April 26, 2012

  • Former Liberian leader, Charles Taylor, convicted at international court
  • Manning whistleblower trial could chill service member speech, says defense
  • Congress takes up CISPA as critics say cyber security measure would impinge on Internet privacy
  • San Francisco workers push city businesses and officials to address income inequality

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Norwegians stand in solidarity against extremism

Tens of thousands of Norwegians gathered outside the trial of Anders Behring Breivik today, singing a song the accused killer has said he hates. Breivik is on trial for killing 77 people on a shooting rampage last July. Last week Breivik stated the song, “Children of the Rainbow,” was an example of Marxist brainwashing.

Suicide bombers target Nigerian journalists

At least six people died today after suicide bombers attacked several newspaper offices in Northern Nigeria. FSRN’s Sam Olukoya reports from Lagos.

The most devastating of the attacks occurred in the Nigerian capital Abuja at the office of ThisDay Newspaper, one of the country’s largest and most influential newspapers. Two people and the suicide bomber died in the car bombing. At about the same time, in the Northern city of Kaduna, another suicide bomber detonated explosives in a building where ThisDay and two other newspapers have offices. Three people died in the incident. Although they appeared to be the targets, no journalists were killed in either bombing.  No group has claimed responsibility for the attacks, but the Boko Haram is suspected. The Islamist group, which is fighting for the imposition of Islamic law in Nigeria, has carried out a series of suicide bombings. Sam Olukoya, FSRN, Lagos.

Dozens dead in Syria as violence continues

An explosion in Syria yesterday left as many as 70 people dead.  Local activists told international media that the blast happened in a residential district in Hama, and blamed government shelling or even a missile attack.  More are dead today. Human rights groups say more than 450 people have been killed since a cease-fire was supposed to go into effect 10 days ago. The AP reports that a Syrian opposition faction announced plans today to form a government in exile.

ACTA loses support in the European Parliament

A liberal political group says they’ll vote against the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement, or ACTA, when it comes before the European Parliament. This may be the final nail in the coffin for the controversial international internet piracy and intellectual property agreement, which needs ratification by the EU to go into effect. The announcement now puts a majority of European Parliament members on record as opposing the agreement. FSRN’s Liam Moriarty has more.

Guy Verhofstadt heads the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats in the European Parliament. He says the bloc understands the economic importance to Europe of protecting the works of authors, artists and designers. “But it is now clear today that there are serious concerns that ACTA is not providing a suitable balance between protection of intellectual property rights on the one side, and fundamental rights and freedoms at the other hand.” Verhofstadt suggests new agreements should be transparently negotiated, and should deal separately with the different issues surrounding counterfeit consumer goods, fake medicines and illegal downloads of movies and music.  ACTA has been on life support since February. That’s when a wave of street protests from Paris to Prague prompted the European Commission to refer it to Europe’s high court for an opinion on whether ACTA violates EU privacy and human rights laws.  But now that a majority in the Parliament has vowed to kill the pact when it comes up for a vote May 29th, there seems little chance ACTA will survive.  Liam Moriarty, FSRN, Normandy, France.

White House further eases restriction on Yemen drone attacks

The White House has approved an expansion of the US drone program in Yemen. Now the CIA and US military will be allowed to kill people based on their behavior, even if their identity is not known. The Wall Street Journal, citing unnamed senior US officials, says the objectives still must be “high-value terrorism targets” and not low-level militants rebelling against the Yemeni government. The use of unmanned drone aircraft in Yemen has expanded significantly this year. Civil rights groups have questioned the legality of the strikes, as well as the government’s secrecy on the matter. The ACLU has a FOIA request in asking the White House to disclose the legal basis for the use of predator drones for targeted killings overseas.

Colorado Democrats look for GOP support for civil unions legislation

The Colorado Senate tentatively approved a civil unions bill Wednesday, and today is poised to send the measure to the Republican-controlled House. There Democrats are scrounging for GOP support on a key committee. FSRN’s Jim Pullen has the story.

The measure enjoys support from three Republican Senators, a fifth of the Republican delegation. Consequently the civil union bill is expected to pass an official vote in the Senate this week. The real problem will be finding a Republican supporter on the House Judiciary Committee, says Democratic sponsor, Representative Mark Farrandino. “If one Republican would stand up and say yes to that bill, then it would head on to the Appropriations Committee where we believe we have a vote.  And then onto the floor where we will have a significant number of Republicans standing with the Democrats to support the bill.” Similar legislation in 2011 failed by a single vote in the House. But according to Farrandino, Republicans are under more pressure to pass the bill this year. “We just saw at the state Republican Assembly roughly 46% of their delegates voted in support of civil unions that’s the base of their party.” If the bill passes the House, Governor Hickenlooper has already indicated that he will sign it.  Jim Pullen, FSRN, Boulder.



Former Liberian leader, Charles Taylor, convicted at international court

Former Liberian President Charles Taylor has been found guilty on eleven counts of aiding and abetting war crimes and crimes against humanity during the civil war in Sierra Leone. The decision came at an international criminal court in The Hague. Taylor is the first former head of state to be convicted by an international court since the Nuremberg trials, and was the first sitting head of state ever to be indicted by an international court. Although human rights groups are calling the decision historic, some are questioning the court’s verdict and the court’s credibility. FSRN’s Hermione Gee reports.

Manning whistleblower trial could chill service member speech, says defense

Today the judge hearing the government’s case against private Bradley Manning rejected a motion by the defense to consolidate some of the charges against Manning, who is accused of leaking classified documents to Wikileaks. The leaked material includes diplomatic cables that reveal unvarnished accounts of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and a video of a 2007 helicopter attack in Iraq that resulted in the killing of civilians, including a Reuters photographer. Manning’s defense lawyer says the prosecution has added charges to increase the punishment if convicted. He has also criticized the lack of access to some of the evidence against Manning. For more, we speak with reporter, Kevin Gosztola, with the Dissenter at Fire Dog Lake. He’s also the co-author of the book “Truth and Consequences: The US vs. Bradley Manning.” He’s been attending the Manning hearing and he joins us by phone from Fort Meade.

Congress takes up CISPA as critics say cyber security measure would impinge on Internet privacy

On Capitol Hill today, the House of Representatives took up the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act, or CISPA. The bill’s broad language allows private companies to share consumers’ personal data with the government and one another. While the bill’s Democrat and Republican supporters say it’s a crucial step to protect the country’s databases from foreign and domestic cyber attacks, its path to becoming law has challenges. The White House has threatened a veto, and civil liberties advocates are mobilizing to defeat it. FSRN’s Alice Ollstein reports.

San Francisco workers push city businesses and officials to address income inequality

Today we continue our week long series on labor issues leading up to International Worker’s Day on May First by going to San Francisco. The city is a destination for tourists, high tech firms and workers from all walks of life looking to better their lives and find economic opportunity. But the cost of living is so high that it’s chasing away middle and low-income immigrants and minorities who, up until now, have been an important part of the city’s success. Workers are fighting back and demanding the business leaders and elected officials do more to address the city’s income inequality. FSRN’s Max Pringle has more.

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