FSRN Weekly Edition – June 10, 2016
- Sanders continues presidential campaign; Obama endorses Clinton
- Black Lives Matter activist sentenced on felony ‘lynching’ charges
- DOJ seeks Privacy Act exemptions for FBI’s extensive biometric database
- Ongoing violence in Iraq has internally displaced more than three million people
- Israeli development plans slated to displace Bedouins from ‘unrecognized’ Negev desert villages
- Scandals plague Brazil’s interim government ahead of impeachment trial
After months of remaining officially out of the electoral fray in the Democratic primary contest, President Barack Obama has formally endorsed former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in the race to replace him as U.S. president. The Clinton campaign released a previously videotaped statement by the president just hours after Obama met privately with presidential hopeful Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders in Washington, D.C. FSRN’s Nell Abram has more.
The political tide-shift came after Clinton won four of six-states primaries held Tuesday, including California. The same day, a Los Angeles court sentenced a Black Lives Matter activist on rarely-invoked felony charges, long-referred to under the California penal code as “attempted lynching.”
The irony was not lost on crowd that gathered outside the Pasadena courthouse, saying the charges were punishment for political activism in favor of greater police accountability in communities of color. From Pasadena, Carla Green has more.
The U.S. Department of Justice has proposed a new rule that would exempt the FBI’s Next Generation Identification system – purportedly the world’s largest biometric database – from key provisions of the Privacy Act. The NGI database goes far beyond mugshots and fingerprints of convicted criminals. It includes facial recognition imagery, palm prints, and biographical information on everyday people who have undergone routine background checks, applied for welfare benefits or registered for immigration status. Not only that — the FBI is free to share this info with state and local agencies, private contractors and even foreign governments.
The rule change request opened a window for public comment, which has since been extended after 45 organizations signed onto a public letter expressing serious concerns. FSRN’s Shannon Young spoke with Jeramie Scott, a national security attorney with the Electronic Privacy Information Center – EPIC – and director of its Domestic Surveillance Project.
Iraqi security forces are engaged in a major offensive to retake the city of Fallujah from the self-described Islamic State. The action started May 22nd in areas surrounding Fallujah, but it was only Wednesday that Iraqi forces reportedly entered the city itself. Lise Grande, the UN Humanitarian Coordinator for Iraq, says the world body’s relief agencies are scrambling to provide aid to those fleeing the area, and expressed worry about tens of thousands of civilians trapped in the siege.
Meanwhile, dozens of people died in Baghdad Thursday as two more attacks rocked the city. A car bomb in a crowded business district killed at least 19 people, and a suicide attack at a nearby military checkpoint killed a dozen more.
The newest wave of conflict in Iraq has displaced more than 3 million Iraqis from their homes. The country is also hosting hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees. And more than one million vulnerable people still reside in Iraqi areas controlled by ISIS. While Iraq has permitted more freedom than Syria has to aid agencies and NGOs, the crises in Iraq has not garnered the same level of international attention. Filip Warwick reports from Erbil.
Israel has large scale development plans for the Negev desert, intended to turn its southern peripheral region into a military and technology hub. But indigenous Bedouins in the area say the ambitious designs don’t take their needs into consideration and will only deepen the historical mistrust between the Israeli government and its Arab Palestinian minority. Reporter Silvia Boarini visited two unrecognized Bedouin villages facing the threat of demolition.
Three weeks after Brazil’s president Dilma Rousseff was suspended while she awaits trial in the Senate for allegedly breaking budget laws, the interim government is having teething trouble. Led by Michel Temer, the government remains largely unpopular as more scandals continue to dent its credibility, perhaps giving Rousseff a much needed boost. FSRN’s Sam Cowie reports from São Paulo.