June 3, 2008

  • The Final US Primaries are Underway in South Dakota and Montana
  • Workers at the Largest Private Building Project in US History go on Strike
  • Truckers in Chile Pull Over in Protest of High Fuel Prices
  • Israel Plans to Build Nearly 900 More Housing Units for Settlers in East Jerusalem
  • New Report Shows NASA Suppressed Scientific Information About Climate Change
  • Solitary Confinement Disputed

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Canadian Parliament to Vote on Measure to Grant Asylum to US War Resisters
The Canadian Parliament will vote this afternoon on a motion to offer sanctuary to US troops who refuse deployment or re-deployment to the war in Iraq. Aaron Lakeoff has more from Montreal.

No one knows exactly how many American war resisters are currently residing in Canada, but at least 50 have come out publicly about their situation. Today’s parliamentary vote is on a non-binding motion which would recommend that the Canadian government halt deportation orders against the soldiers, many of whom have had their asylum requests denied. The resolution has the support of all three opposition parties in the House of Commons, and given that the ruling Conservative party is a minority in Parliament, the motion could easily pass. Phil McDowell, a former US Army Sergeant from Rhode Island who currently resides in Canada to avoid re-deployment to Iraq, explains the likely consequences of deportation: (McDowell clip) “We would certainly get some prison time, and we would all get what’s considered a ‘bad conduct discharge’, and that is the equivalent of a felony conviction in the civilian world. So I would never be able to get a job, I wouldn’t be able to hold down a mortgage, I wouldn’t be able to come back to visit Canada because I would have a criminal conviction for refusing to fight in the illegal war in Iraq.” The motion would allow war resisters to stay in Canada and become permanent residents, as was the case during the Vietnam war when over 50,000 American soldiers went north of the border. For Free Speech Radio News, this is Aaron Lakoff reporting from Montreal, Canada.

Initiative to Ban Gay Marriage on California Ballot

Opponents of same-sex marriage in California have had their day in court; now they will have their day at the polls. The California secretary of state has certified that a proposed constitutional ban on same sex marriage has qualified for the November ballot. Kellia Ramares has more.

The proposition, if passed, would add an amendment to the state constitution to recognize “only marriage between a man and a woman”. It would reverse last month’s state supreme court decision striking down a state law limiting marriage to heterosexual couples. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who has twice vetoed legislation allowing same-sex marriage, has nonetheless come out against the proposition. Opponents of same-sex marriage have asked the high court to stay its ruling until after the November election. Without a stay, same-sex couples can begin getting married in California on June 17th. It is unclear whether same sex marriages performed before election day would be invalidated if the ballot initiative passes. For FSRN, I’m Kellia Ramares.

Renewed Push for Yucca Mountain Nuclear Waste Dump
The Bush administration has revived attempts to build a nuclear waste dump on Nevada’s Yucca mountain by formally submitting its license application yesterday to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. Nevada’s governor openly opposes the plan. The proposal itself sparked years of campaigning against the dump and a number of Congressional battles. The plan calls for underground storage of highly radioactive waste from nuclear power plants across the nation. The federal government is required by law to accept nuclear waste from commercial plants. Despite the lack of adequate waste storage, some figures within the federal government have framed their new push for nuclear facilities as a solution to global warming.

South Korea Reverses Decision to Lift US Beef Embargo
South Korea is backing off on some imports of American beef just a week after lifting a five year-long embargo. The ban was first imposed after an outbreak of mad cow disease in the US. But massive street rallies have forced the Korean president to ask for a renegotiation of the deal. From Seoul, FSRN’s Jason Strother has the story.

In hopes of quelling public outrage, President Lee Myung Bak says that South Korea will not import beef from US cattle over 30 months old. For the past month, tens of thousands of South Koreans have held almost daily candlelight vigils in downtown Seoul. But after the government officially ended the beef ban last week, some protestors turned violent. Lee pledged to scrap the embargo during a trip to the US in April. Experts believe this was a tactic to help win support in Congress for a pending bilateral free trade agreement. The president’s opponents say he has put the nation’s health at risk by easing up on too many restrictions. Washington’s ambassador to Seoul, Alexander Vershbow, told reporters today that the US will not renegotiate imports and that American beef is safe for consumption. For Free Speech Radio News, I’m Jason Strother in Seoul, South Korea.

Bolivian President Nationalizes Gas Pipeline Network
Bolivian president Evo Morales has nationalized a network of gas pipelines by expropriating stock in a foreign-owned holding company. Royal Dutch Shell and Ashmore Energy International jointly own TR Holdings, a venture that – up until yesterday – held a 50% majority share of the Transredes pipeline network in Bolivia. The move came one day after two Bolivian provinces voted in favor of referendums to have regional autonomy from the central government. Morales campaigned on promises to nationalize the country’s gas reserves, a process he began to implement just over 2 years ago. Bolivia is home to the 2nd largest natural gas reserves in South America.



The Final US Primaries are Underway in South Dakota and Montana

The final two primaries – South Dakota and Montana – are happening today. Senator Hillary Clinton’s campaign flatly denies that she will concede this evening. But Senator Barack Obama continues to edge closer to the nomination as super delegates are announcing their support. FSRN’s Leigh Ann Caldwell reports.

Workers at the Largest Private Building Project in US History go on Strike

Nearly 7000 union members are on strike today in Las Vegas after the death of a construction worker at MGM’s CityCenter project on the Vegas Strip. This is the 6th death on this construction site – the largest private project in US history. This morning, union representatives entered meetings with general contractor Perini Building Company with three demands: Submit to a work site safety assessment, allow safety and union officials complete access to the construction site and foot the bill for on-site training classes.To get an idea of the situation on the ground within the jobsite, I spoke with Joseph Boyd. Joseph asked that his real name not be used for fear of losing his job. Joseph works in a supervisiory position and was on site when Saturday’s accident occurred – I asked him what happened.

Truckers in Chile Pull Over in Protest of High Fuel Prices

Today, truckers throughout Chile have stopped their rigs for 48 hours – pulling to the sides of roads en masse. The action is a show of force, demanding the government do something about the high price of fuel. They want the government to remove the fuel tax and freeze the highway fees. From Santiago, Jorge Garretón has more.

Israel Plans to Build Nearly 900 More Housing Units for Settlers in East Jerusalem

On Tuesday the Israeli housing minister told media that Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has approved plans to build 884 new housing units for settlers in east Jerusalem. FSRN’s Ghassan Bannoura has the story from the West Bank.

New Report Shows NASA Suppressed Scientific Information About Climate Change

NASA’s own internal investigation has revealed that political considerations improperly entered into the dissemination of scientific information – particularly when it comes to climate change. A new report blames NASA’s public affairs department for suppressing scientific results that did not square with the Bush Administration’s position on global warming. FSRN’s Tanya Snyder reports.

Solitary Confinement Disputed

An estimated 20,000 people in the United States live in concrete cells, 6 foot by twelve foot wide for 23 hours a day. With their lives on lockdown, these prisoners are deprived of educational programs, adequate physical and mental health services and have little contact with their families or other inmates. Denouncing these conditions as human rights violations and utterly failed policy, hundreds of people gathered in Philadelphia at the Stop Max Conference to put an end to Solitary Confinement. Andalusia Knoll reports from the conference.

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