December 14, 2005
President George W. Bush admitted today that the intelligence used as the basis for going to war with Iraq – was faulty. In his latest of four speeches on Iraq, President Bush defended his decision to invade, even though weapons of mass destruction were never found. Bush concluded his address by saying, “Freedom in Iraq will inspire reformers from Damascus to Tehran”. Iraq will hold parliamentary elections tomorrow.
PUBLIC INQUIRY REJECTED
The British government has decided not to hold a public inquiry into the July 7th bombings. Naomi Fowler reports from London.
Families and campaigners today expressed their anger and disappointment that, instead of an independent judicial inquiry, a senior civil servant will compile a ‘narrative’ on the attacks. Home Secretary Charles Clarke says an inquiry would take too long and would duplicate the work of Parliamentary committees already looking into aspects of events on July 7th. Campaigners and some politicians believe an inquiry could shed light on intelligence failures and help answer why the UK’s security alert level was dropped five weeks before the attack. The security services have been accused of focusing too much on a threat from foreign terrorists rather than anticipating terrorism from British citizens. Many Muslim organisations say understanding the factors influencing the actions of the London bombers is crucial to fighting such crimes in the future. This is Naomi Fowler in London for Free Speech Radio News.
VIGIL AT GUANTANAMO
A group of 22 peace activists from the United States continue to fast outside the US Naval Base in Guantanamo Bay. Joseph Mutti reports from Havana.
Kneeling before a banner reading “Torture, NO! Geneva Conventions, YES!” Witness Against Torture members continue their fast today in protest of conditions at the Guantanamo Bay detention facility. The protesters say that detainees there have been tortured, humiliated, and held in violation of international law. They have yet to be allowed past the perimeter fence into the base some 5 kilometers away. The protest is the first of its kind in Cuba which strongly opposes the very existence of the naval base, let alone using it as a prison for housing some 500 inmates without charges or trial. The group began a fast outside the base three days ago. They say that they are simply doing what US President George Bush suggested they do in response to recent allegations of detainee abuse - go take a look for themselves. Seventy-nine year-old Sister Anne Montgomery, who previously worked as a peace activist in Iraq, made two appeals during a press conference on Tuesday. One to the US authorities to allow her group to meet with the Guantanamo base prisoners and the other to the Iraqi captors that are currently holding other Christian peace activists under threat of execution. For Free Speech Radio News, I’m Joseph Mutti in Havana.
COLOMBIAN TROOP WITHDRAWAL
The Colombian government has accepted a European proposal to break a deadlock with the nation’s largest leftist guerrilla army. Chip Mitchell reports from Bogotá.
The two sides have been wrangling for months over starting talks on freeing each other’s captives. The guerrilla group, known as the FARC, has offered to negotiate the release of about 60 people. They include a former presidential candidate and three U.S. citizens contracted by the Pentagon. President Alvaro Uribe had always refused to withdraw troops from any area to enhance guerrilla security for the talks. But last night he said he’d accepted a proposal from a panel representing France, Spain and Switzerland. Under the plan, the government would withdraw troops from a 70-square-mile southwestern area.
The president said the proposal neither violates the country’s sovereignty nor puts government troops at risk. There’s been no word whether the guerrillas have also accepted the plan. In the past, they’ve demanded a troop withdrawal from an area four times larger. The announcement comes as President Uribe seeks a second four-year term. The balloting is next May. In Bogotá, I’m Chip Mitchell.
NIGERIAN AIRLINES GROUNDED
In Nigeria, the two leading domestic airlines have been grounded after the latest in a series of recent air disasters. Sam Olukoya reports from Lagos.
The Nigerian government says the grounding of the two airlines is one of several measures it plans to take in its effort to overhaul the country’s aviation industry. The government says the measures are necessary to save the nation further deaths. Three air crashes in the last two months have claimed two hundred and thirty lives. The latest incident occurred over the weekend. All but two of the one hundred and ten people on board died. President Olusegun Obasanjo who summoned all stakeholders in the aviation industry to a forum said the industry is compromising standards at the expense of precious lives. Besides grounding two airlines, the government says all planes flying Nigerian airspace must undergo safety checks within a week. In the meantime, two senior officials of the aviation ministry have been sacked. For Free Speech Radio News, this is Sam Olukoya in Lagos.
House Passes Patriot Act Reauthorization Bill, as Critics Look to the Senate (4:04)
The House of Representatives approved the Patriot Act Reauthorization bill that will extend many of the most controversial provisions of the Act for at least another 4 years. Civil libertarians and privacy rights advocates now turn to the Senate where a potential filibuster might be the only way to stop the controversial measure. Mitch Jeserich reports from Capitol Hill.
Essential Medicines Missing From WTO Agenda (3:54)
The issue of patents and public health is not on the table at this WTO Ministerial in Hong Kong. The WTO ratified the 2003 Trade-Related Aspect of Intellectual Property Rights, or TRIPS, a few weeks ago. However, health advocates and ailing people in economically developing countries are concerned that the deal still doesn’t guarantee access to affordable medicine. And, as Ngoc Nguyen reports from Hong Kong, they say free trade agreements pose an even bigger threat.
Water Wars in Rajastan (4:06)
According to the World Water Commission, the worst water crisis in the world is in Rajastan, a West Indian boundary state with Pakistan – where the situation is so critical, the region has seen its share of water riots. This past summer, 5 farmers were shot dead during a protest demanding their share of the water from Bisalpur dam, which is diverting water from villages to the cities. As resource experts predict that water wars will soon be the biggest conflicts in the years to come, FSRN’s Vinod K. Jose traveled to Rajastan to file this report.
Uruguayan Political Prisoners Freed (3:09)
Uruguayan courts ordered the release of 4 prisoners who had been incarcerated for over one month, after being detained at demonstrations in Montevideo that concurred with the fourth Summit of the Americas held in Mar del Plata, Argentina. Thousands of people from Uruguay and around the world rallied for the release of the political prisoners for weeks. FSRN’s Marie Trigona reports from Uruguay.
New York Transit Workers Threaten to Strike (2:29)
New York’s Supreme Court has issued an injunction prohibiting a transit strike, as the New York’s Transit Workers Union continues to negotiate its contract for an 8% pay increase with the Transit Authority. The union had originally planned on starting a strike Friday. FSRN’s Rebecca Myles has more.
AIM Addresses Native American Profiling in South Dakota (2:04)
Representatives of the American Indian Movement recently gathered at the University of South Dakota in Vermillion for a forum on racial profiling. The meeting was called at the request of the University’s Native American Student Association after local police allegedly indiscriminately questioned Native American males regarding a recent case of attempted rape. FSRN’s Jim Kent spoke to Native Americans as well as Vermillion’s police chief about complaints of racial profiling incidents in the community.