April 18, 2007

News You Might Have Missed * Vol. 6, No. 16

Important but overlooked news from around the world.

THIS WEEK:

Iraqi Sunnis find no haven among their kin, a South Dakota court hears abortion’s rhetorical question, the BIA may intervene in the Cherokee “freedman” vote, the outsourcing boom tests U.S. schools and labor unions, crops are threatened as pollinating honeybees die out … and a French extremist gains in the polls over (and among) Arab immigrants.

QUOTED:

“Above everything it’s his family values we share. When we’re eating our dinner, watching TV at night and we see two homosexual men kissing, it upsets us. As Muslims, and as decent French citizens, it shocks us.”

— Fayid Smahi explains why he and other French Arabs are backing anti-immigrant candidate Jean-Marie Le Pen in Sunday’s presidential vote (see “Immigration,” below.)


TOP STORIES

A Sunni House Divided

Thousands of Iraqi Sunnis fleeing Shia militias are finding no peace in Sunni districts, where they are threatened by insurgents who seek to create “pure pro-insurgency neighborhoods” and suspect the newcomers of being spies or criminals, according to the Institute for War & Peace Reporting.

Insurgents also target fellow Sunnis who question the violence, as well as people in mixed Sunni/Shia marriages, of which there are 6.5 million in Iraq today.

Abortion’s Rhetorical Question

A federal appellate court is hearing arguments over a 2005 South Dakota abortion law that requires doctors to tell patients they will be terminating “the life of a whole, separate, unique, living human being” and that they are “ending the mother-child relationship.”

A judge called it “ideology,” the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports, but proponents say the language defends the “right” to motherhood.

BIA Stalls on Cherokee “Freedman” Vote

The Cherokee Nation faces a court battle, with almost $300 million in federal funding at stake, over its vote to remove 2,700 “freedmen” — descendents of African American slaves of Cherokee Indians — from tribal membership. The Bureau of Indian Affairs has so far refused to approve the vote to exclude the freedmen, who would lose their medical benefits.

Sources:

“Insurgents distrust displaced Sunni”
Institute for War & Peace Reporting (U.K.), April 13, 2007

“Appeals judges pepper lawyers with questions in South Dakota abortion case”
St. Louis Post-Dispatch, April 11, 2007

“Vote to remove freedmen not yet approved”
Associated Press, April 13, 2007


LABOR

Unions, Schools Tackle Outsourcing Boom

Enrollment is down at computer engineering schools because of a perception that IT jobs can all be outsourced to India.

Schools now must “outsource-proof” their graduates by teaching them skills that cannot be replicated elsewhere, such as project management, the Tampa Tribune reports.

One study suggests that up to 29 percent of all U.S. jobs will “offshoreable” by 2030.

In the United Kingdom, some hospitals are outsourcing medical transcription to India and the Philippines; others say doing so costs local jobs, and increases risk of fatal medical errors.

The Newspaper Guild is protesting plans by the Boston Globe and the New York Times Co. to outsource advertising and circulation employees to India. The Chicago Tribune, the Los Angeles Times and the Columbus Dispatch have all outsourced customer service and graphic design departments to India or the Philippines, the IndUS Business Journal reports.

The federal government is spurring the trend by granting more than half of all H-1B visas for skilled foreign workers to reps from Indian companies who act as “ambassadors” that seek to drum up even more outsourcing contracts, the International Herald Tribune reports.

Sources:

“Outsourcers corner market for U.S. skilled worker visas”
International Herald Tribune, April 14, 2007

“Outsourcing of U.K. hospital records to India opposed”
Indo Asian News Service, April 13, 2007

“Boston Globe outsourcing draws cries from union”
IndUS Business Journal (MA), April 15, 2007

“Outsource-proofing the next crop of college grads”
Tampa Tribune, April 12, 2007


ENVIRONMENT

The Disappearing Honeybee

A widespread honeybee die-off, known as “colony collapse disorder,” has seen bees disappear from hundreds of thousands of hives around the world this winter.

Experts are scrambling to explain why bees are fleeing their hives en masse and die elsewhere.

Honeybees affect one-third of all food eaten in America and the United Kingdom, pollinating orchards, gardens and crops.

Twenty-four U.S. states have been affected, as have Scotland, Spain, Italy, Poland, Greece and other parts of Europe.

A Pennsylvania beekeeper blames a new insecticide used to treat agricultural crops, while California scientists say the culprit is cold weather and mites.

One beekeeper is buying twice the normal number of bees to ensure local farm crops are pollinated and productive, according to the Simi Valley Acorn.

A Reason Magazine article critiques recent claims by the Sierra Club that biotech crops are to blame. The author says the studies cited find no such link and points out that the problem has spread to hives across biotech-free Europe.

Sources:

“Is new pesticide less than bee-nign?”
The Ellsworth American (ME), April 12, 2007
http://ellsworthmaine.com/site/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=7503&Itemid=31

“Hives left ‘like Mary Celeste’ as bees mysteriously vanish”
The Scotsman (U.K.), April 14, 2007
http://news.scotsman.com/scitech.cfm?id=572652007

“Weather, mite infestation put county’s bee population at risk”
Simi Valley Acorn (CA), April 13, 2007
http://www.simivalleyacorn.com/news/2007/0413/Community/014.html

“Plight of the bumblebee”
Reason Magazine, April 13, 2007
http://www.reason.com/news/show/119622.html


IMMIGRATION

French Extremist Gains Ground Over (And Among) Arabs

Polls suggest that far-right candidate Jean-Marie Le Pen could do even better in the first round of presidential voting this Sunday than in the 2002 election, when he came in second.

Le Pen’s views that North African immigrants cause crime and should be deported even resonate with French Muslims, who say he represents “wholesome values” and will deal with extremists, the BBC reports.

In Marseille, children of North African immigrants don’t know who to vote for but agree with Le Pen that immigration has caused mass unemployment that could cost them their jobs.

Sources:

“In Marseille, North Africans want brakes on immigration”
Agence France-Presse, April 16, 2007
http://www.middle-east-online.com/english/?id=20390

“Le Pen urges halt to immigration”
BBC (U.K.), April 17, 2007
http://www.tehrantimes.com/Description.asp?Da=4/17/2007&Cat=2&Num=002


Editors: Julia Scott, Josh Wilson

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One thought on “News You Might Have Missed * Vol. 6, No. 16

  1. Are mobile phones wiping out our bees?

    Scientists claim radiation from handsets are to blame for mysterious ‘colony collapse’ of bees

    By Geoffrey Lean and Harriet Shawcross

    [COMMENT REPOSTED HERE — EDITOR]