July 31, 2007

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Headlines (5:05)

The British army’s longest continuous military operation comes to an end at midnight tonight when responsibility for security in Northern Ireland passes to the police. From London, Naomi Fowler reports.

After 38 years and 3,600 dead, the 5,000 British troops still stationed in Northern Ireland will be made available for duty elsewhere. Northern Irish police and the British Security Service MI5 will be primarily responsible for security. But MI5’s enhanced role in Northern Ireland is causing concern to the outgoing police ombudsman for Northern Ireland, Nuala O’Loan. She’s complained that her successors won’t have the powers to compel the intelligence service to cooperate with inquiries into the past. British security services have a long and checkered history of cover-up and collusion with unionist paramilitaries who supported British rule: (audio) “They would tell us that when you fight an anti-terrorist war, it’s so difficult that you cannot keep the normal rules, what I would say is that had there been rules, this situation would not have run as it did for so long.” Another cause for concern is that as British troops move out, soldiers in Northern Ireland get greater powers than in the rest of the United Kingdom, allowing them to stop and question anyone about their movements – and hold them indefinitely until they answer. This is Naomi Fowler in London for Free Speech Radio News.


The takeover of the Wall Street Journal by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp seems like a done deal now that holdout members of the family that controls the paper said they will vote in favor of the 5 billion dollar deal. The Wall Street Journal is the second most widely circulated paper in the US. Rupert Murdoch already controls the 20th century Fox movie studios, the MySpace online network, Fox News, and over 100 newspapers worldwide.


The Federal Communications Commission met today to set the ground rules for how a portion of the public airwaves will be auctioned off in January. Eric Klein has more.

Television broadcasters will vacate the 700 megahertz spectrum when they fully convert to digital in February of 2009. The spectrum will now be available for wireless communications – like broadband access over cell phones. Harold Feld is senior vice president of the Media Access Project, public advocacy organization that has represented a coalition of groups before the FCC. (sound) “The FCC has taken a very modest step instead of taking a giant leap”. The FCC approved a controversial provision to allow cell customers to use the hand held device and software of their choice on a portion of the network. A more ambitious provision, also supported by consumer advocates, would have required companies with spectrum licenses to sell access to its network at wholesale rates in order to increase competition. This provision was not included in the new rules. The FCC will auction off the portion of valuable airwaves to the highest bidder in January. The sale is expected to raise as much as 15 billion dollars.


Senator Ted Stevens of Alaska is facing calls to step down admist an expanding bribery scandal involving a number of legislators from his home state and an oil field services company that has received federal contracts worth tens of millions of dollars. Federal investigators raided the Senator’s Alaska home yesterday, taking photographs and recording video evidence. Stevens is the Senate’s longest serving Republican and is an influential member of the Senate Appropriations Committee. During Republican control of the Senate, Steven chaired the Appropriations committee, which gave him tremendous influence over the 3 trillion dollar budget.


The Secretary General of Amnesty International is in Oaxaca today to as part of a high level visit by the organization to investigate reports of serious human rights abuses in Mexico. Vladimir Flores reports from Oaxaca.

Amnesty International`s Secretary General Irene Khan today met with different sectors involved in the ongoing social conflict of Oaxaca. Members of the international organization today heard testimonies from survivors and relatives of victims of political violence committed during the 2006 popular uprising against Oaxacan governor Ulises Ruiz. Amnesty International has also requested a meeting with the governor, but the meeting had not been confirmed by mid-day. During their one-day visit to Oaxaca, the Amnesty International investigators will collect data on the violent incidents of July 16th, when police attacked a festival procession organized by the Section 22 teachers union and the Popular Assembly of the People of Oaxaca. The police crackdown left more than 40 people injured and resulted in the arrests of more than 60 others. One person remains hospitalized in a coma after police beat him almost to death. The last of those arrested on July 16th were released yesterday. Vladimir Flores, FSRN, Oaxaca.

Joints Chiefs of Staff Nomination Hearing (3:56)

Elected officials from across the country spent the day in Washington to lobby for a an end to the Iraq war. They unsuccessfully attempted to deliver resolutions for withdrawal that have passed in cities in several states. Meanwhile, the Senate Armed Services Committee heard testimony from the President’s nominee for Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. FSRN’s Leigh Ann Caldwell reports.

Resolution Introduced to Impeach AG Gonzales (1:06)

Today 6 Democratic Representatives in Congress introduced a resolution that could lead to impeachment proceedings of Attorney General Alberto Gonzales. Representative James Inslee of Washington is a sponsor of the resolution. The resolution would require the House Judiciary Committee to investigate whether Attorney General Gonzales should be impeached for high crimes and misdemeanors. It would need to win approval by a majority of the House for the panel to start investigating. A cabinet member has been impeached once before. In 1876, Secretary of War William W. Belknap was impeached over allegations of corruption with defense contracts.

California Prison Charged with Human Rights Abuse Against Transgender Woman (3:42)

Alexis Giraldo is a transgender woman who was repeatedly assaulted by other inmates is now suing the California Department of Corrections. Supporters of Giraldo’s case say that transgender prisoners face widespread human rights abuses within prisons, and that a court ruling in favor of Giraldo could lead to improved conditions for transpeople in prisons. Puck Lo reports.

Rally for Jena 6 (2:43)

In Jena, Louisiana today about two hundred people rallied at a court house in support of 6 African American high school students who are being charged with attempted murder of a white student. The case stems from a school incident where a black student sat underneath a shaded tree on campus that had been traditionally segregated for the use of white students. The very next day the white students hung three nooses from the tree…a symbol dating back to the days of lynching of black people in the South. The incident lead to several interracial fights, including one fight in which 6 African American students are being charged with attempted murder for knocking unconscious a white student. Jordan Flarety of Left Turn Magazine broke the story two months ago. He was at the rally today. The tree from which white students at Jena High School hung the nooses was cut down last night. Sentencing is scheduled Sept. 20 for Mychal Bell, who could get up to 22 years in prison. The cases for the other 5 black students are waiting to be heard.

West Bank Highway (3:55)
Since the start of the Intifada seven years ago, the Israeli army has prevented Palestinian villagers living near a major Israeli road from traveling on it. the villagers say it is discriminatory that only Israeli cars are permitted to drive on this road , and they have banded together and mounted a legal challenge in the Israeli courts. The court has ordered the Israeli authorities to give it a formal explanation of why this important highway has been barred to Palestinians. especially since it runs through the West Bank, and when it was expanded in the 1980’s, it was built on Palestinian land. Irris Makler reports from route 443 in the West Bank.

Update on Troy Davis (4:17)

Its been just a couple of weeks now since Troy Davis received a 90-day stay of execution from a Georgia Clemency Board to allow his defense team to make the case that he’s not the man who shot a Savannah police officer. Most of the key witnesses in Davis’s trial have recanted their testimony, and some have said they lied under police pressure. To follow up FSRN’s coverage of Troy Anthony Davis stay of execution, Naji Mujahid visited Davis’s hometown.

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