September 10, 2012

  • Shell begins drilling in Arctic waters, despite concerns over environment, increasing ice melt
  • Protesters cite President Obama’s record abroad at Florida event
  • Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein draws contrast with major parties on economy, foreign policy
  • West Bank protests disrupt region for second week as concern about economy grows
  • Socialist candidate draws support ahead of Dutch elections

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300,000 Chicago students out of school as teachers strike

Thousands of Chicago teachers are on the picket line, as contract negotiations between the city and teachers’ union failed prior to today’s strike deadline. FSRN’s Jaisal Noor has more from Chicago.

More than 300,000 students and 27,000 Chicago teachers were out of school today as the Chicago teachers union began its first strike in 25 years. Negotiations are stalled between the country’s third largest school district and union over teacher pay, benefits, seniority rights and linking teacher evaluations to test scores, a key component of President Obama’s Race to the Top education program. Mayor Rahm Emannuel called the strike “unnecessary.” Chicago Teachers Union president Karen Lewis said the strike would continue until all demands were met. “No CTU members will be inside our schools. We will walk the picket lines. We will talk to parents. We will talk to clergy. We will demand a fair contract today, we demand a fair contract now. And until there is one in place that our members will accept, we will be on the line.” Talks have resumed but there is no indication how long the strike will last. Jaisal Noor, FSRN, Chicago.

US officially meets Bagram prison handover deadline; but “pauses” the transfer process

The United States officially turned over control of the controversial Parwan prison at Bagram Airbase to Afghan authorities today, but most of the prisoners jailed there were already under Afghan authority. Today the US refused to hand over more than 600 other prisoners: 34 deemed high value detainees, the balance detained after the agreement to hand over control was reached last March. According to the  Open Society Foundations, US authorities are concerned that the Afghans will abandon the current “detention without trial” or administrative detention system.  Human Rights First said that US “failure to transfer all of the detainees does not change” their right to due process.

One dead in anti-nuclear power protest in southern India; thousands oppose new plant start

One person is dead and dozens more injured after police opened fire today on demonstrators opposing a nuclear plant in India’s southern state of Tamilnadu. Prabhakar Mani Tewari has more.

Thousands of largely local women and children from nearby fishing villages demonstrated for a second day on a beach near the Kudankulam power station. They don’t want the controversial power plant to fuel up. It is set to begin operation within weeks. To disperse the crowd police used a tactic called lathicharge, in which forces charge a crowd while wielding batons, and fired teargas. Many fled into the sea to escape, some fought back by throwing stones and logs, others resorted to arson setting ablaze at least four government offices nearby. One fisherman died when officers opened fire on the crowed. Several organizations have appealed Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Tamilnadu chief minister Jayalalitha to stop the  project immediately. The power plant was originally set to start production last year, but was delayed after local outcry following the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster. The plant sits near the southern tip of India, a region hard hit by a tsunami in 2004. Prabhakar Mani Tewari, FSRN, Kolkat, India.

Iraq exiled VP calls for calm after death sentence; at least 100 dead in weekend explosions

On Sunday at least 100 people died in violence across 13 Iraqi cities in attacks on Shi’ite targets. Iraq’s Vice President called for calm today. He was sentenced in absentia to death over the weekend. In exile in Turkey, Tariq al-Hashimi is accused of organizing death squads and was sentenced Sunday to hanging for two murders. Al Hashimi, the county’s top Sunni politician, called the sentence politically crafted to spur sectarian violence. He denies the charges and can appeal..

Housing rights activists occupy Fannie Mae’s Atlanta headquarters

Hundreds of Occupy Atlanta activists occupied the headquarters of Fannie Mae today – calling on mortgage giants to adjust underwater mortgages to real market values, stop evictions and allow post-foreclosure rental, and offer buyers the same knock off prices they charge hedge investors.

Occupy Austin says police infiltrated; influenced protest strategy resulting in felony charges

And in Austin, members of Occupy say their group was infiltrated by undercover police who incited an escalation of tactics during last year’s non-violent solidarity protest with West Coast longshoremen. They say as a result, they were charged with felonies where other protesters were slapped with misdemeanors.

Larry Gibson 1946 – 2012

After decades of fighting to end  mountain top removal coal mining, West Virginia’s Larry Gibson died yesterday. Gibson was able to save his mountain top home through a land trust, and continued to educate many about the environmental and health effects of the practice that shears off the tops of mountains to access the coal within. He spoke to FSRN’s Melinda Tuhus in 2010.  “If I kill you slow, is that still murder? And that’s what the industry is doing here. Every day, by running poison water in the cisterns and in the rivers and streams and faucets on the wall and sinks, that’s still killing people slowly, every damn day. Why ain’t that murder?” Larry Gibson died of a heart attack on his beloved Kayford mountain Sunday, he was 66 years old.



