April 05, 2006

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Headlines (5:47)
Amnesty International has released a report today on CIA rendition flights. The human rights organization is calling for an independent public inquiry into British involvement. Naomi Fowler reports from London.

While Amnesty says any illegal activity is by nature, difficult to track, their report released today has logged more than 200 suspected CIA flights passing through British airports alone. For the first time, their report shows evidence of how nearly 1,000 suspected CIA flights have taken place worldwide. Senior Adviser to Amnesty International Anne Fitzgerald: “The CIA is sometimes creating fictional front companies that allow them to use their planes so you know, they have a company that’s called for instance Primer Executive Transport, which only has two planes, both of which seem to be used exclusively for CIA business. The company has now disappeared, one of the planes have been sold off, the other one’s been transferred to another company which also has no address, no premises, no effective operations, that’s one way that the CIA runs these planes. The other way seems to be to lease them directly from legitimate commercial transport companies and these are companies that need to find out what their planes have been used for.” Amnesty International’s report also includes first-hand testimony from three men describing their rendition. They were held for more than a year in a location unknown to them. After cross-referencing evidence, Amnesty International believes the likely location of the prison was in Eastern Europe. Foreign Secretary Jack Straw has said there is no evidence that the Bush administration asked to “render” detainees through British airports. This is Naomi Fowler in London for Free Speech Radio News.

The Senate Appropriations Committee passed a massive emergency supplemental spending package yesterday. The majority of the nearly $107 billion dollar package will go to fund the ongoing occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan but includes money slated for disaster relief at home and abroad, as well as funding for an assortment of other interests.

The day after Massachusetts passed a bill requiring health care coverage for almost all of the state’s residents, President Bush visited neighboring Connecticut to promote his proposal for health savings accounts. FSRN’s Melinda Tuhus reports.

Connecticut is the wealthiest state in the nation, but has more uninsured residents than many other states. About 200 people came to Bridgeport today to protest Bush’s speaking engagement. They came for many reasons, chiefly to oppose the war and to call for universal health coverage. Brian Petronella, president of Local 371 of the United Food and Commercial Workers, said universal health care is an urgent need. “When we go to negotiations, they say why should we provide health care when WalMart is not providing health care for 800,000 of their employees? So, yes, it becomes a problem in negotiations.” Although protesters were kept a block away from the speaking event, they were able to express their sentiments as Bush’s motorcade passed. For FSRN, I’m Melinda Tuhus in Bridgeport, CT.

An indefinite fast by an anti-dam activist in India has entered it’s eighth day. Binu Alex has the story.

The anti-dam activist Medha Patkar’s condition worsened today as her fast entered its eighth day and doctors have warned that the next 48 hours will be very critical for her. She is demanding a halt to the construction of the Narmada dam project. With a height of 122 meters, the proposed dam on the Narmada river in Gujarat will be one of the largest in India. The project will displace an estimated 320,000 people, mostly members of indigenous tribes with no political or social base. The government says the dam is a lifeline for water-starved people of western and Central India where drought is a common feature. According to the World Commission on Dams, India’s 4,300 dams have submerged about 37,500 square kilometers and have displaced at least 42 million people. From Ahmedabad in India, I am Binu Alex for Free Speech Radio News.

In Mexico, hundreds of small farmers yesterday occupied and shut down the pumping station that supplies running water to approximately 80 percent of Acapulco. They were protesting the construction of the proposed “La Parota” hydroelectric dam in the region.

Argentina’s lower house of Congress will vote on officially turning water utility operations over to a state-run company. The French water services company, Suez, is seeking legal action against the government. Marie Trigona has more from Buenos Aires.

The national government added a decree to the bill to be voted on today, that would make it impossible to re-privatize water utilities. The new AySA state-run company took over water utility operations in Buenos Aires and surrounding suburbs last week on an interim basis. The French water company, Suez, handed over operations without protest but is seeking a 1.7 billion dollar indemnity through the World Bank international court. Argentina’s President Nestor Kirchner, who supports the AySA bill, has said that the government has no obligation to buy back the company Suez operated that managed water services. The government has delegated over 50 million dollars to help start up the state-run company. The government canceled Suez’s water utility concessions last month, citing under performance. For Free Speech Radio News, I’m Marie Trigona in Buenos Aires.

In Quito, protests continue against a proposed bilateral free trade agreement with the United States. Groups opposed to the trade agreement have begun a march from various parts of the country towards Quito. The protesters are due to arrive in the capital tomorrow. Indigenous organizations playing a key role in the protests have confirmed that dozens of activists have been arrested in recent days. A state of exception, declared on March 21st, remains in effect throughout the country. Indigenous groups oppose the free trade agreement, saying it compromises national sovereignty and will have a devastating impact on domestic agriculture.

Rice Lobbies Congress on India Nuclear Deal (3:40)
Secretary of State Condaleezza Rice spent the day on Capitol Hill, urging Congress to allow the nuclear deal with India to proceed. Rice says the program is important for India’s energy needs and for the US economy, but Senators are indicating concern on a number of issues, including an attempt by the Administration to sidestep Congress. Washington Editor Leigh Ann Caldwell has more.

Iraqi Civilians Buy Guns in Record Numbers (4:41)
Since the bombing of the Shiite Askariya Shrine in Samarra, which resulted in Shiite militias attacking Sunni mosques in Baghdad, Iraqis have been buying guns in record numbers. FSRN’s David Enders reports from Baghdad, where local militias continue to arm themselves in preparation for further fighting.

Arab – UN Conflict Over Troop in Darfur (2:58)
African heads of state will push the warring parties from Sudan’s Darfur region to clinch a peace agreement at a meeting on April 8 that all sides said on Tuesday could help break the deadlock. Congo Republic’s President Denis Sassou Nguesso, current chairman of the African Union (AU), Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo and AU Commission Chairman Alpha Oumar Konare are due to take part in Saturday’s meeting in the Nigerian capital. Meanwhile, more voices are calling for an end to the deadlock between Arab leaders and the UN over the issue. FSRN’s Oula Farawati has more.

Thai Media Pressing for Freedoms (3:23)
Relations between the media and the government have been very tense in Thailand since the beginning of Prime Minister Thaksin’s administration, in 2001. FSRN’s Severine Bardon reports from Bangkok, where the media is fighting back to defend press freedoms now that the prime minister is due to step down.

New Orleanians Stage Action to Reclaim Homes (2:46)
Dozens of New Orleans public housing development residents forced their way past police to visit their homes on Tuesday. Seven months after the storms, the vast majority of public housing residents have not been able to return, and are beginning to organize to pressure the Housing Authority to let them come back. FSRN’s Christian Roselund is in New Orleans, and files this report.

National Camp Out Combats Criminalization of the Homeless (2:20)
Dozens of people chose to sleep on sidewalks and parks across the nation on Friday to protest the criminalization of homeless people. The sleep outs were part of a National Day of Action that took place in more that 30 U.S. Cities, from Atlanta, Georgia to Portland, Oregon. FSRN’s Rebecca Myles files this report from New York.

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