April 26, 2006
CEASEFIRE AT RISK IN SRI LANKA
The Sri Lankan military today launched new strikes on areas controlled by Tamil Tiger rebels, a day after a suicide bomb attack shattered a fragile ceasefire. Ponniah Manikavasagam reports from Sri Lanka.
Military spokesman, Brigadier Prasad Samarasinghe said the strikes came after the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) fired on naval patrol craft off the eastern port of Trincomalee for a second day. Tuesday’s attack carried out by a female suicide bomber at the army headquarters in the capital, Colombo, killed 9 people and seriously wounded Sri Lankan Army Commander Lt.Gen. Sarath Fonseka and over two dozen others. The government blamed the Tamil Tigers for the attack. The rebels have denied the charges. A rebel leader in the eastern part of the island nation told reporters that today´s air attacks by government forces killed 12 and forced 15,000 people to flee the area for safety.The government said the strikes would last as long as the Tigers continue their attacks. The head of the rebel’s peace secretariat told news agencies the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, or the LTTE, will be forced to take military defensive action. Ulf Henricsson, the head of the monitoring team said the truce in Sri Lanka is still valid on paper, but both parties have seriously violated the agreement. For Free Speech Radio News, I am Ponniah Manikavasagm, from Vavuniya, Sri Lanka.
MORE BOMBS IN THE SINAI
Two more bombs exploded in Egypt’s Sinai peninsula today, just two days after a deadly attack at a Sinai resort. Ursula Lindsey reports.
Today’s first suicide bombing targeted a base of the multinational observer forces, stationed in Sinai to supervise the Egyptian-Israeli peace agreement. The second suicide bomber attacked a police station in the town of Al Arish. Although both bombers died instantly, there were no casualties in either incident. The attacks today followed a triple bombing on Monday in the Sinai resort town of Dahab. The bombs there tore through a crowded downtown area, killing at least 18 and injuring dozens more. This is the third time in two years that tourist destinations in Sinai have been targeted by terrorists. Egyptian authorities have detained around 30 people in connection with the Dahab attacks. For FSRN, I’m Ursula Lindsey in Cairo.
SOLOMON´S PM RESIGNS
The unpopular prime minister of the Solomon Islands has resigned after only 3 days in office. Two days of rioting broke out in the capital city of Honiara last week upon news of Snider Rini’s election. Protesters accuse Rini of corruption and of working for the country’s tiny community of Chinese elites. Rini will stay on as a caretaker until a new Prime Minister is elected.
BUSH NAMES SNOW AS NEW SPOKESMAN
At the White House, President Bush announced today that Fox News anchor and commentator Tony Snow will replace Scott McLellan as his Press Secretary.
ROVE TESTIFIES AGAIN TO GRAND JURY
Deputy White House Chief of Staff Karl Rove appeared once again before a federal grand jury today to provide testimony in the investigation of the leaking of the name of CIA agent Valerie Plame to members of the press.
NET NEUTRALITY AND COMMUNITY MEDIA ACCESS
The Energy and Commerce Committee of the US House of Representatives has met for 2 days now on a bill that could greatly impact the future of community media and the Internet. Ryme Katkhouda reports from Washington DC.
(roll call sound) The Full Committee on Energy and Commerce barely had a quorum when it convened today to rewrite the Telecommunications Act of 1996. [sound, fade under] Tossing around rhetoric of economic and civil rights, democracy, and the promise of universal service access, Congress members argued for and against the bill and proposed amendments to protect diversity, scope of franchise, and the poor by prohibiting discrimination by income and an increase in digital divide. The Barton-Rush bill, also known as “The Communications Opportunity, Promotion, and Enhancement Act of 2006” has many media and Internet activists worried about the neutrality of the Internet and community access to media networks. Barbara Popovic is the Executive Director of Chicago’s Access Network Television. [sound Popovic] I’m Ryme Katkhouda, dcradiocoop.org for FSRN.
