September 25, 2009

  • Iran reveals another nuclear facility
  • Global leaders say G20 should steer world economy
  • Honduras presidential candidates facilitate Zelaya, Micheletti dialogue
  • Sri Lanka promises to resettle war refugees
  • State Department seeks new Burma policy
  • As Climate Week wraps up, activists call for emissions targets

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Protests continue on final day of G20
As the G20 Summit wraps up in Pittsburgh, thousands of demonstrators continue to voice their opposition to the economic policies promoted by the world’s leading countries.  From Pittsburgh, Carlin Christy reports for FSRN.

Following dozens of arrests and hours of confrontations between protesters and police yesterday, activists are once again in the streets protesting the G20.  Thousands joined the “People’s March to the G20” on Friday afternoon, addressing a wide spectrum of issues including the wars in Iraq & Afghanistan, Healthcare, and Tibetan and Palestinian independence.

Cory Fisher Hoffman traveled from Philadelphia to Pittsburgh as part of the “People’s Caravan.” She says the large-scale decisions of the G20 are replicated on a smaller scale across the US.

“Well we can see a clear relationship between the kinds of economic policies of neoliberalism, and structural adjustment, privatizing public services, cutting social services that are happening all over the world also happening here in the state of Pennsylvania”

As the summit wraps up, those who have come to Pittsburgh to protest the G20 are being urged to continue to fight for a more just economic and social system in their own communities.  Carlin Christy.  FSRN.  Pittsburgh.


Indigenous Alaskans ask Congress to clean up abandoned military bases
Today Alaska’s Indigenous Yupik people went before Congress to ask that abandoned US military bases near their St. Lawrence Island homes be cleaned up.  They claim contamination from the cold-war era bases and pollution from the lower-48 carried northward by the wind have damaged the their land, the ocean, and traditional food sources.

Island native Vi Waghiyi works with Alaska Community Action on Toxics.

“They dug pits and buried everything there and today the school, the playground, some of the houses and municipal buildings are on top of the waste site.”

Waghiyi says many families have been displaced because of the contamination.  The Yupik say Alaska has 700 abandoned military sites and two of the most contaminated are located on their island home.


Activists look to overturn Prop 8
Gay rights advocates in California are moving ahead with a ballot measure aimed at overturning Proposition 8.  The LA rights group Love Honor Cherish submitted a ballot proposal Thursday to change the constitution to make same-sex marriage legal.  Organizers estimate they will need to collect nearly 1 million signatures by April to get the measure on the ballot.


FBI arrest two more men who allegedly attempted to bomb buildings in TX and IL
The FBI has announced arrests in two alleged terrorism attempts.  Authorities say 29-year-old Michael Finton of Illinois attempted to blow up a Springfield federal building with what he thought as a van full of live explosives.  Acting US Attorney Jeffery Lang says authorities provided the fake explosives.

“Finton was on the verge of taking some kind of action.  So it was decided that the FBI and the Joint Terrorism Task Force and the other law enforcement agencies involved in this investigation provided him with an opportunity for action that we controlled.”

In a similar sting in Texas, the FBI arrested a Jordanian national who allegedly attempted to blow up a Dallas office building.


Five US soldiers killed in Afghanistan
In Southern Afghanistan, five US soldiers died Thursday in three separate attacks, the US military announced today.  The number of US deaths in Afghanistan this year has reached 218, already 40% more than all of 2008.  In other news, the Afghan Ministry of Defense is working on plans to impose obligatory military service on the country’s citizens.  US General Stanley McChrystal says the Afghan military needs to nearly triple in size to effectively combat Taliban militants.


Canadian man held on Security Certificate released
Major developments in the case of a Moroccan-Canadian man in Montreal who was a victim of the Canadian government’s controversial security certificates, which allow for the indefinite detention of national security suspects…  FSRN’s Aaron Lakoff has more.

Adil Charkaoui stepped out of Montreal federal court yesterday a happy and free man.  In a hearing on Thursday, a federal court judge struck down the security certificate against him.  It had been issued in 2003 based on loose allegations of his ties to Al Qaeda.  But in a letter to Charkaoui’s lawyer sent in August, the Canadian government admitted it had insufficient evidence to support these allegations.

