April 23, 2007

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Headlines (5:00)
American and Russian defense secretaries met in Moscow today to discuss the Pentagon’s controversial plans for a missile defense shield in Eastern Europe. Elise Hugus reports.

US Defense Secretary Robert Gates met with his Russian counterpart and President Vladimir Putin today in an attempt to assuage Kremlin concern about the American anti-missile defense program. Radar and missile interceptors, designed to hit incoming missiles while still airborne, are being installed in Poland and the Czech Republic, despite public opposition. Russia says the installations pose a threat to its national security, not to the stated targets; Iran and North Korea. In a speech in Munich last February, President Putin said the so-called defense shield could force Russia to pull out of anti-proliferation treaties. U.S. officials say there is no cause for Russia to be alarmed. However, the impasse has sparked fears of renewed Cold War tensions. As the ministers concluded their talks, Russia’s first freely elected president, Boris Yeltsin, died of heart failure in Moscow. The former President, who stepped down in 1999, orchestrated Russia’s transition from communism to free market economy. He was 76. For Free Speech Radio News, I’m Elise Hugus, in Bucharest.

Another round of talks to resolve the decades-old border dispute between the world’s two most populous countries, India and China, ended today without resolution. FSRN’s Vinod K. Jose reports from New Delhi.

In 1962, China and India fought a bloody war. The main issue was border. 45 years later the issue is still unresolved. The Tenth round of talks on the matter ended today with no breakthrough and no road map. The only decision both sides agreed to is to hold an eleventh round of talks in China. India says China occupies 38,000 square kilometers of its territory in Kashmir, while Beijing claims 90,000 square kilometers of the remote Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh. A formal ceasefire line was never established after the 1962 war. Growing economic cooperation between the countries has given a sense of urgency to settle the border dispute. Both the countries are expected to hit trade figures to $40 billion by 2010. And China and India both occupy the position of the world’s fastest growing economies, at no1, and no 2 respectively. For FSRN From New Delhi, in India, this is Vinod K. Jose.

In Los Angeles, teachers and parents of students from the Academia Semillas del Pueblo Charter school gathered in front of radio station KABC today to serve the station’s management with a legal complaint against radio personality Doug McIntyre. The protesters say McIntyre has broadcast hate speech and inaccurate accusations about the school and its staff which has endangered the school and the safety of its students. Academia Semillas del Pueblo board member Salomon Zavala describes what happened when they attempted to deliver the complaint: (clip). The protesters dispersed soon afterwards but say they will pursue their complaint in court.

Mohawk activists in southern Ontario, Canada, blockaded a major rail-line over the weekend as part of a land reclamation effort directed at the Canadian government. Stefan Christoff reports from Montreal.

Throughout Friday and Saturday, members of the Tyendinaga Mohawk community blockaded a major Canadian National Railway line; paralyzing all railway traffic between Montreal and Toronto. The action sparked a national debate on the issue of indigenous land claims. Just over 1 month ago, the Mohawks community of the Bay of Quinte in southern Ontario reclaimed a portion of the Culbertson land tract, a 925 acre piece of territory, which Canadian authorities took from Mohawk Territory in 1832. Official documents from Canadian governmental authorities point to the Mohawks’s legal ownership of the land, which lead to a position of non-intervention against the major rail-line blockade. Shawn Brant is a spokesperson for the Tyendinaga Mohawk protesters. (audio) “The shut-down of the main was our first hit, it was considered our soft hit. It was done as a kick-off a campaign of economic disruption targeting the federal government, provincial government and the local municipal government of the town.” Tyendinaga Mohawks have announced plans to protest the ongoing work of a privately owned gravel quarry inside of their territory which removes 100,000 tonnes of land each year. They say their actions will continue until all digging work has stopped. This is Stefan Christoff reporting for Free Speech Radio News in Montreal.

Showdown over Iraq War Spending Bill Continues (3:36)
The Iraq war spending bill that Congress will send to President Bush is likely to include a timeline to start redeploying troops no later than October 1 of this year – it reflects a compromise between the House and Senate versions of the bill. The final resolution comes as Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said that on Iraq, the President is in “a state of denial.” Washington Editor Leigh Ann Caldwell reports.

Political Crisis Grips Nigerian Elections (3:30)
Controversy is gripping Nigeria, as the candidate of the ruling party is declared winner of the presidential elections. Opposition candidates who say the election was rigged have rejected the result, and are calling for a re-run. Most foreign and local election observers say the election was indeed fixed. They warned of a legitimacy crisis for any government that emerges through the election. Nigeria, Africa’s largest oil producer, has faced a number of political crises – some of which culminated into military rule. Sam Olukoya reports from Lagos.

Right-Winger and Socialist Vie for French Presidency (4:00)
France faces two more weeks of intense campaigning before the second round of voting in its hotly-contested presidential election. After a massive 85 percent turnout in the first round yesterday, right-winger Nicolas Sarkozy and Socialist Ségolène Royal face each for the decider. Tony Cross reports from Paris.

Palestinian Cabinet Rejects Interior Minister’s Resignation (2:30)
Palestinian interior minister, Hani al-Qawasmi, resigned Monday, 10 days after he announced a security plan to end internal unrest in the Gaza Strip. His resignation has been rejected by the Palestinian cabinet. FSRN’s Rami Almeghari has more.

Weekend Invasions in the West Bank (2:00)
Eight Palestinians were killed by Israeli army gunfire in less than 24 hours during Israeli invasions of West Bank areas over the weekend. 14 year old Karem Zahran was shot and killed in the village of Deir Abu Mish’al, west of the central West Bank city of Ramallah. He was among local youths who threw stones at Israeli soldiers who were searching homes in the village under the pretext that they were looking for ‘wanted Palestinians’. Ghassan Bannoura reports.

Gun Control Not on Political Agenda (4:00)
The tragedy at Virginia Tech University has forced the issue of gun violence to the forefront of the national consciousness. Media focus has delved into the gunman’s background and debates have opened about whether stronger campus security or more intensive involvement from mental health services could have averted the tragedy. Some critics say that the lack of grassroots anti-gun activism is the reason the issue hasn’t taken hold in the political agenda. Max Pringle reports.

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