November 12, 2007

  • Department of Veterans Affairs Nominee Draws Questions
  • Anti-War Vets Celebrate Positive Federal Decision in the Case of Lt. Ehren Watada
  • Sudanese Government Brings Charges against Opposition; Uses Tear Gas on Protesters
  • Indian Clothing Manufacturers for the GAP Use Child Labor
  • Egyptian Stifles Press and Internet Freedom
  • Commentary from Mumia Abu-Jamal: Soft Dictatorships and the Misrule of Law

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Six people were killed and dozens others wounded today during a Commemoration ceremony of late Palestinian President Yasser Arafat, who died three years ago. FSRN’s Rami Almeghari has more.

Medical sources report that six people including a child and a teenager, were killed today and 80 others wounded after riots erupted during a Fatah rally. The rally was held in Gaza City, in commemoration of Fatah’s iconic leader, Yasser Arafat. According to the Interior Ministry, Hamas police forces opened fire after rounds of live ammunition were fired at its personnel.


The U.S. Coast Guard says that “human error factors” probably were involved in the ship crash and oil spill that killed nearly 200 birds in San Francisco Bay and prompted a federal criminal probe. The Cosco Busan was departing Oakland for South Korea when it struck a tower supporting the western suspension span of the Bay Bridge, cutting a 212-foot, 12-foot wide gash in the ship’s side. Some lawmakers, including one of the state’s U.S. senators, Democrat Barbara Boxer, have criticized the Coast Guard’s handling of the collision and resulting spill. Boxer said the Coast Guard initially reported that the ship’s owner had said only 140 gallons had spilled when in fact about 58,000 gallons of heavy duty bunker oil spilled into the bay. Coast Guard Admiral Craig Bone, at a news conference Coast Guard Admiral Craig Bone says the Coast Guard dropped the ball in notifying city officials about the extent of the oil spill.


Police used batons and pepper spray on protesters at the Port of Olympia in Washington State over the weekend, where anti-war demonstrators are trying to blockade US military shipments to Iraq. Mark Taylor-Canfield reports from Seattle.

After police arrested 12 people at the port over the weekend, Olympia City council member T.J. Johnson told reporters that law enforcement overreacted to the continuing acts of peaceful civil disobedience. Johnson, who was arrested last year when he joined anti-war protests at the port, held an emergency meeting at City Hall last night where over 100 ant-war activists gathered. He criticized the actions of police, especially the use of chemical agents and physical force on non-violent demonstrators and bystanders.

“We were hit, pushed, and tear gassed while standing on public property – standing where the police had directed us to go”.


Tens of thousands marched to the Uruguay-Argentina over the weekend to protest against a controversial pulp mill, which has caused a diplomatic row between the two neighboring South American nations. Over the weekend, the dispute between Uruguay and Argentina came to a head with Uruguay announcing it will begin operations at the pulp mill. FSRN’s Marie Trigona has this report.

In response to the opening of a paper mill in Uruguay local residents in Argentina blocked three international bridges that link Uruguay and Argentina, in the biggest protest in the two years since Uruguay announced plans to construct the plant. Uruguay’s president Tabare Vazquez gave the Finish company Bosnia the green light to start operations at the pulp mill on Friday from the Ibero-American Summit in Chile.


Department of Veterans Affairs Nominee Draws Questions (3:56)

In the United States, the origins of Veterans Day links back to World War I. The Armistice ending the war was signed on November 11th, 1918 and came to be celebrated as a holiday. Over the years Armistice Day slowly morphed into Veterans Day, and in 1971, President Nixon declared it a federal holiday.

On this 36th anniversary of Veterans Day, events and parades honoring US war vet are taking place across the country. At the Vietnam War Memorial in Washington, DC, every name listed on the wall was read aloud over the past few days. This year marks the 25th anniversary of the memorial.

But not all veterans are being honored equally over the holiday weekend. In Boston, as many as 15 members of the group Veterans for Peace were arrested at an American Legion rally being held at city hall. The anti-Iraq war organization was protesting not being invited to speak at the event.

To mark Veterans Day in our own way, Free Speech Radio News is going to take a look at the person nominated to head the Department of Veterans Affairs. That department is set up to take care of the 25 million veterans and their families and has a budget of 86-billion dollars. If confirmed, General James Peake will run Veterans Affairs for the remainder of President Bush’s term.

But some are adamantly opposed to his nomination, as he was the person in charge of the Department of Defense medical department while facilities at Walter Reed Army hospital operated in dilapidated and atrocious conditions. Leigh Ann Caldwell reports.

Anti-War Vets Celebrate Positive Federal Decision in the Case of Lt. Ehren Watada (2:16)

This weekend, a number of anti-war veterans celebrated a federal court ruling in the case of US Army First Lieutenant Ehren Watada. He was the first officer to refuse to deploy to Iraq. The anti-war veterans say decision sends a message of courage to the growing number of soldiers opposed to the Iraq War. FSRN’s Sarah Olson has more.

Sudanese Government Brings Charges against Opposition; Uses Tear Gas on Protesters (2:28)

The Sudanese government has formally charged twenty-five opposition politicians for crimes ranging form the unlawful possession of arms to organizing a terrorist group. On Sunday, students gathered to protest the allegations. Government police forces fired tear gas at the protesters and prevented them from voicing their opposition to the justice department.

Today in Washington, Doctor Mohammed Ahmed Abdallah said the situation in Darfur is still dire. FSRN Correspondent Matt Laslo reports from Washington.

Indian Clothing Manufacturers for the GAP Use Child Labor (4:09)

India has the largest number of Child laborers in the world, despite a law prohibiting children’s involvement in any kind of labor. And nearly 100 million children of school-going age in India do not attend school – many of them work instead.

The issue has received renewed attention after a recent report in The Observer, a British newspaper. The article exposed Indian suppliers of the American clothing retailer GAP that were using child labor at their manufacturing units. Bismillah Geelani has more.

Egyptian Stifles Press and Internet Freedom (3:00)

Despite government promises for legal reforms, in Egypt, there are 35 different offenses for which journalists can be imprisoned. The Egyptian government claims to have some of the most lenient freedom of speech laws in the Arab world. But according to Reporters Without Borders, at least seven journalists were arrested in 2006, and dozens were threatened or attacked.

President Hosni Mubarak has also cracked down on internet speech. Laws, which allow the government to shut down websites they feel threaten national security have survived numerous legal challenges. Now the poster boy for the movement for change has become 22 year-old blogger Kareem Amer. He’s been imprisoned since late 2006 for comments he made on his website.

FSRNs Andrew Stelzer has more on how the struggle for free expression in Egypt is taking place both inside and outside the country’s borders.

Commentary from Mumia Abu-Jamal: Soft Dictatorships and the Misrule of Law (2:00)