FSRN Weekly Edition – March 31, 2017
- Senate Select Intelligence Committee begins public hearings on probe of Russian interference in U.S. elections
- Trump signs executive order to roll back Clean Power Plan, return focus to coal
- Proposed federal budget cuts could stop Caltrain electrification in its tracks
- CPB head defends public media mission against White House push to defund
- Turkish academics fired in ongoing purges take their coursework to the streets
- Christian Egyptians flee northern Sinai, fearing targeting by radical Islamist militants
Investigations about the nature and extent of Russia’s influence on the recent election that elevated Donald Trump to the presidency are now fully underway in both chambers of Congress. Lawmakers are seeking testimony from a variety of witness including Kremlinologists, information warfare experts, top campaign figures and former officials – like retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn. The former White House National Security Advisor, who resigned his post, is now seeking immunity from prosecution in exchange for his testimony before the House and Senate Intelligence Committees, both of which have subpoena power; the latter has reportedly rejected the offer. Nell Abram has more.
After failing to convince congressional Republicans to repeal and replace the nation’s health care law last week, Trump picked up the presidential pen Tuesday and signed an executive order aiming to make good on another campaign pledge: a return to coal. The president directed the EPA to immediately begin re-evaluating the Clean Power Plan. Published just ahead of the 2015 UN Climate Change Conference in France, the Clean Power Plan aimed to reduce U.S. power plant emissions by more than a third over a 25-year period. FSRN’s Nell Abram spoke with Bob Keefe, Executive Director of Environmental Entrepreneurs, or E2, a group that advocates for clean energy policy and invests in renewable energy projects.
Last month, the Trump administration put nearly $650 million in funding on hold for one such initiative in California: a project to electrify a commuter rail service linking San Francisco to Silicon Valley. The state’s GOP congressional delegation called for the hold pending completion of a project audit. The decision also puts California’s planned high-speed rail network linking San Francisco to Los Angeles at risk. Earlier this month, contractors agreed to extend their deadline to begin work until summer. That’s when the final fiscal 2018 federal budget is due. Max Pringle reports from San Francisco.
Another public spending line item in the cross hairs of the Trump Administration’s budget blueprint is the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. The non-profit corporation’s president and CEO appeared before a congressional subcommittee Tuesday, as the White House has proposed an outright elimination of federal funding to the 50-year-old public media body. Shannon Young has more.
U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was in Turkey Thursday. While he remained quiet on issues like the civil war in neighboring Syria, offensives in the Kurdish minority region and Ankara’s recent crackdowns on civil society, he praised the country’s current administration. Following a failed coup attempt last summer, more than 125,000 people have been fired and 40,000 arrested, including members of law enforcement, the military and the judiciary. Lorena Rios reports that some professors purged from the education sector are continuing to teach in the streets.
On the heels of the high-level diplomatic visit to Turkey, President Trump is scheduled to meet with another authoritarian head of state from the region. Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, who seized power in a military coup in 2013, will meet with the president Monday at the White House where the two will discuss military aid and security. The meeting comes as the Sisi administration battles insurgents in the strategic Sinai peninsula, which connects North Africa to the Middle East. Members of minority religions are fleeing the areas; fearful of attacks carried out by ISIS militants. Among the displaced, hundreds of Coptic Christians. Rami Almeghari has more.
Music in today’s show is by MAMOKAMA via Jamendo.com.