September 11, 2009

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Ugandan ethnic riots leave 9 dead
Police have confirmed that 4 people died in Riots in the Ugandan capital Kampala today, as security forces battle with supporters of Buganda King Ronald Mutebi.  Kingdoms, such as Buganda, were restored in Uganda in 1993, but the powers of the kings and chiefs are ceremonial.  Still, tensions between ethnic groups are high and Bugandans were angered by the refusal of the central government to allow the King visit one part of his Kingdom.  FSRN’s Joshua Kyalimpa reports from Kampala.

The king of Buganda was due to travel to part of his kingdom on Saturday but a rival chief of the minority Banyala ethnic group said he would not allow the visit.  The central government then intervened, asking both sides to negotiate terms and not break the peace.

But the plan backfired, and supporters of the Buganda King rioted, blocking roads leading to the city, burning vehicles and attacking police stations.  Nine people have died so far.

Two Buganda radio stations have since been closed by the central government, as well as 3 other stations broadcasting in the local Buganda language.   Joshua Kyalimpa FSRN Kampala Uganda

Lebanese political crisis deepens as PM resigns; rocket fire into Israel resumes

Two rockets were fired into Israel today from southern Lebanon, a day after the resignation of the Lebanese Prime Minister designate.  This is the first rocket attack on Israel from Lebanon since the beginning of the year.  FSRN’s Jackson Allers has more from Beiruit.

The rockets were fired into Israel from the southern Lebanon port town of Tyre.  Israel responded with 14 rockets – sending up fighter jets into Lebanese airspace, Lebanese and Israeli media reported.  No group claimed responsibility for the attack.

Meanwhile, prime minister designate, Saad Hariri, resigned after the Hezbollah-led opposition rejected his proposed cabinet.  The opposition lost to Hariri’s pro-western political majority in an election three months ago.  But it retained enough seats to have veto power in the cabinet.

Hariri said he hoped his resignation would restart political dialog between the two political camps, which are struggling for control of the country’s Telecom ministry.  Current privatization plans for the sector are expected to bring in $7 billion next year.  Jackson Allers, FSRN, Beirut.

GBR apologizes for “inhumane” treatment of Alan Turing

After receiving thousands of petition signatures from the public, the British government has issued an apology for the persecution of World War II era code breaker and mathematician Alan Turing, who was convicted of “gross indecency” in 1952 for being gay.  As part of his sentence, Turing was chemically castrated, and committed suicide two years later.  Turing’s efforts led to cracking the Nazi Enigma code, changing the tide in the war to the Allies’ favor.  He is also considered the father of modern computing.

A British Honorary consul in Jamaica was found beaten and strangled to death in his home, an attack preliminary information suggests could be a hate crime.  Sources report a note found by the body of John Terry referred to him in slang terms as a gay man.  Jamaica is considered one of the most violently homophobic countries in the world.

WA judge says anti-gay referendum signatures can be kept private

In other LGBT news, a federal judge has blocked release of the names of Washington state voters who signed a referendum to overturn the state’s new domestic partnership law.  For FSRN, Ann Dornfeld reports.

A judge in Tacoma granted a preliminary injunction to protect voters’ names and addresses from gay rights groups who requested the information.  The judge said the voters’ identities are probably protected by the First Amendment, which grants the right to anonymous speech.

Protect Marriage Washington sued to stop the release of names.  The consortium opposes the state’s new domestic partnership law, that’s called “everything but marriage,” for the wide range of marriage rights it grants to registered domestic partners.  Protect Marriage says revealing the identities of petition signers can make them targets of harassment and abuse.

But activists from gay rights groups and say the petition signatures are public record and must be released.

The judge’s injunction is only temporary while he makes a decision in the case.  But he’s suggested legal precedent will favor keeping the referendum signatures private for good.  The referendum vote to overturn the “Everything but marriage” law is scheduled for November 3rd.   Ann Dornfeld, FSRN.

Activists file suit over G20 protest permits

The ACLU and the Center for Constitutional Rights today filed suit in Pennsylvania over what they claim are violations of free speech rights by the City of Pittsburgh and other federal agencies.  The complaint stem from the failure of the City to issue G20 protest permits to activists.  The city announced yesterday it would lease a parking lot downtown for protest actions, but organizers argue they should have greater freedom of movement during the summit.

Feds release recommendations to clean up Chesapeake Bay
The federal government has released draft recommendations for the cleanup of the Chesapeake Bay.  The body of water is an economic lifeline for the mid-Atlantic region that is facing crisis because of pollution.  FSRN’s Shuhei Nakayama has more.

