Newscast for Wednesday, September 28, 2011

  • Supreme Court to take up privacy, health care, immigration in coming term
  • NYC protesters ‘taking a stand against Wall Street oligarchs,’ says Cornel West
  • LA County rejects redistricting plan over Latino vote, setting up court challenge
  • Al Shabab’s power shifting as famine spreads in Somalia
  • US role in Somalia questioned as drone attacks, interrogation step up

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Israel expands settlement construction in Palestinian territory

Israel’s interior minister has approved the construction of over 1,100 homes in the contested Gilo neighborhood in East Jerusalem – a decision that may hinder international peace efforts. Leaders from around the world have criticized the announcement. Rami Almegari reports from Gaza.

This settlement construction comes amidst US-led efforts with other international major players to bring back Palestinians and Israelis to the negotiations table. Over the weekend, the Quartet for Middle East Peace involving the U.S , United Nations, Russia, and the EU, called on both parties to resume peace talks. Palestinians had initially agreed to negotiate, but only if Israel freezes all construction on Palestinian lands. Rami Almeghari, Free Speech Radio News, Gaza.

Bahrain court upholds prison sentences for protesters

A military appeals court in Bahrain is upholding the prison sentences for 21 pro-democracy protesters. The Bahrain News Agency reported today that the prisoners, eight of whom received life sentences, were convicted of trying to overthrow the government. The ruling comes just after the Obama administration announced plans to sell 53 million dollars worth of military equipment to Bahrain. Defense lawyers say they plan to appeal the military courts decision to the country’s highest civilian court.

Police repression in Guinea

Protesters clashed with security troops in Guinea today and yesterday, marking the two year anniversary of a 2009 massacre where over 150 protesters lost their lives. Salvator Ségues is Amnesty International’s expert on West Africa, and told FSRN what’s happening on the ground.

“There was a demonstration, called for by two of the main opposition parties, who are criticizing the way the incoming parliamentary election was being organized. And when the protesters tried to go to the site of the rally, they were stopped by police, who used light rounds, tear gas, and batons. And the police killed at least three people. And it is very disappointing that the newly elected president Alpha Condé is resorting to the same techniques.”

The protesters are accusing President Condé, who won the country’s first free elections last year, of rigging the upcoming parliamentary elections, which will take place some time before the end of the year.

Chilean student protests continue

In Chile, students are still marching and striking, but they’re back at the bargaining table with government officials. Caroline Lewis has the story in Santiago.

After a ten hour long meeting yesterday, the Federations of University and High School Students announced their decision to rejoin the table of dialogue with the government. Chilean Parliament is currently discussing the national budget for the coming year. The statement prepared by the Confederation of Chilean University Students, or CONFECH, emphasized that they hope to influence the proposed budget for education. With the start of the spring semester, several high schools and universities that were on strike are starting to reinitiate classes. But spokesperson of CONFECH, Camila Vallejo, is calling for students to keep striking until the talks prove to be effective. A national student strike has been called for tomorrow and several marches are planned in cities across Chile. Caroline Lewis, FSRN, Santiago.

Deaths in US listeria outbreak

Cantaloupes carrying the bacteria listeria is causing the US’ biggest food-bourne disease outbreak in a decade. The Center for Disease Control reports 13 deaths, and a total of 72 persons infected across 18 states – with the most infections in Texas, Oklahoma, Colorado and New Mexico. They have traced the source to the Rocky Ford brand cantaloupes at Jensen Farms in Granada, Colorado. The farm has issues a voluntary recall. The Center for Science in the Public Interest says that melons have caused at least 36 disease outbreaks since 1990, and greater regulation of the industry is needed.

FOIA documents shed light on FBI Watch List

Government documents just released under the Freedom of Information Act shed light on how the FBI chooses to place individuals on the Terrorism Watch List, and how long they’re kept there. Ginger McCall of the Electronic Privacy Information Center helped obtain the documents, and explains what they reveal.

“The documents suggest that a hunch or suspicion is not enough to put someone on the list, which is good. They formally embody that concept. However, there are some things in the document that are very troubling – including the fact that even after you are acquitted or your case is dismissed in a court of law, you can still be included on the list. There was also a term we found to be a little odd. For inclusion on the list, the standard is ‘reasonable suspicion,’ and the way you get reasonable suspicion is ‘particularized derogatory information.’ And that’s a term we’ve not heard anywhere before. It’s not defined anywhere in these documents. And we just wonder what it means.”

The list currently has about 42,000 names, including about 8,000 Americans. About 16,000 people, including five hundred Americans, are barred from flying.



Supreme Court to take up privacy, health care, immigration in coming term

The US Supreme Court has some high profile cases coming before it as it kicks off its new session next week. They include a challenge to the federal health care law and a review of warrantless wiretapping as well as GPS surveillance. Matt Laslo has the details from Washington.

NYC protesters ‘taking a stand against Wall Street oligarchs,’ says Cornel West

In New York City’s financial district, the Occupy Wall Street protests have entered the 12th day of an encampment in Zuccotti Park, or Liberty Plaza. The resistance movement deliberately does not have a designated leader but holds general assembly meetings daily to discuss how to change what protesters view as a corrupt financial system in the United States. Yesterday, prominent author and civil rights activist, Dr. Cornel West, visited the protests and spoke with FSRN’s Kelly Benjamin about why he supports the actions.

LA County rejects redistricting plan over Latino vote, setting up court challenge

Latinos make up half of the Los Angeles county population but hold a majority in only one of five districts on the County Board of Supervisors. Two rival plans aim to add another Latino majority district, but after a contentious board meeting on Tuesday night, the board opted to stick with the status quo. Now, federal courts could step in, as they did 20 years ago, when they found that the Board failed to comply with the Voting Rights Act. Then the courts created the first majority Latino district. But consensus on the measure is far from being reached. FSRN’s Dan Fritz reports from Los Angeles.

Al Shabab’s power shifting as famine spreads in Somalia

The crisis in the Horn of Africa continues, with aid agencies warning that 750,000 people are at risk of dying by the end of the year. In addition to lack of food, many are also contending with disease, including malaria, measles and pneumonia. The famine is compounded by the armed conflict in Somalia, making it difficult for aid to reach people. Earlier this summer, the militant group Al-Shabab withdrew from Mogadishu. But the capitol is still war-ravaged, and militants still have a strong presence in other areas. We’re going to take an in-depth look at Somalia today, including the US role in the country. But first, we examine how the famine has affected Al Shabab’s power in the country. FSRN’s Mohammed Yusef begins our coverage.

US role in Somalia questioned as drone attacks, interrogation step up

With an expanding US presence in Somalia, some groups have raised questions over reports of the US role in detention and interrogation in Mogadishu and a rise in drone attacks throughout the region. For more, we turn to Raha Wala. He’s advocacy council for the law and security program with Human Rights First, a nonpartisan organization based in New York and Washington D.C.

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