June 8, 2012

  • In Israel, attacks against African refugees increase as a court upholds a deportation order
  • World Bank panel says mining company can sue Salvadoran government over stopped gold mine
  • Environmentalists call for meaningful action at upcoming UN sustainable development conference
  • Climate change research suggests the planet is rapidly heading toward the tipping point
  • Washington lawmakers slash the budgets of financial watchdog agencies

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Students march on Canada Grand Prix opening

In Quebec, student strikers and their supporters clashed with police as Canada’s Formula 1 Grand Prix opened last night.  The car racing event is Montreal’s first large tourist event of the season.  The organizers of the demonstration describe the Grand Prix as the ultimate symbol of turbo-capitalism.  FSRN’s Stefanie Clermont was at the protest.

Approximately 200 people gathered Thursday evening near the Grand Prix’s opening ceremony and cocktail party.  They were met by dozens of police who had set up fences around their meeting point.

Crowd: “Police partout, justice nulle part!”

As soon as the students attempted to begin their march, police surrounded the crowd, forming a tight kettle around the group.  No order to disperse was given and the crowd shouted at the police, asking if they were under arrest.

Protester: “Est-ce qu’on est en état d’arrestation?”

The police made targeted arrests.  After about an hour, they gave a call to disperse.  The group was then released and the demonstration redirected toward downtown Montreal, where Grand Prix festivities were underway.  Police and protesters clashed again as tourists and passers-by watched.  There were 37 arrests in total. Later in the evening, the Gran Prix activists were joined by student strike supporters who had come out for the 45th night of demonstrations against tuition increases and Quebec’s new punitive protest law.  Stefanie Clermont, FSRN, Montreal.

US General apologies to Afghan village for civilian deaths

A top US official in Afghanistan has apologized for a NATO attack Wednesday that killed civilians.  The AP reports General John Allen traveled to the village where the air strike occurred and spoke to community leaders, telling them NATO “will do the right thing by the families.”  Allen said the troops did not know there were civilians inside the house.  The AP also spoke to a local doctor who said Taliban fighters had taken shelter among the civilians.

UN monitors and press allowed to survey Syria massacre site

UN monitors have finally been allowed to visit the village of Mazraat al-Qubeir, the site of an alleged massacre by government troops that left as many as 78 people dead.  The government has denied responsibility.  Reporters traveling with the UN observers say no bodies remain, but there is evidence of violence in the form of blood, pieces of flesh and the smell of burnt bodies.

Another body dump in Mexican border state

Criminals in Mexico have once again dropped off the victims of a massacre in front of a government building.  It’s the third so called “body dump” in the border state of Tamaulipas in the past three months.  FSRN’s Shannon Young has more.

Fourteen bodies were discovered Thursday afternoon abandoned in a truck parked in front of the city hall of Mante, Tamaulipas.  The state government – infamous for its lack of transparency – has yet to officially confirm the details of the find.  Statements in Mexican media credited to an anonymous official indicate the victims included 11 men and 3 women and that at least 9 of the bodies were without heads. Two other incidents – also involving 14 bodies abandoned in vehicles by official buildings – have occurred in the border city of Nuevo Laredo since April. Earlier this week, the US consulate in Matamoros – another Tamaulipas border city – reported a series of recent attacks with explosive devices.  Social media users uploaded photos Wednesday of a burning car in the state capital, Ciudad Victoria, and reported hearing an explosion around the same time. In the face of government and local media silence, Twitter users based in Tamaulipas have become the most reliable source for on-the-ground breaking news.  Shannon Young, FSRN, Oaxaca.

Dutch footballers threaten walk-off if faced with more racists chants by Euro 2012 spectators

Players for the Dutch national soccer team are threatening not to play in this weekend’s Euro 2012 football championships.  They say black players on their team were subjected to racist taunts during an open practice held in Krakow, Poland.  The country, along with the Ukraine is hosting the tournament.  The Dutch team captain said if the chants happen during the game, he will request that the referee allow the team to leave the field.  Union of European Football Associations, which puts on Euro 2012, has said it has a zero-tolerance policy towards racism, but it is being criticized for not doing enough to respond to such reports.

