July 17, 2006

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Headlines (5:48)
A strong underwater earthquake near Indonesia sent a tsunami towards the coast of Java today. A local official from the hardest-hit beach town told Indonesia’s Metro TV that at least 37 bodies have been evacuated, but that the confirmed death toll could rise as more information comes in. The Associated Press is reporting at least 86 deaths.

An attack on a market in the Iraqi town of Mahmoudiya has killed at least 41 people. Mortars landed on the market and gunmen opened fire on the panicking shoppers. Some 100 Iraqis have died in separate attacks in the past 2 days.

At the Group of Eight meeting in St. Petersburg, Russia, United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan and British Prime Minister Tony Blair today called for the formation of an international security force to monitor and stabilize the escalation of violence between Israel and Hezbollah fighters in Lebanon. Other European leaders present at the G-8 summit have backed the call. The US has rejected the notion of a cease-fire, saying that Israel has the right to defend itself. Israeli air strikes have targeted civilian infrastructure including clinics, fuel storage tanks, and water treatment facilities. At least 40 people were killed in Lebanon today, bringing the death toll to over 200 in six days. Almost all of the dead are civilians. Twenty-four Israelis have died in the same period of time.

To the south, Israeli forces continue their offensive in the Gaza Strip. 92 Palestinians have been killed and 326 injured, in the last ten days of Israeli attacks on Gaza. Saed Bannoura reports.

Early this morning, a missile dropped on the home of the Abu Salem family hit just a few feet from a three-day-old baby and his 23-year old mother. The missile did not detonate immediately and the family was able to escape from their home, in the Jabalia refugee camp in the northern Gaza Strip, before the missile exploded. The town of Beit Hanoun, in northern Gaza, has been under continuous attack by Israeli forces all weekend. Air strikes and artillery fire from tanks killed 1 person early this morning and 5 yesterday. Yesterday, the Israeli air force dropped missiles onto the Palestinian Foreign Ministry building for the second time in a week, leveling what remained of the building and injuring several neighborhood residents. Palestinian legislator, Mustapha Barghouthi: [Barghouthi]. The Palestinian fighters holding the Israeli soldier had conditioned his release on the release of 1,000 Palestinian and Arab prisoners in Israeli jails, a demand which was rejected by Israel. For Free Speech Radio News from imemc.org, this is Saed Bannoura in Beit Sahour, Palestine.

(cut for time) British police involved in last year’s shooting death of Brazilian electrician, Jean Charles de Menezes, will not face individual criminal charges. Two London Metropolitan police fatally shot de Menezes in a subway station two weeks after the July 7th attacks on London’s transportation network. The police department argued that the man was thought to be a suicide bomber.

In the US, the Bush Administration’s budget for Fiscal Year 2007 has proposed 2 million dollars of cuts from the EPA’s library budget. Rebecca Myles has the story.

The proposed 2 million dollar budget cut would slash 80% of the EPA’s library budget, in essence closing the agency’s technical libraries. Scientists argue that if the proposals are implemented, thousands of scientific studies would be out of reach from the public and scientists, hindering emergency preparedness, anti-pollution enforcement, and long-term research. Previous budget cuts have forced the EPA to seek corporate sponsors to carry out research and development. The EPA is already closing its Chicago library and limiting access to collections and reassigning staff. 10,000 US EPA scientists have written to Congress to protest the cuts. Executive Director of Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, Jeff Ruch says the argument in favor of the cuts doesn’t ring true. [Ruch] Rook also added that while the librarys’ budgets are being cut, there seems to be 10 million dollar budget for an EPA public relations campaign called “Science For You” to inform the public and reporters about the agency’s cutting edge research. For FSRN I am Rebecca Myles reporting.

Over one million demonstrators gathered in downtown Mexico City yesterday to demand a vote-by-vote recount of the ballots from the July 2nd presidential election. Center-left candidate and former mayor of Mexico City, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, spoke at the massive rally, calling for a non-violent campaign of civil resistance. Lopez Obrador said that a re-count is essential for Mexico’s political, economic, and social stability. Mexico’s Federal Electoral Tribunal has until the end of August to clarify charges of electoral irregularities.

A Look at Internally Displaced Lebanese (4:28)
There appears to be no end in sight for the conflict between the Israeli military and Hezbollah. From the early hours and continuing all through the day on Monday, Israel continued to grind down Hezbollah defensive positions in the South with heavy missile fire and artillery rounds – also hitting Army installations in the north of Lebanon. More than 41 Lebanese were killed in today’s violence. In Israel on Sunday, three Hezbollah missiles hit the northern port city of Haifa – killing 9 at a train station and wounding scores of others. Hezbollah continued firing rockets into Israel today. An Israeli military official told UPI today that ground forces had advanced a half mile into Lebanese territory in attempt to root out the Hezbollah militia members carrying out the attacks. And as the international community appears divided over what to do to bring about a ceasefire in Lebanon, the ballooning refugee situation in that country is threatening to further cripple the already stretched Lebanese social service sector. FSRN’s Jackson Allers reports from Beirut.

Mali Hosts Poor People’s Summit in Mali (3:00)
Hundreds of people met in Gao, north-eastern Mali, to raise awareness about the problems faced by poor people in sub-Saharan Africa. Dubbed the “Poor People’s Summit”, the 5th edition of The People’s Forum coincided with the G8 talks in Russia. Mali is located in the Sahel, one of the driest parts of the world; a region afflicted by debt, as agriculture collapses under what summit attendees call unfair trade practices. In Senegal, Ndiaga Seck has more.

Peace Process Between India and Pakistan Waning (2:56)
A suicide bomber killed prominent Shia Muslim leader Allama Hassan Turabi in the port city of Karachi, Pakistan, reigniting tensions between majority Sunni and Shia sects. Authorities say they are investigating the incident, which sparked riots in the city, and some media in Pakistan are saying banned sectarian groups operating under new names are responsible for the killing. Meanwhile, Islamabad has asked the Indian government not to abandon the peace process in the wake of July 11 Mumbai bomb blasts which took over 180 lives. Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has said the blasts were inspired, instigated and supported by forces across the border – but did not explicitly name Pakistan, and New Delhi has officially told Pakistan the Foreign Secretary talks due next week were not possible because of the atmosphere created by the blasts. Some analysts believe the incident is diverting attention from the political crisis faced by President Musharraf’s government. Masror Hausen reports from Islamabad.

Senate Begins Stem Cell Debate (4:30)
After a long delay, the Senate has begun the stem cell debate. The Senate will vote on three separate bills, the most controversial being a bill that would expand research and funding for embryonic stem cells. As FSRN’s Leigh Ann Caldwell reports, one reason proponents say expanding funding is necessary is because the limited available number of stem cell lines lack diversity.

France’s Immigration Law Targets Youth (3:52)
France’s conservative government has stepped back from a controversial plan to seek out and deport the children of undocumented immigrants along with their families. Interior Minister Nicholas Sarkozy, a hopeful in next year’s presidential elections stands accused of tightening immigration controls in an attempt to fish for votes among supporters of Jean-Marie Le Pen’s xenophobic National Front Party. Khaled Sid Mohand reports from Paris.

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