February 02, 2006
RECORD PROFITS FOR SHELL
The Anglo-Dutch oil company, Shell, today announced record profits for a British company. Consumer groups are calling on the government to implement a windfall tax. From London, Naomi Fowler reports:
Shell’s reported profits of almost 23 billion dollars isn’t far off 3 million dollars an hour. Most of that came from oil and gas extraction and strongly benefited from the rising cost of crude oil. It’s great news for shareholders, say campaigners, but it’s very bad news for Britain’s 1.8 million households currently victims of fuel poverty. Households that spend more than 10% of their income on heating and power are deemed to be in fuel poverty. And that’s only set to rise as Britain continues to suffer along with the rest of Europe from problems with gas supplies as Russia and the Ukraine (who pipes the gas to Europe) fight over pricing. The Confederation of British Industry has warned that if this winter is as cold as predicted, there could be power shortfalls caused by the rising domestic demand to keep warm, which could even lead to factory shutdowns and a three-day working week. Britain has only 11 days’ supply of gas in reserve. The government has not commented on the possibility of a windfall tax. This is Naomi Fowler in London for Free Speech Radio News.
OIL TANKER ACCIDENT
At airtime, the Associated Press is reporting that a fully-loaded oil tanker has run aground in Alaska. Some fuel is reportedly present in the water, but it is unclear if it is from a leak in the ship or from damaged refinery fuel lines.
ECUADOR-COLOMBIA BORDER SITUATION
Colombia and Ecuador have been on the verge of a diplomatic crisis since last week, after an incursion by members of the Colombian Armed Forces into Ecuadoran territory. From Bogotá, Nicole Karsin has more.
Ecuadoran Defense Minister, Oswaldo Jarrin, has sent airplanes and troops to the common border with Colombia, after the Colombian Armed Forces crossed over into Ecuador last week. This is the third incident of Colombian troops illegally crossing the border and fighting in Ecuador in the past four months. In pursuit of a top rebel leader, the Colombian armed forces engaged in heavy combat with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, in the southern border state of Putumayo on January 28th. According to locals in the Sucumbios province of Ecuador, during the battle, some 300 Colombian soldiers, three Black Hawk helicopters, and two planes belonging to the Colombian armed forces opened fire around their villages. Defense Minister Jarrin activated Ecuador’s ariel defense system saying that Colombia’s repeated incursions into Ecuador’s territory are premeditated. A bilateral commission is currently investigating the incident and Colombia says it will respond to Ecuador once the results from the investigation are in. In Bogotá, I’m Nicole Karsin For FSRN.
CEASEFIRE TENSION IN SRI LANKA
A Norwegian truce monitoring group in Sri Lanka says the recent abduction of 10 Tamil aid workers could threaten peace talks that the government and the Tamil Tiger rebels agreed to a week ago. Ponniah Manikavasagam reports from Sri Lanka.
The Tamil Rahabilitation Orgainzation, or TRO, reported 10 of its aid workers and staff members were abducted Sunday near an army camp in the eastern province. But the government said the story is fabricated. Hagrup Haukland, head of the Norwegian truce monitoring mission, said the abductions are a bad sign. The government and the rebels first entered into a ceasefire agreement in 2002 to bring an end to the two decades of ethnic conflict. Erik Soleheim the visiting Norwegian peace envoy announced last week both parties have agreed to meet in Geneva to resume peace talks that stalled two years ago. The Sri Lankan conflict has resulted in the deaths of more than 65 thousand civilians and 35 thousand combatants. For Free Speech Radio News, I am Ponniah Manikavasagam from Vavuniya, Sri Lanka.
ARMY RECRUITING RESTRICTIONS EASED
Online magazine, salon.com is reporting that the Army is overlooking certain past convictions in order to cope with a recruiting shortfall. Salon obtained documents under the Freedom of Information Act that show an increase in Pentagon-approved waivers to allow potential recruits with past offenses into the Armed Services. According to figures handed over by the Pentagon’s public affairs office, waivers were granted to 17 percent of recruits admitted into the Army in 2005.
Senate Considers Tax Cut Provisions (3:34)
The Senate is voting on a series of tax cut provisions that would extend some cuts that are already in place, and add new ones. Tax payers would save 70 billion dollars in the next 5 years. The tax cut debate continues on the Senate floor today, one day after the House passed a federal budget savings plan amounting to 40 billion dollars. Leigh Ann Caldwell has more from Capital Hill.
John Negroponte Testifies that Wire Tapping is Essential to Security (2:04)
Director of National Intelligence John Negroponte testified today in front of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence to present an annual assessment of national threats. He stressed that the globalization of technologies and the emergence of transnational networks complicates intelligence gathering and makes the surveillance of international phone calls absolutely necessary. Anastasia Gnezditskaia reports from Washington, DC.
Emergency Meeting Considers Iran’s Nuclear Activities (3:58)
The International Atomic Energy Agency, the IAEA, held an emergency meeting in Vienna today to finalize a report on Iran’s nuclear activities. The report will then be sent to the U-N Security Council in New York. The document is the result of late-night talks in the Austrian capital between the five permanent members of the Security Council. Representatives from the US, the United Kingdom, China, Russia and France, plus Germany, coordinated their final position on Tuesday. As Saeedeh Jamshidi reports, the formal referral of Iran’s nuclear case to the Security Council could result in sanctions being imposed against Tehran in March.
A Look at US-India Bilateral Relations (4:55)
As India grows closer to the US in its bilateral relations, it is also putting an end to its nuclear isolation. The US-India deal is India’s masterstroke for integrating itself in the global nuclear framework, and drawing its advantages. The Indian government is apparently banking on post-Cold War global realities, as well as on the Bush administration’s commitment that it is in the strategic interests of the United States for India to emerge as a major global power. FSRN’s Binu Alex has more.
Los Angeles City Council Petitioned for Immigrant Rights (2:23)
A pro-immigrant rights group staged a procession in downtown Los Angeles today, to deliver signed petitions to the Los Angeles City Council, asking legislators to oppose anti-immigrant assaults and support a measure that would make the city a sanctuary for immigrants. FSRN’s Leilani Albano has more.
FSRN Exclusive One-on-One Interview with Subcomandante Marcos: Part 2 (3:48)
Zapatista Subcomandante Marcos, now known as Delegate Zero, has already made his way through the Mexican 6 states in southern Mexico, as part of the Other Campaign. I caught up with him a few days ago at the Center for the Documentation of Son Jarocho in Jáltipan, Veracruz, for an FSRN exclusive one-on-one interview.