November 14, 2006
MASS ABDUCTION IN BAGHDAD
Uniformed gunmen kidnapped dozens of people today at a Baghdad research facility run by the country’s Ministry of Education. Figures vary on the exact total of people seized – with numbers ranging from 45 to 150.The uniforms used by the gunmen in this morning’s operation are the same as those used by a special forces unit of Iraq’s Interior Ministry. The country’s Education Minster initially responded to the mass abduction by ordering the closure of all institutions of higher learning.
MASSACRE IN MONTES AZULES
Eleven people are reportedly dead after suspected paramilitaries attacked a local community in the Montes Azules region of Chiapas,Mexico. Luz Ruiz reports.
Social and non-governmental organizations are calling yesterday’s attack a massacre. Supposed paramilitaries killed a total of 11people, among them an 8-year old boy and a newborn baby, according to a hand-written report distributed by a Zapatista community in the region. An official report from the State Prosecutor’s office has recognized only two deaths and two injuries. The attack comes after several incidents that had been escalating in intensity and aggression, resulting from land disputes between communities in the area. Conflicts over land in the Lacandon jungle, which in 1972 was officially declared a “bio-reserve”, have been taking place for decades, as the Lacandon people were given control over this natural preserve, and all other indigenous groups were pushed to resettle to other areas. Reports by non-governmental and human rights organizations working in the Montes Azules rainforest, had been warning state and federal authorities about possible violent evictions, harassment and aggressions to indigenous communities in the area. Authorities failed to act on the warnings. The area is also a battleground for economic interests in wood exploitation, water, and other natural resources.
THE IMPACT OF CLIMATE CHANGE ON BIRD SPECIES (cut for time)
Global warming is leading to a major trend of extinction among bird species around the world – according to report by the World Wildlife Fund. The report – presented today at an ongoing international summit on climate change in Nairobi, Kenya – concludes that birds that depend on specific habitats for survival will be the hardest hit as rising temperatures alter key characteristics of ecosystems. According to the WWF, scientists have found declines of up to 90 per cent in some bird populations, as well as total and unprecedented reproductive failure in others. Most scientists agree that human-produced emissions are the number one cause of global warming.
EXXON-MOBIL CHARGED IN NIGERIA
Oil giant Exxon-Mobil and some members of its Board of Directors have been charged with tax evasion in Nigeria. Sam Olukoya reports from Lagos.
Exxon-Mobil and 5 of its directors are facing a three count charge of evading $31 million dollars in taxes in Akwa Ibom State in Nigeria’s Niger delta region. Exxon-Mobil, which has the second-largest oil operations in Nigeria, does most of its business in the state. The state government said the huge tax evasion was uncovered in a painstaking investigation by the state Internal Revenue Service. Although Exxon-Mobil denied the charges, an official of the revenue service said in an effort to evade tax, the company has for several years been concealing most of the taxable allowances being paid to its local and expatriate employees, by not reflecting them in its payroll.This is the latest accusation of tax evasion against a Western oil company in Nigeria. In August, Nigeria’s lower house of Congress released a report that showed that the American company, Chevron overstated the cost of its operations in order to evade taxes. ForFree Speech Radio News, this is Sam Olukoya in Lagos.
INDO-PAK PEACE TALKS
India and Pakistan resumed peace talks today for the first time since the July 11th serial bombing of Mumbai’s train network. Binu Alex has more.
A joint terrorism panel is on top of the agenda in the resumed peace process between India and Pakistan. In the never ending blame games with deep mistrust on both sides, India claims Pakistan has not done enough to restrain anti-India militants based in Pakistan. India has even accused its neighbor of having a role in the Mumbai train bombings that killed 207 people in July. Meanwhile Islamabad says separatist violence can only end once India resolves the dispute over Kashmir. International pressure, especially from the United States, is said to be the main reason for the two-day talks between Indian Foreign Secretary Shiv Shankar Menon and his Pakistani counterpart Riaz Mohammad Khan. This is the first time the two sides have met since the dialogues were called off by New Delhi after the Mumbai bombings. For Free Speech Radio News, I am Binu Alex.
Throughout Florida’s 13th Congressional District, a recount continues to determine the winner in the race to replace Katherine Harris in Congress. Mitch Perry reports.
Election officials say the complete recount between Republican Vern Buchanan and Democrat Christine Jennings won’t be complete until the end of this week. As of late yesterday afternoon, the Republican Buchanan had a 377 vote lead over Democrat Jennings, a margin of less than 0.2 percent. Provisional ballots in Sarasota County were to be counted today, which could aid Jennings. However the controversy in this election stems from the 18,382 ballots cast in Sarasota County -13 percent of the total – that bore no votes in the Congressional race. Election rights activists and the Jennings campaign say they have received hundreds of calls and e-mails from voters claiming either the race did not appear on their ballot or the summary screen on the electronic voting machines they used showed their vote for Jennings did not register correctly. On Monday night, the Jennings camp filed a lawsuit to protect the county’s election material from tampering or destruction. Mitch Perry, FSRN, Tampa.
International Attorneys Charge Rumsfeld with War Crimes; Bush Interprets Military Commissions Act (4:06)
A team of international attorneys filed papers in Germany today alleging that Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, along with 13 other US officials, have committed War Crimes. And in two other court cases, the Bush Administration is providing a broad interpretation of the Military Commissions Act, the law dealing with the detention of so-called enemy combatants. Washington Editor Leigh Ann Caldwell follows both of these stories.
Democrats Choose Senator Harry Reid as Majority Leader (1:43)
Senate Democrats have confirmed who will lead them in the next Congress as they take the reigns as the majority party in charge. Senator Harry Reid from Nevada will inherit the title of Senate Majority Leader. Senator Reid, from Searchlight, a poor, rural town in Southern Nevada, started his career in Washington as a Capitol Hill police officer at night while he attended law school by day. After receiving his law degree, he moved back to Nevada where he practiced law and held several elected positions. He was elected to Congress in 1982 and then to the Senate in 1986 where he eventually reached the ranks of leadership as Democratic Whip.
Critics Say New Anti-Terrorism Act Will Target Free Speech (2:40)
President Bush will likely sign into law legislation the House passed last night that increases penalties against people who interfere with animal enterprises, such as circuses, rodeos, and animal testing labs. Opponents are concerned the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act could criminalize free speech activities. Ingrid Drake reports from Washington, DC.
U.S. Voters Move on Anti-Immigrant and Anti-Affirmative Action Initiatives (4:00)
Voters in Michigan approved a ballot measure to amend the state’s constitution to ban affirmative action in the public sector last week – it was just one in a series of a measures voters approved nationwide that critics see as a set-back to racial justice. FSRN’s Aaron Glantz reports.
French Airport Purges Muslim Workers (4:40)
Seven French airport-workers are appealing a decision that upheld the withdrawal of the security clearance that allows them to work at Paris’ main airport. They are among 72 Roissy Airport workers who have lost security clearance. The workers claim they’re the victims of an anti-Muslim witch-hunt and hysteria about supposed terrorist threats. Tony Cross has the story from Paris.
Immigrant Hotel Workers Say they Face Retaliation for Organizing (3:30)
30 Woodfin Suites Hotel workers in Emeryville, California face termination from their jobs. Most workers are immigrant women of color who say the threat is retaliation to their organizing efforts. FSRN’s Christina Aanestad reports.