May 26, 2009

  • Obama picks Sotomayor for Supreme Court
  • UN condemns North Korea’s nuclear test
  • What’s next for North Korea?
  • Colombians to sue US-based Drummond Coal
  • Brazil celebrates National Roma Day

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California High Court upholds Prop 8

A crowd of about a 1000 people reacted today by chanting “shame on you” as the California Supreme Court announced its decision regarding Proposition 8 — the voter approved ban on same sex marriage – it was upheld. Kellia Ramarez has more.

The vote was 6-1, and the decision written by Chief Justice Ron George was 136 pages long. While upholding the validity of proposition 8, the court simultaneously upheld the validity of the 18,000 plus same sex marriages performed after this very court ruled that denying same sex couples the right to marry was a violation of the equal protection clause of California’s constitution. Tommi Avicoli Mecca of San Francisco has been a queer activist for 40 years. He challenges the wisdom of putting human rights to a popular vote.

You can’t put human rights into the initiative process because I think any human right in this country would be overturned by an initiative process, any human right; I don’t care what it is. When it comes down to it, I don’t trust Americans. I think Interracial Marriage would get overturned.

The decision splits same sex couples into two groups, those that have valid marriages on a par with heterosexual couples and those who do not have access to marriage. This disparate treatment of members of one class – same sex couples – raises equal protection issues which will likely find their way into court. Kellia Ramares FSRN San Francisco

US Supreme Court Says Attorney need not be present
The US Supreme Court today ruled that police can question suspects even if they have asked for a lawyer but the attorney is not present. The Court overturned a 1986 Michigan case that said counsel must be present if a defendant agreed to be questioned. For the first time this term, the dissenting opinion was delivered aloud from the bench — by Justice John Paul Stevens. Along with Justices Souter, Breyer and Ginsburg, Stevens said that today’s ruling “can only diminish the public’s confidence in the reliability and fairness of our system of justice.”

Hundreds of thousands homeless after Cyclone Aila
Recovery efforts are ongoing today after Cyclone Aila battered India and Bangladesh on Monday. The death toll remains uncertain – at least 60 people died in Bangladesh where hundreds of thousands have lost their homes and many remain missing. In India, authorities are trying to reach out those affected by the storm. Bismillah Geelani reports.

Rail and air service restarted and schools reopened in West Bengal State today. What started as a deep depression in the Bay of Bengal on Sunday developed into a fierce storm overnight hitting the state on Monday afternoon. Winds blowing at more than 70 miles per hour destroyed thousands of thatched and mud homes in villages across the region.   At least 49 people have been killed and more than one hundred thousand are displaced while a large number of farmers have lost their entire livestock herds. Authorities have called in the Army and Air Force to help Civic bodies in rescue and relief work. Fayaz Khan is a member of the Kolkata Muncipal Corporation.

“We have adequate funds and we will see to it that they do not face any problems. People have lost their homes which is a problem in itself but that’s something beyond our control. But we are now making sure that they don’t suffer anymore and their basic needs like food and shelter are being taken care of.”

Authorities say the full extent of the damage will not be known for weeks, but the cyclone has affected at least 4 hundred thousand people in West Bengal alone. Bismillah Geelani, Free Speech Radio News, New Delhi

Afghan Human Rights Group says Gitmo detainee only 12 years old when captured
The Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission that said today that Guantanamo Bay detainee Mohammed Jawad was only about 12 years old when he was imprisoned in 2002. Yesterday, attorneys for the US military asked Afghanistan’s High Court for help securing Jawad’s release from the detention center in Cuba. According to the Afghan Human rights group, Jawad has been denied age-appropriate conditions or rehabilitative opportunities as required by the Convention on the Rights of the Child, to which the US is a signatory. US military lawyers say they have petitioned the Afghan Court because President Obama’s move to close the detention center in Cuba has prevented Jawad’s case from moving forward.

Huge protest rally in Georgia on Independence Day
Tens of thousands of Georgians are demonstrating in the former Soviet republic of Georgia today. Protests are in their sixth week since more than 60,000 people turned out in early April to demand the resignation of their president and new elections. Jacob Resneck reports.

Today marks Georgia’s independence. Usually the day would be full of pomp with military tanks parading triumphantly down the capital’s central boulevard.  But encamped protesters in front of parliament and anger over last August’s disastrous war with Russia have effectively handed the day to the opposition. Kakha Kukava, a former parliamentarian once allied with the president, says the mishandling of the war with Russia has stripped the president of any right to celebrate.

“He doesn’t have right to have military parades. I know military parades and triumphs they are arranged after the wars which are won, but not after the wars that are lost.”
At noon people completely filled the 55,000-seat national stadium to cheer leading figures of the opposition. One by one, its leaders called on the people to rise up and demand the resignation of their president. Yesterday a joint statement from the United States and European Union called on the government and opposition to negotiate an end to the political impasse.  This evening protesters are winding through the city to descend on parliament. Hundreds of riot police are stationed behind locked gates, guarding the building.  Jacob Resneck, FSRN, Tbilisi


Obama picks Sotomayor for Supreme Court
President Barack Obama nominated the first Latina to the Supreme Court today:  federal appeals Judge Sonia Sotomayor. If confirmed by the Senate, Sotomayor would replace Justice David Souter, who recently announced his retirement. Obama praised Sotomayor for having far-reaching legal experience and a personal background which he calls inspiring. FSRN’s Leigh Ann Caldwell has more about Sotomayor, and what sort of war might be waged to keep her off the high bench.

UN condemns North Korea’s nuclear test
North Korea has tested two short-range missiles, just one day after conducting a nuclear test. The United Nations’ Security Council has issued a statement in opposition to latest nuclear test.  FSRN’s Karen Miller reports.

What’s next for North Korea?
North Korea’s nuclear test and subsequent short-range missile tests have been condemned by the international community – as we just heard, Russia and China, two close allies, have stated their opposition North Korea’s actions. So what does this mean for North Korea? Aura Bogado speaks with John Feffer, Co-Director of Foreign Policy in Focus, at the Institute for Policy Studies in Washington D.C., about what’s next for North Korea.

Colombians to sue US-based Drummond Coal
More than 200 Colombians have announced plans to file a lawsuit against Birmingham, Alabama-based Drummond Coal Company, which operates an open pit coalmine in Colombia’s northern region. They charge the company financed right wing death squads in Colombia, which assassinated more than 200 civilians between 2000 and 2006.  Manuel Rueda visited the region and files this report.

Brazil celebrates National Roma Day
Brazil celebrated National Roma Day Saturday, intended to raise awareness of Roma – or Gypsy – cultures and promote unity across different ethnic and religious groups. Between 250,000 to one million Roma live in Brazil, and many of them often face discrimination. Natalia Viana reports from São Paulo.

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