July 06, 2007
WIRETAPPING INJUNCTION OVERTURNED
An appeals court has overturned a lower court’s ruling against the NSA’s warrantless wiretapping program. Lawyers, journalists and academics won an injunction against the government surveillance program last year after successfully arguing that the wiretapping program could make clients and contacts wary of speaking with them over the phone about sensitive matters. The appeals court today overturned the injunction, ruling that the plaintiffs could not prove they had been directly affected by the secret program.
UK GOVT PRESENTS LEGAL CHALLENGE IN FAVOR OF HOUSE ARREST WITHOUT CHARGES
The British government has launched an effort today to overturn a High Court ruling that control orders – or house arrest of terrorist suspects without charge – violate the rights to liberty and due process. From London, Naomi Fowler reports.
Control orders have been likened by South Africans to house arrest under the apartheid system. The evidence intelligence services say they have (such as phone tap evidence) currently can’t be tested in a court of law; but many civil rights campaigners believe the evidence is inadequate and wouldn’t be admissible. Mouloud Silhali is one of the nine men in Britain currently living under a control order. Unlike the others, he did get his day in court and was acquitted of all charges. Despite this, even he is still under house arrest (sound): “I always said I was innocent and thanks to my jurors who has cleared me and believed in me. It’s like the judicial system in Britain has been taken over by secret services and the Home Office, practically they can do whatever they are pleased with, so I was very disappointed and amazed that Britain has reached this stage.” The law lords will hear the case for around six days and will make their judgment after the summer. This is Naomi Fowler in London for Free Speech Radio News.
MANDATORY DRUG TESTING FOR MEXICAN STUDENTS
Mexican president Felipe Calderon raised eyebrows this week when he announced that Mexican schoolchildren will be tested for drugs starting this year. Students at the high school, junior high, and elementary school levels will have to submit urine samples as part of a national program called “Safe Schools”. Vladimir Flores has the story.
Students at more than 8 thousand Mexican schools will have to take drug tests during the upcoming school year. Official data estimates that six percent of school aged children in Mexico have used drugs, a figure politicians are using to promote measures like blanket drug testing of children as young as six years old. Mexican President Felipe Calderón announced the measure earlier this week: (sound) “Society is demanding that we respond as authorities in a coordinated manner to confront this social cancer and to demand concrete actions to stop the enemies of Mexico.” The so-called “safe school” program began in 2004 with backpack searches and the deployment of police in thousands of Mexican schools. It is unclear at this point if parents will be able to refuse to submit their children to drug testing or if their children will face penalties for not providing urine samples to school authorities. For FSRN, I’m Vladimir Flores reporting.
UN CONFIRMS CIVILIAN AFGHAN CIVILIAN CASUALTY REPORT
A United Nations report has confirmed the results of a report released by an Afghan human rights group which found that more Afghan civilians have died this year from US and NATO military operations than at the hands of Taliban militants.
OPPOSITION TO CANADIAN PARTICIPATION IN AFGHAN MISSION
Meanwhile, opposition to Canadian participation in the Afghan mission has been on the rise. Stefan Christoff reports from Montreal.
Six Canadian soldiers killed in a road-side bomb on Wednesday are the latest in a growing list of Canadian casualties in Afghanistan. The deaths are fueling a movement that has been calling for a full withdrawal of Canadian military forces from the country. A coalition of organizations in Quebec recently mailed 2500 copies of an open letter to soldiers at the Canadian Forces Base in Valcartier calling on them to refuse deployment to southern Afghanistan. Sophie Schoen is an activist with Block the Empire in Montreal. (sound) “The whole occupation in Afghanistan is on the one hand part of the U.S.’s so-called ‘War on Terror’ and on the other hand the whole rhetoric that Canada is using to justify being in Afghanistan is about liberating women or re-building failed states is Canada is using to justify Canada’s participation in the war in Afghanistan.” A recent poll conducted in Quebec suggests that over 70% of the French-speaking province opposes the deployment of further troops to Afghanistan. This is Stefan Christoff reporting for Free Speech Radio News in Montreal.
