Newscast for Tuesday, July 23, 2013

  • House considers more than $500 billion for military spending, including amendments on Syria, Guantanamo and drones
  • Farmworkers in Washington launch second work stoppage, citing low pay and hostile working conditions
  • New York launches program to provide legal, educational support for young immigrants who qualify for “deferred action”
  • In Zimbabwe, LGBT activists face severe risks in push for rights, equality

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Jailed Yemeni journalist, Abdulelah Haider Shaye, freed from prison; reunited with family

A Yemeni journalist  imprisoned since  2010 was  freed  today.  Abdulelah Haider Shaye was reunited with his wife and children following his release.  Shaye exposed the United States’ role in a 2009 airstrike  that killed 35 women and children. He also wrote about the drone war for Al Jazeera and the Washington Post. He was charged with supporting al Qaeda  in the Arabian Peninsula, and sentenced to five years in prison in what press advocates called a sham trial. Shortly after sentencing and amid public outcry, he was pardoned. But Yemni-American organizer Rooj Alwazir explains that he wasn’t immediately released.

“When then-president Saleh pardoned him, it was clear that Shaye was still in prison because of Obama. Because the next day, immediately, President Saleh got a call from President Obama himself, demanding that Shaye go back into prison.”

Shaye’s story features prominently in Jeremy Scahill’s book and subsequent documentary, “Dirty Wars: The World Is a Battlefield.”

High level meetings between DHS’s  Napolitano and Mexican counterpart

Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano is in the border city of Matamoros today as part of her final trip to Mexico before stepping down from her cabinet position. Shannon Young reports from Laredo.

Today’s meeting between DHS Secretary Napolitano and Mexican Interior Secretary Miguel Angel Osorio Chong takes place in the offices of one of the bridges connecting Brownsville and Matamoros and is reportedly focused on border security. The event was only publicly confirmed over the weekend and the complete agenda of the meeting was not fully disclosed to the media beforehand. The meeting comes as the U.S. Congress mulls an immigration reform package which could allot billions of dollars for technology and surveillance for the border region. It’s also on the heels of the arrest of a major cartel boss who is wanted in the U.S. The choice of venues for the meeting is also of note. Earlier this month, the U.S. State Department updated its travel advisory for Mexico, issuing strong warnings about the state of Tamaulipas, where Matamoros is located. The warning revealed restrictions in place on the movements of U.S. government employees in the Mexican border state, including nighttime curfews. Napolitano will travel to Mexico City Wednesday to hold further meetings with Mexican cabinet officials. Shannon Young, FSRN, Laredo.

UK uses mobile billboards for campaign targeting undocumented immigrants

Immigration authorities in the UK kicked off a massive campaign to arrest and deport thousands of illegal migrants in the country. Now they are deploying a mobile billboard campaign aimed at undocumented immigrants. Francis Ngwa reports from Liverpool.

The box trucks will drive through areas that are heavily populated by immigrant communities and are emblazoned with graphics that say “In the UK illegally? Go home or face arrest.” The huge posters displayed on the sides of the trucks also note the number of illegal people who were deported in the prior week and provide contact information to arrange a voluntary return. In addition to the mobile advertising trucks, leaflets and posters are are being distributed. Member of Parliament Sarah Teather criticized the mobile billboard advertising campaign, calling the program “nothing less than straight forward intimidation.” She accused ministers of creating an anti-immigration rhetoric. But Immigration Minister Mark Harper said the campaign offers undocumented migrants an alternative to being led away in handcuffs and home office officials say voluntary returns are the most cost effective method of deportation. Francis Ngwa, FSRN, Liverpool.

Papal visit in Brazil sparks protests; clashes ensue

Protests on the first day of the  pope’s visit to Brazil turned violent last night and the police dispersed the crowd with teargas. Sam Cowie reports from Rio de Janeiro.

About 1500 protestors gathered outside of Rio’s state government headquarters yesterday, as Pope Francisco met with Brazilian President Dilma Rouseff and heads of state. Gay rights groups were heavily present in the crowd. Others demanded the impeachment of state governor Sergio Cabral while many rallied against the high costs of hosting the pope for Rio’s World Youth Day. Altogether, the Pope’s week in Brazil is estimated to cost the public more than $ 50 million dollars. Wagner Hilma, a school teacher, asked that the Pope tell the president to invest more in public services.

“I want the pope to say to the president that we need less taxes and expenditures and more health and education, the country needs this.”

Rows of riot police and an armored vehicle prevented the protestors from getting near the building. Violence started when a bottle of water was thrown at the police. Officers dispersed the crowd with teargas, sound bombs and rubber bullets, later telling news agencies that they retaliated only after they were attacked by Molotov cocktails. At least four people were treated at a hospital, two for rubber bullet wounds. Sam Cowie, FSRN, Brazil.


House considers more than $500 billion for military spending, including amendments on Syria, Guantanamo and drones

In Washington, the House took up a more than $500 billion military spending bill today, which could fund the Pentagon and all related agencies for the year 2014. Over the next few days, representatives will consider at least 100 amendments. Some of them aim to release cleared detainees from their indefinite detention at Guantanamo Bay, block funding for military action in Syria, ban the use of drones for domestic surveillance and defund programs that allow the government to spy on American citizens. As Congress also debates deep cuts to food stamps, education and affordable housing, many progressive lawmakers and policy advocates say the increases in war and weapons spending show misplaced national priorities. On Capitol Hill, FSRN’s Alice Ollstein reports.

Farmworkers in Washington launch second work stoppage, citing low pay and hostile working conditions

Farmworkers in Washington have restarted a work stoppage, citing hostile working conditions in the fields and low wages. Workers at Sakuma Brothers Farms in Burlington, Washington say that they’ve launched a second stoppage because some workers have faced retaliation after walking off the job earlier this month and that most of their demands have not been met. It’s the peak season for berries and Sakuma Farms is a major supplier to Haagen-Dazs ice cream. For more, we’re joined by Rosalinda Guillen, executive director with Community to Community Development the group has been working with the farmworkers.

FSRN’s request for response from Sakuma Farms was not returned by air time, but according to local media, Sakuma Farms President Steven Sakuma, has offered to pay the pickers $3.75 per flat instead of .30 cents per pound.

New York launches program to provide legal, educational support for young immigrants who qualify for “deferred action”

In an effort to help young immigrants who qualify for “deferred action,” New York City leaders have announced a new program to provide legal and educational support. The move comes as Congress makes little progress on immigration reform and families continue to be split apart by deportations. FSRN’s Rebecca Myles has more.

In Zimbabwe, LGBT activists face severe risks in push for rights, equality

As we heard in yesterday’s program, LGBT rights activists in Cameroon face severe restrictions and many are calling for justice after a prominent activist and journalist was found dead last week. Today, we continue our look at the challenges that the LGBT community faces in many African countries, by going to Zimbabwe, where LGBT people face discrimination, harassment, and attacks. The country’s laws criminalize homosexuality, and many LGBT people are driven from their homes through violence or threats of violence. But some activists continue their push for rights. FSRN’s Garikai Chaunza reports.

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