June 26, 2008

  • House Questions Bush Torture Policies
  • Senate Considers Renewing FISA Legislation
  • Bloody Demonstrations in Continue in Kashmir
  • Black Bloggers and Black Power
  • “The Crimes of Kings” Commentary By Mumia Abu-Jamal

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Supreme Court Overturns DC’s Gun Ban
The US Supreme Court has overturned a Washington DC ban on handguns. The court ruled 5 to 4 that individuals have the right to bear arms for purposes unrelated to militia service, such as self-defense and hunting. The second amendment of the US Constitution specifically guarantees the right to keep and bear arms in the context of a (quote) “well regulated Militia”. A ban on handgun ownership has been in effect in Washington DC since 1976 as part of an effort to reduce violence in the city which has repeatedly ranked as having the highest murder rate in the US.

North Korea Releases Nuclear Data
North Korea has handed over its long awaited nuclear declaration. This breaks a six month long deadlock in nuclear disarmament talks. And now Washington is pledging to lift sanctions on the Kim Jong il regime. Jason Strother reports from Seoul.

It’s still not clear exactly how much North Korea revealed in its nuclear disclosure. Pyongyang was only required to submit details about its plutonium enrichment program and nothing about weapons it might have produced. Likewise, it did not have to respond to suspicions that it has a secretive uranium program or transferred nuclear technology to Syria. These concerns have been pushed off to the next round of negotiations. In return for its cooperation, the Bush administration has pledged to remove North Korea from its list of State sponsors of terrorism and repeal the trading with the enemy act; a move that does not have the support of some skeptical members of Congress. But Daniel Pinkston, of the International Crisis Group in Seoul, says that these incentives can be taken back. [clip] “Lifting the sanctions under the trading with the enemy act and also de-listing North Korea from the State Department’s terrorism list, those are reversible. So if North Korea does not comply if they are not forthcoming, then we can go back to sanctions regime, to containment.” On Friday, North Korea is expected to blow up the cooling tower of its main nuclear reactor. For Free Speech Radio News, I’m Jason Strother in Seoul, South Korea.

Bombings in Iraq Kill at Least 38
At least 38 people died in violent incidents across Iraq today. A car bomb apparently targetting the provincial governor of Ninevah killed 18 people and wounded more than 70 others. The governor escaped unharmed. A suicide bomber in the western Anbar province killed at least 20 people at a meeting of trbial leaders held in a municipal government office. U.S. authorities blamed al-Qaida in Iraq for the Anbar attack. US forces are due to hand over security responsibilities for Anbar over to Iraq security forces in the coming days.

Nepali PM Resigns
In Nepal, Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala resigned today in a move that paves the way for Maoist leader Prachanda to assume the position at the helm of the newly-declared republic. The 84-year-old Koirala became interim Prime Minister after massive unrest in Nepal in 2006. His party came in a distant second to the Maoist landslide victory in last April’s elections.

Iranian/American Demos In Seattle Against Proposed Embargo

Iranian/American peace activists joined with other groups opposed to a US war with Iran yesterday to protest at the offices of US Senators Maria Cantwell and Patty Murray in Seattle. The two Washington Senators have co-sponsored a resolution calling for an international trade embargo against Iran. Mark Taylor-Canfield reports from Seattle.

Members of the Iranian/American Friendship Council, the Fellowship of Reconciliation, Code Pink and the American Friends Service Committee marched with a group of anti-war activists to the Jackson Federal building in downtown Seattle yesterday to protest their senators’ support for an embargo of Iran. Senators Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell are among 7 Democratic co-sponsors of Senate Bill 580 which directs President Bush to tighten economic sanctions against Tehran. The legislation is designed to punish Iran for what the White House says is Tehran’s program to pursue a nuclear weapons capability. Members of the Seattle chapter of the American/Iranian Friendship Council are worried that the trade embargo will be interpreted as an act of war. The House verson of Senate Bill 580 instructs the president to enforce inspections of all cargo entering or leaving Iran. The American-Iranian Friendship Council favors diplomatic negotiations with Iran. They say a trade embargo without the approval of the UN security council would violate international law. Groups opposed to a trade embargo plan to continue their protests in Seattle against the Washington state senators. Meanwhile, a city resolution opposing war with Iran is gaining support in the Seattle city council. This is Mark Taylor-Canfield in Seattle for Free Speech Radio News.

Vigil for Fallen Houston Janitor
Members of Houston’s Service Employees International Union Justice for Janitors Campaign hosted a soliderity vigil during Wednesday’s lunch hour for a janitor who recently fell 6 floors to his death in the Houston office. Rachel Clarke has more.

Labor activists with the Justice for Janitors campaign congregated outside of the Houston office where janitor Salvador Ceballos fell to his death on June 18th. Ceballos had been sent to close a sixth floor skylight that had blown open during a storm. Ceballos worked for Automated Building Service (ABS). ABS is not a signatory of the historic contract that Houston janitors won in 2006 after a four week long strike. Activists at yesterday’s vigil outside of Ceballos’ former workplace emphasized that had he worked for a union contractor, Ceballos would have had the legal right to demand safety equipment for the hazards of his job. The vigil was attended by members of Ceballos’ family with the goal to call attention to the ongoing plight of non-union janitors in Houston. Reporting for Free Speech Radio News, I’m Rachel Clarke.



House Questions Bush Torture Policies

Key Bush Administration officials who formulated the legal basis for torture continue to rebuff lawmakers looking for answers into the Administration’s torture policy, carefully avoiding any possibility of prosecution. Washington Editor Leigh Ann Caldwell reports on the probe by a House panel.

Senate Considers Renewing FISA Legislation

The Senate continued to wrangle today over the renewing FISA legislation. At stake is providing retroactive immunity for telecommunications companies that allegedly violated the law by aiding the Bush Administration spying program; also at issue is updating the definition of “weapons of mass destruction”. Today’s Senate bill was already passed by the House – but now it’s been discovered that some members of the House changed their votes after receiving money for telecommunications companies. Karen Miller has more.

Bloody Demonstrations in Continue in Kashmir

At least three people have been killed and more than a hundred others injured in Indian administered Kashmir after protests erupted this week over the controversial transfer of land to a Hindu shrine trust. For the fourth day on Thursday, police battled hundreds of protestors in different places across Kashmir. As FSRN’s Shannawaz Khan reports from Kashmir, more massive protests are expected tomorrow.

Black Bloggers and Black Power

So far this election season, African-Americans have been among the strongest supporters of Barack Obama. He received more than 90 percent support among Black voters during the Democratic primary. But some think that overwhelming support from the Black community is misplaced. Participants at a recent Washington DC forum said that it’s dangerous to think Obama is the answer to the problems of Black America.

Commentary By Mumia Abu-Jamal

Mumia Abu-Jamal is an award-winning journalist who chronicles the human condition. He has been a resident of Pennsylvania’s death row for twenty-five years. Writing from his solitary confinement cell his essays have reached a worldwide audience. His books “Live From Death Row”, “Death Blossoms”, “All Things Censored”, “Faith of Our Fathers” and the recently released “We Want Freedom” have sold over 150,000 copies and been translated into nine languages. His 1982-murder trial and subsequent conviction have been the subject of great debate.

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