May 03, 2007

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Headlines (6:00)
Three investigations have been opened into the conduct of Los Angeles Police at a peaceful rally for immigration reform held on May first in the city’s MacArthur park. Thandisizwe Chimurenga reports.

Organizers of the Los Angeles National Day of Action for Immigration Reform had a legal permit to occupy MacArthur Park until 9:00 pm, but police descended on the park around 6 pm, claiming that a small group of demonstrators had thrown rocks and plastic bottles at police officers on nearby Alvarado Street. Officers in full riot gear rushed at the gathering, indiscriminately firing tear gas, rubber bullets, and foam-tipped plastic cartridges into the crowds, which included elderly people, children, and journalists. Several people who were not able to leave the area fast enough were clubbed with riot batons. Angela Sanbrano is the Executive Director of CARECEN – the Central American Resource Center, one of the rally’s organizers: (sound) The investigations that are already underway include a departmental review of tactics, an internal affairs investigation into the behavior of the officers and commanders on the scene, and an independent review by the investigative arm of the Police Commission, which sets policy for the Police Department. A request for the Los Angeles County District Attorney to launch an independent investigation into the officers’ actions was also made by the California Assembly Speaker of the House Fabian Nunez, who represents district where MacArthur Park is located. In Los Angeles, this is Thandisizwe Chimurenga for FSRN.

All but one member of a Palestinian family are free after spending six months in a West Texas immigrant detention center. Renee Feltz has the details:

Radi Hazahza and three of his four children left the Rolling Plains Detention Center in Haskell, Texas on Wednesday. His 18 year old son should be released later this week. The Hazahzas sought political asylum when they came to the US from Palestine in 2001. They appealed when a judge rejected their petition. And during that time, their travel documents expired. The family lived in Dallas until last November, when armed Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents raided their home in a midnight raid on the eve of the November elections. Some family members were released from a separate facility in February. The release of the rest of the family comes after the government conceded their deportation is unforeseeable, in part because they are stateless. A magistrate judge recommended their release earlier this year, but the courts could not act until 6 months had passed. Their attorney says he’s dismayed the government waited six months to end their imprisonment. He argues if removal is unforeseeable now, it was unforeseeable before their arrest. The family says they were subjected to body cavity searches after complaining about lack of proper medical care while they were detained in a medium security prison contracted to detain immigrants alongside convicted criminals. From their apartment outside of Dallas, they will now apply for political asylum again, in a process that could take another year. For FSRN, I’m Renee Feltz.

Seventeen foreign workers were kidnapped in three separate incidents in Nigeria’s Niger Delta region. This brings to twenty three, the number of foreigners that have been kidnapped in the region in the last three days. Sam Olukoya reports from Lagos.

The latest incidents took place between last night and this morning. Five of the 17 kidnapped workers were later released. Militants in the Niger Delta say they are stepping up their attacks on foreign oil workers and oil facilities ahead of May 29TH, when the new president takes office. The militants who are fighting for a share of oil resources in the Niger Delta say they regard the new government as an extension of the current government. The elections that named Musa Yar Adua as the president-elect were marred by irregularities. The American oil company, Chevron-Texaco was forced to shut down one of its facilities following an attack earlier this week. Nigeria’s oil exports have dropped by 665,000 barrels a day on account of instability in the Niger Delta. For Free Speech Radio News, this is Sam Olukoya in Lagos.

People gathered at sites around the country yesterday to protest President Bush’s veto of a spending bill for the Iraq War that included a timetable for troop withdrawal. In New Haven, Connecticut, they rallied outside the downtown residence of Sen. Joe Lieberman, a staunch supporter of the war. Melinda Tuhus reports.

Joe Lieberman ran as an independent and won his third term in the Senate last year after losing the Democratic primary to an anti-war candidate. A large majority of the state’s voters oppose the war and Lieberman successfully campaigned on a platform of bringing the war to what he called “an honorable end.” Among the protesters was Amanda DeGioia, a member of the Amnesty International chapter of a local university. She volunteered to undergo a form of waterboarding — a torture technique that has been used during interrogations of prisoners held by the U.S. at Guantánamo in which a person is made to feel he is drowning. A fellow student bound her hands, shoved a sponge in her mouth and blindfolded her as she lay face-up across a barrel. Then the student poured water over DeGioia’s face until she stomped her feet on the ground to stop it. (sound) “The reason I volunteered to do this is because I felt that I needed to feel what it was like. I’m only getting a taste of what they’re getting, and I already know it doesn’t feel so nice — it feels awful.” The head of the local peace council noted that Lieberman had voted to legalize waterboarding as an interrogation technique permitted under the Military Commissions Act. For FSRN, I’m Melinda Tuhus in New Haven.

Hate Crimes Legislation Moving Through Congress (4:00)
Congress voted on a bill today that would increase the ability of local law enforcement agencies to prosecute hate crimes motivated by a victim’s sexual orientation or gender identity. FSRN’s Karen Miller has more.

Civilian Deaths by US-Led Forces on the Rise in Afghanistan (2:30)
There are reports this week of more than 80 civilian deaths in the western Herat province – and just last night, Afghan Senator Abdul Sabur Farid was ambushed outside of his home in Kabul home. From Washington DC, Nan McCurdy has more.

French Voters Prepare to Cast Ballots for New President (4:30)
With just four days to go before the deciding round in France’s presidential election, 20-million people watched the two remaining candidates face off in a sometimes-acrimonious televised debate yesterday evening. Both Socialist Ségolène Royal and right-winger Nicolas Sarkozy made a bid for the votes of candidates forced out in the first round, which put Sarkozy in the lead. Tony Cross reports from Paris.

FCC Hearings on Media Ownership (4:20)
The Federal Communications Commission held a public hearing on the Broadcast Media Ownership Review this week – the fourth of six meetings around the country. All five members of the FCC attended; as well as representatives from media activist groups, members of local media organizations, and the public. FSRN’s Seán Kinane was there to hear conflicting opinions on media concentration.

Case Against Rumsfeld Dropped (4:30)
Germany’s Federal Prosecutor quashed a lawsuit filed in that country charging Donald Rumsfeld and other high-ranking US officials with torture and war crimes. The case was filed on behalf of 12 Iraqi citizens detained at Abu Ghraib, and one Saudi citizen still held at Guantánamo Bay who say that they were severely beaten, deprived of sleep and food, sexually abused, stripped, hooded, exposed to extreme temperatures, and frightened with dogs. Under Germany’s Universal Jurisdiction law, people can be charged for war crimes and crimes against humanity, regardless of where such crimes were committed. Some say the Federal Prosecutor’s ruling to drop the case against Rumsfeld and others is a result of political pressure from the US. FSRN’s Cinnamon Nippard has more from Berlin.

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