July 14, 2006

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Headlines (5:18)
Sri Lanka’s president today invited advisers to develop a power-sharing plan to end the 2-decade ethnic bloodshed in the island nation. Ponniah Manikavasagam has more.

Escalating violence in Sri Lanka killed 17 combatants today, undermining a 2002 truce. The latest bloodshed comes a day after 3 soldiers were killed in the northern district of Vavuniya. Tamil Tiger rebels say twelve soldiers were among the dead today. Government officials said at least 10 soldiers and four Tamil Tiger rebels were killed. They said the rebels killed a naval sailor in a separate incident. President Mahinda Rajapakse has appointed a 15-member panel of experts to find a formula to grant extensive devolution of power in a unitary state to the minority Tamils. Addressing the first meeting of the panel, President Mahinda Rajapakse invited the Tamil Tigers to enter into negotiations with the government. The rebels are fighting for an independent state. They had hinted in earlier peace talks that a federal system could be considered. For Free Speech Radio News, I am Ponniah Manikavasagam, from Vavuniya, Sri Lanka.

Peace talks aimed at ending the 20 year old war in northern Uganda are set to begin today in southern Sudan. Joshua Kyalimpa reports.

Direct peace talks between the Lord’s Resistance Army rebels and the Uganda Government start today, marking the beginning of the much-awaited process mediated by the Government of South Sudan. The talks have been delayed following the LRA’S refusal to send top commanders, Joseph Kony and Vicent Otti. Southern Sudan vice-president, Dr. Riek Machar has been camped in a remote village near the DR Congo border since Saturday, trying to convince the LRA to send one of the five indicted commanders to the talks. Machar said the insistence of the ICC to capture on sight and try the top LRA leaders for war crimes and crimes against humanity was a hindrance to his efforts. Southern Sudan’s vice president has, however, secured the addition of two members of the LRA high command to the LRA team. Joshua Kyalimpa FSRN Kampala, Uganda.

The 40 year old Voting Rights Act won the support of an overwhelming majority in the House yesterday, but may face another contentious battle for renewal in the Senate . Opposition in both chambers comes from Southern conservatives, who say the original text penalizes Southern states for their history of racial discrimination. The House voted to defeat all attempts to revise the legislation. Senate leaders from both parties say they hope the Senate will vote on the re-authorization before the August recess.

In Mexico, supporters of the center-left presidential candidate are stepping up their campaign to demand a vote-by-vote re-count of the ballots from the July 2nd election. Vladimir Flores reports.

Hundreds of people have left dozens of points throughout Mexico in caravans to Mexico City to participate in street actions over the weekend in support of presidential candidate, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador. The candidate is calling for a ballot-by-ballot re-count after the Federal Electoral Commission declared victory for the ruling party candidate, Felipe Calderon, by a margin of just over one half of a percentage point. Lopez Obrador’s supporters are demanding that the Federal Electoral Commission count the estimated 41 million ballots, saying that the electoral process was plagued by irregularities, including favoritism by electoral authorities towards the PAN ruling party. The so-called “democracy marches” will converge in Mexico City on Sunday for a rally which is expected to draw hundreds of thousands of people. For FSRN, I’m Vladimir Flores.

The Brazilian state of São Paulo has witnessed a new wave of attacks by the criminal organization the First Command of the Capital – also known as the “PCC”. Natalia Viana reports.

This week, members of the PCC criminal organization have launched approximately 106 attacks against police stations, banks, gas stations, and public buildings in many cities throughout São Paulo state. Over forty-five buses have been set on fire, injuring at least 7 people. At least 6 people have been shot by the criminals – including one policemen, 1 metropolitan guard, 3 security guards and 1 civilian. Yesterday, the vast majority of the bus lines did not run in the capital, the traffic jam was intense, and many people did not go to work. The PCC is demanding better conditions in two prisons in the cities of Ararquara and Itirapina. The Secretary of Public Security of São Paulo state says the government will not negotiate with criminals…but the PCC says attacks on the streets will continue if the situation does not change. In São Paulo, Natalia Viana for FSRN.

