Newscast for Tuesday, October 11, 2011

  • Police crackdown on Occupy Boston as protesters vow to continue encampment
  • Offshore tax havens could cut jobs and cost billions, says report
  • Lawmakers push NYPD to disclose more on spy unit
  • Attacks on Palestinians in Israel signals rise in extremism

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Hamas and Israel reach deal to free Sgt. Gilad Shalit

A deal between Hamas and Israel to free Israeli Sgt. Gilad Shalit has been reached. Speaking from Damascus, Hamas Political Chief Khaled Meshaal praised the prisoner swap deal. “This, this deal embodies and reflects the unity of this people, of the Palestinian people. This is a national achievement. An achievement   for all of you. We are all fighters.” Sound courtesy of Al Jazeera. The agreement calls for a stepped release of some 1000 Palestinian prisoners. In exchange Hamas will transfer Sgt. Shalit first to Egypt and then on to Israel. Shalit was captured by Hamas in 2006. Israel responded by  imposing a now 5 year blockade on the Gaza strip.   According to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office – Shalit should be home in a matter of days.

S. Korean President in US as lawmakers debate free trade deal

South Korean President Lee Myung Bak arrives in Washington today as the US House of Representatives debated free trade with Seoul. Lee will meet with President Obama Thursday, and de-nuclearization is one top agenda item. But  building support for a free trade agreement may overshadow that. Reporter Jason Strother has more from Seoul.

Congress is expected to pass the long stalled KORUS FTA on Wednesday, just ahead of the Obama-Lee summit. But even if the bill is ratified in Washington, it still needs approval in Seoul. And opposition parties here are unlikely to give their support to the deal. Anti-free trade activists, like Nam Hee-Sob of the Korea Alliance Against the KORUS FTA point to the North American Free Trade Agreement, NAFTA, as an example of how these deals don’t really help workers. “Since the NAFTA went into force in the US, the US has experience massive job loss in the manufacturing sectors. We have seen in this country that the growth of some exporting corporations does not mean more jobs, more wages or a better quality of life for the general public.” Nam says his organization will hold daily protests and pressure South Korean  lawmakers to reject the FTA. Jason Strother, FSRN, Seoul.

Myanmar/Burma grants amnesty to 6300 prisoners

Officials in Myanmar, also known as Burma, granted amnesty and began releasing some6300 prisoners today.  How many of them are political prisoners is not yet known. Aung San Suu Kyi said she was “cautiously optimistic.”

Supreme Court on Mumia Abu Jamal, Gay adoption and double jeopardy in capital murder case

The US Supreme Court handed down a long list of orders today, among which was a refusal to hear an appeal brought by Pennsylvania prosecutors in the case of death row inmate Mumia Abu Jamal. Noelle Hanrahan, Director of Prison Radio and producer of  Live from Death Row – a series of audio commentaries written by Abu Jamal, explains the upshot of today’s order. “The District Attorney tried to get the US Supreme Court to reimpose Mumia Abu Jamal’s sentence of death. What the Supreme Court did is they upheld the 3rd Circuit ruling that his death sentence was overturned. Now the D.A. has 180 days to decide whether to hold a public trial with a jury in Philadelphia on just the sentence, life or death (this doesn’t have anything to do with his criminal conviction, underlying criminal conviction, just the sentence). Or the D.A. Seth Williams of Philadelphia could grant Mumia life in prison, and in P Pennsylvania it’s without parole.” The Court also refused to consider an appeal brought by a gay couple who live in New York and adopted a boy born in Louisiana, where officials refused to amend his birth certificate to include both parents names. The Court did decide to take up one case that could become a capital murder case – again. It’s a  question of double jeopardy. A jury forewoman told a judge in open court that they had unanimously acquitted Alex Blueford of both capital and first-degree murder in the death of a 20 month old boy – but were hung on the question of manslaughter. The judge declared a mistrial, and prosecutors now want to levy all three counts against Blueford again.

