October 27, 2006
NATO Secretary-General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer met with President Bush today in an Oval Office meeting that focused on efforts to stem this year’s surge in Taliban attacks in Afghanistan. Afghan officials say that dozens of civilians were killed this week in a NATO military strike against suspected Taliban insurgents. The NATO chief defended the mission in Afghanistan. (sound) “Civilian victims are a tragedy, but we are there in favor of democracy, they are there to destroy democracy and they are there to destroy our values. When, in those actions of NATO, those brave NATO soldiers, civilians are killed, as happened two days ago, that’s always a tragedy.” Villagers fled the southern region by car and donkey, and hundreds attended a funeral for about 20 people buried in a mass grave. The civilian death toll, estimated by Afghan officials at between 30 and 85, including many women and children, is among the highest in foreign military action in the region since the fall of the Taliban in 2001. Afghan President Hamid Karzai has repeatedly condemned civilian deaths caused by Western forces. A week ago, after nine villagers were killed during another NATO operation in Kandahar province, he urged the alliance to use “maximum caution” to avoid civilian casualties.
CHENEY – TORTURE
Vice President Cheney said this week that dunking terrorism suspects in water during questioning was a “no-brainer,” prompting complaints from human rights advocates that he was endorsing the use of a controversial technique known as waterboarding on prisoners held by the United States. Conservative talk radio host Scott Hennen asked the Vice President if he QUOTE would agree a dunk in water is a no-brainer if it can save lives?” Cheney replied: “Well, it’s a no-brainer for me, but for a while there, I was criticized as being the vice president for torture. We don’t torture. That’s not what we’re involved in.” Today President Bush said that America is questioning suspects without violating laws on torture. (sound) “This country doesn’t torture, we’re not going to torture, uh, we will interrogate people we pick up off the battlefield to determine whether or not they’ve got information that will be helpful to protect the country.” A top U-N expert on human rights is coming down hard on the anti-terrorism law signed by President Bush this month. The Military Commissions Act sets terms for the interrogation and trial of terror suspects. The U-N’s Martin Scheinin says the measure is “incompatible” with U-S human rights and humanitarian obligations. Scheinin, who’s a legal expert from Finland, says the new law gives an American president the power to declare anyone, including U-S citizens, “an unlawful enemy combatant” and detain them with no recourse in a civilian court.
INDIA DOMESTIC VIOLENCE LAW
A new law in India protecting women against domestic violence is set to empower them in a patriarchal Indian society. Binu Alex has more.
The Bush administration is considering proposals that would make it harder for legal immigrants to gain U.S. citizenship. Yanmei Xie has the story in Washington DC.
Third Party Candidates Face Challenges (3:58)
Across the nation, at all level of government, third party candidates are running for office. You don’t hear much about them though—America’s two-party system poses serious challenges to the candidates who try to work outside it. FSRN‘s Leigh Ann Caldwell has more:
France Fears Repeat of Riots (4:22)
One year ago today, Paris teenagers Zyed Benna and Bouna Traore were electrocuted after climbing into an electrical sub-station in the suburb of Clichy-sous-Bois, in what locals say was an attempt to hide from police. The deaths set the immigrant-filled French suburbs ablaze. In 3 weeks, rioters burned schools, gymnasiums, libraries, public offices, and nearly 10,000 cars. Police arrested almost 3000 people. One year later, French authorities fear the anniversary could trigger another outbreak. Raphaël Krafft reports from Paris.
Oaxaca: Striking Teachers Set Conditions for Return to Work (4:20)
Striking school teachers in Oaxaca have voted in their state assembly meeting to go back to their classrooms as early as Monday if Mexico’s Interior Secretary can make basic guarantees. They want their physical safety protected, their back-wages paid, the people who’ve been imprisoned during their conflict with authorities released, and reparations for family members of those killed during the political upheaval. The teachers’ representatives are set to meet with Mexico’s Interior Secretary later this afternoon. Meanwhile in Oaxaca City, members of the popular movement are blockading major streets throughout the day as another battle takes place over the city’s airwaves. Shannon Young reports.
Drag Conference Takes on Austin (4:30)
In 1999, a group of drag kings in Columbus, Ohio, banded together with artists and community members to form the International Drag King (Community) Extravaganza. This annual event allows women who perform and sometimes live as men, to come together with their fans and supporters. This year the Extravaganza was held below the Mason Dixon line for the first time. FSRN Reporter Rachel Clarke files this report from Austin, Texas.
Violence in Run-Up to DRC Election (3:10)
Voters in THE Democratic Republic of the Congo head to the polls this weekend for a runoff election that pits incumbent President Joseph Kabila against former rebel leader Jean Pierre Bemba. Under a power-sharing agreement that ended years of violent conflict, Bemba is currently Kabila’s vice president. When the first round of voting did not produce a definite winner, days of street battles ensued between Kabila’s personal security forces and Bemba loyalists. On Friday, Reuters reported that at least four people died in factional violence in the town of Gbadolite, when a son of the late Congolese ruler Mobutu Sese Seko was trapped in a radio station where he had gone to campaign on behalf of President Kabila. Joshua Kyalimpa reports from neighboring Uganda.