April 19, 2006
PRODI VICTORY CONFIRMED
Italy’s Supreme Court has found Romano Prodi to be the official winner of the country’s closely contested prime ministerial election. Current Prime Minister, Silvio Berlusconi, had refused to concede after results showed a razor-thin margin of victory for Prodi. Today’s Supreme Court ruling ends 10 days of uncertainty that followed the close election.
SIT-IN AT GOV. JEB BUSH’S OFFICE
30 students began a sit-in at Florida governor Jeb Bush’s office this morning. From WMNF in Tampa, Andrew Stelzer reports.
The students occupying the governor’s office are upset that no one has been held responsible for the death of a 14-year old African American who was beaten by guards at a juvenile boot camp in the Florida Panhandle. (sound) “Here we have a video tape clearly showing the guards beating this young boy to death and nothing has been done. Over 100 days already and the time for diplomacy has run out.” Gabriel Pendas, the President of the Student Senate at Florida State University, was one of millions of outraged Floridians, when the initial autopsy found that Martin lee Anderson had died from sickle cell disorder, and not from the beating by 7 guards. This, despite the fact that ammonia tablets were stuffed up his nose during the beating. The students are calling for the release of a second autopsy, a civil suit against the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and the Bay County Sheriff’s office, the arrest of the 7 guards who beat Anderson and the nurse who watched the beating and didn’t intervene, the revocation of the medical license of the initial medical examiner, and an apology by Governor Jeb Bush, the state attorney general and head of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. Bush has said he will meet with the students in private, but Pendas said the meeting must be open to the press and they are prepared to stay until their demands are met (Pendas) “This is a public issue, that has been covered up already, by members of the government, that needs to be brought to light, and anything that he can say to us he can say to the people of our state that are requesting that justice be served today.” For FSRN, I’m Andrew Stelzer.
PROTESTS IN SEATTLE GREET PRESIDENT HU
Chinese President Hu Jintao is in Washington state on the second day of his visit to the US. His arrival sparked demonstrations in Seattle yesterday. Mark Taylor-Canfield reports.
Protests were staged by members of the religious order Falun Gong, supporters of independence for Taiwan, and Tibetan-rights activists. Cars covered with colorful banners and political statements in Chinese drove through downtown. Groups demonstrating for Taiwanese independence marched to the hotel where Hu’s 120 member entourage was staying. Police closed downtown streets and Interstate 5 to accommodate the Chinese leader’s motorcade. Hu was met by protesters when he visited Microsoft headquarters and Boeing facilities in Everett. Washington State Governor Christine Gregoire met with him and later in the evening the Chinese President attended a dinner at Bill Gates’ mansion on Lake Washington. Also in attendance at the dinner were Starbucks chairman Howard Schultz, Henry Kissinger, Gregoire and former Governor Gary Locke. Last year, exports from Washington to China totaled over $5 billion.
4 MORE PROTESTERS KILLED IN NEPAL
Pro-democracy activists in Nepal continue demonstrating against the King’s absolute rule – despite the sometimes fatal reactions from security forces. PC Dubey has more from Kathmandu.
Soldiers fired indiscriminately on a crowd of 50,000 during a peaceful protest this afternoon in the eastern Nepalese district of Jhapa. Four people died instantly and over 100 protesters were seriously wounded. Sandeep Kumar, a health worker at a nearby hospital says some of the wounded protesters are in very critical condition. (sound) “At least 15 of them are in real danger despite the high tech treatment we are offering them.” One young woman was killed yesterday when soldiers launched a teargas grenade directly at her face in the far western town of Nepalganj. During past 14 days, a total of 11 persons have died due to bullets teargas grenades fired by security forces. Meanwhile, the royalist government has imposed an 18-hour curfew in Kathmandu to foil the political parties plans for a mass protest tomorrow. For Free Speech Radio News, I am PC Dubey in Kathmandu.
SAN SALVADOR RESIDENT BLOCK ROADS FOR ACCESS TO WATER
Residents of the Modelo neighborhood in the capital of El Salvador set up road blockades yesterday to demand a supply of water for their homes. Neighborhood residents told San Salvador’s La Prensa Grafica newspaper that water service was cut off nearly two months ago after a water main was damaged during a public works project. Since then, a fire hydrant opened by local residents has been the only source of running water in the neighborhood. The street blockade ended after five hours when the local water utility agreed to place 2 large water containers in the neighborhood.
