September 24, 2009

  • Activists stage protests, forums, as G20 summit begins
  • UN Security Council calls for nuclear weapons controls
  • Senate kills effort to provide low-priced drugs to senior citizens
  • Paul Kirk to take over Edward Kennedy´s Senate seat

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Zazi indicted on terror charge in NY
The US Department of Justice says terror suspect Najibullah Zazi has been indicted in New York federal court.   The man was arrested last weekend and is being charged with conspiracy to use weapons of mass destruction.   He allegedly purchased bomb-making supplies from beauty supply stores.   Zazi is from Afghanistan, but is currently a legal permanent resident of the US.   He was working as an airport shuttle driver in Colorado.   Zazi was previously charged with lying to federal agents during an investigation, but authorities are urging that charge be dismissed in favor of the more serious charge.

Zazi’s father Mohammed Zazi and a New York City Imam Ahmad Afzali appeared in court today to face charges of lying to federal investigators.   Prosecutors say the Imam, who had worked with police in the past, tipped Zazi off that investigators were monitoring him.   Afzali’s lawyer Ron Kuby says the Imam is being punished for helping police.

“They came to him this time, obviously very concerned.   He did his very best to do what they wanted him to do, and because he cooperated, he ended up here.”

Afzali’s bail is set for $1.5 million.

Scientists discover first effective vaccine for HIV
Promising developments today in the search for an AIDS vaccine. FSRN’s Shuhei Nakayama has more on the story.

For the first time ever, the result of AIDS vaccine trial has showed positive results. The trial, launched in 2006 in Thailand, included 16-thousand people and was supported by the US army, the Thai Ministry of Public health and other organizations.

The three year study showed that people who had the vaccine were infected 31 percent less than those who received placebos. Denis Broun, chief of UNAIDS Partnerships Division, says the result could be the breakthrough in AIDS research.

“This is the first success we have ever registered with a vaccine trial and we have had a lot of disappointing ones before. This one has shown that there is some level of protection with this new vaccine. So this is great news.”

The vaccine was created by combining two previously ineffective vaccines. Scientists still do not understand why the combination provides protection. Because the vaccine showed a relatively low protection rate, it is unlikely to be approved for wider use. But health officials hope the scientists can learn from the results in order to create a more-effective HIV vaccine. Shuhei Nakayama, Free Speech Radio News.

Obama will not seek new terror suspect detention legislation
The Obama Administration will not seek to build a system of preventative detention centers to house terrorism suspects, according to the Washington Post. Instead, the administration will rely on a previous congressional resolution that has been interpreted to allow the indefinite detention of terror suspects, without charge. The ACLU told the Post that even though the current situation is not ideal, if Obama went to Congress with new legislation it would have only “made a bad situation worse.”

Massachusetts announces Kennedy’s replacement in Senate
In Massachusetts today:

“I am pleased to announce Paul Kirk as the interim US Senator from Massachusetts.”

Governor Deval Patrick announced Paul Kirk as the replacement for the late Ted Kennedy. Kirk is a long-time associate of Kennedy and his family. He served as a Kennedy aide and the former chair of the Democratic National Committee. He is expected to be sworn in tomorrow.

“That I be a voice and a vote for his causes and his constituents in the Senate that he loved is a blessing I can only repay by giving my very best efforts to be the pest public servant I can be in the few months ahead.”

The appointment is only an interim selection.   A few weeks ago Governor Patrick set a special election date for this coming January.   Kirk says he will not run in that race.

US Census worker dead in what could be anti-government homicide
Kentucky authorities say they found the body of a US Census worker hanging from a tree in the Daniel Boone National Forest. 51-year-old part time teacher Bill Sparkman had the word “FED” scrawled on his chest.   Authorities found him last week. The FBI is investigating whether the apparent homicide is the result of anti-government sentiment. All door-to-door census work has been suspended in the county where the body was found.

