June 5, 2008

  • Senate Report Reveals Further Ways the Bush Administration Misused Intelligence From Iraq
  • Obama speaks aggressively in support of Israel
  • Critics Disappointed With FAO Plan to End Food Shortages
  • Venezuelan Opposition Movement Showing Signs of Fragmentation
  • Colorado wins Rocky Mt. Arsenal Environmental Lawsuit

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9/11 Tribunals Start at Gitmo
Military tribunals for five alleged plotters of the September 11th attacks opened today at the Guantanamo Bay detention camp and naval base. The man thought to be the mastermind behind the attacks, Khalid Sheik Mohammed, will be defending himself in English while facing the death penalty. Four of his co-defendants could also face execution. Mohammed reportedly confessed to being the driving force behind the September 11th attacks after marathon interrogation sessions that included repetitive forced drowning, also known as waterboarding. Evidence obtained through coersion or torture is not admissible in civilian courtrooms, but can be used in military tribunals. Many legal experts regard the hearings that opened today as a test balloon for the entire military commissions system.

Details of the US Plan to Occupy Iraq Indefinitely Leaked to British Newspaper
British newspaper, The Independent, has received leaked details of a deal currently under negotiation in Baghdad that would allow the US military to occupy Iraq indefinitely. The treaty calls for permanent US military bases in Iraq, US control of Iraqi airspace, sweeping powers for US troops to conduct arrests amd military actions without consultation, and guaranteed immunity from prosecution for soldiers and contractors. President Bush is reportedly intent on announcing the start of the so-called “strategic alliance” this summer, meaning the treaty would remain in place regardless of who wins the November presidential election.

Left Parties in India Shut Down 3 States over Fuel Hikes

In Indian, Three Left-ruled states today observed a 12-hour shutdown strike to protest major hikes in fuel prices announced yesterday by the Indian central government. Bismillah Geelani reports.

The Central Government’s decision to raise fuel prices by at least 10% has provoked strong reactions from across the political spectrum. Both the opposition and the government’s left allies have opposed the move. Leftist parties responded with a dawn-to-dusk shutdown in the three states they rule. Normal life in the states of West Bengal, Kerala and Tripura came to a standstill as the ruling left front enforced the strike. Streets were virtually empty as schools, offices and businesses remained closed. Activists from the main opposition party, the BJP, held demonstrations in New Delhi and several other parts of the country. The protesters are demanding the government either roll back the price hikes or compensate consumers with subsidies and tax cuts. The government, however, says it was left with no alternative in light of soaring international crude oil prices. For FSRN, this is Bismillah Geelani from New Delhi.

Nuclear Scare Today in Eastern Europe Doesn’t Dampen the UK’s Push for New Nuclear Plants
Two safety alerts in nuclear power plants in Eastern Europe have reinforced public concerns about nuclear power…but apparently haven’t dampened the British government’s support for new nuclear facilities. Naomi Fowler reports from London.

The EU’s early warning system used in the event of nuclear emergencies was triggered twice in the last 48 hours…’ with the European Commission notifying all 27 EU states of two separate problems; one was a 35-year old plant in the Czech republic where a worker mistakenly turned off coolant pipes; the other was a station in Slovenia where water leaked from the primary coolant unit. While the authorities involved assured citizens that there had been no radiation discharged, Greenpeace urged EU officials to confirm the incidents were as small as claimed through independent investigation. These incidents will do little to allay public fears about the safety of nuclear power; its overwhelming unpopularity has so far slowed its growth in Europe. However, Britain and France recently agreed to construct a new generation of nuclear power stations and export the technology around the world. The plan has been criticised for undermining the growth of renewable energy. This is Naomi Fowler in London for Free Speech Radio News.

Drought Declared in California
California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has declared the state to be in the midst of it’s first official drought since 1991. This spring was California’s driest in nearly 90 years. One of the primary causes is the shrinking snowpack on the Sierra Mountains, which fills reservoirs during the spring melt. Schwarzenegger is calling for the implementation of a 12 billion dollar bond plan to upgrade California’s water management infrastructure but has stopped short of announcing measures to ration the state’s shrinking water supply.

Longest Blockade in Canadian History Results in Victory Over Logging Company
The longest blockade in Canadian history has ended in victory for indigenous activists over a forestry company. Aaron Lakoff has more from Montreal.

