January 09, 2006

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Headlines (5:25)
Republican Congressman, Tom Delay, will leave his position as House Majority leader. The GOP is now trying to distance itself from ongoing corruption scandals. Ingrid Drake reports from Washington, DC.

In the midst of federal investigations into lawbreaking and ethics violations of lobbyist Jack Abramoff and several Congress members and their staff, Speaker of the House J. Dennis Hastert announced yesterday he will “move forward aggressively and quickly” address lobbying reform. Mary Boyle, with Common Cause, a DC-based grassroots citizens lobbying group. [TAPE] The election of a new House Majority leader is scheduled for the week of January 30. For FSRN this is Ingrid Drake.

The fatal shooting of an undocumented Mexican teenager by a Border Patrol officer along the San Diego – Tijuana border, has outraged Mexican authorities, adding more tension to the complicated immigration debate between both countries. Luis Perez reports from Tijuana.

Guillermo Martinez was shot in the back on Friday, December 30, while attempting to enter illegally into the US. After being shot, Martinez ran back to Mexico where he died hours later in a local hospital. The incident was promptly condemned by Mexican Federal Authorities, as well as civil leaders and human rights defenders on both sides of the border. The fatal shooting comes at particularly tense moment between Mexico and the United States, after the House passed an immigration measure to extend and fortify the metal fence along the common border. Investigations into the shooting are underway by Mexican and US authorities. The results are due in 30 days. For FSRN, I’m Luis Perez in Tijuana.

A study conducted by Indian and Canadian researchers has concluded that millions of abortions based on the gender of the fetus have caused a lopsided male-to-female ratio in India. Binu Alex has more from Ahmedabad.

The British medical journal, the lancet, reports that an estimated 10 million female births have been selectively aborted in the last twenty years. The Indian society has been traditionally male-dominated and many families consider girls as a liability, especially when they are to be married off with a huge dowry. The research found that educated classes have the tendency to selectively abort females when previous children had been girls. Though sex determination and sex selective abortions are illegal in India, the business in this sector, all equipped with the latest technology, has been widespread in major cities. Female births have been on the decline in the past decade. Today the ratio stands at 933 females for every 1000 males. From Ahmedabad in India, I am Binu Alex for Free Speech Radio News.

A particularly harsh winter is adding to the miseries of the survivors of the October 8th earthquake in Kashmir. Shahnawaz Khan reports from Srinagar.

Temperatures have dropped below freezing in Kashmir and most of the quake survivors in Indian-administered Kashmir are living in tin sheds, highly inadequate for the harsh winters. It has been one of the chilliest winters in decades. Aid workers in the region are reporting a lack of fuels like firewood, necessary to keep warm in the harsh winters. Heavy snowfall in the last week has left some villages inaccessible, creating shortages of food and essential supplies. The Voluntary Association Network, a local organization working in the relief efforts has warned of higher casualties in the absence of heating arrangements. The United States military has doubled cargo loads on its helicopters to the remote, affected areas in Pakistan-administered Kashmir to ensure adequate supplies in the region before snows pile higher. For FSRN, I’m Shahnawaz Khan.

Another toxic spill has polluted a major waterway in China and a capsized boat full of chemicals could potentially cause further problems. Dante Toza reports from Hong Kong.

Sunday morning, a boat containing hundreds of tons of sulfuric acid sank and capsized at the bottom of Yangzte River, the longest river in Asia. According to official press reports, the sunken cargo boat contained at least 260 tons of sulfuric acid. This is the 4th major chemical accident to affect a Chinese river in the last 3 months. Last week, the Xiangjiang River was polluted by an industrial cadmium spill. According to the state-run Xinhua news agency, at the height of the spill, the cadmium level was 25.6 times greater than the safety standard. Cadmium is carcinogenic and is extremely toxic even in low concentrations. Media reports indicate that water will probably not be shut off along the route of the cadmium spill. As for the sunken boat containing hundreds of tons of sulfuric acid, there have not been any reports of the recovery of the boat by either of the official news agencies. For Free Speech Radio News this is Dante Toza in Hong Kong.

Today, the U.S Senate Judiciary Committee opens its confirmation hearing for Judge Samuel Alito to be U.S. Supreme Court Justice. If confirmed, Alito would replace retiring Justice Sandra Day O’Connor. As Justice O’Connor is regarded as a moderate conservative and swing vote on the court, many believe Alito will go through a much more contentious confirmation battle than Chief Justice John Roberts did several months ago. Yanmei is in the hearing room at Capitol Hill.

After a week of escalating violence in Iraq, the conditions in the south of the country continue to deteriorate with almost 500 Iraqis either dead or injured. The lack of infrastructure and reconstruction is taking its toll in the region, which has previously showed progress and has been cited as an area without high security problems. FSRN’s Salam Talib spoke to Iraqi activist, Eman Al-Hamash, about the situation in the south.

Comandanta Ramona, a tiny Tzotzil indigenous woman who strategized the takeover of San Cristobal de Las Casas, Chiapas during the January 1, 1994 armed uprising, died in the early morning hours of January 6th. Ramona was driven from her highlands home to a San Cristobal de las Casas clinic where the Zapatista leader’s frail body succumbed to an infectious tuberculosis and kidney failure. Luz Ruiz and Tim Russo report from Chiapas.

Over 300 local Hong Kong activists marched with 11 Korean farmers on Sunday to the Hong Kong Police Headquarters demanding that charges against the farmers be dropped immediately. The 11 Korean farmers were arrested and charged with unlawful assembly during the protests at last month’s World Trade Organization ministerial conference. The farmers, who were also arrested with three other WTO protesters, are on their 6th day of hunger strike and say they will continue indefinitely unless the charges are dropped. In solidarity, a group calling itself the International Campaign for the Immediate Release of WTO Political Prisoners is calling for international solidarity to support them. FSRN’s Miae Kim reports.

The recent police shooting in Columbus, Ohio of a Somali youth, who suffered mental health problems, has sent waves of shock and resentment throughout the Black and African communities there and has provoked demands for an examination of police use-of-force policies. Evan Davis files this report.

Since the 1950’s, Britain’s policy of free ‘cradle to grave’ health care for all its citizens has been renowned worldwide. But recently, leaked government papers have proved what public health workers have suspected for a long time; that the British government is permanently opening up the doors to private companies to take over large parts of public healthcare system. From London, Naomi Fowler reports.

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