Headlines for Wednesday, November 9, 2011
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Arizona voters oust SB1070 architect
Voters in Arizona have ousted the Republican architect of SB1070, the harsh anti-immigrant measure currently being challenged in the courts. Russell Pearce was the Senate President. Randy Parraz of Citizens for a Better Arizona supported the recall effort.
“We think this is a major, major correction in Arizona politics, and people finally came together to send a powerful message.”
Eliseo Medina of the SEIU says he hopes this election will start the healing, after the divisive politics that have wracked the state.
“It is fair to say that Latino voters made difference in the outcome in which Jerry Lewis, a moderate Republican on immigration issues, defeated Pearce’s extremist agenda.”
Michigan Republican recalled over education cuts
In other election news, a Republican lawmaker from Genesee County, Michigan has become the first legislator to be recalled in the state in twenty-seven years. In Tuesday’s election, voters angry about the policies of Flint-area Representative Paul Scott, have forced a special election in February to fill the seat. FSRN’s Nate Bender reports.
Republican Paul Scott lost his recall election in an extremely tight race that, in the end, came down to mere 232 votes. The Genesee County lawmaker has been the target of an aggressive campaign by the Michigan Education Association. The labor group is angry about Scott’s voting record, which includes slashing more than a billion dollars from public education, piling on additional taxes for senior citizen pensions and providing a $1.8 billion dollars in tax breaks for corporate special interests.
Significant efforts to recall Michigan Governor Rick Snyder and Attorney General Bill Schuette fell short of the required number of signatures to prompt a recall vote. However, Genesee County citizens hope that by recalling Representative Scott, it will send a strong message to Governor Snyder that if he and other lawmakers ignore the will of the people, they could soon receive pink slips of their own. Nate Bender, FSRN, Michigan.
Appeals Court upholds heath care mandate
A federal Appeals Court judge appointed by Ronald Regan has upheld the constitutionality of the portion of the Affordable Care Act that would require individuals to purchase health insurance. In the opinion, Judge Laurence Silberman stated, “The right to be free from federal regulation is not absolute, and yields to the imperative that Congress be free to forge national solutions to national problems.” The US Supreme Court is slated to hear a different challenge to the health care law in the coming months, and supporters of health care reform hope this decision will inform the conservative-leaning bench.
Perpetrators of religion-motivated deaths convicted in India
In the decades following the break-off of Pakistan from India, relations between Hindus and Muslims along the border have at times been strained. Today, in the west Indian state of Gujarat, the survivors of widespread religious violence in 2002 finally saw some justice. From India, FSRN’s Shuriah Niazi reports.
After nearly ten years, a special fast-track court in Gujarat convicted 31 Hindus for the deaths of 33 members of a minority Muslim community in Sardarpura. In 2002, rioters set fire to a house where the 33 were seeking shelter. The court charged the accused with murder and rioting. The 31 have been sentenced to life in prison.
The court ordered release of another 42 people, ruling there wasn’t enough evidence for a conviction. This is the first time a court in Gujarat has held anyone responsible for the murders.
The 2002 attack on the Muslims came after the burning of a train of Hindu pilgrims in the same region. That incident triggered large-scale violence all over the state of Gujarat, leaving, by some estimates, more than 1000 people dead. Earlier this year, a court convicted dozens of people for burning the train. Shuria Niazi, FSRN, India.
London students once again protests tuition hikes
Today, thousands of students marched through the streets of London to protest plans to increase university fees. The demonstration comes as the UK plans to raise undergraduate tuition rates by up to 200 percent. FSRN’s Nik Martin reports from the British capital.
Following violence during last year's student march, London's Metropolitan police were taking no chances this time. They warned of a heavy police presence[ – nearly 4000 officers lined the march route.] Officials even wrote to those who attended last year's demonstrations, warning police would use rubber bullets if there was any trouble.
Organizers accused officials of “intimidation tactics,” which they say led many protesters to stay away. And in the end, the march passed off peacefully.
British students face tuition hikes between 5 and 15 thousand dollars next fall. University applications for next year are so far down 9%, with one London university seeing a 40% drop. Some institutions are revisiting their fees in light of the drop in demand. Nik Martin, FSRN, London.
First transsexual MP takes office in Poland
And finally in Poland, recent elections have seen a significant transformation in the make-up of Parliament. In yesterday’s opening session, the country’s first transsexual lawmaker took her seat among other elected officials. Anna Grodzka spoke to AFP.
“Just running for Parliament was a victory for me. I was trying to defend the rights of transsexuals during the campaign, but now it’s turned out I can do it for four years.”
Poland’s first openly gay politician also took his seat. The Polish government also elected its first female Parliamentary speaker.