April 16, 2008

  • Congress Passes Jubilee Act to Relieve Poor Countries’ Debt
  • Supreme Court Upholds Lethal Injection; Considers Expanding Death Penalty for Crimes Other Than Murder
  • Fuel Crisis Forces Gaza University to Cancel Classes
  • Discrimination Faced by Children of Lebanon’s Domestic Workers
  • Dollarization’s Role in El Salvador’s Economic Crisis

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Immigration Raids Across the US
US Immigration and Customs Enforcement launched a series of workplace raids across the country today. It all began when some 20 people were taken into custody in a pre-dawn raid at a donut factory in Houston. The factory is a large complex in a residential neighborhood and many of its workers lived in on-site dormitories. Also this morning about 4 dozen workers were arrested in a series of raids that targeted a chain of Mexican restaurants in 4 states. The restaurants’ owner was allegedly forcing immigrants to work off their smuggling debt. The largest raids were at Pilgrim’s Pride chicken processing plants in 5 southern states. Pilgrim’s Pride is the country’s largest poultry producer. The company’s spokesman told the Associated Press that the company knew of the raid “in advance and cooperated fully”. ICE expects as many as 100 poultry workers will face charges of identity theft.

New Codelco Strike in Chile

In Chile, contract workers at the Codelco copper company began a wild-cat strike today charging the company has not compiled with the terms of an agreement that ended their 37-day strike last August. Codelco the world largest State-owned company. From Santiago, FSRN’s Jorge Garretón has more.

Early this morning, contract workers sealed off access points to all five Codelco divisions, preventing company miners and refinery workers from changing shifts and grinding company operations to a halt. Contract workers accuse Codelco, the world’s largest copper producer, of reneging on a signed agreement that ended a more than month-long strike last year. The Contract Worker’s Union says Codelco has failed to pay for educational, housing, and health benefits. The also argue Codelco has failed to pay a living wage of some 500 dollars per month. Codelco’s operations have slowly returned to normal over the course of today after the state-owned company replaced the striking contract workers with its own miners and refinery personnel. Contract workers say if the agreement reached last year is not met soon, they will launch an indefinite strike. For FSRN, this is Jorge Garretón in Santiago.

European Union Free Trade Negotiators Set Their Sights on Central America
A new wave of free trade policy has is set to wash over Central America…this time its coming from the European Union. The so-called Association Agreement is in it’s 3rd round of negotiations in San Salvador this week. Meredith de Francesco has more.

Members of broad social movement networks from Honduras, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama and El Salvador have been meeting in San Salvador for the past 3 days to collectively strategize against the EU-Central American Association Agreement. The networks say that the negative impacts they predicted from the Central American Free Trade Agreement with the US will be amplified by the EU agreement, particularly in the areas of intellectual property rights and services. It is European companies, they say, which have the most aggressive interest in the privatization of water and energy. Government negotiators paint the Association Agreement as one concerned with safeguarding human rights, democracy and sustainable development, but organizers call these claims disingenuous. This morning campesino, environmental and union groups, representatives of rural organized communities, and others marched to the Radisson Hotel where the negotiations are being held behind closed doors. They say this agreement will further enrich multinational corporations at the expense of Central American workers and farmers. For FSRN, this is Meredith DeFrancesco in San Salvador.

Bush Announces Greenhouse Gas Reduction Measures…for 2025

President Bush will announce measures this afternoon to curb greenhouse gas emissions by the year 2025. Alden Meyer, director of strategy and policy at the Union of Concerned Scientists called the move (quote) “one last desperate attempt to change the rules of the game”. One of Bush’s first actions upon taking office 7 years ago was to pull the US out of the Kyoto Protocol – an international treaty that set binding goals for cutting greenhouse gas emissions. At the time, the US was the world’s largest producer of carbon dioxide, although new data indicate China is now the planet’s worst polluter.

Tibetans Target Chinese Embassy in India Ahead of Torch Relay

Tibetan exiles in India have intensified their protests ahead of the Olympic Torch relay in the Indian capital. Indian police today arrested nearly 60 exiles as they attempted to storm the Chinese embassy in New Delhi. Bismillah Geelani reports.

Waving Tibetan flags and wearing ‘Free Tibet’ headbands, about 60 protestors, appeared this morning near the Chinese embassy in New Delhi’s high-security Chanakyapuri area and tried to break through its security cordon. Police and paramilitary personnel, who were deployed in large numbers near the embassy building, clashed with demonstrators and arrested them. Earlier, a group of exiles took the security establishment by surprise when they held their own torch relay yesterday on the designated route for the Olympic torch run. The flame will arrive here tomorrow and the authorities have put massive security arrangements in place to avoid any disruption by the Tibetan exiles. Meanwhile, the exiles have announced a parallel torch relay for a “Free Tibet” which will run on the other side of the city at the same time. The organizers say at least 5000 exiles and supporters will participate in the relay. For FSRN, this is Bismillah Geelani from New Delhi.

Anniversary of Sacking of Iraqi National Library and Archive

This week marks the 5th anniversary of the burning and looting of the Iraqi National Library and Archives. The building housed one of the most significant collections of historical documents in the world. In April of 2003, US troops did nothing to stop the destruction and sacking of the priceless collection, despite repeated pleas from library staff. US forces did, however, actively protect the nearby headquarters of Iraq’s Ministry of Oil.



Congress Passes Jubilee Act to Relieve Poor Countries’ Debt

From Bono to the Pope to a vast network of grassroots organizations, debt relief for poor countries has supporters all over the world. Congress has now heard their call, and approved legislation to cancel the debt of several poor countries – the vote was timed to coincide with the Pope’s visit to Washington. FSRN’s Tanya Snyder has the story.

Supreme Court Upholds Lethal Injection; Considers Expanding Death Penalty for Crimes Other Than Murder

The death penalty debate is prominent in the Supreme Court today” the court considered whether crimes other than murder can be punished by death; and in a blow to human rights advocates, the Supreme Court upheld the use of lethal injections. FSRN Anchor Aura Bogado spoke with Carol Chodroff is the Advocacy Director of the US Program of Human Rights Watch about both cases.

Fuel Crisis Forces Gaza University to Cancel Classes

Israeli army attacks on the Gaza Strip have claimed the lives of at least 21 Palestinians, including 5 children. Israel decided to renew emergency fuel into the territory after a week long delay. The fuel crisis has already taken its toll on higher education: four major universities have now cancelled classes, since students, professors and versity staff are simply unable to get to their campuses. Israel blames Hamas, which controls Gaza, of holding back the supply of fuel already in the territory – they say Hamas wants to pressure Israel to lift the blockade it tightened after Hamas came into power last June. FSRN’s Rami Al-Maghari reports from Gaza.

Discrimination Faced by Children of Lebanon’s Domestic Workers

While it’s hard enough being a domestic worker in Lebanon – the experience may be even more difficult for their children. As FSRN’s Simba Russeau reports from Beirut, many young people face marginalization and racism within Lebanese society, because of their parents’ social status.

Dollarization’s Role in El Salvador’s Economic Crisis

Hundreds of people have taken to the streets in El Salvador to protest increased prices for basic goods and fuel. Analysts say the causes of the crisis are directly linked to the current recession in the United States and the dollarization” of the Salvadorian economy in 2001. FSRN’s Ricardo Martinez was at the protests and spoke to some of the marchers. Goods and fuel. Analysts say the causes of the crisis are directly linked to the current recession in the United States and the “dollarization” of the Salvadorian economy in 2001. FSRN’s Ricardo Martinez was at the protests and spoke to some of the marchers.

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