November 9, 2012

  • After big showing for women in election, rights groups push for gains in health, legal rights, political representation
  • Nearly 400,000 ballots yet to be counted in Maricopa, Arizona; could affect Arpaio outcome
  • Californians reject anti-union measure Prop 32, despite flood of dark money
  • Florida judges retain seats in blow to Republicans, outside funders
  • Georgia port workers join wave of strikes in country’s labor sector

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CIA chief resigns

CIA head David Petraeus announced today he is stepping down from his post. In a letter to employees he admitted to having an extramarital affair and said, “Such behavior is unacceptable, both as a husband and as the leader of an organization such as ours.” Petraeus has only been in the position for just over a year.

New York imposes gas rationing

While cities on the East Coast continue to rebuild after the damaging floods of Hurricane Sandy, New York City is experiencing a drought of sorts – it has a critical gas shortage. FSRN’s Matthew Petrillo reports on new efforts announced this morning to combat the problem.

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg imposed gas rationing on the city, eleven days after Hurricane Sandy pounded one of the most densely populated areas of the world: “The best way, we think, to cut down the lines and help customers by gas faster, to help gas stations stay open longer and to reduce the potential for disorder, is to alternate the day that drivers can purchase gas.” Parts of New Jersey already have a similar rationing plan in place, which restricts who is allowed to pump based on license plate number. Since gas stations re-opened in New York City, people have waited in line for hours. The rationing could pose serious problems for residents, especially those who still don’t have electricity and need the gas to run generators for heat. Nighttime temperatures are expected to drop into the 30s early next week. Only 25% of gas stations in the city remain open. Bloomberg said the shortage could go on for weeks. Matthew Petrillo, FSRN, New York.

Two colleges investigate anti-Obama protests rife with racial slurs

Four years ago, after Barack Obama won his first term, the streets of some Virginia cities were filled with young people celebrating the historic win. This year, however, after Mitt Romney’s loss was announced, a violent crowd gathered at a rural central Virginia college, were racial slurs replaced excited chants.  FSRN’s Brad Kutner has the story.

Late Tuesday night, a crowd of about 40 Hampton-Sydney College students gathered around the school’s Minority union. Students threw bottles, set off fireworks, and yelled racial slurs. A student member of the Minority Union told a local NBC affiliate he hadn’t “heard the n-word being used that much in a while – just a constant barrage of it.” The following night, Hampton Sydney’s President Chris Howard held a town-hall meeting with students to discuss what happened. Community members also attended. A university investigation is underway. This was the second reported aggressive campus protest associated with the election. More than 400 students gathered at the University of Mississippi shortly after Obama’s win was announced. They yelled racial slurs and burned at least one Obama sign. Two were arrested. Brad Kutner, FSRN, Richmond.

Hawaii law clears way for child sex abuse victims to seek justice

Two men filed suit this week in Hawaii alleging church sex abuse under a landmark state law that permits civil actions to be brought by persons subjected to sexual offenses as minors, even though the statute of limitations had previously lapsed.  FSRN’s Larry Geller reports from Honolulu.

Act 68, passed by the Hawaii legislature earlier this year, opens a two-year window during which lawsuits by child victims of sexual abuse may be filed. The law allows victims to seek justice no matter when the alleged abuse took place. Only California and Delaware have similar laws. The two Honolulu men are accusing a former Catholic school employee of sexual abuse, and charge that the school and the Honolulu Catholic Diocese engaged in a cover-up. The alleged offenses took place in 1984 and 1986.  It can take victims of sexual abuse many years to become able to pursue a case in court. And during that time, state statutes of limitations often expire. The Roman Catholic Church opposed the Hawaii law and has worked to prevent similar legislation from passing in other states as well. Larry Geller, FSRN, Honolulu.

Massive anti-government protests confronts Argentina’s President

Anti-government groups marched in Argentina’s capital last night. An FSRN reporter who witnessed the pot-banging of the so-called casserole protest said people packed and blocked an 18-lane highway for several blocks. Media report as many as one million marched in the largest anti-government protest in years. Demonstrators are angry about the economy, corruption and rumors that the President is trying to change the law to run for a third term.

