October 11, 2006

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Headlines (6:00)
A study published by the British medical journal, The Lancet estimates that around 655,000 Iraqis have died since the start of the US-led occupation. This new figure is far higher than previous estimates and represents a death rate twice as high as that prior to the March 2003 invasion. The study has already received criticism from President George W. Bush: (sound) The team of researchers, led by doctors from Johns Hopkins University, used the same methodology used to calculate death rates in the conflict zones of Kosovo, Sudan, and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Rather than relying on body count reports in the media, researchers went door-to-door in randomly selected areas to collect data about births, deaths, and migrations and to view material evidence, such as death certificates.

The Bush administration has announced the formation of a new law enforcement task force that will aggressively pursue violations of trade and travel sanctions imposed by the U.S. on Cuba. Mitch Perry reports from Tampa.

The Cuban Sanctions Enforcement Task Force includes the FBI and security or law enforcement units of the Treasury, Homeland Security and Commerce departments. Its creation is the latest move by the Bush Administration to crack down on the communist nation. Two years ago, the President limited family travel to Cuba to once every 3 years (instead of annually) and enacted new limits on the sending money to the country. Sylvia Wilhelm is Executive Director of the Cuban American Commission for Family Rights, a Miami-based group which favors the easing of the embargo. She says it’s all about the mid-term elections (sound) As to the question “why now?”, U.S. Attorney Alex Acosta denied that it had anything to do with next month’s elections or the recent illness of Fidel Castro (sound). Mitch Perry, FSRN, Tampa.

Mexico’s Senate has sent a delegation to Oaxaca City to gather information on the political crisis in the state. Vladimir Flores reports.

A subcommittee composed of three Senators will spend three days in Oaxaca City to see for themselves the situation on the ground in the protest-wracked state capital. This comes just two days after thousands of Oaxacan teachers and members of the Popular Assembly of the People of Oaxaca set up a tent city protest camp outside of the Senate building in Mexico City. The Senate subcommittee, composed of one Senator from each major political party, will meet with union leaders, non-governmental organizations, and state government officials in order to compile a report on the ability of the state government to exercise power in Oaxaca. The inability to govern is an element of the legal criteria that would allow the Senate to annul the mandate of the governor. Meanwhile, the teachers’ union will today begin a consultation with their rank-and-file to decide whether or not to return to the classrooms on Monday. Oaxaca City, Vladimir Flores, Free Speech Radio News.

Argentine energy company, Pluspetrol has announced the temporary suspension of its activities in the Amazon region of Peru due to protests by local indigenous communities. Pamela Cueva reports from Lima.

Pluspetrol indicated that the suspension of activities is aimed at avoiding possible clashes with native people opposed to oil exploration in the Corrientes River basin. Since September, members of the Confederation of Native Communities of Corrientes have been mobilizing against Pluspetrol to demand the company do something to clean up its pollution. The protesters say 66 percent of the children that live along the banks of the Corrientes River have high levels of lead in their blood. Peru’s Ministry of Health has found cadmium present in the blood of almost all of the local population. Unconfirmed reports from the area indicate the locals took over Pluspetrol oil wells last night and are holding four police officers hostage. Citing their right to defend what remains healthy of the territory and resources, the Corrientes River communities have been able to successfully prevent the companies Burlington Resources Peru Limited and Petroleum of Peru from operating in their region. For FSRN, I’m Pamela Cueva with Alfredo Cuadros in Lima, Peru.

A preliminary report issued by World Bank consultants has concluded in favor of the construction of two paper pulp mills in Uruguay that have been at the heart of a diplomatic dispute with neighboring Argentina. Asli Pelit reports from Montevideo.

The construction of two pulp mills on Uruguayan soil along the border with Argentina has created a serious dispute between the two Mercosur countries. Argentina argues the mills will harm the environment. Uruguay counters that their impact would be manageable. A World Bank-sponsored report due out tomorrow states there will be “no risk from the air for human health, although on occasions some strong odors could be detected on the Uruguayan side in the Fray Bentos area”. But this is unlikely to sway Argentine opposition to the paper pulp mills. In response to the preliminary report, Argentine environmentalists have decided to block the main road connecting Gualeguaychú in Argentina to Fray Bentos in Uruguay. The road block will start on Friday and last until Sunday. Environmentalists from Gualeguaychú, the Argentine town closest to the mills, also launched a national awareness campaign calling on Argentines not to spend their summer vacations in Uruguay. The Spanish company Ence has recently announced plans to move the proposed plant to another location in Uruguay due to the environmental row with Argentina. For FSRN, I’m Asli Pelit in Montevideo, Uruguay.

Bush Touts Diplomacy but Leaves All options Open for North Korea (4:20)
President Bush said he has “no intention of attacking North Korea” – adding that the U.S. is working through diplomatic means but reserves all options when dealing with North Korea. Washington Editor Leigh Ann Caldwell takes a look at some of the political developments three days after North Korea claimed to have tested a nuclear devise.

China’s Response to North Korea’s Nuclear Missile Test (3:37)
China was the first country to officially express its opposition to North Korea’s first nuclear weapons test this week. The Beijing government, considered North Korea’s only ally, is now facing its own diplomatic and strategic issues. FSRN’s Severine Bardon has more from Beijing.

Bush to Push Congress to Make Tax Cuts Permanent (3:20)
President Bush announced today that his administration’s policies have resulted in cutting the federal deficit in half – three years ahead of schedule; and that he’ll continue to push Congress to keep tax cuts permanent. Nan McCurdy has more from Washington D.C.

UK Deportations May Violate International Law (3:00)
In Britain last year, twelve ordinary men and women were called up for jury duty in a notorious terrorism trial. The case against all but one of the five men collapsed, and the jury confidently acquitted the rest of all charges. As FSRN’s Naomi Fowler reports, some of the jurors are speaking out now that the British government wants to deport the innocent men to Algeria because it still maintains they are a threat to national security.

At Least Half A Dozen Killed In Southern Philippines Bombings (2:40)
A series of bombings in the southern Philippines has claimed at least six lives and left more than 30 wounded. The bombings are being blamed on rogue elements of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, the separatist Muslim group that is currently in peace talks with the government. FSRN’s Girlie Linao reports from Manila.

India Bans Child Labor (2:50)
The Indian government has banned child labor in households, roadside eateries, restaurants, hotels, and more. The ban has the potential to liberate some 12 million children under the age of 14 from the tentacles of child labor in the country. Violating the new law could mean a fine and imprisonment for up to two years. Proponents of the ban say that child laborers face a myriad of physical, psychological and sexual vulnerabilities: they all hail from extremely impoverished families whose annual per capita income remains below $100 US per family. PC Dubey has more from India.

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