November 03, 2005

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The fourth Summit of the Americas will open tomorrow in Mar del Plata, Argentina. All 34 heads of state from the Americas will attend the summit…except Fidel Castro. Kasim Tirmizey reports from Mar del Plata.

The creation of a hemisphere-wide free trade zone, known as the Free Trade of Area of the Americas agreement will be a featured topic at the talks this weekend. Support for the agreement has recently lost steam, as major economic powers like Venezuela and Brazil have voiced opposition to it. THE FTAA agreement has also received heavy criticism from social movements, NGOs, and unions. They are hosting a parallel conference called the People’s Summit and are planning marches and demonstrations for tomorrow. The Central Argentine Workers union has called for a nationwide general national strike this Friday and Saturday. This is Kasim Tirmizey of Free Speech Radio News in Mar del Plata, Argentina.

Peru and Chile have become tangled in a border dispute, after Peru’s Congress approved new sea border with Chile. FSRN’s Jorge Garretón has more from Santiago.

Today in Lima Peru’s Congress approved legislation to redraw its southern sea border there by claiming nearly 12,000 square miles of rich fishing banks. Many Chileans are concerned that Peru’s fishing fleet and Navy could venture into Chilean waters and create a potential conflict. The government of President Ricardo Lagos says the Chilean government will continue to recognize an international treaty singed in the 1950s that established the sea border between the two countries. In this weekend’s Summit of the Americas in Argentina, President Lagos will hold bilateral meetings to discuss the border issue with regional leaders and U.S. President George W. Bush. A bilateral meeting with Peruvian President Alejandro Toledo is not on the agenda. The Peruvian government is expected to recognize the newly redrawn border as early as Monday. For FSRN this is Jorge Garretón in Santiago.

A border dispute in the Horn of Africa has many international observers worried. The current border between Ethiopia and Eritrea was established by a peace agreement signed in 2000, after two years of bitter war. The United Nations’ Mission in Ethiopia and Eritrea says that both countries have recently mobilized large numbers of troops and heavy equipment within the Temporary Security Zone. The United Nations Security Council met to discuss the matter today. This comes at a particularly tense moment for Ethiopia. Street battles in Ethiopia’s capital erupted on Tuesday between police and supporters of the opposition candidate from last May’s presidential election. Local doctors say that more than forty people have been killed after three days of unrest. The US dept of State has issued a statement calling on the Ethiopian government to release all political detainees arrested in recent weeks.

In Southern Africa – the effects of drought, AIDS, and poverty have prompted the World Food Programme to appeal for urgent donations of $150 million to prevent a food crisis. Na’eem Jeenah reports from Johannesburg.

Ten million people in Zambia, Zimbabwe, Malawi, Mozambique, Lesotho and Swaziland are desperate for food aid and many could face death from starvation. The WFP said it was short of the $400 million required to help feed people in the six countries. Zimbabwe is the worst affected country, with 4.3 million people needing assistance. Economic collapse has compounded the food crisis in Zimbabwe. There, church leaders accuse the government of favouring ruling party supporters in food distribution. Meanwhile, World Food Programme officials say children in rural areas are already showing signs of malnutrition. The WFP is now calling on oil-rich nations in the Middle East to donate, as they have yet to contribute anything towards the food aid programme. For Free Speech Radio News, this is Na’eem Jeenah in Johannesburg.

India’s ruling Congress party today issued a legal notice to the United Nations in reaction to the Volcker Committee’s investigation into Iraq’s oil-for-food programme. Vinod K Jose reports from New Delhi.

Paul Volcker’s report on the food-for-oil scandal accused India’s Congress Party and foreign minister, Natwar Singh of bribing Iraqi authorities under Saddam Hussein in the oil deal. Both have denied the charges. The Volker report implicated over 2000 companies in the food-for-oil scandal, including several Indian corporations and officials. The opposition Hindu right wing BJP party is demanding the resignation of the Foreign Minister Natwar Singh. The legal notices issued today by members of the Congress party question why they were named in the report. The Congress party is demanding an unconditional apology if the UN fails to disclose the relevant material. From New Delhi, this is Vinod K. Jose for Free Speech Radio News.

Lewis “Scooter” Libby Arraigned (:57)
Lewis “Scooter” Libby has been arraigned and pleaded innocent to federal charges today in connection with the outing of CIA operative Valeria Plame. Ted Wells is Libby’s lawyer.

White House Remains Silent on Eastern European Secret Prisons (3:59)
White House officials have not rejected a story in the Washington Post yesterday that reported the CIA maintained secret jails through out Eastern Europe; and top Congressional and intelligence officials are silent on the issue. At least ten countries in Eastern Europe are denying that they house secret CIA jails, but the European Union and the International Red Cross announced that they will investigate whether the reports are true. Mitch Jeserich has more from Washington.

Paris Still Burning (4:13)
All night rioting in mostly immigrant towns around Paris left at least 300 cars burned. Last night was the worst violence in the past week’s clashed between youth and police, while Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin was involved in talks between police and immigrant group representatives. France’s right-wing government is now facing a major crisis after the week of urban violence. Riots sparked off by the deaths of two teenagers have opened up divisions in the government’s ranks and is reminding the country of decades of neglect of low-income housing projects, which often house families of immigrant origin. FSRN Tony Cross has more from Paris.

House and Senate Continues Budget Reconciliation (3:03)
The House and Senate continued to work toward completion of their budget reconciliation bills today. In the Senate, an amendment to prohibit drilling the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge was defeated, while the House Republican leadership continued to press for deep cuts to social programs. Darby Hickey reports from Capitol Hill.

Evictions Looming in New Orleans (1:50)
Eviction court opened yesterday in New Orleans for the first time since Hurricane Katrina, and hundreds of tenants crowded into court to defend themselves against immediate eviction. Jenka Soderberg reports from New Orleans.

Victims of Police Violence Remembered on Día de los Muertos (3:13)
Many Mexican-Americans celebrated Día de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead this week, a Mexican tradition that honors loved ones in the other world. In the small community of Vista, California, about 120 residents came together to remember five Latino men in their 20’s and earlier 30s fatally shot this year by Vista deputy sheriffs. Luis Perez and Miles Ashdown report.

Attacks on Immigrant Workers in Northern Ireland (2:57)
Northern Ireland was one of the 3 EU member states which did not place any restrictions on its labor market after last year’s wave of enlargement – and saw an influx of migrant workers come in, mainly from poor former communist countries. The country, which has no real history of immigration, is still fighting with sectarianism and prejudice against foreigners. Migrant workers have been blamed for many regional problems, treated like scapegoats and subject to racist attacks. DSz reports from Derry, Northern Ireland.

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