In May, President Obama ordered several federal agencies to devise strategies to clean up Chesapeake Bay.  Scientific evidence shows the health of the Bay has not been restored despite two and half decades of effort.  The reports call for a comprehensive program of controlling pollution sources – namely urban, suburban and agricultural run-off – and maintain watershed health in the six surrounding states.  After public comment and review, the final strategy will be released in May 2010.  Shuhei Nakayama.  Free Speech Radio News.

Gitmo lawyers say military commissions continue despite executive order
Lawyers for an alleged 9-11 conspirator being held at Guantanamo have filed an emergency writ saying military hearings continue at the detention center, despite an executive order calling for their halt.  The lawyers of Ramzi Binalshibh want a US Appeals Court to stop military commission hearings at the base, saying they are unconstitutional.



On 9-11, Ground Zero workers seek treatment for illnesses
New Yorkers commemorated the September 11th terrorist attacks today by holding several moments of silence at the times when the Twin Towers were hit and when they fell.  At ground zero, victims names were read out by their families and volunteers.

“My little brother is my greatest hero not just for the way he died but for the way he lived.”

President Obama declared today a national day of service and encouraged young people to do volunteer work for the victims of 9-11. He spoke at a memorial ceremony at the Pentagon.

“Let us renew our resolve against those who perpetrated this attack and plot against us still. In defense of our nation we will never waver. In pursuit of Al-Qaeda and its extremist allies we will never falter…Let us remember how we came together as one nation united not only in our grief, but in our resolve to stand with one another.”

Thousands of people who worked at Ground Zero in the hours and weeks after the disaster contracted serious illnesses, some of them have died.  Eight years after the events, many first responders and their advocates continue to fight for adequate care and treatment. FSRN´s Ari Paul has the story.


Historian Rebecca Solnit talks about how 9-11 should be remembered
Nine-eleven commemorations across the country have focused on those who died and their families. Some critics say we should pay greater attention to those who survived.

Historian and writer Rebecca Solnit recently published a book on people´s reaction to terrorist attacks and natural disasters. In Paradise in Hell Solnit argues that events like the September 11th attacks,  while tragic, also bring out the best in people and show us ways in which our societies can improve. Solnit says that the US government and the media ignored these lessons and did quite the opposite. Her essay on the topic was published today on


UN troops to remain in crisis-ridden Haiti
The United Nations says international troops need to remain in Haiti in order to maintain stability in the country. This comes just days after riot police detained more than a dozen students protesting at their medical school, according to the Associated Press.  It’s part of ongoing student demonstrations pushing for an increase in the minimum wage and opposing the presence of UN troops.

But the UN doesn’t plan to pull out soon. Today, Special Representative for Haiti Heddi Annabi said local police need continued support from international troops.

“Haiti continues to face threats including a potential for resumed activity by gangs, criminals and other armed groups, corruption and violence associated with illegal trafficking and the risk of civil unrest. All of these threats may be manipulated to achieve personal or political objectives, including in the context of forthcoming electoral processes.”

US Ambassador to the UN, Susan Rice, echoed those sentiments. She said Haiti’s own police force lacks the capacity, training and equipment necessary to “respond independently” to threats.

Meanwhile, some leaders are encouraging development in the country, including UN Special Envoy to Haiti Bill Clinton, who spoke at the UN Security Council this week. Clinton urged countries to make good on financial commitments and aid to help repair the country’s infrastructure after several severe hurricanes and storms last fall.

“Haiti can succeed but not without your help. I urge all who made commitments during last April’s donor conference and the immediate aftermath to begin actually funding them as soon as possible. An estimated 760 million dollars has been pledged to the Haiti government since then, but only 21 million have been disbursed since then. The contributions that all of you generously pledged are urgently needed now.”

Those storms killed some 800 people and caused more than $1 billion in damage.

“In August, the government shortened the length of time it takes between filing an investment proposal and its approval. This is a very good beginning. But we need to do more, to rebuild the roads, the infrastructure, the power supply necessary to advance agriculture, manufacturing and tourism. Given the untapped economically viable opportunities for clean energy and greater energy efficiency, there is also no reason why Haiti can’t become much more energy-independent, in a way that will create substantial numbers of new jobs and will cut long-term costs to business, government and individual citizens.”

As the UN Special Envoy to Haiti, Bill Clinton will lead a trade mission to the country in a few weeks.

Conservatives plan massive tea party in Washington
Conservatives are flooding into Washington for what they hope will be the biggest tea party protest ever.  Organizers are expecting hundreds of thousands of people at a rally in front of the Capitol Saturday. FSRN’s Tanya Snyder brings us this report on the emerging right-wing movement.

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