Newscast for Tuesday, February 28, 2012
- Year: 2012
- Length: 29:06 minutes (26.64 MB)
- Format: MP3 Mono 44kHz 128Kbps (CBR)
Syria’s security forces continued attacks on the country’s cities today, with rockets slamming into neighborhoods and activists reporting killings in Aleppo, Idlib, Daraa and elsewhere. A video posted on Youtube shows smoke rising from densely packed houses as the sound of rockets crash nearby. Activists identified it as coming from the Bab Amr neighborhood of Homs, where security forces have been shelling for 25 days. The Red Cross, which so far has been blocked from bringing medical supplies or evacuating the injured, calls the situation a humanitarian crisis and said on Monday conditions are deteriorating hour by hour. Syrian activists were also killed while helping bring Western journalists to safety. According to Avaaz, which helped coordinate the rescue, journalist Paul Conroy, wounded last week in shelling attacks on Homs, has reached safety in Lebanon. As we go to broadcast, other wounded journalists, Edith Bouvier and William Daniels of France and Javier Espinosa from Spain remained “unaccounted for.” Avaaz reports that 35 Syrians have been working on the rescue day and night; more than a dozen of them have been killed in the process. Also today, anti-Assad protests took place in Hama. A video posted by Activist News Association, a group based in Cairo, shows crowds chanting and waving banners. As the death toll mounts, action taken by the international community has so far failed to stop the killing. Today in Geneva the UN’s Human Rights Council met to address the crisis in Syria. Human Rights High Commissioner Navi Pillay called for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire and said a UN investigation showed that Syria’s regime had committed “crimes against humanity” during its crackdown on the pro-democracy opposition that began nearly a year ago. Speaking in Geneva, Paulo Sacadura Cabral Portas, Minister of State and Foreign Affairs of Portugal spoke on behalf of the EU. “The EU repeats its calls on President Assad to end immediately the killing of civilians, withdraw the Syrian army from besieged towns and cities and step aside in order to make room for a peaceful transition for the sake of the country.” Some countries, including France, have encouraged the Council to prepare a complaint against Syria’s regime in the International Criminal Court at the Hague. But Russia’s representative said that efforts to “instill democracy through force are doomed to disaster” and warned of a civil war. And Syria’s representative of the Assad regime walked out of the UN meeting, saying countries were “inciting sectarianism and providing arms" to the opposition. The Local Coordination Committees, a group of activists within Syria, has been monitoring the situation. Rafif Joejate, spokesperson for the group in Washington DC, told FSRN that the reports of killings and residents caught under rubble are still coming in. That’s Rafif Joejate, spokesperson for the Local Coordination Committees, speaking to us from Washington DC. According to the Guardian, Tunisia’s president has offered asylum to Bashar al Assad and his associates in a bid to end the conflict through negotiations. But it’s unclear what kind of support such a proposal has. Testifying before a Senate committee hearing, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said that Assad could be called a war criminal.
Today, the US Supreme Court examined whether corporations and political groups can be sued in the US for human rights violations committed in other countries. The justices heard about abuses in Nigeria and Palestine. The cases against Shell Oil and the Palestinian Liberation Organization could have widespread repercussions, setting a precedent for corporate liability around the world. FSRN’s Alice Ollstein was at the high court this morning, and files this report.
Voters head to the polls today in Michigan and Arizona. GOP candidate Mitt Romney was born and raised in Michigan, but he’s fending off a strong challenge from Rick Santorum. On the eve of the vote Monday, Ron Paul attracted a crowd of some 1,300, according to the Detroit News. Newt Gingrich said he skipped campaigning for today’s primaries to focus on Super Tuesday contests next week. In Arizona, Mexican-American political leaders in the state are saying front-runner Mitt Romney can't be trusted to represent their interests. Some have gone as far as saying none of the candidates still up for the Republican nomination will be good for Latinos, the fastest growing demographic in the country. From Tucson, FSRN’s Caroline Jackson has more.
Voters in Arizona also go to polls today to elect a Green Party presidential candidate. About 5,000 people in Arizona are registered as Greens and this is the first time the state party has qualified for a presidential primary election. In addition to Arizona, front-runner Jill Stein is on the ballot in 17 other states and the District of Columbia, and has qualified for federal matching funds in California and Massachusetts. Stein, a physician, is increasing her lead after winning last week’s online primary in Illinois. On the Thom Hartmann show last week, Stein explained why the country needs a Green New Deal. Stein faces five other candidates on the ballot in Arizona, including Kent Mesplay, who’s also running a national campaign. Mesplay is an air quality inspector for San Diego County, and ran for the Green Party presidential nominee in 2004 and 2008. Mesplay, who grew up in Paupua New Guinea and is part Blackfoot Indian, says he is running to counter the conservative attacks on immigrants, Mexicans, and Native peoples. Three candidates on the Arizona Green ballot are local, and another from Colorado, Gary Swing, is running for Congress too. Actress Rosanne Barr did not qualify in time, but may secure votes as a write-in candidate.
Organic farmers are considering whether to appeal a federal court ruling that dismissed a legal action against the Monsanto corporation. Dozens of organic farms and businesses sought legal protection against lawsuits for patent infringement, should their crops be contaminated by Monsanto’s genetically modified seed. But US District Judge Naomi Buchwald found the claims "unsubstantiated.” FSRN’s Vic Bedoian reports from Fresno.