October 20, 2006

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Scientists from NASA and NOAA have documented the largest hole in the ozone layer ever observed. At the end of September, the ozone hole over Antarctica measured 10.6 million square miles. That’s larger than the entire continent of North America. The ozone layer prevents the sun’s harmful ultraviolet rays from reaching the Earth’s surface. Holes in the ozone layer threaten life forms and are primarily caused by human-produced emissions.

Indigenous Achuar people continue to occupy oil wells in the Peruvian Amazon. They took over the oil wells of the Argentine company Pluspetrol nine days ago to demand that the company clean up the pollution that has dramatically affected their quality of life. Pamela Cueva reports from Lima.

The election for the contested Latin American seat on the UN Security Council has been postponed until Wednesday after 35 rounds of voting failed to give a 2/3 victory to either Venezuela or Guatemala. Neither country seems willing to withdraw from the race. Member nations may have to pick a compromise nation to break the deadlock.

Thousands of Palestinian Muslims who flocked to the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem today to celebrate one of the holiest days in the Muslim calendar were met by Israeli riot police who fired tear gas and concussion grenades. Saed Bannoura has the story.

Today’s scheduled execution of Afzal Guru, convicted in the 2001 attack on Indian Parliament, has been postponed while India’s President decides on the clemency petition filed by his wife. Shahnawaz Khan has more.

As Violence Continues to Escalate, Democrats Push for New Tactics
US-led Coalition forces restored control over a Southern Iraqi City today, after a bloody fight that killed 16 people. The conflict broke out after Shiite militia reportedly took control of Amara. In Washington, President Bush is meeting with top military commanders to discuss tactics in the war. In the meantime, Democrats in Congress are calling for the President to change course in Iraq, and they say, they have alternatives. Yanmei Xie has the story in Washington, DC.

Oaxaca Protestors Gain No Support from Mexico’s Senate
Mexico’s Senate yesterday voted to uphold the mandate of the unpopular governor of the southern state of Oaxaca, thereby closing the last institutional possibly for the striking teachers and the popular assembly members who have been calling for his removal for the last 5 months. For its part, the Popular Assembly of the People of Oaxaca has declared a maximum alert due to fears of possible repressive actions targeting its membership. Vladimir Flores reports from Oaxaca City.

US Takes the Lead on Militarizing Space
The Bush Administration recently released a new policy for outer space and it shifts the focus toward national security and defense. It’s the culmination of a four year long study on the direction of US space policy. This signals a major shift in global space dealings. FSRN’s Leigh Ann Caldwell reports from Washington DC.

Grassroots Effort to Stop Eminent Domain in San Francisco Continues Despite Setback
From Oregon to Michigan to California, voters will face ballot initiatives limiting the government’s use of eminent domain in November. This comes in response to the 2005 US Supreme Court ruling that governments could take land from private property owners for economic revitalization plans such as the construction of new condominiums, office space and shops. Local communities are also putting up a fight to stop the practice. Willie Ratcliff, publisher of San Francisco Bayview, a national black newspaper, is joining us to speak about the effort to stop the city government’s use of eminent domain to transform 1,500 acres of land in one of the poorest areas of town, which also has great scenic views, into new private housing and commercial development.

US Closes Military Base in Military-Free Iceland
After more than 50 years, the US military has closed its naval base in Keflavik, Iceland. While the move may be part of the United States strategy to move their war fighting force from Europe to the Middle East, as FSRN’s Andrew Stelzer reports, for Icelanders, it may signal the end of a contested relationship between a nation that has no military, and another which spends more on defense than any other country in the world.

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