June 16, 2009

  • Iran clamps on press freedoms as election protests continue
  • IMF obligations get in the way of US war spending bill
  • Government assesses impact of climate change in the US
  • Congress reviews insurance companies´ commercial practices
  • Rape ignites protests and violence in Indian administered Kashmir

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New York judge won’t intervene in state Senate power struggle
A New York State Supreme Court judge said today he won’t settle the state Senate’s power dispute. Justice Thomas McNamara says lawmakers should settle the matter themselves. NY Gov. David Paterson says he’ll take the gavel and run the chamber himself to move important legislation through. Last week, two dissident Democrat’s defected and gave the state’s Republican’s a majority.

Advocacy Group says sexual orientation biased murders up 28 percent in 2008

The National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs said today that murders with a motive based on sexual orientation bias were up 28 percent in 2008 over the previous year. In its annual report, the national advocacy group said overall bias based violence was up 2 percent.

Peru’s PM agrees to propose measure to repeal laws that sparked deadly clashes
Eleven days after demonstrations by Amazonian indigenous people turned violent — leaving at least 34 protesters and police dead –Peru’s prime minister has signed a pact with tribal leaders. Pamela Cueva reports.

Prime Minister Yehude Simons has announced that the government will send a bill to the national congress by Thursday that would revoke the laws that ignited the confrontation.  The 1090 and 1064 decrees would open   more than 50% of the Amazonian forest to mining, oil and gas exploration; they were passed as part of an effort to establish a free trade agreement with the United States. Simons apologized to the Amazonian delegates for the deaths, and acknowledged that the government did not repeal the decrees when they had originally promised to do so. Finally, he announced that he will resign his position after the negotiations are finished.

Prime Minister Yehude Simons:  “We will come to the table tomorrow, meaning that we will accept the requests the indigenous people considered to be pressing matters. They suggest overturning legislative decrees 1090 and 1064, which we, as the commission have accepted because its represents the voice of the majority.”  For FSRN, I’m Pamela Cueva with Alfredo Cuadros, Lima.

UN observers pack up to leave Abkhazia after Russia vetoes extending mission
UN observers are pulling are pulling out of the breakaway republic of Abkhazia today after Russia  vetoed an extension of their mission during a vote at the UN security council. Jacob Resneck reports.

The 16-year-old observer mission has been overseeing a ceasefire between Georgia and the rebel region which fought a war for independence in the early nineties. Russia and Nicaragua recognized Abkhazia’s independence following last Augusts’ war between Georgia and Russia. Speaking on the eve of the UN vote, Abkhazian Foreign Minister Sergei Shamba said the UN must recognize that Abkhazia is no longer part of Georgia. The UN mission head told reporters he fears for the future of the 60,000 ethnic Georgians living in Abkhazia now that observers are leaving but Foreign Minister Shamba says peace is still possible.  

“Of course in the future we will have to negotiate in order to live peacefully together within this territory. This conflict that took place here was the result of Georgia’s desire to control our territory.”

The fate of the UN mission is similar to observers from the OSCE that have been monitoring the border between Georgia and the breakaway republic of South Ossetia. Russia also vetoed extending OSCE monitors along the frontier between Georgia and South Ossetia. The OSCE has until the end of the month to withdraw. Jacob Resneck, FSRN, Abkhazia.

Mexican Human Rights Commission: Ten thousand migrants kidnapped in six months

Nearly 10,000 Central American migrants have been kidnapped in the past 6 months while crossing through Mexico on their way to the United States. Shannon Young has more.

A survey conducted by Mexico’s National Human Rights Commission found an average of 50 migrants a day were kidnapped from September 2008 to February 2009. The main perpetrator is organized crime, but the commission also documented widespread police participation. Central American migrants in Mexico are particularly vulnerable to attack because many follow predetermined routes, sleep in the open in isolated areas, and purposely avoid contact with Mexican authorities.  Kidnappers force captured migrants to call relatives to pay their ransoms via wire transfer. Victims whose ransoms are not paid quickly frequently suffer physical and sexual abuse. With the average ransom at $2500, Mexico’s Human Rights Commission estimates migrant kidnappers made at least 25 million dollars in 6 months…but those figures come from just the documented cases. Shannon Young, FSRN, Oaxaca.

After losing half of its parliamentary seats in the recent national elections, the Marxist Communist Party of India is now faces a new challenge in West Bengal, a state it has ruled for more than 2 decades. Maoist militants backed by thousands of villagers took over Lalgarh area of the state on Monday setting fire to several police stations and political offices. Most of the Communist party members have fled the area and the Maoists are now demolishing their houses. The rebels say the attacks are spontaneous public reaction to police atrocities.

India: Maoists seize control in West Bengal and tribal violence escalates in Assam
And in India’s north eastern state of Assam today, tribal militants killed at least 12 people. Bismillah Geelani has the details.

The incident occurred in the North Cachar Hills District of Assam where a group of heavily armed militants belonging to the Dima Halam Daogah group attacked a minority Naga Tribe. Authorities say the militants first torched their huts and then opened indiscriminate fire on the fleeing villagers killing 12 on the spot. Among the dead are 8 children and 2 women. The Dima Halam Daogah group, also known as the Black Widow Group has been fighting since 1995 for a separate homeland for Assam’s Dimasa Tribe. The police say the group has killed more than 50 people in the area in the past three months.  Bismillah Geelani, Free Speech Radio News, New Delhi.



Iran clamps on press freedoms as election protests continue
As protests continue over Iran´s disputed presidential election results, Iranian authorities are clamping down on freedom of expression. Dozens of people have been arrested and clashes between supporters of President Mahmoud Ahamdinejad and opposition leader Mir Hossein Mossavi have left at least seven people dead.

The powerful Guardian Council approved a partial recount of the votes on Tuesday, as opposition leaders blame President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of winning rigged elections.

Meanwhile, local authorities have canceled accreditation for foreign journalists covering the protests, limiting reporters to working from their offices.  Mohammad Abdel Dayem is the Middle East director for the Committee to Project Journalists, he spoke with FSRN Anchor Manuel Rueda about the constraints on freedom of expression.

IMF obligations get in the way of US war spending bill

The US Congress is preparing to vote for a 100 billion dollar war spending bill for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. While some liberal members refuse to vote for another war funding bill, it’s funding for the International Monetary Fund that is proving to be problematic for the bill’s passage. FSRN’s Leigh Ann Caldwell reports.

Government assesses impact of climate change in the US
The Obama Administration has released a sweeping new assessment of the impacts of climate change in the United States. From Pacifica station KPFA, Brian Edwards-Tiekert reports.

Congress reviews insurance companies´ commercial practices
Today the House Subcommittee on Government Oversight and Investigations held a hearing on health insurance rescission, the practice of insurance companies retroactively canceling individual health care policies.  FSRN´s Karen Miller has more.

Rape ignites protests and violence in Indian administered Kashmir
In Indian administered Kashmir, protests continue as well as battles between police and civilians. The rape and murder of two Kashmiri women continues to bring people out on the streets and the government has responded with bullets, and undeclared curfews.  Civilians are reporting excessive use of force. From Srinagar, Shahnawaz Khan reports.

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