July 25, 2006

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Headlines (4:14)
President George W. Bush and Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki today announced a new program aimed at curbing violence in Baghdad. Additional American troops will be brought into Baghdad from elsewhere in the country and will embed with Iraqi security force patrols. Al-Maliki is currently visiting Washington DC and is scheduled to address a joint meeting of Congress tomorrow. Some congressional democrats have threatened to boycott al-Maliki’s speech unless he apologizes for statements made last week condemning the Israeli offensives against Lebanon and Gaza. Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid on al-Maliki’s comments.

An international conference will convene tomorrow in Rome to discuss urgent measures of dealing with the crisis in the Middle East. Diletta Varlese reports.

In the Middle East, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice today held separate meetings with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas as the Israeli military operation against Gaza continued without a pause. Rami Almeghari reports.

Riots erupted today in the capital city of the Democratic Republic of Congo. Police reportedly fired tear gas and warning shots at demonstrators calling for the postponement of the upcoming election, citing fears of political violence and voting irregularities. The DRC will hold its first multi-party election in 4 decades this Sunday.

Scientists from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and Louisiana State University are predicting that the so-called “dead zone” in the Gulf of Mexico along the coasts of Texas and Louisiana will reach an area of 6700 square miles this summer. That’s nearly 2000 square miles above the summer average since 1990. Dead zones are areas of very low oxygen in the water at or near the ocean floor. Nitrate and phosphorus loads carried into the Gulf by the Mississippi and Atchafalaya rivers can cause excessive algae production in the summer months. The algae that sinks to the bottom consumes more oxygen than required to sustain other marine life in the same area. According to the Center for Sponsored Coastal Ocean Research, dead zones can cause “habitat loss, stress and even death to marine organisms; affecting commercial harvests and the health of impacted ecosystems”. Researchers have found that nitrogen loads into the Gulf have tripled in the past 50 years.

Lebanese Refugees Seek Shelter in Unlikely Places (4:19)
Israel began the 14th day of its military campaign against Lebanon today by moving ground troops to the southern city of Bin Jbail about 10 kilometers from the southern Lebanese border. Military sources said that Israel’s capture of Bin Jbail was done to better respond with artillery against Hezbollah fighters that continue to fire Katyusha rockets into Northern Israel – one of those rockets killed a young girl in the Arab Israeli town of Maghar today. Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert told reporters that Israel has the ability to wage “a long struggle” in order to destroy Hezbollah fighting positions and push them from their positions in the south. Israeli warplanes continue to batter areas around the southern coastal city of Tyre – and as Jackson Allers reports from the besieged city, Lebanese refugees are now seeking shelter in unlikely places – like Palestinian refugee camps close to the southern Lebanese border.

India Blames U.S. for WTO Doha Round Failure (3:09)
Talks among six key World Trade Organization governments collapsed in Geneva yesterday, imperiling efforts to reach a global market-opening agreement worth billions of dollars. Ministers from the U.S., the European Union, Brazil, India, Australia and Japan remained deadlocked, prompting WTO Director- General Pascal Lamy to suspend the five-year-old talks to dismantle market barriers and to supposedly lift millions out of poverty in the developing world. The EU and the US have taken turns blaming the other for the talk’s failure – and India, a country which boasts 700-million farmers, has been quick to step up their criticism on the U.S. for torpedoing global trade talks. Vinod K. Jose has the details from New Delhi.

South American Summit Wraps up in Argentina 37 (3:35)
The South American trade union, Mercosur, concluded its summit in Cordoba, Argentina on Friday with 10 presidents agreeing to work toward regional integration to offset U.S. influence. Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez dominated the spotlight with the oil-rich nation making its formal entry into Mercosur during the summit, boosting the regional trade bloc composed of Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay. Fidel Castro made a surprise visit to Cordoba for the regional meeting, signing several trade agreements and encouraging his left leaning sympathizers to fight against U.S. hegemony. FSRN’s Marie Trigona reports from Cordoba.

Congress Introduces New Immigration Reform (3:36)
A new proposal on immigration reform was offered in Congress today. Its authors are calling it the right compromise for the stalemate on immigration legislation. But key players in the immigration debate have not yet embraced the proposal. FSRN’s Leigh Ann Caldwell reports.

The American Legislative Exchange Council Meets to Expand Free Trade (2:51)
The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) held its annual meeting in San Francisco this past weekend. Known as one of the nation’s largest corporate lobbying groups, ALEC’s mission is to promote free trade, private enterprise, and limited government oversight. Guest speakers at this year’s conference included conservative economist Milton Freidman of the Hoover Institute and U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales. FSRN’s Christina Aanestad reports.

Residents in Queens Still Without Power (2:34)
Record temperatures around the country have caused at least 20 heat-related deaths the past week. The heat wave in California has caused blackouts throughout the state, and 250,000 homes and businesses in Saint Louis, Missouri have been without power since storms struck last week. Thousands of New Yorkers are still without juice after a blackout started 7 days ago. Politicians in Queens are pointing fingers at the Mayor and Con Edison for slow response, and the State’s Attorney General is reminding New Yorkers they’ve been there before, and the city’s power infrastructure needs some serious overhauling. Rebecca Myles reports.

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