June 19, 2009

  • Ayatollah wants protesters to accept election results
  • How effective is USAID to Pakistan? FSRN visits tribal areas
  • Thousands kidnapped on Mexican migration route
  • Health care reform good for the economy says Obama administration
  • Clean energy bill could do more harm than good

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FAO says 1 billion people are hungry
The UN Food and Agriculture Organization says currently one in every six of the world’s people are hungry.  FAO Director General Jacques Diouf.

“FAO estimates show the number of those suffering from chronic hunger has topped 1 billion in 2009.  1 billion and 20 million to be more precise.”

The Director General blames stubbornly high food prices and the world economic crisis.  And says the 11 percent increase in the hunger rate is the highest single year jump ever.

“The problem of food security is a political one.  It is a question of the priorities set on the international agenda in the face of the most fundamental of human needs, which will determine the allocations of resources to the different sectors of the economy and categories of workers in the population.”

The FAO says food security isn’t just about feeding the 1 billion people currently undernourished, but planning to provide for a skyrocketing population.

Peru’s Congress revokes natural resource laws at root of indigenous protests

After violent clashes between the government and indigenous communities in Peru, the Peruvian Congress has abolished two laws that allow mining, oil and gas exploration in the Amazon.  From Lima, FSRN’s Pamela Cueva reports.

More than 30 people died when confrontations broke out in early June between police and indigenous protesters in the Bagua region of Peru.  In the following days, the government met with a dozen delegates from Amazonian ethnic groups to work out a deal.  The government hopes the concessions will end the current political crisis.  President Alan Garcia says the government committed an error when it did not consult indigenous communities before passing the natural resource laws. He also asked for calm, serenity and trust by every Peruvian citizen.

“We wanted to impose some order, and that was also a demand made by ecologists and progressives in the US congress throughout the Free Trade Agreement negotiations.  However, I recognize that back then, we didn´t consult with the leaders of indigenous communities, who represent some 300,000 Peruvians.”

Daysi Zapata, the Vice President of the Amazon Indian Confederation, has called for an end to protests and blockades.  Pamela Cueva with Alfredo Cuadros, FSRN, Lima.

More than 700 UK workers fired after holding unofficial strike
In the UK a dispute by construction workers at a Total oil refinery threatens to spread across the UK.  Workers at 17 power stations and construction sites are holding solidarity actions for the more than 700 workers fired by the French oil corporation.   From London, FSRN’s Naomi Fowler reports:

According to Total oil refinery workers, 700 people were sacked Thursday night for their previous involvement in unofficial strike action. They say Total has been bringing in foreign European workers in order to drive down wages and undermine job security. Workers say they are not opposed to foreign labor, but believe if they lose this fight, it will give the green light to other big corporations to behave similarly.  Total says striking workers are taking part in an “unofficial, illegal walk-out” and that firing workers is normal practice when different parts of a project end. It has so far refused to meet with the unions.  Naomi Fowler, FSRN, London.

ICE immigration raids “abusive” according to report
President Obama has expanded the powers of the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement Administration to include the investigation of drug crimes.  But even without this expanded power, ICE is coming under criticism from Unions and human rights advocates for the way they conducted immigration raids under the Bush Administration.   Kellia Ramares has more.

A National Commission of labor and civil rights experts, founded by the president of the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union, conducted a yearlong investigation.  It released a report entitled “Raids on Workers” detailing systematic abuses of workers’ rights and willful disregard for the rule of law.  In a series of regional hearings, the commission found a pattern of misconduct.  During raids, U.S. Citizens and Legal Permanent Residents were detained for hours even after establishing their status.  Families were separated, leaving children without proper care.  The commission also collected information about repeated incidents of racial profiling and harassment.  Kellia Ramares FSRN Oakland.

Juneteenth celebrated across US
And finally, Juneteenth celebrations are happening all over the country today.  The date marks the anniversary to the end to slavery in Texas, but has come to be celebrated by the African-American community, with parades, parties and cultural events planned across the country.


Ayatollah wants protesters to accept election results
Iran´s supreme leader, Ayatollah Khameini backed the re-election of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad today, calling on supporters of opposition candidates to terminate protests over last week’s election results.

Khameini rarely speaks in public, but today he addressed a crowd of thousands at Tehran university. He defended last weekend results.

“Sometimes the difference between two individuals is 100 thousand or 500 thousand votes” he said, “But how can 11 million votes be replaced or changed?”

Iranian authorities declared President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the winner of last weekend´s election with over 60 per cent of the ballot, claiming he obtained 11 million votes more than reformist candidate Mir Houssein Moussavi.
But opposition leaders say the elections were fraudulent, and they filed more than 600 complaints throughout this week, while their supporters held massive marches in Tehran.

Today,  Ayatollah Khameini urged opposition leaders to handle their concerns through Iran´s legal system and not through public demonstrations.

Meanwhile in the United States, the House passed a resolution that “condemns the ongoing violence against demonstrators by the Government of Iran and pro-government militias, as well as the ongoing government suppression of independent electronic communication through interference with the Internet and cellphones.”

After today’s vote, Republican Eric Cantor of Virginia spoke to the press. He echoed GOP views against the Obama Administration’s pursuit of diplomacy.

But while many condemn the Iranian government’s treatment of protesters, some analysts point out that massive protests since last weekend have been largely peaceful, and they say that for the most part, police have not enforced an official ban on public gatherings.

How effective is USAID to Pakistan? FSRN visits tribal areas
Pakistani ground forces moved into South Waziristan today, in what is the beginning of another large attack against Taliban militants.  Pakistan´s army is concluding what they say is a successful campaign against Islamic militants in the Swat valley, but the government must now help over two million people who have been displaced by the fighting.

As in many internal conflicts, instability in Pakistan is fueled by poverty and inequality. And Pakistan receives millions of dollars in USAID to build roads and improve  basic services in impoverished areas and in regions where fighting is taking place.  In 2008, the US government provided 750 million dollars for the development of the federally administered tribal areas, a region known for harboring Taliban insurgents.
But does this aid reach those need it the most?

Nathan Moore reads for FSRN´s Gabe Matthews who traveled around the tribal region to bring us this report.

Thousands kidnapped on Mexican migration route
A report published this week by Mexico’s Human Rights Commission shows that close to 10,000 migrants were kidnapped for ransom in Mexican territory in a recent 6 month period.  The commission based its statistics on information provided by migrant shelters, migrant testimonies, press accounts, and legal records, while noting that the actual dimensions of the kidnapping epidemic are likely to be much larger. Shannon Young reports from Oaxaca.

Health care reform good for the economy says Obama administration
In Washington, DC today, a top Obama administration official tried to make her point that health care reform will actually make the economy grow while reducing the government´s deficit. She faced some skeptics on the House Budget Committee. Tanya Snyder reports.

Clean energy bill could do more harm than good
The Waxman-Markey bill, or so-called “clean energy bill” has been a work-in-progress since May, seeking to promote energy independence, reduce global warming, and create green jobs.  However, many are expressing that in its current form, the bill could actually do more harm than good.  Sam Greenspan reports from Washington.

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