October 24, 2005

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Headlines (5:32)
At least 20 people are reportedly dead after three massive car bombs exploded outside of the Palestine Hotel in Baghdad today. The hotel is used as a base of operations for numerous foreign journalists. Although there are no fatalities reported inside of the hotel, the building was damaged in the series of explosions.

An assassination in a West Bank refugee camp could complicate Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas’s efforts to demobilize Palestinian armed groups. Manar Jibrin reports from the West Bank.

Two Palestinian fighters were killed Sunday night when Israeli troops opened fire on a house in the Tulkarem refugee camp. Luai Al-Sa’di, a leader of Al-Quds Brigades the armed wing of the Islamic Jihad movement in the West Bank was killed during the ensuing gun battle Islamic Jihad has vowed to avenge the killing of Al Sa’di. Another Islamic Jihad operative was killed in the attack and dozens of civilians were arrested. During last week’s visit to the United States, President Mahmoud Abbas vowed to disarm the resistance groups operating within Palestinian territory. Nasser Jouma’a from the Aqsa Martyr brigades, a group that Abbas has promised to disarm said assassinations does not help truce efforts.
(AUDIO CLIP)”Israel did not commit to any agreements, and this is driving the country into more security deterioration and more violence and bloodshed. This does not prepare the ground for truce that would advance the diplomatic efforts.”
The ongoing Israeli practice of targeted assassinations could pose a serious threat to the efforts of the Palestinian Authority to disarm the resistance and absorb them in its security and other departments. For FSRN from IMEMC.Org in Palestine I’m Manar Jibrin.

Police and community leaders in the English town of Birmingham are appealing for calm after a weekend of racially-fueled violence between local youths. UK correspondent Helen Kelly has more.

Hostility erupted after residents attended a public meeting on Saturday addressing concerns about an unconfirmed sex attack on a 14-year-old Jamaican girl in a store run by Asian shopkeepers. Shops and pubs were ransacked and cars set on fire during the disorder, which reportedly involved several hundred rioters. A number of petrol bombs were thrown and at least 12 gunshots were reported. Four people were stabbed during the violent clashes, including a man in his 20s, who later died from the injuries. A total of 35 people were taken to hospital with police reporting up to 80 separate criminal incidents. Five people were arrested. The rioting continued into Sunday when police and youths were involved in a standoff, during which time a local mosque was attacked. An 18-year-old man has died in hospital after he was shot close to the scene. While order has been returned to Birmingham, fears of further clashes remain in one of the city’s most ethnically diverse areas, which was similarly scarred some 20 years ago during the 1985 Handsworth riots, sparked by the arrest of a black man after a police stop and search. Helen Kelly, reporting from London for Free Speech Radio News.

Brazilians went to the polls yesterday to vote in the first referendum in the country’s history. In Sao Paolo, Natalia Viana has the details.

The results of the referendum were very disappointing for those engaged in the campaign to reduce the number of guns within national territory. Brazilian voters decided 63.5% against a ban on the sale of firearms and ammunition. The referendum was part of an important legislative package approved by Congress in December 2003. Since then, it has been illegal for anyone – except private security, police and the armed forces, to carry a firearm. The sale of guns will still be allowed, although with a stricter set of criteria. Manufacturers are also now obliged to print a “code” on every weapon and each bullet in order to make it easier to track its origin in case of a crime. According to official figures, in 2003 firearms caused 108 deaths per day; about 40 thousand per year. That represents 63% of all the homicides committed in Brazil. For FSRN I´m Natalia Viana in São Paulo, Brazil.

Residents of Cancun are surveying the destruction wrought by Hurricane Wilma. The storm cut a quick path over Florida this morning and has shot out into the Atlantic Ocean. From WMNF in Tampa, Andrew Stelzer has more.

