Newscast for Monday, June 17, 2013

  • Supreme Court strikes down Arizona voter ID law; rules on 5th Amendment right to remain silent
  • Iran’s President-elect Hassan Rouhani pledges economic reform after avoiding run-off in election
  • Millions of Americans could be denied coverage as some states refuse health care funding
  • Mumia Abu-Jamal on the NSA, FBI surveillance program: “Don’t Worry, Be Happy”

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General strike in Turkey, PM threatens to use military

Five major unions in Turkey called members out to strike today following the violent police crackdown on protesters occupying Istanbul’s Gezi Park. The strike follows a weekend of violent clashes between riot police and protesters. FSRN’s Jacob Resneck brings us this update.

Riot police moved in Saturday evening to evict thousands of men, women and children occupying Gezi Park. Hundreds were injured in the action with many taking refuge in a nearby hotel. The violent crackdown was criticized by Amnesty International and the Turkish Medical Association which now says at least four have died and more than 7,500 have been injured since anti-government protests began more than two weeks ago.

Union leaders called on members to strike and march through the heart of Istanbul. But today deputy prime minister Bulent Arinc said the strike is illegal: “First, if necessary we will deploy the police. If that’s not enough we will call on the gendarmerie. But if events still require further action, and the governor so wishes, we will resort to calling on the military to contain these protests”.

This weekend Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan held rallies in Ankara and Istanbul which saw huge crowds of supporters estimated to be in the hundreds of thousands. In his speech, the prime minister angrily rejected accusations of rising authoritarianism. He blamed unnamed foreign interests for inciting anti-government protests across the nation. Jacob Resneck, FSRN, Istanbul

G-8 meeting kicks off amid spying scandal leaked to The Guardian

A meeting of leaders of G-8 countries kicked off today in Northern Ireland. At the top of the agenda are trade issues and determining how the rich and powerful countries will respond to the armed conflict in Syria. The meeting comes after revelations published in the Guardian that the British Government spied on the electronic and voice communications of delegates during a G-20 meeting it hosted in 2009.

Military tribunals back in session at GITMO while force-feeding of hunger strikers continues

Military tribunals at the Guantanamo Bay detention center were back in session today to hear the cases of five men accused of plotting the 9/11 terrorist attacks, including Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. According to longtime GITMO reporter, Carol Rosenberg, the accused do not appear to be participating in the ongoing hunger strike at the facility. Many of the hunger strikers have never been charged with a crime at Guantanamo. Rosenberg reports that, as of the weekend, the military continues to force-feed 44 hunger strikers.

Montreal’s mayor arrested in corruption scandal

In Canada, the Mayor of Montreal was arrested early this morning on corruption charges. The dramatic arrest comes in the midst of a Mayoral election campaign, as well as a large-scale corruption inquiry in the province of Quebec. FSRN’s Aaron Lakoff has the story from Montreal.

The Mayor of Montreal, Michael Applebaum, was arrested at 6am local time today and is currently in provincial police custody. He is facing 14 criminal charges, including fraud, breach of trust, conspiracy and municipal corruption. Applebaum, an interim Mayor, replaced former Mayor Gerald Tremblay after the later resigned in November amid accusations of corruption.

Recent evidence suggests both the Applebaum and Tremblay administrations channelled government funds towards local organized crime groups with front operations in the construction industry.

A Quebec-wide public inquiry, led by the Charbonneau Commission, is currently underway to investigate political corruption allegations. The commission is set to release its final report in October. Meanwhile, Montrealers will go to the polls in November to elect a new Mayor. It remains to be seen if the city will be put under a provincial trusteeship until then, although the option is currently under consideration by the Quebec government. Aaron Lakoff, FSRN, Montreal.

Texas governor vetoes equal pay bill, signs law to require drug testing of welfare beneficiaries

Texas Gov. Rick Perry vetoed 26 different bills Friday evening passed by the Texas legislature during its latest session. Among them were bills to ensure equal pay protections for women and reforms to the Texas ethics commission which enforces state campaign finance laws. FSRN’s Teddy Wilson reports.

Gov. Rick Perry cited burdensome regulations on business in his veto of the Texas version of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. The legislation would have made it easier for women in the state to sue employers for pay discrimination. The bill, which was opposed by business interests and corporate lobbies, would have changed Texas law from allowing women to sue a business 180 days after their first unfair paycheck to 180 days within any unfair paycheck.

Perry did sign into law a bill which requires applicants for unemployment benefits to submit to drug testing upon suspicion determined by responses to a pre-screening questionnaire. When Florida implemented drug testing drug testing for welfare recipients, a study found that it resulted in no direct savings, caught few drug users and had no effect on the number of welfare applications. Teddy Wilson, FSRN, College Station.

More than 40 shooting victims in Chicago over the weekend

The city of Chicago suffered another weekend of gun violence. The Chicago Tribune reports 8 dead and 47 shot. The Chicago Sun-Times, which reported a slightly lower count, called Father’s Day weekend the city’s most violent of 2013. Two of the dead, including a 15 year-old boy, were shot by police officers. A 16 year old survived a police shooting. According to photos available on the Sun-Times Homicide Watch page, the vast majority of fatal shooting victims are young, Black and Latino males.



Supreme Court strikes down Arizona voter ID law; rules on 5th Amendment right to remain silent

Many across the country are closely watching the US Supreme Court in the final days of its term, waiting for major decisions on voting rights, same-sex marriage and affirmative action. Today, the high court issued a number of other opinions, including one dealing with tactics used by pharmaceutical companies to keep generic drugs out of the marketplace and another that gives juries more say in deciding mandatory sentences. We’re going to take a closer look at two other decisions today. In the case Arizona v. Intertribal Council of Arizona, the court struck down certain voter registration requirements. And in Salinas v. Texas, the court ruled on a suspect’s right to remain silent. FSRN’s Alice Ollstein reports.


Iran’s President-elect Hassan Rouhani pledges economic reform after avoiding run-off in election

Today, Iran’s president-elect Hassan Rouhani said that improving the country’s economy would be a top priority for his administration. Speaking in Tehran, Rouhani also pledged greater openness of Iran’s nuclear program, but said suspending enrichment would not be an option.

Rouhani won the election with just over 52 percent of the vote, thus avoiding a run-off, according to Iran’s Interior Minister who announced the results Saturday.

Current President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad will officially step down in August and Rouhani faces several challenges as he prepares for the transition in the coming months.

For more, we’re joined by Hadi Ghaemi, director with the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran. The organization has been monitoring the pre-election and the voting at multiple sites in the country. Hadi Ghaemi joins us from the Netherlands.


Millions of Americans could be denied coverage as some states refuse health care funding

Key parts of the federal health care reform law, the Affordable Care Act, go into effect this year, with open enrollment in the health care insurance marketplace beginning in October. State lawmakers throughout the U.S. are also deciding whether to accept or reject federal dollars to expand coverage to low-income residents. So far the decisions have mostly followed partisan politics, as the two most populous states, California and Texas, show. FSRN’s Larry Buhl has more.


Mumia Abu-Jamal on the NSA, FBI surveillance program: “Don’t Worry, Be Happy”

As more revelations emerge about the extensive surveillance program in the US, run by the National Security Agency, the FBI and carried out often by private contractors, more attention is falling on the secretive FISA court that oversees requests for information and the role of lawmakers in overseeing the government’s spying powers.

For more, Mumia Abu-Jamal has this commentary.

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