August 24, 2009

  • Democrats could pass health reform without Republican support
  • Following DOJ report, Attorney General Holder reopens CIA torture cases
  • Mexico decriminalizes possession of marijuana, cocaine and other drugs
  • Amidst court battles same sex couples exercise new status in Wisconsin

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Another GITMO detainee released: Mohammed Jawad
After nearly seven years in detention at Guantanamo Bay, Mohammed Jawad was released today and returned to his home in Afghanistan. Last month, District Court Judge Ellen Segal Huvelle found there was no credible evidence to warrant Jawad’s detention. She had also ruled that Jawad’s confession was a product of torture.  Jawad is thought to have been 17 years old when he was arrested by Afghan police. He was charged with throwing a hand grenade that injured two US soldiers and their interpreters in Kabul in 2002.


Iraq political groups forge coalition – without al-Maliki
In Iraq, major Shiite groups announced today that they have formed a new alliance ahead of the upcoming Parliamentary elections in January. The coalition excludes Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki because leaders would not guarantee his continued role as Prime Minister should the group prevail in the January poll. The new alliance includes the largest Shiite party, the Supreme Iraqi Islamic Council, cleric Muqtada al-Sadr’s bloc and other small Sunni and secular groups. While Iraq’s political parties shifted allegiances in Baghdad, two buses were bombed in southern Iraq –11 people died.


Journalist assassinated in Pakistan
A police chief in Pakistan says that two sets of Taliban fighters were arrested today – authorities say both groups were part of terrorist cells that were planning attacks next week. Also today, an Afghan TV journalist on assignment in Pakistan was assassinated. Nathan Moore reads for our Pakistan correspondent, Gabe Matthews.

Janullah Hashim Zada was traveling from Afghanistan in a local minibus when he was shot dead near the famous gate way known as Bab-e-Khyber. The 37 year old student at Peshawar University’s journalism school and a colleague were traveling the route between Peshawar, the capital of the North West Frontier Province, and the Pakistan-Afghan border. Kidnappings along the main road are very common. Threats and warnings are also very common for journalists in the lawless tribal belt where militants have a stronghold. Friends report that Zada had recently received such threats. Zada was a free lance journalist working for various western media outlets as well as the Afghan based Pajwak news agency and Shamashad TV. Forty-five 45 journalists have been killed in Pakistan, and many more have left the field due to fear since 2001, when the US invaded Afghanistan. According to Reporters Without Borders, Pakistan has become the second most deadly country for members of the media. Reading for Gabe Matthews in Pakistan, Nathan Moore, FSRN.

Porto Alegre, Brazil: Development referendum fails – environmentalists cautiously optimistic

Environmentalists celebrated in the Southern Brazil city of Porto Alegre last night.  Yesterday, city residents voted down a proposal to build a high-rise apartment complex along the banks of the city’s Guaiba River.   Mike Fox has more from Porto Alegre.

Participation was dismally low, but more than 80 percent of the 22,000 voters who did cast their ballot yesterday, voted against the project.  The issue had taken center stage here, as the city government is planning two-dozen development projects in preparation for the 2014 World Cup, which will take place in Brazil.  The defeat of the apartment complex in the area of the Pontal de Estaleiro is a big win for environmentalists in Porto Alegre.  Members of the Movement in Defense of the Guaiba worried that if the project had passed, it could have opened up the entire waterfront to development.  But some say the fight is far from over. Yesterday afternoon, hundreds of activists linked hands along the banks of the Guaiba to symbolically hug the city’s river.  Organizers of the demonstration say that since yesterday’s vote only vetoed the residential proposal, the waterfront is still susceptible to the threat of commercial development and privatization.

200 to go on trial this week in China’s Urumchi
Trials are expected to begin in Urumchi, China this week for some 200 people who were arrested during violence there last month. Charges include vandalism, organizing crowds to cause bodily harm to others, intentionally causing bodily harm to others, robbery and murder.  Chinese media reports that security will be increased during the trials. More than 200 were killed, and 1700 injured in sectarian clashes that broke out when police squashed a peaceful protest by Uighur youth. The unrest progressed to full on riots between Uighers and Han Chinese.


120 civilians dead in Mogadishu – Hezbal Islam leader calls for more violence
The leader of an Islamist rebel group in Somalia says that his group will intensify combat operations against transitional government and African Union peace keepers in the Somali capital.Hezbal Islam Sheik Hassan Dahir Aweys held a press conference in Mogadishu Sunday. He said that redoubling the Jihad is a kind of worshiping Allah during the Muslim Holy month of Ramadan. He also denied rumours that his group has been involved in peace talks with the Somali government – calling them a puppet government and demanding the withdrawal of African Union troops. Sheik Hassan Dahir Aweys was listed as a terrorist leader by the US state department after the 9/11 attacks. He denies being a terrorist or having ties with Osama Bin laden. For the past two days more than one hundred twenty people, mainly civilians, have been killed in fighting in the capital.  Dr. Omar Mahmoud Hussein, is the deputy manager of Daynile hospital:

“For the past two days of fighting we have received 101 wounded people, while 12 others died from bleeding on their way to hospital. Now we have 393 injured people at the hospital which is very over crowded.”

This report was prepared by Shafi’i Mohyaddin in Mogadishu.


Democrats could pass health reform without Republican support
President Obama is on vacation this week at Martha’s Vineyard. He has no public events, but the debate on health care reform continues, with Democrats saying they could move forward without the support of Republicans.  FSRN’s Leigh Ann Caldwell reports.

Following DOJ report, Attorney General Holder reopens CIA torture cases
New information is coming out about Bush-era detainee interrogation practices. And it changed Attorney General Eric Holder’s mind about prosecuting torturers. Today he appointed a special prosecutor to reopen some cases of prisoner abuse. FSRN´s Tanya Snyder reports.


Mexico decriminalizes possession of marijuana, cocaine and other drugs
In a controversial decision, Mexico recently legalized the possession of small amounts of illegal drugs. The new law allows people to carry up to five grams of marijuana, about three to five joints, and half a gram of cocaine. Mexicans will also be allowed to carry small amounts of LSD, Heroin and Methamphetamine.

The law also offers medical treatment for those who are caught with small amounts of drugs. And it requires obligatory treatment for people who are caught with drug possession for the third time. Trafficking large amounts of drugs and producing them is still illegal in Mexico. And local authorities say that by decriminalizing the possession of small amounts of drugs, police will be able to focus on fighting Mexico´s powerful drug cartels.

FSRN spoke to Ethan Nadelmann the executive director and founder of the drug policy alliance, a group that seeks alternatives to the war on drugs.  For more information on this issue and alternative drug policies see:


Amidst court battles same sex couples exercise new status in Wisconsin
Today is the first day that same sex couples in Nevada can sign up for a domestic partner registry. They´ll begin to get certificates after October 1st, when a new law legalizing those partnerships goes into effect.

Nevada, along with Wisconsin, are two states in which voters approved a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage, but now the state legislatures have approved domestic partnerships as an alternative that grants couples some of the rights that are
given to married couples.

Wisconsin’s domestic partners registry went into effect earlier this month and as couples begin to exercise their newly recognized status, both the registry and that state´s 2006 gay marriage ban are being challenged in court.  FSRN´s Andrew Stelzer has the story.

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