April 19, 2012
- Reauthorization of Violence Against Women Act runs into Republican roadblock in Congress
- US increases military strikes in Yemen as civil rights groups seek transparency in 2009 civilian killing
- Israel slates West Bank solar and wind projects with demolition, threatening energy source for residents
- Students in Chile expand education calls to include political reform
Campesino land occupiers evicted in Honduras
Coordinated mass mobilizations throughout Honduras culminated today with police intervention. Protesters are demanding an end to political violence and the high cost of basic staples. They also want broad agrarian reform and respect for basic education rights. Ex-President Manuel Zelaya, ousted in the 2009 military coup, led a march this morning in the capital Tegucigalpa. Simultaneous marches took place in nine of the country’s main cities. FSRN’s Tim Russo has the story.
Campesino mobilizations and vast land takeovers began on Wednesday in recognition of the International Day of Campesino Struggles. A reported 3000 families occupied approximately 30,000 acres of land throughout Honduras, demanding land titles and the passage of the Integral Agrarian Reform Law, proposed to the congress in October 2011. Since the July 2009 military coup, at least 64 campesinos have been killed in conflicts with wealthy landowners. The recent mobilizations by campesino farm workers throughout the country prompted the reaction of Honduran Secretary of Agriculture Cesar Ham. He accused campesinos of attempting to destabilize the government and undermine agrarian reform. According to the UN, 68 % of the Honduran rural population lives in extreme poverty. As of this morning, military, police and private security forces had evicted several of the land takeovers, including the largest occupation of 6000 acres near the country´s most important port city Puerto Cortez. Today´s demonstrations show there is growing support for the Honduran resistance movement as campaigns for the 2013 presidential elections get underway. Tim Russo, FSRN.
String of bombs in Iraq leave dozens dead
A series of bombings today in Iraq has left three dozen dead. Reuters reports there were 20 attacks, in several different towns across the country. No one had claimed responsibility. Last month an al Qaeda-affiliated group killed more than 50 in a similar string of bombings.
Residents protest arrest of former government supporters in Mali
In Mali, political tensions are running high today following the arrest of ministers and political and military leaders of the overthrown government. FSRN’s Amadou Timbiné has more from the capital.
Eleven high ranking military officers and eleven civilians, including political leaders and a banker, are in detention. The Chief of the National Police Force announced the arrests Wednesday, and showed pictures of rifles allegedly found at the homes of some of the imprisoned. He said the infiltration of weapons is posing a new threat to the country already paralyzed by the political crisis. Among those arrested are former Prime Minister Modibo Sidibé, an ex-Defense Minister, and the leader of the Union for the Republic and Democracy, one of the largest political parties backing the ousted President. After the announcement, hundreds of people took to the streets, calling on the military junta to immediately release the prisoners. A new interim Prime Minister is preparing to form a new government this week, but the arrests raise questions as to whether the coup leaders truly intend to relinquish power to the civilian government. Amadou Timbiné, FSRN, Bamako.
Alabama House debates new immigration law
The Alabama House considered a new immigration law today. The new version, which passed committee earlier this week, loosens some regulations having to do with businesses, but expands the ability of police to check immigration status of residents. The legislation stalled early, according to local media, when the state’s Legislative Black Caucus filibustered. But debate began a few hours later.
UC Davis Police Chief resigns after pepper spray incident
The police chief at the University of California-Davis is resigning today. The news comes after the release of a scathing investigation into her police force’s use of pepper spray on protesters who were seated peacefully on the campus quad. For FSRN, Brian Edwards-Tiekert has more:
Videos of the November 18th incident show a police lieutenant firing pepper spray into the faces of seated protesters at point blank range. Now, an independent investigation into the incident says the use of pepper spray was not supported by objective evidence and that the specific type of spray used was not authorized by the police department’s policies. The report also questions whether the university had a clear legal basis to send in police at all. Tatiana Bush is a student member of the task force that oversaw the investigation. She says the police veterans at Kroll Associates who did fact-finding were shocked: “Kroll was relentless in this. They were relentless in telling us how many ways the police department f—ed up. And this was a big one.” UC Davis Police Chief Annette Spicuzza announced by email Wednesday that she’s retiring, writing — quote–“”The University does not want this incident to be its defining moment, nor do I wish for it to be mine.” She had been on paid leave since shortly after the incident. The officer who sprayed the protesters, Lieutenant John Pike, is still employed by the department. He is on paid leave as well. Brian Edwards-Tiekert, FSRN, Davis.
World looks back on Holocaust, remembers
And finally, today is Holocaust Remembrance day, Yom Hashoah. The day marks the anniversary of the Warsaw ghetto uprising in 1943. Groups all over the world are holding events to remember the lives of the 6 million Jews, gay men and women, Roma, Jehovah’s Witnesses and disabled people murdered during the Holocaust.
Reauthorization of Violence Against Women Act runs into Republican roadblock in Congress
In Washington, The US Senate began debating a bill today to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act through 2016. The Act funds many programs for domestic violence and rape survivors. But new provisions aimed at protecting gay and trans women, undocumented immigrants, and Native American women have drawn opposition from Republicans, which has put the passage of the Act in jeopardy. FSRN’s Alice Ollstein reports.
US increases military strikes in Yemen as civil rights groups seek transparency in 2009 civilian killing
Recently, the US has stepped up its military action in Yemen. On Monday, US drone attacks killed six, according to Yemeni government officials and media in the country, and today, the Washington Post reports that CIA officials are seeking to expand the strikes by broadening who can be targeted. Since May of last year, the US has carried out some 21 air strikes in Yemen, four this month alone, according to the Long War Journal that tracks the attacks. The Bureau of Investigative Journalism in the UK estimates US attacks have killed between 300 and 600 people over the last decade, including dozens of civilians. In one of those attacks in 2009, human rights groups say at least 40 civilians were killed in the southern village of Al Marjalah. The US government has not been forthcoming about this so-called targeted killing, so this week the Center for Constitutional Rights and the ACLU filed a Freedom of Information Act request to get more information. For more, we’re joined by Nathan Wessler, national security fellow at the ACLU’s National Security project.
Israel slates West Bank solar and wind projects with demolition, threatening energy source for residents
Israel has placed six renewable energy projects on a demolition list. The solar and wind energy systems provide electricity to hundreds of Palestinians in one of the West Bank’s poorest areas. The conflict brings up the issue of building permits in the contested region and how Israel enforces them. FSRN’s Jillian Kestler-D’Amours reports.
Students in Chile expand education calls to include political reform
Following last year’s massive protests in Chile, college students are starting a new school year with renewed calls for reforms in education. And some who participated in the demonstrations say they now have a clearer sense of what they want: not just free, quality education, but also structural political changes. From Santiago, FSRN’s Eilís O’neill reports.