June 08, 2007
PACE TO BE REPLACED
Secretary of Defense Robert Gates announced today that the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Peter Pace, is being replaced. Gates has recommended chief of naval operations, Admiral Mike Mullen to the position vacated by Pace. Gates indicated that he hoped the personnel change would help to avoid a contentious Senate confirmation hearing that could lead to unfavorable scrutiny of Pace’s handling of the Iraq war.
FEARS OF NEW FRONT IN IRAQI KURDISTAN
New reports have emerged of further Turkish shelling of Kurdish areas within northern Iraq. Today’s shelling is the latest in a series of military actions by the Turkish army along the border with Iraqi Kurdistan. Turkey has been building up a military presence along the border while rhetoric among politicians in Ankara has become increasingly in favor of taking military action against PKK rebels based in northern Iraq. Members of Iraq’s Patriotic Union of Kurdistan say that Iran has also participated in the shelling of Iraqi Kurdistan. Meanwhile, Turkey has declared an area near the northern Iraqi border to be a “temporary security zone” and has restricted civilian access to the area.
EXTRAORDINARY RENDITION TRIAL OPENS IN ITALY AHEAD OF BUSH VISIT
An Italian court today began hearing a criminal trial over a case of a kidnapping of a Muslim cleric by CIA agents. Diletta Varlese has more.
The prosecution has charged 26 CIA agents and the former chief of the Italian secret service with the kidnapping and torture of Egyptian cleric Abu Omar. US authorities suspect Omar of using his position as the Imam of Milan’s mosque to recruit terrorists. He was taken from the streets of Milan in early 2003 and secretly deported to Egypt, where he was jailed and allegedly tortured. The 26 CIA agents named in the case will be tried in absentia. Still in Egypt, Abu Omar has expressed willingness to testify at the trial, despite the fact that he would be kept in detention as a terrorism suspect. The extraordinary rendition trial opens as President Bush is due to arrive in Rome after the closing ceremony of the G8 meeting in Germany. A massive security operation has the Italian capital on lockdown, as police prepare for massive demonstrations planned for tomorrow by anti-war groups, Italian social organizations, and even some leftist politicians. Tomorrow’s demonstrations will coincide with Bush’s visit to the Italian Parliament. For FSRN, I’m Diletta Varlese in Brescia, Italy.
SPANISH POLICE ARREST BATASUNA LEADER
The head of the Basque nationalist group Batasuna has been arrested by Spanish police. Arnaldo Otegi was taken into custody today shortly after a ruling by Spain’s Supreme Court to uphold his 15 month sentence for (quote) “glorifying terrorism”. Batasuna is the political wing of ETA – the Basque separatist group that formally ended its ceasefire with Spain earlier this week.
POPULAR DISCONTENT BREWS AGAIN IN MEXICO
Indigenous opposition to a planned housing development 60 miles south of Mexico City has taken on the dimensions of a local popular uprising in the state of Morelos. Greg Berger reports.
Residents of the indigenous town of Xoxocotla continue to blockade regional highways in at least twelve locations for the seventh day in a row. The protests come in opposition to the construction of thousands of U.S.-style condominiums that local residents say would suck dry local aquifers. Protests intensified this week after State police attacked representatives from 12 towns as they attempted to stage a non-violent occupation of a nearby tollbooth on Monday. Video footage from the scene showed State police beating a 70 year old indigenous woman unconscious and leaving her to bleed on the highway. Activists and environmentalists allege that no environmental impact study has been done to determine the effect of the development project on the local aquifer, and it is unclear how developers obtained construction permits. Indigenous communities adjacent to Mexico City have been inundated with such development projects in recent years, with little or no transparency or public oversight. High bails set on Wednesday for 6 detained members of the Aquifer Defense Committee have only heightened tensions as the 12-town alliance prepares for a massive march on Sunday. For FSRN, I’m Greg Berger in Ocotepec, Morelos.
Senate Immigration Debate Collapses (3:15)
The controversial Senate bill to overhaul the nation’s immigration laws has collapsed. Now, some U.S. Senators are urging their colleagues to work out their differences on immigration, so the Senate can revisit the proposal. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid pulled the bill last night, after Senators voted against cutting off debate and bringing the legislation to a floor vote…FSRN’s Leigh Ann Caldwell reports.
Immigrant Rights Advocates: “Authorities Trying to Silence Us.” (2:15)
Two protesters face felony charges for locking their bodies to the gates of an immigrant detention center this week in Houston. They say the charges are designed to silence their criticism of immigration raids and the corrections Corporation of America. FSRN’s Renee Feltz has more:
Environmentalists Cool on G8 Global Warming Deal (4:00)
In Germany, the leaders of the world’s most developed nations and Russia, have wrapped up the 3-day annual group of 8 summit… Today, G8 leaders agreed on a $60 billion package to fight AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria in Africa. They also made a pledge to, quote, “adopt further measures” if Iran doesn’t end its uranium enrichment program. And, there’s an agreement on the biggest issue on the G8 agenda: How to address global warming… The G8 nations pledged to do their “fair share” to fight climate change. But, what that fair share is remains unclear and environmentalists are critical of the deal because the leaders did not set any firm targets for curbing greenhouse gas emissions… Cinnamon Nippard reports from Rostock…
Change of Heart in Russia/U.S. Nuclear Standoff? (3:00)
A tour of central and eastern Europe by President George W. Bush has ended with what his administration says is a surprise: Russian President Vladimir Putin has suggested that the U.S. share use of the huge Soviet-era radar at Gabala in northeast Azerbaijan, as a location for a U.S. missile shield in eastern Europe. Today, Putin said U.S. missile defense interceptors could be located in Turkey, or in Iraq or on sea platforms. The suggestions come after a stand-off between Bush and Putin over U.S. plans to put anti-ballistic missile defense systems in Poland and the Czech Republic. Putin had threatened to aim Russian weapons at U.S. targets in Europe if Bush went ahead with his plan… Danuta Szafraniec reports from Warsaw.
This Week’s FSRN Political Round-Up (2:30)
Congressional support builds slowly for a House measure to impeach Vice President Dick Cheney. Some presidential candidates gear up to show off their Spanish language skills… and, a small step toward a vote in congress for the nation’s capital? Ingrid Drake has more…
Chagos Islanders – Blocked From Home? (3:45)
The United Kingdom’s highest court recently reaffirmed the right of Chagos Islanders to return to their home in the Indian Ocean — three decades after they were expelled to make way for a US military base. But Chagossian activists fear that the governments of Britain and the US will take actions that prevent them from returning home. Manuel Rueda reports…
Today’s break and outro music by Zoyres.