Socialists Oust Pro-War Party In Spain

Mar 15, 2004

Spanish In Spain, the Socialist Party swept to power Saturday as voters rejected the pro-U.S. policies of Prime Minister José María Aznar. Aznar had been one of the most vocal backers of the U.S. invasion of Iraq. Spain’s new prime minister-elect Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero said he intends to withdraw Spain’s 1,300 troops from Iraq. He said, “The war in Iraq was a disaster, the occupation of Iraq is a disaster.” The vote came three days after bomb attacks in Madrid killed 200 people and wounded 1,500. Spanish police have detained three Moroccans and two men from India in connection to the attack. The Associated Press is reporting that one of the Moroccans was a follower of an Al Qaida member who was jailed in Spain for allegedly helping plan the Sept. 11 attacks. Aznar had come under intense criticism for backing the U.S. invasion and for his handling of Thursday’s bombing. Immediately after the attacks, Aznar’s government insisted the Basque separatist group Eta for the attacks. But intelligence agencies now believe they were carried out by a group connected to Al Qaeda. Many in Spain said their government’s support for the U.S. invasion of Iraq led to Thursday’s bombings. One 23-year-old pre-school teacher told the New York Times “Our prime minister has gotten us into a terrible, completely wrong war. And because of it, I spent yesterday and today going to funerals. I am thinking of a 3-year-old child at my school who no longer has a mother.’’

Military Families: Bring Our Troops Home

Mar 15, 2004

While Spain’s new prime minister announced he would bring Spanish troops home from Iraq, relatives of US troops killed in Iraq marched in Delaware calling on President Bush to also bring American troops home. On Sunday the families, marched to the Dover Air Force Base, the site of the military’s largest mortuary to honor all those killed and wounded in Iraq. Today the families plan to walk from the Walter Reed Army Medical Center to the White House. Meanwhile in Iraq six U.S. soldiers died over the weekend in bomb attacks. 564 U.S. soldiers have now died in Iraq since the year invaded Iraq a year ago this week.

Deserter Soldier To Surrender to Military Police

Mar 15, 2004

Near Boston a member of the Florida National Guard is planning to surrender to military police today. The soldier, Staff Sgt Camilo Mejia, has spent the last five months in hiding after refusing to go back to fight in Iraq. And in Oakland, a welcome-home party was held Sunday for former Marine reservist Stephen Funk. He is believed to be the first conscientious objector of the Iraq war and was recently released from six months in jail.

U.S. Consider Military Draft For Specialists

Mar 15, 2004

The San Francisco Chronicle is reporting the Selective Service System is considering starting a targeted military draft of Americans with special skills in foreign languages and computers.

Haitian President Aristide Returns to Caribbean

Mar 15, 2004

Haitian president Jean-Betrand Aristide is currently on a Gulfstream jet over the Atlantic ocean. Later today, over the objections of Washington, he will make a historic return to the Caribbean two weeks after he was ousted in a coup. Aristide left the Central African Republic early this morning for Jamaica with a delegation led by Congressmember Maxine Waters. Democracy Now’s Amy Goodman is one of only two journalists traveling with the delegation. We’ll hear exclusive reports from her in a few minutes.

Putin Easily Wins in Controversial Election

Mar 15, 2004

In Russia President Vladimir Putin was re-elected by a landslide vote. But the U.S. and human rights groups criticized the election process for largely shutting out opposition candidates. Secretary of State Colin Powell said “a level of authoritarianism [is] creeping back” into Russian society. Some opposition groups had urged voters to boycott the elections. Minutes after the polls closed, a massive fire engulfed a historic 19th-century building near Red Square. Two firefighters died in the blaze.

Suicide Bombing Kills 11 In Israel

Mar 15, 2004

In southern Israel, at least 11 people died on Sunday after a double suicide bombing hit a port community near the Gaza Strip. The al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades claimed responsibility. A member of the group said it was revenge for the killing of five members of the group by Israeli troops in Jenin.

Dems Call For Probe on Medicare Cost Cover-up

Mar 15, 2004

On Capitol Hill, Democrats called Saturday for an investigation of charges that the Bush administration threatened to fire a top Medicare official if he publicly revealed the true costs of a contested Medicare legislation. When the House passed the bill in November, the White House said the program would cost just under $400 billion over the next decade. But since then the White House has revised the estimate to be upwards of $150 billion more. It is widely assumed the Medicare bill would not have passed Congress if legislators knew program’s actual cost.

Questions Raised if Medicare Ad is Gov’t-financed Propaganda

Mar 15, 2004

Federal investigators are examining whether the Bush administration broke a law that bars the government from using federal money for “publicity or propaganda purposes.” In question are a series of fake TV news segments prepared for Spanish-language TV stations that feature people posing as journalists who praise the benefits of the new Medicare law. The segments were produced by a private company for the government using scripts written by the administration. Democratic Senator Frank Lautenberg, of New Jersey said “The distribution of these videos is a covert attempt to manipulate the press.”

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