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Wednesday, August 26, 1998

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  • Pepper Spray Deadlock

    California law enforcement came down hard on environmentalists in Humboldt County last November. Officers applied pepper spray directly to the eyes of protestors staging sit-ins at a lumber company and a Congressmember’s office. Perhaps you remember the pictures on TV — environmentalists screamed with pain as officers used cotton swabs to daub acid tear gas on their eyeballs. They say the authority’s actions amounted to torture. For the last three weeks, their case against local police and sheriffs charging as much has been being heard in federal court in San Francisco. What’s at stake, they say, is the use of pepper spray in any non-violent situation. Yesterday, Judge Vaughn R. Walker who’d been overseeing the case declared a mistrial after the jury deadlocked.

  • Palestinian Activist Freed

    After six months in detention, grand jury resistor Dr. Abdel-Haleem Ashqar is free. Perhaps you remember the story — in late February Dr. Ashqar, a visiting Palestinian academic, was called before a federal grand jury in New York. The grand jury was reportedly investigating a U.S.-based fundraising operation for Hamas. Dr. Ashqar is not a member of Hamas, and he was not charged with any crime. But he refused to answer any of the grand jury’s questions, saying he would rather die than give information that would be used against his friends or relatives. A judge then sent him to jail for contempt of the grand jury. There, Dr. Ashqar immediately went on a hunger strike and the court ordered Dr. Ashqar to be force-fed. The last time we discussed his case on this program, Dr. Ashqar was shackled to a bed in a jail ward at a 45-degree angle with a tube forcing food into his nose.

  • Nigeria Update

    The Nigerian government yesterday announced plans to hold an election next February. But some opponents of the regime are resisting military-led plans for change. Amy Goodman is on assignment in Nigeria, where she talks with us about the upcoming elections as well as her trip to Ogoniland, where she met the family of executed environmentalist Ken Sarowiwa.

  • Indonesian Activist

    Post Suharto —- as post Sani Abacha -—- are the people about to realize their dreams of participatory democracy, or see a democratic face painted on the same old military machine?