January 6, 2012

  • US Department of Justice expands definition of rape
  • Texas teen expected to return to US after mistaken deportation
  • Australia’s push to increase uranium mine threatens aboriginal land
  • Tension rises over military drills, posturing among Iran, US and Israel

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Immigration rule change would allow families to stay together longer

The White House today announced immigration rule changes aimed at reducing the time undocumented immigrants are separated from citizen relatives. FSRN’s Michael Lawson reports from DC.

Currently, deported immigrants who are eligible for legal status can seek a waiver from rules that bar reentry into the US for up to 10 years. They must do this from their home country. The lengthy separation period often discourages legal applications.  If the proposed rule change goes through, the waiver application could be submitted stateside, shortening the period spent waiting abroad. Brittney Nystrom of the National Immigration Forum says the rule change will soften the break-up of families, but encourages consultation with an immigration attorney. “The immigration law is full of confusing twists and turns and it’s really important that people understand if they want to come forward and take advantage of this process, what the limitations are.” The waiver would apply only to spouses and children of US citizens. After a public comment period, a final rule should be announced later this year. Michael Lawson, FSRN, Washington.

Indiana Democrats fight right-to-work legislation

Democratic State Representatives in Indiana are bucking Republican-backed efforts to push through an anti-union bill. On Wednesday they began their protest, refusing to make appearances on the State House floor, preventing the body from reaching quorum. Republicans are trying to fast track the right-to-work legislation. At a forum earlier this week in Kokomo, Chuck Sosbe of the Indiana AFL-CIO criticized the right-to-work bill. “It has nothing to do with more jobs, better unemployment rates or anything like that. The whole thing on this right to work is to get rid of the Union Security Clause and to weaken the Unions.” This morning a joint hearing on the bill was held at the Capitol. Local news reports that hundreds of protesters were on hand to oppose the legislation. Today the NFL players union came out against the right-to-work bill. The state is scheduled to host the Super Bowl in early February.  The delay in the State House is also holding up other legislation, like an anti-sex trafficking bill that advocates are trying to push through before the major sporting event. Sex trafficking traditionally spikes locally in connection with the Super Bowl, and supporters hope the new legislation will fix gaps in the current state law. The state Senate has already passed the legislation.

US jobless rate drops again

The US unemployment rate has dropped to the lowest level in nearly 3 years – to 8.5%. The economy added 200,000 jobs, according to the Labor Department. The unofficial unemployment rate, which includes discouraged workers and those working part time for economic reasons dropped as well, to 15.2%.

Religious violence continues in northern Nigeria

Twenty-six Christians have been killed in two separate attacks in Northern Nigeria.  This comes as the deadline an Islamist group gave local Christians to leave expires.  FSRN’s Sam Olukoya reports from Lagos.

The worst of the two incidents occurred in the northern town of Mubi when gunmen chanting Islamic slogans attacked Christian traders at a meeting. Police says 20 people died. In an earlier attack in Gombe Thursday, six people worshiping in a church were shot dead. No group has claimed responsibility for the killings, but the Islamist Boko Haram is suspected. Early this week, the group issued a deadline for Christians to leave the predominantly Muslim north. Boko Haram issued the ultimatum in response to a State of Emergency declared by the government aimed at curtailing the group’s activities. The attacks are likely to further heighten tensions between Christians and Muslims. A Boko Haram bomb attack on Christmas Day left 35 Christians dead. Sam Olukoya, FSRN, Lagos.

Fiji backs of promise to end martial law

The Pacific island nation of Fiji had reneged on a military promise to lift a long-standing State of Emergency this weekend. The lifting of martial law was to be the first step toward a new constitution and elections. Instead, the military government imposed new rules governing public order – public meetings are still banned and certain kinds of speech are limited.

Kashmir residents protest power cuts and student shooting

Shops and business were closed today in major towns of Indian administered Kashmir. Residents are protesting power outages and the killing of a student by security forces earlier this week. FSRN’s Shahnawaz Khan has more.

A local student, Altaf Ahmad Sood was killed Monday when Central Industrial Security Forces fired on a group of people protesting electricity cuts outside a power plant in northern Kashmir. The local government blames CISF troops for firing on the crowd without provocation. But security officials say they followed their standard operating procedure. Today the Kashmir Economic Alliance, a local trade coalition, called for the business shutdown to protest the killing as well as the ongoing power crisis in the region. The protest also affected public transportation and some government employees. Power outages average about 12 hours per day, and Indian administered Kashmir has seen a spate of protests this winter. The latest came after the government decided to increase the duration of cuts. Shahnawaz Khan, FSRN, Srinagar.



US Department of Justice expands definition of rape

The Department of Justice announced this morning that it is expanding the FBI’s definition of rape, which has been on the books since 1929. For the first time, the FBI’s statistics will include people of any gender, instances of date rape and statutory rape, and rape with an object. Women’s rights advocates  — who have long pushed for the move – say the revised definition will lead to a more accurate accounting of incidents of rape, but that it still must be accompanied by a cultural shift, so that more rape survivors come forward and report the crime. FSRN’s Alice Ollstein reports from Washington.

Texas teen expected to return to US after mistaken deportation

A fifteen-year-old American citizen from Dallas, Texas who immigration officials mistakenly deported to Colombia last year, is expected to return to the US soon. That’s according to the Colombian government, who said on Thursday that the US Embassy had submitted the necessary documents. The African American teenager, Jakadrien Turner, was deported by Immigration and Customs Enforcement after her arrest in Houston in April 2011. ICE officials told FSRN that Turner gave a false name during deportation proceedings and claimed she was from Colombia. ICE said the agency followed standard protocol and searched a criminal database but nothing turned up to invalidate her claims. Still, her family has questioned why ICE didn’t do more to verify her identity before her deportation. For more details, we’re joined by Rebecca Lopez, a senior reporter with WFAA-TV in Dallas-Fort Worth. She broke the story and has been following developments.

Australia’s push to increase uranium mine threatens aboriginal land

Australia is one of the largest exporters of uranium, a metal essential for nuclear power and weapons production. The country sits on the world’s largest uranium reserves and it’s poised to increase its role in the nuclear industry. The Australian government has made moves to become a major exporter of uranium to India, a growing nuclear power. But opponents — many from the country’s indigenous communities — are fighting the expansion. FSRN’s Jessie Boylan reports from Melbourne.

Tension rises over military drills, posturing among Iran, US and Israel

This weekend Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad begins a trip to Latin America, where he’s expected to discuss economic partnerships in a number of countries, including Venezuela, Nicaragua, and Ecuador. The trip comes as European Union leaders consider a ban on buying oil from the country, and as US and Israeli officials prepare for “Austere Challenge 12,” a massive military drill involving thousands of troops. Iran’s Revolutionary Guards will also conduct another naval exercise next month, in an effort to demonstrate their ability to block the Straight of Hormuz. For more on the latest details, The Real News Network’s Paul Jay spoke to investigative reporter Gareth Porter. To view the full interview, go to therealnews.com.

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