March 06, 2006
BULLDOZING RESUMES IN NEW ORLEANS, LA
Today the Army Corps of Engineers resumed demolition of 120 severely damaged homes in New Orleans, the vast majority in the city’s lower 9th ward. Christian Roselund has more.
(audio: bulldozer) A small bulldozer tore apart a structure sitting in the middle of Winthrop street in the city’s lower 9th ward today; the first of the homes scheduled for demolition this week. The crew was accompanied by cadaver-sniffing dogs, as remains continue to be found in the area. John Fogerty of the US Army Corps of Engineers says that these homes are preventing the restoration of services to the area: (audio: Fogerty) The lower 9th Ward still does not have potable water and few homes have electric service. The city of New Orleans says that it has mailed out demolition notices to the last known address of homeowners as required by a ruling against the city in January. Michelle Shin of the aid organization Common Ground, which opposed the bulldozing in December, says her organization has not been in contact with any residents who were to receive said notification. The city of New Orleans has not said when it will resume demolition of the other eighteen hundred homes that it plans to remove. For FSRN, I’m Christian Roselund.
SOUTH CENTRAL FARMERS FACE EVICTION
The South Central Farmers at the nation’s largest urban garden are facing eviction tomorrow at midnight by the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. KPFK’s Kelly Barnes reports.
Last night, a community strategy meeting was followed by a candlelight vigil to help keep the farm in the hands of the 350 low-income families that work the 14 acres. Despite the fact the farmers have raised 9 million dollars to buy the garden, developer Ralph Horowitz is demanding 16.35 million dollars, even though he paid just over five million to buy it back from the city in 2003. Farmers say that sale was a back-room deal, and they are not willing to consider a compromise offered by the mayor’s office of accepting four or five acres at the current location and a few smaller plots throughout the city. So far, the mayor has not responded to farmers’ demands of a city-wide town hall meeting on the issue, in particular on the legality of the transfer of land back to Horowitz after the city took it under eminent domain. Tonight, the community is expected to turn out in force in support of the farmers–a continuation of the 24-hour presence at the farm for the last several months. In LA for FSRN, I’m Kelly Barnes for People without Borders.
SOLOMON AMENDMENT UPHELD
In an unanimous decision today, the Supreme Court ruled that military recruiters must be allowed onto the campus of any college or university that receives federal funding. This knocks down a legal challenge raised by some law schools that questioned the nature of the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy that recruiters practice. Universities receive some 35 billion dollars a year in federal funding.
FATEH WALKS OUT OF LEGISLATIVE SESSION
The Hamas-dominated Palestinian Parliament’s first legislative session ended today with the walkout of Fateh party legislators. They were opposing a move to challenge powers that were granted to President Abbas in the final days of the previous parliament.
POSSIBLE WITHDRAWAL FROM SOME WEST BANK SETTLEMENTS
Meanwhile, the Israeli government has announced plans to evacuate additional West Bank settlements and define Israel’s permanent borders if the Kadima party of the acting Prime Minister wins national elections later this month. Manar Jibrin has the story.
Acting Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert announced yesterday that 17 settlements will be cleared in the first stage of a four-year withdrawal plan. The evacuated settlers of these outposts will be relocated to major settlement blocs. Unlike last year’s withdrawal from the Gaza Strip, Israel is not planning a military disengagement from the evacuated West Bank land. Mr. Olmert has indicated that Israel will hold on to the Jordan Valley, as well as East Jerusalem and the major settlement blocs of Maale Adumim, Ariel and Gush Etzion as part of a final settlement. The move would cement Israeli control over the most heavily populated settlements in the West Bank, where Israel is building a controversial Separation Wall. All settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem are illegal under international law.
DOMESTIC WORKERS MARCH IN HONG KONG FOR RAISE
Over 500 migrant workers took to the streets of Hong Kong yesterday to call on the government to increase the minimum wage that was lowered in 2003. Dante Toza has more:
Hundreds of migrant workers held up signs saying “Stop Modern Slavery! Wage Increase Now!”. These domestic workers are employed in private homes throughout Hong Kong. In 2003, the minimum wage was lowered from $ 470 to 428 US dollars a month. With the government announcement in the new year that Hong Kong is no longer in a financial crisis, the workers are demanding the elimination of a 50 dollar tax levied against migrant domestic workers and a return to the pre-2003 minimum wage of $470 dollars. There are over 200 thousand migrant workers in Hong Kong, many of them from the Philippines, Indonesia, and Thailand. For FSRN, this is Dante Toza Reporting from Hong Kong.
NATO To Be Dominating Force in Afghanistan (3:19)
NATO has once again signaled that it will be the dominating force in Afghanistan before the end of the year. The United States has remain! ed in the background though, saying their troop levels will decrease by less than 20%. As Leigh Ann Caldwell reports from DC, some policy experts say the move will relieve some troop strain for other US-led missions.
War Lords in the Parliament: FSRN Speaks with Malalai Joya (4:05)
Pakistani President General Pervez Musharraf is accusing Afghanistan’s Defense Ministry and Intelligence of conspiring against his country. His comments come in response to Afghanistan’s recent accusation that Pakistan isn’t doing enough to stop Taliban and al-Queda operatives from crossing the border and taking refuge in Pakistan. Both countries are considered allies in the US War on Terror, but as they publicly trade accusations – it’s rarely mentioned that former Taliban and other War Lords are serving in Afghanistan’s Parliament. Were joined in studio by Afghan Member of Parliament Malalai Joya.
Pentagon Transcript Reveals Guantánamo Detainees’ Anguish (2:00)
According to Guantánamo Bay hearing transcripts released by the Pentagon late Friday, Guantánamo Bay detainees continue to wait in anguish, without knowledge of why they are being held as prisoners, and what future lies ahead after years of confinement. Yanmei Xie has the story in Washington DC.
Crimes Against Women in Oaxaca, Mexico (3:17)
Although Ciudad Juarez has become infamous for the brutal murders of young women, the region isn’t the only place in Mexico where crimes against women go routinely unpunished. According to official statistics from the Mexican federal government, Oaxaca has become a hot spot for gender-based violence. Vladimir Flores reports.
Berlusconi Pushes for Controversial Italian Bridge Project (3:33)
Upcoming national elections in Italy next month are just too close to call, although Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi’s government might be enjoying its last two months of power. Berlusconi’s administration is still pushing hard against environmental law and engineering constraints to build the longest bridge of its kind in the world connecting Sicily to the south of Italy. But opposition from both sides of the coastline is growing. From Sicily, Naomi Fowler reports.
States Move to Challenge Roe V. Wade (3:44)
South Dakota’s Governor Mike Rounds has signed a bill to ban nearly all abortions in the state – directly challenging the US Supreme Court decision that legalized the procedures in all states in 1973. Meanwhile, citizens in Mississippi have begun collecting signatures for a ballot initiative, which if approved, would also outlaw abortion in all cases, unless the life of the mother or fetus was in danger. The group behind the proposal believes that if passed, it will be challenged in court, but are hopeful that with two new Supreme Court justices, a challenge to the law would fall in their favor, which could lead to the reversal of Roe versus Wade – the landmark decision which gave women the right to choose to terminate their pregnancy. FSRN’s Andrew Stelzer reports from Jackson, Mississippi home to the only abortion clinic still open in the entire state.