October 12, 2012

  • On foreign policy, Biden and Ryan display difference in style, but little in substance
  • US, Israel adjust assessment of Iran nuclear program, but negotiations lag
  • After widespread criticism, Puerto Rico halts controversial Via Verde pipeline project
  • In India, plan to deal with toxic waste stalls as Bhopal residents call for action

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Global Noise protesters in Seattle to stand in solidarity with jailed Northwest activists

Demonstrations are planned tomorrow in 35 countries as part of a series of world-wide protests against austerity measures called “Global Noise.” Major events have been organized by Indignados in Spain, and by Occupy and social justice organizations on five continents.  People will be banging on pots and pans as part of the day of noise and protest. The “casserole” protest tradition began in Argentina in 2001 and has been repeated around the world, most recently during mass demonstrations in Iceland and Montreal.  FSRN’s Mark Taylor-Canfield reports from Seattle, where protesters are using the day to highlight the plight of three Northwest activists who are fighting a Federal Grand Jury.

Occupy and decolonize activists have planned an entire week of protests in Seattle in coordination with international Global Noise events, including two days of demonstrations at corporate banks.  The Student Noise Brigade will converge at the University of Washington for a major march against student debt, and later in the week a whole day of teach-ins is scheduled, as well as an anti-eviction rally. Demonstrators in Seattle and Portland are also planning solidarity rallies with three Northwest activists who have been jailed after refusing to testify before a federal Grand Jury. Leah-Lynn Plante, Matt Duran and Katherine Olejnik are being held at a federal facility in Washington on civil contempt charges. Plante was taken into custody on Thursday.  Four people have received subpoenas so far as part of a US Justice Department investigation, believed to be connected to damage to a federal building in Seattle during May Day protests. Supporters also suspect the federal government is targeting anarchists. Mark Taylor-Canfield, FSRN, Seattle.

Nobel Peace Prize awarded to European Union

Today the Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to the European Union. FSRN’s Peter Teffer reports from the Netherlands.

In awarding the Peace Prize, the Nobel committee cited the EU’s past work.  But the timing of the award is peculiar, considering the financial troubles currently gripping the region.  Some of the 27 member states are in deep debt crises, and solidarity between the northern and southern countries is waning.  Just this week, German chancellor Angela Merkel’s visit to Greece was met with large crowds of angry protestors.

The Norwegian Nobel Committee recognized the current situation, but said it – quote – “wishes to focus on what it sees as the EU’s most important result: the successful struggle for peace and reconciliation and for democracy and human rights.”

Esther Hermans works at the city court in Utrecht.  She thinks the committee also didn’t take into account the EU’s strict policy towards immigration.

“I’m a little surprised. The first thought that comes to my mind is that in recent years the European Union has stopped a lot of refugees at the gate. Secondly, I find it strange that the prize is granted to an institution.”

It is not the first time that the Nobel Peace Prize has been awarded to an organization.  In 2007 former United States Vice President Al Gore received the prize together with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. The Nobel Peace Prize ceremony will happen in December, and it has yet to be announced who at the European Union will accept the prize. Peter Teffer, FSRN, Utrecht.

Officials arrest Taliban men in shooting of teen student activist

Pakistani officials have arrested several men connected to the Taliban shooting of Malala Yousufzai, the 14-year-old student who championed women’s rights to education.  They have not said what role the men are suspected of playing in the attack.  Yousufzai had a bullet removed from her head earlier this week and hospital officials have told media her condition is stabilizing.  Today the country observed a day of prayer in the girl’s honor.

Military members sought in shootings of indigenous activists in Guatemala

The Guatemalan Attorney General ordered the arrest of nine members of the military, accusing them of the “extrajudicial execution” of six protesters.  The incident happened October 4th, according to the LA Times, as rural indigenous people blocked a highway in protest of rising electricity prices and constitutional reforms.  Among the soldiers arrested was the Colonel in charge.