SHUTDOWN STRIKE IN KASHMIR Click for WebExtra
Normal life slowed down significantly in the major towns of Indian administered Kashmir today as part of a shutdown strike to protest alleged human rights violations by Indian soldiers. Shanawaz Khan reports from Srinagar.
Shops, schools, and offices are closed today and public transportation is not running. Police fired live ammunition into the air and used tear gas to disperse angry protestors in Srinagar today. The demonstrators shouted anti-India slogans and pelted stones at the police. Much of what sparked today’s shutdown strike were reports that Indian soldiers tried to rape a local teenager. Last week, two soldiers entered a house in Kunan village and allegedly attempted to rape a 17-year-old girl. Local people caught the soldiers, beat them, and paraded them naked through the streets before the police dispersed the irate mob of villagers to take the soldiers into custody. Tensions are also high due to an incident yesterday in which a soldier shot dead one civilian and injured another, before killing himself in Kangan area. The soldier had supposedly been confronted for having relations with a local girl. The shootings provoked protest in the town, which continued today. For FSRN, I’m Shahnawaz Khan.
ZIMBABWE LABOR MOVEMENT TO CHALLENGE GOVERNMENT INACTION IN ECONOMIC CRISIS
Zimbabwe’s labor movement has launched a campaign to challenge the government and employers to pay workers a living wage as the country sinks deeper into an economic crisis. Tiny Magija reports from Cape Town.
The Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) wants wages and salaries linked to inflation and is now mobilizing it’s members for a mass action later this month. The ZCTU has called on the government of President Robert Mugabe many times to take urgent measures to end Zimbabwe’s severe economic crisis. The government has responded with brutality, beatings, torture and imprisonment of those raising concerns. (Sound bite) ZCTU Information Officer. Zimbabwe has the highest inflation rate in the world and an unemployment rate of 80%. Prices have sky-rocketed while wages stagnate, leaving millions struggling to make ends meet. For FSRN, I’m Tiny Magija.
Trial Against Accused Catholic Priest Torturer Begins in Argentina (4:20)
A trial is underway in Argentina against a catholic priest accused of carrying out human rights abuses during the nation’s so-called Dirty War. Christian Von Wernich stands accused of torture in several clandestine detention centers during the nation’s 1976 to 1983 military dictatorship, and was finally arrested 4 years ago while living under a false alias in Chile. This is the latest human rights trial of an accused torturer since the landmark conviction of a former police officer for genocide in 2006. Free Speech Radio News correspondent Marie Trigona was in Buenos Aires for the trial’s opening.
Weekly Political Round-Up (4:00)
One presidential hopeful is rolling in the dough while another is in a cash crunch… Several candidates speak at a teacher’s convention in Philadelphia… And an ex-president helps his wife out at a cookout in Iowa. All this and more in this weeks political round up, with FSRN’s Karen Miller.
South Dakota Bar Exam to Include Native American Law (1:45)
A decision by the South Dakota Supreme Court to include American Indian law as a regular part of the state’s bar exam takes effect this month. FSRN’s Jim Kent spoke to Native American attorneys from across South Dakota to gauge their reaction to the court’s decision.
Peace Activists’s Con Who Served Tour in Iraq is Given a Bad Conduct Discharge for Going AWOL (4:40)
The US military has expelled the son of a leading peace activist for going AWOL after returning from a tour in Iraq. Specialist Shaun Manuel, whose father Michael McPhearson directs the organization Veterans for Peace, was given a bad conduct discharge last month after failing to report for training for a second tour. Aaron Glantz has more.
A Look at the UN’s Global Compact (5:00)
As part of its plan for reform, begun under former Secretary General Kofi Annan, the United Nations began working with partners other than national government in what came to be known as the Global Compact. In operation since July 2000, the compact is a voluntary initiative and “learning platform”. It involves 4,000 companies and other non-business partners to advance broader UN goals and encourage principles in human rights, labor, the environment and anti-corruption. As Babak Bazargan reports from Geneva, the Global Compact has attracted both praise and criticism.