December 29, 2008
- Attack on Gaza Kills 300
- International Reaction to Gaza Attacks
- Kashmir Elections Bring in Ruling Coalition
- Financial Crisis Means More Child Poverty
- Mumia Abu-Jamal Commentary
Tribal Elders Offer to Aid Pakistan Army
India and Pakistan continue to trade rhetoric as Pakistan moves troops to the border suggesting the region may be on the brink of a military showdown. Masror Hussain reports from Islamabad.
In a move that some analysts believe may eventually avert a war between two nuclear neighbors, anti-Taliban Utamzai tribal elders have said they will mobilize several million tribesmen in support of Pakistan if India attacks and warned New Delhi of severe consequences. Talking to journalists in Waziristan, Utamzai elders offered to fight along side the Pakistan Army if provoked. There has been no official word from military headquarters with respect to the tribal leaders offer. Utamzai tribal leaders also offered to defend Pakistan’s troubled border with Afghanistan. Analysts believe this was a message to the US and NATO forces who may be preparing to launch land operations in the tribal areas as Pakistan’s army is engaged on the eastern border. Meanwhile, Pakistan’s military chief General Ashfaq Kiyani told the visiting Chinese Vice Foreign Minister He Yafei today that he seeks to de-escalate and avoid conflict in the interest of peace and security. However, it was Kiyani who in recent days ordered troops to the border. Masror Hussain, Free Speech Radio News, Islamabad.
Somali President Steps Down
Somalia’s President and former warlord Abdullahi Yusuf resigned today. Yusuf said he’s lost control of the country to Islamic insurgents. The announcement was met by mortar fire in the capital, Mogadishu.
Impeachment Committee Considers Blagojevich
The Illinois committee considering a possible impeachment of Governor Rod Blagojevich is back at work today. U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald wants the panel to hear the Governor’s words as captured on wiretapped phone calls. Federal prosecutors filed a request to release parts of intercepted conversations in redacted form saying such a release would not interfere with any criminal investigation. But Blagojevich attorney Ed Genson says the taped conversations don’t prove illegal activity – just unfortunate remarks. Genson told the House committee today that there’s no evidence the Governor took any action to auction off a U.S. Senate seat or pressure the Chicago Tribune to fire its editorial writers. Blagojevich was arrested Dec. 9 on federal corruption charges. The committee may conclude its work this week and present its findings next week.
AU Suspends Guinea
The African Union has removed Guinea from it ranks after last weeks’ military coup. At a meeting today of the AU’s Peace and Security Council the group announced that the suspension will remain in effect until constitutional order is restored. Guinea’s longtime President Lansana Conte – who seized control in 1984 by staging a coup — died last Monday. Within hours, a group of military leaders led by Captain Moussa Camara took control of the country. Most political parties and unions in Guinea were initially against the power grab, but by the weekend all were in support of the move. The West African nation has never seen a democratic transfer of power.
Judge Denies Class Action in Toxic Trailer Suit
U.S. District Judge Kurt Engelhardt decided today that multiple lawsuits filed against the federal government and several trailer manufacturers by people displaced by hurricanes Katrina and Rita cannot be bundled into a class action matter. Thousands of Gulf Coast hurricane victims say they were exposed to formaldehyde fumes while staying in government-issued trailers following hurricanes Katrina and Rita. Formaldehyde is classified as a carcinogen and can cause respiratory problems.
Gay Youth at Risk from Family Reaction
According to a new study, young gay people who get a negative reaction from family when they come out are more likely to attempt suicide, suffer severe depression and use drugs than those whose families accepted the news. The study, conducted by researchers at San Francisco State University, also found that forbidding gay teens to associate with their peers is as damaging as physical or verbal abuse by parents. The findings were published today in the journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics.
Sri Lankan Suicide Bomb Attack
A suicide bomber detonated himself at a civil defense force office in Sri Lanka’s capitol city on Sunday morning. Ann Raber has more from Colombo.