Israel Bombs Hezbollah Headquarters in Lebanon, while Airstrikes Continue in Northern Israel (4:25)
First we go to Lebanon, where Hezbollah’s leader released a video tape where he declares he’s ready for war. Lebanon is staging missile attacks into Israel. Israel continues to pound targets in Southern Lebanon with missile and artillery rounds, striking the suburbs of Beirut, bridges, and key infrastructure, including the Lebanese airport for a second time. Official sources put the number of Lebanese dead from the Israeli attacks at more than 60 people – only one has been confirmed as a member of Hezbollah. Israel reports that in the past two days, several hundred Katyusha rockets have been fired into northern Israeli towns from Hezbollah positions in the south – killing 2 people and injuring 100 others. As Israel continues to widen its offensive, Lebanon is settling in for a long summer, as Jackson Allers reports from Lebanon’s capital of Beirut.

Lebanon Pleas to the International Community (1:42)
The United Nations has offered minimal involvement in the escalating conflict in the Middle East.  Secretary General Kofi Annan sent a delegation of three diplomats to the region.  In an emergency Security Council session, Lebanon offered its plea.  Lebanese foreign official, Nahoud Mahmoud, pled for international help to dissolve the crisis. Mahmoud called the Israeli attacks barbaric aggression.

“My government denounces and condemns this Israeli aggression which is a flagrant violation of all international resolutions, norms and conventions. I need not explain to you here who the victim is and who the aggressor is.”

Israel’s Ambassador, Dan Gillman, blames the Lebanese government.  Gillman said Israel will not suspend the attack until the Lebanese government enacts UN Resolution 1559, which calls that Lebanon declares full sovereignty of its territory and disempowers Hezbollah. Backed by the United States, Israel blamed Syria and Iran for fueling the attacks.

“It is very important to understand that while Hezbollah executes this terrorism, it is merely the finger on the bloodstained long reaching arms of Syria and Iran. Hezbollah, together with Syria and Iran and Hamas, comprise the worlds new and ominous acts of terror.”

Israel said Iran provided the rockets launched into Israel. The United States rejected a resolution yesterday offered by Arab nations that asked Israel to end the conflict.

More Deaths in Israeli Airstrikes into Gaza (3:27)
Now we go to Palestine, the other front in Israel’s war. The Israeli attacks on the Gaza Strip, in the south, have not diminished.  For the 20th straight day, Israeli military forces have maintained a military invasion there, a territory they had ‘disengaged’ from last August.  Israeli attacks in southern Gaza Friday have killed two Palestinians – making 56 killed this week, with no Israeli casualties. Saed Bannoura reports from Palestine.

Narmada Dam Protest Continues in India (3:19)
For the last week, indigenous people displaced by a large dam in western India are standing their ground in resisting another forcible eviction by the government to develop tourist spots near the dam. This comes in the midst of a court ruling and the federal government’s decision to go ahead with the controversial issue of the Narmada Dam’s height without what anti-dam activists claim as improper rehabilitation. FSRN Correspondent Binu Alex reports from Kevadia.

Border City Residents Address Undocumented Immigration (2:58)
As the immigration debate continues in Washington and the controversy over Mexico’s presidential election unfolds in Mexico City, representatives and activists from border cities are looking for effective and humane ways to reduce undocumented immigration. Alonso Rivera files this report from San Diego.

Hunger Fast Brings Protesters from Across US to the White House (2:01)
Outside the White House, anti-war protesters are on their tenth day of a hunger strike to bring US troops home. Among the fasters, a fourth generation shrimper from Seadrift, Texas, is putting her life on the line for the effort. From KPFT in Houston, Katie Heim reports.

Movement for Food Policy Council in Oakland (2:05)
This week in Oakland, community garden advocates urged city council members to establish a Food Policy Council to help local organizers set up community gardens and farmer’s markets. Not only do the gardens strengthen community bonds, they say, but they protect local food security in the face of big agribusiness driven by petroleum and run purely for profit. FSRN’S Ed Rippy reports.

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