Newscast for Wednesday, December 7, 2011

  • Philadelphia will not pursue death penalty against Mumia Abu Jamal, DA says
  • Lawmakers debate payroll tax cut as deadline looms
  • Pledges to cut emissions falter as vulnerable nations seek funds to adapt to climate change
  • In Kenya, conference aims to mobilize those hit hardest by climate change

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Yemen announces coalition government

Today Yemen officially formed a coalition government, with 35 cabinet positions divided evenly between the ruling party and the opposition. The change comes after President Ali Abdullah Saleh signed onto a Gulf Cooperation Council power transfer agreement last month.  Al Jazeera reports the new cabinet will rule for 3 months, then elections will take place.

Military-backed Egyptian PM given expanded powers

Egypt’s military council announced today it has given the interim Prime Minister more executive power. But the military says it will retain control of the army and courts.  FSRN’s Rami Almeghari reports from Egypt.

A brief statement by the military council revealed that interim Prime Minister Kamal al-Ganzouri will be granted broader power to rein in the country amidst unrest. Later in the day, al-Ganzouri hinted at the possibility of forming a new cabinet. The statement adds that Egypt’s ruling military council will retain absolute military powers across the country until parliamentary and presidential elections come to and end next year.

On Tuesday, the military said it will not resort to violence against any protests.  But over the past few weeks 42 people have been killed and hundreds of others wounded by riot p, olice in Cairo’s Tahrir Square. Meanwhile, the Islamic Brotherhood said today it has won nearly two-thirds of the Parliamentary seats contested in the first rounds of voting. Parliamentary elections are slatted to continue through January. Rami Almeghari, FSRN, Cairo.

Tibetans in India rally outside Chinese Embassy

Tibetan refugees living in India marched in New Delhi today to draw attention to the rising cases of self-immolation in their homeland.  FSRN’s Bismillah Geelani reports

Dozens of Tibetan exiles and their Indian supporters participated in today’s protest march outside the Chinese Embassy in New Delhi.  The protesters waved Tibetan flag and shouted slogans demanding Tibet’s freedom from Chinese rule.  Expressing concern over the rising incidents of self-immolation by fellow Tibetans, the protesters said China’s repressive policies in the region are driving people to desperate measures. They also appealed to the international community to intervene and stop what they call persecution of Tibetan people.

Nearly a dozen Tibetan monks and nuns have self-immolated since March in protest of the lack of human rights in Tibet.  The most recent case happened last Thursday.  Last month, a Tibetan refugee in New Delhi also set fire to himself in front of the Chinese embassy before police overpowered him. Bismillah Geelani, FSRN, New Delhi

Occupy SF evicted by police

In the small hours of the morning, police in San Francisco cleared the Occupy encampment at Justin Herman Plaza downtown. The San Francisco Chronicle reports that police arrested 30 people at the camp who refused to leave.  Another 40 were taken into custody when they blocked a nearby road in protest. This is the latest in a string of evictions, as cities across the US steadily move to displace Occupy protesters.

Bucking the trend, activists in New Orleans, after being evicted from their protest site yesterday, won a reprieve in court and were allowed to re-Occupy. The federal judge’s ruling allows the protesters to return for at least another week, as long as they provided toilet facilities and a $5000 security deposit to cover clean-up.

Occupiers in New Haven join Unions to protest violence

In New Haven, Connecticut, almost a thousand members of labor unions and the Occupy encampment, along with local youth activists, rallied Tuesday night at City Hall for “Good Jobs and Safe Streets.” As FSRN’s Melinda Tuhus reports, speakers tied the two issues together.

On the same day New Haven recorded its 32nd homicide of the year — a near record — Yale union leader Marcy Kaufman said joblessness and hopelessness can lead to violence in the community.

“We are trying to emphasize that the employers of the city of New Haven have a responsibility to provide jobs and access to jobs to New Haven residents and the youth of New Haven.”

Another protester, LaToya Agnew, said she lives on one of the most dangerous streets in New Haven and has personally experienced violence.  Now she’s a member of New Elm City Dream, which promotes jobs for youth, and she started an outreach program in her neighborhood.

“All my life I wanted to do something for the community, but finally I stepped up.  I really want to get a community center in Newhallville.  Kids can’t wait to get out of New Haven, but why can’t we transform New Haven to make it the place where they want to be?”

As part of the action, demonstrators left City Hall and walked around several blocks of downtown, including Wall Street, before ending at the Occupy encampment on the Green. Melinda Tuhus, FSRN, New Haven.

Verizon fires 40 workers who took part in August strike

Verizon has fired 40 workers who were part of the massive strike against the company earlier this year. In a statement to the Boston Globe, Verizon said the employees in question violated company codes of conduct during the strike action.  The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, the union representing the employees has called the move “heavy-handed” and an attempt to influence ongoing negotiations. The IBEW says it intends to fight the dismissals in court.



Philadelphia will not pursue death penalty against Mumia Abu Jamal, DA says

Today Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams announced that his office will not pursue a new sentencing trial for Mumia Abu Jamal. This effectively ends the possibility of execution for Abu Jamal, who has been imprisoned for nearly 30 years.

District Attorney Williams made the announcement earlier today.

“I have decided after long and careful consideration that the District Attorney’s office will not proceed with a new sentencing hearing for Officer Faulkner’s killer. I believe it is time to put this case to rest for the good of the city of Philadelphia and, most importantly, for the family of Daniel Faulkner.”

Abu Jamal was convicted in 1982 of the shooting death of police officer Daniel Faulkner. Since then questions have been raised over evidence and eyewitness accounts. A federal appeals court overturned the death penalty, ruling that instructions given to the jury in the penalty phase of the trial were potentially misleading. Prosecutors sought to overturn that ruling, but in October, the US Supreme court rejected their request and it was left to DA Williams to decide whether or not to pursue a new hearing.

Faulkner’s widow, Maureen Faulkner, said she was 25 when her husband was killed and the long process has been difficult.

“It has taken a toll on the Faulkner family and I, emotionally, physically and even through our health. And the only message I can convey to the state of Pennsylvania is please, I beg you, to take a close look at the victims and the survivors that are left.”

The DA said Abu Jamal now faces life in prison without the possibility of parole. For more, we’re joined by, Christina Swarns, she’s the director of the Criminal Justice Project at the NAACP Legal Defense & Educational Fund, Inc. She is currently lead counsel for Mumia Abu Jamal.

Lawmakers debate payroll tax cut as deadline looms

In Washington, Congress is trying to wrap up its workload before the holiday and lawmakers in both parties are jockeying over a proposal to extend a payroll tax cut. It’s a small though major plank of President Obama’s economic plan, and would decrease taxes of working and middle class Americans. FSRN’s Matt Laslo has more.

Pledges to cut emissions falter as vulnerable nations seek funds to adapt to climate change

In Durban, South Africa, climate talks are entering their final 48 hours. With little progress on a plan to reign in the world’s rising greenhouse gas emissions, negotiators are focusing on creating a fund to help poor nations cope with the effects of climate change. Brian Edwards-Tiekert reports.

In Kenya, conference aims to mobilize those hit hardest by climate change

As the talks in Durban near the final deadline and delegates struggle with key questions, some communities are taking action. In Kenya, poor residents are already being hit by the hardships of climate change and a two-day meeting, called the Conference of People, seeks to educate and mobilize from the ground level. FSRN’s John Bwakali reports.

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