Headlines for Tuesday, August 27, 2013
- Year: 2013
- Length: 4:37 minutes (4.23 MB)
- Format: MP3 Mono 44kHz 128Kbps (CBR)
Colombian President agrees to meet with protest leaders as farmers continue nationwide strike
As farmers in Colombia begin a second week of nationwide strikes, President Juan Miguel Santos has reversed course, now saying he will meet with protest leaders for talks. Hundreds of thousands of protesters have blockaded roads across the country, and some towns are completely cut off and running out of fuel and food supplies. One farmer, Alfonso Garcia, told al Jazeera that farmers aren't even making half of what it costs them to produce their crops.
“We grow potatoes, but everyday we see the costs of raw materials, like fertilizers going up, while the market is flooded with foreign products thanks to the free trade agreements the government has signed. At this point we don't even make half the money it costs just to farm.”
The government has deployed thousands of police who have reportedly used tear gas and live ammunition to quell the demonstrations.
Teachers in Mexico continue strike to protest elements of education reform
Public school teachers in Mexico are in the second week of a strike against an education reform package. Today, they've camped out in front of the headquarters of Mexico's two largest television networks citing biased coverage of their demands. Shannon Young has more.
Busloads of teachers arrived in Mexico City today to reinforce an ongoing protest encampment that already occupies the entirety of the capital's giant central plaza. Most of the teachers are from Oaxaca, where the dissident union has been on strike since the start of the school year on August 19th.
At the heart of the protests is a series of labor reforms which would require standardized testing of teachers and trigger penalties for those who under-perform. The teachers say it's unfair to apply the same criteria nationwide to educators in vastly different socioeconomic and cultural environments.
Since their protest started last week, they have forced their way in to congressional chambers, staged an eight hour blockade of the international airport, and held a sit-in today outside of Televisa and TV Azteca, the country's two dominant television networks.
The teachers vow to keep up their protests in Mexico City at least through the nation's equivalent of the State of the Union Address on September 1st. The office of the president has already announced plans to move the speech from the congressional chambers to the inside of Mexico's main military base. Shannon Young, FSRN, Oaxaca.
Pesticide manufacturer sues European Commission to block ban of insecticide
The Swiss chemical giant Syngenta is taking the European Commission to court, trying to stop an impending ban on a best-selling pesticide linked to the decline of bees. Liam Moriarty reports from France.
Syngenta is challenging a two-year moratorium approved last spring that suspends certain uses of three chemicals from the world’s most widely-used class of pesticides. So-called neonicotinoids are chemically similar to the nicotine in tobacco and when used as a seed coating infuse the toxin throughout the plant as it grows. Syngenta says the ban will hurt farmers. But Mark Breddy, with Greenpeace Europe, says the pesticides are an environmental threat.
“A number of scientific studies and the European Food Safety Authority itself have found that there is a clear link between these pesticides and the massive die-offs of bees that we’ve seen in Europe.”
Experts say the alarming decline in bee populations around the world is likely caused by a combination of disease, parasites, habitat loss and pesticides. Syngenta and Bayer CropScience, the two largest manufacturers of neonicotinoids, maintain their products don’t harm bees if properly used. Several European countries, including Italy, Germany and France, already have partial bans on the neuroactive chemicals. In the U.S., a coalition of green groups and beekeepers is suing the EPA for certifying them for use without adequate testing. The EU moratorium is slated to go into effect at the end of the year. Liam Moriarty, FSRN, Normandy, France.
Vermont Yankee nuclear plant to close; decommissioned by end of 2014
Entergy Corporation announced today that it will close the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant. The decision comes after the company prevailed in a long legal battle to keep the aging plant open. Nuclear energy expert Arnie Gunderson says the move was inevitable, but that the cost of upgrades required by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission after Japan's Fukushima Daichi nuclear disaster likely accelerated the decision.
Vermont Yankee will be decommissioned by the end of 2014.