November 21, 2012

  • Thousands of Gaza residents seek refuge at relief sites after week of Israeli strikes
  • With ceasefire in effect, studies raise concern about long term health effects of Israeli airstrikes in Gaza
  • Walmart workers plan walkout on ‘Black Friday,’ demanding better pay and conditions
  • Illinois inmates continue legal fight citing health effects of prison food

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Thousands protest education funding in the UK

Thousands of students marched through the streets of London, protesting education cuts, rising fees and low economic prospects for graduates in the UK.  Video from the Guardian shows chanting students marching in cold wet weather while holding signs.  The protests, organized by the National Union of Students come two years after a similar protest then attracted large crowds, and turned violent in some areas.


Turkey requests international missile defense assistance against Syria fighting spillover

Fighting continues today in Syria.  The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reports fighting in several parts of the country, including air raids dropping “explosive barrels” on at least one village.  Turkey is requesting military assistance from NATO in the form of missile defense against cross-border Syrian fighting spillover.  NATO Secretary Anders Fogh Rasmussen said the military alliance would consider the request

“Such a deployment would augment Turkey’s air defense capabilities to defend the population and territory of Turkey.  It would contribute to the de-escalation of the crisis along NATO’s south-eastern border.”

Rasmussen said it’s up Germany, the Netherlands and the US, the countries with Patriot missiles, to decide if they will provide the weapons to Turkey.


Celebration as Mumbai gunman executed in India

Today, authorities in India executed the lone surviving gunman in the 2008 attack that killed more than 160 people in Mumbai.  FSRN’s Bismillah Geelani reports.

The execution of Ajmal Amir Kasab was carried out early Wednesday morning in a highly secretive manner.  As soon as the news of the hanging spread, celebrations broke out in several Indian cities.  Victims of the Mumbai attack and most political parties supported the execution.  The government says the death penalty was carried out after a fair trial and due process of law.  Foreign Minister Salman Khurshid says the sentence is a warning to terrorists.

“I hope that this message is conveyed not only to the rest of the world but also to those who have toyed with the idea of trifling with India’s security and they would now think many times over before they do such adventurism again.”

Human rights groups however have condemned the hanging with Amnesty International calling it a significant step backward.  Just a day before today’s execution, India voted against a UN resolution seeking abolition of death penalty.  The US, Japan and China are among 38 countries who opposed the resolution at the UN.  Bismillah Geelani, FSRN, New Delhi.


UN: Congolese rebels murder children and elderly with impunity

The M23 rebel group in the Democratic Republic of Congo says it plans to continue its march and overtake the capital Kinshasa.  Yesterday, the rebels took a major city in the eastern part of the country.  It’s widely believed the rebels have deep connections to Rwanda.  The US is calling the actions of the rebels “an affront to the sovereignty” of the DRC and is urging regional leaders to take steps to stop the group’s advance.

But as the international community focuses on M23 rebels, other militias in the country have been able to operate with impunity.  The UN human rights office says 264 people, including more than 80 children, were executed by armed militias in eastern DRC between April and September.  Cécile Pouilly is a spokesperson for the UN Human Rights Office.

“Many victims were hacked to death with machetes and others were burnt alive.  There was also massive forced displacement large scale looting and destruction of private property.”

At least 12 women were raped.


Colorado River water deal could mean new life for delta ecosystem

The US and Mexico have signed a treaty governing the use of water on the Colorado River.  FSRN’s Shannon Young reports.

The five year deal signed yesterday – and described as “historic” – will allow the US to buy some of Mexico’s share of river water.  Part of the water will be for residential use in the US Southwest and the rest to ensure the Colorado flows all the way to the Gulf of California. The existing bi-national treaty allotted the entirety of the river’s water for regional use, leaving nothing behind for the ecosystem.  The Colorado River currently dries up short of its delta – a former marshland.The deal is the result of three years of talks.  If successful, the five year program will lay the groundwork for a longer term river management deal in 2019.While the water designated in the agreement to restore freshwater flows represents only a tiny fraction of the Colorado River’s volume, scientists involved in the project are optimistic that it will be enough to at least begin restoration of the delta’s ecosystem.  Shannon Young, FSRN, Mexico.



Thousands of Gaza residents seek refuge at relief sites after week of Israeli strikes

Hamas and Israel agreed to a ceasefire plan crafted by Egypt and endorsed by the Obama Administration. Egypt’s foreign minister, Kamel Amr announced the truce today in Cairo with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. According to the ceasefire deal, Israel has agreed to stop all “hostilities” on the Gaza Strip, from land, sea and air. In turn, all Palestinian factions will stop rocket attacks into Israel. The plan said all sides will address the opening of crossings 24 hours from the start of the ceasefire.FSRN’s correspondent in Gaza said that the atmosphere is festive following the announcement. Since the latest conflict began one week ago 141 Palestinians have been killed, according to the Palestinian Ministry of Health. Almost half were civilians. More than 1,000 have been injured. Five Israelis have been killed by rockets launched from Gaza, according to Israeli officials. After the Israeli military ordered Gaza residents living near the border to evacuate yesterday,  more than 16,000 residents of the northern Gaza area fled to safe shelters at Gaza city’s United Nations Relief and Works Agency-run schools. FSRN’s Rami Almeghari has more from Gaza City.


With ceasefire in effect, studies raise concern about long term health effects of Israeli airstrikes in Gaza

With a ceasefire in place, rockets from Gaza and airstrikes from Israel are expected to pause – at least temporarily – but the long-term effects of bombings and airstrikes for the residents of Gaza may linger. Two scientific studies released earlier this year found a strong correlation between Israel’s use of military weapons in the area and birth defects in Gaza children. Researchers at the University of Genoa in Italy and medical staff in Gaza saw kidney, cardiac, lung, gastrointestinal and other defects in the children of Palestinians exposed to white phosphorus, uranium and other toxic substances.

For more, we’re joined by Fabio De Ponte, spokesperson for the New Weapons Committee, the group that released the research. He joins us from Turin, Italy.

To access the studies:


Walmart workers plan walkout on ‘Black Friday,’ demanding better pay and conditions

Workers at Walmart – the world’s largest private employer – are planning to walkout on strike this week from more than 1,000 stores across the country. The demonstration is scheduled to disrupt “Black Friday” sales on one of the busiest retail days of the year. This year Walmart and other chain stores are beginning their sale a day early, on Thursday night. Workers are demanding better pay and conditions, but Walmart has accused them of planning to picket illegally and is threatening to retaliate against participating employees. Both sides have petitioned the National Labor Relations Board to rule on their behalf, and are waiting for a decision, which may hinge on different interpretations about the reason for the strike. FSRN’s Alice Ollstein has more.


Illinois inmates continue legal fight citing health effects of prison food

In Illinois, current and former prisoners continue their three year long legal fight against the state for food they say sickened them. The lawsuit accuses  the Illinois department of corrections of cruel and unusual punishment  for using a cheap form of soy protein to save money on meat. Prisoners say their complaints of health problems have been ignored. FSRN’s Jay Sapir reports.

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