October 30, 2008

  • The Race to the House
  • What Early Voting Could Mean in This Election
  • What’s Happening with The Bailout?
  • LA Prosecutors Drop Charges Man Who Served 10 Years in Prison
  • The Gulf Coast’s Dead Zone

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Another Teen Abandoned Under Nebraska’s Controversial Safe-Haven Law

The Nebraska Governor has called for a special session of the legislature to look at the state’s unique safe-haven law, which does not include an age limit.  Safe-haven laws allow parents who cannot care for their children to drop them off at places like emergency rooms and fire stations without fear of legal retribution.  The laws are usually intended to apply to infants, but Nebraska’s does not have an age limit attached.  Consequently, several older children have been abandoned in this fashion.  The most recent, a 17-year-old boy dropped off at a hospital last night.

Thirteen Consecutive Bombs Shake India’s State of Assam

The death and injury toll continues to rise today following a series of bomb blasts in the northeastern Indian state of Assam.  And soon after the explosions, dozens of residents angry about the attacks rioted, damaging cars and torching rescue vehicles and prompting police to impose a curfew.  FSRN’s PC Dubey has more.

The 13 bombs all exploded within minutes of each other and nearly 70 people have died in four townships, including Assam’s capital city Guwahati.  State officials fear the death toll will continue to mount.  More than 500 have been injured in the attacks.  Three of the most powerful bombs exploded in Guwahati, killing over 40.  One exploded barely 100 meters away from the heavily guarded chief minister’s residence.  An intelligence officer working on the case said the explosive RDX has been used in most of the blasts. She claims a Bangladeshi Islamic militant group called HUJI is behind the bombings.  However, HUJI has yet to deny nor claim responsibility.  Initially, the state police suspected the indigenous secessionist organization United Liberation Front of Assam – or ULFA.  But ULFA has strongly denied it and expressed condolences for the victims.  I’m Puck Lo reading for PC Dubey in West Bengal, India.

Hamas Agrees to Release Fatah Political Prisoners Ahead of Unity Talks

The uneasy truce established in June between Israel and Palestinian leaders in Gaza was tested again today as a new organization, Hezbollah Palestine, launched a rocket into Israel.  In response, Israel closed down a cargo border crossing.  The rocket was the second launched in two weeks.  For it’s part, Israel is being heavily criticized for the killing of a Palestinian farmer.   In other news from Gaza, today the ruling Hamas party released more than a dozen Fatah-linked Palestinian prisoners. The good-will move, according to Hamas, is intended ease tension going into national unity talks. FSRN’s Rami Almeghari has more.

Ahead of a November 9th unity conference in Egypt, the Hamas prime minister, Ismail Haniya, ordered the release of 17 Fatah supporters. The ruling Hamas party expects Fatah to take a similar step by releasing more than 100 Hamas supporters, currently jailed in Ramallah. Fawzi Barhoun is a spokesman of Hamas in Gaza

“They are daily arresting Hamas members, supporters and parliament members, unfortunately according to the implementation of the security part of the road map and the collaboration with the occupation.”

Over the past 16 months, Hamas in Gaza and Fatah-led security forces in the West Bank have been trading arrests and taking political prisoners. The anticipated talks in Cairo are intended to hasten the formation of a national unity government, and bring an end to an Israeli-led and internationally enforced embargo of the region.  For Free Speech Radio News, this is Rami Almeghari in Gaza.

US Threatens to Boot Bolivia from Trade Deal; Bolivia and Venezuela Sign Their Own

Bolivian president Evo Morales and Venezuela’s Hugo Chávez have signed an agreement that would replace the loss of US trade, if President Bush decides to exclude Bolivia from the Andean Trade Promotion and Drug Eradication Act.   From Bolivia, Leny Olivera reports.

The Act was originally put in place in 1992 and grants Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Bolivia zero tariffs on several products exported to the US market. In exchange, the countries agreed to cooperate with the U.S. War on Drugs.  At the beginning of October, the US announced intentions to use executive power to remove Bolivia from the agreement, claiming Morales would not collaborate.  A final decision on the matter will be made after the first of November.  Morales denounced the Bush administration move as blackmail.  This is part of an on-going diplomatic crisis between Bolivia and the US that began when Morales accused the American Ambassador of destabilizing his government.  Meanwhile 25,000 people in Bolivia, whose employments depend the Andean Trade Act, are waiting for Bush’s final decision.  But Morales has assured his country the new trade agreement with Venezuela will actually produce more trade than the US deal.  For FSRN, I’m Leny Olivera from Cochabamba, Bolivia.

US GDP Contracts; Recession Distinct Possibility

Today the US commerce department released economic figures for the July through September fiscal quarter.  The country’s GDP fell by .3 percent.  If the decline continues in the final quarter of this year, the US will officially be in a recession.



The Race to the House

All 435 members of Congress are up for re-election. In 2006, the Democrats picked up 31 seats, giving them the majority – not only making it easier to pass Democratic legislation, but allowing them to control the agenda, chair committees, and have more members on those committees. Democrats hope Tuesday’s election gives them an even bigger majority in the House. Washington Editor Leigh Ann Caldwell has the story.

What Early Voting Could Mean in This Election

According to the United States Election Project, more than 17.5 million people have voted early or absentee so far. Being able to vote absentee started in the Civil War when soldiers were able to mail in their ballots to their families for them to submit; but early voting is a relatively new phenomena. FSRN’s Karen Miller looks at how early voting has impacted the election so far, and what it could mean for the final outcome.

What’s Happening with The Bailout?

So far, the massive economic bailout has taken the form of the Treasury buying preferred stock in a number of financial institutions. Initially the Treasury put $250 billion in a number of banks, with another disbursement this week. And while more and more people around the nation feel the pinch from increasing foreclosures and the credit crunch, the Commerce Department confirmed that the national GDP is down 0.3 percent for the third quarter – that’s the biggest dip in seven years. FSRN spoke with Josh Bivens from the Economic Policy Institute about the bailout.

LA Prosecutors Drop Charges Man Who Served 10 Years in Prison

Los Angeles County District Attorneys dismissed all pending charges against Mario Rocha. Rocha was 16 years old when he was tried as an adult and winded up serving 10 years behind bars for a murder he says he didn’t commit. Albert Pfaffman has the story.

The Gulf Coast’s Dead Zone

As the weather starts to cool down along the US Gulf Coast, a yearly phenomenon known as the Dead Zone begins to shrink. The Gulf Coast Dead Zone is a massive area of water near Louisiana and Texas, where most marine life cannot live at the bottom due to low oxygen levels. Shannon Young recently traveled to New Orleans to find out more about this yearly occurrence.

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