April 11, 2007

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Headlines (5:15)
A double bombing today in the Algerian capital of Algiers has killed at least 23 people and wounded over 150. A suicide bomber blew himself up outside of the Algerian prime minister’s office. Another attack took place near a police station on the outskirts of the capital. A group calling itself al-Qaeda in Islamic North Africa has reportedly claimed responsibility for the blasts. Algeria is to hold parliamentary elections next month.

in other news…Senior Israeli security officials have expressed “disappointment and reservations” over a proposal to exchange a captured Israeli soldier for hundreds of Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli jails. Rami Almeghari reports from Gaza.

Israeli Prime Minister, Ehud Olmert met with senior security officials yesterday afternoon to discuss the list of prisoners that Palestinian negotiators want released in exchange for captured Israeli corporal Gilad Shalit. Israeli officials say the list includes some prisoners thought to have committed violent crimes against Israelis, yet they hinted that Israel might consider releasing others on the list. According to Egyptian mediators, who delivered the list to Israel, the prisoners swap has not failed and that they are looking forward to a formal Israeli response to the proposal by next week. Corporal Gilad Shalit, was captured in Gaza last June by Palestinian resistance groups in a cross-border raid on an Israeli army base. His capture resulted in a deadly massive Israeli attack on Gaza. For Free Speech Radio News and imemc.org, this is Rami Almeghari reporting from Gaza.

A U.S. delegation wrapped up a four-day trip to North Korea today. Led by New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson, the team traveled to the reclusive state to recover the remains of American servicemen killed during the Korean War. Their mission came just a few days ahead of the deadline for North Korea to shut down its main nuclear facility. From Seoul, FSRN’s Jason Strother has more.

Governor Richardson and his team crossed the heavily-fortified demilitarized zone into South Korea on Wednesday, bringing with them the remains of six U.S. solders killed more than fifty years ago. Though not officially in North Korea to discuss the ongoing nuclear standoff, the team did pressure the Kim Jong Il regime to abide by the agreement made earlier this year to shut down its Yongbyon reactor by April 14th. Speaking at a press conference in Seoul, Richardson announced that Pyongyang will permit international inspectors to return to the site one day after they receive the 25 million dollars frozen in Macau’s Banco Delta Asia. The North’s access to these funds was blocked after the Bush administration claimed the account was laundering counterfeit dollars. The bank announced today that the money is now ready for North Korea to withdraw. Richardson warned that it may be difficult for North Korea to fully shut down the reactor by this weekend’s deadline and noted that Pyongyang officials said it may take up to 30 more days. For Free Speech Radio News in Seoul, South Korea, I’m Jason Strother.

The interim government of Bangladesh today charged former prime minister Sheikh Hasina and dozens of other opposition politicians with murder. Charges stem from the deaths of 4 rival party supporters during street protests that turned deadly in late October of 2006. Hasina and her 14 party alliance had been agitating for reforms in the lead-up to national elections originally scheduled for January 22nd. Those elections have since been postponed and Bangladesh’s military-backed interim government has kept the country under a state of emergency for months. The country’s Electoral Commission has said that is may take as long as 18 months to compile an accurate voter roll, which means elections could be as far as two years away.

More than 200 Mexican media workers and their supporters marched in the resort city of Acapulco yesterday to demand justice for a television reporter murdered there last week. Vladimir Flores reports.

Journalists who participated in yesterday’s march later wrote that plainclothes police constantly followed their demonstration with video cameras. The journalists want guarantees to exercise their rights of free expression as well as a serious investigation into the assassination of Amado Ramirez. The Televisa reporter was shot six times last week shortly after leaving his program on a local radio station. Hours after the march, federal police arrested two men that supposedly confessed to the murder. Statements issued by the Federal Preventative Police indicate that Genaro Vázquez Durán and Leonel Bustos Muñoz were detained at a check point due to their “suspicious attitude” and for possession of firearms. Police say the two men confessed to the crime after claiming an armed group was trying to kill them. In recent years, the number of media workers killed in Mexico has surpassed that of Colombia. Most of these crimes are left unresolved. For FSRN, I’m Vladimir Flores.

Director of National Intelligence Says President’s Surveillance Powers Should be Extended (4:00)
The President’s Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell is recommending that the President’s surveillance powers be extended. FSRN’s Leigh Ann Caldwell has more on that story, and speaks with a recipient of a National Security Letter – the only one who is now free to talk about the situation.

Fierce Fighting Continues in Central Baghdad (2:45)
Defense officials are deciding whether to extend the tours of duty for as many as 15,000 active U.S. troops by three months – meaning they would serve 15, rather than 12 months. Although a decision has yet to be made, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates may make the announcement in the coming days. As the Iraq security plan continues, violence increases generally throughout the country and specifically in Baghdad. Tuesday saw fierce fighting in central Baghdad, with some residents saying as many as forty people were killed in day long clashes between local Sunni fighters and the US military. Hiba Dawood reports.

Nearly 2 Million Additional Voters Will Participate in France’s Upcoming Presidential Election (4:15)
Nearly two-million additional voters have registered ahead of France’s presidential election, with the first round due in less than two weeks’ time. It’s the highest rise since 1981, when a dramatic lurch to the left made François Mitterrand France’s first, and only, Socialist president. This year’s campaign includes 12 candidates, with three leading the polls: Nicolas Sarkozy for the right wing UMP, Ségolène Royal for the Socialists and centre-right candidate Francois Bayrou. FSRN’s Tony Cross visited the Paris suburb of Argenteuil to find out what’s boosted the interest in this year’s poll.

Hunger and The Farm Bill (4:45)
The multi-billion dollar piece of legislation known as “The Farm Bill” comes before Congress for reauthorization every five years. The complex legislation is a stew of competing interests: small farmers, large agribusiness and the nation’s hungry and their advocates will all vie for a share of $300 billion dollars in subsidies. Funding for food stamps and other supplemental nutrition programs remains critically low. $30 billion has been cut in food stamps since welfare reform in 1996. And while $6.4 billion was restored in 2002, that amount is still not enough for the nation’s 35 million people who experience food insecurity. If the programs remain under funded, the nation’s hungry will be forced to turn to food banks for support. Martha Baskin has more.

Sexual Abuse Scandal Uncovered in Texas Juvenile Detention Centers (2:00)
A Texas grand jury handed down felony sexual abuse charges against two former administrators at a juvenile detention center. The charges that they used their power to prey on teenage boys are at the center of a statewide scandal that could result in a flood of litigation, as alleged victims come forward from other facilities. FSRN’s Renee Feltz reports.

Today’s end credits music provided by Fishtank Ensemble.

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