October 28, 2005
Iran’s controversial president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad attended a massive demonstration in Tehran today. The anti-Israel march has become an annual event in Tehran to mark the final Friday of Ramadan. Ahmadinejad drew worldwide criticism for his statement this week that Israel should be “wiped off the map”. This year’s rally reportedly drew between 200 thousand and one million people.
FRESH VIOLENCE BETWEEN ISRAEL AND PALESTINE
A member of the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade died today during an Israeli air strike in the Gaza Strip. This is the latest fatality registered in a particularly tense and violent week in the region. At least seven Palestinians were killed overnight as Israel continues to respond to Wednesday’s suicide bombing. Manar Jibrin has the latest.
Israeli tanks and troops are gathering along the northern and southern borders with the Gaza Strip in what appears to be preparations for a possible land invasion. Meanwhile, thousands of Palestinians today attended a funeral procession for seven Palestinians killed yesterday afternoon in the northern Gaza Strip by an Israeli missile. Israeli soldiers arrested twelve Islamic Jihad, Hamas, and Fatah activists during sweeps in the West Bank yesterday. Israel has begun to restrict the movement of West Bank residents by installing road blocks that separate the northern part of the West Bank from the rest of the territory. The Israeli Air Force fired two missiles into the northern Gaza Strip Friday morning after Palestinian resistance fighters fired three home made Qassam shells into Israel. No casualties were reported in either incident. After a period of relative calm, Hamas has announced that in the wake of Thursday’s missile attack, it will no longer commit to a cease-fire.
AID WORKERS ATTACKED IN UGANDA
Humanitarian aid agencies operating in northern Uganda have suspended operations after three separate attacks by suspected LRA rebels. Joshua Kyalimpa reports from Kampala.
LRA rebels shot dead Mr Balam Bongonyinge of Acord and seriously injured three others outside of the town of Pader on Wednesday. A staff member of a Catholic NGO, Caritas, was killed on the Kitgum-Mucwini Road later that same day. This comes after two Christian Children’s Fund workers were wounded in Tuesday attack. These incidents have prompted AID Agencies like Oxfam, Medicines Sans Frontiers – Holland, and the Christian Children’s Fund to pull out of the Kitgum district in Northern Uganda. The United Nations has suspended non-essential field visits until further notice. The suspension is likely to have far reaching consequences since northern and much of rural Uganda depend on aid agencies for social services and other community development programs. Aid agencies have formed the backbone of humanitarian assistance to thousands of people living in internally displaced people’s camps. The International Criminal Court issued arrest warrants earlier this months for LRA rebel chief Joseph Kony and four of his top commanders for crimes against humanity. Joshua Kyalimpa – FSRN – Kampala, Uganda.
FRANCE TO INVESTIGATE IVORIAN DEATH
France has promised a full investigation into last May’s killing of a civilian by French soldiers during unrest in one of its former colonies. This after a Paris-based magazine accused the military of a cover-up. Tony Cross reports from Paris.
French prime minister Dominique de Villepin yesterday promised a criminal enquiry into the killing of an Ivorian man by French troops in a buffer zone between the government-held south and the rebel-held north. The Ivorian man was reportedly the leader of a highway gang. But that only comes after Le Point Magazine claimed that the man was killed by suffocation by a plastic bag – a claim which sources in the Defense Ministry have confirmed – and that higher officers ordered a cover-up. Last week the Defense Ministry for the first time admitted that the French soldiers weren’t acting in self-defense, as had been previously claimed. And General Henri Poncet, who was in charge of the operation, was suspended, along with two other officers. The troops were supposed to be there as peace-keepers in the former colony; a role which led to anti-French riots there last November, after French soldiers destroyed the small Ivorian air-force in reprisal for an earlier attack. Foreign embassies in Ivory Coast are warning of the potential for more unrest on Sunday. Elections scheduled for the weekend have been called off because of disagreements among the country’s armed factions. For FSRN, I’m Tony Cross in Paris.
STRIKE IN NEPAL
Residents of Kathmandu observed a one-day strike today in protest of heavy restrictions imposed on the media in Nepal. A law that took effect on October 9th bans news reports on most radio stations and criminalizes criticism of Nepal’s royal family. Nepal’s king seized total control of the country’s political system in February and immediately imposed harsh censorship rules on the news media. Asia director at Human Rights Watch, Brad Adams, said in a statement today, “Press freedom in Nepal is moving from endangered to extinct.”
Lewis Scooter Libby Indicted
Lewis “Scooter” Libby was indicted on 5 charges that include lying to federal agents and lying under oath in the CIA leak investigation. Libby has resigned his position of Chief of Staff for Vice President Dick Cheney. However, Libby, who is also considered a main architect of the Iraqi invasion, was not charged for leaking the identity of a covert CIA operative. White House Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove was not indicted; however the Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald says he is continuing his investigation into the case. Washington Editor Mitch Jeserich reports.
Attack on Organic Standards in Congress
The US Congress voted to allow some synthetic materials to be used in the processing of organic foods, a move that some activists are calling a sneak attack to weaken organic standards. A group called The Organic Trade Association, or OTA, along with food processors such as Kraft and Smucker’s, have been pushing for the changes that will not allow synthetic materials to be used in food labeled “USDA Organic”. Joining us to talk about this amendment is Ronnie Cummins, National Director of Organic Consumers Association.
Wilma’s Impact on Cuba
Tropical storm Beta has now become the 23rd storm in a record season. Beta, is expected to become a Hurricane by the time it hits Nicaragua, close to the border with Honduras on Sunday. Villagers along the Nicaraguan coast are evacuating and hospitals are stocking up on medicines and bracing for another possible devastating storm this record-breaking season.
Before wreaking havoc in Florida, Hurricane Wilma dealt a severe blow to Cuba, causing a different kind of harm than usual to its capital, Havana. FSRN’s Joseph Mutti – who lives in one of the worst affected areas – explains how Cuba has reacted to damage to the island that is even more severe than the famous Storm of the Century in 1993.
Immokalee Workers Affected by Wilma
Millions of people in South Florida are still without power due to Hurricane Wilma; President Bush visited the area with his brother, Florida governor Jeb Bush. Jeb is calling on the public to blame himself, not FEMA, for what many are saying is a slow response in distributing water and ice. The most common complaint seems to be lines for gasoline, often stretching for miles; due to power outages, most gas stations pumps are not working. But away from Florida’s populated coasts, there has been extensive damage to the area’s agricultural lands, and Florida’s farm worker population may end up suffering the most. From WMNF radio in Tampa, Andrew Stelzer has the story.
African-American Employment in New Orleans
While the rebuilding of New Orleans is costing the government billions of dollars, few locals- particularly the poorer, African American residents, are being employees in the process. Christian Roseland talks with labor and community leaders about why those in need of work in New Orleans are not the ones getting it.
Nuclear Waste on Indigenous Lands in Australia
Decades of public education and campaigning about the hazards of nuclear power and its toxic waste have hampered the development of this industry in Australia. But now, the Australian federal government is making renewed efforts to build a waste repository in central Australia, earmarking several sites close to small Indigenous communities. As Rachel Maher reports, the selection of remote desert sites, located far from the populated coastlines, raises grave concerns about the government’s attitude to the rights Indigenous people and the value of their lands.