From its headquarters in Montreal, forestry giant AbitibiBowater made an announcement to the Ontario government on Tuesday that it would stop using wood in an area it refers to as the Whisky Jack forest in northern Ontario. The company was clear-cutting on indigenous land belonging to the Ojibwe nation, which they refer to as Grassy Narrows. In late 2003, residents of Grassy Narrows set up peaceful road blockades to prevent logging trucks from reaching their community. Roberta Keesick is an Ojibwe resident of Grassy Narrows, (clip) “I think it is a big accomplishment on everybody’s part, ours, and the supporters that we had. However, in terms of the forestry license, when we entered into the treaties, we never gave up our customary laws. The whole thing about this blockade is that we want to take care of the land under our own traditional customary laws.” Keesick maintains that the blockade will stay up until Grassy Narrows is no longer threatened by any logging companies. For Free Speech Radio News, this is Aaron Lakoff reporting from Montreal, Canada.


Senate Report Reveals Further Ways the Bush Administration Misused Intelligence From Iraq

A new Senate report finds the Bush Administration’s case for the going to war in Iraq contradicted information and intelligence. Two different reports totally 230 pages lay out numerous examples where the Bush Administration publicized to Congress and to the American people false or inaccurate findings. Senator Jay Rockefeller is the Chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, which authored the report.

“It’s often been said that truth is the first casualty of war. This is the case in the Bush Administration’s march to war in Iraq. The tragic fact is that on issues of war an peace… in short, we announce today…the Administration was careless with its word and contradicted by the available intelligence.”

The report found that intelligence did not back up many statements by the Administration in the lead up to the war. For example, it found intelligence did not show a connection between Iraq and Al Qaeda. The report also found that the alleged leader of the September 11th attacks, Muhammad Atta, did not meet with Iraqi officials in Prague, that there was no confirmation that Iraq’s chemical weapons program continued and that intelligence warned the US would not be welcomed as liberators. Chair Rockefeller called the Bush Administration’s handling of the war “heinous’ but he said he will not endorse criminal prosecution.

“It would mean nothing else would get done. If you pressed for that, it’s like pressing for impeachment, it’s a grand act. But it’s a futile act and a wrong act. Should it be done in the wide sweep of history? Yes. Should it be done now? No.”

These findings are the final parts of a 4-year investigation by the Senate panel – a panel that overwhelmingly endorsed the Administration’s case for war in 2002. Some Republicans on the Senate Committee called the findings political and said they were without merit.

Obama speaks aggressively in support of Israel

On his first day as the presumptive democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama spoke to the Jewish American Lobby attempting to court a constituency he’s had trouble appealing to. And during that meeting, Obama seemed to take a more aggressive tone in defense of Israel. FSRN Karen Miller has more

Critics Disappointed With FAO Plan to End Food Shortages

The World Food and Agriculture Organization’s major summit began this week in Rome, Italy. FAO officials were tasked with finding solutions to the rising prices of food worldwide – a situation that is beginning to spark humanitarian crises and unrest in many countries. The use of food crops for biofuels is receiving much of the blame for the shortages. Today is the final day of the summit and the final declaration from the FAO is out – and has been greeted by much disappointment, as FSRN’s Diletta Varlese reports from Italy.

Venezuelan Opposition Movement Showing Signs of Fragmentation

Last week marked the one-year anniversary of the Hugo Chavez government decision not to renew the broadcasting license of Venezuela’s most popular television channel – RCTV. The student movement and mass protest that followed was a blow to the popularity of Chavez. It contributed to the December election defeat of a referendum that would have significantly increased the president’s power. This year, one prominent veterans of that movement is running for Mayor of the largest and poorest section of Caracas. Despite the enthusiasm that has greeted his candidacy, a closer inspection reveals an increasingly fragile and divided opposition movement. Martin Markovits reports from Caracas

Colorado wins Rocky Mt. Arsenal Environmental Lawsuit

After 25 years of litigation, the US Army and Shell Oil have agreed to pay the state of Colorado more than 35 million dollars for irreversible chemical waste destruction at the Rocky Mountain Arsenal. The US Army and Shell Oil used the land as a chemical manufacturing compound and liquid chemical dumpsite, which ultimately ravaged the environment and local wildlife. Many say the Arsenal is one of the most contaminated sites in the country. The settlement is seen as a major victory for the state of Colorado, and the money will go towards restoration projects and compensation for local residents affected by the contamination. Blake Wesley is in Denver and files this report.

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