Newscast for Wednesday, September 25, 2013

  • Senate moves forward with spending bill as some health experts call for expanded coverage
  • US signs global arms treaty, joining more than 90 nations in deal to stem weapons trade
  • Palestinian Syrian refugees face added hardships after arriving in Thailand
  • Ciudad Juárez Series Part 1: A community seeks recovery from collective trauma

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Kenya begins mourning period for mall shooting victims

After fully securing Westgate mall, the scene of a days-long terrorist attack in Nairobi, Kenyan officials are now combing the building for forensic evidence.  Today the country began three days of national mourning for the victims.  FSRN’s John Bwakali reports from Nairobi.

Many questions concerning the nationality and exact number of terrorists involved will only be answered after a through forensic investigation at the site of the attack.  Joseph Ole Lenku, Cabinet Secretary in charge of internal security, says the investigation, in addition to the wider war on terrorism, can only be successfully undertaken through global partnerships.

“Terrorism is a global problem, and we welcome international intelligence sharing since it is consistent with the tackling of the problem.”

As security experts search for evidence, Kenya has begun three days of official mourning.  The army lost six of its own with at least 61 civilians of several different nationalities losing their lives as well.  Dozens of people still remain unaccounted for. John Bwakali, FSRN, Nairobi.

Death toll grows in massive Pakistan earthquake

In Pakistan, the death toll has risen to more than 325, with hundreds more homeless, after a massive earthquake Tuesday.  The quake happened in the volatile southwestern province of Balochistan, where many residents already lacked basic services.  FSRN’s Malik Ayub Sumbal has the latest.

The 7.7 magnitude quake caused vast collateral damages and casualties. The death toll is expected to grow as rescue efforts continue.  In addition to the deaths, hundreds of other Balochistan residents are injured and in critical condition. The provincial government and the National Disaster Management Authority have been overwhelmed by the scope of the disaster.  Government crews have been unable to reach a number of areas where people are trapped under debris.  Pakistan’s disaster agency did not return FSRN’s request for comment. In 2005, Pakistan was hit by another massive earthquake that killed more than 75-thousand people.  Tuesday’s quake happened in a far less populated region, but remote population centers means it could be days before survivors get any outside assistance.  Malik Ayub Sumbal, FSRN, Islamabad.

Demonstrations spread as anger over fuel subsidy cuts grow in Sudan

Two people are dead today in Sudan in protests over government cuts to fuel subsidies.  The demonstrations started on Monday and have spread to several cities, including the capital Khartoum.  The BBC reports the subsidy cuts caused fuel prices to nearly double and also increased the price of cooking oil.  Sudan is a major oil producer, but much of its supply went to South Sudan when the two countries split.  At a press conference this past weekend, President Omar al-Bashir said continuing the subsidies posed a major threat to the economy.

Fair housing groups add to discrimination complaint against Bank of America

A group of fair housing organizations today released new information pointing to Bank of America’s continued failure to market and maintain foreclosed properties in African American and Latino neighborhoods.  The groups are amending their original housing discrimination complaint with the Department of Housing and Urban Development from 2012 to include more than 30 additional metropolitan regions.  FSRN’s Noelle Galos reports:

Today marks the one year anniversary of a housing discrimination complaint filed by fair housing and civil rights organizations against Bank of America, one of the largest US banks responsible for managing foreclosed properties.  The complaint was originally based on investigations in 8 US metropolitan regions, including Atlanta, Dallas, Miami, Oakland and Washington, DC. The National Fair Housing Alliance and others found that bank-owned properties in white neighborhoods received substantially better maintenance and marketing than those in communities of color.  Shanna Smith is CEO of the Alliance.

“It’s about, is Bank of America maintaining the outside of the property? Are they taking care of it in a way that increases or maintains the value of the house so the trust that’s holding these mortgages makes a profit?”

Houses that are kept up are more likely to sell, improving the overall prosperity and desirability of a neighborhood.  The NFHA says despite filing the federal complaint a year ago, investigations reveal Bank of America has made little progress in its treatment of properties in neighborhoods of color.  The bank has denied the allegations, stating that their treatment of bank-owned homes is the same regardless of region or property value.  Noelle Galos, FSRN, Washington.



Senate moves forward with spending bill as some health experts call for expanded coverage

In Washington, the Senate voted today to begin debate on a temporary spending bill to keep funding the government in order to avoid a shutdown next week. The cloture vote came less than an hour after Texas Republican Ted Cruz wrapped up a 21-hour-long speech in opposition to the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. It was not technically a filibuster, though it did delay debate on the resolution. Next week marks the official launch of the law’s health insurance exchange markets, which will allow many currently uninsured people to purchase subsidized plans. But some health experts point out that millions will likely remain uninsured and are calling for more inclusive policies. On Capitol Hill, FSRN’s Alice Ollstein has more.

US signs global arms treaty, joining more than 90 nations in deal to stem weapons trade

As world leaders met at the United Nations General Assembly in New York, US Secretary of State John Kerry signed the Arms Trade Treaty, calling it a “significant step” toward global security. Passed by the UN last April, the treaty is designed to track and regulate trade in tanks, combat vehicles and aircraft, warships, missile and artillery systems, small arms and light weapons. The US, which is the largest arms exporter in the world, must now ratify the treaty in Congress, where some lawmakers have voiced opposition. For more we’re joined by Rachel Stohl, senior associate at the Stimson Center. She was also a consultant at the UN for the arms trade treaty.

Palestinian Syrian refugees face added hardships after arriving in Thailand

The ongoing conflict in Syria has driven millions from their homes. Some of them are Palestinian refugees who, because they have no official passport, are being denied entry into neighboring Arab countries. This has forced an estimated 1,000 Palestinian refugees to seek safety in Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand. But as FSRN’s Simba Russeau reports, many Palestinians in Thailand are finding added hardships and uncertainty once they arrive.

Ciudad Juárez Series Part 1: A community seeks recovery from collective trauma

In Mexico, a mass shooting this week near Ciudad Juárez was a grim reminder of the city’s recent reputation as the world’s murder capital. Ten people, including a child and several teens, were gunned down at a party in Loma Blanca following a local baseball game Sunday. The survivors and family members will join many of the city’s residents, especially children of murdered parents, who are coping with the effects of trauma without much official help from government programs. FSRN’s Shannon Young traveled to Ciudad Juárez and files this report.

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