Activists protest Budweiser sponsorship of SF Giant’s Native American Heritage Night

In California, members of the American Indian Movement are protesting outside AT&T Park, home of the San Francisco Giants baseball team.  Tonight is Native American Heritage Night at the ballpark, and Indigenous people are protesting Budweiser’s sponsorship.  For FSRN, George Lavender reports.

Anheuser Busch, which makes Budweiser beer, was among the companies named in a federal lawsuit launched by the Oglala Sioux Tribe in February.  For the past 10 years, the Tribe has tried to stop alcohol being sold on the reservation in South Dakota.  But it has been a struggle because most of the alcohol is sold just off the reservation in the town of Whiteclay. The Tribe’s lawsuit argues that companies which sell alcohol in the town are deliberately breaking the Tribe’s ban on alcohol.  Last year, almost 5 million cans of beer were sold in Whiteclay. Bill Simmons is a member of the American Indian Movement

“We’re using this particular game as a way to bring attention to how alcohol corporations, and in this case Anheuser Busch, is using the Native community as a way to sell its products.”

Simmons says the alcohol industry is having a devastating affect across the country.  More than one in ten deaths in Indigenous communities is related to alcohol, three times the rate in the rest of the population.  George Lavender, FSRN, San Francisco.

Military suicide rate increases in 2012

The rate of suicides in the US military is on track to break records.  Statistics obtained by the Associated Press indicate that 154 members of the military committed suicide during the first 155 days of 2012.  This is much higher than the rate of deaths of US troops in combat and represents a nearly 20% increase from the same time period last year.



In Israel, attacks against African refugees increase as a court upholds a deportation order

A Jerusalem court ruling released this week has opened the door for the deportation of South Sudanese refugees from Israel. The decision rejected an appeal by human rights groups to stop the government’s deportation order and comes after weeks of heightened tensions, political incitement and acts of violence aimed at the 60,000 African asylum seekers currently residing in the country. FSRN’s Jillian Kestler-D’Amours has more on the situation from Jerusalem.

A World Bank panel says mining company can sue Salvadoran government over stopped gold mine

A World Bank arbitration panel has ruled that Canadian mining company, Pacific Rim can sue the Salvadoran government for millions of dollars using that country’s court system after the country stopped a gold mining project.  However, the panel also ruled that Pacific Rim cannot file a suit under the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA). After this decision, both sides claimed victory. Oxfam America says an increase in mining exploration activities in El Salvador and across Latin America has coincided with an upsurge in environmental problems and human rights violations. For more we go to Keith Slack, global manager for Oxfam America’s oil, gas and mining program.

Environmentalists call for meaningful action at upcoming UN sustainable development conference

Earlier this week, environmentalists gathered in front of the UN building to call on world leaders to take meaningful action at the upcoming Rio plus 20 sustainable development conference in Brazil.  Eric Weltman is with Food and Water Watch, which organized the event:

“We are concerned that much of what passes for sustainable development is a real disguise for the privatization of water resources and other resources that hinders access to these essential resources, privatizes them then sells them to the highest bidder.”

Other activists, including Tristan Quinn-Thibodeau with the advocacy group Why Hunger say the UN must start paying attention to the solutions offered by social movements:

“Many experts say that such sustainable agriculture could feed the world, but the UN shuts them out. They only listen to the technocrats, chemical agricultural folks. So we want to raise the stories that tell the solutions that peasants are living. They are leading lives that are cooling the planet and producing wealth.  And they are completely shut out of the discourse at the UN.”

The UN conference begins next week and civil society groups, collectives and social movements have organized a parallel People’s Summit.

Climate change research suggests the planet is rapidly heading toward the tipping point

As activists and world leaders seek environmental solutions in Rio, a new paper makes dire predictions about the planet if governments continue to fail to implement strong Climate Change policies. More than 20 international researchers collaborated on the paper, published this week in the journal Nature. KPFA’s John Hamilton sat down with the lead scientist, the University of California’s Anthony Barnosky, to discuss his findings.

Washington lawmakers slash the budgets of financial watchdog agencies

In another move to undo and block the implementation of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street reforms, Republicans on the House Appropriations sub-committee voted this week to slash the budgets of the watchdog agencies tasked with overseeing the financial sector. The proposed cuts come just after government regulators told Congress they don’t have the resources they need to prevent fraud and risky behavior at JP Morgan and other corporations. On Capitol Hill, FSRN’s Alice Ollstein reports.

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