September 8, 2008

  • The US Offers Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac the Largest Bailout in History
  • Kashmir’s Movement for Independence Faces Heavy Repression from India
  • SCHIP Legislation Delayed Until Next Year
  • Over a Million Evicted from Slums in Nigeria
  • Mainstream Media Coverage of DNC and RNC Critiqued

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More Civilians Die in US Drone Raids
Two graphic videos obtained by the AP reveal a much higher civilian death toll from a US air raid in Afghanistan than the seven fatalities claimed by the U.S. military’s initial investigation. An Afghan government commission says 90 civilians — 60 children, 15 women and 15 men — died in the Aug. 22 bombings, a finding backed by the United Nations. Now the US military says it will reopen the investigation. In Pakistan, another US attack on a madrassa today killed 15 people including women and children. FSRN correspondent Masroor Hussain has more.

Ten Taliban fighters were reportedly killed in today’s attack but the strike also took the lives of four female relatives of Haqqani and another two children. Last Wednesday, US commandos carried out a ground attack killing at least 20 people including non-combatant women and children. A day later, four Islamist militants were killed in a suspected US drone attack followed by another drone attack the following day.

The US attacks on Pakistani territory began after a secret meeting between US Centcom commander and Pakistan’s army chief aboard USS Abraham Lincoln in which the US commander admitted the two armies were working together to fight the Taliban.  In Karachi, I’m Masroor Hussain for Free Speech Radio News.

Sri Lanka Bars Aid Groups from Rebel Regions
The Sri Lankan government has ordered all foreign and local aid workers to immediately leave rebel areas. FSRN’s Ponniah Manikavasagam has the story.

Sri Lanka’s Defence Secretary today ordered all aid workers to leave the rebel area due to heavy fighting between the government forces and the Tamil Tiger rebels. He said the measure has been taken to safeguard the lives of foreign and local staff working for aid agencies.  The air force launched as many as four air raids today alone. The order also informed the aid agencies that their workers will not be allowed to travel through the army checkpoint at Omanthai – the only gateway to the rebel areas. According to government and aid agency officials, nearly one hundred thousand people have been forced to leave their homes in the rebel held areas as fighting rages in the jungles and villages. Reports from the war fronts also indicate that occasionally civilians are caught in the fighting.  Many have died and many more have been have been injured by artillery shell attacks. For Free Speech Radio News, this is Ponniah Manikavasagam, in Vavuniya, Sri Lanka.

NRC Moves Forward on Yucca Mountain Despite Nevada Protest
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has agreed to a formal review of the government’s license application for a radioactive waste dump in Nevada. The decision was made despite objections from the state of Nevada, which does not want to host the nation’s first nuclear waste dump. The NRC is expected to take four years to decide whether to give the Energy Department a license to build the 77,000-ton dump.

Boeing Strike
The International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, representing 27,000 workers, have entered the third day of a major strike in Seattle which has shut down production of the Boeing 787. Mark Taylor-Canfield reports from Seattle.

Canadian PM Dissolves Parliament, Calls New Elections
Canada’s Prime Minister has called yet another general election.  FSRN’s Aaron Lakoff has more from Montreal.

US and Vietnam Meet on Agent Orange
The U.S. and Vietnam opened their third round of annual talks today on Agent Orange. They are expected to announce plans for using $3 million the U.S. Congress set aside in 2007 to cleanup dioxin, a highly toxic element of Agent Orange. But Vietnam says 3 million dollars isn’t nearly enough, citing clean up costs at one site alone of nearly 14 million dollars. The U.S. counters it has already spent more than 40 million to help Vietnamese with disabilities, irrespective of their causes.

Emergency Rule Impoed in Bangkok
The Thai capital, Bangkok, is under martial law after pro and anti government demonstrators clashed early this morning. Claudia Cragg has more.

Thailand’s embattled Prime Minister Samak Sundaravejj declared emergency rule after clashing demonstrations killed one person and left several dozen injured. The State of Emergency bans public gatherings of more than 5 people and allows the government to censor the media from a military facility. A massive protest camp run by the opposition People’s Alliance for Democracy continues to occupy the Prime Minister’s compound. Thai security forces have been reluctant to crackdown on the protests that have been growing in intensity, calling for the prime minister to resign. Since Aug 26th, the opposition has been coordinating protests on a large number of Bangkok government buildings and caused widespread economic and transport disruption. Said to be fueling these protests is the impending decision on election fraud by the Thai Election Commission which could dismiss Samak’s ruling People’s Power Party (PPP) and allow the opposition to form a new coalition government. For FSRN, I’m Claudia Cragg.  

