June 01, 2007

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Headlines (5:00)
Mexican public school teachers and their supporters brought much of the hemisphere’s largest city to a standstill today with road blockades and marches in protest of reforms to Mexico’s social security system. Vladimir Flores reports.

Mexico City’s Public Security Secretary estimates that teachers protested in at least 28 different points in the capital city. The education workers are calling for the revocation of reforms made to Mexico’s social security system for state workers. They say the reforms amount to the privatization of social security and will reduce pensions by up to 40 percent. A violent clash erupted yesterday when federal riot police prevented teachers from setting up a protest camp outside of a government building in the capital’s financial district. Today the Federal Preventative Police launched tear gas to disperse blockaders at a toll booth and reportedly tried to impede the expansion of the tent city protest encampment in Mexico City’s Revolution Plaza. The teachers promise to keep up their mobilizations until the Interior Secretary agrees to negotiations. For FSRN, I’m Vladimir Flores in Oaxaca City.

Tens of thousands of protesters are gearing up to mobilize against the G8 this weekend when leaders from the world’s 7 richest nations and Russia meet in Germany to draft policies that will primarily affect the world’s poorest countries. German authorities say 16,000 police will be on hand to contain the protests. Organizers expect at least 100,000 people to participate in the mobilizations.

High-level talks this week between North and South Korea were nearly broken down by disputes over the reclusive regime’s nuclear program and food aid. From Seoul, FSRN’s Jason Strother has more.

A pledge to promote reconciliation was the only thing that both Koreas agreed to at the end of the four- day long ministerial talks. South Korean media reports that envoys from the North refused to negotiate key issues in protest over Seoul’s refusal to supply its impoverished neighbor with food aid. South Korea had pledged earlier this year to deliver 400 thousand tones of rice to North Korea, if Pyongyang begins to dismantle is nuclear weapons program. But so far no progress has been made since the North missed an April deadline to comply with a disarmament agreement. The North blames Washington for the delay, saying that money the Bush administration froze in overseas bank accounts has yet to be transferred. Washington’s top negotiator to the multinational nuclear talks urged North Korea to shut down its main atomic reactor before the banking dispute is settled. A North Korean official at the United Nations told reporters that the financial issue must be resolved first. For Free Speech Radio News, I’m Jason Strother in Seoul, South Korea.

The Marine Corps is investigating 3 reservists for supposedly wearing their uniforms during protests against the war and for allegedly making “disrespectful” statements. A Washington Post article about a street theater performance earlier this year around Capitol Hill is reportedly being used as evidence against two of the reservists. All three of the Marines are in the Individual Ready Reserve, which means they are not active duty. The charges raise the legal question of free speech rights Marines have after they have been discharged from active duty and are again civilians. One of the accused, 25 year old Adam Kokesh, faces a hearing before a military panel on Monday.

At least three Indian soldiers were killed and more than 20 injured in three separate attacks in Indian-administered Kashmir today. Shahnawaz Khan has the details.

The first attack took place in the heart of Kashmir’s summer capital Srinagar when suspected guerrillas detonated a pre-planted bomb as an army convoy was passing through the area. Police say the blast damaged an army bus and wounded 22 soldiers. Kashmiri guerrilla group Hizbul Mujahideen has reportedly claimed responsibility for the attack. Hours later a hand grenade explosion killed two troopers and critically wounded three others in a paramilitary camp in Kulgam district in south Kashmir, although it was unclear if the explosion was due to a guerrilla attack or an accidental mishandling of a grenade. In yet another incident, officials say two suspected guerrillas and a police trainee were killed after guerrillas ambushed an army convoy in north Kashmir on Friday afternoon. Violence in the region has not stopped despite an ongoing peace process between India and Pakistan. For FSRN, I’m Shahnawaz Khan.

The family that controls the Wall Street Journal is considering a takeover deal made by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. The offer is almost certainly more than the original 5 billion dollar buyout proposal. News Corp owns 20th Century Fox, the New York Post, and Fox News in addition to other holdings overseas.

