December 11, 2008

  • Bail Out Stalled in the Senate
  • Obama Announces Health Care Team; Advocates Pleased
  • Bush Midnight Regulations Spotlighted
  • Chicago Workers See Victory; Re-evaluate Strike Tactics
  • Africa Jones – Day Without A Gay
  • Mothers of Plaza de Mayo Continue their Annual Protest
  • Pakistan Truck Convoys Targeted

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Congress Will Limit Military Aid to Countries Employing Child Soldiers

The US Congress has passed legislation that would halt military aid to countries that use child soldiers.  Countries like Afghanistan, Sudan, Congo and Sri Lanka could be affected.  The rules cover countries that directly recruit child soldiers into their armed forces and those who utilize paramilitary groups that sanction the practice.  Countries actively working to halt the practice could still be eligible for limited aid from the US.

Unrest Continues in Greece

The violent political and social crisis continues today in Greece.  Several thousand workers and students marched through Greek cities to protest the killing of a teenage boy and the government’s economic policies.  Aris Oikonomou reports.


The government HAS tried to discourage further violence by saying the demonstrators are “minorities of looter” and “anarchists.”  But the massive participation in the protests contradicts these statements. According to trade unions and left wing parties who continued demonstrations today, the government is trying to avoid discussing the root causes of the unrest.  Topping their list of complaints are the economic crisis, corruption and state repression, the constant attacks on workers’ incomes and rights, and the continuous waves of reforms cutting education and other public services.  Yesterday a Greek court charged one of the police officers involved in the shooting with murder.  Another was charged as an accomplice.  Both officers are being held in jail pending trial.  Solidarity protests have happened this week at Greek embassies and consulates in Italy, Spain, London and Germany.  For FSRN, this is Aris Oikonomou.

Suicide Bomb Kills Dozens in Kirkuk Restaurant

In Northern Iraq today a suicide bomber killed nearly 50 people in a restaurant near Kirkuk.  The apparent target was a meeting of local officials discussing ways to bring peace to the violent city.  The restaurant was full of a lunchtime crowd celebrating the end of a Muslim holiday.  Photos show the restaurant ripped completely open, debris and rubble everywhere.

Mugabe Claims Cholera under Control in Zimbabwe

Despite reports that show Zimbabwe’s Cholera epidemic is spiraling out of control, the country’s embattled president Robert Mugabe said today the government has the outbreak under control.  He said point-blank “there is no cholera” in apparent hopes to dissuade international military forces from coming in to deal with the problem.

Ghana Presidential Election Headed to Run-off

Officials in Ghana announced today last weekend’s presidential election has resulted in a run-off.  Neither of the two leading candidates, Nana Akufo-Addo of the New Patriotic Party and John Atta Mills of the National Democratic Congress, was able to garner 50 percent of the vote.  The run-off will be held on December 28th.

Health Officials Charged with Suppressing HIV Infection Data in Chile

Underreporting and neglect of HIV/AIDS cases in Chile have led to the deaths of at least three people.  And now, authorities are holding health care officials involved in the scandal accountable. FSRN’s Jorge Garretón has more.


The HIV/AIDS crisis emerged in the northern city of Iquique two months ago.  A Ministry of Health investigation revealed health care officials did not notify residents who tested positive for the virus.  The investigation turned up 550 unreported cases in all.  Now Iquique prosecutors have charged twenty health care officials for failure to enforce federal disease control provisions.  Among those charged are the regional Health Ministry Secretary, the National AIDS Commission director, blood bank and public health officials.  These are the first charges filed relating ot the investigation, and more are expected, particularly in a couple of Santiago regional health centers.  To date at least three people have died, including a husband and wife WHO were never informed they had the disease.  For FSRN this is Jorge Garretón in Santiago.

EPA Issues Environmental Crimes Most Wanted List

The Environmental Protection Agency is issuing a new kind of most wanted list this week – in an effort to apprehend environmental fugitives.  The twenty-three people on the list are wanted for a variety of crimes – including smuggling chemicals and illegal dumping of hazardous waste.  Ironically the new most wanted list comes as EPA enforcement has been drastically reduced.  The number of overall cases brought by the Agency’s enforcement division is down 25 percent from 2004.

Low Income Texans Sue FEMA over Hurricane Damage Claims

With hurricane season officially over, Texas residents continue to pick up the pieces.  Among them are 13 families in the state’s Rio Grande Valley now suing the Federal Emergency Management Association.  They charge FEMA has failed to offer adequate assistance.  Rachel Clarke has more on this story from Houston


In Austin yesterday the Texas Supreme Court heard testimony regarding the Texas Access to Justice Commission’s work with lower-income Texans.  Among those speaking before the justices were residents of the Rio Grande Valley.  Thirteen families are suing FEMA in the wake of its response to Hurricane Dolly, which the southern part of the state last July.  Attorney’s charge the government agency is denying claims precisely because of the lower income status of some of those seeking assistance.  FEMA has rejected many claims, alleging damage to the homes were pre-existing and not related to the tropical storm.  But residents like Jose Gonzalez vow to keep fighting.

