Newscast for Monday, November 14, 2011

  • Pressure grows on Syria to end crackdown as Arab League deadline nears
  • After record floods, Thailand grapples with disease, sanitation
  • Concern over fracking grows in oil, gas development
  • Activists in Northern California take Occupy movement to threatened state park

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High Court to hear health care reform challenges

The US Supreme Court today announced which challenges to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act it will consider and what specific issues of the health care legislation it will review.  In an extended hearing next year, justices will hear arguments about the mandate to buy health insurance, and if found to be unconstitutional – how much of the landmark health care law should be struck down along with the mandate. The Court will also take up question of the penalties for not buying heath insurance – are they or are they not a form of tax? The answer to that question determines when courts can consider the penalties themselves. And the high court will take up the expansion of Medicaid.

Occupy encampments raided; Eureka, Oakland, Portland, Albany

In northern California,  police from three agencies raided the Occupy Eureka encampment before dawn today.  At least twenty people were arrested. According to organizers, no orders to vacate the area were issued prior to the raid. At about the same time in Oakland, protesters watched as hundreds of police moved in to evict the main encampment in in the city’s downtown. Brian Edwards-Tiekert has more.

By 4:00 AM, many campers had already abandoned their tents and taken to the streets. Just before dawn, hundreds of heavily-armored police set up barriers between the protest in the street, and the holdouts in the camp. Christine Cordero observed the arrest of a dozen religious leaders who’d chosen to stay inside. :

“The commanding officers were very cooperative, asking everybody ‘are you ready to be arrested?’”

REPORTER:  “What about campers, were they arresting them as well?”

“They were definitely arresting campers – no campers we saw were resisting arrest, so it was very calm, and happening very orderly.”

That’s in sharp contrast to the raid two weeks ago, when police fired tear gas and concussion grenades into the camp. After that, the city’s mayor faced a backlash from civil liberties groups, and reigned in police activity around the camp. But she renewed calls to remove the camp after a man was shot to death on the edges of the camp last Thursday. Last night police identified the victim and said both he, and the suspected shooters, were involved in the occupation. Protesters called for a support rally today at 4:PM in front of the downtown Oakland Public Library. Brian Edwards-Tiekert, FSRN, Oakland.

In New York, police arrested Occupy Albany protesters both Saturday and Sunday nights – all told almost 40 people were jailed for trespassing in a state park.  In Oregon, Portland officials issued an eviction notice and then moved in and arrested about 50 remaining demonstrators.

APEC members agree to trade agreement

Protests outside the APEC 2011 conference in Hawaii this weekend were peaceful. Inside, world leaders agreed to a  trade deal that could have either a positive or negative impact on jobs, but promises to boost corporate profits. Larry Geller reports.

China’s influence was pervasive during official talks. China diluted the closing resolution that called for tariff reductions on environmental goods  to no more than 5% by 2015 by insisting that the burden was too great for developing countries. China also resisted US attempts to assume leadership of the group of 21 nations that together represent about half of the world economy. The crowning achievement of APEC 2011 will likely be the development of a Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement during 2012. The specifics of the trade deal are yet to be hammered out. It’s effects will surely be debated by farm and labor groups who stand to lose or gain jobs as protections, tariffs and regulations are relaxed or removed. Intense opposition from rural rice farmers continues even as Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda reaffirmed his intention of joining  a TPP pact. Larry Geller, FSRN, Honolulu.

A group of athletes from India wants their national Olympic association to say no to Dow Chemical’s  sponsorship of the 2012 games. Shuriah Niazi has more from Bhopal.

At least 21 Indian Olympians have demanded that the organizers of the London Olympics 2012 cancel the sponsorship of Dow Chemical Company. DOW currently owns Union Carbide, the American multinational responsible for the continuing disaster in Bhopal. On the night of Dec 2-3, 1984, some 40 tons of poisonous methyl isocyanate gas seeped out of a Union Carbide pesticide plant. The disaster killed an estimated 15,000 people. In a press conference Monday in Bhopal, the athletes said  that Dow Chemical is still violating Indian laws, by refusing to clean up toxic soil and ground water contamination caused by reckless dumping of hazardous waste by Union Carbide, USA. In a letter to the organizing committee, the Olympians said that in view of the current plight of  both the victims and the environment in Bhopal, Dow’s sponsorship is offensive to the spirit of the Olympic Games. Shuriah Niazi, FSRN, Bhopal, India.

Thousands of police and military forces moved in to Rio de Janeiro’s largest favela early yesterday, ostensibly to reclaim the shantytown from drug traffickers ahead of the World Cup in 2014 and summer Olympics in 2016. But authorities warned of the raid days in advance, allowing gangs ample time to leave the area that is home to hundreds of thousands of Brazilians. Al Jazeera English spoke to a local  community organizer in the slum known as Rocinha.

“Occupation will only work in our community if there is social justice and it comes with everything the government  has promised in the past and never delivered.”

Rocinha, and another nearby favela also occupied by government forces yesterday, are located adjacent to some of Rio’s wealthiest neighborhoods.

Italy’s new PM Mario Monte advises Goldman Sachs

Italy’s Silvio Burlosconi stepped down over the weekend, after the nation’s Parliament widely approved a reform package of broad austerity measures. The Prime Minister was replaced by Mario Monti. The Italian economist and Senator for life also serves as an international adviser to Coca-Cola and Goldman Sachs.



Pressure grows on Syria to end crackdown as Arab League deadline nears

Today, pressure on Syria’s regime to end the violent crackdown on civilians intensified as Jordan’s King Abdullah called on President Bashar Al Assad to step down.

Syria’s military forces have violated the terms of a peace deal with the Arab League by continuing to attack protesters, killing more than 240 since the agreement was reached on November 2nd. The death toll is at least 3,500 since the uprising began, according to the United Nations.

This week, an Arab League vote to suspend Syria from the body is scheduled to take effect

For more, we’re joined by Dr. Khaldoon Alaswad, director of the Damascus Center for Theoretical and Civil Rights Studies and a member of the Syrian National Coordination Body, an opposition group. He joins us by phone from the Chicago area.

After record floods, Thailand grapples with disease, sanitation

After record-level flooding in Thailand, health experts are warning of outbreaks of disease and authorities continue to divert millions of cubic meters of water towards the Gulf of Thailand. Medical authorities are particularly concerned for communities that have been inundated with fetid water for several weeks and mounting problems of waste and rubbish disposal. FSRN’s Ron Corben reports.

Concern over fracking grows in oil, gas development

The federal government is expressing more concern over the controversial practice of fracking, or highly pressurizing rock to extract oil or gas. As many as 100,000 new shale gas wells could be drilled over the next several decades, according to a report from the Department of Energy. As the federal government begins to assess environmental impact, some companies are deploying military tactics to sway public opinion. Michael Lawson reports.

Activists in Northern California take Occupy movement to threatened state park

Much of the attention in the Occupy movement has focused on the nation’s cities with protesters targeting financial centers and urban development. But a group of activists in Northern California have taken the movement to a state park that is home to redwood forests and mountain meadows.  California lawmakers have targeted dozens of state parks for closure due to the state’s deficit. But residents in rural areas says closing parks will devastate their livelihoods. FSRN’s Christina Aanestad files this report.

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