Newscast for Thursday, September 29, 2011

  • US torture of detainee complicates death penalty case in military courts
  • Alabama immigration law expands police power, checks status of schoolchildren
  • For New York public park, a company’s ambiguous claim on protest site
  • Abortion debate erupts in Argentina as election nears
  • Local Indian leaders urge more protests in call for independent state

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UN Security Council stalls on Syria sanctions

Violence continues in Syria as protesters clashed with security forces in Rastan. And in Damascus, supporters of President Assad threw eggs and tomatoes at vehicle U.S. ambassador Robert Ford as he drove to meet with an opposition leader. When he reached the embassy in Damascus, the crowd attempted to storm the building. Despite the ongoing violence, efforts to pass sanctions against Syria have stalled in the UN Security Council. US state department spokesperson Victoria Nuland told reporters today that the US will continue to push for sanctions: “We want a resolution with teeth. We want a resolution that makes absolutely clear to the Assad regime that the violence needs to end, that we must have international monitors in Syria, and that there will be consequences.” The Security Council hopes to pass a compromise resolution this week, that avoids immediate sanctions, but condemns the escalating violence–both by Assad’s forces and protesters.

Popular Socialist Alliance to participate in Egypt’s elections

Egypt’s Popular Socialist Alliance Party has become the first left party to successfully register for the upcoming parliamentary elections, after collecting over 5,000 signatures this week. Lillian Boctor has the story.

Popular Socialist Alliance party members have been mobilizing youth, workers, and people in rural and slum areas. The party was founded after the Egyptian Revolution began, with the aim of uniting different leftist groups. Participating in the November elections will give the party a chance to introduce their social and economic justice platform, monitor any inconsistencies in the elections, and possibly gain some seats in the People’s Assembly. Other political parties are threatening to boycott the upcoming elections, over rules they say allow for Mubarak loyalists to use their wealth and influence to gain seats. Tomorrow, The Popular Socialist Alliance will participate in a nationwide protest demanding that the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces end the ongoing military trials and emergency law, shorten the transition period to civil rule, and begin a more inclusive process of rewriting the Constitution. The People’s Assembly elections will begin on November 28, but Presidential elections are still a year away. Lillian Boctor, FSRN.

Saudi king overturns woman’s sentence for driving

Saudi King Abdullah has overturned a court ruling that sentenced a woman to be lashed 10 times for driving. Shaima Jastaina had been found guilty of violating the country’s ban on female drivers, causing a backlash from women’s rights advocates, some of whom began publicly protesting the law in June. The events follow an announcement this week by King Abdullah that women would be allowed to participate in municipal elections in 2015, and serve on the currently all-male Shura Council by 2013.

GOP delegation visits Transitional Council in Tripoli

Republican Senators John McCain, Mark Kirk, Lindsey Graham and Marco Rubio are visiting Libya. The group met with top officials in the National Transitional Council in Tripoli today, and McCain spoke later at a press conference: “It’s essential to continue working together to secure the many weapons and dangerous materials that the Ghaddafi regime proliferated around this country. The United States and the world must remain engaged in Libya and must continue returning the frozen funds of the Ghaddafi regime to their rightful owners–the Libya people.”

IMF audits Greece, austerity protests continue

Civil servants in Greece occupied federal buildings this morning, responding to the latest round of pay cuts and tens of thousands of layoffs imposed by the government in an attempt to rein in the national debt. The Associated Press reports that workers who took over the Interior Ministry building hung a black banner from the balconies, and draped the ministry’s gate with a Greek flag that read: “for sale.” This comes as a high-level mission from the EU, the IMF and the European Central Bank arrives today, to resume their interrupted audit of the country. The delegation had left Greece four weeks ago, saying the nation hadn’t implemented reforms fast enough to qualify for more bailout funds. The Greek parliament passed a controversial property tax this week to raise some revenue, but still needs more bailout money to avoid defaulting on its debt in October.

Nigeria moves to further criminalize same sex marriage

Nigeria’s upper parliament is pushing for a law that further criminalizes same sex marriage, and threatens both LGBT couples and any witnesses with imprisonment. Sam Olukoya reports from Lagos.

The proposed law also prescribes jail terms for any person that witnesses or aides the solemnization of same sex marriages. The law makers says it is important for Nigeria to act fast to prevent the growing trend of same sex marriage in other parts of the world from spreading to the country. The gay community in Nigeria is growing, especially in the younger generation, and getting more visible. But much of Nigerian society remains intolerant, and the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission has documented many instances of violence and discrimination against the gay community. Many, like Mayowa Adebola, find homosexuality unacceptable for religious and cultural reasons. “Homosexuality is spreading. As a Christian I have read it in the Bible that when Jesus is coming, this kind of things will be happening, men marrying men and women marrying women. It is really something we should not tolerate in this part of the world, because it is not even an African culture, it is not an African thing so I think strict measures should be taken.” Given the strong opposition to homosexuality in Nigeria, it is expected that the president will sign the proposed law when parliament passes it to him. Sam Olukoya, FSRN, Lagos.



US torture of detainee complicates death penalty case in military courts

The Obama Administration is moving ahead with a military tribunal at Guantanamo Bay. It’s the first death penalty case in military courts under Obama. On trial is Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, And as Matt Lazlo reports, the US use of torture on al-Nashiri is clouding the judicial process.

Alabama immigration law expands police power, checks status of schoolchildren

In Alabama, parts of a strict immigration law go into effect today. The law requires police officers to check the residency status of people stopped during traffic stops, allows police to detain suspects without bond and authorities to check the immigration status of schoolchildren. This follows a ruling Wednesday in which a federal judge blocked portions of the law while allowing others to go forward. Alabama passed the law in June, but it’s been held up by several court challenges. Immigrant rights groups and religious leaders have vowed to appeal the ruling. For more, we go to Victor Spezzini, lead organizer for community engagement and education at The Hispanic Interest Coalition of Alabama.

For New York public park, a company’s ambiguous claim on protest site

Protests continued today In Manhattan’s financial district as the Occupy Wall Street encampment entered its 13th day. Demonstrators are drawing attention to what they say is an unequal and corrupt financial system in the United States. FSRN’s Kelly Benjamin is at the occupation in New York and files this report.

Abortion debate erupts in Argentina as election nears

In Argentina, reproductive rights advocates are pushing lawmakers to ease restrictions on abortion. Most countries in Latin America have made abortion illegal, as is the case in Argentina. But Human rights groups say the ban is harming women. They point to illegal abortions as the leading cause of maternal death in the country.  President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner’s is a strong supporter of the ban on abortion, but for the first time a bill was presented in Argentina’s national congress to discuss the legalization of abortion and that has spurred a lively debate both inside and outside of congress. FSRN’s Marie Trigona reports from Buenos Aires.

Local Indian leaders urge more protests in call for independent state

Local leaders in India’s Telangana region are calling on Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to step in as protests calling for a separate state enter a second week. The Telangana region has 10 districts including Hyderabad, the capital of Andhra Pradesh. Protesters, including members of many of the region’s political parties, have vowed to intensify their campaign. FSRN’s Prabhakar Mani Tewari Reports from India.

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