Newscast for Friday, September 9, 2011
- Obama job plan aims to address long-term unemployed, youth, veterans
- At FSRN, witness and reporting on 9/11
- Residents of Kabul reflect on decade of change in Afghanistan
- 10 years on, concerns over Guantanamo and treatment of detainees persist
- Restaurant established by WTC workers after 9/11 spurs national movement
Federal Court tosses out Health Care Reform appeal
The 4th Circuit Court of Appeals in Virginia has tossed out a challenge to the controversial Affordable Care Act, but the final word on the constitutionality of the President’s health care overhaul may be more than a year away. FSRN’s Alice Ollstein reports from Washington.
The three-judge panel in Virginia announced Thursday that it didn’t yet have the power to decide whether making health insurance mandatory by 2014 is legal. It said a judicial review can’t happen until the law goes into effect—and someone refuses to pay the fine for not acquiring insurance. The judges also ruled that the case brought by Virginia’s attorney general didn’t have enough legal standing to move forward. Virginia had claimed that because it passed a law that conflicted with the Affordable Care Act, they had the right to sue. Judy Waxman from the National Women’s Law Center filed a brief supporting the Affordable Care Act, and is pleased with the decision.
“Right now, women are excluded from health insurance or charged more, because they have that pre-existing condition—or, really, just because they’re a woman. Those kinds of abuses by insurance companies are prohibited by this law. So when this system gets set up in a few years, all that will be gone.”
The challenge to the Affordable Care Act is still likely to reach the Supreme Court, as Virginia’s attorney general has vowed to appeal the decision. And challenges elsewhere are on the way. If the nation’s highest court agrees that the law must go into effect before being challenged, there may not be a ruling until 2016. Alice Ollstein, FSRN, Washington, DC.
Virginia earthquake stresses nuclear power plant
The August 23rd earthquake in central Virginia left mostly superficial damage to areas along the east coast. However, in the wake of Japan’s Fukushima disaster, a nuclear power plant in the state has come under scrutiny by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. The plant, owned by Dominion Power, is located less than 20 miles from the quake’s epicenter. FSRN’s Brad Kutner has the story from Richmond.
For the first time in its 53-year history, an earthquake required the North Anna Nuclear Power Plant to shut down its 2 reactors. A statement by the Dominion Power said the shaking experienced at the plant was more intense than it was designed to handle, but the internal inspections by staff revealed quote “no damage to safety-related equipment.” It concluded that the damage was not greater because peak intensity of the quake only lasted about 3 seconds. Both North Anna reactors shut down automatically after the event. Unit 1 is scheduled to come back online later in September, and Unit 2 is expected back online by mid October, pending NRC approval. A 3-week inspection by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission is underway now. Brad Kutner, FSRN, Richmond.
Protesters arrested at BART demonstration
Regular protests of the Bay Area transit system continued last night resulting in the arrest of as many as 30 people. Protesters are calling on BART to disband its police force, after two high-profile shootings by transit security – including one that led to the death of Oscar Grant.
Local reports say the demonstrators were occupying BART-designated Free Speech Areas outside the station when police moved in. Other accounts say the protesters were trying to block the entry gates. Police closed the station for 2 hours.
Swaziland activists call for an end to the Monarchy
A week of protest action in Swaziland ended today with more than 1,000 protestors marching in the capital city. The latest wave of demonstrations was to demand political change and democracy. FSRN’s Davison Mudzingwa reports from neighboring South Africa.
During Friday’s demonstration in the capital Mbabane, police fired teargas and beat up protesters, leaving two people injured. The demonstrations have spread to other parts of the country as well.
Earlier this week, the government lost a court bid to stop the weeklong protests, which were organized by trade unions and opposition political parties. Political parties have been banned in Swaziland since the 1970s. The strikers also demanded that an investment company belonging to absolute monarch King Mswati be nationalized. This, after revelations that the company is not taxed by the state.
Meanwhile, influential neighbor South Africa has called for democracy and a dialogue between the stakeholders. This is a condition attached to a 300 million dollar loan to the bankrupt Monarchy. The King has yet to sign on to the deal. Davison Mudzingwa, FSRN, Capetown.
