Newscast for Monday, July 8, 2013
- After deadly shooting at pro-Morsi protest, Cairo enters tense uncertainty
- Latin American leaders offer asylum to Snowden, criticize US spying program
- Prisoners in three West Coast states launch hunger strike to protest solitary confinement, “inhumane conditions”
- International journalist, FSRN contributor, Sputnik Kilambi, dies at 55
Turkey reopens Gezi park, then closes it again; clashes continue as police block further protests
In Istanbul, a park that’s been the center of nationwide protests was briefly reopened before riot police moved in, dispersed everyone, and then closed it again. Gezi Park had been slated to be replaced by a commercial development but has since become a symbol for anti-government protesters who complain against rising authoritarianism in Turkey. FSRN’s Jacob Resneck reports.
Taksim Square in Istanbul was eerily quiet Monday evening after riot police evicted people from nearby Gezi Park and sealed off the area. Earlier today, Istanbul’s governor had reopened the park to great fanfare after a court ruled against plans to raze it for commercial development. Rafat Magriso, a 30-year-old restaurant owner, says he and his friends were among those kicked out of the park.
“Of course people have different opinions and this is very regular. But one thing: this violence needs to stop.”
Over the weekend thousands of demonstrators had tried to force their way into the park before being repelled by riot police using tear gas and water cannons. Public anger was then further stoked after an Istanbul court released four machete-wielding men who had attacked protestors on Saturday.
As dusk settles today, further clashes are expected as Turkey moves into the Ramadan season. Tensions remain high between an uncompromising government and a mass movement determined to reclaim public space. Jacob Resneck, FSRN, Istanbul.
Schools closed across north Nigerian state after brutal attack on school; dozens of students killed
Schools in a northern Nigerian state are closed for the rest of the term, after a weekend attack on a boarding school. Forty-two people, most of them students, were brutally killed. Sam Olukoya reports from Lagos.
State education officials say attackers entered a government-run Secondary School, assembled the students and teachers and started shooting them. Desperate parents flocked to a nearby hospital to identify their children. The massacre in Nigeria’s North Eastern state of Yobe, is the second attack on a school in the state within the last month. Two students were killed in the earlier attack.
No group has claimed responsibility but Boko Haram, a militant group opposed to western education, has in the past attacked schools as part of its campaign to impose its brand of Islam in the country.
The Nigerian government recently declared a state of emergency in Yobe and two other northeastern states, but attacks continue. Yobe has closed down all schools in the state until the next academic session, which starts in September. The government says it will use the period of the closure to work out school security measures. Sam Olukoya FSRN, Lagos.
Forty still missing after oil-train explosion in Canada
Firefighters in Quebec are still dousing flames today after a massive explosion early Saturday morning. Seventy-two oil-tanker cars detached from a train parked nearby the small town of Lac-Mégantic. They careened downhill and derailed. Five cars exploded in a massive fireball destroying a wide swath of the village. A least 5 people are confirmed dead, but dozens of others who were at a local bar are still unaccounted for and the situation at the scene remains too dangerous for rescue workers to enter. An estimated 25,000 gallons of crude oil spilled into an adjacent river. About 2000 local residents are still evacuated from their homes, and environmental officials are assessing air and soil contamination in the surrounding area.
Truck drivers in Argentina strike; seek tax relief and financial aid for families with children
The powerful Argentine truckers’ union went on 24-hour nationwide strike today. They want income-tax relief and universal financial aid for families with children. From Buenos Aires, Eilís O’Neill has more.
On Monday morning, thousands of truckers filled Buenos Aires’ Plaza de Mayo, in front of the presidential mansion, as well as several blocks of the central Avenida de Mayo. Union member Saucedo Walter says he and other strikers are asking the government to raise the threshold at which income becomes taxable. they say inflation and recent wage hikes put low wage workers just over the bar, and then the taxes result in a net income loss.
“The wages we gained this year through negotiations have been absorbed by this tax.”
