May 18, 2012

  • Obama’s plan for food crisis in West Africa criticized for reliance on multinationals
  • In Pakistan, a woman’s fight against hunger, one meal at a time
  • Increase in Yemen attacks marks new phase of US involvement
  • Afghan refugees and advocates press NATO to address human cost of war
  • Survivors of Thai violence call for justice in protest killings

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400 detained in Blockupy Frankfurt demonstrations

German police detained 400 anti-austerity protestors in Frankfurt today as thousands took to the streets.  The demonstrators are taking part in a 4-day “Blockupy” protest organized by about 40 different organizations.  The protests in Germany’s financial capital are due to run through Saturday.  FSRN’s Cinnamon Nippard has more.

Demonstrators defied German authorities who banned the protests yesterday and today.  German police have locked down the city’s financial district, blocking streets around the European Central Bank and minimizing traffic outside the Deutsche Bank headquarters. Protestors are criticizing the way that governments are responding to the financial crisis, saying that austerity measures are punishing ordinary people for the actions of banks and investors. The European Central Bank has come under fire, but has defended its position on austerity, saying the measures have already prevented a major credit crunch.  Around 30,000 protestors are expected over the weekend.  Cinnamon Nippard, FSRN, Germany.

According to International Business Times, the hacker group Anonymous launched denial of service attacks against German government websites today, in solidarity with the Blockupy Frankfurt protests.

German company could provide Bhopal toxic waste disposal alternative

In India, the controversy continues over how to dispose of toxic waste left at a US company’s industrial site after the 1984 Bhopal gas disaster.  Local communities have balked at proposals to incinerate the waste nearby, and now an international option is emerging.  FSRN’s Shuriah Niazi reports from Bhopal.

The Madhya Pradesh government and German company GIZ held talks this week about the waste remaining at the Union Carbide plant in Bhopal.  GIZ had recently offered to incinerate 350 metric tons of toxic waste at a facility in Hamburg, Germany.  A team from the company visited the Carbide plant and met with state government officials.  Local media report GIZ is likely to charge $2.6 million dollars US for airlifting and disposing of the waste. National officials had recommended that the waste be incinerated at a plant in Pithampura in Madhya Pradesh.  But the state government and NGOs have opposed that plan, arguing that the local facility is not capable of handling the toxic waste.  The Indian Supreme Court halted the Pithampura disposal plan late last week.  Shuriah Niazi, FSRN, Bhopal.

New details emerge in Trayvon Martin case, shooting “avoidable”

Documents released this week by the Florida State Attorney’s office reveal several new pieces of information about the Trayvon Martin shooting incident.  Among them was a police report that found George Zimmerman could have avoided a confrontation with the African-American teen if he had stayed in his car and waited 6 minutes for the authorities to arrive.  The police report called the incident “ultimately avoidable.”  The report also said there was no indication that Martin was involved in any criminal activity. Police photos and a medical report leaked to media yesterday did indicate Zimmerman had been injured in a scuffle, and other documents reveal it had been Zimmerman calling for help during a confrontation with Martin. In another interview released, Martin’s girlfriend, who was on the phone with the teen right before he was shot, said Trayvon was out of breath after running away from someone.  The unnamed girl also said she had heard Martin asking why the person was following him and then yelling at them to “get off.”  A toxicology report did show Martin’s blood had trace amounts of THC, the chemical in marijuana, but CNN reports that the levels would not even be enough to get someone arrested for DUI in some states.

Americans Elect confirms it will field no presidential candidate

The new political party Americans Elect is shutting down its primary process, saying no candidate gained enough national support to qualify for the group’s online convention planned for June.  There had been speculation that the political group would put forth a candidate anyway, since it had gained ballot access in a majority of US states.  But in a statement posted Thursday, party leadership said that Americans Elect had from the outset been a “rules-based process” and that the rules governing convention qualification would stand.  The group also said it intends to continue its mission of “creating more choice in our political system.”


Obama’s plan for food crisis in West Africa criticized for reliance on multinationals

Leaders of the world’s eight wealthiest countries are gathering at Maryland’s Camp David today for the G8 Summit, and one of the main issues on the agenda is the ongoing food and water crisis in West Africa. President Obama announced a sweeping food security initiative this morning involving both national governments and multinational corporations. But some experts are concerned about an increased reliance on the private sector, including companies that promote pesticides and GMO crops. FSRN’s Alice Ollstein has more.

In Pakistan, a woman’s fight against hunger, one meal at a time

Food insecurity is a problem faced by many throughout the world. And as debates about broad policies and strategies get the attention, it is a day to day struggle for millions. In Pakistan, one woman has taken a stand against hunger in her community and by feeding hundreds of people each day, hopes to help break the cycle of poverty and violence. Catherine Komp reads for our reporter in Pakistan, Gabe Matthews.

Increase in Yemen attacks marks new phase of US involvement

In Yemen, US-supported military strikes have stepped up this week. On Monday, government planes and soldiers struck a base in southern Yemen that the US said was an Al Qaeda stronghold, killing at least 29, according to the AP. Two suspected US drone attacks on Tuesday killed 12 civilians. And Residents near the town of Shibam in the central part of the country reported missile strikes on Thursday. For more, we’re joined by Ibraham Qatab. He’s a Yemeni American human rights activist and a legal worker with the Center for Constitutional Rights. He joins us from New York.

Afghan refugees and advocates press NATO to address human cost of war

Protests continued in Chicago ahead of the NATO summit this weekend, with nurses drawing attention to inadequate health care and calling for taxes on Wall Street. Organizers from the National Nurses United said the rally moved forward at Daley Square after city officials reversed a pledge to block the protest. Also this morning, police released a group of people without charges after arresting them Wednesday. Police suspected them of planning to make Molotov cocktails and raided an apartment late Wednesday night, according to The Chicago Tribune. But lawyers say those arrested had only beer making equipment and called it a “fear campaign.” As protesters prepare to face a heavy police presence this weekend, NATO leaders are expected to discuss troop withdrawal in Afghanistan and an ongoing presence past 2014; missile defense and surveillance; and enlarging the military alliance. One topic that’s not on the agenda is the plight of refugees, people uprooted because of armed conflict. Human rights advocates say this heavy cost of war needs to be addressed. from Chicago, FSRN’s Jay Sapir reports.

Survivors of Thai violence call for justice in protest killings

Two years after deadly clashes between Thai troops and opposition protesters, authorities have been slow to bring to justice military and government officials responsible for the violence. Human Rights Watch and other advocates are calling for prosecution in the deaths of dozens of people. But now the government says it has plans to pass a general amnesty through parliament. FSRN’s Ron Corben reports from Bangkok.

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