August 23, 2007

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Headlines (5:32)

The exiled former prime minister of Pakistan has been given permission to return home. Pakistan’s Supreme Court ruled today that Nawaz Sharif can once again run for office. Sharif left Pakistan in 1999 when current president General Pervez Musharraf seized power in a military coup.


In other news, partisan disagreements over the US-India nuclear deal have sparked a political showdown in India’s Congress. Bismillah Geelani reports from New Delhi.

The ruling coalition in the Indian Congress appeared to be on the verge of collapse last week. Leftists opposed to the nuclear agreement with the United States were threatening to pull out of the coalition due to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s refusal to back down on the deal. Although the situation has slightly improved, relations between the two main coalition partners remain very tense. Efforts are currently underway to resolve the stand-off, but both sides are sticking to their respective positions on the issue. The Communist Party sees the nuclear deal as a danger to the country’s independent foreign policy while the Congress Party argues that putting the deal on hold would be detrimental to national interests. If the two sides fail to reach an agreement, the government could be forced to call early elections. For FSRN, this is Bismillah Geelani from New Delhi.


Former UN ambassador John Bolton has publicly endorsed an attacked on Iran, joining the small chorus of Washington hawks like Connecticut Sen. Joe Lieberman. Meanwhile, a member of the anti-war group Code Pink for Peace who held a 24 day hunger strike at Sen. Lieberman’s office is now traveling across the country speaking out against a possible attack on Iran. She spoke in Connecticut last night. Melinda Tuhus reports.

Dressed in pink from head to toe, Leslie Angeline told her New Haven audience that knowing people on the ground in Iran drove her to speak out against a possible U.S. airstrike against that country. CT Sen. Lieberman has proposed attacking Iran, claiming that an Iranian force is supplying weapons to Iraqi insurgents. Angeline made several attempts to meet with the senator. When Lieberman refused, she began a hunger strike, going to his DC office each day for 24 days. (audio) “I’ve seen him seven times – six where I chased him down the hall, and once where he actually sat down with me and talked.” After fainting there one day and being arrested another day, Lieberman finally agreed to meet with her. This was her message: (audio) Whenever a politician in the US makes a threatening remark about war or sanctions to Iran, it causes the government there to clamp down on civil society. Angeline says it’s the Iranian *people* who will bear the brunt of a US attack and urged Lieberman to use diplomacy instead of threats. Lieberman’s office has not dropped the criminal charges against her for what it termed illegal entry. For FSRN, I’m Melinda Tuhus in New Haven.


The Justice Department has filed legal papers that argue the White House office tasked with responding to open records requests is not subject to the Freedom of Information Act. The move comes in response to a lawsuit brought by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington over thousands – possibly millions – of missing emails deleted from White House servers. Some of the emails are sought by congressional investigators as part of the probe into the firing of 9 US attorneys.


In Brazil, social movements and student groups are on a nationwide campaign this week to demand increased government funding for public education. Debora Pill reports.

Some of the country’s best known social organizations, such as the Landless Workers Movement MST and the National Students’ Union UNE are spear-heading a campaign called the National Journey in Defense of Public Education. Campaigners in each state are organizing debates, public teach-ins and direct actions. Yesterday, more than 5500 people occupied university campuses in 6 different states throughout Brazil. Activism around public education has become more militant due to years of budget stagnation and broken promises. Back in the year 2000, Brazil’s Congress approved a National Education Plan that called for a budget equal to 7-percent of the Gross Domestic Product. However, the current education budget is half that amount. For Free Speech Radio News, I’m Debora Pill from Sao Paulo.


Eighty years ago today, the state of Massachusetts executed Italian immigrant anarchists Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti. Their trial came at a time of extreme anti-immigrant sentiment in the US, in which Italians were particularly discriminated against. The charges against Sacco and Vanzetti also came at the height of the Red Scare of the 1920s in which anti-capitalist leftists of any stripe were portrayed as dangerous subversives. Their death sentence led to protests around the world and their execution by electric chair 80 years ago today led to riots in London, Paris, and Germany. The home of the executioner was bombed less than a year later. The trial’s presiding judge, who openly expressed biased views in the courtroom, was later subject to an assassination attempt and lived under armed guard for the rest of his life.

Ads Highlight Health Insurance in Upcoming Presidential Election (3:43)

An advertising campaign blitz aims to influence the 2008 Presidential elections. The ads will focus on the uninsured and hopes that voters will make health insurance their top issue when heading to the voting booth. FSRN’s Leigh Ann Caldwell has more.

Rescue Efforts Continue in Peru (3:24)

The government of Peru has officially stopped rescue efforts after last week’s devastating 7.9 earthquake in Ica. Recovery efforts continue, however, as nations around the world continue sending aid and goodwill o southern Peru. FSRN’s Alfredo Cuadros and Pamela Cueva report from Lima.

Tony Blair’s Plan for Peace in the Middle East (2:49)

The UK has denied Palestinian soccer players entry visas, citing that Britain was not assured by Israel that the players would have the right to return to Hamas-ruled Gaza. The team, named Palestine, is made up entirely of players under the age of 19, and was set to play matches for three weeks in the UK before being denied their visas. The team’s manager says the move has upset the players’ morale.

Meanwhile, Tomy Blair, who is now the Coordinator of the Quartet Committee for Middle East Peace, is due to visit the region next week. He holds a new economic promise to revive an the Palestinian economy as a means to achieve peace between the Palestinians and Israelis. FSRN’s Rami Almeghari has more.

Critics Say Germany’s Anti-Terrorism Laws Target Leftist Intellectuals (3:46)

German sociologist Andrej Holm, was released on bail late yesterday, after spending 3 weeks in jail on suspicion of being a member of a terrorist organization. Holm was arrested under section 129a of Germany’s anti-terrorist legislation, because of his association with 3 other men who were arrested after allegedly attempting to set fire to a military vehicle. The German Federal Police suspect that all these people are members of a terrorist organisation known as the Militant Group – and have been holding them in pre-trial detention under section 129a of the German Anti-Terrorism Law. Cinnamon Nippard has more from Berlin.

Chilean Fisheries Face Crisis (4:51)

Inshore fisheries in Chile are in crisis; fishers’ wharfs in the central part of the country are shut down due to the collapse of hake fisheries, the industry’s main staple. For more than a month fishers have not gone to sea. They sit on the wharfs holding meetings, looking for solutions to their plight and eating at soup kitchens. This week, slow boiling anger spilled over into violence as fishers in the port city of Valparaiso clashed with police. FSRN’s Jorge Garreton reports from a fisher’s wharf.


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