Newscast for Friday, August 12, 2011

  • Anti-nuclear activists rally outside the UN Headquarters in New York calling for the Indian Point nuclear plant to be shut down
  • Activist scientists urge more federal support for farmers markets to create jobs
  • Nigeria Series Part 2: Reducing deforestation with energy efficient stoves
  • The public and media reaction to Norway’s deadly attacks

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Repression Continues in Syria

In Syria today, tens of thousands of people again demonstrated in cities across the country.  For FSRN, Jackson Allers has more from neighboring Lebanon.

Around 50 people  have been killed in the last 3 days as Syrian security forces have swept border towns along the Turkish, Iraqi and Lebanese borders and cracked down hard on protesters in the eastern town of Deir al Zour

Although the demonstrations today were smaller than on previous occasions, they are occurring two weeks after a massive military operation is reported to have left hundreds of people dead.

Today protesters were calling for the death of Syrian president Bashar al Assad even as Syrian troops surrounded mosques and set up checkpoints.

International and regional human rights groups have resoundingly condemned the violence. Some 2,000 people are reported to have died in the last 5-months.

Jackson Allers, FSRN, Beirut.

Community Responds to UK Riots

The British Parliament has been reconvened, after uprisings in several towns and cities across the country, following the shooting of Mark Duggan by police in London.

Meanwhile, people are turning their attention to rebuilding their communities and protesting against the government policies many believe are to blame. FSRN’s Naomi Fowler reports:

Volunteers have mobilised across the country to clean up their streets and this weekend a number of demonstrations will take place calling for urgent measures to address inner-city poverty and lack of opportunity for young people. Marchers from Britain’s largest trade union, Unite, say they want to seek a positive outcome from the recent traumatic events, bring their communities together and demand a decent future for young people. In London youth unemployment is at its highest ever level at 23%.

The government is blaming the riots on the decline of moral values. But demonstrators say they must invest in job creation, reverse increasing poverty, inequality and restricted access to education.  They also demand a fairer tax system.  The poorest 10% of UK households now pays a higher proportion of its income in taxes than the richest 10%. And that, say demonstrators, is not only immoral, it’s unsustainable. Naomi Fowler, FSRN, London.

Indigenous Sacred Site Threatened with Desecration in Arizona

Now to Arizona, where Indigenous people have been defending a mountain they consider sacred, against a private company which is trying to expand a ski resort.

The San Francisco Peaks are held holy by more than 13 indigenous nations and are a sensitive mountain ecosystem.

Klee Benally is amongst those who are attempting to protect the mountain from desecration.  Earlier this year the company involved, Snowbowl, began clear-cutting more than 30, 000 trees for the project.  The project has also been criticized for a controversial plan to use waste water from Flagstaff for snowmaking.

This isn’t just an issue of indigenous people’s cultural survival and the degradation of our natural environment. This is an issue of resource extraction.  While it’s not gold, coal, oil, uranium or natural gas, the resource that’s being extracted Is recreation so as long as we have commodification of our natural environment, as long as we face that, we’re going to have this conflict.

Work on the project was stopped several times this week by activists. They say they will continue to take action to defend the sacred site.

US Postal Service to Cut Workers Jobs and Welfare

A proposal by the United States Postal Service to cut around 120, 000 jobs and take retired workers out of health and retirement programs, has been criticized by postal unions. The proposal, which would cut 20 percent of the workforce, would mean breaking labor agreements with the unions that ban layoffs.

News of the proposal came just days before the National Association of Letter Carriers was set to sit down with USPS for negotiations.  The union president, Fredric V. Rolando, said the proposals were a ‘blatant attempt to subvert and circumvent collective bargaining.”.

Last month the postal service also announced 3, 700 post office locations threatened with closure.

To change the retirement and health package for both current and former workers, the postal service will need Congressional approval.  That’s expected to face severe opposition by the unions.

Iowa Straw Poll for Republican Candidates

Candidates for the Republican presidential nomination will take part in a ‘straw poll’ in Iowa on Saturday.   The state has been the focus of intensive campaigning by Republican contenders and their Political Action Committees.

Meanwhile, comedian Stephen Colbert continues to run his own adverts through his “Americans for  a Better Tomorrow, Tomorrow” PAC.‬

‪The straw poll will begin the process of narrowing down the Republican field, and is often considered a major early test for candidates.



Anti-nuclear activists rally outside the UN Headquarters in New York calling for the Indian Point nuclear plant to be shut down

Today, Japan’s Prime Minister Naoto Kan said that a new agency under the Environment Ministry will take charge of nuclear safety. Five months after the tsunami-earthquake the authorities continue to struggle to control radiation leaks from the damaged Fukushima nuclear plant.  Also today, the operators of the facility said they’re building a tent over one of the most damaged reactors to try and stop the spread of radioactive materials.  The tent is being made from airtight polyester and will replace Reactor 1’s outer housing shell that was destroyed by an explosion following the earthquake-tsunami. The disaster in Japan has fueled anti-nuclear protests around the world. In New York City yesterday, anti-nuclear activists rallied outside the UN Headquarters, calling for the nearby Indian Point nuclear plant to be shut down. FSRN’s Salim Rizvi reports.

Activist scientists urge more federal support for farmers markets to create jobs

At the White House today, President Barack Obama met with business leaders, including the heads of Xerox and Johnson & Johnson, to discuss ways of reducing unemployment and creating jobs. One area of the economy with potential: Local and regional food systems, which have grown exponentially over the last thirty years. A report from the Union of Concerned Scientists says more federal support for farmers markets could harness this growth to create jobs. Michael Lawson has more.

Nigeria Series Part 2: Reducing deforestation with energy efficient stoves

Yesterday, we looked at the problem of energy shortages in Nigeria, one of Africa’s largest oil exporters, and how a shortage of kerosene is leading to depletion of the country’s forests as more people turn to wood and charcoal for their fuel needs. Across Africa an estimated 5 million hectares of tropical forest are lost annually, much of it because of fuel shortages. Today, Sam Olukoya looks at a new program in the country that aims to reduce destruction of forests through the use of energy efficient stoves. The first part of our series looking at Nigeria’s cooking fuel issues is also here on our website.

The public and media reaction to Norway’s deadly attacks

In Norway, three weeks ago today, Anton Breivik carried out a killing spree that left 77 people dead in two attacks, most of them teenagers, attending a youth camp on an island.  Breivik’s trial is not expected to take place until next year.   More details are still emerging, including this week the police saying Breivik may have filmed the island shootings. The Metta Center for Nonviolence in Berkeley has been analyzing the media coverage and public response to the attacks in Norway.  We spoke to the center’s Michael Nagler, who is co-author of a blog titled, ‘Ten Questions the Media is Not Asking About Norway.’

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