August 31, 2012

  • In election, Republicans drop support for renewable energy incentives
  • Developing nations push for emission cuts, financing for adaptation at Bangkok climate talks
  • New York residents urge governor to consider fracking concerns in state policy
  • Legacy of racism and voter suppression play role in South Carolina’s voter ID trial
  • Anarchists lead community clean up in Tampa as RNC wraps up with little violence reported

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Obama signs executive order to combat veteran suicide

President Barack Obama signed an executive order today expanding outreach and prevention efforts for veteran suicide. Among other measures, veterans in crisis will be connected to a mental health worker within 24 hours, and pathways to accessing mental health professionals will be augmented, including a call to increase the number of crisis lines by 50%.  The Department of Veterans Affairs is also ordered to create a national suicide prevention campaign.  In addition, the order calls for the creation of an action plan to increase research on the causes, diagnosis and treatment of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and Traumatic Brain Injury.

Justice Department won’t bring criminal charges in CIA interrogation inquiry

The Justice Department says it will not bring criminal charges in the case of two prisoners who died after allegedly being interrogated by the CIA. The prisoners were being held overseas by the US during the George W. Bush administration. The Department says that after a one year review, the admissible evidence it uncovered “would not be sufficient to obtain and sustain a conviction beyond a reasonable doubt.” This investigation was the result of a larger review of US interrogation practices. Justice says it was the only case where prosecutors believed further investigation was warranted.

Seattle residents to begin accruing paid sick leave

Tomorrow, workers in Seattle will begin accruing paid sick leave.  It’s part of a new ordinance that requires businesses with more than four employees to provide workers the leave for illness, family caregiving or domestic violence situations. Some business owners opposed the law, saying the financial burden would hurt them.  Joe Fugere, who owns Tutta Bella Pizzerias and employs 170 people, says his bottom line won’t change that much and the leave will boost worker morale. “In my case, it’s not even whether or not it’s going to pay off – it’s just whether or not it’s the right thing. It’s going to be about a half of a percent more of an expense, to me. I’m almost embarrassed that we didn’t do it sooner.” The new policy is enforced by the city’s Office of Civil Rights. About 40 percent of Seattle workers don’t currently earn paid sick leave. This number is mimicked nationwide. Many of these people are in industries like construction and travel and leisure or work part time. National legislation on the issue has been introduced, but has not advanced.

Honduran indigenous group assaulted while trying to survey ancestral land

This week, the 33rd Honduran journalist in two years was gunned down and yet another campesino in the conflict-riddled Bajo Aguan region was assassinated. In another part of the country, Garifuna leaders are fighting development plans for their ancestral land. They claim to have staved off a massacre this week at the hands of powerful landowners. FSRN’s Tim Russo brings us more.

Early Monday morning, nearly 300 Garifuna families organized by the Fraternal Organization of Black Hondurans traveled to Vallecito, a small tract of land on the Atlantic coast. Their mission was to recover and measure their ancestral land that was legally titled, but physically denied to them in 1997. The families say that since their arrival, they have been subject to constant harassment by heavily-armed private security forces that have fired weapons and surrounded their camp.  Organizer Miriam Miranda says this constant paramilitary activity is connected to Honduran landowners Miguel Facussé and Renaldo Villalobo, who have also been tied to the violence against campesinos in Bajo Aguan. “We are tremendously worried about the how the state responds.  It’s a clear example. They have mobilized the entire Honduran army at the request of Miguel Facusse to safeguard his African Palm plantations. But in our case, it has been impossible for them to send even 4 state security officers to offer protection as we articulate and measure Garifuna communities.” According to Miranda, the complicity of the Honduran government is connected to plans for Latin America´s first Charter City or Special Development Region. Twenty-four Garifuna communities could be severely affected. The Garifuna are holding a forum tomorrow to raise awareness of the effect of Charter Cities on local communities.  Because of self-governance provisions, organizers argue Honduras is permitting a state within a state, indicating it has no interest in protecting Garifuna or campesino land claims. Tim Russo, FSRN.

