August 18, 2006
Severe flooding in Ethiopia has claimed the lives of at least 618 people this week. The death toll will likely rise as flood waters recede and rescue teams reach isolated areas. Figures from the World Food Programme indicate that over 70,000 people have been affected and around 16,000 have been displaced by the flood waters. More than a dozen villages in southern Ethiopia remain inaccessible. Forecasts indicate continued showers in the coming days.
Palestinian factions have agreed to extend a cease-fire agreement in an effort to renew negotiations with Israel. Internal plans for a Palestinian national unity government have stalled, with neither side willing to agree to the other’s terms. Saed Bannoura reports.
National unity talks between Fatah and Hamas reached an impasse today, with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas refusing to accept the conditions set by the Hamas party. Gazi Hamad is a government spokesman for Hamas: (sound) “The issue here is not about control or domination. We came to this government to conduct reforms and to bring transparency, fairness, and justice. The issue of a National Unity Government was proposed before we formed the current government, but we were not successful at that time. I believe that Palestine is suffering from political, economic and security crises,among other difficulties, therefore the solution requires everyone’s participation.” Palestinian armed factions agreed today to halt rocket fire aimed a Israel, in an effort to re-start negotiations. Also today, Israeli forces carried out 3 targeted assassinations in the West Bank. And the Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert announced that he will not go forward with his so-called ‘convergence plan’ to consolidate Israeli settlers living on Palestinian land in the West Bank, saying that concerns for security in the north of the country take precedence at this time. Palestinian farmers in Hebron received military orders from Israeli soldiers last night that 275 acres of their farmland would be seized to make room for Israeli settlement expansion in that area. For FSRN, from imemc.org, this is Saed Bannoura in Beit Sahour, Palestine.
JUSTICE DEPARTMENT APPEALS RULING
The US Department of Justice has filed an appeal in reaction to yesterday’s ruling by a district judge in Detroit that found the National Security Agency’s warrantless wiretapping of telephone and internet communications to be in violation of the first and fourth amendments of the US Constitution. President George W. Bush condemned the ruling today, saying (quote) “those who herald this decision simply do not understand the nature of the world in which we live,”. Opponents say the legal way to carry out the eavesdropping program would be to seek warrants from the court established by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.
LAMONT AND LIEBERMAN
Former Senator and vice-presidential candidate John Edwards was in New Haven, Connecticut yesterday to campaign with Democratic Senate candidate Ned Lamont. Lamont, running on an anti-war platform, beat 3-term Senator Joe Lieberman in the Democratic primary last week. But Lieberman is still very much in the race, running as an independent. Melinda Tuhus reports from New Haven.
A new poll out yesterday shows Lieberman beating Lamont 49 to 38 percent among all voters. Republicans overwhelmingly support Lieberman over the endorsed Republican candidate, making it really a two-man race just like the primary. Lamont’s numbers are up from a month ago but he has a long way to go to win. Lamont said after the primary each candidate got a call. (sound) “One of the first calls Joe Lieberman got was from Karl Rove. The first call — the FIRST call I got was from John Edwards, and I’m so proud of that.” (applause) Edwards said that as a senator he had voted for the Iraq war, and admitted that was a mistake. (sound) “It’s obvious to anybody that what’s happening there now is not working. We need to make it clear that we are going to leave Iraq, and the best way to make it clear is to actually start leaving.” (applause) A young woman standing on the edge of the crowd was not impressed. She held a sign reading, “Capitalism is the problem; Democrats are not the answer.” (sound) “Looking to Democrats for major change is not going to happen, and they’ve proven that. The majority of them support the war.” For FSRN, I’m Melinda Tuhus in New Haven.
ACTIVITIES CEASE AT LA ESCONDIDA MINE
The Anglo-Australian mining conglomerate BHP Billiton has halted operations of its Chilean copper mine, La Escondida, after striking miners closed all access roads to prevent the arrival of supplies. From Santiago, FSRN’s Jorge Garretón has more.
Executives at the world’s largest privately-owned copper mine decided to stop operations late last night, after striking workers closed all access roads to the mine. The police were unsuccessful in clearing the roadways and mine executives were unable to bring in a week-long shift of non unionized workers, contract employees, and scab labor to the mine. La Escondida officials also canceled all collective bargaining negotiations. Union leaders fear this is a tactic to break the miners’ union, because Chile’s pro business labor legislation gives the company after 15 days of strike, the right to bargain individually with each worker. The government has ordered the Minister of Labor to get involved in the stalemate. Workers are demanding a 13 percent pay increase and a one time bonus of some 30 thousand dollars, but the company is only offering a 3 percent pay increase and 16 thousand dollars one time bonus. The bonus is compensation for the high price of copper. La Escondida produces 8 percent of the world’s copper and according to industry experts La Escondida is losing 16 million dollars a day. For FSRN, this is Jorge Garretón in Santiago.
Lebanese Refugees Return Home (4:54)
The five-day United Nations’ brokered ceasefire in Lebanon is holding, despite the continued occupation by Israeli troops in parts of southern Lebanon . Diplomatic tensions are heightening as the UN attempts a rapid deployment of some 3,500 troops within a ten day window. Meantime, the Lebanese army continued its historic deployment of some 3,000 Lebanese troops in the south for the first time in nearly forty years. It is the first wave of nearly 15,000 troops that will be stationed in territory, which has been controlled by Hezbollah since Israel withdrew from Lebanon in 2000. The Lebanese government estimates the physical damage caused by the 4-week Israeli bombing campaign at more than $3.5 billion. FSRN’s Jackson Allers spent this week in southern Lebanon to survey the aftermath of the fighting – which claimed the lives of approximately 1,200 Lebanese civilians.
UN Peacekeepers Hard to Come By (4:50)
Plans to send 15,000 United Nations troops to Southern Lebanon are hitting a snag. France – which was to command the peacekeeping force – now says it will send only 200 soldiers to the conflict zone. … In addition, Israel objects to troops from some of the countries that have volunteered to send soldiers – notably Indonesia and Malaysia – because they do not recognize Israel ‘s right to exist. … And those aren’t the only hang-ups. Ian Williams is United Nations correspondent for the Nation Magazine and author of the book “The UN for Beginners.”
AIDS Conference Wraps Up in Toronto (3:53)
The 16th International AIDS Conference wrapped up in Toronto today. The impact of HIV and AIDS on women was a major focus in the media and among those who work directly with people affected by the disease. Kristin Schwartz of CKLN was there and filed this report.
Workers Battle Police in Oaxaca (3:03)
Thousands of unionized workers in Oaxaca – among them health care professionals, municipal workers, state university staff and employees of the public utility company – are staging a 24 hour work stoppage today in support of striking public school teachers and the effort to force the resignation of the state’s governor. Major roads leading into the state capital have been blockaded. Just before airtime, gunmen fired on blockaders at the city’s western exit, injuring a teacher. Vladimir Flores reports from Oaxaca City .
FEMA Unprepared for Next Katrina (3:15)
The Federal Emergency Management Agency announced this week that they would grant Louisiana more than 34 million dollars for crisis counseling for Hurricane Katrina victims, the second largest crisis counseling grant ever awarded the agency. The grant comes as critics accuse FEMA of failing to prepare for for another Katrina like disaster. From Washington , DC , Selina Musuta reports.