December 9, 2009

  • At climate conference, leaked proposal leads to calls for stronger action
  • Developing countries offer alternative plans for climate change
  • Report on mosque attack sparks outrage in India
  • Health care debate moves forward in Senate without public option
  • Largest US settlement awarded for Native Americans

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MA poised to elect its first female Senator
The results from Massachusetts primary races to take Ted Kennedy’s seat in the US Senate are in:  State Attorney General Martha Coakley won the democratic nomination and could become the first female Senator from the state.

“They said that women don’t have much luck in Massachusetts politics.  And we believed that that luck was about to change – and change it did tonight!”

State Senator Scott Brown won the Republican nomination, but is not expected to contend in the Democratic-leaning state.  The special election is scheduled for January 19th.


ACLU loses $20 million donor
The American Civil Liberties Union has lost one of its major funders and consequently could see a 25% drop in its national operations budget next year.  The New York Times identifies the long-time donor as former hedge-fund manager David Gelbaum, who was expected to donate $20 million.


Additional blasts in Baghdad kill 7 civilians
Another series of bombing in Iraq today after suicide attacks yesterday killed more than 125 people.  Today’s three explosions – one bomb hidden in a trash can, and two others in small buses – killed 7 civilians.  Prime Minister Nouri al-Malaki addressed the Iraqi people today, urging calm.  The government will go into special session tomorrow to discuss the situation.


Report: average Israeli settlement construction in West Bank higher than rest of country
That’s the sound of foundation work on Israeli settlements in the West Bank from earlier this summer.  After a 10-month settlement freeze agreed to by the Israeli government, this kind of start-up work has ceased, but thousands of settlement structures in the West Bank are still under active construction.  In fact, a new report released today by the Israeli group Peace Now says that there are currently more settlements being constructed per resident in the West Bank than in Israel itself.  The group found that nearly 12 West Bank settlements are under construction for every 1000 Israeli residents.  In the rest of Israel, that number is approximately 8 per 1000 people.  Israeli settlers are protesting the government’s construction curbs in Jerusalem today.


New travel restrictions in Gaza further hamper movement across borders
Meanwhile in the Gaza strip, Hamas authorities issued new orders restricting travel for residents.  These restrictions expand upon Israeli-imposed travel limits that have accompanied their blockade of the region since June 2007.  FSRN’s Rami Almeghari has the story.

The new Hamas rules require travelers to apply for permission three days in advance to cross border terminals controlled by Israel and Egypt.

At the Palestinian side of the Israeli Eritz checkpoint, Hamas custom personnel began to turn down travelers who don’t have the correct paperwork.  The sick in Gaza often use this checkpoint to access medical treatment in Israeli or West Bank hospitals.  According to human rights groups in Gaza, the latest Hamas measure will further hamper movement of these patients.

Samir Zaqout is a spokesman for the Almizan Center for Human Rights in Gaza.
“It is illogical to turn a medical patient down simply because they don’t have permission from the Interior Ministry to cross the border.   The measure constitutes a flagrant, clear and unjustified violation of Palestinian law.   It also violates human rights conventions.”

But Hamas says the new requirements will provide more organization and will ultimately facilitate the movement of travelers.  Rami Almeghari.  Free Speech Radio News, Gaza.

Climate hunger strikers in Australia continue vigil
On November 6, activists all over the world began a hunger strike leading up to the UN Climate Meeting in Copenhagen.  The organizers behind the Climate Justice Fast hail from Australia.  They launched the worldwide movement in response to what they call watered-down climate legislation published by the Australian government.

Now more than 30 days later, the country’s Senate has defeated even that legislation.  And the core group in the Australian capital Canberra is still on strike.  Paul Connor is one of them.

“I’m pretty much out of energy.  It’s very hard to walk around.  We just came home before and the stairs were quite difficult.”

One of the protesters, 61-year old Michael Morphett was hospitalized Tuesday after losing nearly a quarter of his body weight.  Morphett is eating again after doctors warned him he could die from the effects of the strike.

Looking to Copenhagen, Connor says without a commitment to 350 PPM for atmospheric CO2 and sufficient financial support for the developing world, there won’t be a solution to climate change – and there won’t be justice.

“Unless we can get an adequate global deal, I think I’d probably agree that no deal is better than a weak deal.  If you have a policy that’s not dealing scientifically with the problem, then why have a policy?  It just tells people the wrong message.”

The activists have committed to the hunger strike through the end of the climate conference.




At climate conference, leaked proposal leads to calls for stronger action
In Copenhagen today, the fall-out continues after a leaked climate proposal from the Danish government emerged late Tuesday. The lead negotiator for the G77 plus China — a group of developing countries — called it a coup by rich nations  that will produce an overly weak treaty. Critics say such a plan would not protect Africa, where climate change impacts could be the most devastating. But the text appears to be giving life to a serious push for stronger emissions reductions. From Copenhagen, FSRN’S Jenny Johnson reports.


Developing countries offer alternative plans for climate change
And now to get a closer look at some of the alternatives that are being proposed at the climate conference we speak with Brian Edwards-Tiekert, Environment Reporter for KPFA. He is in Copenhagen right now.


Report on mosque attack sparks outrage in India
Seventeen years ago this week, a Hindu mob destroyed the ancient Muslim mosque Babri Masjid, located in the India state of Uttar Pradesh. The demolition led to some of the worst ever communal riots and claimed thousands of lives across India. A long-awaited report on the mosque riots was recently released and is causing a political firestorm in parliament. Bismillah Geelani has the story.


Health care debate moves forward in Senate without public option
In Washington, DC Democratic senators announced they had reached a new agreement on healthcare reform. But to reach that agreement, lawmakers took out the public option. Senators also voted down new restrictions on abortion. Despite the progress, the path to sixty votes remains unclear. FSRN’S Tanya Snyder reports.


Largest US settlement awarded for Native Americans
The US government has reached an agreement on the largest settlement involving Native Americans in the history of the United States.  The Department of the Interior will pay 3.4 billion dollars to settle claims that they mismanaged American Indian trust funds dating back to 1887.  Advocates for the settlement say it marks an important step, but that there is much more to be done.  FSRN’s Matt Pearson reports.

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