May 6, 2008

  • Democratic Primaries in North Carolina and Indiana
  • House Moves Closer to Administration Subpoenas
  • Gaza Fuel Crisis
  • Food Crisis in Uganda
  • Federal Government to Ease Drinking Water Regulations
  • Mumia Abu-Jamal Commentary “The Politics of Denunciation”

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Burmese Cyclone Death Toll Tops 22,000
Burmese state run media reports that the confirmed death toll from this weekend’s devastating cyclone has soared past 22,000. That number could potentially increase as more than 40,000 people are officially missing in the wake of the storm. Cyclone Nargis has left hundreds of thousands homeless in the Irrawaddy river delta area, the country’s main rice-producing region.

Eruption of Chilean Volcano Prompts Evacuation Order

Chilean president Michelle Bachelet has issued mandatory evacuation orders for residents of towns near the country’s Chaiten volcano. The volcano, which has been dormant for centuries, began spewing ash late last week. Today it sent a thick column of ash several miles into the sky.

Soldier Suicides May Surpass Combat Fatalities in Iraq and Afghanistan

More veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan could commit suicide than die in combat, according to the head of the National Institute of Mental Health. Aaron Glantz reports.

4,567 American soldiers have died in Iraq and Afghanistan – But the National Institute of Health’s Mental Health’s Thomas Insel predicts many thousands more veterans will commit suicide unless something is done to care for those returning from the combat zones. Internal Department of Veterans Affairs documents released last week revealed 18 veterans kill themselves every day in this country – unable to cope with the pain of what they’ve done and seen overseas. In addition, the VA reports a thousand veterans under the government’s care attempt suicide every month. Many researchers believe more Vietnam veterans have committed suicide than the 58,000 names on the memorial wall in Washington DC. For Free Speech Radio News, I’m Aaron Glantz.

Georgia to Execute 1st Death Row Inmate Since the Lifting of De-Facto Moratorium
The state of Georgia is scheduled to execute convicted killer William Earl Lynd at 7pm tonight. Barring a last minute repreive, Lynd will be the first inmate put to death since the Supreme Court ruled in favor of lethal injections last month. The ruling lifted a de-facto moratorium that had put the nation’s executions on hold since last September.

Extensive Camera Surveillance in UK Fails to Prevent or Solve Crime

The UK is the world’s most surveilled society with more than 4 million CCTV cameras on British streets…but a police chief there claims it’s done almost nothing to prevent or solve crime. Naomi Fowler reports from London.

The British government has over decades channeled billions of pounds of public money into a vast network of closed circuit security cameras across the country. The move contributed to a boom in what’s now a huge surveillance industry, also one of the UK’s largest exports. But at a security conference in London, Detective Chief Inspector Mike Neville described it as an ‘utter fiasco’ that only 3% of street robberies in London were solved using CCTV images. He said that despite the vast number of cameras, “no thought” had gone into how to use them; monitoring such large amounts of footage is so endless a task police officers often avoid trawling through them. According to research by human rights group Privacy International, Britain is among the five worst countries in the world at protecting the privacy of its citizens. While Detective Chief Inspector Mike Neville is calling for more training to improve the use of CCTV, others claim CCTV is actually one of the least effective ways of tackling crime. This is Naomi Fowler in London for Free Speech Radio News.

Attacks in Pakistan’s Northwestern Frontier Province Blamed on Taliban Militants
Five people, including a policeman, were killed in a suicide blast today in Pakistan’s Northwestern Frontier province. Two police were also shot dead in a separate incident in the province’s restive Swat valley. Rahman Ullah has more.

A suicide bomber riding in a bicycle rickshaw blew himself up when policemen stopped him near a security checkpoint in the Banu district of the Northwestern Frontier Province. The blast killed 5 people and injured seven others, including soldiers and policemen. In a separate incident, unidentified gunmen opened fire on two policemen guarding a bank in the restive Swat district. Both died on the spot as the attacker fled the scene. No group has claimed responsibility, but the attacks have been blamed on pro-Taliban militants. The Taliban suspended peace talks last week, vowing to launch attacks on Pakistani security forces. The new government had initiated the talks just a few weeks before in a bid to revise President Pervez Musharraf’s militaristic approach to the region’s conflict. The talks broke down over the government’s refusal to withdraw security forces from the tribal areas. For FSRN, this is Rahman Ullah in Peshawar, Pakistan.

