U.S. Sends in 50 Antiterrorism Marines to Haiti

Feb 24, 2004

In Haiti, 50 members of the Marine’s Fleet Antiterrorism Security Team arrived in Port Au Prince Monday to secure the U.S. embassy. Opponents of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide are threatening to attack the capital within a week. On the political front, Aristide has agreed to U.S.-brokered power sharing agreement that would allow him to stay in power while forcing him to accept a new prime minister. According to the Miami Herald, opponents seemed on the brink of rejecting the deal and were set to demand that Aristide step down. Under pressure from Secretary of State Colin Powell, the opposition agreed to wait 24 hours to review the agreement. The Miami Herald also reports that the rebellion against Aristide could continue even if political opponents back a power-sharing agreement. This is because the armed gangs who have taken control of much of northern Haiti are not closely aligned with the organized political opposition except in their hatred for Aristide. Meanwhile in Cap Haitien, Haiti’s second largest city, armed gangs consolidated their grip on the city by conducting house to house searches of supporters of Aristide.

Education Head Calls Teachers Union “Terrorist”

Feb 24, 2004

Education Secretary Rod Paige described the National Education Association as “a terrorist organization” on Monday. The Association is one of the largest labor unions in the country and was criticized by Paige for its opposition to portions of the No Child Left Behind Act. The act has come under intense criticism by educators in part because it places increased emphasis on standardized testing. Paige later apologized for his use of words but again charged the teacher’s union was employing “obstructionist scare tactics” to fight the No Child Left Behind Act. But it has not been just teachers who have opposed the law. Legislatures in at least 19 states have adopted resolutions criticizing the law because it places too many new costs on the states. And earlier this month the Republican-led legislature of Utah voted not to implement the act except where there is adequate federal funding.

UN: Iraq Elections & Caucuses Can Not Be Held Before 2005

Feb 24, 2004

The United Nations has a released a report saying that neither elections nor caucuses in Iraq are feasible before 2005. With the U.S. planning to hand over power on June 30, it remains unclear who would run the country before elections can be held.

Pentagon Opens Halliburton Criminal Probe

Feb 24, 2004

The Pentagon has opened a criminal investigation to determine whether Halliburton subsidiary Kellogg Brown & Root committed fraud by overcharging the government $61 million in providing gasoline to Iraq. Halliburton was once headed by Vice President Dick Cheney. According to the Wall Street Journal, the move raises the possibility that the government could suspend Halliburton’s existing contracts and prevent it from bidding on future work if the investigation moves ahead.

CIA Given Name of 9/11 Hijacker in March 1999

Feb 24, 2004

The New York Times is reporting German officials gave the CIA the first name and phone number of one of the 9/11 hijackers two and a half years before he flew one of the hijacked planes into the World Trade Center. According to the Times, the CIA never followed up on the tip from Germany about the man, Marwan al-Shehhi, until after 9/11.

U.S. Denies Human Rights Groups Access to Military Trials

Feb 24, 2004

The Pentagon has rejected a request by Amnesty International, Human Rights First and Human Rights Watch to send representatives to observe upcoming military trials of detainees held at Guantanamo Bay.

Jailed Uzbek Mother Freed Before Rumsfeld Visit

Feb 24, 2004

A court in Uzbekistan has freed the jailed mother of a Muslim dissident after criticism by human right groups just hours before a visit by Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. The 62-year-old woman, Fatima Mukadyrova, was sentenced to six years in jail this month for possession of banned Muslim pamphlets. But human rights groups say the government was trying to silence her after she accused prison authorities of torturing her son to death. Human rights groups estimate there are 6,000 religious and political prisoners in Uzbekistan.

Total Information Awareness Continues, Under Different Name

Feb 24, 2004

The Associated Press is reporting that the government has quietly resumed researching surveillance programs that closely mirror the Pentagon’s controversial Total Information Awareness project which was terminated last year. Total Information Awareness attempted to track credit-card, travel, medical, school and other records of everyone in the United States. While Congress rejected Total Information Awareness, it gave $64 million for a data mining research project arranged by the Advanced Research and Development Activity. The little known agency is using some of the same researchers who had been working for Admiral John Poindexter in developing Total Information Awareness.

Ass’t Principal Admits Planting Drugs on Student

Feb 24, 2004

In the Michigan city of South Haven, an assistant high school principal has admitted to police that he planted marijuana in a student’s locker. According to news reports the principal believed the student was a drug dealer and was trying to get him expelled.

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