July 9, 2008

  • Mukasey Rejects Politics Influence Hiring at the Justice Department
  • Senate Approves Surveillance Legislation
  • G8 Summit Wraps Up in Japan
  • India’s Ruling Coalition Splits Over Nuclear Deal
  • The Questionable Arrest of a Chilean Filmmaker

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Cheney’s Office Accused of Altering Senate Testimony on Climate Change

Former EPA official Jason Burnett has blown the whistle on Vice President Dick Cheney’s office –saying it was involved in removing portions of Senate Testimony about the health risks of climate change. Francesca Rheannon has the latest

The Senate may subpoena documents alleged to show White House censorship of EPA findings on the dangers of greenhouse gas pollution. Last year, the Supreme Court ruled, EPA must review the health risks of greenhouse gas emissions. As a result, a top EPA official sent emails to the White House warning about risks to human health and the environment.  The warnings were based on CDC findings on disease impacts of global warming. The White House refused to open the emails, according to EPA official Jason Burnett. He said, Instead of opening the message, White House officials asked him to send a follow-up note saying the document was sent in error. Burnett refused. Six pages of the CDC’s findings were censored by Vice President Dick Cheney’s office, as has been widely reported in the press this week.  The Senate committee’s subpoena would require a quorum, including two Republicans.  It could vote on the issue as early as next week.  For FSRN, I’m Francesca Rheannon at Corporate Watchdog Radio.

South Africa Workers Strike Over High Food and Energy Prices

A workers strike in South Africa has brought businesses in major cities to a standstill. The workers are calling on the South African government to intervene in escalating food and electricity prices.  The strike, which was organized by Congress of South African Trade Union (COSATU) and public transport workers, prevented thousands from getting to work.  Mpumi Magwaza reports:

The strike began in two provinces, Kwa-Zulu Natal and Western Cape, and will expand to other provinces in days to come.  It’s expected to become a national industrial action on the 6th of August. The Congress of South African Trade Unions has asked the government to freeze the price of basic foodstuff to help alleviate the plight of the poor and unemployed.  Thousands of workers marched through the streets of Durban carrying banners saying, “A day without food is like a day without life.”  Union President Sdumo Dlamini addressed the crowd.

Yes we do own the means of production; we do not sit in those high places where decisions are taken. But there is one thing that we know is that we have the power, which is our politic power. We will us our power to bring down the prices of electricity. We will use out power to talk sense to power that the prices of electricity as they have gone up has led into other escalation including food.

The strike comes at the time when world leaders are holding the G8 Summit in Japan where the issue of food prices is being addressed. For FSRN this is, Mpumi Magwaza, Durban.

Anti-War Groups Oppose Canadian Deportation of US War Resisters

There’s good news for US war resisters who have fled to Canada.  A Canadian federal court has delayed deportation of US soldier Cory Glass until the court can make a decision on his appeal for judicial review.  Glass had been ordered to leave Canada on July 10th.  In a connected series of protests, anti-war and veterans groups are holding vigils at Canadian Consulates in 14 cities across the US. They are demanding that the Canadian government stop the deportation of US soldiers who have applied for refugee status after refusing to serve in Iraq. Mark Taylor-Canfield has more from Seattle.

Today anti-war delegations from Courage to Resist, Veterans For Peace and Project Safe Haven will be meeting with Canadian diplomats to deliver letters and petitions demanding an immediate end to the deportations of US war resisters.  The groups organized nation-wide vigils at fourteen Canadian Consulates in the United States. Approximately 200 US soldiers are thought to have crossed the border into Canada. Many of them claim that the US war in Iraq violates international law. Gerry Condon, is Director for Project Safe Haven, a network of Vietnam War-era veterans who are supporting those who have fled to Canada seeking political refugee status. He says it’s a critical time for war resisters in Canada because one of the US soldiers, Corey Glass, has been ordered to leave the country by July 10th.

“It’s really important as we’re supporting the war resisters to realize that the war itself continues. I mean, this week GI’s getting blown up in Iraq, and this week GI’s are killing innocent civilians in Iraq. So the more soldiers that refuse to participate, the sooner this war will come to an end…”

Currently eight soldiers are facing deportation back to the US where they face military prosecution for failing to deploy to Iraq.  This is Mark Taylor-Canfield in Seattle for Free Speech Radio News.

Palestinian Protesters Clash with Israeli Troops Over Walls on West Bank

Four years ago today, the International Court of Justice at the Hague declared that the construction of an Israeli wall in the West Bank was illegal.  But today that wall is still under construction.  And hundreds of Palestinians protested in communities from Bethlehem to Ramallah marking the 4th anniversary.   Correspondent Ghassan Bonnoura reports from the West Bank.

After weeks of on-going protests in Na’lin village located near Ramallah, today the Israeli army reportedly attacked protesters, injuring seven.  While in Dier Al Ghsoun village near Tulkarem, protesters assembled at the gate of the wall that surrounds their village.  There the army showered the group with tear gas and at least ten suffered from gas inhalation. Organizer Salah Al Khawaja spoke about today’s campaign:

“We consider the court ruling of the Hague a national historical victory for the Palestinians, and only accomplished by the continued struggle on the ground, we protested today to tell the world that this ruling must be implemented at all levels.”

The protests were part of the activities organized by the Popular Committees Against the Wall and Settlements in the West Bank.  Protests are expected to continue through the end of next week.  For FSRN and IMEMC.org this is Ghassan Bannoura.

Iranian Missile Tests Elicit More Talk Justifying US Missile Defense System

And finally, White House rhetoric about the worldwide need for a U-S missile defense system rushed forth today in the wake of Iranian missile tests.  US Tracking systems detected seven missile launches.  Defense officials in the United States speculate the test is part of on going posturing between Israel and Iran over Iranian nuclear facilities.  Israel completed it’s own set of military exercises last month.



Mukasey Rejects Politics Influence Hiring at the Justice Department

Attorney General Michael Mukasey was on the defensive at a Senate hearing today, rejecting any notion of systematic partisan problems in the Justice Department. Politicization at the Department was a reoccurring topic at the hearing. Washington Editor Leigh Ann Caldwell has the story.

Senate Approves Surveillance Legislation

As expected, an updated surveillance law passed in the Senate today. What didn’t pass was an amendment to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) that would have stripped telecom immunity, by a vote of 32-to-66. Democratic Senator Chris Dodd was pushing to allow customers to sue the companies that allowed the federal government to monitor their communications without a warrant post 9/11. Another amendment which would have put telecom immunity on hold until the Inspector General concludes his investigation into the matter was also shot down, 42-to-52. The House has already passed the same bill. We spoke with Michelle Richardson, Legislative Council for the American Civil Liberties Union, about today’s vote in the Senate.

G8 Summit Wraps Up in Japan

The three-day summit of the Group of Eight most industrialized nations ended inconclusively today in the northern Japanese island of Hokkaido. From Sapporo, FSRN’s Puck Lo and Handle Kung have the story.

India’s Ruling Coalition Splits Over Nuclear Deal

Leftist Parties in India have withdrawn their support from the
coalition government – leaving the system in a near-state of collapse. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh announced that his government is determined to push ahead the controversial US-India nuclear deal, prompting an exodus of leftist coalition members. Bismillah Geelani has the details.

The Questionable Arrest of a Chilean Filmmaker

The arrest of a Chilean documentary filmmaker has sent chills down the spine of the regional human rights community. Elena Varela was arrested in May on charges of being the brains behind a gang of bank robbers – critics say her arrest illustrates the tense relationship between the Chilean government and the country’s indigenous population. FSRN’s Jorge Garretón is in Santiago with more.

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