Headlines for Friday, October 15, 2010
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Rape survivors in DRC face further violence
Women and girls in the Democratic Republic of Congo are facing another wave of rapes and violence, according to a UN official in the country. This summer, rebel groups raped hundreds of women, children and men in the span of several days. Now Margot Wallström, UN Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict, says the FARDC, the government forces sent to stabilize the region, are accused of the same crimes.
"The possibility that the same communities that the same communities that were brutalized in July and August by FDLR and Mai Mai elements are now suffering exactions at the hands of FARDC troops is unimaginable and unacceptable."
Earlier this week, a UN report stated the victims of rapes in the DRC are not getting the support they need.
Israel announces plans for hundreds of new settler homes
Israel is moving ahead with construction plans for more than 225 settler homes in East Jerusalem. The announcement will no doubt put major stress on the already-struggling peace negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians. The Chief Palestinian negotiator condemned the move, saying Israel is choosing settlements over peace.
Haitians protest renewal of UN Security Council mission in Haiti
(Sound of protesters chanting)
Protesters in Haiti called for the departure of UN troops from their country today, after the United Nations Security Council renewed the force’s mandate for another year. Ansel Herz reports from Port-au-Prince.
MINUSTAH, as the force is known, has occupied Haiti since a coup ousted President Jean-Bertrand Aristide in 2004. Its numbers were boosted to nearly 9000 soldiers and 4000 police after the January 12 earthquake struck Port-au-Prince.
(Sound of gunshot)
A gunshot rang out as dozens of demonstrators chanted, “MINUSTAH must go” and began to block a road adjacent a peacekeeping base in Haiti’s capital city. MINUSTAH troops guarding the entrance rushed out, leveling pistols at protesters and firing a single warning shot. The protesters were peaceful, except for one bottle thrown at the end.
Junior is an earthquake victim who lives in the Corail camp outside Port-au-Prince.
“They shot bullets, they're shooting at us - we have the right to protest how we want! MINUSTAH are all thieves. We're protesting, from under tents that are terrible for us.”
The peacekeepers have been criticized for not doing enough to protect homeless earthquake victims living in makeshift camps - and for using excessive force. Peacekeepers are stationed in only six out of 1300 camps where rapes and forcible evictions by landowners are frequent. Ansel Herz, FSRN, Port-au-Prince.
Detainee abuse reported at US Black Site in Afghanistan
Detainees held at an unofficial US jail, or black site, in Afghanistan say they were mistreated, according to a report released by the Open Society Foundations on Thursday. The prisoners say they were given inadequate food, bedding and blanketing, restricted from exercising and carrying out religious worship and kept from meeting with Red Cross personnel. Some of the alleged abuses happened as recently as this year.
Judge rules state health care lawsuit can move forward
A Florida District Court judge says a lawsuit challenging this year’s health care legislation can go ahead. About twenty state Attorneys General have signed on to the suit challenging the law, saying it’s unconstitutional to force people to buy health insurance. According to the Washington Post, the ruling stated the plaintiffs did have the standing to sue, but did not judge the actual merits of the case. That will be determined at a hearing in December.
NYC paid sick leave measure blocked
Now a follow-up on a story being tracked by FSRN: A bill that would require New York City companies to provide paid sick leave to their employees is dead – at least for now. From New York, Rebecca Myles has more.
New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn made the announcement Thursday that she could not support the bill as it currently stands. The proposal would mandate employers with fewer than 20 employees to provide fives days of paid sick leave… nine days at firms with more than 20 employees. Quinn did say she would revisit the bill, introduced by the Working Families Party, every two months.
Andrew Friedman of “Make the Road New York” says it’s a very sad day for working New Yorkers.
“Many are very concerned with the well-being of their workers, and many are not. And to protect the folks who are unfortunate enough to work in workplaces where the owners do not care about their interests and are just trying to get as much work out them as possible for as little money as possible, it is essential for the state to step in and establish minimum working conditions or wage levels.”
The bill has the support of the majority of City Councilors. But Mayor Bloomberg and the five Chambers of Commerce argued it would cripple small businesses, particularly in the current economic climate. Rebecca Myles, FSRN, New York.
Pennsylvania teens guilty for hate crimes beating
Two Pennsylvania men have been found guilty of a federal hate crime for their attack on a Hispanic man. In 2008, Derrick Donchak and Brandon Piekarsky, then members of their Shenandoah high school football team, beat Luis Ramirez to death while shouting racial slurs at him. Immigrant rights groups were outraged last year when a lower court found the men not guilty of felony charges. They were convicted of misdemeanor assault. The new case, brought by the federal government, charged the men with a hate crime under the Fair Housing Act. Both men face up to life in prison when sentenced on January 24th. In addition, three local police officer face charges of trying to cover up the crime.