May 14, 2007

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The Palestinian Authority has mobilized all its forces to quell factional violence in the Gaza Strip. Since Friday, the latest surge in fighting between Fatah and Hamas has claimed 8 lives, wounded at least 50, and prompted the resignation of Palestinian interior minister Hani al-Qawasmi: FSRN’s Rami Almeghari has more.

Israel’s security cabinet has approved more targeted assassinations of suspected Palestinian fighters in the Gaza strip. Cabinet officials describe it as a bid to prevent rocket fire into Israel—human rights groups have condemned the practice for putting civilians at risk

Millions of Filipinos cast their votes today in mid-term elections. Voting was marred by violence that claimed the lives of least 13 people. That brings the number of election-related killings in the Philippines to 127 since January. Girlie Linao reports from Manila:

In Iran, two pro-reform newspapers that had been banned by the government have resumed publication. The development comes as the political opposition to hard-line President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad appears to be making gains.

Meanwhile, the US military has announced it will restrict soldiers’ access to YouTube, MySpace, and nearly a dozen other Web sites that allow users to upload and access media. A memo issued last week says the move is meant to reduce demand on the military’s bandwith and protect information—it calls use of the sites a “significant operational security challenge.” In April, the military barred soldiers from posting to blogs or sending personal e-mail messages, without first clearing the content with a superior officer.

Pakistan’s commercial hub shut down today as residents honored a general strike called against President Gen. Pervez Musharraf’s ouster of a chief justice. In Karachi, where a weekend of violence linked to the dismissal left 41 people dead and more than 150 injured, security forces now have authority to shoot rioters on sight.

A Dallas suburb has voted to become the first city in the nation to ban landlords from renting to undocumented immigrants. FSRN’s Renee Feltz has more:

In other domestic news, private equity fund Cerebus Capital Management has bought auto giant Chrysler from for $7.4 billion dollars. The union representing auto workers had opposed such a private purchase, worried new owners would impose layoffs and benefit cuts. But today United Auto Workers President Ron Gettelfinger said he withdrew his opposition after a meeting with Chief Executive Officer Dieter Zetsche two days ago. It’s unclear what agreement, if any, they reached on the fate of the ailing automaker.

Agustin Aguayo Returns After US Military Prison Time in Germany
An increasing number of U.S. soldiers are questioning their participation in the Iraq War. According to the Pentagon, 40,000 soldiers have gone AWOL since the beginning of the Iraq War. Another 2,000 have signed the Appeal for Redress, calling for a prompt end to the US occupation of Iraq. When Army specialist Agustin Aguayo had his Conscientious Objector status denied, he went AWOL rather than return for a second tour of duty in Iraq. He was sentenced to more than six months in a U.S. military prison in Germany. He returned to the U.S. late last week, and has been traveling around California, speaking about his experiences ever since. FSRN’s Sarah Olson caught up with Aguayo in San Francisco.

Missing Soldiers Likely Captured by al-Qaeda
Three US soldiers missing since a Saturday attack in Baghdad – which killed an Iraqi translator and four US soldiers – are believed to be held by al-Qaeda, which is demanding that the US halt the search for the soldiers. A declaration posted on a website implies that the soldiers are still alive, but captive.

Iraqi Oil Workers Threaten Strike
Meanwhile, in other news from Iraq, oil workers have been threatening to strike if certain demands weren’t to be met by the country’s government. Hiba Dawood reports.

Critics Worry About Bush Administration’s Plan to Privatize Social Security
President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the Social Security Act in 1935 to provide the elderly with a source of income after they retired. Now, the Bush administration is trying to privatize the program. As FSRN’s Karen Miller reports, critics say that some senior citizens might get shut out.

South Korean Farmers Evicted for US Base
South Korea has been home to thousands of US troops since the end of the Korean War in 1953. Over the past few years, the number of soldiers has been reduced and many bases have been closed. Despite this, the realignment of forces has led to the expansion of one base, forcing hundreds of South Korean farmers off their land. FSRN’s Jason Strother spoke with some of the evicted residents from the village of Dae Chu-ri, and files this report.

South African Shanty Towns Similar to Apartheid Years
A majority of the world’s population is now urban – and the fastest growing cities are middle-sized, in the Third World. A large part of the new urban population is poor, living in shacks or run-down buildings, often illegally. In Durban, South Africa, apartheid’s attempts to restrict black people to marginal areas of the city have been followed by post-apartheid government’s failure to respond with adequate housing close to services and work opportunities. Durban’s poor, like their counterparts the world over, have responded by building housing for themselves where they need it. FSRN’s Mpumi Magwaza finds that like the apartheid state before it, the ANC government views these settlements as a nuisance.

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