Japanese Prime Minister Resigns
Troubled Japanese Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda abruptly resigned today, citing his inability to cope with rising prices for food and fuel and looming economic recession. Fukuda’s governing Liberal Democratic Party will meet in a special session later this month to elect his successor but the opposition party is pressing for constitutionally allowed “snap elections”. Early elections could favor the opposition and threaten the Liberal Democratic Party’s 5 decade long domination of the Japanese government.

Bolivian Electoral Court Overturns Election Date for Constitutional Referendum
Bolivia’s National Electoral Court has overturned the date set by the president for a constitutional referendum. Leny Olivera reports from Cochabamba.

The Court rejected the decree issued late last week by President Evo Morales which called for a nationwide referendum on a draft constitution to take place on December 7th. In announcing the ruling last night, the the National Electoral Court’s president said that only the Bolivian Congress can call for a referendum. President Morales, who is currently out of the country, told reporters that he thinks that the court is responding to pressure from the conservative opposition, but is confident that the constitutional referendum will proceed. The institution of a new constitution for Bolivia was a key issue for Morales during his presidential campaign in 2005. A constitutional referendum would require a two-thirds vote of approval in Congress. The issue may provoke a political standoff between the Executive branch and the opposition-dominated Senate. For FSRN, I’m Leny Olivera in Cochabamba.

EU Committee Recommends Giving Car Manufacturers More time to Curb Emissions
The European Commission is seeking to implement binding car emissions targets before the end of the year, but last night these new, stricter standards came under threat by a package that waters down the key components. Cinnamon Nippard has more.

The EU Commission wants manufacturers to make significant emissions cuts by 2012, but the car industry says they need extra time to remain economically competitive. The package of changes passed last night by the EU Parliament’s influential Industry and Energy Committee would allow carmakers to ease into the emissions reductions. Only 60% of their fleet would be required to meet the target by 2012. The EU Parliament Industry and Energy Committee, also proposed reducing Fines to be imposed on carmakers for breaching CO2 emissions limits, to €40 per excess gram of CO2 – instead of the €95 proposed by the EU Commission. Environmental groups were heavily critical of the recommendations. Tony Bosworth is the Senior Transport Campaigner with the environmental group, Friends of the Earth. [Bosworth] “We were disappointed with the opinion of the industry committee. They seemed to have favoured the interests of the car industry over the interests of the planet and the climate by supporting an opinion on cars and climate change which is riddled with loopholes which are going to make it easier for the car industry to comply.” Bosworth is optimistic that this package of amendments could be overturned at next week’s vote in the Environment Committee of the European Parliament. But the proposal then has to go before the full parliament and EU member states before becoming law. Cinnamon Nippard reporting for Free Speech Radio News in Germany.



The US Offers Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac the Largest Bailout in History
US taxpayers are bailing out mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, victims of – and culprits in – the sub-prime mortgage crisis. This solution could cost hundreds of billions of dollars, by far the most extensive corporate bailout to date. FSRN’s Tanya Snyder has more.

Kashmir’s Movement for Independence Faces Heavy Repression from India
In Indian-administered Kashmir today, more than a dozen people were wounded as police fired on protest rallies. Kashmir has recently seen some of the largest pro-freedom demonstrations in decades and the human toll has been heavy – over 40 killed, a thousand wounded and hundreds detained.  The flow of news from the valley has been controlled over the past few weeks, keeping much of the world in the dark about recent developments in the region.  Foreign journalists have not had freedom of mobility and local papers were stopped from publishing.  FSRN’s Shanawaz Khan files this report from the city of Srinagar in Kashmir.

SCHIP Legislation Delayed Until Next Year
Today Congress announced that it would not be taking up legislation this year to expand the States Children Health Insurance Program or SCHIP.  As FSRN’s Karen Miller reports, this may leave some states that administer these programs in the lurch.

Over a Million Evicted from Slums in Nigeria
In one of the worst violations of housing rights in the world, Nigeria has evicted 1.2 million people since the year 2000 – in an effort to clean up its cities.  In the Country’s Capitol city Abuja, hundreds of thousands of people have become homeless.  And many have simply been pushed farther and farther away from the path of bulldozers – only to create new slums. FSRN’s Sam Olukoya has this report from Nigeria.

Mainstream Media Coverage of DNC and RNC Critiqued
The Republican and Democratic National conventions have closed, but that doesn’t mean the media message makers have stopped churning out analysis about which candidate made the best showing and who has the most momentum.  But how did the mainstream media fare in their coverage overall – was the spin at least balanced spin?  Host Jes Burns spoke with Isabel Macdonald of Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting – FAIR – to get some insight into the coverage of the two conventions.

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