October 29, 2007

  • US Congress Considers Resolutions on Genocide in Darfur as Peace Talks Collapse
  • Director of the IAEA Says There’s No Proof of Nuclear Weapons in Iran
  • SCOTUS Hears Oral Arguments on Case of Prisoner’s Stolen Korans
  • Argentina Overwhelmingly Elects its First Female President
  • Month-Long Land Rights March by Poor Farmers Reaches Indian Capitol
  • Wildfires Don’t Level the Field for Rich and Poor in San Diego
  • Anti-War Protesters Hold Vigil Outside World Series Championship
  • Huge Anti-War Rallies Launched in Boston and Across the US

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Tension Along The Turkey-Iraq Border
The situation along the Iraqi border with Turkey remains very tense. Some 100,000 Turkish troops have been deployed to the border region, along with tanks, combat helicopters, fighter jets, and heavy artillery. The Turkish military carried out limited airstrikes in the Kurdish region of its own territory over the weekend. Iraq’s Foreign Minister has warned of disastrous consequences should Turkey launch a full-scale invasion into northern Iraq. Turkish officials will reportedly meet with President Bush next Monday to discuss the situation.

Somali Prime Minister Resigns
Somali Prime Minister Ali Gedi submitted his resignation today after days of speculation and amidst some of the worst violence Mogadishu has seen in weeks. Abdurrahman Warsameh reports.

Soon after his arrival from Addis Ababa, Prime Minister Ali Gedi went directly to meet with the president in the southern Somali town of Baidoa. Gedi then announced his decision before the transitional parliament: (audio) “I have made a compromise in the interest of the country and people of Somalia and resigned from the post of Prime Minister of the Transitional Federal Government.” Gedi said that he wanted to put behind his past differences with the president and open a new chapter for Somalia. He called on his supporters to work with the next Prime Minister. It is not yet clear who president Abdullahi Yusuf will nominate to fill the post, but the current Interior Minister and a former President are both seen as likely choices. Both men are from the dominant Hawiye clan. Public differences between the president and prime minister Gedi have been growing for the past month. Parliament passed a motion last week to put Gedi’s government up for a confidence vote, but his resignation now makes the procedure unnecessary. For FSRN, I am Abdurrahman Warsameh in Mogadishu.

Nigeria Raises Penalties For Gas Flaring

The Nigerian government has raised the penalty for oil companies flaring gas by more than a hundred thousand percent. Sam Olukoya has the story.

Oil companies operating in Nigeria flare the highest quantity of gas in the world. As of January 2008, the penalty for gas flaring will be a hundred dollars per million standard cubic feet of gas flared. Currently the penalty is just a few cents. The flared gas is a by product of oil exploitation. The oil companies say they have to flare the gas because they lack the infrastructure to utilize it. The government says the increase is part of new measures aimed at stopping gas flaring and to ensure strict compliance with a January 2008 deadline given to the oil companies. Environmental groups like the Friends of the Earth say the large quantity of gas flares in Nigeria contain more greenhouse gas emissions than all other sources in Sub-Saharan Africa combined. For Free Speech Radio News, this is Sam Olukoya in Lagos.

Local Elections in Colombia

Opposition and independent parties won significant victories in local elections across Colombia yesterday. Laura del Castillo has the story.

In the capital city of Bogotá, Samuel Moreno, the mayoral candidate for the Alternative Democratic Pole – the country’s biggest leftist opposition party – won at the polls with 44 percent of the vote. Right-wing President Alvaro Uribe told citizens not to vote for candidates who he claims are supported by the FARC guerrillas, in an allusion to Moreno. Several weeks ago, a pro-FARC website reproduced an article supportive of Moreno, although Moreno himself has no connection to the guerrillas. Uribe’s statement on the eve of the election was seen by many as illegal interference. Anti-Uribe and independent candidates won key mayoral and governors races across Colombia. In Medellín, Alonso Salazar, an independent former journalist took the mayor’s race, as did Judith Pinedo in Cartagena, a feminist critic of that city’s pro-Uribe mayor and traditional parties. And the left held on to power in Nariño, one of the areas most affected by crop fumigation under the US-sponsored Plan Colombia anti-drug program. For FSRN, I’m Laura Del Castillo in Bogota.

Contractor Targeted by Anti-Abortion Group

Anti-Abortion activists targeted the home of a construction executive near Denver yesterday over a contract to renovate a Planned Parenthood facility. Maeve Conran reports.

