August 14, 2006

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Headlines (5:10)
AIDS conference opens in Toronto
The 16th International AIDS Conference has opened in Toronto, Canada – bringing together over 20,000 delegates from around the world. CKLN’s Kristin Schwartz has more.

Today was the first full day of sessions addressing the science, the economics, the services and the policy related to the HIV/AIDS pandemic. This morning, the so-called “Double Bill” of Microsoft’s Bill Gates and former U.S. President Bill Clinton drew the largest crowds. Last week, Bill and Melinda Gates announced a $500 million donation to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria. A group of protesters inside the hall disrupted the presentation for a few moments, calling for more investment in nurses and other primary health care. This is a key demand for civil society groups represented here. According to Dr. Mohga Kamal-Yanni, HIV policy adviser for Oxfam International — “For the first time in human history, we have the resources to stop HIV/AIDS from killing millions of people. What we do not know is whether our leaders will muster the generosity to save these lives.” From Toronto, this is Kristin Schwartz for Free Speech Radio News.

Update from Sri Lanka
At least 68 people were killed today in the ongoing fighting between Sri Lankan government troops and the Tamil Tiger rebels. Ponniah Manikavasagam reports from Sri Lanka.

Sri Lankan air force jets bombed the Mullaithivu district in the morning near the northern theatre of fighting. Rebels said the strikes killed 61 children, most of them are girls, orphaned by the 2004 tsunami. Another 129 were wounded in the air raid. The school children were said to be participating a first aid course at the time. The government said the air raid was on a selected rebel position and the troops did not target the children. In another development, a bomb attack in Colombo killed seven people near the president’s residence today. Among the dead were four commandos of the Special Forces who were escorting a Pakistani diplomat. Political and defense analysts say the killings of the children and an attack on a convoy of a foreign diplomat have posed an eminent threat to both the cease-fire agreement and the peace process. For Free Speech Radio News, I am Ponniah Manikavasagam from Vavuniya, Sri Lanka.

One of 5 indicted LRA leaders killed
The Ugandan army has killed the third top-most commander of the Lords Resistance Army rebels. FSRN’s Emmanuel Okella reports from Kampala.

LRA commander Raska Lukwiya was gunned down in a Uganda Peoples Defense Forces (UPDF) ambush, over the weekend. A UPDF spokesman said the move was a reaction by the army after an incident on Friday. Lukwiya was third on the list of the LRA rebel commanders wanted by the International Criminal Court for war crimes. Lukwiya’s death now casts a further doubt on the resumption of the Juba talks that hit a rocky end last week when the LRA delegation walked out, protesting the government’s refusal to reciprocate its unilateral ceasefire. The LRA only agreed to return to the talks following the intervention of the Southern Sudan president, Salva Kiir. The talks were to resume Monday but Reports from the Southern Sudan capital, Juba, say LRA Delegates have taken time off to mourn the death of one of their leaders. For Free Speech Radio News Emmanuel Okella reporting from Kampala, Uganda.

Veterans for Peace convention in Seattle
Veterans For Peace held their national convention at the University of Washington in Seattle over the weekend. FSRN’s Mark Taylor-Canfield was there.

Sgt. Ricky Clousing, who served in Iraq as an interrogator for the US Army’s 82nd Airborne Division, announced his refusal to deploy to Iraq during the Veterans For Peace convention. Clousing gave himself up to military authorities at Fort Lewis where Lt. Ehren Watada, Specialist Suzanne Swift and Sgt. Kevin Benderman have also refused to serve. Sgt. Clousing is considered a deserter by the US Army. Although Clousing is facing the possibility of a long prison sentence, he says he is confident that he made the right decision. (sound) “I am prepared for whatever consequence comes.” On Sunday, participants held a demonstration in support of war resisters at the US/Canadian border. PFC Kyle Snyder, who has also refused to return to Iraq, joined the demonstration, along with war resisters from the US, Palestine, Israel and South Korea. This is Mark Taylor-Canfield for Free Speech Radio News in Seattle.

Mexican re-count
Electoral officials in Mexico have concluded a partial re-count of ballots from the country’s disputed presidential election. Alonso Rivera reports from Tijuana.

Mexico’s Federal Electoral Tribunal will have to review a number of irregularities encountered during a partial review of ballots within the next eighteen days. Opposition party spokesperson, Horacio Duarte, said that the National Action Party’s candidate, Felipe Calderon, lost 19,087 votes and Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador gained 5,408. This represents a loss of 13,679 votes for Calderon. Opposition candidate, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, has declared that he will continue leading acts of peaceful civil resistance to pressure the electoral institution to do a full ballot by ballot recount. (protest sound) Over the weekend, more than five hundred Lopez Obrador supporters in the border city of Tijuana rallied in favor of a full ballot recount and formed a human chain that partially blocked the border crossing point for over twenty minutes. In Tijuana, this is Alonso Rivera for Free Speech Radio News.

Questions over Whether UN Ceasefire Will Hold (2:17)
The UN Security Council approved a resolution for a Middle East ceasefire on Friday night, although Israel is allowed to fire in its own defense. As Mitch Jeserich reports, the unanimous vote may not be indicative of how easy it will be to implement.

Israelis Disappointed with Olmert’s Leadership (3:03)
The internationally-brokered ceasefire in Lebanon is now just over 12 hours old – and it appears to be holding, despite several incidents in which Israeli troops fired at Hezbollah militants, in what they called defensive fire. Hezbollah reports that six militants were killed in the exchange. As Lebanese refugees stream home, and Israelis emerge from their bomb shelters, leaders on both sides are claiming victory. Irris Makler reports from Jerusalem.

Thousands Demonstrate to Denounce Israel’s Military Actions (3:49)
From San Francisco to Washington, DC, thousands marched this Saturday to protest Israel’s military actions against Palestine and Lebanon, as well as calling for the immediate end of U.S. aide to Israel. FSRN’s Selina Musuta reports from Washington, DC, one of 20 different cities across the world that held anti-war protests.

Iraq’s Health Ministry Threatens to Cut All Ties with U.S. Military (3:51)
The Iraqi Health Ministry threatened to sever all ties with the U.S. military Sunday, after U.S. forces attacked the Ministry, arresting its security guards. According to the Health Ministry, the U.S. military also stole $35,000 worth of employee’s salaries. Aaron Glantz and Salam Talib report.

Immigrant Advocates Celebrate Austalia Government’s Decision to Drop Controversial Border Protection Bill (4:10)
The Australian Coalition government has undergone the biggest backbench revolt it has seen during its 10 years in office, with the government withdrawing controversial border protection legislation due to hit the Senate today, because of a lack of support from a number of government senators required to pass the bill. The move follows emotional scenes in the House of Representatives last week, where despite three government MPs voting against the bill and two abstaining, the bill passed. Erica Vowles has this report.

Mumia Abu Jamal Comments: Viva Fidel! (3:06)
Cuban President Fidel Castro turned 80 yesterday. A Cuban state-run newspaper published photos of a recovering Castro to ease rumors that the long-time leader has passed on after transferring power to his brother, Raul. In a published statement, Fidel indicated he anticipates a long recovery, along with the possibility of bad news in the future. In this commentary from his cell on Pennsylvania’s Death Row, Mumia Abu Jamal takes a historical look at Fidel’s legacy.

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