October 10, 2005
RESCUE EFFORTS IN PAKISTAN
As rescue workers scramble to deliver aid to earthquake survivors in Pakistan, they are faced with the challenge of transportation to the hilly areas. Sonali Kolhatkar has more:
The devastation from this weekend’s earthquake in Pakistan was centered around Muzzafarabad, the capital of Pakistani Kashmir. According to AH Nayyar, a Pakistani peace activist in Islamabad, accessibility to the affected region is currently the most important issue.
(AH Nayyar Clip 1) “This is extremely poor area- subsistence farming, terrace farming, and this is a hilly area – all very inaccessible. There are some roads. But the roads are very narrow. In some places the roads don’t even exist. The roads that existed have seen many land slides because of which, the rescue workers are finding it very difficult to get into these places.”
Nayyar reports that President Musharraf has specifically asked the US for helicopters.
(AH Nayyar Clip 2) “Pakistan is feeling a shortage of helicopters so it has asked for helicopters from “friendly countries.” He specifically mentioned help with some Chinook helicopters. It will amount to the US disengaging some its forces from Afghanistan and passing on this equipment to Pakistan.”
Thus far, the US has pledged a loan of only 8 helicopters that are expected to arrive in Pakistan from Bagram Airbase in Afghanistan within the next few days. For Free Speech Radio News, I’m Sonali Kolhatkar in Los Angeles.
British Defense Secretary John Reid has announced that Britain will soon reduce it’s military presence in Iraq by 500 troops. Two minor bases in Basra will be closed and Iraqi police will assume patrolling duties. In Baghdad, an Arab league delegation visiting Iraq was fired upon today while traveling thru the city in a vehicle convoy. Although members of the delegation escaped unharmed, three police were reportedly killed in the incident. At least two car bombs exploded in Baghdad today and mortor shells struck the U.S. consulate in Hilla. Violence has raged in recent weeks as the referendum nears. Iraqis will vote on a draft constitution this Saturday.
SHARON-ABBAS SUMMIT POSTPONED
A high-profile meeting of Palestinian and Israeli leaders will not take place tomorrow as planned. Manar Jibreen reports from the West Bank.
Tuesday’s summit meeting between Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has been postponed after the two sides failed to agree on important issues during preparatory meetings. Palestinian negotiators demanded that Israel supply the Palestinian Authority with weapons and hand over security control in all Palestinian cities. Israeli Defense Minister, Shaul Mofaz, rejected the two demands saying there will be no handovers in the near future and that the Palestinian Authority must act against resistance groups. The Bush administration originally requested the summit as a precursor to President Abbas’ October 22nd visit to Washington. Abbas has said that he is not interested in talks with Sharon for Public Relations purposes, but rather, for concrete results to push peace talks forward.
CBC LOCKOUT OVER
The employee lockout at the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation is now over. From Vancouver, Alison Benjamin has the details.
Some 90% of CBC workers -over 5,500 employees, including journalists, TV and radio announcers, and technical staff, will return to work after a seven-week lockout. The lockout that began on August 15th stemmed from a dispute over CBC hiring practices. About 30 percent of CBC workers are contract; but CBC management wanted to expand this amount in order to remain flexible in Canada’s media climate. The union argued this policy would negatively affect job security. Over the weekend, the union that represents CBC employees voted overwhelmingly to accept a new collective agreement from CBC management. The number of full-time workers the CBC can hire on contract is now capped at 9.5 percent. Aside from political pressure, commercial forces were likely key in resolving the dispute. National Hockey League games began this month. The advertising money is an important source of income for the broadcaster as government funding has diminished over the last 10 years. Public funding of the CBC is a contentious issue, with some conservatives questioning the value of the CBC, saying it is often liberally biased. For others, it represents an alternative to Canada’s commercial media outlets. The CBC is expected to be up and running in the coming days and weeks. For FSRN in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, I’m Alison Benjamin.
IMMIGRATION ISSUES IN HOUSTON **online bonus**
Texas lawmakers have played a key role in passing a new Homeland Security spending bill for border patrol and immigration enforcement. They characterized the measure as ‘protecting the country from terrorists.’ Over the weekend in Houston, immigrants took to the streets to reframe the issue. Renee Feltz reports from KFPT.