U.S. Troops in Iraq forever… and Ever? (5:30)
U.S. and Iraqi troops descended on a Sunni neighborhood that’s been the site of days of internal fighting between rival armed groups. The troops put Baghdad’s Amariyah neighborhood under curfew and forced residents indoors. Some residents said the clashes began after al-Qaida abducted and tortured Sunnis from the area, prompting a large number of residents, many members of the rival Islamic Army to fight back. A local council member said at least 31 people, including six al-Qaida members, were killed in the clashes. Meanwhile, the Bush Administration this week announced that the President envisions a long-term U.S. Troop presence in Iraq – possibly decades-long. On Wednesday, White House Spokesperson Tony Snow compared Iraq to South Korea, where the U.S. Has had a military presence for more than 50 years, since the Korean War. And, yesterday in Hawaii, Defense Secretary Robert Gates made similar statements. And, as Snow said a day earlier, Gates said the role of U.S. Troops would not be in the front lines of combat…

(sound) Gates: “Some forces of Americans with mutually agreed missions is present for a contracted period of time but in ways that are protective of the sovereignty of the host government.”

Today, a group of former Generals and Commanders held a press conference to voice their concerns about a long-term deployment. Brigadier General John Johns expressed doubts about the administration’s intentions…

(sound) Johns: “What bothers me is its another element of staying the course. The use of US combat forces for settling insurgency is an appropriate use. Most of us recognize there has to be some military force in Iraq, but it must not be to maintain US hegemony in the region which has been the goal of the administration. And as I see it, this is what they’re arguing for here.”

Ohio State University International Law Professor John Quigley joined host Sandra Lupien. Quigley’s the author of “The Ruses for War: American Interventionism Since World War II.” A second edition of that book, detailing the Bush Administration’s use of false intelligence to make a case for invading Iraq is due out next month.

BBC’s Gaza Correspondent Seen for the First Time in Video (1:20)
It’s been more than two months since armed men kidnapped the BBC’s Gaza correspondent. In a video issued by his captors today, Alan Johnston said he was in good health and that his captors were treating him well. The less than three-minute undated video, posted on an Islamist Web site, is the first time Johnston has been seen or heard in public since he was seized on his way home from work on March 12. In the video, Johnston’s captors repeated a demand on the video for Britain to free Muslim prisoners, particularly the Islamist cleric Abu Qatada. Johnston said Palestinians are in despair because of a 40 year Western-backed occupation by Israel of the West Bank and Gaza strip…

(sound) Johnston: “In three years here in the Palestinian territories, I’ve witnessed the huge suffering of the Palestinian people. And my message is that the suffering is continuing and it is unacceptable. Everyday there are Palestinians arrested, imprisoned for no reason, people are killed on a daily basis. Economic suffering is terrible, especially here in Gaza.”

Johnston also criticized Britain and the U.S. Government for suffering and deaths in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Johnston has been held far longer than other Western hostages in Gaza.

Moscow Police Don’t Protect LGBT Protesters (4:00)
Last weekend in Moscow, a few dozen advocates for lesbian and gay rights risked their safety to deliver a petition to the city’s mayor. The petition protested the city’s denial of a permit to gay and lesbians to stage a parade through the city. Those who came out on Sunday did so in spite of threats of violence – and those threats became reality. And Moscow’s police failed to protect the gay protesters. Ben Seeder reports from Moscow.

Many Gulf Coast Hurricane Survivors Not Getting Mental Health Services (4:00)
Hurricane season starts today, adding one more to the list of stressors for those who’ve finally returned to their Gulf Coast homes after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005. For most returnees, finding housing and jobs is at the top of the to-do list. Concerns about mental health often take a back seat. But, since August of 2005, New Orleans’ murder rate has doubled and the suicide rate has tripled. Residents of other areas of coastal Louisiana — in some cases even harder hit than New Orleans — are also suffering from other types of mental and emotional crises. For some, race and class bar access to service. Reporter Melinda Tuhus visited two communities is coastal Louisiana.

Al-Sadr Resurfaces? What Are His Plans? (4:00)
Iraqi leader Moqtada Al-Sadr’s recent reemergence after four months of laying low has sparked speculation about what the anti-U.S. Occupation cleric’s plans are. Some Iraqis think his Medhi army is preparing for a broad confrontation with other Iraqi factions and foreign troops. Hiba Dawood files this report.

On the Presidential Campaign Beat (2:45)
In this week’s Free Speech Radio News round-up, 2008 Presidential candidates spent the week snagging endorsements, pressing the flesh, leaving just a little time to talk about the issues. Washington correspondent Leigh Ann Caldwell reports.

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