February 09, 2007

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Headlines (5:00)
Excavation work near Jerusalem’s Al Aqsa Mosque triggered clashes inside of the Holy City today and provoked protests in other areas of the West Bank. Manar Jibrin reports.

At least fifteen people were injured and seventeen were abducted today after hundreds of Israeli soldiers broke into the yards of the Al Aqsa mosque compound in Jerusalem today. Al-Aqsa’s Shiek Mohamad Hussien describes what happened. (sound) “The situation in Jerusalem is very difficult. After the Friday prayers, Israeli forces broke into the Al-Aqsa Mosque square, fired sound and gas bombs and rubber-coated-metal bullets at the worshipers who were coming out of the mosque.” Tension has been rising around the site since Israel began a construction project to replace a ramp that leads to the mosque compound. The presence of Israeli construction equipment at Islam’s third holiest site raises strong suspicions about the motives for the construction work- particularly since Israel has banned Palestinian men under the age of 45 from entering the mosque grounds since the start of excavation work this week.

The International Atomic Energy Agency today suspended almost half of its technical aid to Iran in order to comply with sanctions brought against the country for its refusal to halt its uranium enrichment program. The UN Security Council passed resolution 1737 last December in an effort to halt programs that could lead to Iranian development of nuclear weapons.

A massive fire broke out yesterday in a shanty town in Buenos Aires, leaving over 460 families homeless. Marie Trigona has more.

Buenos Aires city government officials announced today that the fire in Villa Soldati, a shanty town in the nation’s capital, was intentional. Residents said they have received threats from nearby property owners in recent weeks. Over 400 families lost what few belongings they had in the blaze in Villa Soldati, also known as the cardboard villa. No injuries were reported, but over 100 PEOPLE had to be treated for asphyxia after fighting the flames. Residents refused to relocate to shelters last night and demanded that the city government set up on-site emergency tents. Buenos Aires mayor, Jorge Telerman told reporters that public housing will be built within 30 days for the families. For Free Speech Radio News, I’m Marie Trigona in Buenos Aires.

This week representatives of 57 countries signed a treaty in Paris prohibiting governments from secretly detaining people – but the United States is one country that won’t add its name to the list of signatories. Nan McCurdy has more from Washington DC.

The treaty is the first of its kind to focus on state-sponsored abductions. The UN high commissioner for Human Rights, Louis Arbour, said the treaty was “a message to all modern-day authorities committed to the fight against terrorism” that some practices are “not acceptable”. The US did not sign on because it said the final text of the treaty did not meet its expectations. Families of individuals who have been disappeared by a number of governments and Rights groups have worked for nearly twenty five years for this treaty against secret detention. The treaty defines forced disappearance as the arrest, detention or kidnapping or “any other form of deprivation of freedom” by state agents or affiliates, combined with subsequent denials or cover-ups about the detention and location of the person. The U. N. General Assembly adopted the treaty in December. The text also outlines the rights of those held of suspicion of links to terrorism. States that ratify the text will require countries to penalize forced disappearances in their countries and enact preventative and monitoring measures. For Free Speech Radio News, I’m Nan McCurdy.

A key town in Sri Lanka’s restive east was shut down today to mourn the death of a Hindu priest allegedly killed for blessing the President. Ponniah Manikavasagam has the story.

Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapakse in a statement said that he was deeply shocked to learn the assassination of Hindu priest Parameswara Kurukkal. Ranjani Parameswaran is the wife of the priest. (sound) “We do not have enmity with anybody. I think he was killed for blessing the president.” The priest blessed the president on Friday when he visited a former rebel stronghold Vakarai, captured by security forces in January. The battle to capture Vakarai killed 41 soldiers and 331 rebels by the official count. A rebel spokesman in the north denied rebel involvement in the priest’s murder and instead blamed security forces for the killing. Sri Lankan Army Commander Lt.General Sarath Fonseka warned that the rebels will soon face severe punishment. More than 100 civilians were killed and a significant number of people abducted last month in the escalating violence in the north eastern region of the island nation. The rhetoric on both sides indicates that the cycle of violence is likely to continue unabated. For Free Speech Radio News, I am Ponniah Manikavasagam from Vavuniya, Sri Lanka.

Pentagon: Pre-War Intelligence Was Mishandled to Make the Case to Invade Iraq (4:30)
A Pentagon inspector general has found inappropriate handling of pre-war intelligence used to make the case in invading Iraq. The assessment found that opposing opinions on the validity of the intelligence were suppressed in order to enhance the case for war. FSRN’s Leigh Ann Caldwell reports.

Rising Sea Levels and Flooding Worry Britons (3:30)
The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change confirmed earlier this month that failure to cut greenhouse gas emissions will bring devastating climate change within a few decades. But rising sea levels and flooding is already taking its toll on the small island nation of Britain. Sea levels there have varied no more than a yard in 4,000 years; but now those days are over. Naomi Fowler has more on Britain’s struggle with water.

Critics Weary of UN Recommendation for “Democratic” Self-Rule for Kosovo (5:00)
European Union Foreign Policy Chief Javier Solana has wrapped up his visit to Kosovo and Serbia, and said that talks regarding a United Nations proposal to recommend democratic self-rule for Kosovo would be acceptable. The proposal would allow Kosovo to participate in international bodies such the UN, IMF, and World Bank. Talks were scheduled to begin February 13, but Serbia has asked for more time to develop their negotiating team. FSRN host Aura Bogado spoke with Andrej Grubacic, a Serbian historian and dissident about the proposal.

India: Fact Finding Mission on Vigilantes Releases Chilling Answers (4:00)
A two month long research and fact finding mission by Indian women activists reveals that women are the worst affected by the authoritative rule of a vigilante group called Salwa Judum – with cases of rape and murder becoming very common in Central India. The Salwa Judum terrorizes villagers that sympathize with radical Dalit and Maoist activism. The study reveals an upsurge of violence in the last quarter of 2006. FSRN’s Vinod K. Jose reports.

Mandatory HPV Vaccinations Raises Varied Concerns (4:00)
Like many jurisdictions across the US, the DC City Council may make Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) vaccinations a requirement for teen girls as a way to prevent cervical cancer. The proposal has sparked a debate about race, class, sexuality, and the influence of the pharmaceutical industry on shaping public health policy. Ingrid Drake has more from Washington, DC.

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