January 16, 2008

  • Kenya: Protests Escalate
  • Israel Pursues Peace Talks, Bombs Palestine
  • Which Way Ecuador?
  • Romney wins Michigan; NBC Bars Kucinich from Debate
  • Senate Committee Explores the R-Word

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Tapes of Millions of White House Emails “Recycled”
A sworn statement filed late last night by the White House’s top public information officer reveals that the White House “recycled” its back up tapes of email records prior to October 2003…The wording of the statement falls short of clarifying if the millions of missing emails from the Executive Branch are recoverable or lost forever. The Bush White House has not explained why it dismantled the Clinton-era system for preserving electronic records without an alternate system in place. The information officer’s sworn statement came in response to a federal court order to address an information request and questions posed by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington and the National Security Archive.

Justice Dept Files Suit Against Border Wall Opponents
The federal government has won its first court victory against border-town landowners and residents opposed to the expansion of the U.S.- Mexico border wall. But that may be just the start of a major legal battle. The Justice Department has filed 102 more lawsuits to force border residents in the path of the wall to allow surveying work to begin on their land. Tanya Snyder has the story.

Over a hundred residents of California, Arizona, and Texas have resisted federal demands to allow government surveyors and engineers onto their land to begin work to expand the wall along the US/Mexico border by more than 700 miles. The federal government claims the wall is crucial to preventing undocumented migration from the south and to keep terrorists out of the US. The path of the wall cuts through a heavily-Latino region where cultural and commercial ties pre-date the drawing of the border along the Rio Grande. Local residents who oppose the wall say will divide their lands, have a profound cultural impact, separate farmers from the irrigation waters of the Rio Grande, and will disrupt wildlife habitats. A federal judge Monday ordered the small town of Eagle Pass, Texas to temporarily surrender 233 acres so the federal government can begin work on the fence. The next day, the Justice Department filed 102 new lawsuits against resistant landowners to force them to open up their lands. The Secure Fence Act of 2006 mandated the construction of 700 miles of fencing along a US-Mexico border. The Department of Homeland Security plans to finish about half of it this year. For FSRN I’m Tanya Snyder in Washington DC.

Maritime Dispute Between Chile and Peru Heats Up
The Government of Peru today filed a maritime border claim against Chile at the International Court of Justice at The Hague. From Santiago, Jorge Garretón explains the Chilean position.

Peru claims the maritime border agreed by both countries is nothing more than an agreement on fishing rights. But Chile says the land and sea borders were set in two treaties signed in 1952 and 1954. Chile says the marine border is set on a parallel line from an established border landmark. But Peru counters the maritime border should be set diagonally due south from that landmark. In dispute are rich fishing banks, recognized as Chile’s in international charts. A ruling in Lima’s favor would give Peru a large sea quadrant that would leave Chile’s northern border port town of Arica with just some 10 sea miles. Chile hired a Washington based legal team with expertise in border disputes. It has also solicited the advise of all living past Foreign Ministers including two who served during the Pinochet dictatorship. It is expected the Chilean Government will recall its Ambassador to Lima in protest. For FSRN this is Jorge Garretón in Santiago.

British Private Schools May Lose Tax Breaks
The British government is undertaking the first major reform of charity laws in 400 years; as a result, the country’s private education sector may lose $200 million in annual tax breaks. From London, Naomi Fowler reports.

Controversially, the mostly secular private schools in Britain are registered as charities; many tax payers feel they’re subsidising the education of the rich. Private schools – or independent schools – as they prefer to call themselves, will have to show it’s possible for children on low incomes to benefit from their services. The British education system remains one of the big social divides in terms of opportunities; a recent report found nearly a third of Members of Parliament and almost two thirds of members of the House of Lords were educated privately. Anthony Seldon of the private Wellington College: (audio) “It’s been a great tragedy for British education over the last 100 years that there has been an apartheid between the state and independent sectors and this is not helpful for the children, nor the teachers, nor the country at large.” Many argue that such ‘educational apartheid’ can only end when private education itself is abolished. This is Naomi Fowler in London for Free Speech Radio News.

Inflation on the Rise
New statistics from the Department of Labor indicate that wholesale inflation rates in 2007 were at their highest rates since 1990. The report found the sharpest increases in the price of food and energy. The cost of food rose by nearly five percent while energy costs increased by more than 17 percent. This data, combined with the housing crisis and new high unemployment figures, has led some economists to suggest the US is slipping into an economic recession.



Kenya: Protests Escalate

In Kenya, the ethnic violence that followed controversial presidential elections is subsiding, but clashes between political protesters and police are escalating. Today was the first of three days of mass action, with the worst confrontations in the opposition stronghold of Kisumu, where police reportedly shot three protesters, killing one. And in the nation’s capital, protests and police actions paralyzed business. John Bwakali reports from Nairobi.

Israel Pursues Peace Talks, Bombs Palestine

Israeli attacks in the Palestinian territories continued today, bringing the Palestinian death toll since Monday to 23 people. Meanwhile, Israeli and Palestinian negotiating teams started discussing core issues as part of the US-backed peace process. FSRN’s Ghassan Bannoura has the details.

Which Way Ecuador?

Ecuador’s left-wing president Raphael Correa delivered his first state-of-the-union address yesterday. Correa won the presidency after 10 years of political turmoil, on promises to boost state oil income and social spending, which he says will exceed foreign debt payments for the first time this year. Juliette Beck takes a closer look at the sometimes-diverging visions of development held by leaders of Correa’s political base.

Romney wins Michigan; NBC Bars Kucinich from Debate

A lot of campaign news today….Michigan held its primary last night and Mitt Romney came out on top in Republican racewith 39% of the vote. The win in his home state puts Romney in the lead. Romney’s victory speech sounded a lot like speeches from Democratic contenders calling for change:


John McCain came in second with 30 percent of the vote, followed by Mike Huckabee with 16 percent, and Ron Paul with 6 percent. Republicans now turn to South Carolina where that state’s Republicans head to the polls Saturday.

Hillary Clinton won the democratic primary in Michigan with 55% of the vote, but will win no nominating votes from the state–the Democratic party had punished Michigan for moving its primary too early by taking away its delegates. Only Dennis Kucinich campaigned there—he won 4% of the vote.

Most democratic candidates focused their attention on Nevada, which caucuses Saturday. Last night, all but two participated in a televised debate in Las Vegas. Representative Dennis Kucinich was once again excluded. NBC, which produced the debates, said Kucinich didn’t meet viability requirements. A flurry of court activity yesterday failed to override NBC’s decision.

The three candidates who did participate discussed their positions on Iraq, giving some specifics on how they plan to deal with it. FSRN’s Leigh Ann Caldwell has more.

Senate Committee Explores the R-Word

A joint Senate economic committee held hearings today to see what the federal government can do to stimulate the economy. Members of the committee described the nation as “teetering on the brink of a recession.” FSRN’s Karen Miller has more.

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