June 02, 2006

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Headlines (5:02)
Carbon dioxide emissions have reached an all-time high, according to new data from the U.N. Climate Secretariat in Bonn, Germany. The United States, responsible for the overwhelming majority of greenhouse gas emissions, has broken a new record by releasing just over 7 billion tons of greenhouse gases in one year.

Armed men have kidnapped eight western oil workers in Nigeria’s Niger Delta region. Sam Olukoya reports from Lagos.

Six of the kidnapped oil workers are from Britain while the other two are from the United States and Canada. About 40 gun men in boats kidnapped the oil workers early Friday morning at an offshore oil rig near the Nigerian coast. The rig is operated by Fred Olsen Energy, a Norwegian oil company. A presidential spokesman says the kidnapping is the result of a disagreement between local communities and the oil company. In recent months, there has been growing anger in local communities in the Niger Delta against western oil companies operating in the region. Local communities accuse western oil companies of polluting their land and denying them a share of the billions of dollars made yearly from oil sales. The growing anger has culminated in the abduction of foreign oil workers. The situation has severely disrupted Nigeria’s oil exports. Nigeria is the sixth largest oil exporter. For Free Speech Radio News, this is Sam Olukoya in Lagos.

A massive pro-Maoist rally took place today in Nepal, the first of its kind since the country agreed to a ceasefire a month ago. Carey Biron has more.

More than 200,000 people showed up in the center of the capital today for a rally organized by Nepal’s Maoist rebels. The vast majority were not from within the Kathmandu Valley itself, but rather from many of the outlying areas of the country. Hundreds of overloaded buses, which rebels had hijacked yesterday, were seen ferrying around jubilant Maoist cadres in bright red t-shirts specially printed for today’s event. Reports also surfaced, however, of many villagers being forced to make the journey to the capital as a show of support. Meanwhile, normal traffic was nearly halted, while hundreds of additional armed police personnel were brought into the capital and the newly renamed Nepal Army staked out the royal palace. Technically, the tight security should not be necessary. One week ago today, negotiating teams for the Maoists and the new democratic government met for the first time since 2003, and hammered out a 25-point agreement for code-of-conduct during the ceasefire. Prominently listed as number two is that neither party shall quote “mobilize, display or use their armed forces in a manner that could spread fear and terror among the people.” At similar rallies that took place around the country earlier this week, however, that point was reportedly already been broken. Carey Biron, Kathmandu.

A US Army dog handler convicted yesterday of prisoner abuse at Abu Ghraib was sentenced today to 90 days of hard labor. The prosecution at the court martial of Sgt. Santos Cardona had requested a 12 month prison sentence along with a dishonorable discharge. In addition to his 90 days of hard labor, Sgt. Cardona will be demoted and have $600 docked from his pay each month for the next year. He is the 11th soldier convicted of prisoner abuse at Abu Ghraib.

In Chile, the Government has issued a proposal in response to the demands of striking high school students. In Santiago, FSRN’s Jorge Garretón has the story.

More than 400 students from throughout Chile are meeting in an assembly to study the government response to their demands. On a national televised address to the nation last night, President Michelle Bachelet gave her government’s response to high school students who have been on strike for over two weeks. The government gave in to most of the students’ demands. Bachelet said the government will issue a free national bus pass, pay for nearly all students to take university entrance exams, increase government subsidies to poor families, and create a broad commission to discuss changes to the Education Act, so that it would guarantee the right to an education. After studying the government response, the students are expected to meet with the Minister of Education to let the Government know if they accept the proposal or if they will continue negotiating on issues. If an agreement is not reached, the students have called for a national strike Monday. Teachers, health care workers, and university students have pledged their support and plan to join the national strike. For FSRN this is Jorge Garretón in Santiago.

In Oaxaca, Mexico public school teachers are mobilizing against a package of education reforms that would privatize the public education system and drastically reduce the teaching of history to Mexican students. Vladimir Flores reports from Oaxaca City.

Mexican public school teachers have been on strike for almost two weeks. Tens of thousands of teachers have completely occupied the state capital of Oaxaca, setting up tents and sleeping in the streets and plazas of the city center. Their actions have included blockades at the state governor’s office and at the city’s international airport. During a massive march today, at least seventy thousand teachers and their allies demanded greater resources for public education from the state and federal governments. (chanting sound) Although the teachers receive support from campesino groups, indigenous organizations, and other activists, their mobilizations are opposed by business leaders, local politicians, and most mainstream media. This morning, political leaders issued an ultimatum to the teachers to either abandon their occupation of the city center or face eviction by security forces. In Oaxaca City, I’m Vladimir Flores for FSRN.

Major Powers Agree on Iran Deal (3:30)
Six world powers have agreed to a proposal to Iran that offers incentives in exchange for abandoning its uranium enrichment. The deal, whose details will be kept secret until Iran has seen the proposals, is expected to end a diplomatic standoff. Meanwhile, US Intelligence Chief Negroponte said in an interview today that within 10 years, Iran will possess a nuclear bomb. Anastasia Gnezditskaia in reports from Washington, DC.

Another Massacre Uncovered (3:49)
The number of allegations of US troops deliberately killing Iraqi civilians continues to mount. Last night, the BBC broadcast footage from an incident in March, in which U.S. soldiers were accused of executing 11 Iraqis, including four children. The U.S. military says it was hunting an al-Qaeda suspect, but the Iraqi police maintain U.S. soldiers rounded up and executed an entire family in a house which they then demolished. FSRN’s Aaron Glantz and Salam Talib report.

British Parliament Considers Controversial Armed Forces Bill (3:12)
A proposal for an Armed Forces Bill is currently working its way through Britain’s Parliament, which would pave the way to imprison so-called deserters for life. From London, Naomi Fowler reports.

Drama Sparks Violence in Beirut (2:10)
In Beirut, a comedy skit by a right-wing Christian director mocking Hezbollah leader Nasrallah caused sectarian tensions to boil over, as angry Hezbollah supporters took to the streets. Emily Dische-Becker and Jamal Ghosn report.

State of Conflict in Somalia (4:53)
The senior US diplomat who specializes in Somalia, Michael Zorick, has been removed from his post in Nairobi after expressing concerns about US support for the Mogadishu warlords. The militia are loyal to a group of secular warlords who have been battling rivals accused of sheltering al-Qaeda fighters. Some 200 people have been killed in recent fighting between the groups, and as FSRN’S Joshua Kyalimpa reports, the militias of the Anti Terrorism Alliance supported by the U.S., have attacked and overrun the only hospital in the capital and local residents have no access to health facilities.

Venezuela Consolidates its Cooperative Movement (3:08)
Cooperative businesses have become the center-piece of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez’s process towards “21st century socialism.” Over 100,000 coops have been formed since he took office 7 years ago. Mike Fox has more from Caracas.

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