July 28, 2008

  • Low Income Heating Assistance Blocked in the Senate
  • McCain Opposes Affirmative Action
  • Wi Floods
  • Wilderness Areas Threatened
  • South America Regional Economic Initiative

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Prisoners in Palestinian Prisons Tortured – Detentions Stepped Up on Both Sides

Two Human Rights Organizations released a report today saying that 20 – 30 percent of those held in Palestinian prisons are tortured during their detention. The Palestinian human rights group Al Haq – along with US based Human Rights Watch – found no proof of an official policy of torture, they say political leaders tacitly encourage torture by turning a blind eye to the practice. The al Haq report was released as stepped up detentions by both sides continued today. West Bank security detained 37 Hamas supporters in Nablus. FSRNs Rami al Meghari reports.

Over the weekend, Hamas-led security services in Gaza rounded up hundreds of Fatah supporters, in the wake of a deadly car blast last Friday. The explosion claimed the lives of six people, including three Hamas fighters, and wounded more than 20 others. The Hamas’s interior ministry ordered the closure of tens of community-based NGOs in the Gaza Strip, under the pretext of containing explosives and detonation devices. They also suspended the delivery of the three main local newspapers until further notice. Fatah rejects Hamas claims and blames Hamas’ internal differences for the blast. Sunday, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas of Fatah kicked off a national dialogue with Hamas, but Hamas downplays the initiative as a merely a maneuver. Meanwhile, the Hamas-led government accused the Palestinian Authority of cracking down on Hamas’s supporters in the West Bank in an attempt to undermine their standing there. The two parties have been engaged in internecine factional fighting since Hamas took over the coastal region and ousted Fatah-loyal security forces from Gaza in June2007. For Free Speech Radio News, I am Rami Almeghari in Gaza

Afghan Police Chief Fired Over Mismanagement of Gang Rape of 12 Year Old Child

The police chief in a North Afghanistan Province was fired today due to his mishandling of the gang rape case. The victim was a 12 year old girl.  Asma Nemati reports from Kabul.

The 12-year-old girl was gang raped in late July by five men in the Northern Afghanistan province of Saripul. The girl’s uncle threatened that the family would commit mass suicide if the perpetrators were not brought to justice claimed the chief of police had links with the gunmen responsible for the attack and that police had ignored the family’s plea for investigation, advising the family not to talk about the incident. The girls family met with Afghan president Hamid Karzai and made public the girl’s case. Gang-rape of young girls is a sensitive issue in Afghanistan and is quite common in the Northern provinces but these cases are largely underreported due to cultural taboo, and these cases are also underreported because of the risk to journalists.  For FSRN, I’m Asma Nemati reporting from Kabul, Afghanistan.

Sentences Stand for Border Patrol Agents

A federal appeals court has refused to throw out lengthy prison sentences for two U.S. Border Patrol agents convicted of shooting an unarmed illegal immigrant.  The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans upheld most of the convictions against former agents Ignacio Ramos and Jose Alonso who were convicted in 2006 and sentenced to 11 and 12 years in prison, respectively.

Shell Cuts Oil Production in Nigeria

The Anglo Dutch Oil company, Shell, says it is cutting oil production in Nigeria after militants attacked two of its oil pipelines in the Niger Delta region. Sam Olukoya reports from Lagos.

The largest armed group in Nigeria’s Niger Delta region, the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta, MEND, said it attacked the two oil pipelines early this morning. MEND said the attack is in keeping with its pledge to resume pipeline attacks in the region. Two weeks ago, the armed group called off a unilateral ceasefire after British Prime Minister, Gordon Brown said Britain will assist Nigeria in dealing with armed insurgency.  Armed groups have forced Nigeria to cut its oil exports by about a quarter in the past year. The militant groups are fighting for local control of the oil resources in the Niger Delta region. For Free Speech Radio News, this is Sam Olukoya in Lagos.

Top Aides to Former Atty. General Gonzales Politicized Hirings

The Inspector General and the Office of Professional Responsibility found today aides to former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales discriminated against job applicants who weren’t either Republican or conservative loyalists. One aide, Monica Goodling, also rejected an applicant who was rumored to be a lesbian.  Goodling resigned last year after Congress investigated the firings of nine U.S. Attorneys. The 140 page report also found that Goodling inappropriately considered political or ideological affiliations in selecting immigration judges.



Low Income Heating Assistance Blocked in the Senate

The US Senate stayed in Washington to work this weekend. They passed a bill that hopes to calm the ailing housing market, but a measure to provide heating assistance to low income families was defeated. Republicans blocked the measure that is popular among both Republicans and Democrats from cold sections of the country.  With few legislative days left in this election year, lawmakers are scrambling to find a way to fund the program. FSRN’s Matt Laslo reports on the politics that go into this expensive, but largely popular program.

McCain Opposes Affirmative Action

Presumptive Republican nominee John McCain came out against affirmative action and in support of a multi state ballot initiative that would do away with affirmative action for education, employment and government contracts. McCain on ABC’s This Week, questioned by Host George Stephanopolous..
“I do not believe in quotas but I have not seen the details of some of these proposals but I have always supported…”
In 1998, McCain called effort to end affirmative action ‘divisive.’ But Sunday, McCain said he backed an initiative by Ward Connerly, an African American who has led the fight to end gender and race based preferences. Ward Connerly.
“The government is obliged to treat us all “with out regards to race sex color ethnicity.” That’s the law and the courts over the years have allowed us to deviate from that largely in deference to make up for our terrible history to black people.”
Speaking at a journalism conference for people of color, Barack Obama criticized McCain’s position, but he also said decencies in the program exist.
“I think affirmative action has been viewed as a short cut to solve some of these broader long term structural problems. I also think we have to think about affirmative action and craft  it in a way where some our children who are advantaged aren’t getting more favorable treatment than a poor white kid.”
But Shirley Wilcher, Executive Director of the American Association for Affirmative Action says many don’t know the legal boundaries of affirmative action police.  Wilcher spoke with Karen Miller on FSRN and Pacifica’s Election Unspun.
That was Karen Miller speaking with Shirley Wilcher with the American Association for Affirmative Action on Election Unspun.

Wi Floods

More than a month after floods ravaged the Midwest, there is still no official damage estimate, but FEMA has already give almost $40 million in individual assistance. In this special report, FSRN’s Zoe Sullivan visits Reedsburg, in Southeast Wisconsin, to explore how city officials and citizens have coped after the floods.

Wilderness Areas Threatened

Since the Democrats took over Capitol Hill two years ago, Congress has seen a flurry of proposals to designate more wilderness areas. Both lawmakers and conservationists are getting more practical in their approach. But they are also getting much less ambitious. Yanmei Xie has the story.

South America Regional Economic Initiative

South American countries are in the initial building stages of regional integration, to create a similar body to the European Union. The proposal is a for a massive regional trade and political block called Union of South American Nations, UNUSUR. FSRN’s Chile reporter Jorge Garretón looks into the prospect of such an integration.

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