February 18, 2005

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Nepal’s King Cuts Phones Hoping to Curb Protests
The King of Nepal cut telephone lines in and out of the country today in an attempt to squash potential protests against the monarch. In an interview, he said he took control at the beginning of this month to protect the constitutional monarchy for democracy and avoid political instability. Political analysts say the military and police are staunch supporters of the king and masterminded the takeover. Maoist rebels have been struggling since 1996 to establish communist rule. More than 11-thousand people have been killed in the related violence. Yet, the Maoists have considerable popular support in some regions of the country. In other regions, people say they are fed up with corruption and instability and support the king.

Mexican Government Slams CIA Director’s Statements
The Mexican government has reacted harshly to comments made by the U.S. CIA director claiming that 8 Latin American countries might face pre-election instability. Luz Ruiz reports from San Cristobal.

U.S. Considering Training Indonesian Military Again
Re-opening old wounds, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice indicated that the U.S. would restore Indonesia as a country eligible to receive military training from the United States. Meggy Margiyono reports from Jakarta.

Greenpeace Stops London Oil Trading
Oil trading was halted when environmentalists burst onto the floor of London’s International Petroleum Exchange in protest over the oil industry’s contribution to global warming. From London, Naomi Fowler reports.

Bush Signs Pro-Corporate/Anti-Consumer Legislation
George W. Bush took his pen to new legislation that consumer advocates say will strip citizens of their rights to a fair day in court against irresponsible corporations. Business groups lobbied Congress hard for the change that moves class action cases to federal courts which tend to be easier on corporations accused of fraud or negligence. Bush said he thinks this will go a long way to curb what he calls “the lawsuit culture” and be more efficient.

Internal US Army documents unveil new allegations of torture against both detainees and civilians in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Army investigated claims by senior officers in Afghanistan who say they witnessed Special Forces assaulting civilians during raids in two Afghan villages. The documents, obtained by the ACLU and the Center for Constitutional Rights, also indicate that photos of US soldiers in Afghanistan posing with hooded and bound prisoners were destroyed. Mitch Jeserich reports from Washington.

Following the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, President Bush says he’s working with allies in Europe in an attempt to force Syria out of Lebanon- claiming that Syria is out of step with what he calls the progress being made in the Middle East. Critics, meanwhile, maintain that this is just the latest ploy by the US to gain more ground in the Middle East. Joining us today to talk about the developments in Syria is professor of politics and Chair of the Peace and Justice Studies Program and the University of San Francisco, Stephen Zunes.

Early elections are scheduled for the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus this Sunday. Turkish Cypriot Prime Minister Mehmet Ali Talat resigned in October of last year after his coalition government split over UN General Secretary Kofi Annan’s plan to unite the Greek and Turkish regions of the island were rejected by the southern district. Ezgi Saritas has more.

Fresh off their success at the polls, Iraq’s two main Kurdish political parties have put forward 72 year old Jalal Talabani as their candidate for President of Iraq. If he succeeds in obtaining the post, it will be a fitting chapter in one of Iraq’s most colorful careers. From Northern Iraq, FSRN’s Aaron Glantz has this profile.

At the World Trade Organization headquarters in Geneva yesterday, protesters demonstrated against ongoing preparations for the next WTO ministerial summit, to be held in Hong Kong this December. Julia Steinberger reports.

Activists for justice in Bhopal traveled to Lake Jackson, Texas last night to confront Dow chemical officials over their failure to cleanup abandoned pesticides from a plant it owns in India. A 1981 explosion at the plant killed over 100,000 Bhopalis and continues to pollute the city. From KPFT, Erika McDonald has the story.


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