November 13, 2006
GROUNDBREAKING FOR MLK MEMORIAL
Political figures, celebrities, and social leaders met on the national mall in Washington DC today to break ground for the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial. The building is near the site where Dr. King delivered his famous “I have a dream” speech in 1963. Former President Bill Clinton authorized the construction of the memorial more than 10 years ago. Project organizers say they have raised 65 million dollars of the estimated 100 million needed for the monument’s construction and maintenance. The memorial is expected to open sometime after the spring of 2008.
CRISIS IN LEBANESE GOVERNMENT
Lebanon is facing a new round of political turmoil after a 6th member of its 24-member cabinet quit the government today. Jackson Allers has more:
Environment Minister Yacoub Sarraf’s resignation on Monday followed Saturday’s resignation of 5 cabinet members of the Shi’a Muslim opposition – represented by Hizbullah and its ally, the Amal party. Sarraf, a Christian loyal to the Syrian-backed President, Emile Lahoud, joined Hizbullah’s demands for better representation in government for its allies — particularly the country’s most powerful Christian opposition leader Michel Aoun. The current government headed by Prime Minister Fouad Siniora and dominated by the anti-Syrian forces that came to power after the 2005 assassination of the former Lebanese Prime Minister, Rafik Hariri, accuse Hizbullah and its allies of trying to protect senior Syrian security officials, widely blamed for Hariri’s death. Analysts are predicting street clashes over this current crisis, as a weakened Lebanese government continues to wrestle over the statutes of a United Nations Security Council Resolution meant to establish an international tribunal to try those responsible for Hariri’s death. Meanwhile, Hizbullah has vowed to exercise all democratic means at its disposal if the current leadership fails to give in to the opposition demands for greater inclusion in the government. This is Jackson Allers reporting for Free Speech Radio News.
NEW PRIME MINISTER FOR PALESTINIAN UNITY GOVERNMENT
In the aftermath of a United States veto of a UN Security Council resolution to condemn an Israeli attack in Beit Hanun, the Arab League countries have decided to end the economic embargo against the Palestinian government. FSRN’s Rami Almeghari has more.
Arab Foreign Ministers decided Sunday to break the 8-month long internationally-imposed economic embargo against the Hamas-led government. Hamas refuses to renounce violence, recognize Israel or adhere to signed peace agreements. In a related news, Palestinian Foreign Minister, Mahmoud Alzahar of the ruling Hamas party accepted Sunday the Arab peace proposal of 2002, based on peace for land formula. The White House responded positively to Alzahar’s remarks, calling them ” some activity on the Hamas side”. In Gaza, both Hamas and Fatah have agreed on a national unity government with a new Prime Minister, likely Mohammad Shobair, a Palestinian academic from Gaza, in the hope that this would lead to the end of international aid cuts. The European Union Commissioner General for Foreign Relations, Ferrero-Waldner, emphasized the need that any new Palestinian government should meet the international community’s demands including recognition of Israel, renouncing violence and resuming peace talks. From IMEMC.org, I am Rami Almeghari, reporting from Gaza.
CALLS FOR PEACE IN SRI LANKA
In Sri Lanka thousands of anti war activists marched through the streets of the capital Colombo today to protest the increased violence in the country. Ponniah Manikavasagam reports from Sri Lanka.
White flags flew from atop buildings in Colombo as thousands of demonstrators called for an end to the renewed violence in the country. The National Anti War Front a coalition of 130 civil bodies and political parties, had organized the protest following, the assassination of Nadarajah Raviraj a Tamil lawmaker on Friday. Tamil National Alliance a minority party blamed the government for the killing but the administration denied involvement. According to defense officials more than 3200 people including combatants, have been killed in clashes between the government and the Tamil Tiger rebels this year. But human rights organizations and others put the civilian figure at more than 3000. Many fear the heavy violence raging throughout the country is driving the island nation back to a full-scale war. But the government and the rebels insist that the Norwegian brokered 2002 truce is in place. For Free Speech Radio News, I am Ponniah Manikavasagam from Vavuniya, Sri Lanka.
INDEPENDENCE REFERENDUM IN SOUTH OSSETIA
An overwhelming 99% voted for independence from Georgia in a referendum held yesterday in the Caucasian break-away region of South Ossetia. In the same vote, the de-facto South Ossetian president won a second term in office. Deborah Wild has the story.
55,000 registered voters were asked whether South Ossetia should maintain its status as independent state and as such seek international recognition. It was the republic’s second plebiscite since it broke with Georgia in the beginning of the 1990s. In both cases the answer was overwhelmingly in the affirmative. The United States, the European Union and NATO have condemned the elections as a step towards further escalation. The Kremlin, however, said, that the results of the referendum should be taken into consideration. Neither the elections nor the referendum have been recognized by the international community. For Free Speech Radio News, I am Deborah Wild in Tbilisi, Georgia.
Bush Meets with Iraq Study Group (1:00)
President George W. Bush met today with leaders of the Iraq Study Group. The Committee is chaired by James Baker, a Republican whose served as Secretary of State when Bush’s father was President, and former Democratic Rep. Lee Hamilton of Indiana. President Bush spoke to reporters after his meeting with the Iraq Study Group.
Democrats Debate Iraq (2:00)
On the Sunday chat shows, top Democratic Senators said they’re going to push George Bush to begin re-deploying troops from Iraq by the middle of next year. But the same lawmakers say they would not be willing to end funding the war so to force a withdrawal. But, as Mitch Jeserich reports, there is a small group of Democrats who are willing to do so.
Independent Film-maker on the Iraq War (2:45)
James Longley is an independent film-maker who lived in Iraq through the first two years of the occupation. His film, “Iraq in Fragments” won best director and best cinematography at Sundance. He’s not optimistic that a change of power in Congress will mean much for the people of Iraq.
Bush Meets Israeli Leader (3:40)
President Bush met with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert today for the first time since Israel’s invasion of Lebanon. The meeting came just two days after the U.S. vetoed a United Nations Security Council resolution condemning Israel’s military actions in Gaza including an attack that killed 19 civilians. Nan McCurdy has more from Washington.
Protests Continue in Oaxaca (3:22)
Tensions remain high in Mexico’s Southern State of Oaxaca, where federal police have been brought in to quell months of protests against the governor. Over the weekend, the Popular Assembly of the People of Oaxaca — which represents teachers, trade unionists, and others opposed to Governor Ulises Ruiz — wrapped up a 3 day planning meeting to decide the future of their struggle. The social movement in Oaxaca continues to receive visits from solidarity caravans from other parts of the country. Vladimir Flores Reports from Oaxaca City.
Tensions High Amid Voting in Congo (2:30)
Tensions are high in the Congolese capital Kinshasa as results show incumbent president Joseph Kabila headed to victory in Presidential elections. Results posted today on the website of the Congo independent electoral commission show Kabila leading with 60% against Jean Pierre Bemba after 90% of the count.. Joshua Kyalimpa reports from neighboring Uganda.
Australia-Indonesia Sign Trade Treaty (4:00)
Today Australia and Indonesia signed an historic security treaty, which will see increased co-operation on anti-terrorism measures, border security and intelligence sharing, as well as guarantee Australian support for the development of nuclear energy in Indonesia. Of major concern is a clause that requires both countries to recognize each others territorial integrity. Supporters of the West Papuan independence movement are very concerned that in signing this clause Australia effectively denies the rights of many within the province who want independence or at least autonomy from the central government in Jakarta. Erica Vowles reports from Sydney.