July 25, 2008

  • EPA Supports Banning Harmful Pesticide
  • House Explores Impeachment of the President
  • Senate Fails to Move Forward on Energy Legislation
  • Cambodia Election Preview
  • Iraq War Vets Turn War Into Prose

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Bomb Kills Two in India’s Technology Capitol Bangalore

At least two people have been killed and several others injured in a series of bomb explosions in India’s high tech city, Bangalore.  Bismillah Geelani has more
Seven small bombs exploded in quick succession in the southern and central parts of Bangalore, killing two and wounding nearly 20 others. Officials say the crude, low intensity bombs were concealed near a refugee camp and on roadsides.  One blast occurred near a bus stop killing one woman. Bangalore hosts the bulk of India’s IT and outsourcing business and is home to more than 1,500 foreign and domestic firms, including offices for large global firms such as Microsoft and IBM. Industry experts say the blasts could affect global investment into the city, which accounts for 40 per cent of India’s exports of software and information technology-enabled services. No group has yet claimed responsibility for the bombings. For FSRN, this is Bismillah Geelani

FCC Close to Approving XM and Sirius Merger

Satellite radio providers XM and Sirius appear be on their way to consolidating, after they agreed to pay nearly 20 million dollars in a federal settlement.  Sirius has offered 3.6 billion to purchase rival XM, and is awaiting final approval from the FCC.  The vote is currently split– with the two Democratic members of the commission voting against the merger.  But the final vote belongs to Republican Deborah Taylor Tate, who is expected to approve the buy-out.  Democratic Commissioner Jonathan Adelstein argued against the merger because the new company would control more public airwaves than AM and FM radio combined.

Employee Sit-In Scheduled at Jordan’s Independent Network ATV

In other media news, the problems continue for the 200 employees of Jordan’s first independent TV station – ATV, which is currently not on the air. A government-brokered deal to sell the station to a new owner has only complicated the situation. Oula Farawati in Amman has the details.
ATV employees are staging a sit-it tomorrow to protest the firing of 4 of their colleagues. They are also protesting against the new owner Talal Awamleh for trying to force them to sign obligatory unpaid leaves. Majid Tobeh is a Member of the Jordan Journalist Association Council:

“We are bewildered by the government disregard of this problem and we plan to support our fellow journalists until they get their full rights.”

Last year, the Jordanian authorities pulled the plug on ATV just hours before its official launch.  This was seen as an attempt to inflict maximum financial damage to the owners of the station. ATV employees say their career dreams have been shattered by the battle between the government and the original management, and most recently, the station’s new ownership.  In Amman, Jordan, I am Oula Farawati reporting for FSRN
New Memo Say Torture in “Good Faith” above Prosecution
New evidence has surfaced that the Justice Department condoned the CIA’s use of torture.  The ACLU has released a 2002 memo, obtained through the Freedom of Information Act, in which the Justice Department told the CIA its interrogators would be safe from prosecution as long as they believed “in good faith” their techniques would not cause “prolonged mental harm.”  Waterboarding is among the interrogation techniques covered in the memo.

Canadian Activists Call for Extradition of “Child Soldier” at Guantanamo

Groups across Canada today are calling for the release of Omar Khadr, a Canadian citizen detained at Guantanamo Bay.  FSRN’s Aaron Lakoff has more from Montreal.
Rallies are being held this week from coast to coast in Canada to call for the release of Omar Khadr.  The Canadian Arab Federation released a statement on Monday, saying that Khadr is the first child-soldier to be prosecuted in over 100 years.  They’re urging Prime-Minister Stephen Harper to do everything in his power to bring him home as soon as possible. The 21 year-old native of Toronto was 15 when he was captured in Afghanistan for allegedly killing an American soldier.  Earlier this month, video footage was released of a Canadian Security and Intelligence Services interrogation, in which Khadr alleged that he was tortured by the US army in Afghanistan. For FSRN, this is Aaron Lakoff reporting from Montreal, Canada.

Groups Ask for End of the Catholic Church’s Contraception Ban

On today’s 40th anniversary of the Catholic Church’s official ban on contraception, more than 50 Catholic organizations published an open letter to Pope Benedict urging him to lift what they consider a “catastrophic” policy.  The letter was published in the form of a half-page ad in Italy’s largest newspaper.  It sites the effect the contraception ban has had on the poor and women, and on the spread of HIV/AIDS.  The letter was signed by groups such as the US-based Catholics for Choice and New Ways Ministry, a group that ministers to gay Catholics.  The Vatican responded that the signing groups are “very insignificant” and called the letter “paid propaganda.”

Filipino Vets of WWII Urge House to Push Through Benefits Package

And finally, Filipino Veterans from World War II are rallying in Los Angeles to restore their status as veterans.  Two hundred thousand Filipinos fought alongside the US during World War II, but Congress rescinded their veteran’s status in 1946, denying health and education benefits and pensions.  Sixty years later, a mere 10,000 Filipino veterans remain alive in the US and are fighting for those pensions and monetary relief for vets still living in the Philippines.  Arturo Garcia is one of those vets. He’s with the group Justice for Filipino Veterans.

