February 16, 2010

  • Obama unveils billions in loan guarantees to build nuclear power plant
  • Federal stimulus money slow to help women, people of color
  • Ocean activist taken into custody after boarding Japanese whaling ship
  • Indigenous groups push for rights and preservation of culture in El Salvador
  • At Olympics, groups draw attention to housing issues, civil liberties violations

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More civilians die in Marjah, top Taliban commander reportedly arrested
At least three more civilians have been killed during the military operations in Marjah. Two were shot by troops who claim the victims did not heed warnings to stop as they approached NATO forces – the third was mistaken for a militant. Also today, NATO put the High Mobility Artillery Rocket System back online – its use was suspended yesterday after a missile fired from the system killed 12 civilians – 6 of them were children. The manufacturer of the weapon – Lockheed Martin — said that the system has “precision reliability.”  Local officials say the number of civilians killed may be higher than official reports because people are being killed by landmines placed by the Taliban as they flee. And White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs declined to confirm widespread reports today that Taliban’s second in command – Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar – was arrested in Karachi by a joint US – Pakistan operation earlier this month. Baradar is said to be the top military commander for the Taliban, and the most senior member arrested since the 2001 onset of the Afghan War.


Police fire on anti-mining protesters in Argentina 
Hundreds of anti-mining activists are protesting today in northern Argentina following a police crackdown on demonstrators. FSRN’s Marie Trigona reports from Buenos Aires.

More than 60 people were injured last night when police escorted excavating equipment through a protest blockade to the controversial open pit mine site in the province of Catamarca. Police fired tear gas and rubber bullets at protesters – women and children were among the injured. Twelve demonstrators were arrested. Activists from the Citizen’s Assembly of Andalgalá have been protesting the mine for two months. The mine is owned by Agua Rica, a subsidiary of Yamana Gold Inc., a Canadian-based gold producer who plans to begin mining operations in the town of Andalgalá in 2012. The citizen’s assembly says that one long time activist, 50 year old Aldo Flores, has been missing since yesterday. Flores has been the target of death threats and police harassment in the days leading up to the crackdown. Minerals are Argentina’s largest export, valued at nearly 80 billion dollars over the past decade. Community groups throughout Argentina have tried shut down open pit mining sites, which national legislation permits. Marie Trigona, FSRN, Buenos Aires.


Department of Justice says no civil rights charges for cops who killed Sean Bell
The Department of Justice says that they will not bring federal charges against the New York City police officers who killed Sean Bell. Undercover officers fired fifty shots at Bells car – he died on his wedding day. In 2008, the four officers charged in Bell’s murder were acquitted of manslaughter.


Lobbyists for banking industry shell out $ 30 mil to influence reform
The banking industry amped up its lobbying efforts last year – eight firms alone spent almost 30 million dollars on influence – most of it in the last quarter of the year, according to the LA Times. That’s an increase of better than 10 percent than the previous year. The top three spenders in 2009 were JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo, and Morgan Stanley.  The banking industry is opposed to parts of the White House proposal for financial services regulations – especially the creation of a consumer protection agency.


Maoist rebels attack police camp, dozens dead
Maoist rebels attacked a police camp in the Indian state of West Bengal — 25 people are dead and several others wounded. Bismillah Geelani has more.

The attacks happened last evening in Silda area of the eastern state of West Bengal. Police say soldiers were busy preparing meals when dozens of Maoist rebels entered the camp and opened indiscriminate fire killing 24 on the spot. Later, the rebels reportedly   set fire to the camp and walked away with a huge cache of arms and ammunition. The Maoists have owned the responsibility for the attack. A spokesperson for the guerrillas told a local news agency that the attack response to the ongoing military operation against them. The government has recently launched a massive military offensive called the “Operation Green Hunt” to flush out Maoist rebels who are now active in most Indian states. Bismillah Geelani, Free Speech Radio News.


Burma sentences four activists to hard labor for “disturbing peace”
Four Burmese activists were sentenced to prison and hard labor yesterday – they were charged with disturbing the peace. The four women were arrested after they provided religious literature to a Buddhist monastery and held regular prayer sessions for the release of opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi.   The sentences were handed down as a UN envoy for human rights – Tomas Quitano – arrived in Rangoon. And Human Rights Watch released a report today warning that the military-led regime may well increase repression of ethnic minority activists as elections approach.



Obama unveils billions in loan guarantees to build nuclear power plant
Today President Obama announced $8 billion in loan guarantees to help build a nuclear plant in Georgia. It would be the first nuclear plant built in the US in over 30 years. The president says a renewed focus on nuclear plants will help build the economy, but critics charge it could put both the industry and taxpayers at risk.  FSRN’s Karen Miller has more.


Federal stimulus money slow to help women, people of color
Tomorrow marks one year since the passage of the $787 billion dollar stimulus. About one third of that money has been spent on direct assistance to states and individuals and on tax cuts. As FSRN’s Leigh Ann Caldwell reports, some analysts say women and people of color have not seen the benefits of the stimulus.


Ocean activist taken into custody after boarding Japanese whaling ship
This week a member of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, a group that uses direct action to end what it considers illegal fishing in the ocean, was taken into custody after he boarded a Japanese whaling vessel. The incident involving captain Peter Bethune has drawn attention to whaling practices and is part of an escalation of actions between Japan’s whaling fleet and the activists. The Japanese government considers the actions of the group illegal.

FSRN spoke to Captain Paul Watson of the Sea Shepherd’s ship, Steve Irwin. He spoke to FSRN by satellite phone from the ship about 500 miles from the coast of Antarctica. He began by describing what happened when Peter Bethune boarded the Japanese vessel.


Indigenous groups push for rights and preservation of culture in El Salvador
In western El Salvador, the Izalco indigenous community is calling for constitutional reforms to protect land rights and to preserve its culture. When President Mauricio Funes was elected with the left-leaning FMLN party last year, he ended years of conservative rule in the country and ushered in hopes of a more progressive agenda. But the government has been slow to take action on this issue. FSRN’S Ricardo Martinez reports.


At Olympics, groups draw attention to housing issues, civil liberties violations
In Vancouver, protesters continue to raise awareness about the impact of the Olympic games on the city. On the Downtown Eastside, housing advocates erected an ‘Olympic tent city’ to raise awareness about affordable housing and homelessness. Activists also want to draw attention to significant civil liberties issues behind the winter games. Members of the Olympic Resistance Network point to a number of new laws enacted just for the Olympics that violate civil liberties. FSRN’s Adam Vaughn reports.

Click here for the first story in Adam Vaughn’s series on the Olympics.

And to hear Adam Vaughn’s third installment on homelessness and gentrification go to the KBCS website: