December 8, 2000

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On Thursday morning, the Florida Supreme Court was once again the focus of the nation’s attention as it considered the Gore-Lieberman campaign’s appeal of state judge N. Sanders Saul’s’ decision that there should not be manual recounts in three Florida counties. Many observers see the Florida Supreme Court as Gore’s last chance, but the final push before Tuesday’s deadline for choosing Presidential electors is having an impact across the state. On Wednesday, a crowd of three thousand led by Jesse Jackson and AFL-CIO President John Sweeney gathered in Tallahassee to protest a special session of the legislature aimed at approving a separate slate of pro-Bush electors. Although the Gore campaign has staked its hopes on hand recounts in South Florida, charges of electoral fraud and discrimination elsewhere in the state continue to make their way into the courts. Host Matt Martin spoke with Rob Lorei, Free Speech Radio News correspondent and News Director at WMNF-FM in Tampa, about the latest evidence that Florida’s election disenfranchised thousands of African-American voters.



The ascendance of Mexican President Vicente Fox and the end of seven decades of rule by the Part of the Institutional Revolution, or PRI, has created sense of possibility for progressive change in Mexico. Even though Fox leads a right-wing party committed to corporate-led free trade, his ascendance has raised hopes that issues which were closed under the PRI are once again open for discussion. In Chiapas, the Zapatistas used Fox’s inauguration to call for renewed peace talks with the government and the removal of military bases from the southern state. And Mexican and international environmentalists hope that Fox will free two activists who have become symbols of the fight to protect old-growth forests in the Pacifica coast state of Guerrero. Rudolfo Montiel and Teodoro Cabrera are serving long jail sentences and are at the center of a growing international movement to save Mexican forests from intensified logging. Kent Patterson files this report.



Faced with labor union organizing efforts, U.S. corporations use a variety of tactics to discourage
workers and communities from backing unionization. Between fifty and seventy percent of companies threaten to move out of the country when workers start talking union. But, as Laura Hauther reports from Los Angeles, one group of workers has successfully fought back — and their case may set a precedent for workers around the country.



McDonald’s — and its anti-union lawyers — are taking a beating in Montreal. The corporate burger giant — synonymous with low-wage, non-union work — is for the first time being forced to deal with organized workers after Quebec’s Provincial labor commissioner Michel Denis handed down a stinging ruling in which he accepted a request for union accreditation from a group of employees at a local franchise. With over 70 000 employees in Canada, McDonald’s has fought hard against unionization and has much to lose if the Montreal case sets a precedent. Stephen Cooperman reports from Montreal.



Mazen Al-Najjar is a Palestinian cleric and university professor jailed in Florida since 1997 on
charges of supporting terrorism, charges based on secret evidence which neither he nor his lawyers were allowed to see. On Wednesday, Al-Najjar’s friends and relatives celebrated after an immigration judge ruled that the government had failed to prove its case and had not sufficiently outlined the secret evidence it used against Al-Najjar. But before Al-Najjar could be released, the Immigration and Naturalization Service appealed the judge’s decision, and his release from an INS detention facility was blocked. The case has drawn considerable attention from civil libertarians, and the judge’s ruling on his behalf may signal that the judiciary is turning against the government’s use of secret evidence in anti-terrorism cases. Mitch Perry reports from Tampa.



Controversy continues within the Pacifica Foundation, the nation’s oldest and largest progressive radio network. Last week, Pacifica’s New York station, WBAI-FM, was rocked by the news that its General Manager, Valerie Van Isler, had been dismissed without warning. The move has aroused opposition from WBAI staff and listeners, who see it as the latest example of Pacifica’s national management making sudden, top-down decisions without dialogue and consultation with the people on the ground. From New York, Miranda Kennedy has this report.

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