February 27, 2008

  • Supreme Court Considers Damages in Exxon Valdez Suit
  • Warnings of a Coup Plot in the Philippines
  • ACLU Unveils new “Terror Watch List Counter”
  • Democratic Debate Focus on Foreign Policy
  • Environmental Ethics Ruling
  • Gay and Lesbian Radio Station in Colombia

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EU Slaps Microsoft With Record Fine
The European Union has slapped Microsoft with its largest fine ever for the company’s continuing anti-competitive practices. From London, Naomi Fowler reports.

In the words of EU Competition Commissioner Neelie Kroes this $1.4bn fine is “a clear signal to the outside world and especially Microsoft that they should stick to the rules.” It’s not the first fine and it may well not be the last that the European Commission levies on Microsoft: back in 2004 the Commission fined Microsoft $750 million – which was at the time a record – because it found the company was abusing its position in the marketplace by refusing to supply the information needed by rivals to design software to work with Microsoft operating systems. In 2006, the Commission fined $422 million for non-compliance with that ruling. Microsoft then attempted to charge a flat $10,000 fee to competitors for access to secret protocols behind its Windows operating system. That was still not good enough for the Commission who levied today’s fine. The European Commission launched two new anti-competition investigations against Microsoft last month. Microsoft claims it will open up and give access to its secret interoperability information. This is Naomi Fowler in London for Free Speech Radio News.

Annan Resumes Kenyan Mediation
Former United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan has resumed mediation efforts in Kenya after suspending them yesterday. Annan is calling on both sides to meet with him in person in an attempt to break a stalemate in the negotiations. Opposition leader Raila Odinga has called off demonstrations by his supporters that were scheduled for tomorrow. More than 1000 Kenyans have died in the two months since disputed election results handed President Mwai Kibaki another term in office.

Opposition Parties Forced Adjournment of Indian Parliament Over Farmer Suicides
Opposition parties in India today forced the adjournment of parliament over the issue of farmer suicides. Bismillah Geelani reports.

Both Houses of Indian Parliament were adjourned minutes after they assembled today, as the members of opposition parties disrupted the proceedings over the plight of farmers across the country. Seeking to push a discussion on the issue of farmers’ suicides onto the top of the agenda, opposition MPs chanted slogans against what they called the “anti-farmer attitude” of the government. Opposition members are demanding the government waive outstanding loans to farmers. Tens of thousands of farmers across India have committed suicide in the past decade due to indebtedness. A massive protest on the issue was held outside of Parliament yesterday – joined by leftist politicians. The issue of suicide by distressed farmers has returned to the national spotlight ahead of parliamentary elections. Opposition parties say relief packages announced by the government haven’t made any significant improvement. For FSRN, this is Bismillah Geelani from New Delhi.

FARC Rebels Release Four More Hostages

Colombia’s FARC guerrillas released four more hostages today to representatives of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez. All four were members of Congress at the time of their abduction 6 years ago. They had been reported to be in poor health, but Red Cross workers who accompanied the pick-up operation certified they were fit to travel. After a stopover on the Venezuelan side of the border, the former captives will travel to Caracas to reunite with their families. Today marks the second time in as many months that the FARC has released high-profile hostages to President Chavez.

Officer from Argentine Junta Found Dead Ahead of Trial

A former military officer accused of abducting a pair of twins during Argentina’s Dirty War has been found dead just days before he was to stand trial. Marie Trigona reports.

The body of retired Lieutenant Colonel Paul Alberto Navone was found on Monday with a gunshot wound to the head in a hotel in the province of Cordoba. The former military officer was slated to testify next week in a human rights trial into the kidnapping of babies born in clandestine detention centers to women illegally held by the military junta. Police suggest that Navone committed suicide. However, human rights groups suspect that he was murdered to prevent the revelation of further evidence of the military junta’s human rights abuses. This is the second death of a suspect who may have information as to the whereabouts of the estimated 500 babies born to political prisoners during the dictatorship. In December, former coast guard officer Héctor Febres was found in his jail cell – poisoned by cyanide – before he was to take the stand. Febres was accused of kidnapping babies born in the ESMA Navy Mechanics School, the Argentine junta’s largest clandestine detention center. For Free Speech Radio News I’m Marie Trigona in Buenos Aires.



Supreme Court Considers Damages in Exxon Valdez Suit

Nineteen years after the Exxon Valdez tanker spilled 11 million gallons of oil into Alaska’s Prince William Sound, the Supreme Court heard arguments about whether or not Exxon owes $2.5 billion in punitive damages to 32,000 fishermen, native Alaskans and other affected by the destruction wrought by the spill. FSRN’s Tanya Snyder has more.

Warnings of a Coup Plot in the Philippines

The arraignment of a detained opposition senator and 16 military officers for rebellion charges in the Philippines was postponed today amid warnings of a possible coup plot. According to police intelligence reports, the alleged plot planned to take advantage of growing public unrest over corruption allegations against President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo. With anti-government groups continuing to step up their protests to demand Arroyo’s resignation, Girlie Linao in Manila reports that pressure on the military to intervene is also building up.

ACLU Unveils new “Terror Watch List Counter”

The size of US terrorist watch lists is now in excess of 900,000 names, an absurd proportion according to the American Civil Liberties Union. Today the group unveiled its new ACLU Watch List Counter to make vivid just how bloated and dysfunctional those lists have become. The new counter features a rolling odometer style display with a real time read out, showing how many individuals are on the list at a given moment. The watch lists are used for a growing array of purposes; most notably for subjecting domestic airline passengers to additional screening, and often far more intense law enforcement scrutiny, selecting individuals for scrutiny and interrogation at the nation’s borders, and for excluding people from the country entirely. Jay Stanley is a spokesperson for the ACLU, he’s also the Public Education Director for the ACLU’s Technology and Liberty Project, which designed the Watch List Counter.

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That was Jay Stanley of the ACLU’s Technology and Liberty Project. The ACLU Watch List Counter is viewable on-line at www.aclu.org/watchlist.

Democratic Debate Focus on Foreign Policy

Democratic Candidates Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama are back on the campaign trail the day after their final scheduled debate. The debate in Cleveland, Ohio brought Clinton and Obama supporters, but protesters as well as reporter Eugene Beer from low power FM station WCRS in Columbus.

Inside the debate hall, Clinton and Obama traded cordial accusations on each’s policy positions. FSRN’s Leigh Ann Caldwell takes a look at the public statements and the people advising on the positions.

Environmental Ethics Ruling

A Montana court is currently considering sending a top Bush administration official to jail for violating federal environmental laws. The standoff began in 2006, after a small non-profit organization in Oregon won a lawsuit against the Forest Service for its refusal to comply with the National Environmental Policy Act. Now, after years of continued non-compliance, a Federal Judge has found the US Undersecretary of Agriculture Mark Rey in contempt of court. FSRN’s Saed Bannoura has more from Oregon:

Gay and Lesbian Radio Station in Colombia

Radio Diversia, Colombia’s first ever station for the lesbian, gay, bisexual community began broadcasting this month in the nation’s capital, Bogota. The station -which is run by 15 journalists and volunteers- has been received enthusiastically by the local gay community. Manuel Rueda has more from Bogota.

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