December 08, 2004

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Ukraine’s Parliament Adopts Constitutional Changes
Ukraine’s parliament adopted electoral and constitutional changes today in a compromise intended to defuse the nation’s political crisis. The vote came as a surprise after days of political maneuvering and massive street protests following the disputed Nov. 21 presidential runoff election. In the final version, the president no longer has the power to appoint his own government, but keeps the right to reject parliamentary nominees for the top three positions – prime minister, foreign minister and defense minister. Parliament also earns the right to appoint all other Cabinet positions without presidential approval. To prevent electoral fraud in the new ballot, restrictions were placed on absentee voting. The Ukranian Supreme Court annulled last month’s election, won by Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovich, and ordered a new ballot on Dec. 26.

Soldiers Grill Rumsfelds
Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld met today with troops in Kuwait who are awaiting deployment to Iraq. They asked Rumsfeld why they have to rummage through landfills looking for scrap metal to use as armor for their vehicles. Emily Friefeld has more.

Ex-Soldier Seeks Refugee Status in Canadas
Today was the final day in the refugee hearing of Jeremy Hinzman, a former US. Marine who left Fort Bragg for Canada earlier this year to avoid service in Iraq. His application for conscientious objector status was denied in 2003. Kristin Schwarts reports from CKLN in Toronto.

Walmart Settles Free Speech Claims
A Walmart store in rural Northern California was forced to settle with protestors defending their right to gather signatures and to exercise peaceful protest in front of the store. Annie Esposito reports from KZYX Radio.

President Bush Signs Spending Bills
President signed a $388 billion legislative package today that covers the spending of every federal agency except the Pentagon and Department of Homeland Security. Congress sent the measure, which covers the fiscal year that began Oct. 1, to the president yesterday. Congress passed the package Nov. 20 but lawmakers delayed sending it to the White House until they overturned language that would have made it easier for some members of Congress and their aides to enter Internal Revenue Service offices and see income tax returns.

Ohio Forum come to Capitol Hill -3:51
The ranking Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee John Conyers held a policy forum on Capitol Hill today on voting irregularities in Ohio and other states.  No Republican lawmakers attended the forum.  Mitch Jeserich was there and he brings us the story.

9-11 Bill En-Route to White House -3:59
Today, Congress is poised to send the 9/11 intelligence-reform bill to the White House. Last night, the House approved the bill after weeks of debate. Many anti-immigrant provisions were stripped down, but as Dolores M. Bernal reports, Republicans are not about to give up on pushing for legislation that targets undocumented workers.

Update from Baghdad -2:30
The Iraqi resistance continues to operate in the razed city of Fallujah. Reports coming in to the Iraqi newspaper Mafkarat al-Islam report that the resistance has been targeting US forces as they carried out raids and searches in Fallujah neighborhoods of al-Jaghifi, al-Mu‘allimin, ash-Shurtah, and al-Jawlan. Active US patrols are also continuing in Fallujah under the cover of US fighter aircrafts. Meanwhile, in Baghdad, the resistance attacked a market place with mortar shells because it said the goods being sold by the US installed Iraqi National Guard were plundered from residents of Fallujah. And as our correspondents Salam Talib and Dahr Jamail report, Baghdad is a city on the point of revolt as daily life grows more unbearable.

NY Rockefeller Drug Laws Reformed -2:04
New York State passed drug reform legislation that slightly lessened the harshest drug policies in the country.  Leigh Ann Caldwell has more from New York.

CA Residents Fight Water Privatization -3:32
Public comment took place yesterday in Felton, CA, over a proposed buyout by the German energy giant RWE of the local water system. For two years residents of Felton have been fighting RWE’s plans for water privatization. This comes as last weekend, the Nicaragua Network held its National Leadership Meeting, in Santa Cruz, CA. High on the agenda was the issue of water privatization, and networking between communities struggling to control their natural resources. FSRN reporter Vinny Lombardo looks at how citizens are reaching across the globe in the fight to retake their water.

Laws Against Gay Adoption being Challenged in Florida -3:59
A federal judge today ruled that a lawsuit that seeks to strike down Oklahoma’s antigay adoption law may proceed. Last May, Oklahoma Gov. Brad Henry signed legislation barring adoptions by gay couples from out of state. Same-sex Oklahoma couples were already prevented from adopting, although singles gays or lesbians can become the parent of adoptive children. The new law removes a loophole that had allowed same-sex partners in states where co-adoption is legal to seek children in Oklahoma. And while Americans overwhelmingly voted against gay marriage in several states on Election Day, most say they are in favor of equal legal rights, regardless of a person’s sexuality.  In 49 states, same sex couples, and often single gay people are allowed to adopt children, but there’s one hold out. As FSRN’s Andrew Stelzer reports from Tampa, more than 20 social justice groups in Florida have formed The Coalition For Fair Adoption, and are determined to tear down a 27 year old law that they say accomplishes nothing more than hurting children and breaking up happy families.


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