March 15, 2006

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Headlines (5:25)
New UN Human Rights Body
The UN General Assembly has voted overwhelmingly to create a new human rights organization for the world body, despite opposition from the US. Haider Rizvi reports from the UN.

The United Nations has created a new human rights body that will replace the Geneva-based Human Rights Commission. Despite strong objections from the United States, an overwhelming majority of the member nations of the United Nations voted in favor of the resolution that has established the 47-member Human Rights council. As many as 170 countries endorsed the resolution while the United States, Israel, Pulao and the tiny nation of Marshal Island voted against it. The United States opposed the resolution because any country with a simple majority vote in the General assembly can become a member of the new Council. The US had proposed that the new members must obtain two third of the votes. Observers say this could have made it difficult for some member nations from the developing world to obtain membership. The US proposal was aimed at excluding countries like Cuba, Sudan, Belarus and others which it consider as abusers of human rights. In a hard-hitting speech after the vote, a Cuban delegate accused the US and the European Union of following double standards in the observance of human rights.

Abbas Denounces Israel, US
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas condemned Israel’s arrest of the former leader of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine as it seized a Palestinian jail in Jericho. Abbas said that the raid was an unforgivable crime and a humiliation to the Palestinian people. Manar Jibreen has more.

Hundreds of angry Palestinians rallied in the streets and declared a general strike today in the Palestinian territories, in protest of the Israeli siege of Palestinian jail in Jericho, where Ahmad Saadat, secretary general of the Popular Front for the liberation of Palestine, and six of his comrades were arrested after a ten hour siege. Meanwhile, nine internationals who were abducted in the West Bank and Gaza. Strip in the wake of this attack were all released unharmed. Members of the Palestinian resistance fired six home mad shells on Israeli targets. The Israeli army shelled the northern part of the Gaza Strip. No injuries were reported. Israeli army extended the closure imposed on the West Bank and Gaza Strip because of the Jewish holiday this Saturday. The closure was supposed to be lifted on Wednesday signaling that the military operation is not over yet.

Saddam Trial Continues
Deposed dictator Saddam Hussein has begun his first formal defence at his trial for the 1982 massacre in Dujail. Hussein described the court as a comedy. The judge closed the hearing to the public after Saddam Hussein called on the Iraqi people to “resist invaders”.

French Protests
Protests against the French government’s new youth employment law continued today. Tony Cross reports.

Four students and a homeless man were charged today, after yesterday’s clashes outside the Sorbonne. At least nine riot police officers were injured as some of the crowd threw rocks, bottles and metal barriers at them … they responded with teargas. Today about 200 students rallied near the university to call for the protests to end … but they continued in several towns and cities, with southbound trains briefly blocked from leaving Paris’s Montparnasse station. Yesterday, President Jacques Chirac, who was on a visit to Berlin, expressed support for embattled prime minister Dominique de Villepin. for the first time. The opposition Socialists appealed to the Constitutional Council to block the law on procedural grounds and on the grounds that it contravenes the constitutional principle of equality. Some members of the governing party are reported to be hoping that this could provide a pretext for dropping the plan and ending the crisis. Students are expected to join mass marches tomorrow. And seven left-wing parties today issued a joint declaration that they will take part in a massive mobilization planned for Saturday.

Iraqi War Demonstrations
In a series of demonstrations leading up to the third year anniversary of the invasion of Iraq, and United for Peace and Justice kick off Tell the Truth about the war campaign today. This Saturday there will be massive demonstrations against the war in Iraq in New York and Los Angeles.

Non-National’s to Vote
The New York City Council is considering a proposal that would allow documented immigrants to vote in local elections. Rebecca Myles reports.

Arguing there should be no taxation without representation, the legislation, if passed, would grant non-citizens, who have lived in New York for 6 months or longer, the right to vote in municipal elections. The Voting Rights Restoration Act, supporters say it would give more than 1.3 million New York City residents a voice in a city where they contribute $18.2 billion in New York State income taxes. A citizen of Ecuador, but a New Yorker most of her life, Diana Salas, Researcher, Women of Color Policy Network said the slogans and sound bites against giving votes to noncitizens are not new.
AUDIO Salas: “…all of these of the early struggles pose the same stereotype, that we are miseducated, that we don’t know American politics, we don’t have a right to say, but as an organizer I will tell that education on voting is something that has to be done across the board, not just immigrant communities but all communities.”
Similar legislation was introduced to City Council last year but it failed to pass. This year the draft bill has more co-sponsors and supporters. Brooklyn Councilmember Charles Barron:
AUDIO Barron: “…My goal right now is to get the 34 members of the city council on board, so at least we have the overriding vote if we cannot convince the Mayor.”
The city council is currently drafting bill, the City Council Speaker, Christine Quinn has some reservations but remains open, and the bill will be presented to City Council in two weeks.

Immigration Legislation Stalls in Senate Committee (4:16)
Immigration legislation being debated in the Senate is in danger of not meeting the deadline imposed by the Senate Leader, and the stalling could cause the Judiciary Committee’s efforts to be futile. But as Leigh Ann Caldwell reports, one decision made by the committee would allow the sharing of immigrant status information between local law enforcement and the Department of Homeland Security.

Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf Addresses Joint Session of Congress (1:18)
Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf addressed a joint session of Congress today. Johnson-Sirleaf is the first woman elected to lead an African nation, and the first black woman to ever speak before both houses of Congress. She sighted the connections between Liberia and the United States, as Liberia was founded by freed African-American slaves nearly 200 years ago. She spoke about the problems Liberia is facing in rebuilding after years of civil war where she pledged to build an honest, safe, and economically sound country, with the help of the United States.

Oldest African-American Church in the Nation Closes in New Orleans (3:43)
The Catholic Archdiocese of New Orleans closed the oldest African-American church in the nation today. The church was a historic landmark and a community center with a strong tradition of spiritual music. FSRN’s Christian Roselund has more.

Gulf Coast Tribes Struggle to Survive and Rebuild (3:43)
6 months after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, native tribes in the bayous of Louisiana are struggling to survive and rebuild. The erosion of the wetlands and marshlands they call home is repeated each Hurricane season, and a lack of federal recognition of their native status means that the already paltry government aid is even slower in coming. But 4 tribes: the Bayou Lafourche, Isle Jean Charles, Grand Caillou/Dulac and the Pointe-au-Chien have begun working together to leverage whatever aid comes their way, and try to preserve their way of life before its too late. FSRNs Andrew Stelzer has more from Pointe-Au-Chein, Louisiana.

Native Americans Oppose Construction of Giant New Biker Bar (3:50)
American Indians and non-Indians are protesting the construction of a huge biker-bar and concert venue located at the base of Bear Butte; a South Dakota mountain considered sacred to dozens of American Indian tribes. The Bear Butte International Alliance is working to protect the continued encroachment of the sacred site from the expansion of the renowned Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, which takes place each August just a few miles away from Bear Butte and is attended by hundreds of thousands of motorcycle enthusiasts. FSRN’s Jim Kent spoke to members of the International Alliance who highlight the importance of preserving the solitude of Bear Butte for those living in western South Dakota, and across the country.

Peace March Highlights Latino Voices in Opposition to the War (1:56)
It’s been nearly 3 years since Jesus Suarez del Solar, a 20 year old marine from San Diego serving in Iraq, stepped on a cluster bomb which ended his life. To honor the third anniversary of his passing, Jesus’ father, Fernando Suarez del Solar is leading a 241 mile march for peace to make sure that the Latino voice of opposition to the war is heard across the nation. Luis Perez has more from Tijuana.

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