October 09, 2007

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Turkey is threatening to invade Iraqi Kurdistan as early as today. The announcement of a possible military incursion comes after suspected Kurdish rebels killed 13 Turkish soldiers on Sunday. Authorities in the relatively peaceful region of Iraqi Kurdistan have for months been reporting a build up of Turkish forces along the common border.


The Supreme Court has refused to hear the case of a victim of the CIA’s extraordinary rendition program. German citizen Khaled Al-Masri says he was kidnapped by CIA agents while on vacation in Macedonia, flown to Afghanistan, tortured in a detention center, then dumped in an Albanian forest months later with no explanation or apology. The Supreme Court issued no statement when it dismissed Al-Masri’s appeal today. The move upholds a lower court’s refusal to hear the case on the grounds that it may expose “state secrets”.


An Ohio utility company has agreed to pay billions of dollars to reduce toxic emissions from more than a dozen coal-fired power plants in the Ohio River Valley. The Environmental Protection Agency calls it the single largest environmental enforcement settlement in US history. Evan Davis reports from Columbus.

The record settlement is the result of an 8 year old lawsuit against the Columbus, Ohio – based utility company, American Electric and Power, or AEP. The company has agreed to spend several Billion dollars installing emissions control equipment in a number of its aging coal-fired power plants in Ohio, Indiana and West Virginia. The suit, brought jointly in 1999 by a coalition of environmental groups and the EPA, accused AEP of violating the Clean Air act by failing to reduce emissions of Nitrous Oxide and Sulfur Dioxide, two pollutants known to cause acid rain and a litany of other health concerns. Catherine Turcer is with Ohio Citizen Action, the lead plaintiff in the suit: (clip). Although AEP denies breaking any laws, the settlement does include a $15 million dollar civil fine and another $60 million in mitigation costs. AEP’s trial was to have begun today. For Free Speech Radio News this is Evan Davis in Columbus, Ohio.


Canadian military forces in Afghanistan have started paying the salaries of Afghan police directly in cash; completely bypassing the Afghan government. Stefan Christoff reports from Montreal.

The decision to pay Afghan police salaries directly has raised criticism in that it could undercut the already limited authority the Afghan government has in the context of the ongoing NATO operation. Canadian military officials argue that the move is not to compromise the legitimacy of the Afghan authorities, but to bypass corruption within local governments. Canada currently plays a major role in training the Afghan national police. Anti-war activists calling for a full troop withdrawal say that putting Canadian troops in charge of police payroll only further entrenches the 6 year-long occupation. For Free Speech Radio News, this is Stefan Christoff in Montreal.


The United Nations is hosting diplomatic talks to reach an international agreement on the arms control treaty. Haider Rizvi reports.

More than 150 countries support the resolution to adopt global rules and regulations to contain the international flow of guns and other small weapons. The only country that opposed it was the United States, which has more than a 35 percent share in the worldwide small arms market. Proponents say an effective arms trade treaty would help prevent violations of international humanitarian law and other serious human rights abuses. According to the Small Arms Survey, a research group-based in Switzerland, about 25 percent of the $4 billion annual trade in small weapons is either illegal or not recorded as required by law. For FSRN, I’m Haider Rizvi at the United Nations.


Mexico appears to be on its way to once again ranking as the hemisphere’s most dangerous country for media workers. The gangland-style killings of three newspaper vendors in the southern state of Oaxaca is the latest in a string of violence against the press south of the border. Vladimir Flores has the story.

Unknown assailants opened fire on three newspaper vendors yesterday as they traveled on a major highway in a truck belonging to the Oaxacan daily, “El Imparcial”. All three of the newspaper vendors died from multiple gunshot wounds to the head. Motives for the attack are unknown at this time. The newspaper reports that its managing director received an anonymous phone call hours after the attack telling him (quote) “you’re next”. The ambush occurred in the region of the Isthmus of Tehuantepec, an area heavily patrolled by both police and soldiers in the context of a large operation to combat organized crime. For FSRN, I’m Vladimir Flores in Oaxaca City.


And finally, the second court martial of conscientious objector 1st Lt. Ehren Watada has been put on hold while a civilian court weighs a constitutional challenge. Watada’s military trial was scheduled to open today, but a federal judge in Washington state halted the proceedings to consider Lt. Watada’s “double jeopardy” claim. The lieutenant’s petition argues that the second court martial violates his constitutional right to not stand trial twice on the same charges. His first court martial on charges of refusing deployment and conduct unbecoming an officer ended in a mistrial earlier this year.

Rice Promotes Free Trade Agreements with Latin American Countries(2:14)

In yesterday’s CAFTA developments, a national referendum in Costa Rica was held on the Central American free trade agreement. Currently the yes on CAFTA is leading with 51.5 per cent of the vote, and the opposition is calling for a mandatory recount.US Secretary of State, Condoleeza Rice, addressed members of the Council on Foreign Relations and pressured Congress to ratify Free Trade Agreements with several Latin American Countries. In Washington, DC Naji Mujahid has more on the Rice story.

Nepalese Parliamentary Vote is on Hold(4:10)

The Nepalese parliamentary vote scheduled for November 22nd is delayed indefinitely. Maoist rebels are demanding the government abolish the monarchy and hold elections for its parliament with a fully proportional voting system. The former Indian foreign minister Shyam Saran will be sent to Nepal in hopes of negotiating a new deal between the Maoists rebels and the Nepalese government. PC Dubey reports from Kathmandu.

Egyptian Newspapers Strike in Response to Journalists’ Arrests(2:27)

On Sunday, 23 Egyptian newspapers did not go to print. The papers struck in protest against the crackdown on press freedoms by the Egyptian government. The move follows the sentencing of seven journalists in September to prison on charges ranging from misquoting the justice minister to spreading rumors about the ill health of 79-year-old President Hosni Mubarak. Aya Batrawy has more from Cairo.

Israelis Debate Immigration Laws After Neo-Nazi Arrests (4:40)

Israeli police recently announced the arrest of a group of teenagers they call a neo-Nazi cell. The teenagers are all Russian-speaking immigrants. The arrest has prompted a public debate about Israel’s immigration laws and the failed assimilation of some Russian immigrant youth into Israeli society. Daniel Estrin reports from Jerusalem.

Code Pink’s Impact on Congress(4:16)

Code Pink, the peace activist group has established a permanent presence on Capitol Hill. These activists dress in pink, sit in hearing rooms and speak out publicly against the war, often leading to arrests or being thrown out of the committee room. The group is dramatically raising the anti war movement’s visibility in Washington. FSRN’s Leigh Ann Caldwell takes a look at the impact the protestors are having in Congress.

Ernesto Che Guevara: The 40th Anniversary of His Death(2:11)

Yesterday, hundreds of people from all over the world made the pilgrimage to the now tranquil town of Vallegrande, Bolivia. The gathering marks the fortieth anniversary of Ernesto Che Guevara’s death. Che Guevara, an Argentine doctor, joined the Castro brothers insurrection in the mountains of south east Cuba, and became one of the revolutions top commanders. Years later, he was assassinated in Vallegrande by the Bolivian military while trying to train rebels in Bolivia. Bolivian president Evo Morales spoke at the gathering, while in Venezuela, President Hugo Chavez unveiled a statue of the revolutionary.

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