Testimony ends in Gaza flotilla trial in Turkey

Prosecutors in Turkey are wrapping up the trial of four top Israeli commanders in absentia for the deaths of nine activists killed in May 2010 aboard a humanitarian aid ship bound for Gaza. FSRN’s Jacob Resneck reports.

As part of a flotilla attempting to break Israel’s blockade on the Gaza Strip, the Turkish-flagged Mavi Marmara was still in international waters when Israeli forced boarded and seized the ship. Nine people aboard were killed. Footage shot by activists aboard shows passengers throwing objects at Israeli commandos as they made the nighttime assault on the ship. “Suddenly we heard shouting and people started shouting Allah Akbar! Allah Akbar! and I saw helicopters above us and Zodiacs coming to us.” That’s Nurfitri Taher, a 36-year-old translator from Indonesia. She was with the Medical Emergency Rescue Committee, one of the many Islamic NGOs aboard the vessel. She’s one of nearly 500 witnesses here in Istanbul this week to give testimony. The Israeli commanders are being tried in absentia and Israel’s government has dismissed the proceedings as a show trial. The Turkish government continues to seek a formal apology and compensation for the victims as well as an end to the blockade. Israel has voiced “regret” and offered a “humanitarian fund,” but both concessions fall short of Turkey’s demands. Jacob Resneck, FSRN, Istanbul.



After big showing for women in election, rights groups push for gains in health, legal, political representation

Women’s rights groups are celebrating what they say was a resounding election victory this week, with a record number of women elected to Congress and ballot victories for reproductive rights. But challenges remain at the state and federal level for ensuring full access to reproductive health care, especially for low-income women and women of color. Several organizations say they intend to use the political power generated by this year’s high turnout to push for more victories in health, legal protections and federal representation. In Washington, FSRN’s Alice Ollstein has more.

Nearly 400,000 ballots yet to be counted in Maricopa, Arizona; could affect Arpaio outcome

Election officials in Maricopa County, Arizona say nearly 400,000 ballots have not yet been counted, causing some civil rights groups to question Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s reported reelection win this week. So far Arpaio has an 88,000 vote lead over challenger Paul Penzone, who conceded Tuesday night. The County Recorder said about 214,000 early ballots and 116,000 provisional ballots are still to be counted. Advocates are protesting outside the County Recorder’s office and have pledged to remain until the votes are counted.

For more, we’re joined by Petra Falcon, executive director of Promise Arizona in Action, the group has called for an investigation into voter irregularities on election day as well. She joins us by mobile phone from Phoenix.

Californians reject anti-union measure Prop 32, despite flood of dark money

In California, some 56 percent of voters rejected a measure that would have prevented labor unions and corporations from using payroll deductions for political purposes. It was one of the priciest campaigns in the country with both sides raising about $135 million on the measure. Unions had called it an attempt to silence their voices while backers of the measure had characterized it as a way to diminish special interest influence in politics. FSRN’s Max Pringle reports.

Florida judges retain seats in blow to Republicans, outside funders

Across the country, money also poured into judicial races at record rates this election. Preliminary assessments by the Brennan Center show about $28 million was spent on TV ads alone in an attempt to influence state Supreme Court races. Those courts often decide on important issues, such as immigration, marriage equality, reproductive rights and redistricting. Yesterday, FSRN looked at the judicial race in North Carolina and today we go to Florida where voters retained three of the state’s Supreme Court justices after a politically charged push to oust them by the state Republican Party and some big outside funders. FSRN’s Janelle Irwin reports.

Georgia port workers join wave of strikes in country’s labor sector

In the country of Georgia, workers in the port of Poti are in their tenth day of a strike. The port is along the Black Sea and an important gateway between Europe and Central Asia.  Miners in Tkibuli and bus drivers in Tbilisi also went on strike yesterday. A wave of work stoppages has hit the country since the opposition coalition won the parliamentary elections last month. From Georgia, FSRN’s MJ del Valle reports.

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