December 8, 2009
- Officials make case for troop surge in Afghanistan, but lawmakers remain skeptical
- Pressure grows on US at Copenhagen climate conference
- Miners and conservationists face off in West Virginia over mountain top removal
- Philippine president declares martial law after political killings
Five bomb blasts in Baghdad kill more than 112
Baghdad was rocked this morning by a series of what appears to be coordinated attacks – five separate bombs exploded within a half an hour. At least 112 people died – another four hundred are injured. No one has yet claimed responsibility. Just a few hours after the attacks, Iraq’s presidential council announced a final date for national elections – March 6th. Scheduling the election ends the political turmoil that threatened a US timeline to end combat operations next August and be fully out by 2012.
Aghans protest US troops – overnight raid kills 14
Hundreds of Afghans demonstrated against American troops in the eastern province of Laghman today – they say American troops killed 14 civilians in a raid last night – officials say all the victims were militants. FSRN’s Mujahid Jawad has more from Kabul.
Demonstrators claimed that US forces killed 14 local people including women and children and arrested four others during an overnight operation in the Armal village near the capital of the province. The protestors carried the bodies of the dead civilians as they tried to enter the Laghman governor’s house. Security officials opened fire — — one of the demonstrators was killed and two others injured. Rahimullah Samander, the head of the Free Journalists Union said that one Afghan journalist was also killed and six others injured in the incident. Saed Ahmad Sapi, the spokesperson for the Laghman governor, said the operation was conducted by American Special Forces but was not coordinated with local officials. In Kabul, the press office of the International troops said Afghan and international security forces killed several enemy militants and detained a handful of others in the province. Mujahid Jawad, FSRN, Kabul.
Ohio executes man with new method of lethal injection
Officials in Ohio executed Kenneth Biros today – he became the first in the nation to be killed with a single dose of intravenous anesthetic. Biros was convicted of the 1991 rape, murder and dismemberment of twenty-two year old Tami Engstrom. The Supreme Court denied a last minute appeal this morning. Attorney’s argued that the new and unproven method of execution could be painful and therefore unconstitutional. Death penalty opponents say that the three drug method can cause severe pain if the first drug doesn’t result in complete unconsciousness. All 35 of the other US states that allow execution use the 3-drug lethal injection.
Massachusetts voters go to polls to fill late Senator Ted Kennedy’s seat
Voters in Massachusetts head to the polls today for a special primary between hopefuls vying to fill the seat left vacant by the late Senator Edward Kennedy. Chuck Rosina has more from Boston.
The winner of today’s election will go on to face a Republican challenger on Jan. 19, but it is seriously doubtful that a Republican will take the seat held by Senator Kennedy for over 4 decades. Hence, the winner of today’s primary will be all but officially the next Senator from Massachusetts. There are 4 Democratic candidates on the ticket. Attorney General Martha Coakley and US Representative Michael Capuano are running neck and neck in the polls, with City Year Cofounder Alan Khazei, a close third, and Celtics co-owner Stephen Pagliuca trailing. But of course the only poll that really matters is the voters. Attorney General Martha Coakley has union support and would add another female voice to the Senate, while Rep. Mike Capuano is supported by many grassroots and progressive organizations. He is one of the few Congressmen who voted against the Patriot Act, and he did not support the invasion of Iraq. City Year Co-founder Alan Khazei has the support of the Boston Globe. The polls are open until 8pm this evening. For FSRN, I’m Chuck Rosina in Boston.
President Obama says US must spend its way out of recession
In a major speech on the US economy and jobs today, President Obama criticized Republicans for opposing economic stimulus and healthcare reform all the while supporting tax cuts and spending. Obama said that paying down the deficit and investing in growth are not mutually exclusive goals. Saying that country must continue to spend its way out of recession – he focused on the fiscal health of small businesses:
“…we’re proposing a complete elimination of capital gains taxes on small business investment along with an extension of write-offs to encourage small businesses to expand in the coming year. And I believe it’s worthwhile to create a tax incentive to encourage small businesses to add and keep employees, and I’m going to work with Congress to pass one. Now, these steps will help, but we also have to address the continuing struggle of small businesses to get loans that they need to start up and grow. To that end, we’re proposing to waive fees and increase the guarantees for SBA-backed loans. And I’m asking my Treasury Secretary to continue mobilizing the remaining TARP funds to facilitate lending to small businesses.”
