June 13, 2008
- Congress Wrangles Over Fuel Prices
- Ron Paul Bows Out
- 100 Chemicals Off-gas from Vinyl Shower Curtains
- Clean Desert Power
- Bulgaria’s Black Market Blood Trade
- Quality of Life in a Palestinian Refugee Camp
“Historic” Floods Devastate Iowa
Iowa residents are trying to cope with what could be the worst flooding the state has seen in 500 years. Days of heavy rain across the state have caused nine rivers to reach or surpass historic flood levels. Cedar Rapids, Iowa’s 2nd largest city, has been particularly hard hit. Floodwaters there have forced the the evacuation of a local hospital, affected the power supply, and drastically limited the availability of potable water. The Cedar River is expected to crest sometime today. No deaths or serious injuries have been reported in Iowa, though several flood-related casualties have been reported in surrounding states. Governor Chet Culver estimates losses could be in the billions of dollars.
“Dead End” on US/Iraq Treaty
Bush Administration efforts to secure a permanent US military occupation of Iraq have hit a “dead end”. That’s how Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki described the state of negotiations on a US/Iraqi security agreement. The treaty prompted outrage from several sectors of Iraqi society, particularly from lawmakers. The US government wants a long-term agreement to maintain permanent bases in Iraq, conduct military exercises at will, and control Iraqi airspace. The deal also called for legal immunity for US troops and private contractors. Al Maliki today told reporters in Jordan that the treaty the US wants violates Iraqi sovereignty and is therefore ” not acceptable”.
Major Protests in Pakistan Over Judges Issue
Pakistani lawyers reached the capital Islamabad in a show of force in support of the judges unconstitutional removed by President Pervez Musharraf. Devin Theriot-Orr has the story.
A caravan of lawyers, students and political activists led by the deposed Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry arrived in Islamabad today after traveling hundreds of kilometers from Lahore through the brutal heat of Pakistan’s Punjab province. Security is tight in the capital, with military troops stationed around sensitive areas. The organizers stated that the security measures were unnecessary as the marchers will remain peaceful in their demand that the government take action to restore Pakistan’s top judges. Police estimated the crowd at 20,000, while organizers stated that the figure was over 50,000. Some even said it was the largest political rally in the history of the country. Participants traveled from as far away as Karachi, 400 miles from Lahore, to join in the rally. The coalition government, led by the Pakistan People’s Party, has so far failed to deliver on its promise to restore the deposed judges. The PPP’s coalition partner, the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz, has joined the protest to support the restoration of the judicary. The fragile coalition between the two bitter rivals will now face its greatest test, as Pakistanis wait to see whether the lawyers’ movement will succeed in its effort to, for the first time in the history of the country, undo the acts of a miitary ruler. For FSRN, this is Devin Theriot-Orr reporting.
Irish Voters Reject EU Treaty
Results are in from Ireland’s popular vote on the European Union’s Lisbon treaty. Voters there rejected the treaty by a 53% majority. Since all EU member states must approve a treaty for it to take effect, the Irish No vote means that the EU will continue to operate under current rules. Ireland was the only country to put the Lisbon Treaty to a popular vote.
Violence in Western Colombia Forces Displaced Persons to Seek Refuge in Bogota
Indigenous people in Colombia have been facing a recent upswing in violence in Colombia’s civil war. Several tribal leaders have been assassinated this year and thousands have fled their homes in order to escape the violent actions of the Colombian army and the FARC guerrillas. Now, a flare-up in western Colombia has forced displaced persons to seek refuge in Bogota. Manuel Rueda reports.
The Embera-Katia live in a remote area of western Colombia. But many are now fleeing their lands. Over one hundred and forty members of this community arrived at this Bogota shelter last week. Most of them are under fifteen. Aureliano Arce is one of the few Spanish speakers here. He says that armed groups forced his people to leave their lands. [clip] “The presence of the military and subversive insurgents makes it hard for the people caught in the middle to go to their farmland. And when it’s difficult to get to our farms, food becomes scarce.” Embera leaders say that the government has failed to invest in health projects, and local farming programs, which are essential to survival in the forests of western Colombia. A multinational corporation -Anglo Gold Ashanti- is already prospecting for gold in the area that surrounds the Embera territory. And some Embera leaders say the government is actively trying to push the Embera out of their lands to make way for mining operations. Manuel Rueda, FSRN, Bogota.
