June 16, 2008

  • The US Supreme Court Allows Some People Overstaying their US Visas to Remain
  • Gitmo Detainee Decision Trickles into Presidential Race
  • Ralph Nader Struggle to Get on State Presidential Ballots
  • Philadelphia Activists Fend off Gentrification, Fear Arrests are Connected
  • Pakistanis Increasingly Look to Taliban to Hear Legal Disputes

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Mukasey Subpoenaed Regarding Valerie Plame

Attorney General Michael Mukasey was subpoenaed today by the House Oversight Committee on Government Reform regarding FBI interview reports in the matter of former CIA operative Valerie Plame. Karen Miller has more.

The House Committee on Government Reform is ratcheting up the stakes by subpoenaing the Justice Department for the interview reports. In early June, Committee Chair Democrat Henry Waxman of California requested not only the FBI interviews with both President Bush and Vice President Cheney – but also unredacted transcripts of FBI interviews with other top level officials. The Justice Department refused Waxman’s request due to what they call “serious separation of powers and heightened confidentiality concerns.” Waxman also pointed to new revelations by Former presidential press secretary Scott McClellan that bring up questions regarding the President and Vice President’s role in revealing the identity of CIA operative Valerie Plame. McClellan is scheduled to testify before the House Judiciary Committee on June 20.

Chilean Teachers Strike Over Education Reform

Teachers in Chile began a three-day strike today saying an education reform proposal does nothing to protect public education. From Santiago FSRN’s Jorge Garretón explains.

The teachers are demanding the education bill in Congress be withdrawn and redrafted with the participation of all those involved in the education system. This school year has been marred with students’ strikes and demonstrations against the proposed legislation. Teachers joined in support, now they are spearheading the opposition to bill. Teachers and students argue the new bill does nothing to protect public education. They say the bill helps promote private education. The center-left government proposed an amendment to the bill with language that places public education at the core of the bill. This bill attempts to change a dictatorship era education act that dismantled public education in favor of private education with public funds and choice. The right-wing opposition says the changes go against parental choice when selecting a school for their children. Teachers say it is that concept of choice in favor of private education paid for with public funds that is killing public education and creating a segmented class based education.

Those who can pay for private schools with superior education, leaving those who can’t with no choice but to be stuck in underfunded public schools. The strike continues until Wednesday. For FSRN this is Jorge Garretón in Santiago.

Argentina’s Farmers Strike Again

Argentina’s farmers are back on strike protesting a tax hike on soy exports. FSRN’s Marie Trigona files this report.

In over 30 locations throughout the South American nation, farmers are barricading highways. Food isn’t being exported or making it to the city markets. Farmers are protesting a government implemented tax hike on soy exports – increasing the total tax from 35 to 45 %. The government is head strong on not backing down on the export tax. The protest measure turned violent over the weekend with farmers clashing with military police trying to clear barricades. Since March, rural producers have held a series of strikes, which has thrown the country into turmoil and plummeted public opinion of current president Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner. An extended strike could result in food shortages in the nation’s capital of Buenos Aires. World food prices could be affected, as Argentina is a leading producer and global exporter of soy and corn. For FSRN this is Marie Trigona.

Kosovo’s Constitution Signed

Further strain was put on the small region of Kosovo this past weekend with the signing of the constitution by Kosovo Albanian leaders. FSRN’s Amy Miller reports from Belgrade.

The new constitution of Kosovo transfers many of the powers to the Kosovo government that the United Nations has held for the last 9 years. It also establishes the European Union mission in the area. Controversy continues over the UN exiting the region and handing over control to EULEX, as Serbians and Kosovo Serbs view it as an act which is akin to recognizing the independent status of the country and blurs the legal framework on which international presence in the region was based. The European Union mission has no international resolution supporting the takeover, as Russia and China have made clear they view it as illegitimate. Secretary General Ban Ki Moon stated that UNMIK will continue to operate only in Serb majority areas although he refused to say for how long. Kosovo Serbs reject the validity of the new Kosovo constitution, and instead have declared their intention to set up a parallel parliament, bringing the reality of a partitioning of the state, between ethnic groups, closer than ever. For FSRN, I’m Amy Miller in Belgrade.



The US Supreme Court allows some people overstaying their US visas to remain

In a decision today, the US Supreme Court has loosened laws to allow some foreigners to remain in the US after overstaying their visas. In certain circumstances, these non-US citizens can continue to seek legal permission to stay in the country without leaving US soil. FSRN Correspondent Matt Laslo reports from Washington.

Gitmo Detainee Decision Trickles into Presidential Race

Last week the US Supreme Court ruled detainees at the Guantanamo Bay Detention Center have the right to challenge their detentions in court. Now, Attorneys for the prisoners have begun the process of opening court proceedings. The US District Court plans on meeting with both sides in the coming days to lay out how the process will move forward. Meanwhile, the political impact of the Supreme Court’s decision has spread to the Presidential campaign. FSRN’s Leigh Ann Caldwell reports.

Ralph Nader Struggle to Get on State Presidential Ballots

Ralph Nader, who’s running as an Independent candidate for President, is busy securing his place on state ballots for the 2008 election. Recently, he has gotten word he will be allowed on the ballot of a 4th state – Colorado. But he is still significantly shy of his goal – to be on 40 states ballots.

FSRN’s Leigh Ann Caldwell caught up with Nader in DC, where he says he’s struggling to gain the support of liberals.

Philadelphia Activists Fend off Gentrification, Fear Arrests are Connected

Philadelphia’s Francisville neighborhood is a predominantly working class African American community, but the surrounding neighborhoods have experienced recent gentrification, putting the pressure on Francisville to do the same.

On Friday, police arrived at the door of a former Francisville shoe store, the current home of Daniel Moffat, Trevor Burgess, Andrea Okorley and Jennifer Rock. Daniel Moffatt owns the building and the group was slowly fixing it up. According to the residents, the police did not present a warrant, but went inside anyway and arrested the four. They were never charged.

I spoke with Andy Switzer, a close friend of the group, who has been helping them get the word out about Friday’s events. He says since Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter entered office on a “stop and frisk” platform, police presence in the neighborhood has increased.

Pakistanis Increasingly Look to Taliban to Hear Legal Disputes

In the autonomous tribal areas of Pakistan, and the volatile Swat Valley in the Northwest Frontier Province, the power of the Taliban is growing. The fundamentalist movement has established a parallel court system and jails, based on Islamic law or “shariah.” Residents say they have lost trust in the regional government’s judicial system, which is accused of taking bribes and often takes years to resolve cases. FSRN correspondent Rahmanullah has more.

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