July 18, 2007

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Headlines (5:20)
At least 189 people have been confirmed dead in what has become the worse air accident in Brazilian history. The airplane’s pilot overshot the dangerously short landing strip in Sao Paulo’s airport in rainy weather and slammed into a nearby fueling station. All 186 on board were killed, as were at least 3 people on the ground.

Fires burning at six different points of a major oil pipeline in Nigeria’s Niger Delta region are causing pollution and endangering the lives of local people. Sam Olukoya reports from Lagos.

The fires in Ogoniland in the eastern Niger Delta have been burning since early last month. The pipeline belongs to the Anglo Dutch oil company, Shell. The fires are believed to have started after militants fighting for a share of oil resources attacked the pipeline. Local residents say the fires are burning close to human settlements and have destroyed their farmlands and put their lives at risk. An elementary school is located less than a hundred meters from one of the fires. Only Shell has the capacity to fight fires of this magnitude in the region. But the company says it can not fight the fire because local residents seeking compensation for damages are denying its workers access to the area. But local activists have called on the oil company to at least stop sending fuel through the pipeline while fires rage in the area. For Free Speech Radio News, this is Sam Olukoya in Lagos.

Tensions are running high after the UK expelled three Russian diplomats this week; Russia is refusing the British request to extradite for trial an ex-KGB agent suspected of murdering another ex-KGB agent in London. So far, the European Union has been reluctant to get involved. From London, Naomi Fowler reports.

The British want to put former KGB agent Andrei Lugovoy on trial in the UK for the murder of Alexander Litvinenko in London who died from Polomium 210 poisoning. Prime Minister Gordon Brown said today that to fail to act over a murder which had also endangered passers by would allow “a situation of lawlessness to develop in London”. Lugovoy denies the charges and the Russians say their constitution prohibits extradition. So far, the UK has met with little support for any further action from the European Union. The German government believes the British ‘over-reacted’ but Germany is Russia’s biggest EU trading partner. Like many EU member states, Russia is their main supplier of oil and gas. The British Foreign Minister will try again to get a consensus from European ministers next week. This is Naomi Fowler in London for Free Speech Radio News.

Public school teachers in Peru have occupied public buildings and blockaded roads and airports as part of indefinite strike. Alfredo Cuadros reports from Lima.

More than 300 thousand public school teachers began their strike 2 weeks ago to demand a greater budget for education and to defend free access to public schools for all students. The teachers union has been seeking direct negotiations with the government. More than 240 teachers have been arrested since the start of the strike, including the main leaders of the union. Peruvian teacher Melissa Laos comments on the situation (audio): “President Alan Garcia doesn’t want to talk with the people, the people are struggling, more than 200 000 are protesting every day and how can it be that the government tries to silence us this way, starting off with the use of the armed forces?” The International Federation for Human Rights has requested that the Peruvian Government immediately release the detained teachers, saying the arrests were carried out in an arbitrary manner. The central government has declared the strike illegal, although the teachers have received support from nine provincial governors and other sectors of society have joined their protests. The government has responded by sending the military into the streets.

A study released today by the Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium predicts that the so-called Dead Zone in the Gulf of Mexico could grow to the record size of more than 8,500 square miles this summer. The dead zone is located near the Mississippi River delta and consists of an area that cannot support marine life due to lack of oxygen. The condition, known as hypoxia, is linked to substances discharged into the Mississippi River. Fertilizers that run off into the river stimulate the growth of algae which consume large amounts of oxygen, making the area unable to support ocean life. Dead zones have grown along with the use fertilizers in industrial agriculture. Scientists based this year’s forecast on the unusually high level of nitrates found this May.

All Night Debate Fails to Break Deadlock on Iraq Troop Redeployment (4:30)
Senate Republicans successfully blocked an amendment for a US troop drawdown after an all night debate on Iraq. Democrats did gain a majority of support to wind-down the war, including the votes of four Republicans, but they could not muster the 60 votes needed to overcome Republican obstacles. FSRN’s Leigh Ann Caldwell has more.

Alleged Top Iraqi Al-Qaeda Leader Detained (0:40)
Meanwhile, in Iraq today the US Command announced it has captured who it alleges to be the highest ranking Iraqi born Al-Qaeda official Khaled Abdul-Fattah Dawoud Mahmoud al-Mashhadani. At a press conference this morning, military spokesperson Kevin Bergner claimed al-Mashhadani served as an information conduit between Al-Qaeda’s international leadership and in Iraq. (Sound Clip) The relationship between the two groups has been the subject of debate, with some analysts saying the foreign-based leadership plays a minor role in day-to-day operations.

Internal Iraqi Refugees Left Stranded (3:30)
As the months wear on since the invasion of Iraq, many of the more than one million displaced persons inside the country are virtually receiving no help from the Iraqi government. David Enders files this report.

Hondurans Protest Mining Law (3:30)
In Honduras, thousand of people took to the streets on Tuesday to protest a new law on mining. At least 61 people were arrested and another 12 reported injured during the demonstrations that occurred in 6 different areas around the country. FSRN’S Tim Russo and Luz Ruiz report.

Corruption and Fraud in Federal Contracts (4:00)
Fraud, conspiracy to launder money, environment and human rights abuses .. these are just a few of the violations that some contractors have in their backgrounds who bid for federal contracts. Some of this came to light today during a House Subcommittee hearing. Karen Miller was there and she files this report.

Investigation Launched into Oaxaca Clashes (4:30)
Mexico’s National Human Rights Commission has opened an investigation into clashes that erupted on Monday in Oaxaca City which resulted in 60 arrests and put a number of people in the hospital with serious injuries. The state government of Oaxaca has vowed to punish what is calls “radical groups” while the Popular Assembly of the People of Oaxaca has announced plans to hit the streets again today to demand the release of those detained during Monday’s clashes. Vladimir Flores reports from Oaxaca City.

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