Oil spill off New Zealand’s coast increasingly severe

Weather conditions in New Zealand’s Bay of Plenty deteriorated today. All of the crew left aboard the Rena were evacuated today amid a mayday call. The container ship  rammed into the Astrolabe reef last week. New Zealand’s Environment Minister Nick Smith: “This event has come to a scale where it is New Zealand’s most significant  maritime  environmental  disaster.” Leigh Stevens works with the national response team which has conducted test on oil samples recovered from the spill.  “We’ve done extensive testing on the weathered oil that we’ve had available to us, and we can tell from that that the weathered oil is not going t o be chemically disbursable.” Estimates of the amount  already spilled were dramatically increased today to between 200 and 300 tons of brown oil and concerns are growing that the entire ship may break apart.

Liberians go to polls, Nobel Peace Prize winner up for reelection

Just four days after sharing the Nobel Peace Prize, Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf faces 15 opposition candidates at the polls today. Voting was smooth in the first election run solely by Liberian election officials since the end of a 14 year war that killed some 250,000 people. Sirleaf was elected to her first term in a UN organized poll in 2005.

Egyptian blogger granted retrial; still on hunger strike and growing frailer by the day

A blogger jailed in Egypt who is on day 50 of a hunger strike was granted a retrial today. A military appeals court overturned his three year sentence, a date for the new trail will be announced later this week. Maikel Nabil is increasingly frail – his family says he is anemic and experiencing renal failure.  Nabil was arrested in March for criticizing the army’s role the popular uprising that eventually ousted then President Hosni Mubarak.



Police crackdown on Occupy Boston as protesters vow to continue encampment

Early this morning in Boston, police moved in on protesters from Occupy Boston, arresting about 100 people and injuring others. It was 1:30 am in the dark morning when police in riot gear began pushing protesters to the ground and pulling apart some who had linked arms. A video posted on Youtube shows police wrestling a protester to the ground as he calls out that he is a veteran. Others hold the American flag while police surge forward. The crackdown came after protesters expanding beyond Dewey Square Park, where the encampment is centered. A police spokesperson said authorities did not want protesters at the Greenway because it recently underwent a renovation project where expensive improvements were added, according to the Boston Globe. One of those there last night was John Nilles, a former captain in the US Marines and a veteran of the Vietnam War. He’s a member of the group Veterans for Peace that came to the area last night after police action looked imminent.

Offshore tax havens could cut jobs and cost billions, says report

On Capitol Hill, the Senate debated President Obama’s job’s bill, which must clear a procedural hurdle Tuesday evening before receiving an up-or-down vote. During a speech in Pittsburgh today, the president had strong words for any member of Congress who is considering voting against it.. “This is a moment of truth for the US Senate. Today is the day when every American will find out exactly where their senator stands on this jobs bill.” Meanwhile, North Carolina Democrat Kay Hagan and Arizona Republican John McCain have introduced a bill they say will fund job creation—a corporate tax holiday like the one in 2004 that allowed corporations to repatriate billions of dollars from offshore tax havens at a significantly lower tax rate. But a new report argues the measure would both kill jobs and cost the US treasury nearly $80 billion. Alice Ollstein reports from Washington.

Lawmakers push NYPD to disclose more on spy unit

New York Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly has vowed to continue the covert monitoring program of all suspect areas in the city to ward off terrorist attacks. He has also tried to convince Muslims that they are not the target of the NYPD surveillance program. But some city politicians and activists continue to press the department for answers about the controversial program. FSRN’s Salim Rizvi reports.

Attacks on Palestinians in Israel signals rise in extremism

Early today the Israeli military destroyed a mosque in the Jordan valley. The mosque in a Bedouin village, has been targeted three times within the past year by Israeli forces which say it was built without proper permission. This follows extremist, Israeli violence that has intensified in recent weeks and crossed the Green Line into Palestinian communities inside Israel, including an attack on a mosque in a northern Israeli village last week. Jillian Kestler-D’Amours has more from Jerusalem.


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