Newscast for Friday, October 28, 2011

  • Deficit reduction, cuts to Medicaid could hit minorities hardest
  • Same sex couples file suit, saying denial of military benefits unconstitutional
  • Honduran campesinos call for investigation into human rights violations
  • Florida gears up for Republican convention by seeking millions for security
  • Noam Chomsky on the Occupy Movement

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Post election protests rock Tunisia

Angry protests erupted in Tunisia today, in the wake of elections.  Hundreds of protesters set fire to police headquarters.  Reuters links the protests to dissatisfaction over poor housing conditions and the continued lack of jobs.  There has also been tension over the disqualification of some candidates.  The newly elected Islamist government blamed the riots on supporters of the old regime.

NATO announces end to mission in Libya

The international community continues to congratulate itself for its work fostering regime change in Libya.  Today NATO confirmed the end of its mission there.  Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said NATO’s military job in Libya is now done and that the operation is concluding in a “considered and controlled manner.” “Of course, they still have a lot of work to do – to build a new Libya, based on reconciliation, human rights and the rule of law.  A democratic Libya for all its people.” The mission officially ends next Monday.

Dozens dead in widespread Syrian protests

Syrian security forces today hunted down anti-government protesters after large rallies across the country, leaving as many as 37 people dead.  The BBC reports that 170 different protests happened across the country.  Many protesters are calling on NATO to establish a no-fly zone over Syria.

OWS vigil for Scott Olsen; NYPD removes protester power sources

Wired Magazine has learned the justice department has not opened an investigation into the injury of Occupy Oakland protestor Scott Olsen. The 24-year-old marine veteran suffered a fractured skull Tuesday night when he was hit in the head with a police projectile. Authorities had attempted to clear the Occupy Oakland encampment using tear gas and rubber bullets. This morning Hospital staff upgraded the condition of Olsen from critical to fair.  Last night in Oakland, hundreds rallied against police brutality and in support of Olsen.  A solidarity protest for Olsen was also held last night in New York City, where this morning, authorities raided that city’s Occupy encampment. Community News Production Institute Reporter Jaisal Noor reports for FSRN.

Just after dawn, dozens of firefighters backed by police swept the Occupy Wall Street encampment.  They seized 6 generators and fuel that were powering lighting and charging electronics.  On his radio show today New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg said the materials posed a safety hazard and violated fire code. Mark Bray, a member of Occupy Wall Street’s media team says the movement will not be hampered by the city’s actions. “It seems it’s an attempt to slow down our occupation, similar to the problems we’ve been having with tents and with cleaning in the past.  We’re going to come up with new ways to create enough energy for our media team, to have lights for our library.  We will persevere.  It was a momentary setback, but I think we’ll be all right.” This afternoon protestors are staging an #OccupyTheBoardRoom event and marching on the headquarters of Bank of America, Morgan Stanley, Wells Fargo, Citigroup and JP Morgan Chase.  Jaisal Noor, FSRN, New York

AZ activists protest Freeport McMoran treatment of Indonesian miners

The East Timor and Indonesian Action Network, or ETAN, is drawing on the energy of the Occupy movements to raise awareness of worker exploitation in West Papua.  Today in Phoenix, Arizona protesters are gathering at the corporate headquarters of mining giant Freeport McMoran to speak out against the killings of striking miners in Indonesia.  Elizabeth Venable is an organizer with ETAN. “In Arizona, we don’t necessarily hear that much about some place like West Papua, but we know that these corporate headquarters are in our state, our city, and it’s our responsibility to hold them accountable.” More than 8000 workers are currently on strike, protesting low wages. Several miners have been killed by Indonesian police, who ETAN says are paid off by Freeport McMoran. Several contract workers brought in by the company as scabs have also been killed.  Venable says the situation in the region is “messy,” involving corrupt police and an ongoing self-determination movement. Organizers say they have been able to generate a lot of interest within the Occupy Phoenix movement. Many in that group are supporting ETAN in their protest.

