Newscast for Thursday, December 29, 2011

  • In Syria, security forces fire on protesters as Arab League monitors visit cities
  • Scientists warn of threats to human health after vast use of antibiotics in livestock
  • US threatens retaliation against EU airline carbon fees
  • Refugees from Myanmar point to stark conditions despite signs of reform from regime

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17 killed in South Sudan

Seventeen people have been killed in air raids in South Sudan according to a military spokesperson who blamed neighboring Sudan for the attacks. The attacks took place in West Bahr al-Ghazal. Those killed were said to be cattle herders. There have been several confrontations between the two states, since South Sudan declared independence from Sudan in July after decades of civil war. The location of the border, is among the issues which the two countries still dispute. Today, South Sudan said that it had placed its armed forces on maximum alert along the border. Sudan denied that it had carried out the attacks.

Protests follow Turkish bombing

Protests took place in several Turkish cities today, following an air raid Wednesday night in the predominantly Kurdish southeastern province of Sirnak that left 35 people dead. For FSRN, Hermione Gee reports from Istanbul.

Security forces raid Cairo NGOs

Egyptian authorities raided the offices of 17 non-governmental organizations in Cairo on Thursday, including at least two prominent US-government backed groups. FSRN’s Noel King reports from Cairo.

Kim Jong-un declared ‘Supreme Leader’

Kim Jong-un has been declared ‘Supreme Leader’ of North Korea today at a memorial service in the capital Pyongyang for his father and former leader Kim Jong Il. Thousands of North Koreans gathered in the the city’s main square, named after the new leader’s grandfather Kim Il- sung. It was the second day of funeral proceedings for the Kim Jong Il, who died of a heart attack two weeks ago. The crowd marked a three-minute silence after which trains and ships across the country sounded their horns in unison. Kim Jong- un watched the service from a balcony surrounded by military and government officials. Today’s memorial service brings the period of official mourning for the death of Kim Jong-Il to an end.

Iran threatens to block oil supply route

Iran has threatened to blockade a key oil supply route if the US issues sanctions against their oil and financial sectors. The US has threatened sanctions in response to Iran’s alleged nuclear activities. Today, Iranian state media reported that an Iranian plane had recorded video of US warships in the area. An estimated one sixth of the world’s oil supply passes through the Strait of Hormuz which links oil-producing states including Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar and Saudi Arabia – to the Indian Ocean. Iranian officials have said it would be ‘easy’ to close the strait, which is just 34 miles wide in places. The US Navy’s 5th fleet said on Wednesday that disruption of the strait would not be tolerated.

Massive weapons sale to Saudi Arabia

Fighter jets worth $30billion will be sold to Saudi Arabia in a deal approved by the Obama administration today. Saudi Arabia will receive 84 new F-15 fighters and upgrades for 70 more. The sale is part of a 10-year, $60 billion arms deal with the Kingdom agreed last year that includes F-15s, attack helicopters and a broad array of missiles, bombs and delivery systems, as well as radar warning systems and night-vision goggles. The deal is the single largest sale of weapons to a foreign nation in the history of the U.S.

Five arrested in Iowa protest

In Iowa, five people were arrested this morning for blockading the office of Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul. The group were demonstrating against the Congressman’s proposal to abolish the Environmental Protection Agency. The protest follows an occupation of Mitt Romney’s campaign office and a branch of Wells Fargo yesterday, by protesters involved in the Occupy movement. Occupy the Caucuses is planning to go to the campaign headquarters of each Republican candidate as well as Barack Obama’s campaign office before the weekend.



In Syria, security forces fire on protesters as Arab League monitors visit cities

In Syria, today security forces continued a crackdown on protesters, leaving some 40 dead, according to activists and the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. The violence comes despite the presence of monitors from the Arab League who are on a mission to report on human rights abuses in the country. Since their arrival, the regime of Bashar al Assad has shown few signs of decreasing the violence that has killed more than 5,000 during the past 10 months. For more, we’re joined by Dr. Khaldoon Alaswad, with the National Coordination Body, a Syrian opposition group, and a member of the Damascus Center for Theoretical and Civil Rights Studies.

Scientists warn of threats to human health after vast use of antibiotics in livestock

Overuse of antibiotics in livestock is creating drug-resistant strains of bacteria—or Superbugs—that pose a serious threat to human health by rendering common antibiotics ineffective. But the federal government is moving to weaken regulations.
While public attention was focused on the holidays and Congress’ payroll tax cut showdown, the Food and Drug Administration quietly canceled its plans to ban two major antibiotics from livestock feed. The agency said last week it will instead urge pharmaceutical companies to voluntarily restrict sales of their products. Alice Ollstein has the story in Washington.

US threatens retaliation against EU airline carbon fees

Europe has the world’s most-ambitious cap and trade system for cutting greenhouse gas emissions. For six years now, thousands of factories and power plants have had to reduce their emissions — or pay for their excess carbon pollution. Starting January 1, airlines and air cargo companies must join the program, including foreign carriers that land at European airports. But countries – including the US – who have airlines flying into Europe are resisting the program. The issue is shaping up to become an international showdown over what it means to get serious about global warming. From France, FSRN’s Liam Moriarty reports.

Refugees from Myanmar point to stark conditions despite signs of reform from regime

In Myanmar, there have been signs of political reform under the military backed civilian government of President Thein Sein. Some – including Western leaders – have welcomed the changes in the Southeast Asian country also known as Burma. But hundreds of political prisoners reain in detention, media control is tight and on the border with Thailand, home to more than 100,000 refugees, many aren’t convinced reforms will come swiftly enough. FSRN’s Ron Corben reports.

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