INQUIRY INTO MISSING FUNDS FOR BRITISH HEALTH CARE
In The UK, Tony Blair’s government is now facing a parliamentary investigation over multi-million pound deficits in the public health service. Naomi Fowler reports from London.
When Tony Blair’s Labour party first came to office, the National Health Service that promised ‘cradle to grave’ free health care for all was in a poor state. Yet despite record extra spending on health after years of neglect from previous governments, hospitals across the country are still reporting multi-million pound deficits. It’s no mystery, says British doctor Jacky Davis. (sound) ‘Money now is going into the profits of the private sector as they have become increasingly involved in delivering public health services in this country. There’s no evidence that involvement of the private sector improves the quality of health care or improves value for money and in fact when the people who promote the market involvement in public services are challenged, they simply cannot provide that evidence. So, we have to resist the marketisation of public health services.’ With deficits reaching more than £860 million dollars, thousands of staff losing their jobs with thousands more job losses on the way, the parliamentary investigation will analyze what’s gone wrong and how best to put it right. Local elections here are only two weeks away and Blair’s party is expected to lose a lot of seats. This is Naomi Fowler in London for Free Speech Radio News.
Surprising Changes in White House Staff (3:40)
Staff changes continue at the White House today, with Spokesman Schoot McClellan resigning, and Karl Rove staying on but changing roles. Democrats, meanwhile, say Rove should simply be fired. Washington Editor Leigh Ann Caldwell has more.
Highlighting China’s Human Rights Abuses (3:44)
Chinese President Hu Jintao is in the middle of a 4-day tour to the US. After wrapping up a series of meetings with politicians and business leaders in Washington state today, Hu will travel to DC to meet with President Bush tomorrow. While the bulk of President Hu’s visit will focus on business ties, currency and trade policies, and it’s stance towards North Korea, some are taking the opportunity to highlight China’s dismal record of human rights abuses – and Congress members held a hearing on human rights abuses in China today. But after exposure of human rights scandals such as Abu Ghraib, President Bush may be reluctant to pressure the Chinese leader on human rights. FSRN’s Darby Hickey from Capitol Hill.
Women’s Rights Waning in Iraq (2:40)
Iraqi Prime Minister Ibrahim Al-Jaafari said today he would not relinquish his nomination to keep his post. Jaafari’s nomination by the coalition of religious Shiite parties that has the largest number of seats in the Iraqi parliament continues to stall negotiations over forming the government four months after the country’s elections. Sunni and Kurdish leaders complain Jaafari is too sectarian a leader. One complaint that has long fallen by the wayside is that his government helped draft a constitution that takes away rights women previously held in Iraq. FSRN’s David Enders reports from Baghdad.
Israel’s Recent Raids and Arrests of Palestinians since Bombing (2:34)
Israeli military aggression in the occupied Palestinian territories, already high since the Israeli election on March 27, has stepped up a notch since 21-year old Samir Hammad blew himself up at a falafel stand in Tel Aviv killing nine on Monday. FSRN’s Saed Bannoura reports from occupied Palestine.
The Battle for Homeless Rights in Florida (2:20)
About 50 homeless people and their supporters recently gathered outside City Hall in St. Petersburg, Florida to protest an ordinance which empowers law enforcement to arrest or site those sleeping or sitting on the grassy areas of city parks after the closing time of each park. Thirty of those protesters slept the night on the sidewalk in front of the building as a sign of solidarity with the nearly 5,000 homeless in Pinellas County. Opponents of the ordinance say that it criminalizes homelessness and does nothing to reduce the problem. Emily Reddy has more from St. Petersburg.
Mumia Comments: Zacaria Moussaoui’s Upbringing in France (3:28)
The defense of Zacaria Moussaoui continued today… a psychologist and expert on cult victims offered testimony on Moussaoui’s state of mind as he was drawn into radical fundamentalist beliefs, while living in London. The statements come a day after a psychiatrist and co-author of a mental health diagnostic guide testified that Moussaoui suffers from paranoid schizophrenia. In this essay recorded from Pennsylvania’s Death Row, FSRN commentator Mumia Abu Jamal describes Moussaoui’s upbringing in France.