August 25, 2008

  • Protesters Descend on Denver Ahead of Denver’s DNC
  • Democrats Stress Unity and Diversity
  • Michelle Obama Inspiration for African American Women
  • Denver, Saint Paul Spend Millions on New Police Equipment and Weapons
  • Update from  War-torn Georgia
  • Free Gaza Boat Challenges Israel’s Blockade

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Undocumented Workers Targeted in Mississippi Raid

An Immigration and Customs Enforcement raid is ongoing in Laurel Mississippi today at a Howard Industries plant. Bill Chandler is the Executive Director of MIRA – the Mississippi Immigrant Rights Alliance.  He says the Howard plant employs some 800 people – about half of which are Latino.

They hit the plant this morning and began separating all the Latino workers from the Anglos and the African Americans and have begun processing them. We have responded by mobilizing several faith based organizations to go to Laurel where the families for the victims are gathering.  And we’ve already had situations where children have lost both parents to these raids. Families are very upset and attempting to locate their loved ones.

There is currently no information available regarding how many undocumented workers have been detained. Barbara Gonzalez, regional communication director for ICE, said this morning’s operation was part of a long, on-going investigation of Howard Industries. Public health officers and faith based advocacy groups are on the scene to evaluate the humanitarian concerns of detained individuals. ICE also is raiding the corporate headquarters at Howard Industrial Park in Ellisville.

Four Killed by Indian Security in Kashmir

Indian police killed at least four people today in Indian administered Kashmir. Officials say they defied a curfew imposed to prevent a large separatist rally. Three top separatist leaders were arrested ostensibly to prevent escalation. Shahnawaz Khan has more.

Faced with mounting pro-freedom protests, authorities in Indian administered Kashmir established an indefinite curfew in Srinagar and major towns on Sunday, ahead of a planned separatist rally. Security forces were heavily deployed to enforce the curfew. However, Indian troops and police fired at several demonstrations held in defiance across the region today. Paramilitary troops also barged into several areas beating up people and smashing residential widows and parked vehicles.  This, many say, is an attempt intimidate and prevent people from joining the pro-freedom demonstrations that have rocked the region in the last few months. Al least 15 journalists were badly thrashed by Indian paramilitary troops in Srinagar yesterday. Some were hospitalized. On Friday, hundreds of thousands of people assembled for perhaps the biggest ever pro-freedom rally in summer capital Srinagar, chanting pro-freedom and anti-India slogans.  Local newspapers put the number of demonstrators at more than a million. For FSRN, I’m Shahnawaz Khan in Srinagar.

Pakistan’s Coalition Government Collapses

Pakistan’s coalition government broke down today pushing the country towards a collision course between two major parties that are supported by separate ethnic communities. Masroor Hussain reports from Karachi.

The Muslim League – led by former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif – is a major partner in the 6 month old coalition with the People’s Party. Since the coalition was formed it has demanded the removal of President Musharraf and the reinstatement of 60 judges who were sacked by Musharraf. While the People’s Party did force Musharraf to resign or face impeachment, they have consistently used delay tactics and have made it clear they do not support the reinstatement of the judges. The Coalition’s break-up became imminent when People’s Party leader Asif Zardari – widower of slain former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto — announced his candidacy for the country’s presidency vacated by Pervez Musharraf. Although the People’s Party is still in a position to form the government with the help of other parties, a strong opposition will leave little room for the new coalition to work for the people. Masroor Hussain, Free Speech Radio News, Karachi

Environmentalists Say Border Barrier Caused Flooding

Environmentalists who have long opposed an Arizona/Mexico border fence because of its threat to wildlife and eco-systems, now say the barrier is responsible for flooding.  Ann Raber has more.

Back in July, a section of the Arizona Border Fence between the US and Mexico caused massive flooding on both sides of the border. Now environmentalists are saying that the flood indicated that the border fence is being constructed too quickly, and without adequate understanding of the potential for floods and other kinds of damage. The staff of the Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, which was flooded in the storm, has found that the design of the border fence did not meet the standards set for the project by the US Border Patrol, or the US Army Corps of Engineers.

The border fence is a ten-foot wide, 15-foot tall series of steel mesh panels at this part of the border. In other areas the fence is made entirely of concrete. The flooding in Arizona was caused in part by the design on the fence, which caused water and debris to back up on the Mexican side in Sontoya, Mexico and in Lukeville, Arizona. Homeland Security Chief Michael Chertoff – who has waived environmental laws that would impede the construction of the border fence – had previously said that a fence would deter migrants from leaving trash nearby. Chertoff has also publically stated that the border fence as immigration policy is quote “overly simplistic” unquote, and that fencing has “symbolic value” but alone is not an effective immigration policy.  For FSRN in Austin, this is Ann Raber.



Protesters Descend on Denver Ahead of Denver’s DNC

According to sources from the National Lawyer’s Guild, there have been four arrests so far: two people were taken for refusing to show identification; two more were detained for failure to follow a lawful order. Thousands of protesters are descending on Denver this week, to voice their concerns on a range on topics, including the economy, health care, and the Iraq War. All day Sunday, Recreate 68, Code Pink and many other groups kicked off their demonstrations and took to Denver’s streets. Grace Hood has our report on the day’s rallies.

Democrats Stress Unity and Diversity

It’s opening day of the Democratic Convention in the Mile High City, and Democrats are stressing diversity, but most of all, unity – repeated enough, hoping to make it reality. The Democrats moved one step closer: Michigan and Florida delegations were restored their full representation Sunday. Leigh Ann Caldwell has that story.

Michelle Obama Inspiration for African American Women

Tonight’s featured speaker on the DNC floor is Michelle Obama – and people around the nation and the world are tuning in to hear from the women who could be the country’s next first lady. FSRN caught up with Clementine Clarke, a political fund raiser and consultant that works in San Francisco; she says that Michelle Obama is a big part of the reason why many people are taking personal role in this election.

Denver, Saint Paul Spend Millions on New Police Equipment and Weapons

Denver, host to the DNC and the city of St. Paul, host to Republican National Convention next week, are getting $50 million in federal money for security expenses during the Conventions, but what are they spending the money on? Well, some 20 million dollars are slated for police equipment and weapons. However, St. Paul is the only one willing to tell the public what they are buying, while Denver has chosen to keep their expenses under tight wraps. FSRN’s Blake Wesley is in the Denver and files this report.

Update from War-torn Georgia

Russian lawmakers approved a resolution Monday in support of independence for Georgia’s break-away regions South Ossetia and Abkhazia. The non-binding votes come as the US State Department accused Russia of violating the ceasefire agreement with Georgia. More than two weeks have passed since the confrontation over Georgia’s breakaway region of South Ossetia erupted into open warfare. Since then, the Russian military has taken control over much more than South Ossetia and Abkhazia, which seceded from Georgia in the early 1990s. FSRN’s Deborah Wild is the Gerogian capitol of Tbilisi with the story.

Free Gaza Boat Challenges Israel’s Blockade

198 Palestinians were released from prison in Israel today and returned to Ramallah – half of them were already scheduled for release within the year.  According to the Israeli Prison Authority, some 9,000 Palestinian prisoners remain incarcerated – Palestinian authorities put the number closer to 11,000. In another developing story from the occupied territories, Gaza welcomed the Free Gaza Boats today, a group of 44 internationals, who have made their way there after a two-year-long preparation. The arrival of the boats at Gaza’s shores signified a symbolic breaking of the Israeli blockade on the Gaza Strip for more than a year now.

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