Newscast for Wednesday, February 20, 2013
- Year: 2013
- Length: 29:02 minutes (26.57 MB)
- Format: MP3 Mono 44kHz 128Kbps (CBR)
In Syria today, a government airstrike on a Damascus suburb killed at least 20. The UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights uploaded a video that showed a fighter jet streaking through the sky as the sound of gunfire rings out. Activists with the Local Coordination Committees put the death toll from the strike in Damascus up to 35, with dozens more wounded. The attack comes as Russian officials and the Arab League offered to broker talks between President Bashar al Assad and the Syrian opposition. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said the goal is to establish direct contact between Assad’s government and opposition leaders. The ongoing fighting is taking a devastating toll on civilians. This week the World Health Organization warned of a typhoid outbreak in the opposition-controlled Deir al Zour province. The WHO said an estimated 2,500 people had been infected with the disease, which can be fatal. The UN upped its estimate of those in need of humanitarian assistance to four million - or nearly one in five Syrians. Around half are displaced within the country. About 3,000 are fleeing every day across borders. The UN says more than 830,000 have fled so far. An estimated 70,000 have been killed. Humanitarian organizations say access to some areas of the country has been restricted. Doctors Without Borders said aid is not being distributed evenly in the country and that areas under government control receive nearly all international aid, while opposition-held zones receive only a small share. Valerie Amos, United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator spoke after a humanitarian forum in Geneva Tuesday.
"We are crossing conflict lines, negotiating with armed groups on the ground to reach more people in need. But we're not reaching enough of those who require our help. Limited access in the north is a major problem."
Residents in the central city of Homs are also reporting shortages of food and lack of medicine. Earlier today, FSRN spoke with Abu Jaffar, a resident of Homs. He also files reports for the Shaam News Network, based in Damascus.
He began by describing the lack of food and rising price of food staples, such as sugar.
The Palestinian prisoner, Samer Issawi, who has been on hunger strike for more than 200 days, is protesting an Israeli military order which allows for released prisoners to be rearrested and serve the remainder of their sentence. Today, his lawyers and Palestinian prisoners’ organizations filed a petition to the Israeli Supreme Court against the order. From Jerusalem, FSRN’s Lena Odgaard reports.
Three years after the Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling opened the way for unlimited outside political spending, the Court announced this week that it will hear another case for deregulating campaign finance. McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission seeks to remove the cap on how much one person can give to different candidates and political parties.
Yet much of the spending that dominated this past election cycle didn’t come directly from individuals or corporations, but from non-profits. In a newly filed lawsuit against the IRS, a political ethics organization is challenging these groups’ tax-exempt status. In Washington, D.C., FSRN’s Alice Ollstein has more.
One major phone carrier recently settled a multi-million dollar legal action for failing to disclose the high cost of collect calls placed from prison. When the case was filed 12 years ago, prisoner advocates asked the FCC to take action. Now, more than a decade later, the agency is finally moving forward with reform. FSRN’s Caroline Lewis reports.