Inside Israel, political polarization is growing. Right- wing groups have threatened to seek Netanyahu's ouster if he authorizes any pullout beyond 9 percent of the West Bank. Hundreds of Israelis who oppose the Netanyahu administration's provocative settlement expansion in the West Bank have been in the streets in recent weeks.
The accords signed in 1995 by the Israeli government and the Palestine Liberation Organization stipulated a troop withdrawal beginning September 1996 followed by two more pullouts in 12 months' time that would leave Palestinians in control of as much as 91 percent of the land in the West Bank. Tel Aviv has not met a single withdrawal deadline. The Clinton administration has asked Tel Aviv to withdraw its troops from 13 percent of the West Bank.
Israeli troops bomb Lebanon
Israeli troops and the Tel Aviv-backed South Lebanon Army (SLA) shelled a Lebanese village May 8, wounding three civilians in Mansouri, 10 miles south of the city of Tyre. They claimed to be responding to an alleged guerrilla attack that killed an SLA militiaman earlier that day. Hezbollah guerrillas, who are fighting to end the 13-year occupation of southern Lebanon by the Zionist regime, have launched numerous attacks on Israel's military outposts.
India nurses demand pay raise
Nurses in New Delhi, India, picketed the Health Ministry headquarters May 7 shouting antigovernment slogans, as negotiations between the nurses union and government officials failed. Medical services up to that point were paralyzed. Nurses in the Delhi Nurses Union (DNU), who began their strike two days earlier, are demanding the government fulfill an agreement it made last September to raise wages. A DNU spokesperson said nurses in New Delhi have the lowest pay scales in the country for their qualifications. New Delhi authorities claim they are open to holding talks, but say they have ruled out any raises.
S. Korea: workers confront gov't
Lee Kab Yong, president of the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions, which organizes 600,000 workers in the country's largest industries, announced plans for further strike actions to protest rising unemployment in south Korea. More than 6.5 percent of the workforce is now unemployed, by official figures, and the number is being swollen by companies going out of business under the blows of the sharp financial crisis there. On May 1, more than 20,000 workers and students took to the streets demanding an end to layoffs. Newly elected president Kim Dae Jung, who was a critic of previous regimes' antiworker policies, ordered a crackdown on militant protest actions, in which strikers have defended themselves in pitched battles against attacks by riot police.
The rulers in Seoul are sweating as the labor resistance threatens to scare off foreign investors. Following the May 1 protests, the Korea Stock exchange fell 14.7 points - the lowest since the currency collapse in December of last year. At that time, the International Monetary Fund intervened to offer Seoul a $60 billion "rescue" package, with severe austerity demands attached.
N. Korea: U.S. lies about nukes
The Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) has threatened to halt its implementation of a 1994 accord on nuclear power, citing Washington's refusal to fulfill its part of the deal. The U.S. government has accused north Korea of using a nuclear reactor to produce nuclear fuel for weapons. The reactor was used to produce electricity. Pyongyang agreed to dismantle it, provided Washington, Tokyo, and Seoul build two new reactors that produce less nuclear fuel. The U.S. government agreed to provide 500,000 tons of fuel oil per year until the first of the two reactors was completed, ostensibly in 2003. North Korean officials complain the project is far behind schedule and that Washington has fallen behind shipments of fuel. "All facts show that the DPRK has gone farther in implementing the agreement whereas the U.S. side is not sincerely fulfilling its obligation," read a statement in the Korean Central News Agency. It said authorities were considering the idea "that the DPRK should no longer lend an ear to the empty promises of the U.S. side, but open and readjust the frozen nuclear facilities and do everything our own way." Thomas Pickering, U.S. undersecretary of state, complained that such a move would be "regrettable and lamentable."
U.S. courts OK more snooping
State and federal courts gave government agents permission for 1,186 wiretaps in 1997 - a 3 percent increase over the previous year - according to a report compiled by the Administrative Office of U.S. Courts. More than 70 percent of the taps were done in the name of "narcotics investigations." This does not count the cases where one of the parties being secretly recorded consents to the snooping.
Living conditions worsen for oppressed nationalities in N.Y.
A study recently released by a research center at the New York University School of Law found that people who are oppressed nationalities and immigrants residing in New York City, particularly Blacks and Dominicans, face worsening housing conditions. According to the report, the percentages of tenants who live with three or more serious problems like broken heating or plumbing, no bathroom or kitchen, and rat infestation are as follows for different groups: Dominicans, 34 percent; Puerto Ricans born in the United States, 29 percent; U.S.-born Blacks, 27 percent; Puerto Ricans born on the island, 23 percent; Caribbean and African immigrants, 22 percent; and Mexicans and Central and South Americans, 20 percent. The study also reported that 28 percent of Indian, Pakistani, and Bangladeshi immigrants live in overcrowded housing - 12 times more than U.S.-born whites.
In related news, a report compiled by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development found that the number of people nationally who earn below-median income and pay more than 50 percent of their earnings to a landlord rose by 370,000 in a four-year period. In that same period the number of low-rent apartments decreased by 900,000. The number of those needing housing assistance climbed by 9 percent, the report stated. About 5.3 million families who rent - one out of seven - need assistance. The federal government has allocated no new funds for housing assistance since 1995.
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