September 10, 2007

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The former prime minister of Pakistan was arrested and deported today immediately after his return from exile. Nawaz Sharif had announced his plans to run in the upcoming presidential election prior to his departure from London. Soldiers surrounded his airplane once it landed in Islamabad, triggering a two-hour standoff that ended with the deportation. Sharif was the Pakistani prime minister when current president, General Pervez Musharraf, toppled the government in a military-backed coup eight years ago.


Human rights organizations organized marches throughout Chile yesterday to commemorate another anniversary of the September 11, 1973 military coup that overthrew the democratically-elected government President Salvador Allende. The marches were mostly peaceful, but as FSRN’s Jorge Garreton reports, clashes erupted at the end of the demonstration in Santiago.

On the eve of each September 11th, human rights organizations place a wreath at the presidential Palace to remember deposed President Allende. But this year a large police detachment prevented the demonstration from passing by the palace because last year a marcher threw a Molotov cocktail at Chile’s seat of power. The march continued to the Memorial for the Detained and Disappeared in Santiago’s Metropolitan Cemetery. As a ceremony took place inside, youths fought with police outside, resulting in about 200 arrests. Meanwhile back at the Presidential Palace, some 50 women, members of the families of the detained and disappeared, stayed behind negotiating with police for permission to lay their wreath. The women were arrested when they tried to force their way through. Ceremonies will continue today and tomorrow. This is the first anniversary of the 1973 coup without the presence of Chile’s former dictator, the now dead Augusto Pinochet. For FSRN this is Jorge Garreton in Santiago.


A series of explosions damaged gas pipelines in the Mexican state of Veracruz today. Six separate blasts sparked fires in 4 sections of pipeline and forced the evacuation of 12 thousand area residents. No injuries have been attributed to the attacks, although the AP reports that 2 elderly women in the area died of heart attacks afterwards. No group has claimed responsibility for the blasts by airtime. The EPR guerrilla group took credit for similar pipeline attacks in July.

In a separate incident, 37 people died and more than 150 were injured in the Mexican state of Coahuila when a truck loaded with dynamite crashed into another vehicle shortly after leaving an explosives factory. Authorities are not linking the two incidents, as sabotage is not suspected in the vehicular crash.


Texas A & M University’s research with select bio-agents and toxins has been suspended indefinitely after the Center for Disease Control issued a report citing numerous safety and regulatory compliance problems. A & M’s research was part of an $18 billion dollar Federal program to develop vaccines against organisms that could be developed into biological weapons. Kellia Ramares reports from KPFA.

Missing vials of bioagents, unauthorized research, and lab access by unauthorized personel were among the problems cited in the CDC’s 21-page report. Additionally, a watchdog group called The Sunshine Project uncovered, through the Texas Public Records Act, the occurence of a major flood that compromised a high-containment biolab on campus. The University has made the government an offer of so-called “recompense” that Edward Hammond, Director of the Sunshine Project, finds paltry.(audio) “I really want to see the government come down real hard on Texas A & M, because that would send a signal to other labs to clean up their act. I thought that Texas A & M’s offer to pay a $10,000 fine was a bad joke. It needs to be a hundred times that. Plus the criminal penalties. Texas A & M says it will take corrective action and hopes to have the College Station labs reopened by year’s end. For FSRN, I’m Kellia Ramares.


A near-complete shutdown strike was observed in the Indian state of Orissa today to protest what residents say is government inaction in the face of a major cholera epidemic. Bismillah Geelani reports.

The call for the state-wide strike came from almost all the state’s opposition parties in protest against the government’s apparent inability to tackle a deadly cholera outbreak. About 20 tribal villages in five of the state’s 30 districts have been affected by the cholera epidemic for the past few weeks. At least 350 people have died as a result. According to official sources, over 10,000 others have fallen ill. NGOs working in the area have said that the death toll is much higher and have accused the government of deliberately downplaying the actual figures. The epidemic has been attributed to unsanitary drinking water and contaminated food. A large number of state residents depend on wells for their source of water, as many of the poorest areas of Orissa are not connected to the running water system. For FSRN, this is Bismillah Geelani in New Delhi.

Petraeus Offers Long-Awaited Testimony on Iraq(4:25)

Two political appointees told Congress today that US involvement in Iraq is essential. Commander in Iraq, General David Petreaus, and Iraq Ambassador Ryan Crocker appeared before 100 members of the House of Representatives and offered closely aligned testimony saying a US withdrawal would be devastating. FSRN’s Leigh Ann Caldwell has more on they said and Congress’ response.

Presidential Hopefuls Head to Run-Off in Guatemala

In news from Guatemala: a right-wing retired General and a left-leaning business man are headed to a run-off for the presidential post on November 4. Voters headed to the polls yesterday in Guatemala’s general election, but no candidate won the 50 percent needed to avoid a runoff.

Guatemalan Adoption Reformers Wonder Where All the Babies Are Coming From(5:00)

Guatemala is the US’ second largest supplier of children for adoption – the first is China. In 1997, US Americans adopted 400 children from Guatemala. Last year more than 4,000 were brought into the US. Nearly all were less than a year old. A largely unregulated adoption industry run by private lawyers has dovetailed with the US demand for babies to fuel the boom. As adoptions continue to increase, reform advocates are asking where all these babies are coming from. Trevor Snapp reports.

First-Ever Spanish Language Presidential Debate Broadcasts(3:21)

Univision last night broadcast the first-ever US Presidential debate in Spanish. The event, which was held in the University of Miami Campus, was officially called a “forum” and largely saw democratic candidate answering questions on issues identified as important to Latino communities: education, the war in Iraq, US foreign policy in Latin America, and immigration.

Bush Administration Pushes for Four New Trade Agreements(3:54)

The Bush Administration is lobbying Congress for support of four new free trade agreements. Many trade experts say the deals are just an extension of already harmful US trade policies. FSRN Correspondent Matt Laslo reports from Washington.

Jewish Neo-Nazis Tried in Israel(3:09)

Police say they’ve broken up a new-Nazi gang – In Israel. Eight youths from the former Soviet Union have appeared in court, accused of racist attacks in which they beat up Asians, religious Jews and gays, as well as spray painting a synagogue with swastikas. Police say that searches of their homes yielded Nazi uniforms, knives, guns and explosives. Israel’s Interior Minister says that is the eight are convicted, he will consider revoking their citizenship. Irris Makler reports from Jerusalem.

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