June 29, 2006

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Headlines (5:45)
A series of attacks has left at least 12 people dead in Iraq today. This just one day after the Associated Press reported that 11 Sunni insurgent groups announced they are prepared to enact an immediate ceasefire if the U.S. agrees to withdraw from Iraq within two years.

Uganda’s president, Yoweri Museveni, has decided to send a delegation to the Southern Sudanese city of Juba, for possible peace talks with LRA rebels. Emmanuel Okella reports from Kampala, Uganda.

President Museveni has appointed a team of negotiators to meet with Southern Sudanese President, Salva Kirr, to explore the possibilities of talking to LRA rebel leader Joseph Kony. Internal Affairs Minister Ruhakana Rugunda, who will lead the negotiating team, told Free Speech Radio News that the delegation will hold preliminary talks with President Salva Kiir – and any prospects of talking directly to the LRA delegation will depend on the results of these consultations. [Rugunda clip] “Many people, including myself, are skeptical, but whenever there is an opportunity, a chance for a peaceful solution, in spite of skepticism, we should always grab it, so Uganda government has always kept its doors open for a possible peaceful solution to the conflict and the suffering of the people in Northern Uganda.” The preliminary consultations will include the issue of the composition of the LRA delegation and the Southern Sudanese government’s conditions for mediating the talks. For FSRN, Emmanuel Okella, Kampala, Uganda.

The Chilean government has introduced changes to the country’s anti terrorism law. The law, which passed during the Augusto Pinochet dictatorship, has been used in the past few years against Mapuche Indians who are fighting to reclaim their lands. In Santiago, FSRN’s Jorge Garretón has more.

The government introduced reforms to the anti-terrorist legislation that looks at changing what is considered a terrorist act and what is not and to alter the penalties accordingly. The legislation seeks to strike from the books certain actions, like arson, and keep only those that threaten life, physical well-being, freedom and public health. Mapuches Indians in southern Chile have staged different actions in efforts to recuperate lands taken over by the forestry industry. Mapuches have been convicted of setting fire logging camps, farm houses, and wood stands. Four Mapuche Indians began serving in 2004, a 10 years in jail sentence, convicted of arson under the anti-terrorist act. The four staged a lengthy hunger strike demanding their release. Two senators introduced legislation in April that would free the Mapuches, but the legislation has been bogged down because it is tailored to meet to meet the demands of the four Mapuches. In response, the government tabled reforms to the anti-terrorism act. Included in the reforms is striking arson from the law. Opposition senators say they will oppose any change that eliminates arson from the anti-terrorist act. But pro-government senators say the changes are needed. If the government changes are approved the Mapuches would be free in a short period of time, because arson is a criminal offense carries a three maximum sentence. Meanwhile an international human rights organization is investigating the well-being of the four Mapuches and monitoring changes to the anti terrorist act. For FSRN this is Jorge Garretón in Santiago.

A citizens’ movement to remove the governor of the Mexican state of Oaxaca continues to gain momentum ahead of the presidential elections. Vladimir Flores reports from Oaxaca City.

[protest sound] Last night, more than half a million people marched over seven miles through Oaxaca City calling for the resignation of the governor and his cabinet. Earlier this week, a delegation of public school teachers from Oaxaca traveled to Mexico City to deliver a petition containing what they say was close to one million signatures to the nation’s Congress. The petition called on Congress to dissolve the government in Oaxaca and clear the path for an interim state government. The Senate has the power to declare a state government illegitimate in extreme cases of political instability. Meanwhile, organizations and citizens opposed to the state government have formed their own decision-making body, called the Popular Assembly of the People of Oaxaca, known as APPO by its initials in Spanish. As presidential elections near, many of the most influential organizations involved in the Oaxacan mobilizations are calling for the electorate to vote against the PRI party – which has ruled the state without interruption for over 75 years.

More than 200,000 people have had to evacuate parts of Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey, and Maryland due to severe flooding. At least 10 people have died from the rains and flooding in the Northeast. At airtime, residents of Pennsylvania’s Wilkes-Barre area were receiving notice that it is now safe to return home. A severe thunderstorm warning remains in effect for parts of Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey.

Supreme Court Rejects Military Tribunals for Guantánamo Detainees (3:39)
In a blow to the Bush Administration, the Supreme Court rejected the use of military tribunals to try Guantánamo Bay detainee Salim Ahmed Hamdan. The victors in the case say the decision is an essential use of checks and balances, while the dissenters say the court is overstepping the President’s war powers. Washington Editor Leigh Ann Caldwell reports.

Israeli Army Continues Offensive in Gaza (3:57)
The Israeli army carried out a number of large-scale invasions and arrests throughout the West Bank and East Jerusalem last night. At least eighty-seven Palestinians were arrested, most of them Hamas-affiliated legislators and government officials. The Palestinian government declared the arrests an open act of war, and an Israeli settler abducted Monday was found dead in Ramallah this morning. Saed Bannoura reports from Beit Sahour, Palestine:

US Congress Moves Closer to Approving India-US Nuclear Deal (3:43)
The U.S. Congress has taken its first stride towards endorsing the India-US nuclear deal. In what is seen as a prelude to a Congressional “yes” for the landmark nuclear agreement, the House of Representatives International Relations Committee squashed half a dozen amendments that were designed to be “deal-breakers”, and the legislation is now slated for the full House. The Senate Foreign Relations Committee completed its version of the deal today. The historic deal helps India end its international nuclear isolation and helps US commercial interests find a huge market in India. Vinod K Jose reports from New Delhi.

New Telecom Bill Weak in Protecting Net Neutrality (3:06)
The Senate Commerce Science and Transportation Committee voted 15-7 to approve the Republican legislation on telecommunications today. Public interest groups claim that the language of the legislation is “too week” to prevent phone operators from favoring their internet traffic and discriminating against others’. Anastasia Gnezditskaia reports from Washington, DC.

Close Presidential Election in Mexico (4:42)
Mexican voters head to the polls this Sunday, for what may well be the closest presidential election in that country in nearly 200 years. With the two leading candidates only a few percentage points apart, and fears of potential fraud, the stakes are high in this weekend’s vote. FSRN’s Norman Stockwell reports from Mexico City.

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