January 12, 2001

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Hundreds of thousands of demonstrators will converge on Washington, D.C. on Saturday, January 20th for George W. Bush’s presidential inauguration. They’ll come to Washington to defend the legal right to abortion, which many see as threatened by Bush’s choice for attorney-general — former Missouri Senator John Ashcroft, an icon of the religious right. They’ll also come to protest the death penalty and demand freedom for Death Row journalist Mumia Abu-Jamal. And they’ll come to protest the inauguration itself, viewed as An insult by those who believe Bush became president only because of the disenfranchisement of millions of voters, particularly African-Americans. Faced with an expected turnout of three quarters of a million people, local and federal police agencies have joined forces to control, and, some say, prevent the demonstrators from getting their message across. As the week began, only one group had received a permit from the D.C. police, although four major marches are planned. Free speech advocates won an important legal victory Tuesday, when the International Action Center, one of the first groups to call for a counter-inaugural protest, was granted a permit. But organizers are continuing to press for assurances that, in the words of  the U.S. Constitution, “the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances” will be respected.  From New York, Susan Wood reports.



As activists march on Washington on Inauguration Day to protest the George W. Bush Presidency, there will also be demonstrations taking place in Florida – the state which was the focus of the five-week recount controversy ultimately decided by the U.S. Supreme Court. From Tampa, Mitch Perry has this report on the protest plans in Florida.



California declared an electric supply emergency this week as fall-out continues from implementation of the state’s 1996 plan for electricity deregulation, which has caused energy prices to soar. On Thursday, the state’s power exchange issued warned that rolling blackouts might be required to avoid the collapse of the entire power grid. In Washington, negotiations continued between state and federal officials, power plant owners, and California’s two big utilities. And in Sacramento, California law-makers began considering proposals to rein in the crisis caused by state’s energy deregulation plan. Aaron Glantz reports from California’s capital.



While Californians deal with skyrocketing electricity prices, the Northwest has been going through a power crisis of its own. Failure of generating capacity to keep up with increased demand in the region, along with a dry autumn and low winter snowpack, has left residents looking at higher power bills as well. And as California looks hungrily toward the Northwest’s traditionally cheaper power, the dynamics of the region’s power marketing are in flux. Leigh Robartes has more.



Privatization of government-owned industries and services was a trademark of Great Britain under Margaret Thatcher and her Conservative Party. But the Labour government under Prime Minister Tony Blair has been reluctant to reverse privatization and has even supported it in certain sectors. Blair’s Deputy Prime Minister has called for the privatization of London’s underground train system, but Ken Livingstone, the city’s left-wing Labour Mayor, says the Tube should stay in public hands. From London, Patrick Beckett reports.



Last Saturday in New York City, more than a thousand demonstrated outside the studios of WBAI-FM, the New York station of Pacifica, the nation’s largest and oldest progressive radio network. The protest continued a wave of organizing and agitation which has followed the so-called “Christmas coup” at WBAI, when Pacifica Foundation executive director Bessie Wash changed the locks at the station in the middle of the night and installed talk show host Utrice Leid as interim general manager. Bernard White, Program Director and host of the station’s Morning Show, and Sharan Louise Harper, the morning show’s producer, were fired. Three volunteer producers and reporters were also banned from the station. All were threatened with trespass charges if they returned to WBAI. The moves were reminiscent of three-week lockout at Pacifica’s Berkeley, California station in 1999 and many Pacifica supporters see them as part of a strategy to mainstream programming and centralize control within the network. From New York, Miranda Kennedy files this report.