Newscast for Tuesday, September 3, 2013

  • Lawmakers, legal experts question US military action in Syria as Obama Administration makes case to Congress
  • Anti-war activists rally in US cities, as Obama Administration pushes congress for approval of military action in Syria
  • DEA spying program, Hemisphere, uses vast AT&T phone data in law enforcement
  • In Bolivia, indigenous communities protest mining activities

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Egypt silences four TV stations including al Jazeera;  military court refers Morsi for trial

Four TV stations in Egypt are dark today after an administrative court ordered their closure, including the Muslim Brotherhood’s Ahrar 25 and the Egyptian version of al Jazeera. Yesterday, three journalists working for al Jazeera English were expelled, authorities said they weren’t properly accredited. Since the July coup that ousted President Mohamed Morsi,  Egyptian police have  rounding up thousands of his supporters. Today a military court sentenced 11 people believed to be  members of the Muslim Brotherhood  to life in prison. Forty-five others got five years. The charges stem from anti-military violence in Suez last month after a government crackdown in Cairo during which hundreds of Morsi supporters were killed. The court also referred former President Morsi for trial on charges of inciting the murder of protesters.

Anti-nuclear weapons activists encamp at UK weapons manufacturer; 21 arrested

Anti-nuclear weapons activists in the UK are continuing their protest this week outside the Atomic Weapons Establishment in West Berkshire. Yesterday, police arrested 21 protesters who blocked access to the site. Francis Ngwa has more from Liverpool.

About 60 protesters are still camped in tents near the entrance of the Atomic Weapons Establishment or AWE, Burgfield site. The now privately owned AWE is one of two sites in the UK where nuclear warheads are designed and built.  According to anti-nuclear weapons activists, the only way to end the production of nuclear weapons around the world is by direct action by citizens of the world, and protesters here have come from nations like Japan, Belgium, Finland and the Netherlands. Andreas Specks, spokesperson for Action AWE, a UK-based anti-nuclear weapons group, says that politicians aren’t in a position to end the production of nuclear weapons and the danger they pose to peace and security around the world – demonstrations are the key. “We would not do this if we didn’t believe we could protest and make a change,” Specks said.  Police arrested 21 activists yesterday when they blockaded the gates to the facility. Protesters say they’ll stay at AWE until next Saturday. The UK is scheduled to decide about whether to renew or replace the the Trident nuclear missile system in 2016. Frances Ngwa, FSRN, Liverpool.

Mexico and Brazil want answers after leaked documents reveal US spied on heads of state

Both Brazil and Mexico have summoned their respective US Ambassadors, seeking a response to reports that the National Security Agency spied on their heads of state. According to information gleaned from documents released by former intelligence contractor Edward Snowden, last summer the US intercepted then-Mexican presidential candidate Enrique Pena Nieto’s emails, including discussions of potential cabinet members. Journalist  Glenn Greenwald reveals that according to a 2012 document, the emails were collected by the National Security Agency via Brazilian telecom companies. The NSA also monitored email from Brazil’s President Dilma Rousseff. The surveillance report did not reveal the content of the emails, only who Rouseff and her contacts corresponded with.

North Carolina students say their voting rights are eroding

Today, college students from across North Carolina rallied in Raleigh outside the State Board of Elections meeting. Statewide board members are set to hear appeals of county level policies the students say are eroding their voting rights. North Carolina News Service reporter Stephanie Carson has more.

At issue are recent decisions by Republican-led county Boards of Elections, that includes the Watauga County BOE move to close the early voting site at Appalachian State University and combine three voting precincts in the county. Students and others suspect the action was taken because the university community voted for the Democratic ticket in the last two Presidential elections.

Bob Phillips with  Common Cause North Carolina, “If it has happened at one campus, then it can happen anywhere where early voting polling sites have been placed either on the campus or conveniently nearby.”

Phillips and others also are concerned about a recent decision by the Pasquotank County Board of Elections to prevent an Elizabeth City State University senior from running for office, saying he isn’t a resident. The county Republican Party chairman contends  students in dorms do not qualify as residents for the purposes of voting or serving in public office. Also upsetting to college-age voters is the recently signed voter ID legislation that restricts the use of college IDs to prove a voter’s identity.

The leadership at many county election boards changed recently because Gov. McCrory appointed GOP members, which is his right as leader of the state. Stephanie Carson, North Carolina News Service.

North Carolina lawmakers likely to override Governor Pat McCrory vetoes

Also in Raleigh today, North Carolina lawmakers returned to the capitol to consider overriding two gubernatorial vetoes.  Governor Pat McCrory struck down mandatory drug tests for public assistance recipients. He also vetoed a bill that would allow seasonal workers nine months, rather than three,  before their immigration status would be subject to E-verify checks. Both overrides are expected to pass.


Lawmakers, legal experts question US military action in Syria as Obama Administration makes case to Congress

The heads of the Pentagon and State Department testified today at the first hearing on President Obama’s request to use military force in Syria. The President submitted a draft resolution to Congress over the weekend that critics say is so broad it could  allow not only the so-called “limited strikes” Obama described in a public speech Saturday, but also attacks on other countries, US troops on the ground and a war without an end date. Many legal experts and lawmakers remain skeptical or firmly opposed to military intervention, saying it would exacerbate current violence and violate international law. In Washington, FSRN’s Alice Ollstein reports.

Anti-war activists rally in US cities, as Obama Administration pushes congress for approval of military action in Syria

As the Obama Administration continues its push for congressional approval of a military strike in Syria, anti-war activists are taking their message to the streets. Over the weekend, protests took place in cities across the US. FSRN’s Rebecca Myles reports from a demonstration in New York’s Times Square.

DEA spying program, Hemisphere, uses vast AT&T phone data in law enforcement

Privacy advocates are raising concerns after Obama Administration officials confirmed a massive surveillance program run by the Drug Enforcement Agency, or DEA, in coordination with AT&T. The program is called Hemisphere and funded by the Office of National Drug Control Policy. It began in 2007 and tracks extensive personal cell phone data, including the location of the caller, according to copies of an internal presentation obtained by an activist in Washington through public information requests and published by the New York Times. Under the program, local and federal law enforcement agencies have access to more than 25 years of personal cell phone information. For more, we’re joined by Hanni Fakhoury, staff attorney with the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

In Bolivia, indigenous communities protest mining activities

In Bolivia, the high demand and prices of minerals have revived mining in parts of the country. One of the largest producers of minerals is a region known as the department of Oruro. It’s also one of the most contaminated, with mining pollution affecting water, agricultural land and animals as well as forcing people from their ancestral land. Members of these communities continue to demand a proper assessment of the impacts of mining. FSRN’s Aldo Orellana Lopez reports from Oruro, Bolivia.

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