March 19, 2007

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Headlines (5:00)
A gas explosion in a Russian coal mine has killed at least 61 people. At least 168 workers were in the Siberian mine at the time of the methane blast. The regional government reports that 88 workers have been brought to the surface and communication has been established with more miners trapped underground. Today’s explosion caused the deadliest mine accident in Russia in the past decade.

In Afghanistan, a suicide bomber today rammed his car into a convoy of SUVs carrying US embassy officials. The attack occurred on a busy road in the capital city of Kabul. The explosion killed an Afghan teenager and injured 5 American guards. One of the guards is reportedly in serious condition. The US ambassador to Afghanistan was not among those in the convoy. An AP reporter who witnessed the blast says that US personnel confiscated the recording equipment of a two-man Italian television crew that arrived to cover the blast. The equipment was returned 10 hours later with the tape inside.

France’s best-known anti-corporate campaigner José Bové is one of twelve candidates who will stand for the country’s presidency next month. Bové only just managed to fulfill the official requirements … he brings the number of radical left-wing candidates to five, while three members of bigger parties are slugging it out for the lead. A first round of voting will prepare for a two-way face-off on May 6. Tony Cross reports from Paris.

José Bové got into the presidential race by the skin of his teeth. France’s Constitutional Council, which checks the legal requirements, announced that he could stand this evening, along with eleven other contestants. Would-be candidates have to collect the signatures of 500 elected representatives, ranging from local councilors to MPs. Bové’s candidacy brings the number of hard-left candidates to five … apart from him, there are three Trotskyists and the Communist Party’s Marie-George Buffet. When she submitted her signatures on Friday, Buffet saved her fire for Socialist candidate, Ségolène Royal (sound): “The candidate who seems most likely to represent the left in the second round isn’t proposing to a programme that will really change our people’s lives. So she hasn’t allowed the left to unite against the right and has profoundly disorientated the people of the left.” Royal’s campaign is struggling to outdo Nicolas Sarkozy, the media-savvy Interior Minister who’s the main right-wing candidate. Another challenger has emerged in the shape of centre-right François Bayrou. And on the far-right there’s the National Front’s Jean-Marie Le Pen, who shocked the world in 2002 by getting into the second round but looks unlikely to do so this time round. For FSRN, I’m Tony Cross in Paris.

Zimbabwe’s Foreign Minister today threatened to expel Western diplomats for allegedly supporting the country’s opposition movement. The warnings come a week after riot police attacked opposition activists as they gathered for a rally that had been billed as a prayer meeting. The government of president Robert Mugabe has since prohibited opposition figures from traveling outside of the country. At least four government critics have been physically prevented from leaving Zimbabwe. Three were stopped while attempting to fly to South Africa. Another – Movement for Democratic Change spokesman Nelson Chamisa – was stopped and beaten with metal rods while on his way to the airport. Chamisa was on his way to Brussels to meet with officials from the European Union.

In the the US, a new report finds not a single police officer in Houston, Texas has been disciplined for the controversial use taser stun guns . Renee Feltz has more:

A study conducted by the Houston Chronicle newspaper found more than two dozen police officers have shocked five or more people each with tasers, but have faced no disciplinary action. In fact, the review showed not a single officer on the Houston Police Department force has faced disciplinary charges for more than one thousand uses of the weapon. The analysis examined taser use since HPD officers were equipped with them 2 years ago. An earlier Chronicle study found the majority of people shocked by Houston police are people of color. Police credit the weapon as a tool to reduce the use of deadly force. But, the report found that in 95 percent of the cases, a taser was used to defuse situations in which deadly force would not have been clearly justified. Most of the incidents began as traffic stops, disturbances or response to complaints. More than a third of those shocked were not charged with a crime, or had their case dropped or dismissed. From Houston, I’m Renee Feltz for FSRN.