Maldives commission says February presidential ouster not a coup

Police arrested supporters of the former president of the Maldives early this morning as hundreds protested the findings of a report by an inquiry commission.  The commission found the change-over of government in February was not a coup, and that former President Mohamed Nasheed stepped aside of his own free will. The AP reports Nasheed’s representative on the commission walked out because key witness statements and other evidence were excluded from the final report. The commission also found that police brutality was used against Nasheed and his supporters in the days following his ouster.



In election, Republicans drop support for renewable energy incentives

Today in Florida, Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney was interrupted during a speech as he and his running mate, Paul Ryan, prepared to depart from Tampa and the Republican National Convention. Felipe Sousa-Rodriguez with the group Get Equal was there and told FSRN that about seven activists from his group and DRM Capitol went to the airport, where Romney was speaking to draw attention to immigrant and LGBT rights. Last night during Romney’s speech, several other activists were removed from the convention hall after they began to chant, “People over profit” and “Democracy is not a business.” A video shows three protesters, including Medea Benjamin, escorted from the building by security guards. One guard holds one of the protesters against a wall as a crowd gathers. As the speech continued inside the convention hall, Mitt Romney pledged to restore, what he called, the promise of America. “This isn’t something we have to accept. Now is the moment we can do something and with your help, we will do something.” An expiring tax credit for wind energy has become a focal issue highlighting differences between the Obama and Romney energy policies. Although the Republican party supported a tax credit for renewables in 2008, that support has been dropped from its 2012 platform. President Obama and other supporters of the credit argue that it is needed to save jobs and level the playing field as the nascent industry is developing. FSRN’s Jim Pullen has the story.

Developing nations push for emission cuts, financing for adaptation at Bangkok climate talks

At the latest UN climate change talks taking place in Bangkok, Thailand, small island states are calling for immediate action to keep warming below 1.5 to 2 degrees Celsius of pre-industrial levels, saying their survival depends on it. Several UN working groups met in Bangkok today to address cuts to emissions, funds to help the hardest hit countries adapt and what’s next for the Kyoto protocol, which partially expires this year. The meeting is in preparation for negotiations in Doha, Qatar later this year. The talks come as scientists warned this week that arctic ice cover has reached its lowest point since record-keeping began three decades ago. The National Snow and Ice Data Center called it an indication that sea ice cover is “fundamentally changing.” For more on the most recent climate talks, we’re joined by Meena Raman of the Third World Network. She’s based in Malaysia and is in Bangkok for the talks.

New York residents urge governor to consider fracking concerns in state policy

Opposition to hydraulic fracking has been growing across the country, as more communities grow concerned over contaminated water, pollution, earthquakes and potential health effects. In New York state, the Governor is still considering whether to move forward with fracking and activists hope to sway his decision. Earlier this week, about 1500 rallied in Albany, the state capital. FSRN’s James Krivo spoke to participants for this edition of Street Beat. You just heard Claire Donahue with the Sane Energy Project; Isaac Silbermann-Gorn a Binghamton resident who works with Citizen Action; Dominick Frangelo, deputy town supervisor of Caroline, New York, Roger Downs with the Sierra Club and David Publo, Brooklyn resident and member of United for Action. They spoke to FSRN’s James Krivo at an anti-fracking rally this week in Albany.

Legacy of racism and voter suppression play role in South Carolina’s voter ID trial

Today, a federal judge in Ohio ruled to restore early voting across the state. The Obama Administration had sued Ohio for curtailing early voting rights in certain counties with urban, heavily Democratic populations. The news comes on the final day of testimony in the trial on South Carolina’s voter ID law, which focused on how the law was passed and the history of racism and voter suppression in the state. Alice Ollstein has more, in FSRN’s second day of coverage on the trial.

Anarchists lead community clean up in Tampa as RNC wraps up with little violence reported

In Tampa this week, police made few arrests at the Republican Convention. Demonstrations were largely peaceful, despite warnings of “anarchist” threats from the FBI and Homeland Security. Anarchists in Tampa say they’re being unfairly labeled, and this week conducted a community clean-up to try to change public opinion. FSRN’s Janelle Irwin has more.

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