“If it takes going to court like they ask, well then we’ll go to court”

A court date has yet to be set.  Reporting from Houston, Texas I’m Rachel Clarke, Free Speech Radio News.

US Execution Rate at 14-Year Low

The number of government executions in the United States dropped to a 14 year low in 2008.  Thirty-seven inmates on death row were executed, 26 of them in Texas alone.  One possible reason for the drop was a Supreme Court moratorium on executions that was in place through April.   



Bail Out Stalled in the Senate

The Senate has received the 14 billion dollar auto industry bail out from the House of Representatives, which passed the measure last night by a vote of 237 – 170.  But the Senate has been unable to move forward. Despite its decreased amount and provisions inserted to please the White House, enough Senators still have concerns to keep the measure from moving forward.  A number of Republicans believe that government assistance will not keep the auto makers afloat.

Obama Announces Health Care Team; Advocates Pleased
Health care was the purpose of President-elect Barack Obama’s news conference today. Although the scandal with the Illinois governor was discussed, Obama said he has had no contact with the governor over the empty Senate seat, and Obama again called on Rod Blagojevich, to step down.

Quickly turning to health care, Obama attempted to signal its importance.  He created a new position for his White House – an office of health reform. To lead that team, is Jeanne Lambrew, Lambrew is currently a fellow at the liberal leaning think tank, Center for American Progress and professor at the University of Texas. Obama also nominated Former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle to be Secretary of Health and Human Services.

Joining us to talk about Obama’s choice in Daschle is Michael Lighty with the Director of Public Policy for the California Nurses Association. Lighty has been working for universal health coverage for 18 years.

Bush Midnight Regulations Spotlighted
The EPA announced that is dropping two last minute Bush administration effort to weaken regulatory controls of power plants emissions and de-regulated air pollution in national parks and wilderness areas. Critics charge the EPA’s about face is not coming from a Bush Administration environmental change of heart, but from the spotlight the administration has been receiving on such last minute rule changes that many say will seriously impact the environment. While the Administration has agreed to drop some proposals, other efforts to move forward on easing air and water quality standards and loosening the Endangered Species Act remain. As FSRN’s Karen Miller reports, a house committee shined some more light on these last minute alterations.

Chicago Workers See Victory; Re-evaluate Strike Tactics
On Wednesday evening, after occupying their factory for 6 days, the workers at Republic Windows and Doors, members of the United Electrical Workers union 1110, won the severance package they had been seeking.  A loan of 1.7 million dollars, primarily from Bank of America, the company’s main financier, will allow the company to pay each worker roughly $6,000 on average, keeping compliant with federal law.  The worker’s decision to use the militant labor tactic of occupying their factory, a tactic not used in the United States since the late 1930’s, garnered the workers national media attention, wide spread solidarity from other unions and social justice groups. It also put great pressure on the company to negotiate.  For our StreetBeat segment, FSRN reporter Jerry Mead-Lucero asked the workers, union organizers, and supporters gathered at the factory last night whether they thought confrontational tactics like factory occupations were a good idea that should be employed by unions more often.

Africa Jones – Day Without A Gay
We continue our week long series on Human Rights. Today we’ll go to Argentina. But first, we turn to San Francisco, where LGBTQ activists participated in the national “Day Without A Gay” . It’s modeled after “A day without an immigrant” protest 2 years ago.  Organizers asked  LBGTQ people not to go to work or spend money but volunteer or do other activities. Activists want to continue to call attention to the lack of legal protections for LGBTQ people, including the recent passage of Prop 8 in California. Africa Jones reports.

Mothers of Plaza de Mayo Continue their Annual Protest
Now to Argentina, where human rights groups rallied yesterday and today in an annual 24-hour march to mark International Human Rights Day. This is the 28th year the Mothers of Plaza de Mayo have held the March of Resistance to demand justice for crimes committed during Argentina’s 1976-1983 military dictatorship. FSRN’s Marie Trigona reports from Buenos Aires.

Pakistan Truck Convoys Targeted
Pakistan Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani played cool to Indian media reports which said India may have prepared its navy to blockade Pakistan’s only commercial seaport at Karachi.  But incidentally, Karachi is also used for supplying the US and NATO forces in landlocked Afghanistan.  Recent attacks on transit depts. Near the northern city of Peshawar will bring the Pakistani government under further criticism for failing to control the Taliban.  Our Correspondent Masroor Hussain reports from Islamabad.

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