Bush Gives Address on 4th Anniversary of the War (1:00)
President Bush used the occasion of the fourth anniversary of the invasion of Iraq to urge continued support for the war. Speaking from the Roosevelt room of the White House, Bush responded to the war’s opponents by speculating that a troop withdrawal could create a safe haven for terrorists.
Bush: “It can be tempting to look at the challenges in Iraq and conclude our best option is to pack up and go home. That may be satisfying in the short run, but I believe the consequences for American security would be devastating.”
While Bush implored Congress to fully-fund the $100 billion emergency war spending bill, he failed to outline any plans for how the US military could return stability to the country.

Iraqis React to Four Years of Occupation (2:00)
Since the Bush Administration launched the “shock and awe” invasion of Iraq four years ago, the violence has continued to increase. Some 3,200 US soldiers have died, and tens of thousands of injured. There is no official death toll for Iraqi civilians, but some put the number as high as 650,00. As Hiba Dawood reports, living among the chaos and bloodshed has transformed the lives of many Iraqis.

Dozens Arrested during Symbolic Shutdown of Wall Street (1:45)
At least 39 people were arrested today at the New York Stock Exchange as protesters staged a symbolic shutdown of Wall Street to highlight the companies who are profiting off the war. Roberta Rachkovsky reports.

Protest at the Pentagon (3:10)
Forty years ago a historic march took place at the Pentagon to protest the Vietnam War. This weekend people gathered once again in the nation’s capital to protest a different war, but with the same message. Bring the troops home. FSRN’S Karen Miller has more.

Demonstrations From Coast to Coast (1:30)
Across the US and the globe, hundreds of thousands of people were out in the streets over the weekend voicing their opposition to the ongoing occupation of Iraq. Demonstrations continued in some cities today. FSRN brings you some of those voices from San Francisco, Washington, DC and Pasadena, Texas.

Outro: You just heard from anti-war demonstrations in San Francisco, Washington, DC and Pasadena, Texas marking the 4th anniversary of the war in Iraq. Thanks to Renee Feltz, Naji Mujahid and KPFA-FM for providing sounds from the demonstrations.

U.S. Supreme Court Hears “Bong Hits 4 Jesus”Case (3:00)
The Supreme Court heard a case Monday that could have broad implications for free speech in public schools. It’s the first time such case has been heard in 20 years. FSRN’s Leigh Ann Caldwell reports.

Journalist Kidnappings (2:00)
An Italian journalist kidnapped in Afghanistan was freed today after two weeks in captivity. A Taliban military commander told Reuters news service that Daniele Mastro-gia-como was released, but offered no other information. Meanwhile, a wave of kidnappings of foreign journalists continues in the Palestinian territories. FSRN’s Rami Almeghari has more.

Sean Bell Indictments (3:20)
Three New York City police detectives were indicted today for the killing of an unarmed African American man and the shooting of his two friends. However, family and friends of Sean Bell say the three indictments are not enough and are demanding that all five police offers who shot at Bell’s car should be prosecuted. Organizers are planning more anti-police brutality protests planned for this week. James Williams of the Community News Production Institute reports.

Tanya Reinhart Obit (2:00)
Author, linguist and Israeli peace activist Tayna Reinhart died in New York on Saturday. The 63-year-old was an outspoken critic of the 1993 Oslo Accords and the ongoing occupation of the Palestinian territories. In 2002, Reinhardt told community radio station KBOO that US support of the Israeli government and military perpetuates violence in the region.
Clip “I think that as an American the most significant way to end the occupation and save the Palestinians is make sure the US support of Israel stops. There are now movements of divestment and boycotts that say don’t invest in Israeli economy, not just the military. If our government is supporting Israel, we as people can exert pressure to stop this. I believe this is the most significant thing to do and by saving tte Palestinians you’re also saving the Israelis, because if it goes on this way with lunatic state run by generals and military forces that think they are the US, but we are not the US we are a nation of 6 million people in a world of 200 million or more Arabs and we as Israelis also don’t have a future this way. The way to help Israel today is to stop aid to Israel, rather than keep it going.
That was Israeli scholar and peace activist Tayna Reinhart speaking to Portland, Oregon’s KBOO-FM in 2002. She died on Saturday at the age of 63.

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