February 8, 2012

  • Clashes erupt in the Maldives as ousted leader describes forced removal
  • Super PACs rely on wealthy individuals for outside money in elections
  • Lawmakers push for military service as route to citizenship though DREAM Act
  • New York communities express outrage at police violence on black youths

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US protesters stand in solidarity with oppressed Syrians

In Syria today, government forces shelled the opposition city of Homs.  Residents tell the BBC it’s the heaviest attack yet and the bombings are indiscriminate.  At least 50 have died in the past 24 hours.  The Syrian government says local residents asked for military intervention to protect them from armed gangs.  Today the UN Human Rights Chief issued a statement partly blaming the Security Council, saying its failure “to agree on firm collective action appears to have fuelled the Syrian Government’s readiness to massacre its own people in an effort to crush dissent.” In response to the increasing violence, a group of Occupy Tampa members honored the fallen Tuesday night with a candlelight vigil.  For FSRN, WMNF’s Janelle Irwin reports.

Last weekend, the US pushed for a UN Security Council resolution calling on the Syrian President to step down, but it was blocked by Russia and China.  Michael Fernandez, who took part in the downtown Tampa vigil, said he doesn’t want to see American involvement if it includes further violence and occupation.

“I think the Syrian people should have the support materially, intellectually, morally and physically of anyone who is opposed to oppression anywhere, and I think people should be traveling to Syria to help the Syrians have a revolution of their own on their own terms.”

In the past week, Syrian security forces have stepped up attacks on opposition-held towns, killing hundreds.  In response, the US closed its embassy in Syria on Monday. Janelle Irwin, FSRN, Tampa.

SC sues feds to unblock voter ID law

The South Carolina Attorney General has sued the US Justice Department for blocking a new voter ID law.  The feds took action on the law, which requires voters to present a photo-ID at polling stations, under the Voting Rights Act, saying it disproportionately affects minority voters.

New mass graves discovered in Mexico

New mass graves have been discovered in Mexico – this time in the Gulf Coast state of Veracruz.  FSRN’s Shannon Young reports.

Mexican Marines have dug up at least 10 bodies at two different ranches near the town of Acayucan, Veracruz.  The discoveries came after the arrest of a suspected cartel spy. Acayucan is located at a strategic fork in southern Mexico’s highway system.  One road connects the Pacific Coast in Oaxaca, the other to the Gulf Coast port of Coatzacoalcos, and another heads north to the border state of Tamaulipas.  The town also lies between two important cargo train routes used by mostly Central American migrants on their way to the US. Father Alejandro Solalinde, a Catholic priest who runs a migrant shelter in Oaxaca, publicly warned about the presence of mass graves in the region more than a year ago. Mexico’s National Human Rights Commission has documented thousands of unsolved cases of migrant kidnappings in southern Veracruz since 2009. Of the ten bodies found in Acayucan, none have been identified.  Shannon Young, FSRN, Oaxaca.

Police in Bahia, Brazil occupy legislature calling for pay increase

Brazilian police are in their second week of a strike in the state of Bahia.  A standoff continues in the state capital Salvador, after negotiations broke down again yesterday.  For FSRN, Debora Pill has the story.

Nine days after the strike began, police officers are still demonstrating for better pay and working conditions.  The local government considers the strike illegal, and only agreed to talks after the murder and crime rates rose significantly in Salvador. Several hundred strikers continue to occupy the state legislature building.  Earlier, federal police surrounded the building and fired rubber bullets at protesters that tried to enter.  Organizers say they won’t leave the building until the their payment conditions are accepted, arrest orders against several officers are dropped, and amnesty is granted to protesters. Negotiations were scheduled to continue today. The government has sent in military police to restore order to the city.  Local classes and concerts were cancelled this week, and the US embassy is cautioning against “non-essential” travel to Salvador.  The Bahia Governor said Carnival celebrations, which begin next week and usually attract thousands of tourists, will continue as scheduled.  Debora Pill, FSRN, Sao Paulo.

Report: GMOs failing to gain a foothold in Europe

A new report from a biotech industry group shows that while genetically modified crops are increasingly popular among farmers in the Americas, GMOs have barely a toehold in Europe.  This comes as two major biotech corporations back off attempts to increase GMO use on the continent.  From France, FSRN’s Liam Moriarty has more.

The report, from the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications, shows Spain is the largest grower of GMOs in the EU, with about a quarter million acres.  The other seven EU countries that allow GMOs total less than 25,000 acres between them. Marco Contiero, with Greenpeace Europe, says – in the EU at least – transgenic crops have proven to be a flop.

“European citizens, European governments, European farmers do not want GM crops.”

Last month, the German biotech firm BASF announced it was withdrawing its GMO crop business from Europe in the face of what it called “lack of acceptance.” Soon after, Monsanto said it was abandoning its efforts to fight a French ban on its GMO corn.  That’s currently the only GMO crop being commercially produced in Europe.  It’s grown on less than 1% of Europe’s farmland.  Liam Moriarty, FSRN, Normandy, France.


Clashes erupt in the Maldives as ousted leader describes forced removal

In the Maldives, violent clashes continue after Mohammed Nasheed stepped down from the presidency yesterday in what he and his supporters are calling a political coup. Today, videos and images show police using tear gas against protesters in the capital, Male. According to AFP and the Democratic Maldivian Party, Nasheed himself was injured in the clashes. Nasheed’s former vice president, Mohamed Waheed, who was sworn in as president yesterday called for the rule of law and appointed two high level positions: a minister of home affairs and a minister of defense and national security, according to the government website. Nasheed came to power in the first democratic elections in 2008 and campaigned against the threats of climate change to the Maldives, a small country of low-lying islands in the Indian Ocean. For more we’re joined on the line by, Farah Faisal, former high commissioner of Maldives to the UK. She said she submitted her resignation just in the past hours. She’s now official spokesperson for the Maldivian Democratic Party. She’s on mobile phone in the UK.

Super PACs rely on wealthy individuals for outside money in elections

In a blow to Republican candidate Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum won all three primary contests Tuesday night—in Colorado, Missouri and Minnesota. But the results were non-binding —and no candidate is anywhere near the number of delegates needed to lock in the party nomination. Meanwhile, supporters of Barack Obama received an e-mail earlier this week announcing that the President’s reelection campaign will now formally support the Super PAC “Priorities USA”—despite President Obama’s public stance against the influence of outside spending in politics. FSRN’s Alice Ollstein reports from Washington, D.C.

Lawmakers push for military as route to citizenship though DREAM Act

Immigrant rights groups continue to call for lawmakers to pass the DREAM Act, which would provide undocumented youth with a path to citizenship if they fulfill requirements for attending college or serving in the military. In recent weeks, some Republicans have expressed support for eliminating the education component and requiring military service. Last month, Congress member David Rivera of Florida introduced the Adjusted Residency for Military Service or ARMS Act, which would do just that. Rivera said if “young people are willing to die for America, then certainly they deserve a chance at life in America.” To find out more about where US leaders stand on these issues, The Real News Network’s Paul Jay spoke to Thanu Yakupitiyage, with the Occupy Wall Street Immigrant Worker Justice Working Group. He started by asking her to respond to President Obama’s brief mention of immigration during his State of the Union Address.

New York communities express outrage at police violence on black youths

We turn now to New York, to look at a string of police shootings and a beating involving young black males that has community members outraged. FSRN’s Jaisal Noor reports.

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