May 29, 2007

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Los Angeles Police Chief William Bratton today presented his report on the May 1st police riot at MacArthur Park to the LA Police Commission. Chief Bratton blamed the overwhelming use of force against participants and observers of the immigration rally on a (quote) “command and control breakdown”. Some of the actions being taken by LAPD include personnel changes, internal affairs investigations into misconduct, and department-wide training…including training for police to videotape future demonstrations. Chief Bratton will present his report to LA’s City Council tomorrow.


Separate protests supporting and opposing the Venezuelan opposition-oriented television station that lost its broadcast license on Sunday continue in Venezuela, with several clashes between police and demonstrators. Greg Wilpert reports from Caracas.

The competing demonstrations that started last week, both in favor of and opposed to RCTV, continued on Monday and today. The TV station had to leave the public aiwaves late Sunday night after the Chavez government refused to renew its license. Violence broke out in yesterday’s anti-Chavez demonstration in support of RCTV, with several demonstrators and police officers injured. Journalists opposed to RCTV going off the air called on university students to march in defense of freedom of speech in Venezuela. The march started peacefully, but quickly became violent. Opposition media say that the police attacked marchers with tear gas and water cannons without provocation, while pro-government media reported that students started the clashes by throwing rocks at government buildings. The Venezuelan government has been strongly criticized by NGOs and governments around the world for allowing RCTV’s broadcast license to expire without renewal. Chavez, though, says that the decision is perfectly legal and justified because RCTV participated in the 2002 coup attempt and its departure makes way for a new culture-oriented public service channel. Greg Wilpert reporting for Free Speech Radio News from Caracas, Venezuela.


Antiwar campaigner Cindy Sheehan has decided to step away from her active role in the peace movement. In a Memorial Day post to her online diary at, Sheehan wrote “I have been called every despicable name that small minds can think of and have had my life threatened many times”. Sheehan criticized divisions within the peace movement and noted how Democrats turned on her when she began to hold them to the same standards as Republicans, writing (quote) “I guess no one paid attention to me when I said that the issue of peace and people dying for no reason is not a matter of “right or left”, but “right and wrong.” I am deemed a radical because I believe that partisan politics should be left to the wayside when hundreds of thousands of people are dying for a war based on lies that is supported by Democrats and Republicans alike.” Sheehan says she will return to California to be a mother to her surviving children and to try to regain some of what she’s lost in the years that she’s tried to make officials accountable for the policies that led to her son’s death in Iraq.


In Germany yesterday, police clashed with anti-globalization protesters in what authorities warn could be an indication of what is to come at next week’s G8 summit. Cinnamon Nippard reports from Berlin.

Up to 5,000 activists demonstrated yesterday in Hamburg against the forth-coming G8 summit. Several thousand police were brought in from all over Germany and flanked all sides of the protest. 2 demonstrators and 2 Police officers were injured as clashes between the two sides continued into the night. Police made 25 arrests, and another 120 people were temporarily detained during the day. 7 men were taken into custody when they were found preparing Molotov cocktails. Police used water canons and batons against the crowd, while protestors responded with rocks, bottles and fireworks. The protest took place outside the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM), which isn’t linked to the G8 – although some of the same ministers are involved. Some speculate that the violence in these protests are an indication of what to expect on June 2nd. German authorities are expecting up to 100,000 demonstrators to protest against the G8 summit this weekend. Cinnamon Nippard reporting for Free Speech Radio News in Berlin.


As China faces international criticism over the quality of its food and drug exports, a top regulator has been handed the death penalty. Elise Potaka has more.

The former head of China’s State Food and Drug Administration was today sentenced to death, after a Beijing court convicted him of taking bribes and dereliction of duty. According to state media, Zhang Xiaoyu was found to have taken bribes worth US $850 000, and during his tenure six types of fake medicine were approved. This comes off the back of a series of international food and drug scandals involving Chinese products. In Panama, more than 100 people died after taking Chinese-made cough syrup containing the toxic chemical melamine. In the US, contaminated Chinese pet food was recently recalled in large amounts. But the Chinese public is also calling for stronger action with concerns that fake poor quality medicines are still making it onto the shelves. In Beijing, I’m Elise Potaka for FSRN.

Sanctions to Curb Sudan Bloodshed?(3:54)

President Bush has ordered new U.S. economic sanctions to pressure Sudan’s government to halt the bloodshed in Darfur that the administration has condemned as genocide. Some activists in the U.S. are applauding the move, but many say the sanctions don’t go far enough. FSRN’s Leigh Ann Caldwell has more.

Scotus Rules No Delays For Discrimination Suits(2:07)

In a victory for employers, the Supreme Court has ruled that a woman waited too long to sue her employer over gender-based wage discrimination. The high court said that it’s too hard for employers to defend against discrimination claims based on “employment decisions that are long past.” FSRN’s Karen Miller reports..

U.S. and Iran Break Nearly 3 Decades of Diplomatic Silence(2:14)

For the first time in 27 years, U.S. and Iranian officials have met face to face… The meeting, held yesterday in Iraq, and including an Iraqi official, focused primarily on the security situation in Iraq. It’s a tense subject. President Bush and his administration have charged Iran with attempting to create chaos in Iraq by arming and training anti-U.S. forces there – charges Iran’s envoy to yesterday’s meeting, Ambassador Hassan Kazemi Qomi says Iran’s government doesn’t take seriously. After the meeting, Kazemi announced that the officials had agreed to establish a “trilateral” committee to address weaknesses to Iraq’s military and defense abilities. The meeting came amid increased tensions between Iran and the United States. On Wednesday, the United Nations called for new sanctions against Iran – the latest move in a standoff between Iran and western countries – led by the United States – over Iran’s nuclear program. The same day, the U.S. deployed Navy ships into the Persian Gulf for military exercises. The move has been widely interpreted as a warning to Iran. There’s also tension between the U.S. and Iran over Iran’s capture earlier this month of three Iranian-Americans. That situation escalated today when Iran announced it had filed formal charges of espionage and endangering national security against U.S. academic Haleh Esfandiari, urban planning consultant Kian Tajbakhsh, and radio journalist Parnaz Azima. Rostam Pourzal, Iranian American Political Analyst, based in Washington, D.C. joins host Sandra Lupien.

Nigeria’s New President Faces Challenge in Oil Region(3:03)

In Nigeria, outgoing president Olusegun Obasanjo is praising his successor. Umaru Yar’Adua was sworn in today. His biggest challenge will be how to respond to armed activists in the nation’s oil-rich Niger Delta region. They’re stepping up attacks on oil facilities in what they say is a bid to get more of Nigeria’s oil wealth for its people. Sam Olukoya reports from Lagos.

CAFTA Doesn’t Deliver Promised Benefits(3:57)

The Central American Free Trade Agreement, or CAFTA, came into force for El Salvador on March 1, 2006. The government said the agreement would improve the national economy. But, many workers in El Salvador aren’t seeing the benefits promised by the so-called Free Trade Agreement. Ricardo Martinez reports.

Houston’s Brick Streets Important to Black History(3:56)

The struggle to preserve African American history has literally been taken ‘to the streets’ in Houston, Texas. After decades of neglect, the city has promised to restore a historic brick street – as soon as it finishes tearing it up. FSRN’s Renee Feltz reports:

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