The Ministry of Defense reported that the bomber detonated himself when he was stopped by a guard near the entryway of the CDF building, located on a side street near a Catholic church. Eight people were killed and 17 injured. Among those killed in the attack were one army officer, and five CDF officials. 13 officials and 4 civilians were taken to the hospital. The last suicide bombing in Colombo before Sunday was in February 2008. There have been 12 suicide attacks in Sri Lanka in 2008, several of which where carried out by female attackers. The Tamil Tigers – OR LTTE – are said to have invented the modern suicide bombing technique. The LTTE are fighting government military forces in the north of the country in a civil war that has been going on for over 25 years. The defense ministry reported significant progress in the LTTE stronghold of Killinochchi last week. It has been reported as a significant step forward in their war against the Tamil Tigers. For FSRN in Colombo, I’m Ann Raber
Massacres in Uganda
According to both officials and witnesses, attackers in Uganda used machetes to hack to death dozens of people seeking safety in a Catholic Church. United Nations spokesperson Ivo Brandau said 120 homes were set on fire in the region and thousands have fled in fear of continued violence. The UN blames the Lord’s Resistance Army – a group of fundamentalist Christians – for massacres that killed nearly 200 people last week. On Christmas Day, rebels fleeing a multinational force killed 40 in a village called Faradje. Over the next two days, another 149 people were similarly killed in two more villages. Ugandan military officials said most of the victims were women and children. A rebel spokesperson has denied responsibility for the killings – blaming the Ugandan army.
Attack on Gaza Kills 300
Humanitarian workers are trying to get much needed supplies to Gazans in the wake of Israeli attacks. The Free Gaza Movement has sent its ship, the Dignity, to the coastal territory. The ship carries physicians, human rights workers and three tons of donated medical supplies. Green Party Presidential candidate and former Georgia Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney travels with them on this emergency mission. Israeli air raids continue on the Gaza Strip, claiming the lives of more than 300 Palestinians, wounding about 1,400 others and devastating scores of buildings, including charities, police stations, mosques and universities. FSRN’s Rami Almeghari has more from Gaza.
International Reaction to Gaza Attacks
Israeli officials say the attacks were provoked by Palestinian rocket fire into southern Israel. Only two deaths have been reported so far as a result of the Palestinian attacks. Humanitarian experts say Israel’s military is a Goliath to the Palestinians’ David. It hits close to home for Allegra Pacheco, Deputy Head of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in the Palestinian Occupied Territories.
PACHECO:More and more of the attacks are killing and injuring civilians because in the Gaza strip it’s one of the most densely populated areas, it’s very hard for civilians not to be injured or even killed when the building their living in, their residencies, are right next to a target. We’re talking about some very powerful type of weaponry that may hit its target but there are the aftereffects in the surrounding areas. I should say that our offices today were quite badly damaged from an airstrike that targeted another building but it also damaged our cars, our offices, and now we won’t be able to use our offices.
The UN Security Council is urging a return to the ceasefire. Current President of the Council, Croatian Ambassador Neven Jurica:
JURICA:The members of the council stress the need for the restoration of calm in full which will open the way for finding a political solution to the problems existing in the context of the Israeli Palestinian settlement.
President George Bush took a different tack, defending Israel’s actions as necessary steps to deal with the terrorist threat from Hamas in Gaza.
Arab governments have condemned the Israeli attacks on Gaza. But people throughout the Middle East are protesting not only against Israel – but also their own governments for not doing more. Aya Batrawy has more from Cairo.
Kashmir Elections Bring in Ruling Coalition
In Indian-administered Kashmir, a mixed verdict has come out of the state elections, with three parties emerging as key players. Kashmir’s first election since a wave of massive protests against Indian rule, however, witnessed large voter participation. While India interprets the Kashmiri election as a defeat for separatist thinking, the separatists warn India not to misread the vote. FSRN’s Shahnawaz Khan has more.
Financial Crisis Means More Child Poverty
With an unemployment rate that could reach 10% by the end of the 2009 and the continued loss of homes to foreclosure, some of the most vulnerable victims of the financial crisis are the least able to be seen and heard… children. FSRN’s Karen Miller reports on how the worsening economy is impacting children around the US.
Mumia Abu-Jamal Commentary