The Homeland Security funding package includes $1 billion for immigration custody and detention operations… and $5 million for training local and state law police officers to enforce immigration laws. Another $40 is allocated to put in place the real ID act, which requires states to create specially marked drivers licenses for people who cannot prove they’re in the country legally. The measure also provides funding for 1,000 more border patrol agents – meeting a demand of the vigilante border patrol group, the Minutemen. The group kicked off armed border patrol and day labor monitoring efforts in Texas this month.
Grassroots immigrant groups and their allies are working to reframe the debate away from criminalization and towards respect. Over 200 people attended a support rally on Saturday. They heard from America Para Todos member, Reverend Urena:
In collaboration with Rachel Clarke, I’m Renee Feltz in Houston for Free Speech Radio News.
7.6 Magnitude Quake Hits Kashmir (3:29)
Kashmir has been deeply affected by a 7.6 magnitude earthquake, leaving the city and its residents devastated. The quake’s epicenter was located near Muzaffarabad, the capital of Pakistan-administered Kashmir. More than 20,000 people are dead in Kashmir alone. The trembler also affected parts of Kashmir under the Indian control, although the toll in that region is relatively less, although authorities in Indian-administered Kashmir say the real picture has yet to emerge. From Indian-administered Kashmir, Shahnawaz Khan has more.
Polish Elections Turns Country Towards the Right (3:27)
Poles cast their votes in the first round of a presidential election which, as expected, cemented the former communist country’s decisive shift to the right. Voters choose two center-right candidates with roots in what’s called the Solidarity movement: the center-right free-market liberal Donald Tusk of the Civic Platform and conservative Lech Kaczynski of the Catholic Law and Justice Party. On October 23, Poland’s voters will head to a third round at the polls, to make a final decision between two different visions of the nation’s future when they choose a successor to left-wing President Aleksander Kwasniewski. Danuta Szafraniec reports from Warsaw.
German’s New “Grand Coalition” (2:15)
After three weeks of wrangling over which configuration of political parties would make up its next government, the German people finally have an answer. The Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and the Social Democratic Party (SPD) have struck a deal, deciding to combine to form a so-called “Grand Coalition”. The SPD has agreed that Angela Merkel of the Christian Democratic Union, will take over from Gerhard Schroeder, as Germany’s first female Chancellor. From Berlin, Cinnamon Nippard has more on what Germans can expect from their new government.
EPA To Hold Public Hearings on Radiation Exposure Rules Changes (2:37)
The Environmental Protection Agency will hold public hearings in Washington, DC tomorrow concerning the agency’s proposed new rules on radiation exposure limits at Yucca Mountain, as well as other nuclear waste storage sites. Opponents of the changes, ranging from doctors to conservation and environmental groups, say that these changes are a threat to public safety. Selina Musuta reports on the opposition from Washington, DC.
The American Indian Movement Takes on “Columbus Day” (3:00)
For many people in the US, today is known as Columbus Day, which celebrates the 1492 landing of Christopher Columbus and his fleet on the Americas. Now a federally recognized holiday, Colorado was the first State to make it an official state holiday, 100 years ago. In recent years, the celebration of the holiday has been shrouded in controversy, as Native Americans dispute the doctrine of discovery and equate the Columbus Day commemorations as a celebration of genocide. The Colorado American Indian Movement has been fighting for nearly 20 years to abolish the holiday and the local parade which celebrates it. Maeve Conran reports from Denver.
Union Asks Yale to Divest Funds (2:57)
Researchers affiliated with Yale’s unions are asking that the university divest from a company they say directly hurts the country’s poor Black and Latino residents. Melinda Tuhus reports.
Everyday Iraqi Stories; Part 2 in an FSRN Series (2:01)
The Iraqi government announced new security measures on Saturday including a curfew, weapons ban and a closure of its borders – all part of the country’s preparations for next week’s constitutional referendum. In our continuing series of in interviews from Iraq, FSRN’s Salam Talib spoke with Mokdad Hazem, an 18-year-old Iraqi police officer and 1 of a family of 7 living in Babylon.