January 12, 2006

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Headlines (6:18)
India has seemingly shifted it’s policy on curbing greenhouse gas emissions during the ongoing climate change conference held by six of the world’s biggest polluters. Binu Alex has more from Ahmedabad.

India’s Environment Minister, A. Raja, announced today that India will not implement mandatory emissions reductions in order to curb its output of greenhouse gases. The announcement was made at this week’s climate change conference in Sydney. Known as the AP6, the conference participants include the world’s worst polluters. India is the third largest economy in Asia and with China has been exempted from the first round of mandatory cuts under the terms of the Kyoto Protocol. India has already ratified the treaty, but the government argues that it is not in violation of the terms since India’s per-capita carbon emissions are low, less than a quarter of the world average and many times less than those of the United States. India’s new position is to accept investment for cleaner energy and to expand its nuclear industry. India depends primarily on coal for its energy and is under pressure to increase energy production to meet a fast pace of industrialization. The country is now looking towards its 15 nuclear power plants. From Ahmedabad in India, I am Binu Alex for Free Speech Radio News.

The scientific journal, Nature, has published a report that links the disappearance of frog species in Central and South America to a fungal disease that has gained strength with climate change. The fungus lives on the frogs’ breathable skin and can be found in many of the world’s amphibian habitats. In the words of team researcher Alan Pounds, “Disease is the bullet killing frogs, but climate change is pulling the trigger,”. Scientists have noticed huge drops in amphibian populations worldwide in recent decades and a 2004 study concluded that nearly one-third of the planet’s known amphibian species are under threat of extinction.

Maine’s state leadership met today with representatives of Venezuela and it’s state-owned petroleum company to solidify an agreement to acquire low cost heating oil. Meredith DeFrancesco reports from WERU in Blue Hill, Maine.

Maine has now become the first state government to enter into a direct agreement with Venezuela’s government owned Citgo Petroleum Corporation, to provide its’ low income residents with discount heating fuel. Citgo has made similar arrangements through non-profits to service communities in Massachusetts and New York City. The state of Maine will distribute the fuel through the Low Income Home Heating Energy Assistance Program, which was de-funded this year by the federal government, as heating oil costs rose 25%. The program covers 48,000 Maine households. Citgo will provide 8 million gallons of heating oil to Maine at a 40% discount and will donate an additional 120,000 gallons to the more than 40 homeless shelters statewide. During today’s trip, representatives from Venezuela and Citgo will sign an agreement with the four tribal governments within Maine. The Penobscot, Passamaquoddy, Mic Mac amd Maliseet will receive fuel for 912 households at a savings of $543,000. For Free Speech radio News, this is Meredith DeFrancesco in Blue Hill, Maine.

Days of unrest have erupted in a South African township in reaction to a lack of basic services. Na’eem Jeenah reports from Johannesburg.

Eight people have been arrested following violent protests in the Pretoria township of Soshanguve. Yesterday saw clashes and running battles between residents and police. Thousands of people had taken to the streets protesting a lack of delivery of services like running water, sanitation, refuse removal and electricity. Roads were barricaded and stones thrown at police who responded with rubber bullets, injuring several protesters. The battles lasted 12 hours. Protests had begun last week with about a hundred people. Residents were also on the streets on Sunday when South African president, Thabo Mbeki, was unveiling the ANC’s election manifesto in Cape Town for municipal elections. Many protesters belong to his party. Just 2 months before the elections, people across South Africa are expressing their frustration at non-delivery after 11 years of democracy. Last year, hundreds of protests in mostly impoverished areas took place over housing and service delivery. Protests are likely to increase in the next months. For Free Speech Radio News, I’m Na’eem Jeenah in Johannesburg.

France’s government is still reeling from the effects of last November’s riots. Today Interior Minister and presidential hopeful Nicolas Sarkozy revealed crime figures which show that his hard-line policies haven’t stopped the rise in violent crime. Yesterday, the government introduced a package of measures they say will reduce the chances of more urban violence. Tony Cross reports from Paris.

According to official figures made public today, violent crime rose five per-cent in France last year…That’s bad news for ambitious Interior Minister, Nicolas Sarkozy, who wants to become president in 2007, and has cultivated an image of a no-nonsense crime-fighter to that end. His hard line stance didn’t stop the riots or reduce crime. A three-month state of emergency was lifted on January the third. During the riots, local officials hardly used any of the powers it gave them and it didn’t prevent a year-on-year rise in the number of vehicles burnt on New Year’s Eve. There has been a big rise in the deportation of illegal immigrants; nearly 20-thousand, compared to 15-thousand in 2004 … but not enough for Sarkozy who had set a target of 23-thousand. The right blamed immigration for the urban violence, but figures last year showed only five per-cent of those arrested were not French nationals. Yesterday, the government voted in a so-called anti-discrimination package. Along with creating a national agency for equal opportunities, it allows families’ welfare payments to be cut if they’re judged not to be properly controlling their children. For FSRN, I’m Tony Cross in Paris.

Alito’s Final Round of Questioning (3:58)
Supreme Court nominee, Samuel Alito faced his third and final round of questioning by the Senate Judiciary Committee today. Most Senate Republicans chose not questions during this third round, but Senate Democrats took the opportunity to clarify earlier comments, as well to probe Alito on his constitutional stance on issues ranging from the death penalty to possible legislation that would deny citizenship to the children of undocumented immigrants. Selina Musuta reports from the Capital:

California Groups Rally Against Alito (2:43)
As opposition to the confirmation of Judge Samuel Alito to the Supreme Court grows throughout the country, a coalition of California abortion rights, civil liberties, labor and environmental groups rallied this week at Senator Dianne Feinstein’s office in downtown San Francisco to urge her to oppose Alito’s confirmation to the Court. Max Pringle reports.

New Orleans Unveils Rebuilding Plan (2:19)
The City of New Orleans has unveiled a rebuilding plan that calls for vast changes to the the city’s neighborhoods and housing patterns. The proposal includes a four month planning process and the possibility of using using eminent domain to acquire land for the city from the homeowners. Mayaba Leibenthal reports from New Orleans.

What Nationalized Hydrocarbons May Mean in Bolivia (5:34)
Bolivia’s president-elect Evo Morales, has wrapped up his visit to South Africa, where he has met both political and business leaders as part of a worldwide tour that has already included China and Europe. Morales is headed to Brazil and Argentina next just ahead of his presidential inauguration January 22. Morales has stated that his first measure as Bolivia’s new leader will be to nationalize the country’s hydrocarbons. FSRN’s Diletta Varlese looks at what this move could mean in Bolivia’s oil-rich region of El Chaco, where the indigenous community has long been affected by oil exploitation.

California Considering Death Penalty Moratorium (4:52)
The New Jersey legislature passed a measure this week to cease executions statewide while a state commission conducts a study of death row cases. At least 12 other states have approved similar measures. In Illinois, then-Governor George Ryan put a hold on all executions in that state in 2000, and although Maryland also halted their death penalty, it has since resumed executions. Now California, the state with the largest death row, is also considering a moratorium on executions, even as it prepares for the second execution in as many months. FSRN’s Vinny Lombardo has more.

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