March 16, 2007

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Headlines (5:00)
According to new scientific research out today, the Arctic ocean may lose all its ice by the year 2040. From London, Naomi Fowler reports.

What happens in the Arctic region in terms of a meltdown has very serious consequences for the world and its people. Decades of satellite images show the Arctic loses an estimated 38,000 square miles of ocean ice cover every year. At that rate, computer models predict sea ice could vanish from the Arctic ocean completely by 2040. That would trigger erratic and dangerous climate change, bringing intensified storms and torrential rainfall seasons. The melting rate of the largest glaciers in the Antarctic also risk devastating global sea level rises. Scientists in the UK are pressuring the government to start planning now for a radical climate change future they see, in part, as inevitable. Scientist Dr Chris West of the UK Climate Impacts Programme (audio): “The climate we will get over the next thirty or forty years has almost all been determined already by emissions which we’ve created in the past, so for the next thirty or forty years we’ve got one climate future to look at and then the climate futures start to diverge depending really on what we choose to do now, whether we choose to go on emitting more and more greenhouse gases, or whether we start controlling greenhouse gases.” That could be the same as saying that the Arctic meltdown is unavoidable, but humans can still try to alter what happens afterwards. This is Naomi Fowler in London for Free Speech Radio News.

A shutdown strike has paralyzed the Indian state of West Bengal. The strike comes in protest of this week’s government crackdown and use of deadly force against farmers resisting the construction of an industrial zone on their ancestral land. PC Dubey reports.

Opposition parties called for the strike on Wednesday when some 5 thousand security forces stormed a farming village that has for months been protesting against plans to build an industrial site on their ancestral lands. At least 14 farmers were killed. Heavy deployment of security forces that have rounded up protesters throughout the state have have failed to dampen public outrage over the massacre. The strikers have burnt dozens of buses and other vehicles that ventured out during the shutdown call. The protests have turned out to be the fiercest show of opposition to the Communist party in its 30 years of uninterrupted rule in the state. The protesters have called for the resignation of the Marxist government. The chemical complex proposed on the site of the farmland was part of a controversial Special Economic Zone (SEZ) – complete with tax immunities and other REGULATORY exemptions. I am PC Dubey for Free Speech Radio News.

Lawyers in Pakistan clashed with police in Islamabad throughout the day today in response to the president’s sudden move this week to fire the country’s top judge. Masroor Hussain has more.

(ambient sound) Protests have intensified in Pakistan after President Pervez Musharraf fired Chief Justice Iftekhar Chaudhry on Tuesday. Many lawyers think the allegations are petty and politically motivated. Attorneys have been protesting in the streets and boycotting courtrooms since Chaudry’s dismissal. Police used teargas to disperse workers of political parties who came out to join the protests today. Musharraf has appointed appointed a five-member judicial council to look into allegations of misuse of power while the country’s top judge waits under house arrest. As Chief Justice, Chaudry had on numerous occasions ruled against the government on human rights cases. Meanwhile, his hearing has been postponed until March 21st. Masroor Hussain, Free Speech Radio News, Islamabad.

Organized labor and consumer groups launched a national campaign today to urge Congress to develop an alternative to presidential fast-track trade authority. At least seven state legislatures are expected to generate anti-fast-track resolutions in the coming weeks. Mary Kathryn Rountree reports.

Montana’s state legislature has already overwhelmingly approved a resolution that calls on congress to create a democratic and inclusive mechanism to develop trade agreements. Montana’s resolution gets its power from targeting its senior U.S. Senator, Max Baucus, Chair of the Senate Finance Committee. The legislators want Baucus to change his position on fast-track, which gives the President’s trade representatives the power to negotiate treaties. Congress is limited to an up and down vote and no amendments. Montana state Senator Jim Elliott, says this gives big corporations far too much power, while states lose the ability to uphold policy and law: (sound): “This is the state of Montana asking that the provisions of NAFTA be more carefully considered, that fast-track be looked at in a much harsher light, and that things be changed. And Senator Baucus has the ability as one of the most powerful men in congress now, if not the most powerful man in congress, to change that.” A coalition of groups opposed to an extension of fast-track are urging states to pass bills modeled on Montana’s resolution. Congress could simply choose to let fast-track expire in June, which would return trade negotiating powers to Congress. Mary Kathryn Rountree for FSRN in Moscow, Idaho.

Plame Tells Congress She Was Retaliated Against (2:00)
The former CIA operative known as Valerie Plame, whose leaked identity set off a political scandal that led to a federal investigation, told Congress today that the Bush Administration revealed her cover as a way to harm her diplomat-husband’s reputation, adding that her career was ruined. Plame’s husband, Joe Wilson, wrote a piece in the New York Times which strongly questioned the Bush Administration’s prewar intelligence – Plame told Congress today that her outing was retaliation. Ohio Democratic Congressman Dennis Kucinich questioned Plame on the scandal.

More Trouble Brewing in the White House and Department of Justice (2:00)
More bad news for the White House and the Department of Justice: emails surfaced that tie Karl Rove closer to the firing of eight US attorneys, and more lawmakers call for the resignation of Attorney General Alberto Gonzales. FSRN’s Leigh Ann Caldwell reports.

UN Addresses Widening Iraqi Refugee Population (3:00)
The UN announced earlier this month that it would set up a special office in Jordan to begin looking at the widening refugee crisis inside and outside Iraq. The UN estimates another two million Iraqis have been displaced inside Iraq. A meeting was held today at UN headquarters in New York by the Iraq compact, a special UN body that meets on Iraq at the request of the Iraqi government. The meeting was attended by Secretary General Ban Ki Moon as well as Iraqi vice president Adel Abdul Mehdi. A flurry of UN activity regarding Iraq in recent months likely signifies a wider effort to deal with millions of Iraqi refugees. Hiba Dawood has the story.

30,000 Troops Will Be Part of Troop Surge reader
General David Petraeus, top commander of US forces in Iraq, is requesting an additional 3,000 troops to be deployed along with the 26,000 already on the way. Altogether, about 30,000 troops will head to Baghdad and Anbar Province as part of President Bush’s troop surge, which was widely criticized by Democrats in Congress. Bush requested 21,500 troops last month – but that number quickly grew by almost 10,000 in what observers are calling an escalation of the war.

Actions Planned Around the Country on 4th Anniversary of Iraq Invasion (3:00)
Thousands of people will be marching to the Pentagon in Washington, DC tomorrow, marking the 4th anniversary of the US-led invasion of Iraq. Ingrid Drake reports on how the demonstration is only one in a series of anti-war actions across the US.

LA City Council Makes Decision that Will Benefit Supermarket Workers (3:30)
Los Angeles supermarket workers will be getting a raise, thanks to an LA City Council groundbreaking decision that grants pay hikes to 100 employees as part of a city land-use agreement. FSRN’s Leilani Albano has the story.

Weekly Political Round-up: The Limbo Candidates (4:00)
The 2008 presidential candidates made a stop this week in the city where they would all like to eventually end up: Washington DC. FSRN’s Karen Miller reports on the presidential hopefuls that remain in limbo in this week’s political round-up.

Civilians Flee Fighting Sri Lanka (1:45)
The United Nations stated this week that the number of refugees fleeing fighting in eastern Sri Lanka has reached 130,000, and is appealing for immediate funding to help the displaced. Ponniah Manikavasagam reports from Sri Lanka.

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