Tim Russert Dead at 58
Tim Russert, longtime host of NBC’s “Meet the Press”, died this afternoon of an apparent heart-attack while at work. The 58-year-old Washington Bureau Chief for NBC News is survived by his wife Maureen Orth and his son Luke.
Congress Wrangles Over Fuel Prices
Exxon Mobil is calling it quits in the US. The largest publicly traded oil company in the world is selling its retail gas stations in the US because of the high cost of crude. Of the 12,000 stations that carry the Exxon logo, Exxon owns and operates 2,200 of them. A spokesperson for the company says consumers will still be buying gas at stations that have the Exxon Mobile name but the stations will not be owned or operated by the company. On Capitol Hill, the tug of war continues between Democrats and Republicans regarding what to do about the rising price of gas. Democrats want to transfer the high cost consumers are paying at the pump to profiting oil companies while Republicans say the problem can be solved by digging for more oil. FSRNs Karen Miller has more.
Ron Paul Bows Out
Texas Representative Ron Paul ended his run for presidency last night at the Texas GOP convention. Although his presidential campaign is over, he said it is just the beginning of a new conservative movement for limited government policies. Katharine Jarmul has more from DC.
100 Chemicals Off-gas from Vinyl Shower Curtains
The Center for Health, Environment and Justice – or CHEJ – is urging the Consumer Product Safety Commission to issue a recall for PVC shower curtains. They are also calling on major retailers to voluntarily pull them from their shelves. CHEJ is a non-profit organization that seeks to prevent environmental health harms caused by chemical threats. Their latest study, released yesterday, finds that more than 100 chemicals are released from Polyvinyl chloride – or PVC – shower curtains. Mike Schade is Program Coordinator for CHEJ’s PVC Campaign – and he co-authored the report. Mr. Schade – why should we be concerned about the specific elements that offgas from our vinyl shower curtains?
That was Mike Schade – co-Author of the Shower Curtain Report and Program
Coordinator for the PVC Campaign of the Center for Health, Environment and Justice. The full report can be found online at chej.org/showercurtainreport.org.
Clean Desert Power
Activists concerned with climate change regularly stage protests around the world – calling for an end to world dependence on fossil fuels. One such protest happened in the UK this morning where forty protestors hijacked a train carrying coal to Britain’s biggest power station, blocking delivery of the coal. Meanwhile, a simple technology that can generate huge amounts of clean energy from deserts and hot countries is being considered for investment by the European Parliament with North African partners. It’s not new technology, but Concentrating Solar Power enthusiasts believe it’s the ‘big solution’ to the world’s energy problems. Naomi Fowler’s been investigating in the Mediterranean.
Bulgaria’s Black Market Blood Trade
Tomorrow marks the 4th annual international World Blood Donor day, reminding the world of the invaluable role that voluntary blood donors play in helping save human life. But while the demand for blood is universal, access and supply are not, often forcing those that need blood to seek it through illegal black markets. FSRN’s Amy Miller brings us this investigative report from Sofia, Bulgaria.
Quality of Life in a Palestinian Refugee Camp
The Aza refugee camp in Bethlehem, Palestine, was built in 1950 to house Palestinians who lost their homes and lands when Israel was created in 1948. Currently about 2,100 people live there in apartments that from the outside look like a concrete block honeycomb. Aza is one of the smallest of the 27 camps run by the U.N. (OR United Nations) in the West Bank and Gaza which together house almost a million refugees. Within those apartments live children, young adults and older people who remember moving into the camp when it was brand new. Interviews with several families reveal a common belief in the right of Palestinians to return to their lands, but some differences in how they think a resolution might be achieved. Melinda Tuhus reports from Bethlehem.