September 24, 2008

  • Alternative Financial Crisis Proposals
  • McCain May Bail Out of Debates Due to Financial Crisis
  • Regulating Wall Street
  • House Allows Offshore Oil Drilling Moratorium to Expire
  • Ecuador’s Constitutional Referendum
  • Galveston Island Resident Return to Deal with Pieces of the Lives

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Omnibus Bill to Give Pentagon its Biggest Budget Ever
A bill that is currently on the House floor could end up giving the Pentagon it’s largest budget ever. Media attention on the massive Wall Street bailout has allowed the omnibus spending bill to move through Congress with relatively little scrutiny. It calls for $488 billion for the Pentagon and another $40 billion for the Department of Homeland Security. Legislators are under a tight deadline to push the bill through Congress in order to have it approved by the start of the fiscal year on October 1st. The bill would also increase funding for Gulf Coast hurricane relief, provide a multi-billion dollar bailout to US auto manufacturers, and lift the ban on offshore drilling. We’ll have more on the end of the offshore drilling moratorium later in the newscast.

North Korea to Restart Nuclear Program
Negotiations aimed at persuading North Korea to end its nuclear weapons program have hit another roadblock. Pyongyang dismissed United Nations monitors from its main atomic reactor today after the regime declared it will restart its program to process nuclear material. Jason Strother has the story from Seoul.

On request by the North Korean government, the International Atomic Energy Agency, the IAEA, says it removed monitoring seals and cameras from the Yongbyon nuclear reactor. The facility was powered-down last year as part of an agreement made during the six-party nuclear disarmament talks. Pyongyang says it plans to reactivate the site and bring back stored nuclear material next week. Yongbyon once produced plutonium, which was most likely used in the nuclear device North Korea tested in October 2006. North Korea’s Foreign Ministry says the United States has broken its end of the deal. Washington had agreed to remove North Korea from its list of states that sponsor terrorism, but has since said Pyongyang must first agree on a system to verify the contents of its nuclear program. The White House has said today’s news is very disappointing but has left the door open for future negotiations. For Free Speech Radio News, I’m Jason Strother in Seoul, South Korea.

US Drone Wreckage Found in Pakistan’s Waziristan Region
Pakistani authorities in the Waziristan region near the Afghan border have salvaged the remains of what they suspect was a US-operated spy drone. Afridai Afridi has more.

Pilotless drones routinely hover over Waziristan, gathering surveillance and sometimes firing missiles from the sky. Reasons for what brought the drone down are unclear. The Pakistani Army denies that it shot down the aircraft, suggesting that it crashed due to a mechanical malfunction. In a telephone interview, South Waziristan resident Waris Khan told FSRN that the Pakistani Army has worked out an informal agreement in which local people will not target Pakistani troops so long as the soldiers prevent US forces from carrying out cross-border raids into the area. Khan said his fellow villagers think the Pakistani Army hit the drone to regain their trust, but that the army is afraid to openly admit responsibility. US raids into Pakistani territory have become a very delicate diplomatic issue for the two “war on terror” allies, particularly after US Special Forces killed up to 20 civilians in a ground assault earlier this month. For FSRN, I am Afridai Afridi.

Bolivan President Blames US Support of Opposition for Violence
In his address to the United Nations General Assembly, Bolivian president Evo Morales blamed the US government for supporting a violent opposition movement that seeks to destabilize his government. Haider Rizvi has more from the United Nations.

Morales told a news conference at the UN headquarters last night that he had evidence to prove the US government’s involvement in recent acts of violence carried out by right-wing opposition gangs in Bolivia’s resource-rich eastern provinces. Bolivia’s first-ever indigenous president had earlier told world leaders at the UN General Assembly that Washington had not only given financial support to the opposition groups but had also supplied them with weapons. The US government denies these charges, but continues to hide details about beneficiaries of projects run by the US Agency for International Development in Bolivia. The opposition governors from Bolivia’s eastern provinces refuse to accept the authority of the central government and oppose the president’s programs to redistribute land to the indigenous poor and raise taxes on natural gas production to help fund a pension system for senior citizens. For FSRN, I’m Haider Rizvi at the United Nations.

Senate Unanimously Passes Legislation to Put the Heat on Cold Cases
The Senate today unanimously passed a bill that would create a unit within the Justice Department to pursue so-called “cold cases” of the Civil Rights era. The Emmitt Till Unsolved Civil Rights Crimes Act was named after the 14 year old who was murdered in 1955 after he allegedly whistled at a white woman. An all-white Mississippi jury acquitted 2 men who later openly admitted to the murder. The bill now goes to the president’s desk.

Troy Anthony Davis Receives Last Minute Reprieve
The US Supreme Court issued a last minute reprieve yesterday afternoon to Georgia death row inmate, Troy Anthony Davis. The reprieve will remain in effect until the high court has a chance to decide on whether to hear from witnesses who originally testified against Davis and later recanted their testimonies. Some of the witnesses say another man later admitted to the 1989 murder of a Savannah police officer. The reprieve came less than two hours ahead of the scheduled execution.



Alternative Financial Crisis Proposals
Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson appeared before Congress in the second day of testimony to convince lawmakers to give him the authority to spend $700 billion of taxpayer’s money.  As lawmakers continue to express skepticism, some are coming up with their own alternate proposals. Washington Editor Leigh Ann Caldwell reports.

McCain May Bail Out of Debates Due to Financial Crisis
President Bush will try to convince the skeptical public to support the proposed bail out. He’s delivering a live address tonight at 9 pm eastern.  The Obama and McCain campaigns have agreed to issue a joint statement for Congress to work in a bi-partisan manner to get a proposal passed. McCain has suggested that both candidates return to Washington to work on the negotiations and delay the first presidential debate scheduled for Friday night.

Regulating Wall Street
As the battle for what will and will not be included in the massive bailout continues, some economists say that the financial industry needs more regulation and better enforcement of regulations already on the books. Africa Jones has more.

House Allows Offshore Oil Drilling Moratorium to Expire 
Congress will allow a 26-year moratorium on offshore oil drilling to expire – opening up the coastlines along the US to further oil exploration and extraction. Also included in the massive bill, which funds the government through March, is a bailout for the auto industry. Democrats in the House say ending the moratorium on offshore oil drilling will allow the omnibus bill to get through Congress and to get it signed into law by President Bush. They add that the ban can always be reinstated in January under a new Congress and President. But not everyone is convinced that this is the best move, especially in a time of financial crisis. Aura Bogado speaks with Public Citizen’s Tyson Slocom works with Public Citizen.

Ecuador’s Constitutional Referendum
In Ecuador, the debate over a proposed new constitution is heating up before a September 28th national referendum. The opposition right wing charges that the constitution gives the state too much economic power and undermines the traditional family. But most social movements support the Magna Carta, pointing to the expansion of social services. From Quito, Daniel Denvir reports.

Galveston Island Resident Return to Deal with Pieces of the Lives
Nearly two weeks after Hurricane Ike brought widespread damage to the Gulf Coast region, Galveston Island residents are finally being allowed on to the island to assess damage and begin picking up the pieces. From Galveston Island, Katie Heim and Rachel Clarke have more.

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