Homeless sweeps begin in Hawaii ahead of APEC meeting

The Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Conference, or APEC, will be coming to Hawaii November 7-13.  But already, two weeks ahead, activist have begun to spread an anti-corporate message.  FSRN’s Larry Geller reports from Honolulu.

This week protesters at the University of Hawaii demanded that the administration pull down large APEC welcome signs scattered around the campus.  They say that students and faculty should have been allowed to weigh in on decisions related to APEC support.  Demonstrators who appeared outside a pre-APEC agricultural meeting said they were rallying to express that they believe in the globalization of human rights and fundamental freedoms, and in the right to maintain a people’s culture without the interference of transnational capitalism.  Despite repeated assurances by the state government that Honolulu´s visible homeless encampments would not be cleared for APEC.  Local media report that officials removed sixty truckloads of property at one such encampment near the Honolulu airport at a cost of $200,000. Further protests are planned over the coming weeks.  It is still unknown how close demonstrators will be allowed to get to the actual meeting venue.  Larry Geller, FSRN, Honolulu.



Deficit reduction, cuts to Medicaid could hit minorities hardest

With stimulus funds expiring, state funding to Medicaid programs is expected to jump by nearly 30 percent this fiscal year. States could be forced to take money from other places or make cuts to the program – and some say those will hit minority groups the hardest. Michael Lawson has more.

Same sex couples file suit, saying denial of military benefits unconstitutional

With Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell now officially a policy of the past, same sex couples in the military are turning their attention to a federal law that they say denies them key benefits and relegates them to second class citizens in the armed forces. On Thursday, the Service Members Legal Defense Network filed a federal lawsuit to challenge the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act. The 1996 law, known as DOMA, bars federal recognition of same sex marriages performed in states that allow them. The challenge sets up a legal battle over specific benefits now denied to same sex couples, such as medical benefits, basic housing allowances, visitation rights in hospitals and more. We’re joined now by Casey McLaughlin. Her wife, Shannon McLaughlin, is a lead plaintiff in the suit and a Major in the Massachusetts Army National Guard.

Honduran campesinos call for investigation into human rights violations

Ongoing land conflicts in the Bajo Aguán region of Honduras have killed 42 campesinos and displaced hundreds more since the coup in June 2009. New cables released by Wikileaks reveal that the U.S. has supported the wealthy businessman accused of financing the violence—despite evidence that he traffics cocaine. This week, representatives from the Aguán bought their case before the Inter-American Commission of Human Rights at the Organization of American States in Washington DC. Alice Ollstein reports.

Florida gears up for Republican convention by seeking millions for security

The Republican National Convention is still ten months away, but officials in Florida already are preparing security for the high profile event. The City of Tampa plans to spend $55 million on everything from high-tech surveillance cameras to police equipment and weaponry. The city also wanted to use unmanned drones, but as FSRN’s Josh Holton reports, police are backing away from that proposal.

Noam Chomsky on the Occupy Movement

As Occupy events and encampments enter their seventh week, today we end with a familiar voice, who recently made a stop at Occupy Boston: “If the bonds and associations being established in these remarkable events can be sustained through the long, hard period ahead – because victories don’t come quickly – it could turn out to be a very significant moment in American history.” Linguist and philosopher Noam Chomsky called the Occupy movement spectacular and unprecedented, and suggested they exert pressure on elected officials in Congress. “The big topic in Washington that everyone concentrates on is the deficit. For the public, correctly, the deficit is not regarded as much of an issue and it isn’t really much of an issue. The issue is joblessness not the deficit. There’s a deficit commission but there’s not a joblessness commission. As far as the deficit is concerned, the public has opinions, take a look at the polls that overwhelmingly support higher taxes on the wealthy and preserve the limited social benefits.” Chomsky also urged the audience to pay attention to two issues that threaten this planet’s survival: nuclear war and environmental catastrophe. He said if the Occupy movement continues to grow and becomes a major force, there is some hope for the future.

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