August 10, 2006
Israeli troops have taken control of the Lebanese town of Marjayoun, five miles north of the border. Plans for a major invasion lasting up to two months – approved by Israel’s security cabinet yesterday – were reportedly put on hold following conversations between the Israeli prime minister, Ehud Olmert, and the US secretary of state, Condoleezza Rice. Israeli soldiers today consolidated strategic positions in southern Lebanon and warned of new attacks on Beirut and the north of the country. Khaled Sid Mohand reports from the northern city of Tripoli.
At around noon today, Israeli army airplanes dropped leaflets in a town just south of Tripoli to warn people it would strike any vehicle bigger than a car traveling all along the road. This means the only coastal road spared by the Israeli’s army aircraft promises to be free of any vehicles from this evening until tomorrow morning, further strangling the country already suffering from a ground, air, and sea embargo for nearly one month. If the Sunni population of the northern city of Tripoli was quite indifferent to the war sparkled in the south, they’re now seriously worrying about a possible extension of the conflict into their region. Despite the traditional hostilities between Shiia and Sunni, support for Hizbollah is growing by the day, particularly among the poor. Today’s cafe conversations were all focused on the Hizbollah leader Sayed Hassan Nasrallah’s speech yesterday, in which he promised “to turn their precious land of the south into a graveyard for occupying Zionists,”. Khaled Sid Mohand in Tripoli, Lebanon.
Heavy fighting broke out today between the Sri Lankan government forces and the Tamil Tiger rebels over a key irrigation reservoir in the eastern part of the island. Just 2 days ago, both sides claimed credit for ending the three-week blockade of water supplies to thousands of acres of paddy fields. Ponniah Manikavasagam reports from Sri Lanka.
The truce monitors termed the ongoing escalation of hostilities as a low-intensity war which has resulted in severe casualties on both the combatants and the civilians. The government said today the rebels first fired artillery on the troops to regain control of the Mavil Aru dam that the forces claim is under their control. But the Tamil Tigers say that the troops started an offensive in two fronts to take control of Mavil Aru, which is in their control. Government said 5 soldiers were killed and 41 injured by the mortar and artillery fire from the rebels. A rebel spokesman said they lost 10 cadres and another 20 were wounded in today’s fighting. Rebels say 50 civilians have been killed and another 200 wounded and thousands have been forced to flee their homes. Davide Vignati is the communication co-ordinator of the International Committee of Red Cross: “We have been informed that there are displaced moving towards the south. We don’t know the numbers because we couldn’t enter or reach the area. We don’t know the situation really. We don’t know in which condition they are walking.” But the government denied the charges. It said the troops were targeting the rebel’s artillery positions and doesn’t know about the displacement of civilians. For Free Speech Radio News, I am Ponniah Manikavasagam in Vavuniya, Sri Lanka.
Nigeria’s House of Representatives has issued a report slamming Chevron for tax evasion. Sam Olukoya reports from Lagos.
The American energy giant has been asked to pay $492 million in back taxes to the Nigeria government. The report released today by Nigeria’s lower house of Congress is the result of a broad investigation into allegations of tax evasion, fraud, and corruption made against Chevron. The report says the company inflated its tax returns to the government and overstated the cost of its operations in order to evade taxes. The House must still debate and adopt measures before recommendations made in the report could come into effect. Chevron has in the meantime denied that it evaded tax. The company said it was reviewing the report and would soon issue its official position on the matter. Multinational companies operating in Nigeria have in the past been accused of short changing the country of tens of millions of dollars through tax evasion. Only last year, the US Company, Halliburton, was found to have made illicit payments to Nigerian tax officials to enable it secure “favourable tax cuts”. For Free Speech Radio News, this is Sam Olukoya in Lagos.
High School students in Chile are growing restless again just months after massive mobilizations demanding reforms to the country’s education system. FSRN’s Jorge Garretón reports from Santiago.
High school students are meeting today with the new minister of education to let her know of their dissatisfaction with the slow pace of resolving their demands. The Presidential Education Commission was formed after the students carried out intense street mobilization in April and May. The Commission is expected to hand the government a reforms package that can be later sent to Congress to legislate changes to the Education Act. Students want a reform of the Education Act that puts an end to the educational system as a for-profit institution and to transform it into a truly public system. On Tuesday, high school students took to the streets of Santiago demanding that authorities respond to their demands promptly. But the demonstration turned violent when the students began pelting the district’s educational offices with rocks. Students then fought police, who made some 160 arrests. The new Education Minister is telling the students they must be patient saying reforms to the system do not happen in two or three months. The student assembly will meet tomorrow, to determine their future actions. For FSRN this is Jorge Garretón in Santiago.
U.K. Officials Say They’ve Foiled Terror Plot (1:28)
British airports remain on critical alert after police foiled an alleged terror ring suspected of plotting to blow up a number of aircraft bound for the U.S. Helen Kelly reports from London.
Washington Reacts on Terror Development (3:38)
The foiled plot has caused concern on the other side of the Atlantic as well. FSRN’s Selina Musuta reports on Washington’s reaction.
Rural Civilian Village Targeted by IDF (3:22)
New, separate reports issued by human rights watchdogs B’Tselem and the Palestinian Monitoring Group reveal that between 151 and 163 people were killed in the Gaza Strip in July – that’s the deadliest month on record in nearly two years. Israel continued its attacks by firing missiles into Gaza today, as UN Secretary General Kofi Annan said that the events in Lebanon should not sidetrack the crisis in the Occupied Territories. Annan added that the killing of Gaza civilians was unjustifiable. As FSRN’s Rami Almeghari reports from Rafah, Israel has targeted rural civilian areas.
Oaxaca’s Social Movement Continues (4:15)
Political instability continues to reign in Mexico, as the Federal Electoral Tribunal carries on its partial recount of presidential votes. In Oaxaca, the climate of violence has left three people dead, armed attacks on the office of the biggest-selling newspaper, and the arrest of social leaders – all in less than 48 hours. Yet, as FSRN’s Vladimir Flores reports, despite the repression, a massive social movement continues to hold protests demanding the immediate resignation of the state’s governor.
Nepal’s Uneasy Prospects for Peace (2:54)
Nepal’s government and the Maoists both say they are striving for peace. After events earlier this week jeopardized the peace process, Baburam Bhattarai, second in charge in the Maoist hierarchy, stated that their peace dialogue with the government had reached the verge of collapse. His outburst stemmed from Nepal’s Premier Girja Prasad Koirala’s remark that even the King should be given some freedom with in a democracy. As FSRN’s PC Dubey reports, the contradictions displayed by both sides have the potential to jeopardize all prospects for peace.
Still Seeking Justice for the Women of Juarez (3:42)
More than 400 young women have been raped and murdered in northern Mexico since 1993 – their bodies left in the desert’s border region, just south of El Paso, Texas. This summer, the Mexican government returned 14 cases it has been investigating back to the state of Chihuahua. According to officials, there is no evidence to substantiate a federal crime. As Leslie Clark reports, the families of the murdered and missing women in Ciudad Juarez are infuriated, as the face yet another setback in their mission for justice.