February 15, 2007
PALESTINIAN PRIME MINISTER RESIGNS
Palestinian Prime Minster Ismail Haniyeh has quit as part of an agreement to establish a national unity government. Haniyeh came to power after Hamas swept the Palestinian elections a year ago. Since then, a Western aid embargo has wrecked the domestic economy and in-fighting has destabilized internal security. Almost 100 Palestinians have died in the past 3 months due to factional fighting between Hamas and Fatah. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has already agreed to re-appoint Haniyeh to the position of Prime Minister in the national unity government.
UK NUCLEAR RULING
The British government suffered an embarrassing defeat in the British High court today when it ruled that the decision to back the building of a new generation of nuclear power stations across the country was ‘unlawful.’ From London, Naomi Fowler reports.
The British government had promised ‘the fullest public consultation’ before any decisions were made about controversial nuclear power. But the High Court judge said today that the consultation process was “very seriously flawed” and “procedurally unfair.” He agreed with Greenpeace, who brought the case, that information on the disposal of radioactive waste was “not merely inadequate but also misleading;” the information given to consultees was “wholly insufficient for them to make an intelligent response;” and important information was only made public after the consultation period had ended. Greenpeace UK Director, John Sauven: (sound) ‘I think it’s the arrogance of this government, they make up their mind and even when they say they’re going to have a full consultation, the exercise is just a sham, they just treat it with total disdain, they treat the public with total disdain and I think that it’s quite good really that this issue has been aired in the court.’ The minister in charge of energy policy Alistair Darling says the government will now hold another consultation process. This is Naomi Fowler in London for Free Speech Radio News.
MADRID TRAIN BOMBING TRIAL OPENS
The Madrid train bombing trial began today in Spain amid media frenzy and tight security. A total of 29 suspects are on trial; all have pleaded not guilty. The coordinated series of attacks on Madrid’s rail network killed 191 people on March 11th of 2004. The proceedings are likely to last at least 5 months.
RULING ON MAPUCHE LANDS
A Mapuche community in Argentina’s Patagonia region has won a legal dispute to keep sacred lands. Marie Trigona has more from Buenos Aires.
A court in Argentina has ruled against the eviction of a Mapuche indigenous family from lands in the southern province of Río Negro. US investor John Ogilvie claimed he had purchased the 5,000 acre tract 10 years ago and wanted the court to evict the Mapuche family living on the estate. A federal judge denied the request, ruling that Ogilvie could not own lands where communities have been living for over a century. In related news, Mapuche activists this week occupied lands claimed by the Italian-based Benetton Group in the Patagonian province of Chubut as part of an ongoing dispute over 2.2 million acres of Mapuche lands. For Free Speech Radio News, I’m Marie Trigona in Buenos Aires.
CHAVEZ THREATENS TO NATIONALIZE PRICE-GOUGING SUPERMARKETS
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez yesterday threatened to nationalize grocery stores that do not adhere to strict price controls on basic food items such as meat, milk, eggs, and other products. Greg Wilpert has the story from Caracas.
Chavez’s latest announcement about possibly nationalizing grocery stores that break price controls comes amidst a meat shortage in Venezuela. Producers and distributors have been hoarding their supplies in resistance to price regulations. To address the shortage of meat and dairy products, the Chavez government had announced the elimination of the sales tax on such products and a slight increase in their price, so that producers would have an incentive to sell again. Chavez said if retailers continue to manipulate the supply in order to drive up prices, his government would not hesitate to nationalize businesses found to be breaking the law. In the past week, the Venezuelan government reached amicable agreements to buy out investors who hold stocks in Venezuela’s main telecommunications company and its main electric company. The threat to nationalize food distributors will thus probably be taken very seriously by Venezuela’s private sector. Greg Wilpert reporting for Free Speech Radio News from Caracas.
PEANUT BUTTER RECALL
ConAgra Foods has begun a recall of peanut butter packaged under the brand names Peter Pan and Great Value after a nationwide outbreak of salmonella. Consumers have been warned not to eat Great Value and Peter Pan brand peanut butters with the number 2111 printed on the lid. Federal officials say that nearly 300 people in 39 states have fallen ill with the food-borne disease since August. It is the first known instance of salmonella contamination of peanut butter.
JAPANESE WHALING SHIP CATCHES FIRE IN THE ANTARCTIC
Conservationists fear that that a fire aboard a Japanese whaling vessel could lead to an environmental disaster as the ship floats towards an important penguin breeding ground in Antarctica. The fire reportedly broke out in an area of the ship used to process whale carcasses. The damaged ship is carrying hundreds of thousands of gallons of oil.
House Debates Iraq for Third Day (4:00)
On this third day of debate in the House of Representatives on troop increase to Iraq, anti-war groups are criticizing its substance, saying it doesn’t go far enough. Lawmakers are already starting to look ahead to next steps. And as FSRN’s Leigh Ann Caldwell reports, divisions within the party are likely.
Bush Requests Fund to Increase Troops in Afghanistan
As Congress continues its marathon debate on an increase of US military forces in Iraq, President Bush called for a significant fund request to increase US troops in Afghanistan. Bush delivered those comments in a speech today at the American Enterprise Institute.
Bush Signs Executive Order to Authorize Military Commissions (3:40)
Bush signed an executive order Wednesday to authorize the establishment of military commissions. With this order, cases against prisoners at Guantanamo Bay can begin to be tried by military tribunals. Nan McCurdy has more from Washington DC.
Soldiers Developing Drug Habits as Result of Service in Iraq (4:00)
If George Bush goes ahead with his plans to send additional troops to Iraq he will do so with an army with many more soldiers with criminal records. Many of those recruits are guilty of drug crimes. At the same time, as Aaron Glantz reports, other soldiers are developing drug habits as a result of their service in Iraq.
Update on the Case of the Panther Eight (4:30)
Bail was reduced in a San Francisco Superior Courtroom yesterday for eight former community activists, some of whom were Black Panthers, from $5 to $6 million to $3 million. The eight were arrested last month and charged with the murder of a San Francisco police officer in 1971. They were recently indicted on the same evidence that was ruled inadmissible in 1974, because it was extracted by police torture. And although the new trial is set in San Francisco, critics cite that the FBI’s Counter Intelligence Program (COINTELPRO) is directly involved in their case as part of a larger operation to destroy the Black liberation movement. House Aura Bogado spoke with Lawrence Reyes of the Jericho Amnesty Coalition, Los Angeles, which helped organize a rally in support of the Panther Eight.
Mumia Abu-Jamal Commentary: How Black Is Our History Month (4:40)