About 45 protesters picketed the home of a construction executive in Lakewood, a suburb of Denver, on Sunday. The protesters targeted the residence of the senior vice president of the Weitz Company’s Rocky Mountain office, the firm that is renovating a Planned Parenthood facility in Stapleton, Denver. Though the protest was peaceful, the activists held placards showing pictures of dismembered fetuses and signs comparing abortion to the Holocaust. Sunday’s action follows a similar protest at the headquarters of the Weitz Company in Denver last week. Both protests were organized by the anti-abortion group “Keep Peace in Stapleton”. Most anti-abortion protesters target clinics themselves, however, there has been a trend toward targeting 3rd parties with ties to the clinics. Anti-abortion activists delayed the construction of a Planned Parenthood in Austin, Texas 4 years ago when a builder pulled out of the project due to protests. Gary Meggison, whose home was targeted by the protesters on Sunday, told the Rocky Mountain News that his firm has no plans to abandon the project. For FSRN, this is Maeve Conran in Boulder, Colorado.



US Congress Considers Resolutions on Genocide in Darfur as Peace Talks Collapse

On this third day of peace talks on Darfur, the United Nations and African Union sponsored conference has fallen apart – largely because the two main rebel groups have boycotted. The rebels say they won’t talk to the Sudanese government because they don’t trust their intentions to negotiate. As the peace talks crumble, the US Congress is voting on legislation to address the dire situation of genocide in Darfur. FSRN’s Leigh Ann Caldwell reports.


Director of the IAEA Says There’s No Proof of Nuclear Weapons in Iran

Anti-Iran rhetoric from the White House has intensified over the past weeks. The Bush Administration has reconfirmed that they consider Iran a state sponsor of terrorism. Last, week Vice President Dick Cheney warned that if Iran did not change course, it should be prepared for “serious consequences.” The United States has also levied the most comprehensive sanctions against the country in nearly 30 years. Many political observers consider these actions by the US government a prelude to a new war with Iran.

Leading up to the Iraq war, the Administration was worried about weapons of mass destruction; in Iran, weapons are once again at issue – this time nuclear. But just as the White House did not have proof that Iraq possessed W-M-Ds, currently there is no proof that Iran has nuclear weapons capability. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad maintains they are only seeking to develop nuclear energy.

Mohamed El Baradei, the Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency addressed the subject this weekend on CNN’s Late Edition. He acknowledged that in the past, Iran has procured nuclear material and conducted experiments without reporting it. But Baradei says there is no evidence to support a comprehensive nuclear program.

Baradei, who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2005, went on to say that the hard-line talk from the US is not helping the situation. He said by controlling the “nascent enrichment capability of Iran,” the International Atomic Energy Agency hopes to create conditions that will allow the U-S, Iran and the rest of the International community to come to the negotiating table.


SCOTUS Hears Oral Arguments on Case of Prisoner’s Stolen Korans

Today the Supreme Court heard the oral arguments in the case of a prisoner who says his prayer rug and two copies of his Koran were stolen by guards. The justices will decide if he is able to sue the government. FSRN Correspondent Matt Laslo reports from Washington.


Argentina Overwhelmingly Elects its First Female President

Argentina’s first lady, Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, was elected president last night with 43% of the votes. She will take over the reins from her husband as the first democratically-elected woman president in Argentina’s history. Fernandez received twice the votes of her closest rival, another female candidate. Fernandez and her husband, Nestor Kirchner, are considered the political power-couple of Argentina –sometimes referred to as the “Clintons of the South.” Marie Trigona reports from Buenos Aires.


Month-Long Land Rights March by Poor Farmers Reaches Indian Capitol

A massive protest rally involving tens of thousands of India’s landless farmers has arrived in New Delhi. They have been marching to the country’s capitol for nearly a month. The rally called “Janadesh” or “the peoples’ verdict” began in the central Indian city of Gwalior on October 2. The marchers claim their land is slowly being taken by powerful development groups, displacing thousands. Bismillah Geelani has more:


Wildfires Don’t Level the Field for Rich and Poor in San Diego

Savage wildfires have devoured Southern California, devastating entire neighborhoods and the sense of security of thousands of residents. Over 360-thousand acres where burned, causing seven deaths and the loss of 1 thousand, 589 homes.

Under the ochre sun and still-smoky air, the flames may have razed homes, but it did level the great disparity between the have´s and the have-not´s in San Diego County. Mariana Martinez and Alonso Rivera file this report from San Diego.

Anti-War Protesters Hold Vigil Outside World Series Championship

As the Boston Red Sox were on the way to winning the World Series, an estimated 100-thousand antiwar demonstrators turned out at rallies across the country – including one at game three of the championship. About 50 protesters marched on Denver’s Coors Field in an attempt to capture the attention of the mainstream media. They occupied a street corner in front of the stadium for about an hour, and were surrounded by hundreds of baseball fans wearing Rockies and Red Sox apparel. Special thanks to contributor Blake Wesley from Denver.

Huge Anti-War Rallies Launched in Boston and Across the US

Meanwhile, from Philadelphia to Seattle and Fargo to Grass Valley, California, larger regional rallies were accompanied by smaller, more localized protests. Organized by United for Peace and Justice, protesters called for bringing troops home from Iraq now, no attack on Iran, funding human needs and defending civil liberties. Melinda Tuhus attended the rally and march in Boston, and filed this report.

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