Newscast for Monday, February 6, 2012
- Length: 29:06 minutes (26.64 MB)
- Format: MP3 Mono 44kHz 128Kbps (CBR)
Today, in Syria, attacks and shelling continued in cities throughout the country. Homs, long a center of the resistance to the regime of Bashar al Assad, received the brunt of bombardment. A video posted on Youtube appears to show residential buildings of Homs with the sound of rockets falling nearby. Other Videos showed smoke rising along the skyline with the whine of shots in the distance. Residents told local media that they were starting to collect medicine, food and water and described the city surrounded by armed forces. According to activists with the Local Coordination Committees, more than 200 people were killed on Saturday, including 181 in Homs. The group reported dozens more today. The violence of the past few days is one of the deadliest periods of the nearly-11-month-long crackdown on dissent. The strikes intensified as international diplomacy efforts to bring an end to the violence in Syria failed at the United Nations over the weekend. On Saturday, China and Russia voted down a UN Security Council resolution that would have called for a transition to a democratic, pluralistic political system and an end to attacks on civilians. After the vote, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called the veto a “travesty” and warned of a rise in violence.
UN Secretary Ban Ki Moon expressed “deep regret” and US Ambassador to the UN Susan Rice said pressure on the Assad regime would continue.
RICE: “This council today again had a sad moment which will be recorded in its history. But there was a hopeful aspect to it as well. And that is that more and more countries are united in saying the violence must stop, change must come, there must be a democratic and peaceful transition.”
Russia’s representative to the UN, Vitaly Churkin, defended the veto. Russia has said it does not want to intervene in what it calls a domestic matter. Churkin said the Security Council should not be pressured to adopt a plan modeled on the Arab League, a regional group.
CHURKIN: “There is not rule that the Security Council should repeat all resolutions adopted by regional organizations verbatim. They are not Koran or Bible. I mean, we can express our views on the texts that were adopted months ago, even if we are trying to facilitate promote and help the work of those regional organizations.”
Today, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said diplomacy would still be a priority, but did not completely rule out military intervention at some point.
CARNEY: “The right solution in Syria is a political solution and there remains an opportunity for that to be achieved for that transition to democracy to take place. That’s why we felt and we continue to feel it’s so important for the international community to act in the way that the Security Council resolution would have embodied and we’ll continue to work with our international partners in that regard because the best solution is a political solution. Broadly speaking we take no options off the table, but our focus is on using our diplomatic, economic and other means to help bring about and usher in a democratic transition.”
Carney said the US would continue to work with partners in the region, but warned that time was running out.
CARNEY: “We need to act, to allow a political transition to go forward, before the regime’s escalating violence puts a political solution out of reach.”
Today the US State Department suspended all embassy operations in Syria citing bombings in December and January, and the “deteriorating security situation.” In a statement the State Department said Ambassador Robert Ford would maintain contact with the Syrian opposition, but he and all official staff have left the country. The UK also recalled its ambassador. Russia’s foreign minister is scheduled to visit Damascus for talks with the Syrian government on Tuesday.
As tensions continue to escalate between Iran and the United States and Israel, thousands of activists demonstrated in dozens of cities across the globe over the weekend. Protesters say they’re against war and sanctions in Iran and in support of that country’s pro-democracy movement. While most of the demonstrations were small, they did take place widely. Organizers estimate that rallies and marches took place in more than 80 cities. In a moment we’ll hear from events in Atlanta, Georgia and Tampa, Florida but first we go to New York, where Community News Reporter Jaisal Noor files this report.
Also, in this report, Sacajawea Hall files from Atlanta and Josh Holton from South Tampa.
In Washington DC, members of Congress are debating a bill today to continue funding the Federal Aviation Administration through 2014. But several major unions have come out against it, saying it puts up more hurdles to organizing workers, and threatens collective bargaining. Privacy advocates are also expressing concerns—about the bill’s provisions to greatly increase the number of drones that can operate in US skies. FSRN’s Alice Ollstein has the details, on Capitol Hill.
After winning Nevada’s Republican Caucus over the weekend, presidential candidate Mitt Romney turned his attention to upcoming contests in Colorado and Minnesota. Although turn-out was far lower than expected In Nevada, Romney received fifty percent of the vote, with Newt Gingrich coming in second and Ron Paul and Rick Santorum following. Also over the weekend, Jill Stein won 90 percent of the vote in Ohio’s Green Party state convention. Actress Roseanne Barr, who recently announced her candidacy, came in second with about five percent of the vote. Ohio is also being watched by progressives as a campaign heats up between two veteran Democrats who are being forced to run against each other. This follows Ohio losing two seats and a Republican-led redistricting that created a map with only 4 out of 16 districts that lean toward the Democrats. From Ohio, FSRN’s Sehvilla Mann has more.