The strikers also want child benefit payments currently made only to poor families to be made available to everyone. That would make a difference for Ezequiel Racca, who has a son and struggles to make ends meet.
“We don’t get the child benefit payments. I see that as completely unjust , it’s a discrimination against workers.”
Argentina’s child benefit payments are about ninety dollars a month. Today’s strike includes garbage collectors as well as fuel and grocery delivery drivers. The union has stationed members along the country’s major freeways and bridges “to ensure that no trucks can get through.” Eilís O’Neill, FSRN, Buenos Aires.
After deadly shooting at pro-Morsi protest, Cairo enters tense uncertainty
In Egypt, supporters of ousted President Mohamed Morsi and military officials offered conflicting reports of what took place early this morning, when more than 50 civilians were killed and hundreds more injured at a protest in front of military headquarters in Cairo.
Video posted online by activists shows injured and bloodied protesters fleeing the scene. Some hold bullet casings and wear red-stained shirts.
Photos show bodies lined on the floor of a hospital morgue in Nasr City, some with bandages or tape across their foreheads.
Witnesses said soldiers fired on a crowd outside the military facility as they held a sit in to demand the release of Morsi. The Health Ministry said 51 people were killed, more than 300 injured. The military said some of the crowd was armed and fired on soldiers first, an account the Muslim Brotherhood disputes.
Interim President Adli Monsour ordered a judicial committee to investigate the incident.
Meanwhile, the crackdown on media continues. Al Jazeera said that its Cairo bureau chief was taken into custody over the weekend and interrogated, then charged with “transmitting news that could compromise Egypt’s national security.” Several TV channels backed by the Muslim Brotherhood were raided last week.
For more, we’re joined Ahmad Shokr, an activist and writer. He’s been following the events from Cairo and talking with people in the streets.
Latin American leaders offer asylum to Snowden, criticize US spying program
A top privacy advocacy group is seeking to halt part of the US government’s sweeping surveillance programs. The Electronic Privacy Information Center submitted an emergency petition to the US Supreme Court today, asking it to prevent the National Security Agency from collecting any more US phone records. As public interest groups take action against the mass collection of domestic data, legal experts and heads of state are raising concerns about the US government’s international surveillance practices. Three Latin American presidents have announced their opposition to these practices, and offered asylum to the man who exposed them: intelligence analyst Edward Snowden. In Washington, D.C., FSRN’s Alice Ollstein has more.
Prisoners in three West Coast states launch hunger strike to protest solitary confinement, “inhumane conditions”
California failed to follow state procedures in signing 150 female prisoners up for permanent sterilization between 2006 and 2010, with some women saying they were coerced into the procedure, according to the Center for Investigative Reporting. The report includes testimony from a doctor who said the procedure was more cost effective as some of the inmates “procreated more” but also includes descriptions by women who say they were not informed of other, less-permanent options or were made to feel like poor mothers and pressured into the procedure. Forced sterilization has been outlawed in California since 1979.
The news comes as prisoners on the West Coast in California, Washington and Oregon began a hunger strike and work stoppage today to protest what they call torture in America’s prison system. Prisoners are protesting solitary confinement and have a set of demands. But prison officials say they’ve already instituted reforms to meet prisoners concerns. FSRN’s Christina Aanestad reports.
International journalist, FSRN contributor, Sputnik Kilambi, dies at 55
Renowned international journalist and seminal early contributor to FSRN, Sputnik Kilambi died last night. Working through the United Nations, Kilambi helped establish mass media outlets and trained journalists dedicated to peace in nations ravaged by violence, like Kosovo, Cote d’ Ivoire and most recently Rwanda. She was often the only woman reporting from war zones; and generously mentored other journalists on reporting from the ground rather than the press office. Her voice was regularly heard as one of the original FSRN correspondents.
In 2007, Sputnik Kilambi was named the Knight Fellow for International Journalism in Rwanda. She died last night in Paris, at the age of 55.