Two of the largest unions in the AFL-CIO have officially left the labor federation to protest the state of the nation’s labor movement. The Teamsters and the Service Employees International Union represent about one-quarter of the AFL-CIO’s membership. Two more unions — United Food and Commercial Workers and UNITE HERE — are also on the verge of leaving. The split marks one of the biggest rifts ever in the American labor movement. We’ll have more on this later in the show.
A new government study has found that the total cost of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan will top $700 billion over the next decade. Already $300 billion has been spent. The total cost estimate comes from the Congressional Budget Office. The San Francisco Chronicle reports this would make the combined campaigns the most expensive military effort in the last 60 years. It is estimated that the Vietnam War cost about 600 billion in current dollars. The Korean War cost about 430 billion in current dollars.
Another government study on Iraq is also making news this week. A joint report by the Pentagon and State Department has concluded that the Iraqi police force has been infiltrated by the Iraqi resistance. The report also criticizes the U.S. military for failing to adequately train the local police forces.
Here in this country–a U.S. soldier has been sentenced to 18 months in prison after he pleaded guilty to shooting dead an Iraqi police officer. Corporal Dustin Berg pleaded guilty on the day his military court martial was set to begin. Berg was also accused of shooting himself in order to help bolster his claim that he shot the Iraqi in self-defense.
Meanwhile a new poll by the Pew Research Center has found that 64 percent of Americans believe President Bush does not have a clear strategy for bringing the situation in Iraq to a successful conclusion.
In Britain police have identified two men as being suspects in last week’s attempted bombings in London. The police did not give the nationality of the men but there has been wide speculation in the British press that some of them are from East Africa, possibly Somalia.
One of the world’s largest record companies — Sony/BMG — has agreed to pay a $10 million settlement in a major payola case. New York’s Attorney General Eliot Spitzer sued the company for illegally paying radio stations thousands of dollars to play certain artists including Jennifer Lopez and Franz Ferdinand. Spitzer said “Contrary to listener expectations that songs are selected for airplay based on artistic merit and popularity, air time is often determined by undisclosed payoffs to radio stations and their employees.” Spitzer also criticized the radio stations for accepting the payment. He said the Federal Communications Commission should consider stripping the licenses of the stations. On Monday FCC commissioner Jonathan Adelstein called for an immediate federal investigation of payola practices.
This news from Zimbabwe… the United Nations is estimating that 700,000 people have been left without homes or their livelihood following the government’s effort to destroy slum areas. The UN estimates another 2.4 million people have been affected by the campaign. The report called the program a “disastrous venture” that was being carried out “with indifference to human suffering.” The Zimbabwe government has defended its moves as a needed clean-up of the nation’s slums but critics said the program is politically motivated. Most of the homes destroyed belonged to opponents of Robert Mugabe’s government. On Monday, UN Secretary General Kofi Annan said he had accepted an invitation from Mugabe to travel to Zimbabwe to witness firsthand what is happening.
The New York Times is reporting that the Pentagon has quietly joined forces with the Filipino military to hunt down a leader of the Islamic group Abu Sayyaf inside the Philippines. A military official told the paper that Navy SEALs and Army Special Forces are now working in the Philippines and that the U.S. is providing intelligence and communications support.
In political news, members of the Democratic Leadership Council are calling on the Democratic party to get tougher on defense by expanding the military by 100,000 troops and for allowing military recruiters to have unrestricted access to college campuses. The DLC held a two-day meeting in Columbus Ohio where it outlined a new agenda for the party based on national security, family values, health care, tax reform, and managing the federal government. The founder of the DLC, Al From, called on the party to reach out to more political moderates. He said, “We have to win about 60 percent of the moderates to break even. There has never been a time when there were more liberals than conservatives in the electorate.” From said, “We’ve got to make it clear that Michael Moore doesn’t speak for us.” On Monday, Senator Hilary Clinton agreed to chair a new effort by the DLC called the American Dream Initiative to help shape a new agenda for the country and Democratic Party.
In Italy, a federal court has issued arrest warrants for six more CIA agents in connection to the kidnapping of an Egyptian cleric from the streets of Milan. A total of 19 CIA operatives are now wanted in the case. The cleric was allegedly snatched on a Milan street in February of 2003, flown to an air base in Germany and then to Egypt, where he reportedly was tortured. The operation was allegedly part of the CIA’s “extraordinary rendition” program, in which terror suspects are transferred to third countries without court approval, subjecting them to possible torture.
In India, dozens of workers and police officers have been injured following protests at a Honda plant in the city of Gurgaon. The protests began after the plant fired or suspended 54 workers.
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