“The Filipino Veterans were singled out as a group, discriminated against and until now not recognized as American Veterans.”

For the first time, a bill that restores benefits passed the Senate in April. It is currently held up in the House of Representatives because of opposition to giving benefits to those living in the Philippines.

Hamas Members Killed in Gaza Blast

Three members of Hamas’s Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades were killed today in a car blast that also killed a small girl and injured 15 others.  The explosion happened near a beach outside of Gaza City.  The exact cause of the blast is unknown.  As of yet, no one has claimed responsibility.



EPA Supports Banning Harmful Pesticide

For the first time in 20 years, the EPA, or Environmental Protection Agency, plans to ban a toxic pesticide used on common crops in the US and abroad.  The chemical, Carbofuran, has been found to be harmful humans and animals, particularly infants and toddlers.  Carbofuran is applied to about 1 percent of US crops, but is widely used around the world, including on crops imported to the US. It’s been found in drinking water and food, and studies have linked the pesticide to neurological and reproductive damage. The EPA attempted to bad the pesticide two years ago, but its manufacturer, FMC Corporation, has been fighting in federal court to keep the chemical on the market. A 60-day comment period follows yesterday’s decision.
As environmentalists and health experts praise the EPA’s proposed ban, they are concerned about a second pesticide, they say, is just as dangerous but they are gaining little traction with the EPA.  Endosulfan is part of the same group of chemicals as DDT, which the EPA banned more than three decades ago. A coalition of farm worker, public health, and environmental groups filed a lawsuit Thursday demanding the EPA ban the pesticide.
Joshua Osborne-Klein, an attorney with Earthjustice, represents the plaintiffs in the suit.
“Over 20 other countries have banned endosulfan and many others have severley restricted its use. Also endosulfan is nominated to included to be included in Stockholm convention list of persist organic pollutants which would cause its ban almost globally. These other countries have found, as has EPA that theer are plenty Alternatives to endosulfan available so farm workers don’t need it, it does not provide great benefits to agriculture, yet EPA has continued to keep in use in the United States while the rest of the world works to get rid of it.”
According to the lawsuit, exposure to endosulfan may cause hyperactivity, convulsions, difficulty breathing, permanent brain damage, and death.  The suit also says a peer reviewed scientific study linked endosulfan to autism.
Osborne-Klein adds that this lawsuit is part of wider attempt to get EPA to more seriously assess the impact of pesticides on humans.
” This is the fourth or fifth lawsuit targeted at the worst pesticides on the market, and faulting EPA for not considering the risk to children, for not considering the risk to wildlife and for not really considering any objective basis for looking at benefits of pesticide when they make pesticide decisions.” The EPA has 60 days to respond to the lawsuit.

House Explores Impeachment of the President

The House Judiciary panel explores the option of impeaching President Bush.  The hearing, although not officially investigating impeachment, looked at the issue of executive privilege, privilege Bush has cited in instances of FISA, water boarding, and the war in Iraq.  Katharine Jarmul reports on the highly partisan environment in the hearing room.

Senate Fails to Move Forward on Energy Legislation

The Senate failed to move forward with legislation to end oil speculation.  The measure would have given more regulatory power to the agency that oversees commodities trading. The bill failed to garner the 60 votes necessary.  Republicans blocked the measure because they wanted to include a series of other energy related measures to increase domestic oil supply. Democrats say they’re on the right side of the energy argument.
Senator Charles Schumer of New York.
“The bottom line is very simple. We Democrats believe in the future when it comes to energy policy. We believe in alternative energy, we believe we have to wean ourselves away from oil and dependency from people like Ahmadinejad, Chavez and Putin.  And they want to throw themselves right into their owns because big oil wants it.  So the equations is simple.  The Republicans equal big oil and the past. They do what big oil wants. We democrats represent alternatives weaning ourselves away from oil and the future.”  Democratic leaders say they will return to the legislation but a time yet to be determined. The Senate will stay in session through Saturday.  They will vote on a housing measure that aims to ease the housing foreclosure crisis.  One the Senate passes the measure, it will head to the President’s desk  to be signed into law.

Cambodia Election Preview

This Sunday, Cambodians will vote in the fourth parliamentary elections since civil war ended 15 years ago. Previous campaigns have been marred by voter fraud and political violence. But despite widespread accusations of corruption, the party of Prime Minister Hun Sen is expected to dominate.  FSRN’s Jason Strother has the story from Phnom Penh.

Iraq War Vets Turn War Into Prose

Last year, the Iraq Veterans Against the War group organized three “Warrior Writers” workshops, giving about 20 former service members a forum to share their thoughts, stories and experiences from their time in Iraq. The ant-war organization published a book this year entitled “Remaking Sense” that compiles the works of dozens of veterans from around the nation. With local production help from Andy Crawford in Burlington Vermont, Zack Baddorf produced this story of one former soldier and his thoughts on what he calls ‘institutionalized racism’ against Iraqis by American troops .

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