January 31, 2007

News You Might Have Missed * Vol. 6, No. 5

Important but overlooked news from around the world.

THIS WEEK:

Florida gun licensing goes astray of the mark, Turks and Kurds ponder butter or bullets, California’s undocumented economy runs deep, birth control battlefronts open in Chile and North Dakota, populations and poverty swell African cities, Philippine domestic labor laws backfire … and Saudis deepen a sectarian divide.

QUOTED:

“When it rains our homes are often flooded because garbage blocks the canal, making it difficult for the water to flow. And we have to sweep up plastic bags and other trash that washes into our rooms.”

— Lagos, Nigeria, resident Iyabo Aduni, who lives with her three children in a shack near one of the city’s many illegal garbage dumps (see “World,” below).


TOP STORIES

Florida Gun Licensing: Off Target?

Carry a gun into a courthouse or airport in Florida, and you’ll get off with a misdemeanor if you have concealed-weapon permit. The South Florida Sun-Sentinel reports that such loose regulations and a four-person licensing office for over 410,000 gun owners have enabled hundreds of convicted criminals to retain their gun permits.

Bullets or Butter for Turkey, Kurds

A secret meeting by the Turkish parliament has sparked fears of possible border-crossing military action against Kurdish rebels based in Northern Iraq. But experts say it’s election-season bluster at a time when trade between Iraqi Kurds and Turkey is reaching highs of $3 billion annually, Al Jazeera reports.

Pakistan Party Seeks U.S. Troops Disclosure

Pakistan denies that there are U.S. troops on its bases, but says “select” air bases have been opened for anti-terrorist operations. A parliamentary committee wants access to revenue and financial records from the operations, including undisclosed real estate projects around bases by developers using military names.

Sources:

“Errors, weak laws keep concealed weapons in questionable hands around Florida”
South Florida Sun-Sentinel, January 29, 2007

“Turkey mulls ‘invading’ Iraq”
Al Jazeera, January 26, 2007

“Pakistani lawmakers demand details of U.S. military presence”
Indo Asian News Service, January 29, 2007


IMMIGRANT LABOR

California’s Undocumented Economy

The coastside town of Pescadero worries that new immigrant restrictions will stifle the economy, and cost its schools as much as 60 percent of their students.

Family farmers there are already losing workers to the higher- paying construction industry, the San Mateo County Times reports, and fear the new rules will put them out of business.

In San Diego, competition is stiff for a pool of up to 400,000 undocumented workers in restaurants, construction, agriculture and childcare. The underground economy produces affordable services and housing, KPBS TV reports, driving a regional biotech and telecom boom.

And at nearby Pitzer College, protestors say the arrest of 761 immigrants under “Operation Return to Sender” unjustly targets “good people” who contribute to the community, according to the San Bernardino County Sun.

Activists say the raid is counterproductive as President Bush calls for a new U.S. guest-worker policy.

Sources:

“Farmers fear workers won’t return”
San Mateo County Times (CA), January 20, 2007

“Undocumented workers have large impact on local economy”
KPBS (CA), January 25, 2007

“Marchers will protest sweeps of immigrants”
San Bernardino County Sun (CA), January 25, 2007


CONTRACEPTION & ABORTION

A Morning After for Chile, North Dakota

Chile’s President Michelle Bachelet has issued an executive order legalizing free “morning after” contraception to teens without parental consent.

The issue has split the ruling party in a socially conservative nation where divorce was only legalized in 2004. Supporters say the new rules will provide equal access to contraception for low-income Chilean women, according to the Santiago Times.

In North Dakota, the legislature overwhelmingly passed a “trigger ban” on abortion that would take effect the instant Roe v. Wade were overturned. A second bill, which was defeated, would have banned abortion immediately and prosecuted women for seeking the procedure, the Bismarck Tribune reports.

Sources:

“Chile’s governing coalition divides on morning after pill”
Santiago Times (Chile), January 22, 2006

“Chile to Resume Contraception Handout”
Associated Press, January 30, 2006

“North Dakota abortion ban hinges on Roe v. Wade”
Bismarck Tribune, January 26, 2007


 WORLD

Africa’s Urbanization Struggle

In Lagos, Nigeria, waste produced by 13 million residents fills up canals and spreads disease and contaminants into the soil and waterways. Despite a $20 million World Bank loan, the city’s poorest residents live in shacks next to illegal dumps and burn garbage to make room for more housing.

A Maid’s World

A program to make Filipino domestic workers more competitive has backfired, advocates say, by mandating costly training programs even for veteran maids. Delays caused by the new regulations are prompting clients to hire Indonesians instead, a blow to Philippine workers that pay huge job placement fees.

Saudi Sectarian Crackdown

A human rights group has accused Saudi Arabia of a “grave violation” of religious freedom by arresting and/or deporting dozens of Ahmdai muslims. A religious minority predominant in India and Pakistan, Ahmadis follow a different spiritual leader and are considered heretics by the ultraconservative Saudi regime.

Iraq’s Once and Future Army

“Hundreds of thousands” of officers in the former Iraqi army are divided by loyalty and resentment. Iraq’s Azzaman newspaper reports that many are behind anti-U.S. insurgent groups, and threaten or kill others seeking work with the new regime, even as government factions provoke abuse and violence at recruiting centers.

Sources:

“Lagos pays the price of population surge”
Integrated Regional Information Networks (U.N.), January 26, 2007

“HK maids to hold protest rally over new restrictions”
Philippine Daily Inquirer, January 29, 2007

“Saudi Arabia accused of harassing South Asian sect”
Agence France-Presse, January 26, 2007

“Militiamen kidnap and kill 10 former army officers”
Azzaman (Iraq), January 25, 2007


VIEWPOINT

D’Souza Book Shifts 9/11 Blame

A libertarian editorialist accuses conservative pundit Dinesh D’Souza of “demagoguery” and a lack of academic credentials for claiming that the September 11 attacks were motivated by Arab outrage at a Western culture of contraception, abortion, atheism and homosexuality.

Source:

“Demagoguery posing as scholarship”
The Independent Institute, January 29,2007


Editors: Julia Scott, Josh Wilson

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