July 31, 2012

  • As new health care measures take effect, fight over reproductive rights continues
  • Anaheim residents call for reform at city council after deadly police shootings
  • Elections in disputed Caucusus region show promise, highlight tension
  • Corporations to profit from temporary tax haven at London Olympics

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UN Convoy attacked in Syria

The head of the United Nations observer mission convoy in Syria came under attack over the weekend.  According to the UN, no one was hurt because the vehicles were covered in armor.  Fighting between the military and anti-government forces continues, with the heaviest fighting still around the Northern Syrian city of Aleppo.  UNHCR spokesperson Melissa Fleming says many local residents have no means to flee the city or feel it’s too dangerous to make the journey because of armed gangs and roadblocks.

“We are trying our best to help the people in the schools. For example there are 32 schools in Aleppo that we’ve identified and in each of those schools we’ve heard or witnessed that there are between 250 and 300 people were packed inside, many of these families, kids. And then in university dormitories there are a total of some 7,000 people staying in the dormitory rooms hoping to seek safety from the continuing shelling and the continuing violence in the streets of Aleppo.”

Both the rebels and government forces say they are controlling the battle in Aleppo.  France takes over as rotating head of the UN Security Council tomorrow, August 1st, and says it will call for an emergency meeting on Syria. But with Russia and China still opposed to actions condemning Syrian President Bashar Al –Assad, its unclear what the UN can accomplish.

Police attack Interior Ministry in Yemen

At least ten people were killed and dozens wounded, when police loyal to ousted Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh took over the Interior Ministry in the country’s capital, Sana’a.  After a year of protests against his rule, Saleh stepped down earlier this year.  But tensions remain; reportedly Saleh’s nephew, who’s in charge of the police’s central security forces, sent officers to participate in a demonstration, which precipitated the takeover of the ministry building. Saleh’s supporters remain in control of the building and neighboring streets.

Russian activist charged and banned from leaving the country

Russian officials charged a well-known anti-corruption activist with stealing large sums of money from the government, a charge that could carry up to ten years in prison. The move targets one of the opposition’s most effective leaders. Ekaterina Danilova reports.

The Russian National Investigative Committee says it has evidence that Alexey Navalny stole 16 million rubles, or about five hundred thousand dollars, in a forestry deal when he worked for a regional governor in 2009.  Navalny denies all the charges, saying such accusations are how the Kremlin deals with its critics, in an address to reporters after his appearance at the committee.

“All the jokes about how Khodorkovsky stole all the oil and Navalny stole all the forest is about what has happened here. As far as I understand, the only sense of this is to make it so that today our wonderful first and second channels can say on the news that Navalny stole 16 million rubles.

The charges come amid a government crackdown on the opposition through a series of new laws. Police also roughly broke up unsanctioned, anti-Putin protests in Moscow and St-Petersburg today, with dozens arrested.  Navalny has filed a claim against the accusation in court.  The first hearing is scheduled for later this week.  Ekaterina Danilova, FSRN, Russia.

Power outages continue in India

Power outages in India escalated today, leaving hundreds of millions without electricity.  A 15-hour long power outage on Monday affected nine states; shortly after the Northern grid was restored, it went out again, along with the grids serving eastern and Northeastern India.  Hundreds of commuter and long distance trains were stranded on the tracks, and close to 200 coal miners were trapped underground when the power to operate their pulley system failed.  A report by a government panel investigating the power failure is due within 15 days.

Democrats Select Latino keynote speaker, may include same –sex marriage in party platform

The Democratic Party may include support for same sex marriage in their party platform at this year’s convention.  The Democratic Party platform draft committee unanimously approved the language; it still has to be approved by the full platform committee, which meets in two weeks. On his program the 700 Club, noted Conservative commentator Pat Robertson said he believes the move will hurt the Democrats in this Novembers elections.

“About 2 percent of the population are homosexual.  One percent of the population are lesbian.  That’s a tiny group.  And every time this initiative has been brought to the ballot where the people have a chance to vote, they vote overwhelmingly in favor of traditional marriage.  For the democrats to go out on that limb, it just seems like tome that they are further alienating themselves from the mainstream of America.  If that’s what they want to do fine, but it will mean the death Knell of their party it seems like to me, and maybe they have a death wish.”



As new health care measures take effect, fight over reproductive rights continues

Key provisions of the Affordable Care Act take effect this week, including free screenings for cancer and domestic violence, affordable breastfeeding supplies and counseling, and full coverage of preventative care services including contraception. Even though the Supreme Court recently upheld most of the health care reform law, the struggle for reproductive rights on Capitol Hill and across the country continues as the House of Representatives votes to ban some abortions in D.C. and a federal judge upholds Arizona’s new abortions restrictions  that legal and women’s health groups call unconstitutional. FSRN’s Alice Ollstein reports.

Anaheim residents call for reform at city council after deadly police shootings

Today in Anaheim, community groups are calling on the city council to adopt reforms that they say would more democratically reflect the city’s Latino residents. The recent shooting of an unarmed man and police force used against residents have refocused attention on police conduct in the Orange County city. Earlier this month the southern chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union and Latino leaders filed a lawsuit saying the city’s at-large elections violate the California state voting law resulting in inadequate representation. Critics of the lawsuit point out that Latinos have served on the council in the past, and according to the Orange County Register, one current member, Lorri Galloway, said she is Filipina and Latina. For more, we’re joined by Martin Lopez, he’s a resident of Anaheim and a community organizer with the UNITE Local 11 union.

Elections in disputed Caucusus region show promise, highlight tension

Recent elections in a disputed territory between Azerbaijan and Armenia have both highlighted tensions in the region and offered hope.  The heavily militarized area in the South Caucasus, called Nagorno Karabakh is near strategic gas pipelines and was the site of a bloody war in the 1990s between Armenia and Azerbaijan. But officials say the elections are an achievement of democratic standards. FSRN’s MJ del Valle looks at whether democracy could make a difference for this republic’s stability and its relationship with rest of the world.

Corporations to profit from temporary tax haven at London Olympics

The Olympic Games in London are underway and projections of event’s cost have risen steadily. At first, London officials estimated $3.6 billion, now they say it will cost $15 billion. And, according to an investigation by Sky News that considers other costs like land acquisition, that could reach nearly $40 billion. As the true cost of the sporting event for the people of the UK is yet to be seen, corporations and private developers already stand to make large profits from the games as the result of a temporary tax break – that has essentially created a tax haven during the Olympics. For more we’re joined by Naomi Fowler of the Tax Justice Network and producer of the Taxcast, a 15-minute monthly podcast with news and analysis on tax havens and corruption. You can listen to Naomi Fowler’s full report on the temporary tax haven at the Olympics on the Taxcast, the podcsat from the The Justice Network at tackletaxhavens.com/taxcast.

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