September 18, 2007

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Rhetoric around Iran’s nuclear program has been building up ahead of this week’s meeting of the United Nations Security Council. Russia has jumped into the diplomatic fray with its foreign minister today expressing concern over reports of possible military action against Iran. The comments come just days after the French foreign minister suggested that the international community should brace itself for the worst. The UN’s head nuclear watchdog Mohamed ElBaradei yesterday warned against the use of force saying (quote)”I would hope that everybody would have gotten the lesson after the Iraq situation, where 700,000 innocent civilians have lost their lives on the suspicion that a country has nuclear weapons”.


Buddhist monks rallied in cities across Myanmar today demanding an apology for a police crackdown on a religious demonstration earlier this month. The military junta government of Myanmar – formerly known as Burma – forbids public dissent and has used deadly force in the past to crush demonstrations. But protestors have been trickling back into the streets since steep hikes in the cost of fuel took effect last month.


In other news from Asia, Nepal’s Maoists left the country’s ruling coalition today, just months ahead of a landmark constitutional election. PC Dubey reports.

The Maoists quit the government of Prime Minister GP Koirala this afternoon over a dispute to declare Nepal a republic before the November 22 Constituent Assembly elections. Prime Minister Koirala said that abolishing the monarchy ahead of the elections would be autocratic and could cause the government to lose legitimacy in the eyes of the international community. Maoist leader, Baburam Bhattarai, has accused Koirala of protecting a king who is trying to frustrate a popular movement for total democracy. Baburam Bhattarai: (sound) “So, Koirala is giving a weak excuse about the international community. Our interim constitution stipulates to abolish monarchy with a two-third majority if the King tries to sabotage democracy.” With their departure from the government, the Maoists have launched a campaign from the streets to pressure the political parties to declare Nepal a republic. However, they stipulate that their mobilizations will be peaceful and their guerrillas will remain within the UN monitored demobilization camps. Political observers fear the Maoists’ exit could the 15 month old peace process into serious jeopardy. From Birganj in Nepal, I am PC Dubey for FSRN.


China has reportedly evacuated more than 1.5 million people from coastal areas as a massive typhoon heads for the commercial hub of Shanghai. Meteorologists say Typhoon Wipha could be the most destructive storm to hit the area in a decade.


In other news, A federal judge in San Francisco has thrown out California’s lawsuit against several car makers that claimed greenhouse gas emissions from tailpipes are a nuisance. KPFA’s Kellia Ramares has the story.

U.S. District Court Judge Martin J. Jenkins sided with the defendants, the BIG three American automakers and the US subsidiaries of Japanese firms Toyota, Honda and Nissan, by ruling that climate change was a political question to be resolved by Congress and the President, not the courts. Noting that the Bush administration has opposed international treaties with mandatory cuts on greenhouse gases emissions, Judge Jenkins wrote that to rule for California would undermine the administration’s position. The suit was filed last year by then-attorney general Bill Lockyer. The state pointed to the melting Sierra snow pack and dying forests as evidence of environmental damage caused by tail pipe emissions. Had the state won the suit, the automakers would have been liable for billions of dollars in damages. California is considering an appeal. For FSRN, I’m Kellia Ramares.


The Senate today failed to secure the votes for a bill that would have given the District of Columbia congressional voting rights. The House passed the measure earlier this year… but with out Senate approval, the 650,000 residents of DC will not have a vote in Congress.


And finally, Peruvian coca farmers have wrapped up an annual meeting by calling on the government to resist political pressure from the US to eradicate coca crops. Pamela Cueva reports from Lima.

The National Confederation of the Agricultural Producers from the Coca Basins of Peru concluded it fourth National Congress on Sunday. This event included coca growers from 6 countries. The coca leaf has been harvested for thousands of years by indigenous people in South America for a variety of purposes. But since the leaf is also the basic ingredient for cocaine, traditional coca farmers have found themselves targeted by Washington’s drug eradication policies. To separate legal cultivation of coca from illicit cocaine operations, coca farmers signed an agreement with the Peruvian government to register their crops. But growers say that President Alan Garcia has broken the agreement by implementing an erradication plan under pressure from the US Embassy. The plan includes aerial fumigation of the Amazon region. Coca growers concluded their conference by agreeing to a series of measures to protest the erradication plan which they say targets small farmers rather than powerful drug traffickers. For FSRN, I’m Pamela Cueva with Alfredo Cuadros in Lima, Peru.

Director of Intelligence Presses Congress for Increased Surveillance(4:08)

Congress has started hearings on a new law passed this August which would expand foreign and domestic surveillance. The head of the program, Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell, told a skeptical Congress that the new legislation must be made permanent. As Washington Editor Leigh Ann Caldwell reports, Congress is hesitant.

Civil War in Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo(4:52)

Rebels battling Congolese government forces in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo say the mass graves discovered in the village of Rutchulu contain the bodies of fighters. But, in this FSRN Exclusive, eyewitnesses tell our Joshua Kyalimpa they’ve seen the systematic killing of ethnic Hutu civilians by the predominantly Tutsi rebels led by dissident Congolese army general Laurent Nkunda.

Argentines Mark One Year Anniversary of Key Dirty War Witness(3:59)

Human Rights groups in Argentina marked the one year anniversary today of the disappearance of a key witness who helped convict a former police officer for life in 2006. Rights representatives are expressing immediate concerns over missing witness Julio Lopez; a new name that has been inscribed on the doleful roll call of Argentina’s disappeared. From the final courtroom proceedings, to the search for the disappeared witness, FSRN’s Marie Trigona takes a look at the events of the past year.

Israeli Defense Forces Invade Nablus(2:09)

In news from the Middle East: in contrast with political efforts to prepare the region for the US-led peace conference this fall, the Israeli army continued to attack Palestinian civilians in the West Bank, killing one. FSRN’s Ghassan Bannoura has the details.

University Student Tasered and Arrested at John Kerry Event(2:18)

University of Florida student Andrew Meyer was tasered and arrested yesterday after asking Senator John Kerry questions at a school forum. Host Aura Bogado has more.

Expanding American Homeownership Act(2:08)

Lawmakers introduced a bill to the house today in response to the nationwide mortgage crisis. Naji Mujahid has more on the Expanding American Homeownership Act.

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