November 2, 2007

  • Clashes between Police and Protesters Mar Day of the Dead Celebrations in Oaxaca
  • Demonstrators in DC Protest a New US Anti-Narcotics Agreement with Mexico
  • Hollywood Screen Writers Announce Intentions to Strike
  • Presidential Candidates Go After Democratic Front runner Clinton
  • Senate Commerce Committee Approves the Local Community Radio Act

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Burmese Junta Expells Top UN Diplomat
Burma’s military junta has handed expulsion orders to the top United Nations official there. The letter comes after the diplomat’s office issued statements encouraging the junta to listen to pro-democracy protestors. The expulsion comes just one day before UN special envoy Imbrahim Gambari returns to Burma for a 6-day visit.

LRA Rebels Arrive in Kampala

Rebels from Uganda’s notorious Lord’s Resistance Army are in the capital Kampala holding talks with members of parliament in the first of a series of meeting across the country. Joshua Kyalimpa reports.

The meetings are part of the ongoing peace talks between the rebels and the government, mediated by officials from South Sudan. Its the first time the rebels or their representatives have publicly stepped foot in the Ugandan capital since launching war against the government 21-years ago. During the visit, the rebels hope to meet the president before proceeding to the north of the country to discuss justice and reconciliation for atrocities committed there. LRA leader Joseph Kony remains in a rebel camp across the border in the Democratic Republic of Congo and refuses to personally take part in the talks unless the International Criminal Court lifts an arrest warrant against him and other top rebel leaders. Joshua Kyalimpa, FSRN, Kampala.

Millions of Veterans Uninsured
A new study has found that one in eight of America’s 47 million people who lack health insurance is a veteran or a member of a veteran’s household. Kellia Ramares has the story.

A study by Harvard Medical School researchers shows that 12.7% of non-elderly veterans were uninsured in 2004, up from 9.9% on 2000. The Veterans Health Care Eligibility Reform Act of 1996 opened VA health care to all veterans, but in January of 2003, just before the invasion of Iraq, the Department of Veterans Affairs halted the enrollment of most middle-income veterans. Others are unable to obtain VA care due to waiting lists at some VA facilities, unaffordable co-payments for VA specialty care, or the lack of VA facilities in their communities. Dr. David Himmelstine, an Associate Professor at the Harvard Medical School, is the lead researcher for the study: (audio) “I was first surprised to learn that there were uninsured veterans at all. I found that out when I started seeing some uninsured veterans in my practice. I hadn’t been aware that that was even a possibility until then. And that’s when we started to look at the statistics. And I was surprised to see that the number was going up and going up pretty substantially.” Dr. Himmelstine, who is also a founder of Physicians for a National Health Program, says national health insurance is the answer for veterans and all Americans. For FSRN, I’m Kellia Ramares.

Hurricane Noel Heads Towards Eastern Seaboard
Meteorologists predict that Hurricane Noel will largely spare the eastern seaboard this weekend, aside from heavy rainfall in some areas. The hurricane is currently located between the Bahamas and the coast of North Carolina. Flooding and mudslides triggered by Noel when she was still only a tropical storm killed more than 115 people in Haiti and the Dominican Republic.

Climate Actions Planned for the Weekend

In other climate news, citizens from across the US will hold events and rallies around the country tomorrow to urge lawmakers to take action to curb global warming. The Step It Up campaign is calling for a moratorium on new coal plants, an 80 percent reduction in carbon emissions by the year 2050, and for the creation of 5 million new “green” jobs. Meanwhile, some 100 mayors from cities across the US are in Seattle today to discuss measures to combat climate change and reduce greenhouse gas emissions at the local level.

Niger Delta Militants Target Navy Ship

In the latest wave of violence in Nigeria’s volatile Niger Delta region, militants have attacked a navy ship protecting oil installations in the area. Sam Olukoya reports from Lagos.

An attack launched earlier this week by the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta killed a naval officer and injured four others. The Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta is the main militant group in the volatile region. The group said in a statement that the attack was to prove to the Nigerian government and multinational oil companies operating in the region that the Nigerian military can not protect oil facilities. The group said oil facilities can only be free from its attacks when local communities have justice. Some militant groups in the Niger Delta say they took up arms so that local communities can have a share of crude oil proceeds from the area. The billion of dollars in annual profits are normally shared between the Nigerian government and multinational oil companies operating in the region while local residents live in grinding poverty. For Free Speech Radio News, this is Sam Olukoya in Lagos.



Clashes between Police and Protesters Mar Day of the Dead Celebrations in Oaxaca (4:30)

After a period of relative calm, social unrest has once again erupted in the Mexican state of Oaxaca. At least 20 people were arrested today when hundreds of state and local police descended on an intersection, where protesters were building a traditional Day of the Dead altar. The intersection was the site of a 7-hour street battle fought one year ago today between federal riot police and anti-government demonstrators. Vladimir Flores takes a look at the intersection of social unrest and tradition as Oaxaca enters into a weekend of customary festivities.

Demonstrators in DC Protest a New US Anti-Narcotics Agreement with Mexico (3:00)

The Mexican and US governments have negotiated a new anti-narcotics aid package that would send over 1 billion dollars in financial and military assistance to Mexico. The money is earmarked to fight Mexican drug cartels and drug trafficking between both countries. Critics of the plan converged today at the Mexican embassy in Washington, DC to call for an end to the US-bankrolling of the Mexican military. Katharine Jarmul reports from DC…

Hollywood Screen Writers Announce Intentions to Strike (5:00)

Hollywood writers have pronounced that they intend to call a strike. The leadership of the Writers Guild of America made the announcement last night after contract negotiations with studios hit an impasse. At issue is how writers should be compensated for digital distribution of their work. The Guild’s contract expired Wednesday. If a deal is not reached over the weekend, the walk-out could begin as early as Monday, effecting talk shows and other topical programming immediately. Leilani Albano has more on the story.

Presidential Candidates Go After Democratic Front runner Clinton (3:00)

Presidential politics went on the offensive this week. During an NBC debate Democratic candidates ratcheted up pressure on front-runner Hillary Clinton. She has become the target of some campaigns and responded that politics was an all-men’s club. Barak Obama is the latest to join the post-debate maneuvering, speaking on the morning show, “Today.” He said, “I am assuming, and I hope that Senator Clinton wants to be treated like everybody else, and I think that that’s why she’s running for President.” This tit-for-tat is leaving many people wondering where the issues went. Matt Laslo has this week’s Political Roundup.

Senate Commerce Committee Approves the Local Community Radio Act (4:30)

Seven years ago, the Federal Communications Commission recognized the need for more diversity in programming on the radio airwaves. The FCC began taking applications for new Low Power FM radio stations. But the new broadcasting window was immediately closed due to lobbying by powerful corporate radio interests. Educational institutions, labor unions, churches, towns, and community groups seeking to start Low Power radio stations have faced restrictive license requirements that limit community access to the airwaves.

But there is new hope this week. The Senate Commerce Committee has approved the Local Community Radio Act. The legislation is designed to ease licensing restrictions enough to allow for hundreds of new non-commercial stations. FSRN’s Andalusia Knoll has more:

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