Newscast for Monday, November 7, 2011

  • Thailand floods threaten residents, economy as government comes under criticism
  • Report from inside Syria documents voices of opposition
  • Senate measure undercuts net neutrality, say critics
  • Activists converge at White House over Keystone XL Pipeline
  • Street Beat: California residents speak on Bank Transfer Day

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Supreme Court refuses to consider racial bias in Texas death penalty case

The US Supreme Court today said it will not review the role race played when a Texas jury sentenced a black man to the death penalty. Duane Buck was convicted of a 1995 murder. During the penalty phase, a psychologist, Dr Walter Quijano, testified that blacks are  more likely to be “violent offenders.”  In another capital case, the Court said that a US District Court erred when it tossed out a conviction and death sentence.  Archie Dixon was convicted of a 1993 robbery and murder. Dixon confessed to the crime – but later contended that his confession was coerced outside of Miranda rules.  And among the cases that the Court agreed to take on are two that consider the constitutionality of sentencing youth under 14 to life without parole when convicted of murder.

Coordinated explosions kill dozens in NE Nigeria; curfew imposed

A Curfew has been imposed in north eastern Nigeria following a series of coordinated suicide bombings and killings which left scores of people dead over the weekend. Sam Olukoya reports from Lagos.

The Islamist militant group Boko Haram said it carried out the attacks which targeted the military, the police and churches in Nigeria’s north eastern states of Borno and Yobe. Police put the death toll at a little over 50, but other sources like the Red Cross say as many as 150 people may have died. The Boko Haram, which is blamed for a spate of bombings and assassinations in Nigeria’s predominantly Muslim north, is fighting for the imposition Islamic law in the region. A spokesman for the group said it will continue the attacks until the Nigerian government stops persecuting its members. In the meantime the US embassy has warned American citizens that the militant group could bomb three luxury hotels frequented by foreigners in the capital, Abuja. Sam Olukoya FSRN Lagos.

Guatemalans elect former general as new President

Voters in Guatemala easily elected a former military General as the country’s next President. But in a nation rife with poverty and rampant crime – Otto Perez Molina’s “iron fist” approach to security won the day. “We have a large commitment to carry out the change of which we have always spoken, the change all Guatemalans deserve, the change of which we spoke during the campaign and patriots keep their word.” Perez ran on the Patriot Party ticket. He held a high ranking post in the Quiche department in the early 1980s, where according to the United Nation’s Truth Commission, the military was responsible for human rights abuses and genocide of the Mayan population, though he denies both. The graduate of the School of the Americas represented the Guatemalan military in talks that ended with the 1996 Peace Accords.

Occupy updates; Hawaiian occupiers claim special protection

In Georgia, 19 occupiers were arrested over the weekend when they refused to vacate the encampment. In Washington, DC a couple and their son were hurt when a car plowed into a protest. One of the women is six months pregnant. In Canada, an occupier was found unconscious at the site – she later died and the cause of death has not been determined. And there were arrests at Occupy Honolulu over the weekend, where thanks to a unique provision of the Hawaii State Constitution demonstrators  are claiming special protection. Larry Geller explains.

Occupy Honolulu demonstrators cite the  Law of the Splintered Paddle that dates from 1797. The law, “Let every elderly person, woman and child lie by the roadside in safety,” became part of  the Hawaii state constitution as Article 9, Section 10. Demonstrators released a statement on Saturday that asserted this protection. “We invoke our rights to freedom of assembly, freedom of speech, and the freedom to lay by the roadside without harm.” Further, the groups says that any move by the  Honolulu Police Department to prevent this action is a violation of the laws set forth by the Constitution of the United States, the Hawai´i State Constitution, and sacred Hawaiian law. The law is also symbolized by crossed paddles in the center of the badge of the Honolulu Police Department, but that did not prevent them from arresting those who chose to remain in a public park after the posted closing time of 10 p.m. It looks like protestors will have to tell it to a judge. Larry Geller, FSRN, Honolulu.

Second veteran of Iraq seriously injured by police during arrest

Another Iraq war veteran is recovering in the hospital after being attacked by police in Oakland. Kayvan Sabehgi says he was beaten by police early Thursday morning, rupturing his spleen. He was arrested along with about 100 others who had occupied a vacant building in Oakland after the port protest. According to a friend, Sabeghi was placed in a jail cell and received no medical care for 18 hours. When his bail was posted, he was too weak to leave the jail cell, so officers simply closed the door. He has since undergone surgery and is recovering in the county hospital.



Thailand floods threaten residents, economy as government comes under criticism

Thailand’s floods are slowly inundating the capital, Bangkok, with the death toll rising and worries over the economy intensifying. The government has been criticized for an indecisive response to the crisis. As Ron Corben reports, local communities are bearing the brunt as people scramble to survive.

Report from inside Syria documents voices of opposition

Syrian opposition leaders are calling for international intervention after activists said at least 17 people were killed on Sunday in Homs by security forces. The attacks on Homs began last week violating an agreement with the The Arab League to stop the violence. That plan was also supposed to open up borders to international reporters, but so far the country has remained closed, making access all but impossible. Now, a new documentary brings a rare, inside look at the violent events unfolding inside Syria. Freelance journalist Remita Navai spent two weeks inside Syria and her footage and reporting is the basis for a PBS Frontline documentary, Syria Undercover. She joins us by phone from New York. FRONTLINE’s Syria Undercover airs Tuesday, November 8 at 9pm Eastern on PBS (check your local listing). Or watch online at

Senate measure undercuts net neutrality, say critics

Federal Communications Commission rules for net neutrality are scheduled to go into effect on November 20th.  The rules would require greater transparency from Internet service providers. But the Senate is expected to vote Tuesday on a resolution that would disapprove the FCC rules. Proponents for net neutrality say this is a critical time to protect the policy. Michael Lawson reports.

Activists converge at White House over Keystone XL Pipeline

The State Department’s Inspector General will launch an investigation into whether the department violated federal laws in its review of the Keystone XL Pipeline. This follows mounting criticism over the process that included a third party with ties to TransCanada conducting the environmental impact statement, reports of tens of thousands of lost public input records and ethical questions over State Department employees. The project would pump oil from the Alberta tar sands to refineries in Texas. Opponents — including movie stars, scientists and a Nobel laureate — joined thousands of activists over the weekend to link arms around the White House and urge the Obama Administration to reconsider its support of the controversial project. Alice Ollstein reports from the White House.

Street Beat: California residents speak on Bank Transfer Day

National Bank Transfer Day took place on Saturday with activists calling on people to move their money from corporate and commercial banks, to local banks and credit unions.  The campaign has attracted national attention and in October alone more than 650,000 people became new credit union members, according to the Credit Union National Association. Sue Hilderbrand spoke with people coming out of the main post office in Chico, California, to see if they support the strategy. You just heard the voices of Jessica Souder, Michaela Whaley, Douglas Ferguson, Norm Galassi, Clint Rice, Ben Hills, Carol Perkins, Bob Mulholland, Sean Rabs, Bill Henderson, David Dziuk, Jino Hanik, Steve Pankhurst. All of them are from Chico, California talking about National Bank Transfer Day.

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