August 4, 2008

  • Obama Changes His Stance on Offshore Drilling
  • Activists Crash Pharmaceutical Giant’s Symposium at International AIDS Conference
  • Blogger Matt Curtis Interviews Konstantin Lezhentsev at AIDS Conference
  • Professional Health Students Blog AIDS Advocacy
  • Americans Sail to Gaza to Challange Isreali Siege
  • Water Tensions on the Pakistan-Afghan Border

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Slight Plutonium Leak at IAEA Lab

The UN’s nuclear watchdog says that a slight amount of plutonium leaked from its aging laboratory outside Vienna. The International Atomic Energy Agency claims that no radioactive contamination reached the environment and reports no injuries. An investigation is ongoing but an IAEA spokesperson says technical deficiencies at the outdated lab were not the cause.

Iran Missed Deadline – Test Fires Weapon

Iran said this morning it has test fired a weapon capable of reaching the Strait of Hormuz and warned that it could close off tanker traffic there if attacked. Forty percent of the world’s oil passes through the waterway. And the United Nations Security Council met via teleconference today to discuss Iran. Haider Rizvi reports from the UN.

According to the US State Department, diplomats from the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council and Germany mat by telephone today to discuss Iran after the Islamic state missed a Saturday deadline to respond to council incentives. US officials say the six they have no option but to “pursue other measures” against Iran.  Iran missed its deadline to reply to an international offer for economic and diplomatic incentives in exchange for the suspension of its nuclear program. During talks in Geneva last month, the United States and other international powers gave Iran about 15 days to respond to their package of incentives to roll back its nuclear program. The United States and its Western allies suspect that Iran is trying to develop nuclear weapons, but Tehran says its nuclear program is meant to develop electricity and that its doing so in accordance with the international treaty on nuclear non proliferation.  Iran has often accused the US and other Western powers of taking a hypocritical stance on nuclear issue because they never question the possession of hundreds of nuclear weapons by Israel. For FSRN, I’m Haider Rizvi at the UN.

Israel Repatriates Fatah to West Bank

After the Association for Civil Rights in Israel appealed to the Supreme Court there, the Israeli government reversed itself today and returned 87 Fatah members to the West Bank city of Jericho.  FSRNs Rami al Meghari has more from Gaza.

Israel originally said the men would be returned to Gaza. But today, the government reversed that decision and announced the Fatah members would be sent to the West Bank saying their lives would be in danger should they be sent to Hamas-controlled Gaza.

Yesterday, 32 were sent to Gaza and were detained by Hamas police, who then released all but five.  On Saturday, The Hamas-led police forces exchanged heavy gunfire with Fatah loyalists in eastern Gaza city, after the Hamas government demanded the extradition of several suspects from a large Gaza clan known as the Hellis. The weekend clashes claimed the lives of 11 Palestinians including two Hamas policemen, and wounded scores of others. More than 180 Fatah men, including a wounded Fatah strongman Ahmad Hellis, fled to nearby Israeli territories. The Hamas interior ministry says the operation against the Hellis clan was necessary to ensure the arrest of suspects who were allegedly involved in a deadly car blast on July25. Since Hamas has taken over Gaza in June 2007, the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah has been taking care of approximately 250 Gazan Fatah men and seniors, who left Gaza following Hamas’s seizure of the coastal territory. For FSRN, I’m Rami al Meghari in Gaza.  

Protestors Enter Day 5 at Port Olympia

Anti-war demonstrations continue today at the Port of Olympia in Washington State despite arrests over the weekend. Protesters oppose use of the port by the Army’s Fourth Stryker Brigade returning from Iraq.  Mark Taylor-Canfield has more from Seattle.

So far, five days of protests have been organized by the Port Militarization Resistance, a coalition of anti-war groups who are opposed to the use of the port of Olympia by US Army units fighting in Iraq. The demonstrations began last week when a US military ship, the USNS Britain, began unloading 900 military vehicles returning from the war in Iraq. Clashes between police and demonstrators during recent protests in Olympia and Tacoma have resulted in eleven arrests. Six people were arrested last week after they dropped an anti-war banner from an overpass on Interstate Five near Fort Lewis. Two were arrested at the port when they crossed a police barrier. Yesterday three more demonstrators were arrested at the Port of Olympia when they briefly blockaded the road at the gate of the port facilities. The activists were booked into the Pierce County Jail on “suspicion of disorderly conduct.” During the incident, a man was tasered by police and required medical treatment at Tacoma General Hospital.  Last year dozens of protesters were arrested at the port during anti-war demonstrations, including an Olympia City Council member. This is Mark Taylor-Canfield for Free Speech Radio News in Seattle.

Zuma Seeks to Have Corruption Charges Dropped

The man who may well become South Africa’s next President was in court today trying to get corruption charges against him dropped while thousands of supporters rallied outside. Jacob Zuma denies charges of corruption, fraud, money-laundering and racketeering but says he will step down if convicted.  The pending matter is the largest roadblock to Zuma’s succeeding current President Thabo Mbeki.  A protracted trial could overlap a general election in 2009 – a near certain win for Zuma, who stands accused of taking over half a million dollars over a decade.  He is also accused of seeking a bribe from a French group in a massive arms deal arranged by South Africa in the late 1990s.



Obama Changes His Stance on Offshore Drilling
Presumed Democratic nominee Barack Obama laid out a new energy plan full of
short term and long term goals. His long term goal: complete US energy
independence within ten years. In the meantime, Obama says he’s open to
expanded offshore oil drilling, which marks a shift in his position.
Washington Editor Leigh Ann Caldwell reports.

Activists Crash Pharmaceutical Giant’s Symposium at International AIDS Conference

AIDS activists, organized by Act UP Paris, made their voices heard at a
symposium sponsored by pharmaceutical giant Bristol-Myers Squibb
yesterday, coinciding with the launch of the 17th Annual AIDS
Conference, being in held in Mexico City this week. Bristol-Myers
Squibb announced in March that it would stop distribution of a vital
HIV drug for children known as efavirenz – a move that activists
denounced as they took the stage and microphone at the symposium.
Worldwide, more than 300,000 children died from AIDS last year alone
and an estimated 420,000 children contracted the virus.

Blogger Matt Curtis Interviews Konstantin Lezhentsev at AIDS Conference
Matt Curtis is one of several activists and bloggers posting their
audio interviews, photos and videos on the conference at
He spoke with Konstantin Lezhentsev, director of the All Ukraine
Network of People Living with HIV.

Professional Health Students Blog AIDS Advocacy
Health professional students from the US, Kenya and Uganda have
uploaded video postcards, adding their voices to the conversations
about HIV/AIDS advocacy.

Americans Sail to Gaza to Challenge Israeli Siege

A diverse group calling itself the Free Gaza Movement is heading to
Gaza from Cyprus to challenge Israeli control of the territory. They
say that in 2005 when Israel removed its settlements, it did not
surrender control of Gaza’s borders, making the land what they call an
“open air prison, with no way in and no way out”. So they’re trying a
new approach to get through: by sea. Tanya Snyder has this report.

Water Tensions on the Pakistan-Afghan Border
Access to clean water is a major source of tension in key regions
throughout the world. Quetta is the largest city in Pakistan’s
Baluchistan province, which borders Afghanistan. Quetta was once called
Little London, famed for its cleanliness and efficient city planning,
and known as Pakistan’s fruit basket. But as FSRN’s Mudassar Shah
reports, this sensitive international border city has changed, and is
facing a new conflict, over water.

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