Street vendors in Senegal protest police destruction of stalls

This week, police and street vendors in the Senegalese capital Dakar have been battling in the streets.  City government directed the police to remove illegal stalls within the Sandaga Market – the city’s largest – saying they want to reduce congestion downtown.  FSRN’s Alpha Jallow reports from Dakar.

The Dakar Municipality says vendors who set up in the street are responsible for the endless traffic jams in the city and also for numerous accidents between motorist and pedestrians.  However, the street vendors, known as “Marche Ambullant,” have criticized the manner in which police used force to destroy their stall.  A woman trader told FSRN police ransacked her store and took away all of her merchandise. Ababacarr Niang, with the local association of the street vendors condemns police heavy-handedness.

“We are warning the government to halt this police crackdown, otherwise we will stand up against this brutality.  We are not supporting any political party, but we are Senegalese and we are part of the community. The Government or the city should provide us a place to sell our wares instead of treating us like animals.”

Niang says the recent crackdown is aimed at giving visiting French President Francios Hollande the false impression that the city is clean and neat. Alpha Jallow, FSRN Dakar, Senegal.



On foreign policy, Biden and Ryan display difference in style, but little in substance

Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan hit campaign events today in Virginia and Ohio as Vice President Joe Biden attended an event in Wisconsin and President Obama began preparing for next week’s debate. Last night, Biden and Ryan faced off in their one and only debate which touched on taxes, health care, reproductive rights, and foreign policy. The two clashed throughout the 90-minute debate. Ryan criticized President Obama’s record in the transitioning Middle East, including the President’s handling of events in Libya, Iran and Syria. Biden accused him of wanting to start another war the US can’t afford. Yet the two men’s positions last night did not always match their voting histories. FSRN’s Alice Ollstein reports.

US, Israel adjust assessment of Iran nuclear program, but negotiations lag

In last night’s debate, the Vice Presidential candidates both addressed another key foreign policy topic: Iran. Paul Ryan said the country was “racing toward a nuclear weapon,” which Joe Biden refuted. Biden said both the US and Israeli intelligence and military agreed Iran was a “good way away” from getting a nuclear weapon. Ryan also accused the Obama administration of being too soft on Iran, while Biden touted the “most crippling sanctions in the history of sanctions,” which have been criticized by some economists for negatively affecting civilians. What the candidates omitted was any discussion on the ongoing negotiations with Iran, in which the country has offered concessions. To shed light on the issue, The Real News Network’s Paul Jay spoke to historian and investigative journalist Gareth Porter.

To watch the full interview, go to TheRealNews.com.

After widespread criticism, Puerto Rico halts controversial Via Verde pipeline project

In Puerto Rico, the government has cancelled plans to build a controversial natural gas pipeline that was set to criss-cross the island and has drawn protests from local residents, scientists and environmentalists. On Thursday, officials withdrew a request to the Army Corps of Engineers to build the 92-mile pipeline. According to the Spanish-language press, El Nuevo Dia, officials said the decision was based on finances and so far the government has invested $50 million on the project. But many residents of Puerto Rico said the pipeline would have damaged sensitive environmental areas and threatened local communities. And they question the use of limited funds for a project that was expected to benefit associates of Governor Luis Fortuño. For more, were joined by Arturo Massol. He’s a professor of Biology at the University of Puerto Rico and spokesperson with Casa Pueblo, one of the community groups critical of Via Verde project.

In India, plan to deal with toxic waste stalls as Bhopal residents call for action

In Bhopal, India the government is struggling to come up with a plan to deal with the hundreds of tons of toxic waste that remains from the Union Carbide plant.  The waste isn’t from the deadly Bhopal disaster, but includes other chemicals that have been sitting on the factory premises for nearly three decades. The country experienced a recent set-back after the German company GIZ announced it was withdrawing its offer to dispose of the waste after three months of contract negotiations. From Bhopal, FSRNs Shuriah Niazi reports.

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