FSRN Weekly Edition – May 22, 2015
- Fighting continues in Yemen as U.S. expedites arms to Saudi Arabia
- Food safety concerns are out front as TPA “fast track” moves through Congress
- Texas lawmakers bar fracking bans, take up other controversial measures in legislative session
- Farmers in India crippled by debt kill themselves at an alarming rate
- Chilean president’s popularity plummets amid unrealized reform agenda and corruption scandals
- LA City Council still to determine scope of new wage theft bureau after approving minimum wage hike
After a five-day humanitarian cease-fire expired, military intervention by U.S.-supported, Saudi-led coalition forces continued this week in Yemen. According to the United Nations, at least 1800 civilians have been killed since Riyadh began airstrikes under the moniker Operation Decisive Storm. Another half-a-million people have been displaced. The stated aim of the coalition – comprised mainly of Gulf monarchies –is to repel advances by Iranian-backed Houthi rebels who forced Yemeni President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi to flee the country in late March. Nell Abram has more.
The Senate has moved forward with Trade Promotion Authority, or TPA, this week, bringing it one step closer to becoming law. Also known as “fast track” authority, the legislation sets up a framework for the president to sign trade deals with other countries that only requires an up-or-down vote from Congress. But hurdles remain as advocates and opponents alike now begin to shift their focus to the House of Representatives. Critics of TPA point to the recent World Trade Organization ruling against the U.S. food labeling program as an example of how the lack of input on fast-tracked trade deals affects consumers and citizens. But some members of Congress say the food labeling program has little to do with food safety and even less to do with TPA. Anthony J. Rivera has the story from Washington, D.C.
The Texas Legislature, now in the final days of its 84th session, is in the process of debating and pushing through some controversial measures. One that has already been signed into law by the governor bars local municipalities from banning fracking operations within their communities. Other big issues on the agenda include LGBT equality and access to abortion. For more on this session in the Texas legislature, FSRN’s Shannon Young spoke with Forrest Wilder, Associate Editor with The Texas Observer magazine.
The plight of farmers in India is drawing global attention after a recent spate of suicides. More than a quarter-of-a-million farmers have killed themselves in the past two decades, their deaths often linked to crop damage, low-yield and debt – debt which does not pass down to heirs in India after death. The most recent rash of suicides began with a 41-year-old farmer who hanged himself at a political rally. The demonstration was held in opposition to a land reform measure that would allow the government to take-over private lands for corporate and industrial development and has been very controversial in recent years. FSRN’s Jasvinder Sehgal attended the farmer’s funeral.
Chilean President Michelle Bachelet gave her annual address Thursday as ongoing corruption scandals plague her administration and student protests have intensified after the fatal shooting of two demonstrators last week. Jacob Resneck reads for Joshua Tucker in Valparaiso.
Amid a nationwide #Fightfor15 movement by low-wage workers, the Los Angeles City Council voted on Tuesday to increase its base wage to $15 an hour by 2020, up from the statewide minimum of $9. The victory is energizing worker activists across the country. Wednesday, thousands of protesters kicked off two days of actions outside McDonald’s annual shareholders’ meeting near Chicago.
LA is now the largest U.S. city to mandate a minimum wage higher than the state or federal floor. With an estimated 40 percent of workers in the city now earning less than $15 an hour, the increase is expected to affect more than 700,000 people. But there are still some pending issues to resolve before the final vote. Larry Buhl has more.