June 3, 2009

  • Tianannmen Square anniversary: witnesses recall democracy movement´s rise and fall
  • Israel conducts its largest ever military exercise
  • Professor Stephen Zunes talks about the “new” US empire
  • Oil rich Nigeria running out of fuel; citizens angered by shortages
  • Rep. John Conyers tours US promoting health care act

Download Audio


Obama Administration offers housing relief for Katrina victims
The Obama administration will let victims of Hurricane Katrina stay in their temporary trailers. The move comes just days after residents were given eviction notices.  FSRN’s Leigh Ann Caldwell reports.

Under a new Obama Administration measure, 3500 families in Mississippi and Louisiana will be able to remain in their government-provided trailers. June 1st was the deadline for the hurricane victims to find new housing, but the Department of Housing and Urban Development is providing 50 million dollars in new housing vouchers to keep people in their homes.  Austin King is the Director of the ACORN Financial Justice Center in New Orleans. He calls this decision a big deal.

“These FEMA trailers which aren’t very healthy, laced with formaldehyde in many cases, and much smaller than the homes people lost, are still better than nothing. And we were looking at a potential cataclysm of homelessness in New Orleans unlike what we’ve seen since the storm.”

The trailers were meant to be a temporary solution to the mass destruction of homes caused by Hurricane Katrina in 2005.  But with the region’s shattered economy following the storm, many have not been able to secure alternate housing.  To remain permanently, residents can now purchase their mobile homes for 5 dollars. HUD will also provide money and counseling to help people find permanent housing.   Leigh Ann Caldwell, FSRN, Washington.

Human rights groups renew call for Administration action following death of Guantanamo prisoner
A 31-year old Yemeni man has died in his cell in Guantanamo – the result of an apparent suicide.  The US government held Muhammad Ahmad Abdallah Salih, also known as Al Hanashi, at Guantanamo for 7 years.  In a statement, the Center for Constitutional Rights said, “The new administration must act quickly and decisively towards closing the prison by making a simple decision: whether to charge or release the men who remain detained at the base.”

Disgraced federal judge to draw salary from jail for one year barring Congressional action
As impeachment proceedings against federal judge Samuel Kent begin in the House Judiciary committee, the disgraced Texas judge now says he will resign instead of retire from the bench. Reporting from Houston, Rachel Clarke has more….

Late Tuesday, United States District Judge Samuel Kent told the Obama administration he intends to step down in June of 2010.  Kent drew international headlines earlier this year for pleading guilty to obstruction of justice for lying about sexually abusing two assistants.  Kent was sentenced to 33 months in prison for the crime, but is still drawing a salary because federal judges can only be removed though impeachment.  Kent initially attempted to retire from the bench citing health reasons.  This would have allowed him to continue to collect his full salary of $174,000 with benefits for the remainder of his life.  The current terms of Kent’s resignation means he will continue to draw a salary though next June, even though he will be in jail.  Rachel Clarke, Free Speech Radio News, Houston.

Proposed bill would grant immigration rights to same-sex couples
A new bill being proposed in the US Senate would allow same sex couples to seek the same immigration rights as heterosexuals – meaning if one member of a couple is a US citizen, he or she could apply for residency status on behalf of their partners.  The so-called Uniting American Families Act, sponsored by Vermont Senator Patrick Leahy, is currently being considered by the Judiciary Committee.

In other LGBT news, a revised bill legalizing same sex marriage has cleared the New Hampshire state Senate and will head to the House Wednesday.  The newest version of the bill includes language stating that religious institutions have exclusive control over who can be married within their faith.  The New Hampshire Governor says he will sign the latest version of the bill.

India elects first female Parliamentary Speaker
In what is being termed a historical moment for India’s Parliament, lawmakers today unanimously elected the body’s first-ever female speaker.  Bismillah Geelani reports

The Indian Parliament reverberated with thunderous applause when Meira Kumar took charge as the Speaker of the Lower House of the Parliament. 64-year old Meira Kumar is the first woman elected to THE high-ranking position; as Speaker, she will arguably hold more power than the Prime Minister.  India has already had a female Prime Minister and the country’s current President is also a woman, but Meira Kumar’s election is being hailed as a historic event. Kumar comes from India’s oppressed Dalit community, which makes her election even more important. Prime Minister Maanmohan Singh described the event as Parliamentarians’ tribute to the Indian women and their contribution to nation building.  The ruling Congress party proposed Kumar for the position, and analysts say her election will work as a major image booster for the party, which has been projecting itself as a party that cares for women and the marginalized sections of the society.  Bismillah Geelani, Free Speech Radio News, New Delhi.


Tianannmen Square anniversary: witnesses recall democracy movement´s rise and fall
Twenty years ago, the Chinese government extinguished one of the world´s largest democracy movements.

Students and political activists set up a massive pro-democracy campsite for months in Beijing’s Tianannmen Square. But on the night of June 3rd 1989, Chinese troops marched into Tianannmen square to break up the peaceful demonstrations.

Many were killed and injured – estimates vary widely, from hundreds to thousands. FSRN´s Daniel Bastard reports.

Israel conducts its largest ever military exercise

The Israeli military is conducting a five-day military exercise this week called “Turning Point 3” to simulate an attack on the country. According to military officials the drills simulates a three-front attack on Israel, from Hamas in Gaza, Hezbollah in Lebanon, and the Syrian army.

Israel started the drills after the war with Hezbollah in Lebanon in 2006. The military simulation also comes immediately before the Lebanese elections, in which some analysts predict Hezbollah could win. FSRN’s Ghassan Bannoura reports

Professor Stephen Zunes talks about the “new” US empire
As military drills take place in Israel, President Obama makes a much anticipated visit to the Middle East.

Obama´s discussing Iran´s nuclear program with Saudi Arabia´s king Abdullah and he is also expected to pressure Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to stop the development of Jewish Settlements in the West Bank.

On Thursday, Obama will deliver a speech in Cairo where many expect the President will unveil a new Arab-Israeli peace plan.

But how´s this different from George Bush´s approach to the region?

Stephen Zunes is a professor of Politics at the University of San Francisco, and a Middle East expert.  He spoke with FSRN’s Nathan Moore about U.S. foreign policy during Obama’s first months in office.

Oil rich Nigeria running out of fuel; citizens angered by shortages
There´s an acute fuel scarcity in Nigeria, and workers are taking to the streets to demand the government resolve this situation.

FSRN´s Sam Olukoya reports from Lagos.

Rep. John Conyers tours US promoting health care act
While Congress was in recess, Rep. John Conyers took the time to visit six cities advocating House Resolution 676, the United Sates National Health Care Act.

The bill is also known as Medicare for All, a single payer insurance paid for by the federal government with money from taxes, and medical bills going directly to a government insurance plan, similar to Medicare.

Conyers began his tour in Atlanta, Georgia where health care advocates have struggled to maintain quality public services for working class, low-income, and no income residents. Sacajawea Hall reports.

You may also like...