Grassroots drug-war opposition builds in Mexico with launch of 2nd Peace Caravan
Grassroots opposition to the Mexican drug war continues to build within the country. Members of Mexico’s peace movement set out on a multi-stop caravan today to bring visibility to the impacts of drug war-related violence in the country’s southern states. FSRN’s Shannon Young reports from Oaxaca.
Hundreds of people aboard 14 buses set out from Mexico City’s main plaza this morning on an eleven-day journey through seven states. The caravan’s figurehead is Javier Sicilia, the poet who became a peace activist and prominent critic of the government’s drug war strategy after the murder of his son in March.
Earlier this summer, Sicilia led a caravan through northern Mexico to bring attention to the on-the-ground situation in the states hardest hit by “narco-killings.” The southbound caravan will visit Mexico’s poorest states, which are home to large indigenous populations and significant expanses of natural wealth. Shannon Young, FSRN, Oaxaca.
Obama job plan aims to address long-term unemployed, youth, veterans
President Obama unveiled his plan to get Americans working again in a Thursday evening speech before a joint session of Congress. The $450 billion American Jobs Act includes tax benefits for businesses as well as targeted measures for the long-term unemployed, youth and veterans. Michael Lawson has more.
At FSRN, witness and reporting on 9/11
Ten years ago, FSRN staff and reporters – like many across the country – woke up to shocking news. Host Larry Bensky opened our newscast:
“About 845 eastern time this morning a jet plane hit one of the World Trade Center towers in New York City within twenty minutes a second, larger jet hit the other tower. Smoke and flames poured out of both towers and debris filled the city’s Wall Street District, the financial heart of the city.”
FSRN reporters on the ground in New York experienced, witnessed and recorded the events following the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center. One of them was Robert Knight, who described in that evening’s newscast the scene taking place below, as he stood by a window in Manhattan.
“General Assembly buildings have been evacuated. As I look down at this very moment on the East River as the tide rises, there is an unusual pattern of fine, grained debris which I believe has washed up from lower Manhattan by this amount of time since the initial crashes. There have been closures of tunnels and bridges coming into New York, but as I look through the telescope I can see torrents of pedestrian traffic moving east bound across the 59th Street Bridge to move out of Manhattan.”
Another witness was Pacifica producer Ryme Katkhouda.
“I was up on the roof with a clear view of both towers and there were flames coming out of both towers twenty feet high flames and lots of smoke, mostly dark and the smoke started to get lighter, and then suddenly the second tower, the more south of the first one kind of like exploded and then collapsed in itself with debris falling everywhere. It was definitely a full building collapse from where we were looking at, that’s how it looked and it was crumbling.”
Since that day, FSRN has continued to cover the aftermath of the attacks in the US and from around the world. We’ve looked at a number of issues, including the US policies of detention and rendition, the rise in attacks on South Asian, Arab and Muslim communities, and how 9/11 has influenced civil liberties, the economy, US veterans, and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Residents of Kabul reflect on decade of change in Afghanistan
Today, we continue our special coverage by going to Afghanistan. FSRN’s Bilal Jawad spoke to Kabul residents about their response to the terrorist attacks of September 11 and how the last ten years has affected their lives.
10 years on, concerns over Guantanamo and treatment of detainees persist
In the US, the September 11 attacks prompted debate over the government’s power of seizure and detention. And nowhere was the criticism more pointed than over the Guantanamo Bay prison in Cuba. Critics called attention to violations of human rights and international law. Despite pledges from President Obama to close the facility – and an executive order in January 2009 ending the CIA’s secret interrogation program – the prison remains open. Meanwhile, the US continues to bring detainees from around the world to another site: the secretive prison in Bagram, Afghanistan. FSRN’s Salim Rizvi has more.
Restaurant established by WTC workers after 9/11 spurs national movement
Among the thousands who perished in the September 11 attacks were 73 mostly immigrant low wage workers who worked at the upscale restaurant Windows On the World on the top floors of the World Trade Center. In the aftermath of this tragedy, the surviving workers searched for new employment and some of them started the Restaurant Opportunities Center, which has grown to a national movement for restaurant workers’ rights. Andalusia Knoll reports from New York.