May 12, 2006

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Headlines (5:41)
At least hundred and fifty people have died in an oil pipeline explosion in Nigeria. Sam Olukoya reports from Lagos.

The explosion occurred on Friday morning on a major oil pipeline in a community near Lagos. Lagos police Commissioner Emmanuel Adebayo, says between one hundred and fifty and two hundred people have died. Some of the victims were believed to be in the midst of the petrol scooping the fuel when the explosion occurred. It is common practice in Nigeria for poor people to go and scoop fuel from leaking oil pipelines. The pipelines normally leak when vandals tamper with them or when they corrode due to poor maintenance. About two thousand people have died in the last seven years from oil pipeline explosions in Nigeria. People scooping fuel at the risk of their lives is seen as an evidence of the level of poverty in Nigeria where official corruption has denied most of the country’s populace a share of the country’s oil wealth. For Free Speech Radio News, this is Sam Olukoya in Lagos.

Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni took a radical stance against western donors in his inauguration speech today. Once the darling of the west, Museveni now blames Uganda’s woes on interference from donor countries. Joshua Kyalimpa reports.

President Yoweri Museveni took power in Uganda 20 years ago after an armed struggle. He has since transformed his government from a military regime to an elected government, but the country is still reeling from poverty and its associated problems. Yoweri Museveni’s term in office would have come to an end today as per the old constitution which placed term restrictions on the president. The constitution has since been rewritten removing the term limits clause,thereby allowing Museveni to continue as president. The last presidential race was hotly contested and the runner-up, Dr Kizza Besigye later challenged the results in court. 10 heads of state including Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe, Paul Kagame of Rwanda,and Prime minister Meles Zenawi of Ethiopia attended the ceremony at the Kololo independence grounds in Uganda’s capitol Kampala. The leaders of the opposition parties boycotted the ceremony arguing that attendance would be an endorsement of dictatorship. Joshua Kyalimpa FSRN Kampala, Uganda.

A United States authored UN Security Council Resolution on Lebanon has been drafted and is set to circulate today among the 15 member states at United Nations headquarters in New York. The resolution calls on Syria to officially define its borders and establish diplomatic ties with Lebanon, something it did not do during its 29-year military presence in the country. Jackson Allers reports from Beirut.

In the wake of Wednesday’s massive demonstration in Beirut of over 250,000 people opposed to a government economic reform package, the news of the US-backed Security Council resolution insisting that Syria resolve border issues with Lebanon is welcome news to the Lebanese Premier, Fouad Siniora. Siniora is facing popular opposition for pushing a sweeping economic reform package to comply with World Bank and International Monetary Fund requests. He has asked the US and its allies at the UN Security Council to push for implementation of 2004 Security Council resolution, 1559, which would have Syria fully recognize Lebanese sovereignty. Russia has sent indications that it does not approve of the proposed resolution. Syrian Deputy Foreign Minister, Faysal Mekdad told reporters in New York this week that the U.S. and other Western countries should stop meddling in the internal affairs of Syria and Lebanon. Meanwhile, any issues to define Lebanon’s borders are made problematic by Israel’s refusal to withdraw from the Shebaa Farm region in southeastern Lebanon, which Syria says must happen before it formally draws borders with Lebanon. Reporting from Beirut, Lebanon, this is Jackson Allers for Free Speech Radio News.

Ohio-based Diebold Election Systems, which has been criticized for faulty electronic voting machines, faces new accusations by computer security experts that the integrity of the machines could be easily compromised. From Ohio, Quinn Bowman has more.

The electronic voting machine manufacturer whose former chief executive promised an electoral victory for President Bush is again facing serious criticism. Several computer science experts who have studied Diebold Election System’s voting machines warn that the electronic systems are wide open to tampering attempts. Finnish computer expert, Harri Hursti recently discovered a new security problem with Diebold’s system while working for Black Box Voting, a non-profit company that works to ensure fair elections. Diebold says the security hole was left intentionally by programmers so that the system’s software could be easily updated. Experts who have studied the flaw say that anyone with simple computer components and access to the machines could tamper with the systems without leaving a trace., a website that reports on electronic voting issues, reports that the flawed touch screen machines were used just 2 weeks ago in Ohio’s primary election. Several states, including Ohio, Pennsylvania, California and Iowa use the Canton, Ohio-based company’s machines. For Free Speech Radio News, this is Quinn Bowman in Athens, Ohio.

The Senate has passed legislation that extends capital gains and dividends tax cuts for two additional years. This amounts to 70 billion dollars in tax cuts. All but 3 Republicans supported the tax cuts, saying it will spur spending and help the economy. All but three Democrats voted against the bill saying that it helps only the wealthiest Americans. The tax cuts will apply to all income brackets, but those making over seventy five thousand dollars a year will save the most. The bill will now head to the President to be signed into law.

Immigrant Rights Advocates Face Off with Minutemen on Capitol Hill (3:16)
The Congressional debate on immigration is expected to resume in the Senate on Monday. After political wrangling, Democrats and Republicans have agreed on how to proceed with the legislation. Meanwhile, the Minutemen have converged on Capitol Hill voicing staunch opposition to the Senate bill and undocumented immigrants. As FSRN’s Leigh Ann Caldwell reports, immigrant rights advocates countered their claims.

Mobilization in Solidarity With Atenco Continue (3:40)
Solidarity actions and protests continue over the violence in Atenco, outside of Mexico City last week, where more than 200 people were detained in a massive police operation that claimed the life of a 14 year old. In the latest international act of solidarity with the prisoners, protesters locked down the front of the Mexican Embassy in London today. Meanwhile, mobilizations continue in the Mexican capital. Vladimir Flores reports.

200,000 AK47s Lost in Transport to Iraq (3:16)
The US government has lost track of over 200,000 machine guns that were supposed to be used by the Iraqi police. The 99-ton cache of AK47s was to have been secretly flown out from a US base in Bosnia. But the four plane loads of arms have vanished. This development, along with the escape of five Iraqi inmates from a newly-built high security prison, is raising new questions about the competence of US occupation forces. Aaron Glantz and Salam Talib report.

Palestinians and Israeli Respond With Non-Violent Protests (1:45)
Israeli fuel cutoffs have sparked a severe shortage in Palestine, and the Israeli closure of the Gaza border has led to a number of deaths due to the lack of medicine. FSRN’s Saed Bannoura reports from Palestine, from one of many sites where Palestinians and Israelis are responding with non-violent protests.

Nepal’s Parliament Steps Up Call to Bring Armed Forces Under Civilian Control (3:45)
In Nepal, members of the newly reinstated Parliament stepped up demands this week to bring the country’s armed forces under civilian control. During King Gyanendra’s five years on the throne, the army was largely responsible for keeping him in power. But despite the success of April’s people power revolution in forcing the king to give up direct rule, some worry that the Parliament may already be too late. Carey Biron reports from Katmandu.

Colombia’s Constitutional Court Lifts Total Ban on Abortion (3:10)
After 13 months spent considering two legal challenges submitted by 29-year-old lawyer Monica Roa, Colombia’s Constitutional Court ruled 5-to-3 in favor of lifting the total ban against abortion. Women health rights defenders across Colombia celebrated the decision, which legalizes abortions in cases of danger to a woman’s life, to the fetus, or in cases of rape and incest. Nicole Karsin has more from Bogotá.

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