September 26, 2007

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US and Afghan forces have reportedly killed more than 165 suspected Taliban militants in separate clashes in two provinces in Southern Afghanistan. The US military claims that more than 100 insurgents died during two days of intense fighting in the restive Helmand province. Another 65 suspected fighters were killed yesterday in the neighboring province of Uruzgan. The southern provinces have been the scene of intense struggles in the past two years, as foreign troops battle with a re-emergent Taliban for control of key areas. Afghan President Hamid Karzai met with President Bush this morning in New York to discuss security issues and to request continued US support.


Secretary of Defense Robert Gates went to Congress today with a request for an additional 190 billon dollars to fund the Iraq and Afghan wars. The money, in the form of an emergency supplemental, is in addition to the 460 billion dollar military budget for the 2008 fiscal year. Congressional Budget Office data shows that US taxpayers have already spent more than 600 billion dollars on military operations in Afghanistan and Iraq since late 2001. Senator Robert Byrd of West Virgina, Chair of the Appropriations Committee, says the actual costs have been much higher:


Republican Presidential Candidate Rudy Giuliani is coming under fire for the theme of a fundraiser to be held tonight in Palo Alto, California. Kellia Ramares reports from KPFA.

The fundraiser asks donors to give $9.11 to the presidential campaign of the man who was New York City’s mayor during the September 11th attacks. The event, part of a National House Party Night of fundraising, is the only one in which donors are being asked to give an amount linked to the attacks. The International Association of Firefighters distributed a video in July calling Giuliani’s image as a hero of 9-11 an urban legend. Union General President Harold Schaitberger speaking in the video: (audio) “Rudy Giuliani has used the horrible events of September 11th 2001 to create a carefully crafted persona. But the truth is what Rudy portrays is not a full picture of the decisions made which led, in our view, to the unnecessary deaths of our FDNY members, and the attempt to stop the dignified recovery of those lost.” Now the union has issued a statement calling the fundraiser an abuse of the images and symbols of the attacks. Both the party host, a longtime Giulani supporter, and a Giuliani spokesperson have attributed the idea of “$9.11 for Rudy” to young volunteers acting independently of the campaign. For FSRN, I’m Kellia Ramares.


The World Trade Organisation has opened a formal investigation into US complaints that China is not doing enough to protect intellectual property rights. Elise Potaka reports from Beijing.

China is the world’s biggest producer of counterfeit merchandise and pirated DVDs, music and software. The US says Chinese law is not up to WTO standards – particularly in regards to intellectual property rights – or IPRs. It’s the largest of a handful of disputes against China brought to the WTO by the United States. Counterfeiters are not subject to criminal prosecution in China if they are caught with less than 500 items of pirated merchandise. The WTO panel investigation will take at least 6 months. In Beijing, I’m Elise Potaka for FSRN.


The government of Ivory Coast has resumed a contentious program to verify the identities of its citizens. From Senegal, Ndiaga Seck has more.

The goal of the project is to issue regular identification papers in order to update the voter rolls ahead of the December 2008 elections. Identity is a controversial issue in Ivory Coast, and is at the heart of the 2002 war that divided the country into two parts; the rebel-held North and Government-run South. Northerners say have been subjected to excessive scrutiny when having to prove their nationality. Many bear names common in Burkina Faso and Mali and have had to provide additional proof of their Ivorian nationality not required in the government-controlled south. The identity verification process is linked to voter registration for the upcoming elections – the first since Ivory Coast emerged from civil war. The identification project was originally launched in the summer of 2006, but was suspended after deadly clashes between supporters of the president and his opponents. The first day of the identity hearings proceeded without incident yesterday. They are set to last three months. For FSRN in Senegal, I’m Ndiaga Seck.

Violence against Burmese Protesters(2:30)

Protests against Burma’s military junta continued today, despite a government ban on assemblies of more than 5 people. Eyewitnesses say Burmese police attacked monks and students marching in Burma’s largest city, Rangoon. Ronald Aung Naing reports.

Burmese Protests Draw from New Movements, New Media(3:49)

The United Nations security council is holding closed consultations on the situation in Burma today; secretary-general Ban Ki-Moon has also dispatched a special envoy to the region.

Burma has a long tradition of violently repressing dissent—in 1988, military forces opened fires on participants in massive pro-democracy demonstrations—estimates place the number dead between 3 and 10 thousand people. Today, however, there’s more attention on what’s happening in Burma’s streets: despite the Burmese regime’s media crackdown and internet controls, a steady stream of internet videos and eyewitness accounts are making their way out of that country and onto blogs and websites that the mainstream press is now drawing from for its coverage. I’m joined by the editor of one such website. Soe Myine [so min], is editor in chief of, which operates out of New Delhi, India.

US Senate: Iran’s Revolutionary Guard a “Terrorist Organization”

Meanwhile, the U.S. Senate has approved a resolution authored by Independent Joe Lieberman that expresses the “sense of the senate” that Iran’s Revolutionary Guard should be declared a “terrorist organization.” Democratic Senator Jim Webb of Virginia said it was unprecedented to apply that label to the military forces of a sovereign state:

Lebanese Parliament In Crisis(2:34)

The Lebanese Parliament convened yesterday for the first time in over 10-months–but failed to elect a new President, as hisbullah-aligned ministers boycotted the session. Analysts say the meeting was a chance for Lebanon’s divided political leaders to hold talks on the fate of a political system that has been shut down since the end of the 34-day Israeli invasion last year. Now there’s increasing concern that Lebanon may be headed for another civil conflict. Jackson Allers reports from Beirut:

S-Chip Expansion Would Still Leave Millions Uncovered(3:14)

By the end of this week, President Bush will likely veto a bill that would expand the S-CHIP children’s health insurance program. Under the proposed expansion, nearly 4 million additional children would be covered. But, as Leigh Ann Caldwell reports, the democrat-backed backed expansion would still leave some four-million children uninsured—including non-citizens:

UAW and GM reach agreement, End Strike(2:28)

73,000 autoworkers are headed back to work. Today the United Autoworkers and General Motors announced they’ve reached a deal in contract negotiations that will bring the two-day strike to an end. The details of that deal have not been officially released, but reports say it substitutes bonuses for annual pay increases, creates a two-tier pay scale that will allow the company to pay some new workers less than current ones, shifts responsibility for providing health benefits to retirees from General Motors to a union-run trust fund, but does include a commitment by the company to make more investments in U.S. manufacturing. The deal will set the tone for upcoming contract negotiations with Ford and Chrysler. Joining us to discuss it is Harley Shaiken, a professor of social and cultural studies at the University of California, Berkeley—his research areas include labor and global trade. Harley Shaiken, welcome to Free Speech Radio News. Harley Shaiken is a professor of social and cultural studies at the University of California, Berkeley.

Congressional Black Caucus Convenes Annual Conference(2:39)

Today the congressional Black Congress kicks off its 37th annual conference in Washington DC. Karen Miller has more:

Canada: Hearings Over Immigration Spark Debate(3:26)

In Canada, a series of government-sponsored hearings on the cultural rights and religious practices of new immigrants, particularly Muslims, has ignited fierce debate. FSRN’s Stefan Christoff reports from Montreal.

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