September 08, 2006

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Headlines (5:24)
The United Nations high commissioner for refugees warned today that Sudan may be about to carry out a major military operation in the Darfur region. For more than a week, Sudanese troops have been engaged in a campaign that has included aerial bombardment of populated areas. Aid agencies say the situation on the ground in Darfur is deteriorating and warn of a humanitarian catastrophe. The Sudanese government has thus far refused to accept the presence in the area of an international force led by the United Nations.

Bomb blasts shook a small textile town in Western India today. Gloria Khamkar has the story.

At least 37 people are dead and more than 200 people have been injured by a series of blasts that rocked the small town of Malegaon this afternoon. The blasts took place in a Muslim graveyard and mosque, as people gathered to offer prayers for their dead relatives on the occasion of `Shab-e-barat’, which is considered the holiest night under Islam. Many children who were present at the mosque died in the stampede that occurred due to the blasts. The town has a long history of tension between Muslims and Hindus. Authorities have imposed a curfew in the town and all entry points have been sealed. The Home Ministry condemned the attack, calling it an attempt to destroy the multicultural harmony in India. Maharashtra state Police officials have described the situation in Malegaon as “tense” but “totally under control”. From Pune, India, I’m Gloria Khamkar for FSRN.

Israel has turned over control of Lebanese seaports to Italian-led international forces, thereby completely lifting it’s 2 month old embargo. Israeli troops lifted the air blockade of Lebanon yesterday. There are currently more than 3,000 international troops in Lebanon, but that number is expected to increase to 5000 by next week.

Israel has today declared the main organization providing legal support to the 10,000 Palestinians in Israeli detention to be “illegal”. Saed Bannoura reports:

Today at dawn, Israeli forces broke into the office of the Prisoner Supporters Society in Majd Al Kroum, in the Galilee, and, simultaneously broke into the branch offices in Nablus and in Ramallah, seizing office equipment and declaring by military order that the society is officially closed. The raid on the offices of the Prisoner Supporters Society comes at a critical time for Palestinian detainees. Negotiations are taking place for the release of an Israeli soldier captured in Gaza in June in exchange, they hope, for the release of a number of the Palestinian detainees. Many of the detainees are being held without trial in very harsh conditions in prison camps inside Israel. Ghassan Andoni, a former political prisoner: (sound) The Prisoner Supporters Society has repeatedly documented abuses against detainees being held in Israeli detention camps and is one of the only organizations attempting to provide legal support and counsel for the 10,000 Palestinian detainees. Although Israeli officials said the Prisoner Supporters Society has been declared an ‘accessory’ organization to ‘terrorism’, no specific charges were made against the group, and members assert the raids were politically motivated. For FSRN from, this is Saed Bannoura in Beit Sahour, Palestine.

Fishermen in Lagos, Nigeria have taken legal action against Coca Cola. Sam Olukoya reports from Lagos.

According to their statement of claims filed before a Lagos high court, the fishermen said the local Coca Cola plant has been discharging effluent waste for 15 years into the rivers and ponds they depend on for fishing, despite repeated appeals made to the company. The fishermen told the court that the Coca Cola plant is operating without a treatment facility for its industrial waste and that its operations have adversely affected their source of livelihood. They are asking for $4.5 million in compensation for environmental pollution. Coca cola has yet to respond to the allegations. For Free Speech Radio News, this is Sam Olukoya in Lagos.

Trade talks in Seattle between the US and South Korea continue to draw protests from labor unions, environmental groups and South Korean farmers. Mark Taylor-Canfield has more from Seattle.

South Korean activists are in Seattle this week to demand more a more open process during the current round of free trade agreement negotiations between the US and South Korea. Representatives from South Korean farm organizations say the talks are going on behind closed doors. Yesterday, 23 members of the South Korean parliament submitted a petition to the Constitutional Court. They claim that the government failed to gain the approval of parliament before engaging in trade talks with the US. Although the Trade minister has stated that farmers will suffer under the proposed free trade agreement, the South Korean government officially supports the process. The Seattle round of US South Korea trade talks will continue to attract demonstrations with protest rallies scheduled through the weekend. The US hopes to complete the agreement by the end of the year. For Free Speech Radio News this is Mark Taylor-Canfield in Seattle.

US Military Bans Torture (2:15)
The US Army has issued a new interrogation manual that bans torturing prisoners. The ban for the first time specifically prohibits forced nakedness, hooding and other procedures that have become infamous during the five-year-old war on terror. Anastasia Gnezditskaia reports from our DC Bureau.

Allegations Of Another Massacre In Iraq (4:30)
In Iraq, the Sunni Association of Muslim Scholars is accusing the US military of carrying out a massacre during a pre-dawn raid in a small village Northeast of Baghdad. The Sunni association said the raid, which was carried out on Monday in Muqtadadiya, left five dead including an elderly man, a young man, and a forty day old baby. Mothana al-Dhari is association’s spokesman.

EU and Iran Launch New Round Of Talks (3:43)
A new round of negotiations over Iran’s nuclear program are scheduled for tomorrow. The talks would be between the European Union and Iran. If the conflict between the Bush Administration and the Iranian regime isn’t resolved soon, the United Nations could impose sanctions on the Islamic Republic. Free Speech Radio News, Iranian affairs correspondent Saideh Jamshidi has more.

Thousands Of Immigrants Protest On Capital Hill (4:57)
Immigrants took to the streets in the nation’s Capital last night. Despite plausibility that immigration legislation is all but dead in Congress before elections in November, thousands of mostly Latino immigrants and their supporters rallied Congress to pass immigration legislation. FSRN’s Leigh Ann Caldwell was at the rally and has this report.

Massive Flooding In Ethiopia (3:17)
In northern Ethiopia, some of the harshest rains in decades have created a humanitarian disaster beyond anyone’s expectations. Since August, severe flooding has displaced tens of thousands of people throughout Ethiopia. Emergency shelters, have been hastily constructed by the government with help from international aid organizations to accommodate the sudden influx of people escaping the rising waters. Jake Thomas reports from Addis Ababa.

First All-Women Peacekeeping Force Headed To Liberia (2:00)
Women officers from India are readying as the first time a standalone, all-woman U.N. peacekeeping force in Liberia especially to bring back thousands of girls who are part of the separatists. Binu Alex has more.

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