January 04, 2007

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Headlines (5:00)
Climate change experts at the UK Met Office predict that 2007 will likely be the hottest year on record, breaking the previous record set in 1998. The scientists based their forecasts on elements including greenhouse gas concentrations, solar effects, and the presence of a moderate-strength El Niño already in the Pacific Ocean. The prediction comes just one day after the Union of Concerned Scientists released a report alleging that oil giant Exxon-Mobil paid a network of 43 advocacy organizations close to $16 million dollars between 1998 and 2005 to “manufacture uncertainty” and create public confusion about global warming and its causes.

As infighting between Hamas and Fatah escalates in Gaza, the Israeli Army has killed four Palestinians during incursions into the West Bank cities of Ramallah and Bethlehem. FSRN’s Rami Almeghari has more.

Medical sources report that 2 days of factional infighting in Gaza has killed seven Palestinians and wounded at least 10 others. Clashes near the home of a senior Preventive Security officer in the town of Jabalya in northern Gaza today left two dead (including the security officer) and four injured. In the central Gaza Strip, gunmen shot and wounded six mourners during the funeral procession of three preventive security members who were killed in a shootout yesterday between the Interior Ministry’s executive force and the Fatah-controlled Preventive Security force. Meanwhile in the West Bank, four Palestinian residents were shot dead and twenty others wounded when an Israeli Army undercover unit stormed the city of Ramallah this evening. The Israeli Army also wounded and kidnapped a Palestinian resident of Bethlehem during a separate incursion today into that West Bank city. For Free Speech Radio News and imemc.org, This is Rami Almeghari reporting from Gaza City.

National Intelligence Director John Negroponte will reportedly step down to become Deputy Secretary of State. President Bush appointed the career diplomat to oversee all of the country’s intelligence agencies in April of 2005. Former National Security Agency director, retired Vice Admiral Mike McConnell has been rumored to be Negroponte’s replacement.

In Chile, an appeals court has dismissed tax evasion charges against Pinochet family members and close associates. Jorge Garretón reports from Santiago.

The Santiago Appeals Court yesterday ruled that the Pinochet family and its close collaborators cannot be prosecuted for tax evasion or document forgery due to lack of evidence that they acted as accomplices of the recently deceased former dictator. The charges were filed in August of 2005 after revelations that Pinochet held secret bank accounts in the Washington-based Riggs Bank. The court dropped all charges against Pinochet’s widow and his private secretary, but kept personal tax evasion charges against Pinochet’s youngest son and the dictator’s financial advisor. Prosecuting attorney, Alfonso Insulza says the State Defense Council should become more involved in the pending cases against the Pinochet Clan, particularly in the case of illicit enrichment. A report from the Government’s Money Laundering Unit shows Pinochet took money from the Government Reserve Funds for nearly a decade in the 1980s and deposited funds in foreign bank accounts. The prosecuting lawyer fears the Pinochet clan will inherit the money and property if the illicit enrichment case does not continue. For FSRN this is Jorge Garretón in Santiago.

Argentina’s Coast Guard has stepped up security in the Buenos Aires ferry terminal after protesters announced plans for intermittent blockades. Asli Pelit reports from Montevideo.

Daily river shuttles from Buenos Aires are used by an estimated 5000 passengers a day, especially during the high vacation season, from January to March. Residents of Gualeguaychu, Argentina have been protesting the construction of a pulp mill across the river in Fray Bentos, Uruguay for more than a year. Argentine activists say the pulp mill will be an eyesore and cause environmental damage. All three of the bridges that connect Uruguay and Argentina have been picketed at different times over the past year, which has provoked criticism from Uruguayan authorities. The Argentine government at first supported the protesters, but is now calling for an end to the blockades. The Finnish-owned Botnia Orion pulp mill under construction in Fray Bentos is the largest private investment in Uruguay in half a century. The Uruguayan government denies the mill will damage the environment. Argentina has been demanding the re-location of the Botnia plant, but the Finnish company and Uruguayan government have refused. Asli Pelit for FSRN, in Montevideo, Uruguay.

First Day of 110th Session (4:20)
Today marks the first day of the 110th Congress. As the Democrats officially take control of both the House and the Senate, it was a jubilant day for them and a sobering one for Republicans. And as Washington Editor Leigh Ann Caldwell reports, it was also a day of many firsts.

Groups Demand Bush Investigation (2:00)
As lawmakers set forth their agenda for the 110th session, anti-war activists want to make sure their concerns are not ignored. At a park just north of the Capitol today demonstrators demanded an investigation into what some are calling the Bush Administration’s “high crimes and misdemeanors.” Susan is with The Critical Voice art activism group based in New York City. The group launched the We Will Not be Silent Campaign.

Susan Clip: “It’s really important that we put pressure on them right now, not just to hold people in the past accountable but that they take a different way of running the government, that they listen to people who- There was some sort of mandate from the elections, but that they look at what’s going on in terms of the disasters happening domestically and internationally. And it’s not surprising that they’re doing what they’re doing, but I think people should really be outraged and up in arms about it. And we need to start today, like this is the first day the beginning of looking at what they’re doing, and so they know they right now they can count on us to put that pressure on them, and that we’re not going to back off, we’re not going to wait for the next election and see that we can do this through some sort of electoral process. It really needs to be people constantly coming out and pressuring them.”

Protesters are demanding that lawmakers stop funding the multi-billion dollar war in Iraq. They also want stronger prohibitions against torture, and an end to illegal detentions and deportations. And they want lawmakers to prioritize re-instituting civil liberties that were lost in the passage of the PATRIOT ACT. Prominent anti-war activists including Cindy Sheehan and Daniel Ellsberg will also be holding a “Voices of Impeachment” event tonight in DC to pressure Congress to put the Articles of Impeachment against President Bush back on the table. None of these issues are included in the first hundred hours of the Democrats’ agenda.

Watada Court Marshal Begins (1:00) clip of Watada and (2:30) feature
The court marshal for US Army First Lt. Ehren Watada begins today at Fort Lewis, Washington. Watada is facing six years imprisonment for refusing to deploy to Iraq. In this excerpt of an interview with Yahoo! News’ Kevin Sites, Watada says that his reasons for refusing to deploy to Iraq are based on reports that refuted the initial justification by the US Government to invade Iraq. First Lt. Ehren Watada speaking with Kevin Sites from Yahoo! News. The US Army officer’s pre-trial hearing began today. FSRN’s Mark Taylor Canfield reports from Seattle.

Democrats Push Ethics Reform (3:30)
Democrats are expected to soon pass a package of ethics reforms for the House of Representatives that include banning trips, gifts and meals from lobbyists. FSRN’s Nan McCurdy has more from Capitol Hill.

Guatemala Death Squads Persist (4:00)
Ten years after the Guatemalan peace accords, intimidation and murder still shake the country. Dozens of families, activists and human rights workers were killed in 2006, and observers fear that death squads and criminal associations continue to operate with impunity. Ricardo Martinez reports.

13th Anniversary of Chiapas Uprising (3:00)
More than 1000 people from dozens of countries gathered to mark the 13th anniversary of the Zapatista indigenous uprising in the southern state of Chiapas, Mexico. Indigenous leaders, activists and artists gathered for the celebration and accompanying conference that explored health, education, women´s issues and indigenous autonomy. Luz Ruiz and Tim Russo report from Oventik, Chiapas.

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