Shell begins drilling in Arctic waters, despite concerns over environment, increasing ice melt

After years of delays due to safety and environmental concerns, Shell Oil has started drilling operations off the Alaskan Coast. But because their spill response ship Arctic Challenger is not yet ready or in position, the Department of the Interior only granted them a permit for an exploratory well, and won’t yet allow them to go after the zones estimated to have the most oil. And since it’s late in the season, they’ll only be able to install some infrastructure and equipment for the oil well in the Chukchi Sea over the next few weeks, before they have to shut down and wait for next summer’s ice melt to continue drilling. This comes as new data from the National Snow and Ice Data Center finds that Arctic sea ice is at its lowest level since satellite recordings began, with several weeks of summer melting yet to come. Travis Nichols with Greenpeace said Shell is just one of several companies gearing up to profit from resources and waterways newly exposed by the shrinking ice caps.

NICHOLS: It’s just terrifying to think they’d want to use a catastrophe on this magnitude to make a quick buck.

Scientists at The National Snow and Ice Data Center report that within a few decades, there could be completely ice-free summers at the northern pole. In this context, Nichols says the environmental concerns that have dogged Shell since it secured the drilling lease in 2008 remain unresolved.

NICHOLS: They put forward emission standards that they agreed to with the Obama Administration and the EPA, but when they were actually going forward, they said, “We can’t meet these standards. Can we meet lesser standards?” They also said their spill response vessels could meet certain seaworthiness standards, but once they started going up there, they said, “We can’t meet those standards. How about we meet these looser, lesser standards?” And so far, the Obama Administration has said that’s fine, which establishes a very dangerous precedent.

Greenpeace activists say shrinking sea ice and growing drilling and mining is a threat to the region’s wildlife, including seals, whales and caribou. This, in turn, impacts the Inupiat and other native communities that depend on hunting and fishing for subsistence. Nichols added that those who live far from the region are also feeling the effects of the loss of the ice caps, but often don’t make the connection.

NICHOLS: The Arctic can seem like a remote region, far away from our everyday lives, but as we can see from this summer, when it’s melting up there, it’s burning here. The extreme weather events that we’ve had are inexorably linked to what’s going on in the Arctic, because the way the Arctic works is that it cools the rest of the planet. When you have the sea ice melting, you’re making global warming that much worse.

As they consult with indigenous Alaskans about protest and lobbying efforts in the months ahead, Greenpeace members will go to the UN General Assembly in New York next week, to call on the international body to intervene in what they call a “polar emergency.”

Protesters cite President Obama’s record abroad at Florida event

Climate change was mentioned only briefly in President Barack Obama’s address last week at the Democratic National Convention. He spent much more time and attention on the slowly recovering economy. He also cited what he called accomplishments in foreign affairs, including the withdrawal of combat troops from Iraq and the killing of Osama bin Laden. While many Democrats continue to support these policies, critics protested the President over the weekend, when he made a stop at St. Petersburg College in Seminole, Florida. FSRN’s Josh Holton reports.

Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein draws contrast with major parties on economy, foreign policy

As people scrutinize President Obama’s record on war and foreign policy, another presidential candidate is making that critique a key feature of her platform. Green Party Presidential Candidate Dr. Jill Stein has criticized President Obama’s use of targeted assassinations and war spending and instead is proposing a Green New Deal for economic recovery in the US. The Real News Network’s Paul Jay spoke with Jill Stein about how she and the Greens stand apart from the two major party candidates.

You can view an extended video interview here:…

West Bank protests disrupt region for second week as concern about economy grows

The wave of protests against high prices continues in the West Bank for a second week. The entire West Bank came to a standstill as public transportation drivers and shop owners launched a strike in the early morning. This came after Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said over the weekend that the government did not have enough funds to pay employees full salaries this month. FSRN’s Ghassan Bannoura Reports.

Socialist candidate draws support ahead of Dutch elections

Parliamentary elections take place this week in the Netherlands, where the leader of the socialist party is growing in popularity. Supporters say Emile Roemer appeals to them because of his promises to protect the welfare state and his party’s consistent skepticism towards further European integration. If he wins, it would be a first in Dutch history FSRN’s Peter Teffer reports from Arnhem, the Netherlands.

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