February 17, 2004

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Palestinian Day Laborers Border Sit-In
Today, several thousand Palestinian day laborers gathered at the border crossing between Gaza and Israel. Mohammed Ghalayini explains why from Gaza City.

SF Court Delays Marriage Decision
At deadline the city of San Francisco was still marrying same gendered couples as two organizations took the process to court. Tori Taylor was in the courtroom.

State Legislatures Scramble to Change Constitutions
Individual state legislatures around the nation are preparing to dismiss any same gendered marriages that may take place in other states, by reinforcing already existing prohibitions on the practice. Virginia’s House did just that, but also passed a measure yesterday that would allow employers to grant health insurance to gays and lesbians living together. Georgia’s Senate passed an amendment to the state’s constitution defining marriage as only between one man and one woman. It is expected to pass the 2/3rds needed in the House and will likely be on Georgia’s ballot in November. Fearing existing civil unions in neighboring Vermont and the likelihood of same sex marriage in Massachusetts, New Hampshire legislators are holding committee hearings on a proposal that would ban the recognition of such unions in their state.

Indigenous in Ecuador Stop Traffic
Indigenous people in Ecuador are stopping traffic in an attempt to get the President’s attention. Kurt Kanu reports from Quito.

Peace Activists Convicting for Wearing Buttons
5 peace activists in Texas have been convicted of trespassing on their way to George W. Bush’s Crawford ranch. Pokey Anderson reports from Houston.

Wisconsin Primary Today
Thanks in part to an accelerated schedule, Wisconsin today hosts one of its most significant presidential primaries in forty years.  Wisconsin voters will have the original ten candidates for the democratic nomination for president to choose from . Active candidates include front-runner Senator John Kerry, North Carolina Senator John Edwards, Vermont Governor Howard Dean,  the Reverend Al Sharpton, Ohio Congressman Dennis Kucinich and Lyndon Larouche. The names of Joe Lieberman, Dick Gephardt, Wesley Clark and Carol Mosley-Braun will remain on the ballot even though those candidates have ended their campaigns. In addition, voters can elect “uninstructed delegates,” who will then – presumably, but not necessarily – support whomever the democrats nominate at the convention in Boston this summer. From FSRN affiliate station WORT in Madison, Wisconsin, Norm Stockwell reports.

Teachers protest in Mexico City
Yesterday in Mexico’s capital, public school teachers from around the country led a demonstration of some 20,000 workers to protest proposed reforms to labor law and a narrowly-defeated 15% tax on textbooks. The protests comes as the administration of Mexican President Vicente Fox continues to promote measures to privatize state-owned industries and public services. Vladimir Flores files this report from Mexico City.

Behind Britain’s Guantanamo
While it’s well known world-wide that the US is holding their Guantanamo Bay prisoners in flagrant disregard of the Geneva Convention, few people know about Britain’s own Guantanamo — Belmarsh Prison — where fourteen prisoners are being held indefinitely without charge in Britain’s so-called war on terror. FSRN’s Naomi Fowler reports from London.

Kashmiri’s Doubtful on Talks with India
In day two of official talks between India and Pakistan, further progress was made towards hammering out an agenda for formal peace talks between the two nuclear neighbors. While the meetings thus far have been conducted between middle-ranking foreign ministry officials, tomorrow the foreign secretaries of both countries will meet to talk more specifically about one particularly tense issue: Kashmir. In Kashmir, the All Parties Hurriat Conference (APHC), the Kashmiri separatist group that recently began meetings with the Indian government, yesterday announced that the next round of talks could be hampered if human rights violations continue in Kashmir. Earlier this month five Kashmiri’s allegedly used as human shields by the Indian army were killed. APHC also accused India of not fulfilling any of the promises made during the first round of talks. The two parties are expected to meet in March for second phase talks about Kashmir. FSRN’s Shahnawaz Khan reports from Srinagar.

Regilious Sect’s Struggle for Power in Iraq
The United Nations mission in Iraq has concluded it would be difficult to conduct direct elections in the US occupied country before the transfer of power to Iraqis on June 30th. Shias, who are a dominant group in Iraq, have recently stepped up their calls for direct elections. Iraqi Sunnis believe that elections should not be conducted while the country is under occupation, while Kurds would like to see a Kurdish Kirkuk. As Raphaël Krafft reports from Baghdad and the Shia holy city of Najaf, the next few months will be crucial as the Americans, Sunnis and Shias tussle for a future share of power.


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