April 20, 2006
NAMES OF MOST GUANTANAMO DETAINEES RELEASED
The Pentagon has released a list of 558 detainees at the Guantanamo Bay detention facility in response to a Freedom of Information request by the Associated Press. Most of the detainees are from Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan and Yemen. Although it is not a complete list of all detainees who have passed through the facility, it is the first time that a list of names has been released in the camp’s four years of operation.
CAR BOMB EXPLODES IN THE NIGER DELTA
In Nigeria, militants fighting against oil exploitation in the Niger Delta region have claimed responsibility for a car bomb attack on an Army barracks. Sam Olukoya reports from Lagos.
The Nigerian Army says the car bomb killed two people and injured six others in the Southern city of Port Harcourt. The Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta says it carried out the attack. The group accused the Nigerian government and western oil companies of denying local people a share of the billions of dollars made yearly from oil exploitation. The group which has attacked several oil installations in recent weeks plans to step up its attacks, saying a new government plan aimed at developing the Niger Delta is inadequate to address the demands of local people. The militants said their latest attack was to show oil companies the futility of relying on a military that can not protect itself. The incident represents an escalation of the crisis in the Niger Delta, a region with some of the largest oil reserves in the world. For Free Speech Radio News, this is Sam Olukoya in Lagos.
TAMIL TIGERS POSTPONE PEACE TALKS
The Tamil Tiger rebels have indefinitely postponed peace talks with the Sri Lankan government. Ponniah Manikavasagam reports from Vavuniya.
Tamil Tigers told reporters today that escalating violence against Tamil civilians is the reason for not attending the second round of peace talks, scheduled to start on April 24th in Geneva. The announcement came amid some of the worst bloodshed since the 2002 truce signed between the government and the rebels. Jon Hanssen Bauer is the Norwegian Special Envoy to Sri Lanka. He is on a 3-day visit to Sri Lanka to kick-start the peace negotiations between the government and the Tamil Tigers. (sound) “The first step is now to bring an immediate cessation of all acts of violence. Norway condemns in the strongest possible terms that latest acts of violence that have occurred on this island.” Traders said the stock market dipped for the second straight day following reports of the postponement of peace talks. Nearly 70 people, mostly security forces, have been killed and score wounded in the latest surge since April 7th. For Free Speech Radio News, I am Ponniah Manikavasagam, in Vavuniya, Sri Lanka.
STANDOFF NEAR TORONTO
Tensions are high today in southwestern Ontario as police and Native people face off at a construction site. From Toronto, Kristin Schwartz has more.
Early this morning, police stormed a construction site occupied by native people from the nearby Six Nations reserve community, making a number of arrests. The occupation began seven weeks ago to prevent the expansion of a housing development. The Six Nations people say that the site is part of the large tract of land that was promised to them by the British Crown in 1784. The traditional Six Nations Confederacy government backs the blockade and does not recognize the authority of the elected “Band Council”, established by Canada early this century, to represent them in the negotiations. Janie Jamieson is a spokesperson for the blockade participants. (sound) “Since 1924, Canada has violated international law and they continue to ignore the existence of the Haudenosaunee confederacy. And that’s what this is all about. It’s got to end at some point.” Six Nations people rallied and regained control of the site after the arrests this morning. Hundreds of police have now been deployed in the area. From CKLN in Toronto, this is Kristin Schwartz for Free Speech Radio News.
EUOPEAN UNION ON GENETICALLY MODIFIED ORGANIZMS
The European Commission has ignored the advice of European Union scientists and has been authorizing new genetically modified crops. Campaigners say a dossier they’ve just obtained shows the commission is favouring the interests of the biotechnology industry over health and the environment. From London, Naomi Fowler reports.
When the European Commission broke the moratorium on GM foods, forcing them into Europe, it told the public they were safe. But through the Freedom of Information Act, Friends of the Earth has obtained a dossier of scientific evidence that the EU sent to the World Trade Organization. Campaigners say the Commission not only knew of the safety issues, but they acted against European Union scientific concerns. This raises serious questions for the EU in terms of how official opinions on safety issues are treated and decisions taken. It also reinforces criticism of the European Commission, which consists of 20 unelected representatives appointed by member states. For years it’s been dogged by allegations of nepotism, mismanagement and even fraud. Campaigners are now calling on the European Commission to halt the sale and import of all GM crops and products in the EU until its fears over the crops’ uncertain effects on health and the environment have been allayed. This is Naomi Fowler in London for Free Speech Radio News.
PIQUETERO LEADER RELEASED
In a follow-up to a story covered Tuesday, Argentine piquetero leader, Raúl Castells was released last night after two days in jail. Castells was arrested on Monday when attempting to inaugurate a soup kitchen in one of Argentina’s most exclusive neighborhoods. A judge ruled yesterday that the charges against the piquetero leader “lacked merit”.
ACLU Files Amicus Briefs to NSA Spying Suit (3:54)
The ACLU filed two amicus briefs to a National Security Agency spying suit today. Meanwhile, the Bush Administration continues to deny requests by Congress for officials to testify on the program. Washington Editor Leigh Ann Caldwell has more.
Chinese President Hu Arrives at White House (1:45)
The Chinese anthem played at the South Lawn of the White House today for President Hu Jintao’s arrival ceremony. He and President Bush discussed a range of issues, including currency and trade policy. At the ceremony, Bush gave mention to discussing human rights – and a protestor waving a red and yellow banner screamed for Bush to stop President Hu from persecuting members of the banned Falun Gong religion movement.
New Immigration Enforcement Strategy Implemented (3:58)
Department of Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff and Immigration and Customs Enforcement Assistant Secretary Julie Meyers announced a new immigration enforcement strategy today. Identifying and removing undocumented immigrants who have been convicted of a crime will be a top strategy, along with ensuring employer’s compliance to hire documented workers. The ACLU and immigrant worker groups are criticizing some of these measures, which they say contradicts Congress’ efforts to find workable legislation on immigration. Anastasia Gnezditskaia reports from DC.
Suspicions over King’s Offer to Dialogue in Nepal (4:13)
Nepal’s King Gyanendra is caught up in the whirlpool of unprecedented crisis caused by the growing pro-democracy movement against his 14 months of autocratic rule. Some say his advisors misled him into the move to usurp power on February 1, 2005 – throttling the 15 year adolescent democracy that was born in 1990 amid mass protests against the old regime. The King’s offer for dialogue with the political parties to revive democracy in the country indicates to some that he wants to rectify the situation, even leading some old political leaders to believe the King and enter into dialogue with him. But there are others wanting to restore total democracy that question the King’s intentions. FSRN’s PC Dubey has more from Nepal.
Jaafari Say He Will Consider Stepping Down as Prime Minister (2:30)
Iraqi prime minister Ibrahim Jaafari said today he would consider stepping down as his party’s nominee for prime minister in the next government, giving new hope that a four-month-old deadlock over forming the government might be solved soon. FSRN’s David Enders reports from Baghdad.
Pattern of Police Brutality in New Orleans (2:33)
A nightclub owner in New Orleans is protesting a violent raid on his club by local, state and federal law enforcement. Criminal justice reform groups say the raid follows patterns of police brutality and the targeting of black youth – patterns that were out of control even before last fall’s storms. FSRN’s Christian Roselund is in New Orleans, and files this report.