July 10, 2007
WARS IN IRAQ AND AFGHANISTAN COST $12 BILLION A MONTH
A new report puts the price tag for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan at $12 billion dollars a month. The Congressional Research Service, which compiled the report, found that Congress has approved $610 billion dollars for military expenses since the 9-11 attacks. A total of $450 billion dollars have gone to the war in Iraq. The Pentagon spends 5 times as much money per month on the war in Iraq than on the war in Afghanistan.
NAVY SENDS ANOTHER AIRCRAFT CARRIER TO THE PERSIAN GULF
The Navy has announced that it has sent a third aircraft carrier to the Persian Gulf. The two US aircraft carriers already in the area match the naval power that was present in the Gulf just prior to the 2003 invasion of Iraq. The USS Enterprise Carrier Strike Group en route to the Middle East will reportedly replace one of the other aircraft carrier groups already in Gulf waters.
POSSIBLE PROGRESS IN IRAN NUCLEAR STANDOFF
The nuclear standoff over Iran’s uranium enrichment program could be on the verge of a breakthrough. Tehran has invited the UN’s nuclear watchdog agency to discuss an action plan regarding its nuclear program. IAEA Director General Mohamed ElBaradei says there has been a marked slowdown in Iran’s nuclear enrichment activities, but further steps are necessary in order to make real progress on the issue. (sound) “I hope that that slowing down will continue. If that were be coupled by an act of cooperation by Iran in resolving the outstanding issues, that definitely would be a step in the right direction, would influence the action of the Security Council, [and] would influence the conditions for the return to the negotiating table.” Some Western officials have suggested that Iran’s apparent cooperation may be a move to buy time in the face of threats of tougher sanctions. The IAEA’s Deputy Director heads to Tehran Wednesday.
RED MOSQUE STORMED
The week-long standoff at Islamabad’s Red Mosque came to a bloody conclusion today when Pakistani security forces stormed the compound. Masror Hausen reports.
At least 50 militants died in the 12 hour attack, among them radical cleric Abdul Rashid Ghazi. Some reports put the death toll as high as 100. The Pakistani government abandoned attempts to negotiate and launched an attack before dawn this morning. The operation began to wind down after night fell in Islamabad. Eight soldiers are thought to have died in the siege. The standoff lasted as long as it did because women and children who study at the adjoining religious school were inside of the compound. Pakistani officials say some 50 women and children were rescued, but no information on student causalities were available at deadline. Journalists were not allowed to report from the scene on the operation and today all hospitals in the capital were sealed off. The immediate reaction in Pakistan is that of anger. Islamist political leaders say the mosque was stormed to please the United States while liberal democrats are of the opinion that the siege and then the storming of the mosque was a self-created event by Musharraf who is himself politically besieged by a civil rights movement against him. This is Masror Hausen reporting from Karachi.
ARMY FALLS SHORT OF RECRUITING GOAL
US Army recruiters have fallen short of their target number for the second month in a row. The Army’s goal is to enlist 80,000 recruits by the end of September. In order to reach that goal, recruiters must sign up well over nine thousand men and women each month for the next 3 months.
CENTRAL AMERICAN BANANA WORKERS SUE DOLE
Jury selection has begun in a lawsuit that accuses Dole Fresh Fruit Company of knowingly exposing Central American banana workers to a harmful pesticide from 1964 to 1990. Yasmin Madadi reports from Los Angeles.
The thirty plaintiffs are among 5,000 agricultural workers who say they became sterile from exposure to the pesticide known as DBCP while working at banana plantations. They accuse Dole Fruit Company, Amvac Chemical and Dow Chemical of negligence, fraudulent concealment and actively suppressing information from workers about the chemical’s reproductive toxicity. Jury selection began today in Los Angeles in the first of five lawsuits brought on behalf of thousands of banana workers from Costa Rica, Guatemala, Honduras and Panama. Long term exposure to dibromochloropropane has been linked to sterility in men, but the companies argue that the field workers were not exposed to DBCP directly or for long periods of time. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, short term exposure to the chemical can cause kidney damage, liver damage and atrophy of the testes. After this trial concludes, an LA court will examine four other similar cases brought against Del Monte, Chiquita Brands and Shell Oil. For FSRN I’m Yasmin Madadi in Los Angeles.
Senate Panel Probes Weak NOLA Infrastructure (4:12)
A US Senate panel is investigating why public works programs in New Orleans have not been rebuilt. The sewage system remains spotty, the drinking water system is on the verge of collapse and schools, libraries and firehouses remain abandoned. As FSRN’s Leigh Ann Caldwell reports, officials blame FEMA and federal policy.
Federalism in Iraq? (4:30)
On his way to Cleveland, Ohio today, President Bush addressed the ongoing debate over troop levels in Iraq, stating that Commanders – and not DC political figures – will make these decisions. Bush’s statement follows remarks from the head of US forces in Iraq, General David Petraeus, that fighting in the country could last for decades. As violence and instability in Iraq escalates, even a growing number of Republicans are saying the US needs to talk exit strategy. But when to leave and how to leave remains unanswered. One plan that continues to resurface is the possible partitioning of the country. FSRN’s Karen Miller has more.
Rights Groups Urge Clemency for Troy Anthony Davis (3:40)
Human rights advocates from around the globe have their eyes turned on Georgia, as the state prepares to execute Troy Anthony Davis for the fatal shooting of an off-duty police officer in 1989. Since the trial, numerous witnesses have recanted their testimony against Davis. Many say he’s innocent, and thousands have sent letters to state officials asking for clemency. FSRN’s Naji Mujahid has more.
Tibetans Launch Indefinite Hunger Strike (4:10)
The fight of Tibetan nationalists for a separate homeland from China has been going on for more than 50 years. The Chinese government has violently suppressed the separatist movement. But neighboring India has welcomed Tibetan refugees and allowed them to set up a government in exile near Delhi. But as Vinod K. Jose reports, nationalists are beginning to use more aggressive tactics in their campaign for independence.
California Braces for Grocery Worker Strike (4:00)
Following six months of negotiations with supermarket companies, the union representing thousands of California grocery workers says “enough is enough” and is bracing for a work stoppage if labor talks remain deadlocked. Leilani Albano has more.