Newscast for Tuesday, October 4, 2011

  • Obama sends free trade deals to congress despite concern over jobs, environment and human rights violations
  • At Occupy Wall Street encampment, organization and independent media take hold
  • France criticized over treatment of Roma as raids continue
  • Report ties Shell to human rights abuse, environmental destruction in Niger Delta
  • In Nigeria, innovate project turns plastic bottles into homes

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Truck bomb shatters weeks of relative calm in Mogadishu – 70 dead

A powerful truck bomb killed as many as 70 people at the entrance to Somalia’s Ministry of Education today.  Mogadishu had been relatively calm in recent weeks after al Shabaab pulled out of the city in August, but the militant group has claimed responsibility for today’s attacks.   Just a few hundred miles to the west near the Kenyan border, the United Nations appealed to militant groups to stop killing civilians. UN spokesperson Adrian Edwards says that many Somalis fleeing not only the violence but also the drought and famine are caught in fighting near the town of Dobley.

Our partners are tracking the movements of populations inside Somalia. They report that some 65 families make the journey from Dobley to Liboi in Kenya each day en route to Dadaab. Many also use alternate routes. On average, 1,000 new Somali refugees continue to arrive in Dadaab every day. [.18]

According to the UN, tens of thousands of Somali people have already died, and hundreds of thousands more are on the brink of starvation.

Acapulco schools slowly reopen with increased security

Public schools in the Mexican resort city of Acapulco are slowly beginning to reopen,  amidst a major operation to provide security for students and teachers facing extortion threats. Shannon Young reports.

Dozens of schools in and around Acapulco refused to open at the start of the school year in late August after teachers and administrative workers received demands for protection money. The de facto strike soon spread, shuttering around 450 schools in the coastal region. The state government of Guerrero minimized the threats and ordered teachers back to their classrooms with the assurance that panic alarms would be installed to alert security forces in the event of an attack. The teachers’ union was not convinced. Five human heads left outside of an elementary school last week only seemed to reinforce the feeling of insecurity. Soldiers stepped up their patrols on Monday as the government announced the return to classes. While some schools have re-opened, the majority of schools in the port city’s marginalized neighborhoods remain closed until further notice. Shannon Young, FSRN, Oaxaca.

Egyptian blogger expands hunger strike after hearing postponed

A 26-year old imprisoned law student and blogger in Egypt says he’ll expand his 40 plus day hunger strike and refuse even water until he is released.  In April Maikel Nabil was sentenced by a military tribunal to three years in prison for insulting the military. An appeal hearing scheduled for today in Cairo was postponed for a week after the court said it did not have his file handy. Nabil’s brother, Mark, was outside the court.

“Maikel is not the only one who insulted the military. There have been many others. Why is he the one singled out by a three year verdict. He is dying in custody.”

Nabil was the first blogger to be tried in a military court after former leader Hosni Mubark was ousted.   According to Reporters Without Borders, Maikel Nabil is suffering from kidney problems, is anemic and has been denied medical care.

Bahrain sentences many for alleged involvement in pro-democracy protests

A court in Bahrain convicted dozens more pro-democracy protesters today. All told 60 people have been  found guilty in the past two days and sentenced to between 5 to 15 years in prison.  And 20 medical professionals were sentenced yesterday, also to 5 – 15 years. Anesthesiologist Dr. Zahra Al-Sammak spoke to al Jazeera from Manama. She says they were convicted solely on the basis of secret evidence.

“On the other hand, despite the fabricated charges, we have so many witnesses so many documents which prove that we are innocent and we didn’t do any of these fabricated crimes and that we were only doing our jobs. We were only helping patients and treating patients.”

Appeals are set for October 23rd.  Just last month,  the US  Department of Defense announced plans to sell Bahrain 53 million dollars worth of military equipment.

El Salvadoran man dies in ICE custody

A 33-year old El Salvadoran man with no known medical problems died while in US Immigration and Customs Enforcement custody over the weekend. Anibal Ramirez-Ramirez was picked up by Virginia police last week and delivered to ICE authorities.  ICE officers found him unconscious on Saturday and transported him for medical care. He was diagnosed with liver failure and died Sunday.



Obama sends free trade deals to congress despite concern over jobs, environment and human rights violations

Free Trade Agreements with South Korea, Colombia, and Panama have finally traveled from the White House to the Capitol, along with a bill that would aid workers who lose their jobs as a result of the agreements. Hundreds of union members from across the country came to the Hill today to oppose the agreements, and vowed to fight their passage in the weeks ahead. FSRN’s Alice Ollstein reports from Washington.

At Occupy Wall Street encampment, organization and independent media take hold

Today marks the 18th day that Occupy Wall Street protesters have camped out in Zuccotti Park in New York City’s financial district bringing attention to what they see as a morally bankrupt economic system in the United States. Despite two weekends of mass arrests, protesters vow to stay in the half-acre park indefinitely, even as the harsh weather of winter approaches. FSRN’s Kelly Benjamin is at the occupation in New York and files this report.

France criticized over treatment of Roma as raids continue

In recent weeks, French police raided Roma camps in Marseilles and rounded up more than 160 people including women and children. Last year, France came under heavy criticism for mass evictions of ethnic Roma. European authorities say the French government has been obeying rules that protect EU citizens from discriminatory treatment. But human rights advocates say the country is still illegally targeting Roma for harassment and expulsion. Liam Moriarty has more.

Report ties Shell to human rights abuse, environmental destruction in Niger Delta

A report out this week finds that Shell oil company routinely paid armed militants in Nigeria’s oil-rich Niger Delta, during a decade of killings and rampant environmental destruction. The study also charges that Shell Oil is complicit with the Nigerian government in the “systematic killing and torture of local residents.” Counting the Cost is the report and it’s released by the NGO Platform, a UK-based oil industry watchdog. We’re joined now from London by its author, Ben Amunwa.

In Nigeria, innovate project turns plastic bottles into homes

Now we stay in Nigeria and turn to an innovative solution to the region’s waste problem. Trash remains a major problem throughout Africa where recycling is limited. One waste product that the continent is battling to cope with is plastic bottles used for water and soft drinks. But local residents are taking part in a project to clean the environment by using these discarded plastic bottles to build houses. FSRN’s Sam Olukoya reports from Yelwa, in Northern Nigeria where the first bottle house has just been built.

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