Security Certificates allow the government to indefinitely detain national security suspects on secret evidence, a measure the Supreme Court of Canada ruled unconstitutional in 2006.  Critics call their use “Kafkaesque”.  Four men still remain under security certificates in Canada, all of them Arabs or Muslims.  Aaron Lakoff, FSRN, Montreal.


Court rules funeral protests are protected speech
And finally, a Virginia court has overturned a ruling against protesters from the Westboro Baptist Church in Kansas.  The church, led by Fred Phelps, was sued for protesting the funeral of a Marine killed in Iraq.  The church members say US deaths in Iraq are God’s punishment for tolerance of homosexuality.  The family of the soldier won the suit and a $5 million settlement.  But a Circuit Court ruled that the right to protest the funeral and hold signs with inflammatory statements is protected under the US Constitution.


Iran reveals another nuclear facility
President Obama’s efforts to reach out diplomatically to Iran have hit a rough patch. Obama condemned Iran’s secret nuclear site, which the nation revealed this week to the International Atomic Energy Agency. The Agency is still trying to determine what – if any – violations took place. FSRN´s Tanya Snyder reports.


Global leaders say G20 should steer world economy
Leaders of the world´s richest countries are seeking to make the G20 a key body for global economic policy making. G20 members are meeting in Pittsburgh where they drafted a communiqué that calls on the G20 to set common guidelines for banking regulations, subsidies on fossil fuels and government spending deficits, amongst others.

The G20 includes rich countries like the US, France, Germany and Japan but also emerging economies such as India, Brazil and South Africa.  UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown yesterday told Reuters that the G20 will become “The world’s main economic governing council.”

But many economists say the decisions that affect millions of people will continue to be made in the IMF and the World Trade Organization.  FSRN spoke to Mark Weisbrot, he´s the co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research.


Honduras presidential candidates facilitate Zelaya, Micheletti dialogue
In Honduras, four presidential candidates have met with both ousted president Manuel Zelaya and Interim President Roberto Micheletti.  The Micheletti government maintains a firm position that the restitution of Zelaya is not negotiable.  But Zelaya says a “dialogue” has begun.  FSRN´s Tim Russo has more from Honduras.


Sri Lanka promises to resettle war refugees
A UN human rights official arrived in Sri Lanka today, where some 300,000 civilians displaced by the war are currently detained.  Most of them belong to the Tamil ethnic minority.
Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapakse has promised the UN that his government will resettle these refugees within the next four months, following criticisms from the UN and human rights organizations about their treatment.  The government says it has to detain people until it is certain none of them have any connections to the Tamil rebels.  FSRN´s Ponniah Manikavasagam has the story.


State Department seeks new Burma policy
The Obama administration is in the final stages of reviewing its policy on Burma, also called Myanmar by the military junta in power. This week, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton indicated that the US might move away from sanctions, saying “imposing sanctions hasn’t influenced the Burmese junta.” She also said the US might pursue more direct engagement. State Department spokesperson Ian Kelly clarified the contradictory positions in a briefing to reporters:

“The end goal for our policy has not changed. Our goal is credible democratic reform in Burma. We want a government that responds to the needs of its people; a government that frees political prisoners unconditionally, including Aung San Suu Kyi; and the start of a dialogue, of a constructive dialogue, with the political opposition there.

Now, as far as sanctions are concerned, what the Secretary said last night, is that we believe that sanctions have a place in our policy. But sanctions or isolation, in and of themselves, produced the kind of result that we’ve been looking for. And she said that we believe this dichotomy – this sanctions versus engagement – is a false dichotomy, that we shouldn’t have to choose between one or the other.

And so what we want to do is employ both of those tools, both pressure and engagement. And I think that, as I said before, what we want is what the international community wants and that’s genuine democratic reform in Burma.”

Pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi and Burma’s government in exile, the National Coalition Government of the Union of Burma, welcomed US plans to engage with the military rulers.


As Climate Week wraps up, activists call for emissions targets
Environmental activists staged several protests, forums and educational activities in New York this week as world leaders met to discuss climate change at the UN and the G20 meetings in Pittsburgh.
And as Climate Week wraps up, pressure is building on government officials around the world to take specific actions against climate change before crucial talks in Copenhagen in December.  As FSRN´s Jenny Johnson reports, activists fear key governments may be unwilling to commit to a strong plan to reduce greenhouse gases.

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