Lawmakers in Vermont have introduced a resolution in the state’s legislature calling for the nation’s Congress to begin impeachment proceedings against President Bush. The resolution states (quote) “”George W. Bush has committed high crimes and misdemeanors as he has repeatedly and intentionally violated the United States Constitution and other laws of the United States,”. The Illinois State Legislature introduced a similar resolution on Monday. A state-level proposal is also in the works in California. At the local level, Berkeley’s City Council passed an impeachment resolution just last night, opening the door for a possible city-wide referendum. State legislatures can compel the initiation of impeachment proceedings at the national level, according to Jefferson’s Manual, a supplemental rule book of parliamentary procedure used by the House of Representatives.
CANADA BANS MEDIA COVERAGE OF RETURNING COFFINS
Canada has now banned reporters from witnessing the return of the coffins of Canadian soldiers. Alison Benjamin reports from Vancouver.
Canada’s conservative government took steps yesterday to keep the public from seeing images of flag-draped coffins containing Canadian soldiers killed in Afghanistan. The media was banned Tuesday from the CFB Trenton base as the bodies of Corporal Matthew Dinning, Bombardier Myles Mansel, Lieutenant William Turner, and Corporal Randy Payne returned home. The four soldiers were killed in an explosion Saturday. Defense Minister Gordon O’Connor has indicated that the media ban will apply to future deaths of Canadian soldiers. Prime Minister Harper says opponents of the policy are politicizing the issue and says that the media ban protects military families. The new media ban is similar to one already in place in the US. Alison Benjamin, FSRN, Vancouver.
Supreme Court Hears Arguments in 2 Cases (4:09)
The Supreme Court heard back to back oral arguments for two cases today, one concerning details of lethal injection used in executions, and one dealing with racketeering charges by employees against their employer for hiring undocumented workers. Darby Hickey reports from Washington DC.
House Passes Resolution to Sanction Iran (3:22)
Tehran warned the United States today that if they attack Iran, US interests around the world will suffer. In Washington, the House of Representatives passed a resolution to impose sanctions on that country because of its commitment to enrich uranium. FSRN’s Leigh Ann Caldwell reports.
Prisoners Still Facing Torture in Iraqi Prisons (3:52)
As the Iraqi government remains in a transitory state, some of the greatest losers are the thousands of Iraqis in prisons around the country. Torture continues in some Iraqi facilities, making the families of prisoners even more apprehensive. FSRN’s David Enders is in Baghdad, and files this report.
Chinese President Hu Visits Nigeria (2:44)
Chinese President Hu Jintao is on a one week visit to Africa. The world’s second largest energy consumer depends on sub-Saharan Africa for about 28% of its oil imports, and some analysts say the reason for President Hu’s visit is the quest for Africa’s oil. But there are concerns that in its effort to improve business ties with Africa, China is selling arms to African countries that have dismal human rights records. Sam Olukoya reports from Lagos.
Philippine Military Issues Coup Warning Days Before May Day Actions (2:09)
This Philippine military warned today that anti-government forces are once again plotting to overthrow President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo. Authorities said the new attempt would take advantage of the labor protest on the first of May. FSRN’s Girlie Linao reports from Manila.
20 Year Anniversary of Chernobyl (3:27)
Today marks the 20-year anniversary of the Chernobyl Nuclear Disaster – and 2 new reports indicate that tens of thousands of people will likely die of various cancers caused by radiation from the Chernobyl explosion. The Other Report on Chernobyl and one issued by Greenpeace both challenge an International Atomic Energy Agency report that forecasted an estimated 4,000 deaths from the worse nuclear power accident in the world history: When the Soviet era Chernobyl reactor blew in 1986 it blasted 200 times the combined radiation of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki atom bombs into the environment. Fallout from the disaster drifted not only over parts of the former Soviet Union, but throughout Eastern Europe, the UK, and the eastern United States. FSRN’s Danuta Szafracniec has more from Warsaw.