July 1, 2008

  • Congress Delays Medicare Payment Cuts to Doctors
  • Builders Look for Ways to “Green” Homes and Offices
  • EPA Library Focusing on New Chemicals Will Not Reopen
  • The First New Palestinian Town in More Than 40 Years Has Been Given the Go-Ahead
  • The First Los Angeles Social Forum Focuses on Immigration

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Pentagon Brings Charges in the USS Cole Attack

Military prosecutors have charged a Saudi national detained at Guantanamo Bay with plotting the deadly October 2000 attack on the USS Cole navy destroyer and for having a separate role in a suicide bombing of a French oil tanker in 2002. The detainee, Abdel Rahim al-Nashiri, is among the handful of terrorism suspects the CIA has admitted to waterboarding. Al-Nashiri told a Guantanamo hearing that he confessed to providing explosives for the attack on the USS Cole after torture by US interrogators. Al-Nashiri will face the death penalty if convicted by the Guantanamo Bay military tribunal system.

DC Circuit Court Rejects Government Argument Against Chinese “Enemy Combatant”

In legal news, a federal appeals court in Washington DC has ruled that courts and tribunals must be able to assess the reliability of government evidence against a Chinese Muslim held as an enemy combatant at Guantanamo Bay. In the unclassified portion of the ruling released on Monday, the 3 judge panel unanimously rejected the government’s argument that its accusations against the detainee were true simply because they were repeated in three different secret documents. The court ordered the government to either release Huzaifa Parhat, transfer him to another country, or hold a new hearing to determine his status as an unlawful enemy combatant. Legal experts believe this ruling could have a wider impact on the cases against other Guantanamo detainees based on similar accusations.

Pastors for Peace Caravan Prepares to Cross into Mexico to Deliver Aid to Cuba
Members of a caravan intent on delivering donated medical and school supplies to Cuba have arrived in the Texas border city of McAllen, where they intend to cross into Mexico before travelling on to Cuba in direct violation of the 4 decade old US embargo against the island. Rachel Clarke has more.

For the 19th straight year, “caravanistas” with the group Pastors for Peace have traveled across the US collecting educational and medical supplies to donate to schools and hospitals in Cuba. More than 130 volunteers with the ecumenical organization are participating this year in direct violation of the 40 year old trade and travel restrictions the United States continues to impose on the island nation. The group arrived in the US/Mexico border city of McAllen, Texas on Monday where volunteers will receive extensive training in what to expect when they cross. The caravan plans to cross into Mexico on July 3rd where donated aid will be loaded onto cargo ships bound for Havana. The United Nations voted last November 183-4 against the continuation of the US-led embargo against Cuba, but none of the restrictions have been lifted and it is unclear what challenges or penalties caravan participants will face in the coming weeks. For Free Speech Radio News, I’m Rachel Clarke.

US and Coalition Fatalities Higher in Afghanistan than in Iraq
US and Coalition deaths in Afghanistan have outpaced those in Iraq for a second month in a row. The Taliban has been steadily increasing its attacks in key areas, particularly in the region along the Afghan border with Pakistan. Twenty-seven US soldiers were among the 45 Coalition troops that died in Afghanistan in June – the deadliest month for foreign troops since the start of the war in 2001.

Tibetan Exiles in Nepal Arrested Near Chinese Border

Nepalese police today detained 42 Tibetan monks and nuns while they attempted to sneak into the Tibetan region of China along its border with Nepal. The monks and nuns were transported back to Kathmandu after their arrest. PC Dubey has more.

Today’s protest by Tibetan exiles in Nepal was unusual due to its proximity to the Nepal-China border. The Tibetan refugees managed to come so close to the border by hiking some 75 miles through difficult mountainous routes rather than traveling along the main highway. Tibetans have been staging regular demonstrations in Kathmandu since March 10th, when pro-autonomy protests erupted in the Tibetan capital, Lhasa. The protests in Lhasa were met with a deadly Chinese army crackdown. The Nepalese government has strong ties to China and has repeatedly shown willingness to stifle Tibetan demonstrations of dissent against Chinese rule. Approximately 20,000 Tibetan exiles live in Nepal. Many of whom have announced plans to continue protest actions ahead of the Beijing Olympics. For FSRN, I am PC Dubey.

Nelson Mandela Finally Removed From US Terror Watch List
And finally, President Bush signed a bill today that removes former South African President and Nobel Laureate Nelson Mandela from the US terror watch list. The bill, H.R. 5690, also removes the names of other activists from the African National Congress, an organization that fought against the apartheid system in South Africa before becoming the ruling party in 1994. The ANC was put on the State Department’s watch list in the 1970s as an organization with alleged ties to communism. The removal of Mandela’s name from the watch list comes just weeks before his 90th birthday.



Congress Delays Medicare Payment Cuts to Doctors

The Bush administration has agreed to delay Medicare payment cuts for doctors. To the dismay of physicians, patients, and insurance companies, the cuts were supposed to go into effect today. As FSRN’s Leigh Ann Caldwell reports, this is the not the first time the President and Congress have had to step in and delay payments to the program.

Builders Look for Ways to “Green” Homes and Offices

How green is your home? How about your office? The buildings we live in consume almost half of all the energy we use in this country. With the price of gas, attention has shifted to fuel-efficient vehicles lately, but transportation accounts for only about half as much energy use as buildings. So what can we do to green the places we work and live? FSRN’s Tanya Snyder toured a green building to find out the answer.

EPA Library Focusing on New Chemicals Will Not Reopen

In 2006, the Bush Administration began systematically closing the libraries of the Environmental Protection Agency. These libraries, scattered throughout the United States, held the official records of the Agency, contained one of the most comprehensive collections on new pesticides and chemicals in the world and are used by lawyers, scientists and the general public. By 2007, the newly elected Democratic Congress put a stop to the closures, and ordered that the libraries be restored. But as of now, it appears the agency’s new chemical library will not be reopened. Jes Burns spoke to Jeff Ruch, the Executive Director of Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, to find out the current status of the library system.

The First New Palestinian Town in More Than 40 Years Has Been Given the Go-Ahead

A new Palestinian town has just been given the go ahead in the West Bank – it will be the first one to be built there since Israel moved in more than forty years ago. And the first planned community there that is not a Jewish settlement. A developer has just secured the funding, although it has not yet completed the plans or received final approvals. Already thousands of customers have registered, emphasizing the Palestinian need for affordable housing. Irris Makler spoke to the developer Bashar al Masri in Ramallah who says this is an idea that’s time has come.

The first Los Angeles Social Forum focuses on immigration

The Los Angeles Social Forum convened for the first time this weekend. Inspired by the World Social Forum, grassroots activists from around Southern California converged on the USC campus to discuss the gamut of progressive causes. With the recent nation-wide attention given to the issue of immigration, organizers placed a special focus on legal strategies to defend undocumented immigrants from detention and deportation. Dan Fritz files this report from KPFK.

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