July 19, 2006

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Headlines (5:07)
President George W. Bush issued his first-ever veto today to kill legislation that would provide funding for human embryonic stem cell research. The bill passed the Senate yesterday by a large margin. Yanmei Xie reports from Washington DC.

Stem cell research is controversial because it requires destroying embryos. White House Press Secretary Tony Snow says the president believes that there can be alternative methods. [Snow audio] Scientists have complained that some of the existing lines are contaminated and those that remain are far from enough for conducting research. The House is voting on the bill again this afternoon, but last year’s vote fell well short of the two-thirds majority needed to override the President’s veto. Senate Democrats are also urging Republican leaders to bring the bill back for another vote, but the measure only gathered 63 supporters yesterday…four votes short of overcoming the veto. Polls show that a solid majority of Americans support human embryonic stem cell research, which supporters hope could lead to finding cures for diseases such as Parkinson’s and diabetes.

As the world watches events unfold in Lebanon, Israeli forces continue military operations in the Palestinian territories. Israeli forces spent hours pounding the Maghazi refugee camp in the Gaza Strip today. Troops also invaded the city of Nablus in the West Bank. Manar Jibrin reports on the West Bank incursion.

The Israeli army invaded the West Bank city of Nablus today with at least 25 armored vehicles. The soldiers entered the city from its main entrances after midnight and surrounded the Palestinian municipal headquarters, which includes the central jail, military intelligence department and the police department. Troops fired rounds of live ammunition into the building; killing three resistance fighters and injuring several others including two journalists and three members of a medical crew. The Israeli military then arrested several civilians, including policemen based in the building. The Israeli army called all of the Palestinian policemen out of the building using loudspeakers, before taking them prisoner and moving them to the nearby building of the Ministry of Health, which the soldiers have turned into a military post. Israeli snipers occupied positions on top of houses in the area. Dr. Ghassan Hamdan, head of the Palestinian Medical Relief Committees in the city, is one of the medical workers injured during today’s incursion. [Dr. Ghassan Hamdan] “There were more than thirty injured most of whom were youth who were at the scene, hurling stones at the Israeli soldiers. Most injuries were in the upper half of the body and were caused by coated rubber bullets. However, there were injuries by live bullets; three were seriously injured in the head. In addition, the Israeli soldiers were aiming at ambulances and medics, the thing that caused injuries to the doctors working in the field.” This invasion comes two days after members of the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, the armed wing of Fateh, claimed responsibility for an explosion in the Old City of Nablus, which killed one Israeli soldier and injured seven others. For FSRN from IMEMC.Org, I am Manar Jibrin.

The death toll caused by the Java earthquake and tsunami passed 525 today. 270 remain missing and over 50,000 are internally displaced. Rescue teams are still searching for victims and missing persons. Meggy Margiyono reports from Jakarta.

The coordinator of the rescue team at Pangandaran said today that more people have left their homes due to fear of a new tsunami. At least 10 aftershocks that have hit the disaster area. The growing number of displaced persons has increased the need for emergency aid, but stocks are in short supply. Many families still do not have access to tents and must sleep on the grass in the open air. Javanese relief coordinator, Mulyono : “There are two kinds of displaced persons. First, there are those whose houses are damaged, and then there are those who are scared of a possible new tsunami. They stay at camps for some days even though their property is still usable.” Reports have surfaced that the Indonesian government had received a bulletin from the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center on Monday, warning that a tsunami might hit the Java Coast 40 minutes after the earthquake, but officials did not advice the public. Members of Indonesia’s parliament will investigate this information and parliament will hold formal hearing on the matter on July 21st. From Jakarta, Meggy Margiyono reporting for FSRN.

Islamist militias have taken up positions near the Somali city where government offices are based. The weak central government of Somalia moved its operations to Baidoa when the security situation in Mogadishu became precarious. Ethiopia’s Minister of Information today told the Associated Press that Ethiopian troops are prepared to invade Somalia to defend its UN-backed transitional government.

Death Toll in Iraq Averages 100 A Day (3:52)
The United Nations announced Tuesday that nearly 6,000 Iraqi civilians were slain this May and June alone. According to the report, about 2,700 civilians were killed in May and 3,100 were killed in June. The announcement came amid another day of tremendous violence in Iraq which saw car bombings near in the holy Shi’ite city of Kufa, and an attack on day laborers in Mahmoudiya, just south of the capital. Aaron Glantz reports.

Israeli War Ships Attacks Palestinian Refugee Camp (4:06)
Israel continues it’s offensives in Gaza and Lebanon today, with the Israeli security cabinet prolonging the attacks without a time limit. In our continuing coverage of the Middle East conflict, we’ll go to Gaza, Beirut, the Lebanese-Canadian community in Montreal and to Washington, where lawmakers took a stand today in support of Israel. Israeli war planes have attacked the Maghazi refugee camp, killing at least 6 people, and wounding several others. The bombing, which took course between 1 to 9:30 am, hit an elementary school, and damaged several homes and buildings, and the Israeli Army is continuing its shelling in the region. Our correspondent in Gaza is Rami Almeghari – he lives in the Maghazi camp, and spent the night huddled with his family, waiting for the bombing to end through the morning.

As Violence Continues in Iraq, Beirut Residents Weigh in on International Response (3:50)
8 days after Hezbollah captured two Israeli soldiers in a raid on an Israeli military installation on the Southern Lebanese border; the Israeli military and Hezbollah have intensified hostilities. Today saw the largest number of Lebanese killed – according to the Lebanese government – more than 50 were taken as result of the offensive. Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Sinoira said that more than 300 Lebanese have lost their lives in the last 8 days – all but 30 have been civilians. Hezbollah fired a missile into the Arab Israeli town of Nazareth, killing three people, as US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said she would visit the region “in the near future,” according to the US State Department. Meanwhile, as Israel widened its offensive to include targets in mostly Christian areas of Beirut, people on the streets have expressed a growing dissatisfaction with the international community. FSRN reporter Jackson Allers visited various communities in Beirut to gauge the mood.

Washington Stands in Solidarity with Israel (3:00)
In Washington, Congress has taken a hard-line stance in solidarity with Israel. An overwhelming majority support Israel’s attacks, while condemning Hezbollah. Their position goes further, in fact, in denouncing Hezbollah than the Bush Administration’s response. Washington Editor Leigh Ann Caldwell reports.

Lebanese-Canadian Community Rallies in Canada (2:24)
Canada has yet to take a formal position on the situation in the Middle East, but did begin its evacuation effort of about 50,000 Canadian nationals in Lebanon yesterday. Lebanese-Canadians, meanwhile, are taking to the streets in response to the crisis. Aaron Lakoff has more from Montreal.

Voters in the Democratic Republic of Congo Prepare to Head to the Polls (3:06)
Voters in the Democratic Republic of Congo head to the polls at the end of this month to elect a president and parliament in what is hoped to be the country’s first fully democratic vote since independence. The elections are part of a U.N.-led three year transition expected to end over four decades of corruption, dictatorship and wars, which have killed more than three million people. Joshua Kyalimpa reports from neighboring Uganda.

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