Farmers Rally in New Delhi Against Genetically Modified Crops and Seeds
Hundreds of Indian farmers rallied today in New Delhi to demand that the government ban the cultivation of genetically-modified crops as well of the sale of GM seeds. Bismillah Geelani reports.

Nearly a thousand farmers from various parts of the country participated in today’s protest rally near the parliament house in New Delhi. The rally was organised by a coalition of farmers’ unions, environmental groups and women’s organizations as part of its campaign for a GM-free India. The protesters shouted slogans demanding a ban on the sale and cultivation of genetically modified seeds in general and Bt eggplant in particular. An Indian biotechnology company could soon begin marketing its genetically modified eggplant, also known as Bt. Brinjal. The government plans to approve the crop for a second and final season trial before approving it for commercialization. India is the world’s second largest producer of eggplant. The protesters say GM technology has negative impacts on health and the environment and patented seed technology harms the interests of farmers. The organizers say they are planning a series of similar protests in several other parts of the country in near future. For FSRN, this is Bismillah Geelani from New Delhi.



Democratic Primaries in North Carolina and Indiana

Voters in two states, North Carolina and Indiana, are the latest to throw their votes into the hotly contested Democratic presidential primary. With 187 delegates at stake – the largest of the remaining contests – both Clinton and Obama have vowed to take the fight through the last contest. FSRN’s Tanya Snyder has more.

House Moves Closer to Administration Subpoenas

A House panel moved one step closer to issuing subpoenas to Administration officials involved in formulating the US’ policy on torture. The Democratic-led panel wants to hear from Vice President Cheney’s Chief of Staff – who the administration says is not obliged to testify. Meanwhile, former administration officials have already agreed to testify, including former Attorney General John Ashcroft and former top Justice Department official John Yoo. Washington Editor Leigh Ann Caldwell reports.

Gaza Fuel Crisis

UN emergency food aid to the Gaza Strip will continue for at least another 20 days, after Israel agreed to deliver fuel to the organization yesterday once the agency made clear that fuel shortages would bring food deliveries to a halt. This is the second time in the past week that crucial humanitarian aid has been threatened because of the fuel crisis. Meanwhile, a meeting of key donor countries and the Quartet for Middle East peace process group will be held soon in London, to discuss ways to boost up the Palestinian economy, as Gaza Strip residents survive on a trickle of food, medicine, fuel and cooking gas. FSRN’s Rami Almeghari is in Gaza.

Food Crisis in Uganda

Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni is asking Ugandans not to stage protests over soaring food prices – and instead take advantage of the situation by churning out more produce for the world market. Museveni has recently been on the firing line with critics claiming failures by his government have caused food prices to skyrocket. FSRN’s Emmanuel Okella reports that Museveni is now facing scathing attacks from the food desperate population who accuse him of trying to skirt around in the face of a major crisis that needs urgent solutions.

Federal Government to Ease Drinking Water Regulations

The federal government is considering easing regulations for drinking water in small communities. As FSRN’s Yanmei Xie reports, critics say the new rules treat rural and low-income households unfairly.

Mumia Abu-Jamal Commentary “The Politics of Denunciation”

Mumia Abu-Jamal is an award-winning journalist who chronicles the human condition. He has been a resident of Pennsylvania’s death row for twenty-five years. Writing from his solitary confinement cell his essays have reached a worldwide audience. His books “Live From Death Row”, “Death Blossoms”, “All Things Censored”, “Faith of Our Fathers” and the recently released “We Want Freedom” have sold over 150,000 copies and been translated into nine languages. His 1982-murder trial and subsequent conviction have been the subject of great debate.

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