Newscast for Thursday, September 8, 2011

  • Committee begins work on federal debt as deadline looms
  • DOJ finds widespread abuse, corruption in Puerto Rico’s police force
  • Attacks on journalists persist in Kashmir
  • Human rights advocate Asma Jahangir on Pakistan’s precarious climate
  • Post-9/11 attacks on Sikh Americans often overlooked

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Palestinians begin UN statehood campaign

Today Palestinians kicked off their UN statehood bid with a ceremony in the West Bank city of Ramallah. A group of activists delivered a letter to a UN office there, announcing their intentions and asking for support. Because of failed face-to-face negotiations with Israel, the Palestinians are trying to gain legitimacy directly through the UN. While they do have significant support among member nations, several countries, like the US oppose the move. US Envoy David Hale met Wednesday with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, but was unsuccessful in dissuading the course of action. The US, for its part has been unbending in its stance on the Palestinian plans. At a Senate confirmation hearing State Department nominee Wendy Sherman said the US is ready to use it’s UN veto power. “The Administration has been very clear as well… and I don’t expect this to occur, but if it did occur, if any such resolution was put in front of the Security Council, that we would veto it. So our expectation is that that willnot occur.  But the General Assembly is still of concern.” Palestinians intend to travel to the UN later this month to officially request statehood.

Mexican teachers strike over extortion threats

Dozens of schools in the Mexican resort city of Acapulco have yet to open for the year due to extortion threats against teachers. FSRN’s Shannon Young reports.

Mexican public schools began the academic year August 29th, but at least 52 schools in Acapulco remain shuttered due to extortion threats targeting teachers and schools in the city’s rural outskirts and working class neighborhoods. Earlier this week, the Guerrero state governor announced a major security operation would protect the city’s schools and ordered teachers back to work. He also questioned the authenticity of the flyers that have circulated threatening school staff. One such flyer, supposedly received by a financial administrator in the public school system, demanded a full list of all employees who make more than the equivalent of $1500 a month, along with copies of their official identification, home addresses, places of employment and land line phone numbers. The letter demanded payment of half of the teachers’ salaries by October 1st. The state’s teachers’ union met with federal authorities Wednesday to discuss possible security measures. But for now, teachers are continuing with their de-facto strike. Shannon Young, FSRN, Oaxaca.

New execution date set for Troy Davis

Supporters of Troy Davis have been struggling to save him from execution in Georgia for more than two decades. This week, officials once again signed his death warrant and set an execution date—but advocates for Davis say there’s still hope. FSRN’s Alice Ollstein reports.

If the Georgia Department of Corrections has its way, Troy Anthony Davis will be executed at 7 pm on September 21st. But Amnesty International and other human rights groups are mobilizing grassroots support to appeal for clemency from the state Board of Pardons and Paroles. Laura Moye of Amnesty International’s Death Penalty Abolition Campaign says the weak case against Davis makes her hopeful for clemency. “There are more than just a few doubts about Troy Davis’ guilt. His case has really come unraveled.  I mean, you have all of these witness who have recanted. And there’s really no physical evidence that implicates him anymore. I think there is a reasonable chance that Troy Davis could be given clemency.” Davis has survived three previous execution dates during his time on death row. Since his legal appeals are now exhausted, including an unsuccessful Supreme Court bid in March, the parole board is his last chance to be spared from execution. Amnesty International is planning a global day of solidarity for September 16th, with a march in Georgia, and other events around the world. Alice Ollstein, FSRN.

Central Michigan University faculty struggle for new contract

A dispute between the Central Michigan University faculty association and university administration has made CMU the latest battleground for workers rights. On Wednesday, members of the faculty union marched across the Mt.  Pleasant campus, showing their anger after President George Ross gave his State of the University speech. From Michigan, FSRN’s Nate Bender reports.

CMU faculty members have been working without a contract since June 30th. The Faculty Association asserts that the University is financially healthy, but University administration has not budged, saying it wants to maintain a conservative approach to finances. In a response statement issued Wednesday, CMU Faculty Association President, Laura Frey, said that the university is suffering from a “leadership deficit crisis” and has called on the Board of Trustees to resolve the impasse. The two sides have been unable to agree on compensation and benefits. In late August, members of the Union held a walkout, which disrupted classes on campus. But the protest broke down when a judge ordered them back to work. Nate Bender, FSRN, Michigan.


Committee begins work on federal debt as deadline looms

President Obama is scheduled to address the nation tonight in a special session of Congress. The focus will be on job creation – and it comes as the joint congressional committee charged with cutting more than a trillion dollars in spending gets to work. That committee met today for the first time. Matt Laslo has the details.

DOJ finds widespread abuse, corruption in Puerto Rico’s police force

On FSRN we have continued to bring you reports on protests in Puerto Rico over the past couple years. There, the police force has used violence against students and workers calling for reforms. Today, the Department of Justice released a three-year long investigation into the Puerto Rico Police Department. It found that officers have engaged in a pattern of “profound” abuse, including excessive force, unlawful searches and seizures, discrimination and the suppression of First Amendment rights. For a look at the details, we’re joined by Judith Berkan. She’s a professor of constitutional law at the Inter-American University in Puerto Rico and has worked on police misconduct cases for 30 years. She’s also on the board of the National Police Accountability Project. She joins us from San Juan.

Attacks on journalists persist in Kashmir

Over the last two decades, journalists in Kashmir have often found themselves on the receiving end of violent attacks, especially in the last several years as public protests have surged. But a recent case has reignited journalists’ demand for humane treatment. FSRN’s Shahnawaz Khan reports.

Human rights advocate Asma Jahangir on Pakistan’s precarious climate

As part of our coverage in commemoration of the tenth anniversary of the September 11 attacks, today we turn to Pakistan, where the US government has carried out a controversial bombing campaign and where Special Forces killed Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden earlier this year. Pakistanis have endured rising levels of violence in the tribal areas and major cities over the last decade, and attention has grown to the situation of human rights in the country. To learn more, FSRN’s Claudia Cragg spoke to Nobel Peace Price nominee and human rights lawyer Asma Jahangir. She’s also president of Supreme Court Bar Association and chair of Pakistan’s Human Rights Commission.

Post-9/11 attacks on Sikh Americans often overlooked

Following the September 11th terrorist attacks, the Sikh-American community faced many of the same conditions as Muslims and Arab Americans. Sikhs make up the fifth largest religion in the world and there are as many as half a million in the United States. Because of their distinct appearance, they were visible targets of violence and harassment. Community News Production Institute reporter Jaisal Noor has more.

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