Police again crack down on Honduran protesters
In Honduras today, the supporters of de facto president Roberto Micheletti plan to march from the United Nations building in Tegucigalpa to the Brazilian Embassy.   Ousted President Manuel Zelaya has called for direct talks with Micheletti and has taken refuge in the Embassy since he returned to Honduras Monday.   Tim Russo brings us more from the capital.

Wednesday, some 30,000 Zelaya supporters in the Honduran resistance movement were dispersed by police before their march could reach its destination. According to the Committee to Defend Human Rights, police shot and killed a 64-year-old demonstrator.

A three-day round-the-clock curfew has been temporarily lifted and thousands of Hondurans fearing food shortages flocked to supermarkets, gas stations and banks. Andrea Tercera, a mother who waited hours to purchase supplies, was tear gassed by police who mistook them for demonstrators in the city center.

“Today is the first day that we tried to leave to buy food and they tear gassed us. We were  just standing here in the taxi stand waiting for a taxi and they gassed us. We don’t have anything to do with all of this.”

At the United Nations in New York, Brazilian President Ignacio Lula strongly urged the Micheletti de facto government to reinstate Zelaya. He called the UN Security Council to an emergency meeting to discuss the conflict. The Micheletti government remains firm that Zelaya’s restitution is impossible, but has agreed to permit the Organization of American States to send a new mission to Honduras in search of solution to the conflict. Tim Russo, FSRN, Honduras

Window to hold runoff elections narrows as Afghan winter approaches
As winter closes in on Afghanistan, time is running out to hold a runoff election.   Today an elections official said any election would have to be held by the end of October in order to assure all provinces are able to participate.   Investigations into voter fraud continue and if enough of the allegations are proven, poll leader Hamid Karzai could be forced into a run-off.



Activists stage protests, forums, as G20 summit begins
Leaders of the world’s richest countries are converging in Pittsburgh today for the G20 Summit.  While Pittsburgh’s business leaders and government officials have welcomed the G20 with open arms, thousands have gathered to challenge the economic model promoted by these world leaders.  FSRN’s Andalusia Knoll has the story.

UN Security Council calls for nuclear weapons controls
On Thursday, the UN Security Council unanimously passed a resolution that aims to create a world free of nuclear weapons. The resolution calls on nuclear powers to ratify the comprehensive test ban treaty. It also calls on countries that sell nuclear technology to impose tougher controls on their buyers.

President Obama presided over today´s meeting. He urged the Security Council to proceed with nuclear disarmament.

“We averted a nuclear nightmare during the Cold War. We now face proliferation of a scope and complexity that demands new strategies and approaches.  Once more the UN has a pivotal role to play in preventing this crisis.  This historic resolution we just adopted enshrines our shared commitment to the goal of a world without nuclear weapons.  It reflects the agenda I outlined in Prague and builds on the consensus that all nations have the right to peaceful nuclear energy, that nations with nuclear weapons have the responsibility to move toward disarmament and those without them have the responsibility to forsake them.”

Obama became the first US President to chair a UN Security Council meeting. The presidents of nuclear powers like Russia and France were also present.

But how much can a UN resolution do to stop nuclear weapons?  FSRN took this question to John Burroughs, he is an expert on nuclear disarmament strategies and he is currently the Executive Director of the Lawyers Committee on Nuclear Policy.


Senate kills effort to provide low-priced drugs to senior citizens
On Thursday, Senators on the Finance Committee killed an amendment that would have meant lower-priced drugs for senior citizens. The 13 to 10 vote means that for the moment, pharmaceutical companies have gotten their way. FSRN´s Karen Miller has more.

Paul Kirk to take over Edward Kennedy´s Senate seat
The newest member of the Senate is heading to Washington next week; Paul Kirk is expected to help implement the late Edward Kennedy’s top priority, healthcare reform. Settling into Washington should be easy for Kirk, as he is a long-time Kennedy aid.  And he is expected to receive a warm welcome from Democrats who wanted Massachusetts law changed so Kennedy´s vacancy could be filled this year.

FSRN Anchor Manuel Rueda spoke with Washington Editor Leigh Ann Caldwell, about how Kirk’s appointment impacts the dynamics of the Senate.

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