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Pakistani lawyers call for restoration of judiciary
Pakistani authorities say they have captured a top Taliban commander and five fighters near the Afghan border today. Mullah Mansoor Dabullah has led attacks against NATO and US-led troops in Afghanistan – he was wounded along with five others before being captured. Pakistan’s ambassador to Afghanistan, Tariq Azizuddin is missing and feared kidnapped in the tribal region. Meanwhile, at least 25 people are dead and at least 50 more wounded after a suicide bombing Saturday at a political rally in Pakistan, also near the Afghan border. With just a week to go before the country’s parliamentary elections, the violence is raising fears about increased election-related attacks. The bombing occurred just hours after police brutally battled hundreds of lawyers and civil rights activists with tear gas, batons, and rocks, in one of the largest clashes of its kind in the country’s capital. Zack Baddorf has more in Islamabad.
Afghan women celebrate International Women’s Day
A report released in late February said Afghanistan remains one of the most dangerous places in the world to be a woman. Womankind Worldwide, a United Kingdom-based charity that works to empower women, says the war-torn nation has one of the highest rates of domestic violence and maternal mortality. Yesterday, the country’s ministry of women’s affairs held an event marking International Women’s Day in Kabul. The ministry presented about 100 Afghan women with awards for their work in the community. Zack Baddorf reports from Kabul.
Burmese government prepares for what ethnic rebels call a “genocidal war”
Rebel-controlled territory, Burma
The situation in Burma for pro-Democracy advocates has not improved, according to Amnesty International. Despite claims and assurances by the Burmese government that the arrest of political dissidents would cease, new research by the human rights organization finds that nearly 100 political prisoners have been taken since last November. According to Amnesty International director Catherine Barber, the new arrests have targeted those who have attempted to send evidence of the crackdown to the international community. The military junta has also
delayed a promised visit with United Nations Envoy Ibrahim Gambari until April.
In other news: Since the beginning of the year, there have been four bombings aimed at civilians in Rangoon and other cities. Burma’s state-controlled media has blamed the attacks on ethnic rebel groups. The last bomb originated on a bus traveling from the state of Karen. The military junta has positioned 187 battalions in that State for their yearly dry season offensive against territory, which is controlled by the Karen National Union and its armed forces.
Zack Baddorf reports from rebel-controlled territory, where he finds fear the Burmese military is conducting a “genocidal war” against the Karen people.
Nobel peace laureate reestablishes contact with Burmese military government
The government of Burma says a bus conductor was killed in a small bomb blast yesterday. It’s the fourth such bombing attack since the New Year. The military government blames ethnic rebels, likely from the state of Karen. There the Karen National Union has been fighting for decades for greater autonomy for ethnic Karen people.
In other news from the country, Burma’s pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi met with her country’s military junta for about an hour late last week – establishing contact with the government for the first time in nearly two months. The Nobel Peace Laureate has been under house arrest for the past 12 years, and was taken from her lakeside home in
the nation’s capital to meet with a military liaison. From Burma, Zack Baddorf has more.
Cambodian corruption hurts country’s children
Phnom Penh, Cambodia
Introduction: One half of the world’s children – more than a billlion – are suffering from one or more forms of extreme deprivations. This according to the united nations children fund’s annual report on the state of the world’s children. The analysis found that more than 90 million youngsters are starving. The root cause: a “failure of leadership,” according to the children’s organization. In Cambodia, UNICEF reports two point two milllion children live in “absolute poverty” without basic healthcare and clean water. Our correspondent Zack Baddorf in Phnom Penh tells us how corruption in Cambodia is hurting the country’s future today.
Gas gouging hurts customers at the pumps
San Diego, California
Introduction: When Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans, it also destroyed gas refineries and knocked out a substantial portion of Gulf of Mexico oil and natural gas production. The industry claims this is the reason for the spike in gas prices across the nation. But in California, ninety percent of the gas comes from inside the state. There are no pipelines from the gulf region. So, legislators passed a law this week to stop gas gouging. Investigators are “blanketing” the city looking for pumps with pumped up prices. Zack Baddorf has more from San Diego.
Dia de los Muertos (“Day of the Dead”): Hispanic men shot by allegedly-racist police
Introduction: Yesterday was Dia de los Muertos, the Day of the Dead, a Mexican tradition where people honor their loved ones in the other world. In Vista, California, a community of 90,000, about 120 residents came together to remember five Hispanic men in their 20’s and earlier 30s fatally shot this year by Vista deputy sheriffs. Zack Baddorf and Luis Perez report.
Top rebel leader discusses child soldiers
Killinochi, Sri Lanka
Introduction: UNICEF issued a report last week claiming that the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Elam or LTT in Sri Lanka maintain over 700 child soldiers in their rebel military force. The report alleges an increase in recruitment, undermining a plan set-up between the rebels and the international community. In an exclusive interview with FSRN,
the LTT’s top political head admitted the numbers may be correct but said there’s no need to recruit children, as a cease-fire agreement between the rebels and the government has shifted the LTT focus to diplomacy. He said it’s better to have child soldiers than street children. Zack Baddorf has more.
Immigrants rally for rights in Korea’s capital
Introduction: More than 50,000 people rallied in the streets of Seoul over the weekend for workers’ rights, notably immigrant worker rights in Korea. [Aired Nov. 10] November 16th marks the beginning of a crackdown on people working throughout the country without a visa. The protestors clashed with over 10-thousand South Korean policemen, leaving many injured on both sides. Zack Baddorf was in the front lines and brings us this report.
Activists oppose military recruitment in public school system
Mira Mesa, California
Introduction: With the war in Iraq leaving close to 2,000 American troops dead, military recruitment goals around the nation are not being met. President Bush’s “No Child Left Behind” Act has a unique clause that is helping military recruiters in their efforts around the nation. The law requires all secondary schools to provide a list of every student’s name, telephone number, and address. To protest the involvement of the military in America’s education system, the San Diego Military Counseling Project visits schools in Southern California to inform youngsters of their rights. Zack Baddorf reports from Mira Mesa High School.