November 6, 2007

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Massive Suicide Bombing in Afghanistan
A suicide bombing in Afghanistan has killed more than 2 dozen civilians and injured at least 50 others. Reports from the area indicate that many children and at least 5 members of parliament are among the dead. The attack came at the start of an official event at a provincial sugar factory with school children forming a welcoming committee. It’s the deadliest suicide attack in Afghanistan since the 2001 invasion. No group has yet claimed responsibility for the blast.

State of Emergency Continues in Pakistan

Protests against General Pervez Musharraf’s imposition of martial law over the weekend continued around Pakistan today. Devin Theriot-Orr reports.

Clashes today between police and lawyers were smaller than those on Monday, no doubt due to the detention of over two thousand throughout the country. In Islamabad, the ousted Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry addressed his supporters from house arrest, urging Pakistanis to rise up against Musharraf’s “illegal and unconstitutional” action. Chaudhry’s address was cut short when the authorities shut off all mobile phone towers in Islamabad. The 55 human rights activists who were detained in Lahore on Sunday were released today, but thousands of other remain imprisoned. Meanwhile, it remains very difficult for Pakistanis to access information about the situation. On Saturday, the government blocked access to all 20 private television stations, as well as foreign stations, and imposed heavy restrictions on print media, prohibiting the publication of anything that “brings into disrepute” Musharraf or his policies. Although it initially appeared that some newspapers were disregarding the directives, that may have changed today after reports of raids on a printing press in Karachi and an official’s statement that the government will be monitoring compliance with the restrictions. Amid this information blackout, it’s unclear if January’s parliamentary elections will proceed as scheduled. This is Devin Theriot-Orr for FSRN in Lahore, Pakistan.

Germans Protest EU Data Retention Directive

Across 40 German cities and towns today people have taken to the streets to protest the European Union Data Retention Directive, requires communications providers to retain data records of phone and internet use for up to two years. Cinnamon Nippard has more from Berlin.

The EU Data Retention Directive was created “for the purpose of the investigation, detection and prosecution of serious crime, as defined by each Member State in its national law”. But community groups and activists say such a directive breaches civil liberties and personal privacy because it traces every type of phone and internet communication. Coordinator of the nation-wide protests in Germany, Ricardo Christof Remmert-Fontes. (audio) “If you store every communication of every person in the whole of Europe then you can make perfect profiles of the social network of every single person. You can see if a source talked to a journalist, or a person who was looking for help with his problems about alcohol or Aids has talked to a doctor or something like that. Everything will be stored, so there will be no more private communication in the future, that is what we fear.” Germany’s ruling coalition says that such a directive is necessary in the fight against terrorism and organised crime. But across the EU not everyone agrees. Last year Irish Civil rights group, Digital Rights Ireland, filed a case against the Irish and EU governments challenging the basis and necessity of these data surveillance laws. The German Parliament is due to adopt the EU Directive into German law on Friday. Cinnamon Nippard reporting for Free Speech Radio News in Berlin.

East LA Residents Oppose Expansion of Toxic Waste Plant
Some 300 people marched through the East Los Angeles neighborhood of Boyle Heights last night demonstrating against the Industrial Service Oil Company Incorporated. Gabriel San Roman reports.

The massive plant, which has been managing an oil and anti-freeze recycling facility for more than 20 years, has directly petitioned the State of California’S Department of Toxic Substances for a permit to expand the range of toxic materials it can process. Local resident say the company petitioned the state directly in order to circumvent local land use regulations. Roberto Cabrales works with Communities for a Better Environment. (audio) “They’re trying to basically expand the project without really getting the proper permits. They’re skipping the city and trying to get permits otherwise. They’ve been running with temporary permits for a really long time and it’s time for them to cut the pollution. The community doesn’t need any more pollution. They’re trying to expand it and the community needs less pollution.” Several concerned residents and agencies have filed petitions against the expansion permit, citing public health and safety concerns. The neighborhood’s local city council member is pressing the state’s Department of Toxic Substances to hold a public forum on the matter. I’m Gabriel San Roman for Free Speech Radio News.



Michael Mukasey’s Nomination for Attorney General Makes it Out of Committee (4:08)

Attorney General nominee Michael Mukasey seems to be walking a very thin tightrope. He’s being pressured by Democrats to call the interrogation act of water-boarding torture. And he’s seemingly being pushed by the Bush Administration not to make the connection – perhaps because doing so would mean as Attorney General, he would then be responsible for prosecuting the crime. So far, Mukasey has denounced water-boarding, but will not call it torture.

With the help of key votes from Democrats, the nomination of Judge Mukasey has now passed through an important Senate panel, This paves the way for his confirmation in the full Senate. But before that happens, concerned lawmakers are seeking to clarify Mukasey’s noncommittal responses about torture through additional legislation. FSRN’s Leigh Ann Caldwell reports.

Call for Impeachment of Vice President Dick Cheney Reaches the House Floor (2:17)

Presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich says the Vice-President has committed high crimes and misdemeanors and needs to be gone. And today, he tried to do something about it. Kucinich offered a resolution on the House floor to impeach vice president Dick Cheney. He claims that Cheney knowingly lied to Congress and the American people during the lead-up to the Iraq war.

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi has said that impeachment is, quote “off the table.” She has previously claimed the proceedings would give Republicans too much political fodder, allowing them to say Democrats are wasting their time in Congress.

Kucinich hoped that with 22 co-sponsors, the resolution would have a chance, but today’s House vote proved otherwise. Karen Miller has more from Washington, DC.

New York State Folds to the Feds on Real ID (3:42)

One month after announcing a one-size fits all driver’s license for New York State, Governor Elliot Spitzer has reversed himself. New York will still provide licenses to undocumented immigrants but will comply with the Real ID Act by creating a 3-tiered licensing system.

Under the Real ID Act, states must verify citizenship or visa status before issuing a driver’s licenses – and that information would be checked against immigration, social security and other databases. The stated intent is to curb terrorism, but immigrant and privacy advocates say the costs are too high.

As part of the three-tiered system in New York State, one of the new licenses will be printed with the phrase, “Not for U.S. government purposes.” And as Zoe Sullivan reports, this plan creates a class system that could have unintended victims.

Record Heat Abounds, but Other Issues Trump Climate Change in
Australian National Elections (4:34)

Australians head to the polls on November 24th. The lead-up to the national election has been marked by record high temperatures and the longest drought in history.

But while the incumbent Federal government is facing criticism for a lack of action on climate change, many voters remain preoccupied by other concerns. Erica Vowles reports from Australia.

Private Interests Fund Seattle School Board Elections (4:40)

Private interest in public schools should come as no surprise. Some 490 billion dollars, or 4-percent of the United States’ Gross National Product, is spent on education each year. In a recent article in Harper’s, education activist, Jonathan Kozol said “it will be an act of social suicide, if liberals blithely continue to dismiss the opportunities this vast amount of money represents for corporate predators.” On this Election Day, a Seattle school board race exemplifies the problem. Martha Baskin has the story.

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