October 15, 2007

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  • Palestinians and Israelis Prepare for November Peace Talks
  • US Foreign Policy Goals in Israel-Palestine are Fraught with Setbacks
  • New Information about Warrantless Wiretaps Emerges
  • US Navy Wants to Augment Presence in Africa
  • Bayh Insists upon Answers in Suspicious Death of Soldier in Kentucky
  • Peruvian Amazon Suffers in Wake of a Natural Resources Grab

The Turkish government has written up a measure to authorize the use of full-scale military force in Iraqi Kurdistan. Turkey argues force is necessary to crush Kurdish separatists who stage cross-border attacks from bases in northern Iraq. The Turkish military has been building up its troop presence along the border for months and reportedly shelled some rural areas over the weekend. The US opposes a Turkish invasion of the relatively peaceful region of Iraqi Kurdistan. However, relations between Washington and Ankara are currently on the rocks due to a congressional resolution to recognize the 1915 mass murder of Armenians by Ottoman Turks as an act of genocide.


In other news from the region, two Iraqi reporters have died in the past 48 hours. Hiba Dawood has the story.

Washington Post reporter Salih Saif Aldin was shot at close range in the forehead yesterday when he went to interview residents of a southern neighborhood of Baghdad. Iraqi freelance reporter Dhi Abdul-Razak al-Dibo died in an ambush today in the city of Kirkuk. Reporters Without Borders estimates that 205 media workers have been killed in Iraq since the start of the invasion, with at least 54 of those deaths having occurred since the start of this year. More than 80% of the journalists murdered in Iraq are Iraqi. For FSRN, I’m Hiba Dawood reporting.


The United Nations has come under criticism from one of its own top human rights officials for failing to address the ongoing abuses in the occupied Palestinian territories. Haider Rizvi reports from the United Nations.

UN envoy for the Palestinian territories John Dugard says the UN should should quit the Middle East Quartet because it has not done anything to protect the Palestinians from Israeli abuses in the Occupied Territories. In a statement, Dugard justified Israeli concerns about security, but said its response towards the Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank is very disproportionate. He said he would urge the Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to take the UN out of the Quartet if it fails to address the human rights situation. The Quartet consists of the United States, United Nations, European Union and Russia. It’s stated aim is to help Israelis and Palestinians to reach a peace deal. Observers say the Quartet has been ineffective due to U.S. support for the Israeli military and its actions. Dugard is due to present his report on the Palestinian human rights situation to the UN General Assembly later this month. I’m Haider Rizvi at the United Nations.

In China, the 17th National Communist Party Congress opened in Beijing today with President Hu Jintao delivering a speech to 2,200 party delegates. The congress takes place once every five years and is a time when the party outlines new directions and promotes the next generation of leaders. Elise Potaka has more from Beijing.

In a speech that ran just under two and a half hours, President Hu Jintao told party delegates that China needs to continue to build what he called a “moderately prosperous society” by addressing the gap between rich and poor, and narrowing the urban-rural divide. The speech also talked of the need to do more to promote environmental conservation, and reiterated the country’s unification policy on Taiwan. Touching on another sensitive issue, President Hu Jintao also promised to ensure the quality and safety of Chinese made products. The lead-up to the congress has been tense. Internet censorship has been stepped up, and well known dissidents placed under house arrest for the meeting’s duration. Police reportedly arrested several people outside the congress today. They’d come to present the government with petitions about problems in their home towns. The party congress will conclude on Sunday with the announcement of the next group of party leaders, and a possible successor to President Hu Jintao. I’m Elise Potaka in Beijing for FSRN.

Police in the Indian State of Punjab have detained over a dozen people in connection with a bomb blast that killed seven in a movie theater on Sunday night. Bismillah Geelani has the story.

The blast occurred in a multiplex cinema in Luhiana, one of India’s largest industrial cities. The bomb killed seven people and wounded 32 others. All of the dead were migrant workers, as are most of the wounded. Migrant workers from nearby states make up about one third of Ludhiana’s population of 3 million. The blast appears to have carefully targeted the movie theater known for showing films in the Bhojpuri language spoken by many of the city’s migrants. Punjab Police officials investigating the blast are focusing primarily on a possible link with Kashmiri and Sikh Militant groups and have already detained over a dozen alleged suspects. For FSRN, This is Bismillah Geelani from New Delhi.

Palestinians and Israelis Prepare for November Peace Talks
US Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice, met with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in the West Bank city of Ramallah today. Rice is hoping to secure a joint Palestinian-Israeli working paper, which would outline key issues to be discussed at the Washington-sponsored conference slated for November. FSRN’s Rami Al-Meghari has more.

US Foreign Policy Goals in Israel-Palestine are Fraught with Setbacks (2:03)
Diplomacy may not be the first thing to come to mind when discussing the policy goals of the Bush Administration. But well into its second term, the administration has tried to make an Israel and Palestine peace deal a focus of its foreign policy. Diplomacy may save lives, but the road to peace has been pockmarked with false starts and uncertainty. And as FSRN Correspondent Matt Laslo reports from Washington, leaving a positive legacy in the Middle East may be out of the Administration’s grasp.

New Information about Warrantless Wiretaps Emerges (2:20)
Court documents released last week in an insider trading case are shedding new light on warrentless wiretaps. The former CEO of Qwest Communications revealed that the National Security Agency approached the company about participating in a warrentless surveillance program in February 2001 — six months before the terrorist attacks of September 11 th. The Bush Administration has claimed the 9-11 attacks were the main impetus for wanting to gather information about America’s phone records.

In the trial, Chief Executive Joseph Nacchio alleges that the company’s refusal to take part in the program for fear it violated the law, led the government to cancel a separate contract in retribution. Nacchio is appealing a conviction for 19 counts of insider trading, stemming from the sale of Qwest stock in 2001, just before the company’s share price tumbled. FSRN’s Michael Reagan reports.

US Navy Wants to Augment Presence in Africa (3:46)
The US Navy announced a new initiative to increase its presence off the coast of Africa. This is the latest in the US’s military expansion into that continent. The military claims the reason is for stronger diplomatic ties, but some are skeptical. FSRN’s Leigh Ann Caldwell reports.

Bayh Insists upon Answers in Suspicious Death of Soldier in Kentucky (4:07)
Senator Evan Bayh is demanding the Army answer questions about the death of an Indiana National Guardsman who died five months after returning wounded from Iraq. In a letter sent last week to Army Secretary Pete Geren, Bayh wrote that Sergant. Gerald Cassidy “received substandard medical treatment while in the Army’s care.” An autopsy concluded Cassidy had been dead for hours before being found at an Army medical facility in Fort Knox, Kentucky, and may have been unconscious for days. Aaron Glantz has more.

Peruvian Amazon Suffers in Wake of a Natural Resources Grab (4:20)
The Peruvian Amazon is a region rich in oil, wood, and other natural resources, and should be an area of great wealth. But its resources have meant a troubled history — spawning conflict with neighboring states, environmental degradation, and abuses of indigenous peoples. In part one of this special two-part feature, Tom Allan reveals the cost – of selling the forests.


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