March 20, 2008

  • Iraq’s Security Issue is Only Part of the Problem
  • On The Campaign Trail
  • California’s Dwindling Salmon Population
  • Protection for Tijuana Estuary
  • Plan to Increase North Korea’s Per Capita

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Glacier Report Holds Grave Predictions for World Food Supply
A report released today by the Earth Policy Institute makes stark predictions about how global warming will devastate the world food supply. FSRN’s Leigh Ann Caldwell reports.

The new study says that the rapid melt rate of glaciers in the Himalayan Mountains and on the Tibetan Plateau will cause the most important rivers in India and China to run dry in the warm season by mid-century. Shrinking glaciers in the Himalayas are endangering the health of India’s Ganges River, which supplies water to 400 million people and is the source of irrigation for much of the area’s crops. China’s Yellow and Yangtze rivers are also facing a similar threat as ice packs in Tibet recede along with rising temperatures. But these predictions don’t just effect residents of China and India. When combined, the two countries produce more than half of the world’s supply of wheat and rice. Much of this production lies in areas where irrigation depends on these three rivers. Lester Brown, environmental economist at the Earth Policy Institute: (clip) “In an integrated world food economy, where the development of food shortages any one country can affect the entire world. We depend on the enormous amount of water stored in those glaciers to help China and India to produce their wheat and rice crops.” Brown says that the pending food crisis creates an urgent need to reduce carbon emissions by 80 percent by 2020. For FSRN, I’m Leigh Ann Caldwell.

Dalai Lama Takes Conciliatory Stance on Chinese Crackdown

Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, today offered to meet with top Chinese officials. This, as China continues to impose strict security measures on the Tibetan city of Lhasa in the wake of pro-independence protests. Bismillah Geelani reports.

China admitted for the first time today that anti-Beijing protests have spread outside of the Tibetan region as it rushed more troops to the restive area and its nearby provinces. The Chinese authorities also announced the arrest of two dozen Tibetan protesters in Lhasa and claimed that nearly 200 others have turned themselves in to the authorities. The Tibetan Government in exile has expressed concern over the situation in Lhasa and called for international intervention to resolve the crisis. Tibetan spiritual Leader and head of the exiled government the Dala Lama called on Tibetans to reject violent means of protests and seek peace with China. The Dalai Lama says he is ready to talk to Chinese leaders once the violence in Tibet subsides. He reiterated today that he is not demanding independence for Tibet, but rather greater autonomy under Chinese rule. But his conciliatory approach to China is not shared by many Tibetans – including a sizable number of exiles living in India – who want an independent homeland. Meanwhile, protests in solidarity with the Tibetans continued today in India’s Dharamshala town and in parts of neighboring Nepal. For FSRN, this is Bismillah Geelani from New Delhi.

FCC Auctions Off Wireless Airwaves for $19.6 Billion

The Federal Communications Commission has concluded its auction of the wireless airwaves. The spectrum’s sale reportedly raised $19.6 billion. The names of the companies who bought the licenses have not yet been made public.

UT System Reaches Settlement with DHS Over Border Fence
In a follow-up to a story covered yesterday, the federal government has dropped its lawsuit against the University of Texas system over access to the Brownsville campus ahead of the planned construction of a border fence. The two sides agreed on a settlement yesterday just ahead of a scheduled afternoon court hearing. The government will have access to the campus for 6 months, but has agreed to examine alternatives to a physical barrier and must obtain permission from the school before it can make physical changes to the landscape. It’s the first settlement in dozens of federal lawsuits pending against property owners in the Texas Rio Grande Valley.

Woman Dies After Deportation to Ghana from UK Hospital

An immigrant who was deported from the UK while terminally ill has died in Ghana. Natalia Viana has more from London.

Ama Sumani was only 39 years old when she died in a hospital in Accra, the capital of Ghana. The mother-of-two was deported from the UK last January, despite a campaign organized by human right groups. British immigration officials removed Sumani from a hospital in Cardiff, Wales – where she was receiving kidney dialysis and treatment for cancer – because she had overstayed her visa. She was sent back home even though she did not have means to pay for her treatment in Ghana and the drug she needed to prolong her life – thalidomide – is not available in the country. After she arrived, donations paid for her medical treatment, although her condition worsened. Family and friends were about to apply for an emergency visa to allow her to return to the UK for treatment. The Archbishop of Wales, Dr Barry Morgan said her death was on the nation’s conscience, and an article in the respected medical journal The Lancet described the deportation as an “atrocious barbarism”. In London, Natalia Viana for Free Speech Radio News.



Iraq’s Security Issue is Only Part of the Problem

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki says that his country has triumphed over terrorism and must now do the same in the international arena – this despite continuing violence, including a female suicide bomber who claimed the lives of 43 people, injuring 73 others Monday. Al-Maliki is urging strength and unification, one day after Iraq’s presidential council agreed to a move to prepare for provincial elections by autumn – which is seen as a measure to reduce sectarian divisions. But In Baghdad’s quiet Shama’iya District, residents do not complain of security or sectarianism. Instead, they’re concerned with the simpler elements of life—sewage systems, clean water, and the basic necessities to get by. But corruption and waste seem to have prevented this district from reaping the benefits of security and calm. Audio for this piece was provided by Nabeel Kamal and Qabas al-Kafaji of

On The Campaign Trail

Clinton and Obama made stops in Indiana and West Virginia today, while still duking it out about what to do with Florida and Michigan’s delegates. Meanwhile, Republican nominee John McCain is dealing with battles of his own: on the fifth anniversary of the war in Iraq, protesters gathered at his Arizona office – and critics are questioning his foreign policy experience after McCain incorrectly said Iran was backing al-Qa’eda in Iraq. FSRN Karen Miller has more from DC.

California’s Dwindling Salmon Population

California’s salmon may have extra protections this year, due to all time low populations. In response to several lawsuits pushing for enforcement of state law and enhanced protections for salmon, state agencies are responding to court mandates that they address dwindling Chinook salmon populations in the Sacramento San Joaquin delta. But environmentalists say more is needed to bring back salmon populations. Beginning in April, recreational Chinook salmon fishing will be banned along federal waters in California and most of Oregon’s coast, and a ban on commercial fishing is likely to follow. But environmentalists say more is needed to bring back salmon populations. FSRN’s Christina Aanestad reports.

Protection for Tijuana Estuary

The Tijuana River Estuary is home to six endangered species, and it is one of the few salt marshes remaining in Southern California, where more than 90% of wetland habitat has been lost to development. This unique and fragile ecosystem is threatened by pollution and trash coming from Terrazas de San Bernardo, a community of squatters on the Mexican side of the estuary. San Bernardo’s 10,000 residents live in makeshift dwellings without running water or electricity. The unsanitary conditions worsen every rain season, when mudslides carry trash and untreated waste water right thru the Estuary into the open sea. Now, citizens, universities, and non-profits from both sides of the border are joining forces with San Bernardo residents to create a solution for health hazards, floods, and pollution in the area. Mariana Martinez and Alonso Rivera report.

Plan to Increase North Korea’s Per Capita

South Korea’s new President says he will not tolerate a nuclear-armed North Korea. Lee Myung Bak also wants Pyongyang to address its human rights record. But as FSRN’s Jason Strother reports from Seoul, despite his tough talk, Lee recently announced a plan to help North Korea get out of poverty.

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