May 14, 2009

  • Democrats mull over $94 billion war supplemental
  • New legislation will restrict credit card company abuses
  • Illinois supermax prison to get review
  • Canada marks 40 years since abortion was decriminalized
  • Commentary by Mumia Abu-Jamal: Party of One

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Myanmar Pro-democracy activist Aung San Suu Kyi faces new charges
The Myanmar government has brought new charges against pro-democracy activist Aung San Suu Kyi, after an American man swam nearly a mile across a lake to her home, where she has been under house arrest for six years.  Her detention was scheduled to end this month.  The Myanmar government claims the Nobel Peace Laureate violated the terms of her detention by allowing the man to stay for two days in order to recover from the swim.  The man was not pursued by authorities until he left her home, even though the grounds are heavily guarded.  Today police took Suu Kyi into custody.  Her trial is scheduled to begin Monday.

Bloody clashes in the Somaili capital leave over 100 dead
Hundreds of families are fleeing their homes in the Somali capital Mogadishu today, as heavy and deadly fighting between the Somali government and Islamist forces continue.  From Somalia, Abdurrahman Warsameh reports.

The week’s fighting claimed the lives of more than a hundred people and wounded almost four hundred more, according to a local human rights organization.  Hundreds of families have left their homes in the unstable northern section of Mogadishu for other parts of the city.  Some even opted to go back to camps for internally displaced people on the outskirts of the capital, where many spent the past two years escaping violence.  The latest confrontations broke out last week after the Islamist Al-Shabaab movement accused Somali government forces of an assassination attempt on one of their senior commanders in Mogadishu.   Al-Shabaab fighters and militants of the newly formed Hezbul Islam have captured several key positions in Mogadishu.  The allied insurgent forces control most of the south and center of Somalia and run nearly two third of the capital.  The UN Envoy to Somalia has accused the hard-line Islamist leader Sheikh Hassan Dahir Aweys of being behind the renewed fighting and trying to overthrow the fledgling Somali government.  Yesterday the Somali president officially instated Sharia law.  Abdurrahman Warsameh. FSRN. Mogadishu.

New evidence shows mineral giant Trafigura dumped toxic waste in Ivory Coast
A class action lawsuit by residents of the Ivory Coast against multinational Mineral Company Trafigura may have new life today.  The suit alleges that in 2006, a Trafigura-chartered tanker dumped toxic waste in the Ivory Coast city Abidjan, killing 16 and making tens of thousands of people ill.  The company has denied the claims, saying the ship did not contain any toxic material.  But now, the BBC has obtained analysis of the contents of the Trafigura ship, proving it contained approximately two tons of the deadly chemical hydrogen sulfide.  Trafigura has also been accused of coercing witnesses.  In a statement, the company now blames the dumping on an independent contractor.  The case is scheduled to be heard in October.

Two US Journalists face trial in North Korea
Two US journalists are facing trial in North Korea for allegedly entering the country illegally and what the government calls “hostile acts.”  Euna Lee and Laura Ling both work for Current TV and were captured near the Chinese – North Korean border in mid March.  Their trial is scheduled to begin on June 4th.

Pelosi says CIA misled her about the use of torture
Today House Majority Leader Nancy Pelosi defended herself against allegations that she knew about the use of torture techniques being employed by US government as early as 2002.

“The CIA briefed me only once on enhanced interrogation techniques in September 2002 in my capacity as ranking member of the Intelligence Committee.  I was informed then that the DOJ opinions had concluded that the use of inhanced interrogation techniques were legal.  The only mention of waterboarding at that briefing was that it was not being employed.  Those conducting the briefing promised to inform the appropriate members of Congress if that technique were to be used in the future.”

Pelosi went on to say that five months later she was told by a member of her staff that the Republican and new Democratic leader of the intelligence committee were briefed that certain interrogation techniques were being employed.  She says she was not privy to the details of that meeting.  Pelosi says the ranking Democratic leader sent a letter of protest to the CIA general council.

“We also now know that techniques including waterboarding had already been employed and that those briefing me in September 2002 gave me inaccurate and incomplete information.”

Pelosi denied she was complicit in the use of torture techniques.  And places culpability on the CIA.

“Madam Speaker, just to be clear, you’re accusing the CIA of lying to you in September of 2002.

Yes, misleading the congress of the United States. Misleading the congress of the United States.”

Republicans initially accused Pelosi last week of knowing about harsh interrogation methods early on. Pelosi says Republicans are trying to distract the public and called for the creation of a Truth Commission to investigate allegations of torture.

Larry EchoHawk one step closer to heading Bureau of Indian Affairs
Former Idaho Attorney General Larry EchoHawk was voted out of Senate committee today to lead the Bureau of Indian Affairs. EchoHawk is a member of the Pawnee tribe, a Mormon, and currently a professor at Brigham Young University.  His confirmation will likely go before the full Senate sometime next week.



Democrats mull over $94 billion war supplemental
Democrats in the House of Representatives debated each other today on the Hill, as they considered President Obama’s $94 billion supplemental for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. As Karen Miller reports, some anti-war progressive Democrats are voting for the supplemental – despite the fact it will not include an exit strategy.

New legislation will restrict credit card company abuses
The Senate is debating legislation that would rein in the abusive practices of credit card companies. The bill offers consumer protections by limiting when the company can raise an interest rate, would ban some marketing of credit cards to people under the age of 21, and would require credit card companies to lower interest rates for deserving customers. The bill is expected to pass the Senate, but one controversial provision, a cap on excessive interest was handily defeated. FSRN’s Leigh Ann Caldwell reports.

Illinois supermax prison to get review
In Illinois today, Governor Pat Quinn is naming a new head to lead the Department of Corrections. The new chief will be charged with reviewing conditions at the state’s Supermax prison, which has been the target of human rights groups. Ellen Pierson reports.

Canada marks 40 years since abortion was decriminalized
40 years ago today, abortion was decriminalized in Canada. However, some pro-choice activists across that nation find themselves in a new struggle to safeguard the same rights that were guaranteed four decades ago. Some are also working to expand access to abortion in some provinces where it’s restricted. FSRN’s Aaron Lakoff has more from Montreal.

Commentary by Mumia Abu-Jamal: Party of One

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