October 27, 2008

  • Congolese Protest at UN Headquarters  – One Dead
  • US Attacks Syrian Territory
  • Pakistan’s Senate Condemns US Attacks
  • Judge Rules on Definition of Enemy Combatant
  • Chile Election Results

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Congolese Protest at UN Headquarters  – One Dead

The commander of the UN peacekeeping force in Eastern Congo has resigned amid protests that not enough has been done to protect civilian Hutus from rebel forces. The UN says they have deployed helicopter gunships today killing hundreds in an attempt to protect a village. Joshua Kyalimpa Reports

UN spokesman Michel Bonnardeaux says protesters surrounded the UN headquarters and that one demonstrator has died. The mostly Hutu locals blame peacekeepers for allowing Nkunda’s rebels to rout the Congolese government army. According to the UN, thousands of civilians have fled across the border to Western Uganda while others are still in the jungles fleeing the fighting. Clashes resumed today and at press time, Congolese Tutsi rebels led by renegade army general Laurent Nkunda were advancing towards the strategic eastern city of Goma after launching a new offensive at the weekend.  Fighters loyal to renegade General Laurent Nkunda overran an army base yesterday on the main road north from Goma defying a U.N Security Council call for them to lay down their arms. Rebel rockets destroyed two armored vehicles from the U.N.’s peacekeeping mission and wounded several peacekeepers.  The rebels accuse Congo’s army of collaborating with the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR), which includes Hutu militias and ex-Rwandan soldiers responsible for orchestrating Rwanda’s 1994 genocide of Tutsis and moderate Hutus.  Joshua Kyalimpa, FSRN, neighboring Uganda

US Attacks Syrian Territory

Funerals were held today in a Syrian village near the Iraqi border for those killed in yesterdays apparent cross border raid by the US. The Syrian government claims that U.S. military helicopters attacked a civilian building under construction shortly before sundown yesterday, killing eight civilians. The White House has declined to comment.

Pakistan’s Senate Condemns US Attacks

The upper house of Pakistan’s government has passed a resolution condemning U.S air strikes in tribal areas. Afridai Afridi reports.

A missile fired from a suspected us drone has killed 22 people in Pakistan. The attack on a madrassa is the second in the last two months thought to be in pursuit of al-Qaeda and Taliban leader Jalaludin Haqani who escaped harm.  All twenty two people who were killed in the attack were in a school regarded as a center of the Taliban in the region.  The attack was strongly condemned in the Senate today, where officials said such attacks would harm government efforts toward   peace in the tribal areas. However many in the tribal region mistrust the government, believing that the condemnation was  intended to appease them but that the true alliance is to the united states and its financial aid.   One local leader – speaking on the condition of anonymity – questions the timing of the drone attack. He notes that the strike came just one day before a mini-jirga – or dialogue – between tribal leaders from both Pakistan and Afghanistan. For FSRN, I am Afridai Afridi.

Judge Rules on Definition of Enemy Combatant

A federal judge ruled today that al-Qaida or Taliban supporters who directly assisted in hostile acts against the United States or its allies can be held without charges as enemy combatants. Lawyers for six detainees, all Bosnians, said Monday’s ruling limits the government’s ability to hold suspects who were not captured on a battlefield

Chile Election Results

After winning every election since the return to democracy 1990, Chile’s ruling Concertacion coalition suffered a setback during national municipal elections. From Santiago FSRN’s Jorge Garretón has more.

In elections held Sunday, Chile’s opposition won 13 of the 15 regional capital municipalities, including the capital city Santiago. Voters sent a clear message to the ruling Center-left Concertacion coalition, change your ways, unify your forces or be prepared to be shuffled out of government in next year’s presidential elections. Although the ruling coalition saw losses in the mayoral races, in city councilor races that measure real political strength the coalition won 45 percent of the votes, while the right-wing opposition captured 36 percent. In mixed results, the voters put right-wing mayors in main cities but left the Concertacion coalition the chance to mend its ways. The results show that 55 percent of the electorate votes for center-left candidates leaving presidential options open for a fifth center-left term in next year’s election. To succeed they must recognize voter’s demands for better equality of opportunity, improved quality in public health and education. For FSRN this Jorge Garretón in Santiago.



Bailout Expands to Insurance Companies

The G7 countries have pledged to work together to stabilize troubled markets. First on their agenda will likely be actions to stabilize currencies. The move was precipitated by the sudden rise of the Japanese yen against the dollar and the euro. The strength of the yen hurts Japan because it makes their goods more expensive to buyers, which in turn decreases exports. This news sent Japanese markets into a tailspin – their stock index hit a 26-year low just as their currency hit a 13-year high. The Japanese stock index has lost half its value so far this year.

Meanwhile, the scope of the bailout in the US is expanding. It’s not just for banks anymore – now insurance companies are getting a piece of the pie. Individual mortgages might be next. And experts say the auto industry is in line right behind them. Tanya Snyder reports.

Early Voting Reveals Trouble at the Booth

With early voting is under way, problems with voting machines at the polls are also underway. Voters around the country have complained of so-called “vote switching” – that’s when a machine logs a different candidate from the voters’ choice.  Washington Editor Leigh Ann Caldwell reports.

Clergy Against Florida Gay Marriage Ban Amendment

Voters in California, Arizona, and Florida will decide in eight days whether or not to add language to their state constitutions that would make same-sex marriage illegal. In Florida, opponents there believe the language of the measure could pertain to heterosexual unions as well. Some religious groups have supported these constitutional amendments, but a group of clergy in Tampa led a rally Sunday in opposition to Florida’s Amendment 2.  Emily Reddy reports.

Anniversary of Brad Will’s Murder

Activists wrapped up a hunger strike outside Senator Hillary Clinton’s office in New York City – the strikers are demanding a full investigation into the murder of independent journalist Brad Will, who was killed while covering massive anti-government protests in Oaxaca, Mexico two years ago this day. Today, we hear from two human rights activists and friends of Brad Will who took part in the hunger strike.

Colombian Cane Cutters on Strike, Other May Join

Protests against poor labor conditions are increasing in Colombia, following a lengthy sugar cane cutters strike.  More than 10,000 cane cutters, most of whom are Afro-Colombian, stopped working in mid-September, after the sugar industry refused to make them full time employees with regular wages and social security.  Their effort has been joined by educators, energy contractors and government bureaucrats, who are also seeking similar benefits.  Not all of these sectors have gone on strike, but dissatisfaction appears to be mounting. Manuel Rueda has more from Bogota.

Indonesia Prepares to Execute Three Convicted in Bali Bombings

Three men convicted over the 2002 Bali bombings in will be executed in early November. They were found guilty of planning the attacks, which targeted nightclubs at Bali’s tourist resort of Kuta.  As Rebecca Henschke reports from Jakarta the executions are being met with relief and fear.