers have suffered heart problems after being vaccinated.

Gay Bishop Row May Spark Worldwide Schism

Jun 20, 2003

The Archbishop of the Anglican Church in Nigeria has threatened to split with the Church of England if it consecrates the church’s first gay bishop.

The Guardian is reporting more than a dozen other churches in developing countries might follow Nigeria’s lead.

Three More Iranian Protesters Set Themselves on Fire

Jun 20, 2003

Three more Iranians set themselves on fire yesterday to protest the French government’s arrest of 158 members of the Mojahedin People’s Movement of Iran. On Thursday a man set himself on fire in the Swiss city of Bern. Two others set themselves alight in front of the French Embassy in Rome.

On Wednesday three other protesters set themselves on fire in France and another did so in London.

CIA Searching for Missing Jet in Angola

Jun 20, 2003

This news from Angola: The CIA is on the search for a missing Boeing 727 jet which made an unauthorized take off from an airport there three weeks and hasn’t been seen since.

A security analyst for Jane’s Aviation said the aircraft was once connected to a firm linked to an airline that flew cargo into Afghanistan for the Taliban before the US invasion.

Suit Disputes Integrity of Poland Spring Water

Jun 20, 2003

Poland Spring is being sued on charges that the water bottler has deceived customers by claiming they sell natural spring water found deep in the woods of Maine. The suit claims that the water is little more than tap water that comes from ground water sources near a former garbage dump.

Discarded War Munitions Poisoning Baltic Sea

Jun 20, 2003

Tens of thousands of bombs and barrels filled with chemical agents and nerve gas discarded after World War II are now contaminating the Baltic Sea and the eastern Atlantic.

The New York Times is reporting that corroded casings have caused poisons like arsenic, lewisite, mustard gas and sarin to leach out.

Fishing is now forbidden around the four main dumping grounds, which hold an estimated 300,000 tons of munitions.

Europe Says No to US’s GMOs

Jun 20, 2003

The New York Times is reporting talks between the United States and European Union over opening up Europe to genetically modified foods broke down in Geneva yesterday.

The Times says American officials said they would soon request the World Trade Organization convene a panel to review their case in an effort to end a ban that farm groups say is depriving agricultural businesses of hundreds of billions of dollars a year.

The Times goes on to say the Bush administration called Europe’s policy illegal, saying scientific research has shown genetically altered crops to be safe.

The European Union, “denies choices to European consumers.” So said Richard Mills, a spokesperson for the United States trade representative, Robert Zoellick.

European officials say the long-term effects of altered food remain uncertain. They say they’re disappointed by the administration’s publicizing the dispute.

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