February 22, 2005

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Chalabi Out
The Bush administration’s former leading man in Iraq is pulling out of the race for Prime Minister making way for a candidate supported by the clergy-backed coalition. Dave Enders reports from Baghdad.

Togo Plans Elections
The West African nation of Togo is still trying to find its footing as the newly installed President keeps tight control over the media while protests criticize what some are calling a military coup d’état. Linley Smith has more.

Driver May Face Death Penalty Because of Race
Jury selection began today in the trial of the driver of a tractor-trailer used during a smuggling attempt in which 19 immigrants died.  From KPFT in Houston,Renee Feltz reports.

Ugandan Officials Try to Cope with Child Soldiers
Ugandan military officials are struggling to deal with the child soldiers in their ranks as they also try to demobilize the resistance army with estimated 12 to 20 thousand child fighters and sex slaves. Joshua Kyalimpa reports from Uganda.


The US Supreme Court opened a new session today without Chief Justice Rehnquist, who is ailing from Thyroid cancer. The Court decided it would hear the Bush Administration’s challenge to the state of Oregon’s physician assisted suicide law. The court also heard oral arguments in the case of the government’s practice of condemning private property to make way for economic development. Ingrid Drake from the DC Radio Co-op reports.

Palestinians are celebrating the release of 500 prisoners held by Israel.Another 400 are scheduled to be released soon, part of a good-will gesture on the part of the Israeli government. Yet, as Awad Duiabies reports, Israel is still holding 8,000 Palestinians in prison- some of whom are held on administrative detention, meaning without charges for renewable, six-month sentences.

A massive earthquake has struck a remote mountain village in southeast Iran, killing over 400 people and leaving hundreds more injured. Severe cold and rainy weather is hampering rescue efforts for the 6.4 magnitude quake, with relief teams bringing blankets and warm food to thousands of people who have been left homeless as a result.

In other news, the Commander-in-Chief of the Israeli Air Force told reporters yesterday his country must be prepared to carry out an air strike on Iran in light of its alleged nuclear activity. Inside Iran,heavy clashes erupted between Kurds and security agents near the Iraqi border, leaving dozens injured and hundreds arrested. Battles broke out after State Security Force agents dispersed demonstrations taking place simultaneously in the towns of Sardasht, Saqqez, and Baneh in protest against severe fuel shortages in the area. The demonstrations quickly turned violent as protestors fought back and shouted slogans against Iran’s ruling clerics. The Kurdistan Democratic Party of Iran, which coordinates such resistance, has based itself in Iraq since the 1991 Gulf War. FSRN’s Aaron Glantz visted them in their mountain camp, and files this report.

On day two of his 5-day tour of Europe, President Bush said he stands by his decision to invade Iraq, but admitted he understands why some Europeans disagreed. Wanting to put the war behind him, Bush added that he is pleased that all 26 NATO member nations are contributing to training Iraqi security. As police fired water cannons at some 1,000 anti- Bush demonstrators outside EU headquarters, the President assured EU leaders that the US has no plans to attack Iran over developing nuclear technology. Meanwhile, North Korean Leader Kim Jong-Il announced yesterday that his country would return to six party nuclear talks if the United States showed credible sincerity and if the conditions were right. Over the weekend a top Chinese official held talks in North Korea after the country declared two weeks ago that it possesses nuclear weapons and that it would pull out of the six-way talks. And, as tensions continue on the Korean peninsula, many Korean- Americans are also expressing their concerns. Miae Kim reports.

Cameroon halted anti-AIDS pill testing this weekend after activists criticized the trials for being unethical. The study, funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, began in September of last year and tested anti-retroviral pills and placebos on 400 sex workers who were not infected with HIV, and whom AIDS activists said had inadequate healthcare and lacked safe sex counseling. The World Health Organization, meanwhile, has released a report on its ambitious “3×5 Campaign”, whose goal is to treat 3 million AIDS patients in poor countries with anti-retroviral drugs by 2005. Although there has been much improvement in the past year, the goal is far from being met. Julia Steinberger reports from Geneva.

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