May 14, 2010

  • Karzai ends US visit as Senate moves war funding plan forward
  • Spanish judge who pursued international crimes is suspended from bench
  • Immigrant workers in Mississippi face uncertain future after Gulf of Mexico oil disaster
  • Activists push for complete ban on nuclear energy at UN conference
  • Western Colorado town faces gas drilling close to site of nuclear detonation

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Seven dead in Bangkok protest clashes
Clashes today between Red Shirt protesters and authorities in Thailand left 7 people dead and more than 100 injured.  FSRN’s Ron Corbin has the latest from Bangkok.

The security forces clashed with anti-government protesters as the Thai government moved to isolate a 2-month old demonstration in downtown Bangkok after an earilier reconciliation plan fell through.  Soldiers fired tear gas and rubber bullets, but were also authorized to use live ammunition if their lives were threatened an army spokesperson said.  Billowing smoke from burning rubber tires could be seen on several main roads.  As night fell, a series of bomb explosion could be heard across the city.

The protesters, largely the rural and urban poor, want to see a return to power of former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra.  In recent days, signs the rally was coming to an end collapsed.  Red Shirt leaders made fresh demands on the government after initially welcoming Mr.  Abhisit Vejjajiva’s reconciliation plan for fresh elections.

Analysts say the Army’s strategy is to retake the outlying perimeter of the rally sight, before gradually blockading the area to allow those remaining to leave.  Ron Corbin, FSRN, Bangkok.

Interim Kyrgyz government takes back buildings from protesters
The newly installed government of Kyrgyzstan today fended off a counter-coup attempt by supporters of ousted President Kurmanbek Bakiyev.  Bakiyev supporters had taken over several government buildings in the southern part of the country, but were today removed by interim government forces.  At least one person was killed and dozens wounded in the clashes.


Internet blackout over in Xinjiang after ten months
Ten months after the ethnic riots took place in the western province of Xinjiang, China has “fully restored” internet services in the region.  Up until today, residents had very limited access and were only allowed to send 20 text messages per day.  From Beijing, Shuk-Wah Chung has more.

The government announced today that internet services are once again available to the region’s seven million users, albeit within the confines of China’s censorship laws.  It was a sign that the government is finally confident with the increase in social stability.  The government said the restored service would help boost social and economic development in the region.

The internet blackout occurred in July last year, just a day after ethnic riots blew up between the ethnic Uighurs and the Han Chinese.  The government believed the main cause of the riot was inflammatory viral text messaging and other internet means.

The government has issued a strong warning saying that anyone using the internet to spread harmful information would be punished severely.  In the meantime, the residents’ in Xinjiang can now finally reconnect with the rest of the world.  Shuk-Wah Chung, FSRN, Beijing.

Decision on Ecuador’s Water Law Postponed
Ecuador’s National Assembly has postponed a vote on a controversial new water law.  The legislation recognizes access to water as a fundamental human right and explicitly prohibits water privatization.  FSRN’s Jennifer Moore reports from Quito.

In postponing a vote on the water legislation Thursday, National Assembly President Fernando Cordero unilaterally ordered that the law be submitted to a consultation process among indigenous and campesino communities.  As part of the consultation, the government indicates it will not negotiate with indigenous leaders; but rather hold information sessions at the community level in an effort to gain support for the bill.  The decision delays approval of the law for months.

Indigenous and campesino groups have been protesting and calling for greater participation for more than half a year.  But leaders say they lack faith in the proposed consultation, which does not guarantee their proposals will be incorporated.  They also fear it will be used to divide their movement.

Marlon Santi is the President of the Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador, or CONAIE.

“Van a socializar su proyecto de ley, y las comunidades, los campesinos, las amas de casas, los estudiantes tenemos que controlar que no nos enganen.”

“They are going to promote their water bill, and communities, campesinos, housewives and students, we have to ensure that they don’t deceive us.”

The CONAIE and others criticize the bill for failing to ensure their direct participation in water management.  They also complain the law would not protect water supplies from industrial activities such as mining, nor reverse water privatization that has already occurred in the country.  Jennifer Moore, FSRN, Quito, Ecuador.

EPA instates greenhouse gas emission standards
The EPA has released the final rule governing 70% of greenhouse gas emissions from stationary sources, such as power plants.  The rule only targets the largest polluters in the country, shielding smaller sources from Clean Air Act restrictions.  The rule will go into effect at the beginning of next year.  From that point, large polluters will have to report significant Greenhouse Gas pollution increases during the permitting process.  The new law covers carbon dioxide, methane, hydrofluorocarbons and three other identified greenhouse gasses.



Karzai ends US visit as Senate moves war funding plan forward
Afghan President Hamid Karzai wrapped up his visit to the US today at a military base in Kentucky. Both Karzai and President Obama went to great efforts to showcase a friendly relationship between the two governments, but serious tensions lie beneath the surface. Tanya Snyder has more.


Spanish judge who pursued international crimes is suspended from bench
The Spanish judge who indicted Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet and Osama bin Laden and pursued charges against former Bush Administration officials for torture has been suspended from his post. The decision on Judge Baltazar Garzon came today after a judicial oversight board conducted an emergency meeting. If convicted, Garzon could be removed from the bench in Spain for 20 years.

To discuss the case, we’re joined by Alejandra Vicente, she’s an attorney with the Center for Justice and International Law, that’s an organization with offices throughout the Americas that promotes human rights and litigates before the Inter-American Court of Human Rights. Vicente is from Spain and has been following the Garzon case. She joins us from Washington DC.


Immigrant workers in Mississippi face uncertain future after Gulf of Mexico oil disaster
The Obama Administration says it will review how the Minerals Management Service issues permits. This comes after documents obtained by the Washington Post revealed that the agency routinely issued drilling permits without requiring the oil companies to account for the effect on endangered species and marine mammals in the oil drilling locations. Many are raising alarm bells about the potential impact on wildlife, including Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindhal who today expressed concern about the use of subsea dispersants and their impact on “multiple generations of wildlife.” This comes as some scientists say BP has under-estimated the amount of oil spilling from the Deep Water Horizon Well. Several experts interviewed by NPR estimate between 20 and 100,000 barrels could be leaking into the ocean every day.

Meanwhile, the disaster is already having negative repercussions in the seafood packing industry and for immigrant workers in Mississippi. FSRN’s Dolores M. Bernal reports.


Activists push for complete ban on nuclear energy at UN conference
At the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Review Conference in New York the use of uranium and plutonium has come under severe criticism.  More than 1,500 NGO representatives from around the world are calling for a complete ban on the use of nuclear energy. They say radiation from uranium mining and milling poses severe health hazards for people and the environment. They’re pushing instead for renewable sources of energy. FSRN’s Salim Rizvi reports from the UN.


Western Colorado town faces gas drilling close to site of nuclear detonation
While activists in New York protest the UN’s support of nuclear energy, across the country in Western Colorado, a community is raising concerns about proposals to open up oil and gas drilling in a once radioactive area. The mountain town of Rulison was the site of a 40-kiloton nuke detonation 40 years ago.

Just a few months ago, the town was facing the prospect of gas drilling close to the site of detonation. But under an evolving agreement, the Department of Energy could end up owning the rights to the gas to insure it isn’t transported around the county. FSRN’s Conrad Wilson reports.