September 06, 2006
BLAIR IN TROUBLE
Tony Blair’s future as Britain’s Prime Minister and leader of his party appears to be under threat, as seven members of his government resigned today in protest of his leadership. From London, Naomi Fowler reports.
The political opposition are describing it as a ‘meltdown’ for Tony Blair’s party. Seven Members of Parliament, all in junior government positions, resigned today and more may follow. Efforts to oust Tony Blair by his own party and Members of Parliament have been gathering momentum for some time. Even ex-government ministers have called on him to step down for what they see as the good of his party and the country. Many see Tony Blair’s strong alliance with George Bush, his support for the war in Iraq, and his failure to condemn the bombings in Lebanon as the straws that broke the camel’s back. According to polls, the popularity ratings of his government are now at a 19-year low. With an invigorated political opposition on the rise, Labour party MPs are worried that Tony Blair has become a liability to future election success – and to their parliamentary seats. Ministers loyal to Tony Blair have said he’ll be gone within a year. But the question now is whether he can last that long. This is Naomi Fowler in London for Free Speech Radio News.
LEBANESE EMBARGO TO BE LIFTED
A statement released today by the office of the Israeli Prime Minister says that Israel will lift its 2 month long sea and air blockade of Lebanon tomorrow. International forces will take control of Lebanese seaports and airports.
GAZA OFFENSIVE CONTINUES
Israeli attacks on the Palestinian territories have continued, killing eight Palestinians since last night. This, as a general strike throughout the Palestinian territories protests the international economic blockade that has resulted in the non-payment of salaries of government workers for over six months. Saed Bannoura reports:
Two separate Israeli air strikes late last night killed four Palestinians in southern Gaza in apparent ‘assassination attempts’ against Palestinian resistance fighters. Early this morning in Gaza, three people were killed and three injured, most of them members of the same family – all were civilians. Meanwhile, a general strike has continued for the second day, with Palestinian teachers and workers protesting an international siege and blockade that has prevented the payment of salaries to Palestinian Authority employees since March. Dr. Mustapha Barghouti, Palestinian legislator: (sound) “It is very strange that Israel is so vicious in its attacks exactly at a time when all Palestinian factions have unified into a common platform. Either they can continue this cycle of violence or we can all go to an international peace summit on the basis of that program.” Israeli also continues to abduct Palestinian political figures. The head of the Palestinian Presidential Security force was taken prisoner at a checkpoint last night, joining over 80 other government officials that have been seized by Israel since June. For FSRN from imemc.org, this is Saed Bannoura in Beit Sahour, Palestine.
The Senate today rejected an amendment to the 2007 defense spending bill that would have outlawed the use of cluster bombs in or near civilian areas. The Pentagon opposed the amendment brought by California Senator Dianne Feinstein and Vermont’s Patrick Leahy. Cluster bombs disperse explosive devices over a wide range of territory. The smaller “bomblets” can remain buried and active in areas long after the end of an armed conflict, posing danger to local civilians. At least 2 Lebanese soldiers were killed today as they were clearing away unexploded cluster bombs in the south of the country. The Israeli Army reportedly used 3 different types of US-manufactured cluster bombs during its 34-day campaign in Lebanon.
FREE TRADE TALKS IN SEATTLE
Representatives from South Korea and the US are in Seattle today for a third round of talks aimed at implementing a free trade agreement between the 2 countries. Mark Taylor-Canfield reports.
The first two rounds of talks on the controversial free trade agreement between the US and South Korea took place in Washington DC and Seoul – and resulted in major protests. According to Cheehyung Kim, an organizer with the US-based solidarity coalition, KAWAN (Koreans Against War and Neoliberalism), South Korean farmers are facing a major struggle for survival. (sound) “Korea currently grows about 65% of it’s rice. With this free trade agreement, if it were to happen, the rice market would open up and cheaper US rice would flood the market. It would drive the farmers out of their land and their homes ….but it’s not only the farmers themselves, but also all businesses related to agriculture.” The Free Trade agreement talks between the US and South Korea are scheduled to continue through Friday in Seattle, with activists planning events through Sunday. The Seattle Police Department has appealed to the Korean-American community for calm and peace during the demonstrations. This is Mark Taylor-Canfield for Free Speech Radio News in Seattle.
Bush Admits Secret Detainees (4:25)
President Bush acknowledged the use of CIA detention centers around the world and said that 14 men who the US suspects as terrorists will be transferred to Guantanamo Bay. He then presented Congress with a plan for them to legalize tribunals to try detainees at Guantanamo Bay. As the President made these announcements, Democratic leadership in the Senate presented a measure of no-confidence in Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. FSRN’s Leigh Ann Caldwell reports.
Sudan to Send Army to Darfur (3:32)
United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan has warned Sudan that it will bear responsibility for any worsening of the humanitarian crisis in Darfur. Annan’s statement came as the African Union confirmed its decision to withdraw its peacekeeping troops from Darfur at the end of September. The Sudanese government has asked the African Union (AU) force to leave the country when its mandate ends.The UN security council had approved a UN force of over 20,000 to deploy to Darfur after the African union’s 7,000 troops were set to leave.Now the decision by the Sudanese government to instead deploy 10,000 of its own troops has raised serious concerns…. Joshua Kyalimpa reports.
Calderon Starts Forming Government In Mexico (4:00)
Right-wing Mexican Presidential candidate Felipe Calderon started forming his government today — a day after the country’s Federal Election Commissioner certified him the winner. Calderon prevailed by a razor-thin margin in an election marred by allegations of fraud. Gilberto Lopez Rivas is an anthropologist with the National Institute of Anthropology and History in Mexico City and a frequent contributor to the newspaper La Jornada. He spoke with us from Mexico City.
Israeli Prime Minister Under Pressure (3:46)
Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has been under pressure since the war in Lebanon ended. He’s facing calls for a judicial commission to investigate Israel’s political and military conduct during the war. His coalition looks shaky, with signs that it may not be able to pass this year’s budget. Irris Makler reports from Jerusalem.
New Report on Women’s Migration (3:23)
The United Nations Population Fund UNFPA released today its annual State of World Population Report called “A Passage to Hope: Women and International Migration.” This year’s edition examines the scope and breadth of female migration on source and destination countries, and their disproportionate vulnerability to trafficking, exploitation and abuse. The report reveals that although migrant women contribute billions of dollars in cash and services, policymakers continue to disregard both their contributions and their vulnerability even though female migrants tend to send a much higher proportion of their lower earnings back home than their male counterparts. Danuta Szafraniec reports from New York.