August 18, 2004

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Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr signaled today that he would dissolve his Mehdi militia and agreed to leave the sacred Imam Ali shrine in Najaf. In a letter delivered to delegates at the Iraqi National Conference – al Sadr agreed to end the uprising – but demanded a cease-fire first with U.S.-led forces in Najaf. However, fighting continues in the holy city, where Mr Sadr’s forces have battled US-led troops for nearly two weeks. The Iraqi national Conference did approve a slate of 81 members their interim national council today – the final 19 seats of the 100 member body will be filled by members of the former U.S.-appointed Governing Council who were not included in the interim government. The Australian reports that in Najaf today — Iraqi police threatened to kill every journalist working there. Ten uniformed policemen walked into the Sea of Najaf hotel and demanded that the al-Arabiya, Reuters and AP correspondents go with them. A uniformed lieutenant then told the assembled journalists and hotel staff: “We are going to open fire on this hotel. I’m going to smash it all, kill you all, and I’m going to put four snipers to target anybody who goes out of the hotel. You have brought it upon yourselves.”

Terror Suspects Appear in UK Court
Eight men appeared in court today accused of plotting terrorist attacks in Britain and the United States. Naomi Fowler has more from London.

EPA Proposes Rule Changes
The US Environmental Protection Agency is considering a proposed rule that would set uniform standards on power plant emissions. A report released yesterday by Environmental Defense makes a case for the rule clean air advocates say could save lives. Erika McDonald reports from Houston.

AFGE Rally
The American Federation of Government Employees Local 12 union staged a protest outside the Department of Labor to oppose the outsourcing of government jobs to private contractors. Jenny Johnson reports.

Soweto Settlers Sue Over Water
A Community of informal settlement dwellers in Johannesburg is waging a legal battle against Johannesburg Water over the legality of its pre-paid water meters. Na’eem Jennah reports from Johannesburg.

US to Support ‘Friendly’ Militias – 3:47
The Pentagon is proposing to spend hundreds of millions of dollars on what it calls friendly militias around the world to help fight its war on terrorism. However some worry that such a proposal could be a throw back to US policies that helped fund the Taliban in the 80’s and paramilitaries throughout Latin America that resulted in hundreds of massacres. Mitch Jeserich reports from Capitol Hill.

Mistranslation Leads to Terrorist Accusation – 4:00
A note written in Kurdish that led to the arrest of two Muslim men in Albany New York was mistranslated. This mistranslated message was the primary evidence that spurred a year and a half investigation of two men who the government said has terrorist ties. The two men have been in jail without bail for two weeks now. FSRN’s Leigh Ann Caldwell has this report from WBAI in New York City.

Leadership Crisis in Kashmir – 3:58
This year India and Pakistan have held various discussions on many levels and expressed willingness to discuss Kashmir, the major bone of contention between the two nuclear neighbors. Both countries claim rights to Jammu and Kashmir, presently divided between the two by a ceasefire line called the line of control. In view of an armed insurgency going on in Indian administered Kashmir; the international community has been urging both sides to resolve their differences. Kashmiri separatists have been pressing for their inclusion in the talks, as many of them seek an independent Jammu and Kashmir. However, the separatist camp in Kashmir is a divided lot. FSRN Correspondent Shahnawaz Khan has more

Homeless Management Information Systems – 4:06
The US Department of Housing and Urban Development is requiring federally-funded homeless assistance providers to implement a Homeless Management Information System, or HMIS. HUD says the purpose of HMIS is to get a Congressionally-mandated, unduplicated census of America’s homeless and to evaluate the effectiveness of federal homeless assistance programs. But others see it as an invasive tracking system. Under HMIS local service providers will ask clients for personal identifying information such as name, date of birth and social security number. The proposed standards for HMIS implementation that were released for public comment last year allowed domestic violence programs to provide non-identifying information about victims for government reports. But that exemption has been removed from the final rule, which becomes effective on August 30. Kellia Ramares has more.

LA Jobs and the Economy – 4:09
Democractic congressional leaders hosted a forum in Los Angeles yesterday on jobs and the economy, in which business leaders and economists addressed hundreds of community members and students at a local college campus. Democratic leaders, including Senator Barbara Boxer and local congresspeople, called Bush’s tax cut for the rich and the costly war in Iraq bad economic policies. While more Americans are concerned about outsourcing, Democrats say thousands of jobs have been shipped overseas under the current administration. Ngoc Nguyen reports from LA.


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