August 16, 2004

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Around 15-hundred Palestinian political prisoners started an open-ended hunger strike in four Israeli jails yesterday. The prisoners say they are subject to unnecessary strip searches, want more access to family visits and telephones, and improve overall living conditions.

Today Israeli prison authorities declared psychological war against the inmates. They threatened to force-feed the prisoners and began barbequing outside the walls of the prisons. The Israeli human rights group B’Tselem says half of the 7,000 Palestinians being held in Israeli civilian prisons or military jails are either being detained without charge or until the end of criminal proceedings against them. 2400 other political prisoners are planning to join the hunger strike on Wednesday. This report was prepared by George Rishmawi with the International Middle East Media Center in occupied Palestine.

The United Nations Security Council has strongly condemned the most recent massacre of Tutsi refugees. Haider Rizvi has more from the U.N.

Amidst slogans and signs calling for the abolition of the death penalty, a man was hanged in Calcutta this weekend, the first execution since 1995. Binu Alex reports from Hyderabad.

The Federal Elections Commission must investigate a complaint against the Commission on Presidential Debates after a federal judge’s ruling. Darby Hickey reports from WPFW in Washington DC.

Over the weekend in British Columbia, native and non-native people protested plans to build a ski slope on a sacred mountain for the 2010 Winter Olympics. Jim Kent reports.

Recall Vote in Venezuela
Venezuelans went to polls in record numbers yesterday in an unprecedented recall referendum on the mandate of an elected head of state and ratified President Hugo Chavez’ term in office. The referendum, which has been in the works for nearly one year now, concluded peacefully early this morning with the opposition calling the vote a fraud and with Chavez supporters celebrating victory. FSRN’s Greg Wilpert reports on the results and the reactions from Caracas, Venezuela.

US Troops Withdrawn in Europe and Asia
Today President Bush announced a 10 year plan to withdraw tens of thousands of troops who are stationed in Europe and Asia. Most of these troops will serve back at home, but, the President adds that they will be prepared to fight in his war on terror. Troops in Iraq and Afghanistan are not a part of this new deployment plan. Mitch Jeserich reports from Washington D.C.

US-Ausi Free Trade Agreement
In Australia, the passage of legislation which will enable the Free Trade Agreement with the United States to go forward has been met with both applause and acrimony. While the Australian government is claiming the deal is a victory worth $6 billion for the economy, the Labor Opposition is claiming its amendments are a victory for the people. But as FSRN’s Erica Vowles reports, not everyone is celebrating.

Anniversary of the Founding of the PKK
The anniversary of the foundation of Kurdish Guerilla organization PKK/Kongragel was this Sunday. On June 1 of this year, Kongragel declared that it ended the unilateral ceasefire of five years with the Turkish armed forces. After the end of ceasefire the clashes between the guerillas and armed forces increased. Turkish press reported yesterday that the PKK has attacked a police station in the eastern city of Tunceli. Free Speech Radio News Correspondent Ezgi Saritas has more from Turkey.

FBI Targeting RNC Demonstrators
Local and Federal law enforcement are preparing for the worst case scenario at the Republican National Convention. The Federal Bureau of Investigation is interviewing protestors deemed dangerous, and the NYPD distributed a manual to officers that detail extreme disruption tactics that protestors might use. FSRN’s Leigh Ann Caldwell has more on this story from WBAI in New York City.


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