FSRN Weekly Edition – February 6, 2015
- Proposed reforms to corporate tax code included in Obama’s $4 trillion budget request
- The wheels of Congress begin to move on bilateral relations with Cuba
- Deadly airstrikes and rocket attacks across Syria
- Turkish authorities charge Dutch journalist spread “terrorist propaganda” via social media
- Mexican authorities discover 61 bodies in an abandoned crematorium in Guerrero
- Survivors of acid attacks call on Indian government to implement preventative and rehabilitative measures
- California to make condoms available in prisons statewide
This week President Barack Obama unveiled his $4 trillion budget proposal for fiscal year 2016. And while the president’s blueprint includes many provisions that aim to modify or expand existing policies, Obama has also proposed some new ideas – especially when it comes to corporate tax reform. Ashley Westerman reports from Washington, DC.
In other news from Capitol Hill, Congress has started to examine how – or if – to move forward on rebuilding bilateral relations with Cuba. Anthony J. Rivera reports.
Deadly airstrikes and rocket attacks across Syria
Airstrikes and rocket attacks across Syria this week have killed at least 185 civilians and injured as many as five thousand. That’s according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, an organization that documents the violence of the country’s ongoing civil war.
Since late January, Damascus has sustained some of the worst damage it’s seen in at least a year as government forces and rebel fighters once again turn the capital city into a battleground.
Reports from within Syria are hard to verify given violence targeting journalists. But a video posted to YouTube on February 5th under the username Yasser Dumaini shows bombed out scenes in the streets of Douma. The air is thick with settling dust as people sift through rubble. The sound of an airplane overheads send people running for cover, including the videographer.
Meanwhile, Jordan has announced it will increase air strikes within Syria after the so-called Islamic State murdered a Jordanian fighter pilot by burning him alive on video.
In the Kurdish region of Syria, forces with the Kurdish People’s Protection Units – or YPG – forced Islamic State militants to retreat from the city of Kobane late last month. The Kurdish fighters have since retaken dozens of villages in the region near Syria’s border with Turkey.
The UN estimates the civil war in Syria has killed more than 200 thousand people and displaced well over three million since fighting began four years ago.
In Turkey, a European freelance journalist faces prison following an indictment on charges she spread pro-militant Kurdish propaganda over social media. The case is raising alarm bells as it’s the first time Turkey has targeted foreign journalists in more than a decade. FSRN’s Jacob Resneck reports from Istanbul.
In Mexico, authorities have discovered 61 decomposing bodies in an abandoned crematorium in Acapulco in the southern state of Guerrero.
Residents of the community near the facility reportedly complained to police about a putrid smell coming from the building, which is located along a major thoroughfare in the resort city. Local and state police, as well as military personnel, emptied the building between the late night hours of Thursday and early Friday.
Guerrero is the Mexican state where 43 students from the Ayotzinapa teachers college disappeared in September after they were taken into custody by municipal police in the small city of Iguala.
As of deadline, little official information was available on the 61 bodies found in the abandoned crematorium in Acapulco. A local newspaper, El Sur de Acapulco, reported most of the bodies were male, many had been wrapped in sheets and all had been covered with quicklime.
While multiple mass graves containing dozens of bodies have been uncovered in Mexico in recent years, the case involving the crematorium is the first of its kind.
More than 22 thousand people have gone missing without a trace in Mexico in the last eight years according to official figures, but human rights groups say the real number of the so-called “disappeared” is likely much higher.
Each year about 1500 acid attack cases are reported around the world. According to the UK-based Acid Survivors Trust International, the actual figure could be much higher because many victims are reluctant to come forward. A large number of these cases occur in South Asia. While overall the region has shown some progress in recent years, acid attacks in India appear to be on the rise. Alarmed by the increase, acid attack survivors have launched a campaign to demand immediate measures to help prevent attacks and rehabilitate survivors. Bismillah Geelani reports from New Delhi.
Last September, California Governor Jerry Brown signed a bill mandating that condoms be available in all of the state’s 34 adult prisons. It’s still unclear just how widely the prophylactics will be accessible in the prisons, and a number of models are under consideration. California is only the second state, after Vermont, to provide condoms to inmates. Health advocates say condoms in corrections facilities can save lives and prevent the spread of disease. But laws against sex in lock up, fears of illicit use and perhaps a lack of political will mean California may be the last state to do this for a while. FSRN’s Larry Buhl has more.