Obama also called for a boost in infrastructure spending in transportation and communication sectors, as well as clean energy and once again pledged to cut the deficit in half by the time his term in office expires.
Officials make case for troop surge in Afghanistan, but lawmakers remain skeptical
On Capitol Hill today, General Stanley McChrystal, the chief architect for the expanded war in Afghanistan gave more details of his plan to members of Congress. Sitting along side him was Ambassador to Afghanistan, Karl Eikenberry, the diplomat wary of a troop increase. Both said ‘success’ was possible but not imminent. They testified as Defense Secretary Robert Gates was in Afghanistan. FSRN’s Leigh Ann Caldwell reports.
Pressure grows on US at Copenhagen climate conference
And now we go to Copenhagen where late today, a leaked document authored by the Danish government has infuriated some participants, sparking immediate protests.
After news of the Danish document spread, a group of mainly African activists paraded through the main conference hall to protest the status of the talks. The document names the objective of limiting warming to two degrees Celsius, but does not include actual emissions reductions targets. The thirteen-page document lays out what countries should do about mitigation, adaptation and funding, in language that is clearly not binding.
The protesters today said the target of two degrees Celsius is not strong enough to protect Africa. Climate change is predicted to hit the continent hardest, potentially making large areas uninhabitable.
“If they don’t deliver a fair deal, and that is a legally-binding deal, under the pillars of what we have been negotiating then we want to add the African group, the G-77, and even the heads of states and the ministers who will be coming, that it is dangerous, they should not sign a genocide paper for us.”
That’s Joseph Mithika Mwenda, who coordinates the Pan-African Climate Justice Alliance. The group demanded a strong, binding conclusion to the talks, and wants to see a shift in the overall tenor of the negotiations.
Before the conference began, participants toned down expectations and a political agreement rather than a binding legal agreement became the goal of the conference.
Participants at the Copenhagen climate negotiation are also watching the United States closely. Many negotiators are pressuring the US to offer a stronger target for reducing greenhouse gas emissions in the coming decades. And activists say President Obama should use his legal authority to significantly reduce greenhouse gases and sign a binding treaty at this conference – rather than waiting for Congress to pass legislation. From Copenhagen, Jenny Johnson reports.
Miners and conservationists face off in West Virginia over mountain top removal
Just weeks after blasting began on West Virginia’s Coal River Mountain, the Federal EPA halted what would have been the state’s largest Mountain Top Removal mine project on a nearby peak. Seventy-nine other Mountain Top Removal permits are being held up pending further environmental studies. Surface miners and Appalachian conservationists – many of them miners or miners families are facing off in the legislature and in the streets. Evan Davis filed this report from Charleston.
Philippine president declares martial law after political killings
In the wake of the worst political killings in recent memory, Philippine President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo declared martial law in the country’s troubled southern region last weekend. Fifty-seven people were killed in a November 23rd attack, many of them journalists and women. A powerful political family in the region has been charged with multiple counts of murder. The killings have brought renewed attention to the Arroyo administration, which a 2007 UN report on extrajudicial killings said was responsible for a “culture of impunity.”
The declaration of martial law and Arroyo’s possible ties to the political family accused of the murders have drawn criticism. Today, the Philippine Supreme Court ordered President Arroyo to respond to questions of the constitutionality of martial law. Congress will convene a joint session tomorrow to consider the issue.
Meanwhile, a coalition of independent media recently released a report with new details of the killings.
We’re joined by Ed Lingao. He’s a reporter with the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism in Manila. He was part of the fact-finding mission that produced the report and he visited the site of the massacre during the last week of November.