February 9, 2009


  • Senate cuts $100-billion from stimulus
  • Civil rights advocates argue US torture survivors deserve day in court
  • A new program for returning vets caught up in the criminal justice system
  • Kenya’s media campaign to stop hunger
  • Former Salvadoran president could be called to testify on killings
  • Commentary by Mumia Abu-Jamal


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In Sri Lankan, military officials say a suicide bomb attack has killed 28 people, mostly soldiers, and wounded 90 others. The attack came hours after the air force bombed a suspected jungle hide out where rebels had a fleet of boats. FSRN’s Ponniah Manikavasagam has the story

Despite According to the Environmental Protection Agency, a waste oil spill outside Chicago has not hurt wildlife and presents no danger to humans. The spill happened yesterday at a Caterpillar plant in Rockdale, Illinois. About 65,000 gallons of hydraulic and cutting oil contaminated a 3-mile section of the Des Plaines River

Madagascar’s Defense Minister, Cecile Manorohanta, has resigned after troops killed anti-government protesters over the weekend. Manorohanta said her upbringing and faith could not allow her to accept “that the blood of” her countrymen be spilled. According to the International Committee of the Red Cross, more than 40 were killed and some 350 wounded. The opposition – led by, Andry Rajoelina – called today a day of national mourning and thousands attended a ceremony for the victims. Both Rajoelina and the President, Marc Ravalomanana, have agreed to participate in UN mediated negotiations. The crisis in Madagascar was sparked in December after the President shut down television and radio stations owned by the opposition.

Suspected Pakistani Taliban militants released a videotape showing the beheading of a polish engineer. Piotr Stanczek was kidnapped four months ago. Sources in the region say that the murder was videotaped in front of a black cloth. Printed on the cloth were the words ‘Taliban movement’, the name of a town — Dara Adam Khail – and the name of a Taliban commander. The Taliban had demanded the release of some those who were arrested for the murder of Daniel Pearl. When their demands were not met, they fulfilled their pledge to kill Piotr Stanczak. Now, the Taliban say they will not hand over Sanczak’s body unless their associates are released from Pakistani jails. They are also threatening to kill other foreigners who are in their custody if the government does not release other Taliban detainees. Separately, the United Nations remains concerned about the fate of a U.N. refugee agency official, John Solecki, who was kidnapped one week ago in southwestern Pakistan. A U.N. statement yesterday says the world body is seeking additional information about a group called the Baluchistan Liberation United Front, which told local media it is holding Solecki.

Zimbabwe’s Minister of Justice Patrick Chinamasa has said Parliamentarians can now cross the floor – or change party affiliation. Until last week, Zimbabwe’s constitution barred politicians from changing parties. For FSRN, Moses Magadza reports.

China delivered its first report to the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva today, in accordance with a new requirement that all member states do so every four years. A Chinese delegation to the court said that the nation does not censor the news, that Chinese citizens are free to voice dissent to the press, and the press is protected from harassment. Chinese Ambassador Li Baodong maintained that the China opposes torture and would never allow it to be used against ethnic or religious minorities. Human Rights Watch, however, called on the United Nations member states to “not green-light further abuses by staying silent about China’s problematic human rights” during today’s review.



Senate cuts $100-billion from stimulus
The Senate is gearing up for the final critical hours of debate on the economic stimulus package, hoping to pass the massive bill that was re-worked and altered over the weekend to cut more than $100 billion. Meanwhile, President Obama traveled to a town in Indiana to garner public support for the stimulus – some 8,000 workers lost their jobs in Elkhart, Indiana, and the unemployment there has tripled in just one year. Obama pointed out some of the stories behind those statistics, and outlined his plan to help communities across the country recover. As Obama prepares to address the nation during prime time this evening, FSRN’s Leigh Ann Caldwell reports that tax cuts are now nearly half of the Senate stimulus.

Civil rights advocates argue US torture survivors deserve day in court
In San Francisco today, civil rights advocates are hoping that survivors of US torture might finally get their day in court. Lawyers for the ACLU were in federal court, arguing that a lawsuit against a Boeing subsidiary involved in the CIA’s extraordinary rendition program should move forward. The Bush administration used the “state secrets” privilege numerous times in cases with detainees, and succeeded in getting this suit thrown out in February 2008. But the ACLU appealed. Attorney Ben Wizner argued the case today in San Francisco.

A new program for returning vets caught up in the criminal justice system
As thousands of combat veterans attempt to adjust to civilian life after returning home from fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan, some of them commit petty crimes. WMNF’s Seán Kinane reports on a new type of court assisting veterans who have become entangled in the criminal justice system.

Kenya’s media campaign to stop hunger
A handful of Kenya’s leading radio stations launched one of their most ambitious operations to date this weekend: 24 hours to feed the country, raising enough money to buy some 37 tons of food. President Mwai Kibaki declared the country was facing a national disaster last month and asked international donors to contribute $ 400 million toward emergency food. At a time when 10 out of 35 million Kenyans are facing starvation, NGOs, civil society and the media and entertainment industry have decided to take the situation into their own hands. Can a radio station feed a nation? FSRN’s Arusha Topazzini set out to find out.

Former Salvadoran president could be called to testify on killings

Spain’s national court has started an investigation into the murder of Spanish Jesuit priests who lived and worked in Latin America until they were killed by El Salvador’s military officers in 1989. Former president Alfredo Cristiani could be called to testify on the civilian deaths. Ricardo Martinez reports from El Salvador.

Commentary by Mumia Abu-Jamal

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