November 14, 2008

  • Treasury Official Grilled on Bailout
  • Obama and Corporate Power
  • Prop 8 Day of Action Preview
  • Germany’s Federal Police Gets Increased Surveillance Power
  • Pakistani Earthquake Survivors Left Out in the Cold
  • Commentary bu Mumia Abu-Jamal

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Wildfires Destroy Homes Near Santa Barbara
A large wildfire is burning in Santa Barbara today.  The blaze started late yesterday afternoon and by this morning, more than 100 homes had burned.  Thousands of people have been evacuated from wealthy neighborhoods near the coast.  The wind-driven fire spread quickly last night, but the weather has cooperated today.  Fire officials say because other fires are not currently burning in the region, fire-fighting resources have been widely available.

Hillary Clinton Considered for Obama’s Secretary of State

After meeting with President-Elect Barack Obama last night Hillary Clinton is now considered one of the top possibilities for the Secretary of State position.  On the campaign trail, Obama criticized Clinton’s claims of foreign policy experience, but apparently the concern is not too great.  In a press briefing today, Clinton would not comment on the meeting.

Al-Sadr Levels New Threat Against US in Iraq

If the United States gets its way, the Status of Forces Agreement currently being negotiated with Iraq would allow the construction of US military bases throughout the country and would allow US troops to stay another 3 years.  Many see this as a threat to Iraqi sovereignty – including the insurgent Sadr Movement.  Today it announced the formation of a new brigade that would resist US forces if the agreement is passed.  Hiba Dawood has more.

During Friday prayers today in the city of Kufa, Sadr Movement spokesman Salah al-Rubaie, the read a statement on behalf of movement leader Muqtada Al-Sadr.  It announced the establishment of the Promised Day Brigade – A mostly Sadrists militia to attack the US forces.  The statement read, “The occupation forces must leave our land without permanent bases or agreements.”  It went on to say, “If our calls are ignored, I am going to assist the honorable resistance and ask them to point their guns at the occupation forces.”  Al Sadr warned the Iraqi government not to interfere in the quest for independence and sovereignty.  When Sadr forces rose against the US in 2004, hundreds of civilians died.  For Free Speech Radio News, this is Hiba Dawood.

Food and Power Shortages Hit Gaza
The Humanitarian situation in Gaza is reaching a critical point.  Because of Israeli blockades of fuel supplies, the region has experienced several days of blackouts.  And a UN humanitarian aid group in Gaza says it will run out of food by the weekend if the blockade is not lifted.  That food is a lifeline for nearly 750-thousand Palestinians.  Israel halted passage of goods though security checkpoints earlier this week in response to renewed rocket fire from within Gaza.  Today Israel carried out air strikes against targets inside Gaza’s borders.

Largest Dam Removal in History Could be in Works
Warren Buffet’s Klamath river dams, located near the border of Oregon and California may come tumbling down by 2020.   The federal government, the two states and Buffet-owned utility PacifiCorp signed an Agreement in Principle (AIP), which lays the path toward removal of 4 dams on the River.  Terri Klemetson files this report from community station KMUD in Northern California.

The Klamath dams have been a contentious issue for years.  Water management along the river has been partly  blamed for the collapse of the west coast salmon fishery.  Water and dam issues on the river have affected fishermen, farmers and surrounding Native American Tribes.  Leaf Hillman IS THE vice chairman of the Karuk Tribe.  HE says they’ve been dealing with toxic algae blooms and the decimated salmon habitat along the Klamath – he believes dam removal is the only option.
“It’s a historic day and the agreement is a historic agreement and it certainly is a substantial milestone in the very, very long process, that folks have been working on, you know for years.”  But John DeVoe of Water Watch of Orgeon says the devil is in the details concerning the Agreement in Principal.
“The AIP is defective in that it states by its terms that it is an indivisible part of the Klamath Basin Restoration Agreement.  I mean obviously there’s some big flaws in that agreement that have not been addressed including guarantees of water for agribusiness in the Klamath Basin no guarantees for water for fish in the Klamath River.”
As part of the Agreement In Principal, negotiators have committed to another immediate string of talks, working toward a final dam resolution agreement, scheduled to conclude by June 2009.  If the agreement proceeds as planned, the dam removal project will be the largest in US history.  I’m Terri Klemetson reporting from Redway, CA.

Important Brazilian National Park Burns
An important national park in Northeastern Brazil has been burning for over two months. FSRN’s Natalia Viana has the story:

Fire has been consuming the National park of Chapada Diamantina, in the state of Bahia since August. About 20 towns are under emergency alert. Brazil’s environmental agency says 50 percent of the national park’s 1,500 square kilometers have burned down, a territory the size of New York City.  Even though fires are common during the dry season, this is the worst ecological disaster to hit the region in 20 years. About 400 firefighters and volunteers are working relentlessly to battle the blaze. Four airplanes of the Brazilian Air force are spreading water and chemicals to contain fires in remote areas. Authorities say illegal fires started by ranchers clearing land for pasture or by miners are the likely causes of the wildfire. The Chapada Diamantina park is one of the main destinations for eco-tourism in Brazil. Its canyons, waterfalls, valleys and caves are home to a biodiversity that includes cerrado, or tropical savanna, and rainforest vegetation.  Environmentalists say because of the fire, many unique species are under threat of extinction. For FSRN I’m Natalia Viana in São Paulo, Brazil.



Treasury Official Grilled on Bailout
Lawmakers grilled Treasury official Neel Kashkari on Capital Hill today, about mismanagement of the federal bailout. A bipartisan house oversight committee accused Kashkari and the Treasury of a “bait and switch” tactic that favors corporations over struggling homeowners. We hear from Ohio Congressmen Dennis Kucinich and Darrell Issa.

Obama and Corporate Power
President-elect Obama ran his campaign on the need for change from an administration entrenched in the Washington machine – but critics say he may be looking out for big business. FSRN’s Karen Miller has more.

Prop 8 Day of Action Preview
Hundreds of thousands of people are expected to take to the streets around the world tomorrow, demonstrating against the passage of Prop 8, the so-called Gay Marriage Ban in California. The massive event is being organized by, an online platform which calls the gay and lesbian community and their allies into action. The site now features details for protests in all 50 states and the District of Colombia – demonstrations in countries around the world are now being added as well. We speak with Amy Balliett, co-founder of Join the Impact.

Germany’s Federal Police Gets Increased Surveillance Power

Germany’s lower House of Parliament passed a controversial law this week that gives Germany’s Federal Police increased power to tap phones, perform data-mining searches, and install spy ware on computers. The unprecedented level of surveillance is being promoted by Germany’s Interior Ministry as necessary to fight terrorism, but as Cinnamon Nippard reports from Berlin, civil liberties groups say it’s an infringement on constitutional rights.

Pakistani Earthquake Survivors Left Out in the Cold
Survivors of a deadly earthquake that struck western Pakistan two weeks ago urgently need winterized tents, blankets and warm clothing as winter approaches. The quake in Baluchistan province on the 29th of October left more than 300 people dead and 70,000 others homeless. As Afriday Afridi reports, two weeks after the disaster, many survivors are left with no choice but to sleep out in open air or in simple tents.

Commentary by Mumia Abu-Jamal

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