January 13, 2012

  • Privacy advocates push for more info on drones in US
  • Families of soldiers call for investigation into deaths after military hazing
  • Myanmar releases hundreds of political prisoners
  • Calls for end to nuclear power rise in Taiwan presidential election

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Investigators identify Marines from controversial urination video

US Navy investigators say they have identified the four Marines from a controversial video posted on the internet.  The video apparently shows the men urinating on three dead bodies.  Investigators told media that the men are part of a sniper division from North Carolina, who returned from Afghanistan in September.  Today Secretary of State Hillary Clinton joined the growing chorus condemning the actions of the Marines. “Anyone, anyone found to have participated, or known about it, having engaged in such conduct, must be held fully accountable.” The Marines involved could be charged with war crimes.  Investigators have not released the names of the men.

Bradley Manning recommended for court-martial

An investigating officer for the Army has recommended a court-martial for Bradley Manning, the solider accused of releasing hundreds of thousands of classified documents to Wikileaks.  A preliminary hearing on his case was held last month.  The recommendation will go higher up the Army chain of command for a final decision.  Manning could face life in prison if convicted.

Obama seeks power to streamline Executive branch

President Obama addressed a group of business owners today at the White House, saying he will elevate the Small Business Administration to a cabinet level position.  He also announced an effort to streamline duplicated government services.  “Today, I am calling on Congress to reinstate the authority that past presidents have had to streamline and reform the Executive Branch. This is the same sort of authority that every business owner has to make sure that his or her company keeps pace with the times.  And let me be clear: I will only use this authority for reforms that result in more efficiency, better service, and a leaner government.” As an example of the duplications, he said it is excessive that the Department of Homeland Security reports to more than 100 different Congressional panels.  Executive branch reform power was first granted during the Great Depression, but then revoked during the Regan Presidency.  One of Obama’s plans is to consolidate six agencies that deal with small businesses.  “In this case, six isn’t better than one. Sometimes more is better; this is not one of those cases, because it produces redundancy and inefficiency.  With the authority I am requesting today, we could consolidate them all into one department with one website, one phone number and one mission – helping American businesses succeed.” The White House also is launching a new website that brings together business information in one place.

Reddit and other groups plan SOPA protests

The Stop Online Piracy Act and Protect IP Act have sparked outrage around the internet because of vague language and the powers the laws give to internet service providers to police content.  Now, popular online communities are fighting to get their voices heard.  FSRN’s Brad Kutner has the story.

Reddit, an online community and link aggregator that boasts about 2 billion page views a month, will shut down for 12 hours next Wednesday, January 18th.  Part of a growing protest, Reddit was urged by its own users to go black and spread awareness about 2 copyright bills going before congress, SOPA and PIPA.  Opponents say the acts use broad definitions to turn using everyday web tools into illegal acts of copyright infringement that could force a website to be shut down or censored.  For websites like Reddit, which rely heavily on user-generated content, it could black them out for good.  Erik Martin,General Manager of Reddit, said the free flow of information the internet allows would be impossible under the new legislation. “We get millions of page views a day, there’s 10’s of thousands of people on the site at any given time.  It is impossible to filter and police that kind of user generated content for all of these possible infringements.” The hacktivist group Anonymous has promised to black out their communications in similar fashion.  Other websites such as Google and Facebook have hinted at taking similar action to spread awareness of the proposed bills.  Brad Kutner, FSRN, Richmond.


Canada says it will fix same-sex marriage law so foreigners can still access

Canadian officials have come under international scrutiny after a judge yesterday questioned whether the marriage of a US and British citizen wed in Canada is valid.  The judge ruled the couple could not seek a divorce in the country because they were never legally married.  But now the federal government is responding, saying it intends to clarify the law to make sure the marriages stand.

Ethnic violence continues unabated in South Sudan

Today the government of South Sudan announced nearly 60 people were killed in ethnic violence Wednesday. Health facilities run by the Doctors Without Borders have been destroyed in recent attacks, according to the World Health Organization’s Tarik Jasarevic.  But now thousands of residents are returning to their homes. “As people are slowly returning to Pibor and Lekuangole, there is a likelihood of increased medical needs since most of them have been in the bush for over a week. Most of the patients evacuated in the last three days were wounded five days ago and have been in hiding for safety reasons.” Violence between two cattle-raising tribes erupted again in late December. It’s estimated that as many as 3000 people have been killed so far, and 60,000 people have been displaced.



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