October 22, 2009

  • FCC opens public comment period on rules to regulate the internet
  • Congress member Eric Massa of New York on Health Care Reform (Part One)
  • US State Department reports on alleged war crimes in Sri Lanka
  • Afghanistan prepares for the presidential run-off next month
  • Climate change hits Caribbean coastlines

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House committee passes Consumer Protection Agency Legislation
Today the House Financial Services Committee finished its mark-up of new legislation that would create a Consumer Protection Agency.

“Mr.  Chairman on that vote, the ‘ayes’ are 39 and the ‘nos’ are 29”

The vote largely followed party lines with Democrats voting in favor.  The new agency would be in charge of establishing mortgage and credit card rules in order to protect consumers from predatory lending, unreasonable interest rate hikes and steep fees.

The proposed agency has been steeped in controversy.  The financial industry has spent millions lobbying congress against it, saying its powers would be too far-reaching.  During the mark-up one Republican Representative – Chris Lee of New York – proposed an amendment that would allow financial institutions not to print disclosure statements in any language other than English.  To that, Illinois Democrat Luis Gutierrez responded.

“Call any major American corporation.  Call em, right now.  Call AT&T.  Call any of them, and here’s the first thing they’re going to tell you: Para espanol, oprima el dos.  These are private corporations.  They certainly want our business.”

Gutierrez argued that if the companies cultivate Spanish-speaking consumers, then they should have to offer disclosures in Spanish as well.  That Republican amendment failed.  The bill now goes to the House floor for consideration.


Pay Czar announces bailout firms executive pay cuts
The seven US financial firms that received the largest bailouts will have to cut the pay of their top executives by half  – this according to a proposal by the Obama Administration’s Pay Czar Kenneth Feinberg.  Bank of America, AIG, Citigroup, GM and Chrysler are among the firms targeted.  The top 25 executives at each will see pay cuts and more of their earnings shifted into stocks – so they have more of a stake in financial health of the companies they lead.  But other financial firms that didn’t receive bailout funds or have paid them back will not be subject to the reductions.


Protests against CNN’s new series “Latinos in America”
This week, groups are protesting the broadcast of CNN’s new series “Latinos in America” while the cable news channel continues to air the views of controversial host Lou Dobbs.  The “Basta Dobbs” campaign has held events across the country to pressure CNN to take Lou Dobbs off the air.  CNPI Reporter Jaisal Noor brings us the story.

Community leaders, politicians and faith groups across the country rallied Wednesday demanding that CNN remove Lou Dobbs from the air.  Organizers with the website BastaDobbs.com are calling CNN hypocritical for airing a new special on the US Latino population, while at the same time hosting what they say is the anti-immigrant rhetoric of Lou Dobbs.  They also criticized the CNN special for not addressing Dobbs, who organizers see as a polarizing figure in the Latino community.

Journalist and BastaDobbs.com co-founder Roberto Lovato spoke outside the NYC offices of CNN.  He said Dobbs provides a platform for groups and individuals that single out and attack immigrants.

“You dehumanize people you make it easier to hurt maim and kill them.  So Lou Dobbs in a way is not saying, go out and kill and hurt Latinos and immigrants, but he is providing the verbal, visual, cultural way to justify people who do do that”

Organizers say that their petition calling for CNN to take Dobbs off the air has more than 65,000 signatures.  Jaisal Noor, FSRN, New York.


Dozens dead in Somalia as militants target president’s plane
In Somalia today, at least 30 civilians have been killed and dozens more wounded by fighting and artillery fire in the capital Mogadishu, health officials confirmed.   Most of the deaths occurred in the main Bakara market in the city center after government forces engaged with militants there.  The insurgents tried to fire on the Mogadishu airport as Somali president Sheik Sharif Ahmed was about to fly to Uganda for an African Union summit.

Ali Muse Sheik is the chief of a Mogadishu ambulance service.

“We have collected 61 wounded civilians from the Bakara market and surrounding villages.”

He says his medical volunteers collected 61 injured civilians from the main market area and surrounding villages.

The Al-Qaeda inspired Shabab militants yesterday closed down two radio stations in the southwestern part of the country.  The Islamists had previously criticized the stations for airing international programming that contained music.

The same militant group also banned all international aid agencies from operating in the country, especially in areas under their control.  The United Nations says that more than 3.5 million Somalis, about half of the country’s total population, need emergency food assistance.  This report was prepared with the assistance of Shafi’i Mohyaddin Abokar in Mogadishu.

UK postal workers on nationwide strike

A 2-day nation-wide postal workers strike in Great Britain could be extended as the Communication Workers Union say they will launch further strikes next week.  Today, the BBC reports that 42-thousand workers are on strike, and 78-thousand are expected to walk off the job. The Union and the state-run Royal Mail are struggling to reach an agreement on wages and modernization efforts.



FCC opens public comment period on rules to regulate the internet
Today the FCC opened up a public comment period on proposed rules that will regulate the openness of the Internet in the future. FSRN’s Karen Miller has more.


Congressmember Eric Massa of New York on Health Care Reform (Part One)
House Democratic leaders claim they are close to obtaining enough votes to pass a public option. But some Democrats remain skeptical. One of these is Congressmember Eric Massa – a first term member who represents a district in Southwest New York. In the first part of our two part series, FSRN’s Leigh Ann Caldwell spent the day with Congressmember Massa –  who calls himself the most targeted member of Congress right now.


US State Department reports on alleged war crimes in Sri Lanka
Human rights groups have been calling for an investigation into possible war crimes committed in Sri Lanka during the fighting between the government and Tamil Tigers earlier this year. Now the US State Department is getting involved. A report released today by the department details a series of alleged war crimes by both sides. Meanwhile, the Sri Lankan government is keeping hundreds of thousands of displaced people in camps. They have remained there since the fighting ended in May.

Here to discuss the report and the status of displaced people in Sri Lanka is James Ross. He’s the legal and policy director with Human Rights Watch.


Afghanistan prepares for the presidential run-off next month
In Afghanistan, United Nations officials have started delivering ballots and polling station kits for the new round of presidential elections, scheduled to take place November 7th. The runoff elections between incumbent President Hamid Karzai and his challenger, Foreign Minister Abdullah Abdullah were called for earlier this week, after a UN-backed commission found “clear and convincing fraud” during the August election at more than 200 polling stations. Once again, ballots will be delivered to remote locations by donkeys, trucks and helicopters. Some expect even less voter turn out than last time. Kabul-based reporter Mujahid Jawad went out into the streets of the capital to find out what voters think about this new round of elections. He files this audio postcard.


Climate change hits Caribbean coastlines
Dramatic new projections for global warming are raising fears of severe consequences for low-lying areas of the world. Those expected to suffer most are small island developing states, many of which are in the Caribbean. UN Radio’s Marsha Branch reports on the damage climate change is causing to the Caribbean’s coastlines and reefs and the impact this is having on the islands.

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