Mexican troops and federal police moved into downtown Cancun today; they’ve set up checkpoints to search people for what they say are stolen goods. As in the aftermath of hurricane Katrina, some people are entering deserted stores for survival needs, while others are stealing furniture and appliances. Four people were killed by Wilma is Mexico, and thousands of homes have been destroyed in Cancun and the island of Cozumel. Many tourists are as of yet unaccounted for, and the Marriott has announce the closure of their resorts through the end of the year. More than 3 million people in Florida lost power because of the storm, which crossed the state early this morning. There are early reports of roofs being torn off, and one death has been reported. In Key West, the streets are flooded, and many residents decided against evacuating, despite orders to do so by officials. For FSRN, from WMNF in Tampa, Im Andrew Stelzer.

FBI’s Improper Surveillance (3:40)
Newly declassified documents indicate there were over 150 violations by the FBI in surveillance activities in 2003, which were connected to the Patriot Act. This comes after Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez testified to Congress that there were no violations connected to the expanded powers and just before Congress is to put its final touches on the Patriot Reauthorization bill. Mitch Jeserich reports from Washington.

Dick Durbin Comments on CIA Leak (2:21)
President Bush said today that the investigation into the outing of an undercover CIA operative was very serious. This comes as the special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald, appears to be close to indicting two top White House officials. Karl Rove and Scooter Libby in the case. Some Republican Senators have begun saying that Fitzgerald may be over zealous in the case and they say possible perjury charges would be little more than legal technicalities. Democratic Senator Dick Durbin of Illinois made this statement today from the Senate floor.

AUDIO CUT: Durbin (1:38)

Senator Dick Durbin of Illinois, commenting today on the floor of the Senate regarding the investigation into the outing of an undercover CIA operative.

Ben Bernake Nominated to Replace Alan Greenspan (:51)
In other news from the capitol…

AUDIO CUT: Bernake

Ben Bernanke, a former member of the Fed board and current chairman of the president’s Council of Economic Advisers, has been nominated to succeed Federal Reserve Board Chairman Alan Greenspan. Some analysts say Bernanke might be more tolerant of choices that could allow consumer prices to rise… Although, in his comments to the press earlier today, Bernanke said he would not venture far from current standards.

AUDIO CUT: Bernake

Alan Greenspan’s term as Federal Reserve Chairman is set to end in late January.

UN Raises Concern Over Kashmir Earthquake Relief (3:55)
United Nations officials are raising serious concerns about the relief work in the quake devastated parts of Pakistan and Pakistan administrated Kashmir. Kofi Annan talked last week about the risk of a second wave of deaths as winter approaches. UN humanitarian aid area coordinator Rashid Khalikov, in Muzaffrabad on Sunday, said the world did not clearly comprehend the magnitude and complexity of the disaster in its first days and that it was just now coming to grips with the catastrophe. UN officials have called the relief operation in Pakistan and Kashmir one of the toughest in the world. Meanwhile, traditional rivals India and Pakistan are talking about proposals to open the line of control in divided Kashmir. FSRN’s Shahnawaz Khan has more.

Turkish-German Relations and EU (3:24)
Turkey has officially begun accession talks with the European Union, a process which will take a decade to complete. Austria and Germany’s new Chancellor would prefer to see Turkey be a “privileged partner” – instead of gaining full membership. But many believe that this is already the case, while Turkey’s Prime Minister has made it clear that the only way forward now is full EU membership. Since 1999, when full EU membership was first touted as a possibility, human rights have significantly improved within Turkey. But International Human Rights organizations note that there are still problems. Cinnamon Nippard has more from Berlin.

Undocumented Immigrant Laborers in New Orleans (2:34)
As many as 1,000 undocumented immigrants are currently working in New Orleans, according to aid workers in the city. The immigrant workers are usually paid far below the prevailing wage, not paid overtime, and are sometimes denied medical care – and even food and water. FSRN’s Christian Roseland reports from New Orleans, where he spoke with immigrant workers.

Prison Population Continues to Rise (2:47)
A report released by the US Justice Department over the weekend reveals that the prison population in California and around the country continues to increase. Grace Turner reports.

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