November 29, 2005

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Headlines (4:29))
Canada’s 38th parliament will cease to exist today and Canadians will head to the polls in January. Prime Minister Paul Martin’s minority government – in power for 17 months – was voted out yesterday. Alison Benjamin reports from Vancouver.

The government of Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin collapsed yesterday after a Parliamentary vote of no confidence. Conservative party leader, Stephen Harper, introduced the motion, which was seconded by New Democrat leader, Jack Layton. The motion passed 177 to 133. Martin’s Liberal party led Parliament since June 2004. This is the first time a Canadian government has fall on a motion of straight non-confidence. In the past, minority governments have fallen because of lost budget votes or censure motions interpreted as non-confidence votes. Yesterday’s vote has set the stage for an early election. Prime Minister Paul Martin will ask the Governor General Michaelle Jean to dissolve Parliament today. Elections are scheduled for January 23rd. For FSRN in Vancouver, Canada, I’m Alison Benjamin.

Primary elections have been postponed in some areas of Palestine. Manar Jibreen reports from the West Bank.

Primary elections for the ruling Fatah party have been suspended in the Gaza Strip amid allegations of voting irregularities and eruptions of violence at polling stations on Monday. Fuad Kokali, member of Fatah movement, said that no intention to call off the elections:
“There is no intention to postpone the elections in the West Bank. On the contrary president Abu Mazin, said he will respect the results of the already held elections such as in Bethlehem area. Elections in Gaza Strip were suspended only for security problems which will be addressed soon.”
Voters in last week’s primaries in the West Bank favored young contenders over veteran Fattah politicians. Imprisoned Fatah member and legislator, Marwan Barghuthi won an overwhelming majority in Ramallah area; achieving 96% of the total votes. This marks the first time that Fatah has held primary elections. The long-dominant party of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas will face a political challenge from Hamas in January’s legislative elections For FSRN from IMEMC.Org in Palestine I’m Manar Jibrin.

An election official in Honduras has announced that opposition candidate Manuel Zelaya is the country’s new president-elect. The announcement has sparked political tension in Honduras as only a small fraction of the votes cast in Sunday’s election have been counted. The other leading presidential contender has refused to concede, saying that it is too early to call the election with so few votes tallied. Both candidates promise to be tough on crime if elected.

The Supreme Court has rejected the wrongful termination case of an FBI whistle blower who spoke out against security lapses at the Bureau. Victoria Jones reports from Washington DC.

The Supreme Court on Monday denied to hear the case of Sibel Edmonds, a language specialist who was fired from her position at the FBI for discussing security breaches that she witnessed after 9/11. Lower courts dismissed the wrongful termination case under the “states secrets privilege”, a rarely used legal precedent which allows the executive branch to assert that there are military matters which should not be divulged in the interest of national security, before the case was rejected by the Supreme Court. Now that her legal options have come to an end, Ms. Edmonds has said that she intends to continue her fight by asking Congress to investigate security breaches inside the FBI. For Free Speech Radio News in Washington, DC, I’m Victoria Jones.

A government probe into the terrorist attack at a school in Beslan, Russia has concluded that security forces are partly to blame. The head of the local parliamentary commission reviewing the case, blamed security forces for allowing a group of heavily armed persons to pass unnoticed through a major regional air and rail hub like Beslan. Investigators also condemned security forces for mishandling the effort to rescue the hostages held at the school. Three-hundred and thirty one people died in the September 2004 attack.

Bush New Stance on Immigration Enforcement (3:53)
Back from his week-long vacation, President Bush is on a 2-state tour to promote a newly organized stance on immigration reform. His focus is on immigration enforcement measures backed in the House. Immigrant advocates hope he builds support for more comprehensive measures in the Senate. Renee Feltz has more.

Virginia Governor Halts What Would Have Been 1000 Execution (2:58)
Virginia governor Mark Warner has halted the execution of death row inmate Robin Lovitt today. Lovitt would have been the 1000th person executed since since 1977 – more than any other state except Texas. DNA evidence which may have linked Lovitt to the murder he’s been convicted of was illegally destroyed, prompting the Viriginia governor to grant Lovitt clemency. Warner has never granted clemency in the past, and 11 people have been executed under his tenure – 94 people have been executed in the state since 1977. Many say that Virginia’s death penalty is so flawed, no one can be sure that those on death row are guilty, and Lovitt’s case was no exception. From Richmond, FSRN’s Catherine Komp reports.

Democratic Lawmakers Turn to Hugo Chavez to Save on Heating Costs (2:20)
As winter approaches, advocacy groups are in their last throws in trying to get Congress to fully fund the low-income assistance heating program for the elderly and the poor. The Department of Energy predicts that this winter’s heating bills will rise by 50%. While it looks doubtful that Congress will fully fund the program and oil companies with record profits say they don’t want to set a precedent by lowering costs, some Democratic lawmakers are turning to Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez for help. From Washington, Mitch Jeserich reports.

Human Rights Abuses in Iraq (2:48)
Al-Jazeera has broadcast a video today, showing two Canadians, one British, and one US national who were taken hostage Saturday in West Baghdad. The four humanitarian workers, part of the Christian Peacemaker Team (CPT), were in Iraq documenting the conditions of detainees in the country- many of whose rights have been violated by the coalition forces. One of the CPT’s cases involves Zaidoun Fadel. Fadel would have turned 20 years old last week, but last year, 3 US soldiers detained him and his cousin, Marwan. Both young men were handcuffed, and then thrown into the Tigris River. FSRN’s Salam Talib spoke with Nazar Al Samaria, the uncle and lawyer for the two victims.

Confusion Surround Medicare Prescription Program (3:38)
Medicare recipients across the US have begun the process of enrolling in the country’s first “government-funded” prescription drug program. But many of those eligible for the service, most of whom are elderly, say they are, at best, bewildered by the process. FSRN’s Jim Kent spoke to senior citizens, pharmacists and a Medicare representative in South Dakota, and found that there’s more than enough confusion about the government’s new prescription drug program to go around.

“What Kids are Really Learning in School Today” – Commentary by Mumia Abu-Jamal (4:04)
Geovany Serrano is a tenth-grader at Belmont High, in LA, who’s learning what American Democracy really means. After he passed out fliers and tried to organize at his school in support of the walk-out, school cops grabbed him, blasted him with pepper spray, and arrested him.