U.S. planes pound Iraqi people
Washington is continuing its missile barrage against the people of Iraq. On April 11 U.S. forces struck civilian and military targets, which killed two residents and injured nine, according to reports by the Iraqi defense command. One day earlier, U.S.-led jets struck Iraqi radar and antiaircraft sites in the southern region. This ongoing assault on Iraq has disappeared from the pages of most of the big-business press. What coverage there is parrots the U.S. government line that the bombing is due to "provocation" from Iraqi defense forces. Baghdad has been barred from using two-thirds of its own airspace with "no-fly zones" imposed by Washington since 1991. U.S.-led forces have attacked Iraq more than 160 times since last December, dropping hundreds of bombs.
Israel: public workers end strike
Tens of thousands of airport, military industry, sanitation, university, administrative, shipyard, and other workers in Israel ended their strike March 27 after the government agreed to raise wages by 4.8 percent and compensate workers for the difference accumulated since 1997. Histadrut, composed of a labor federation and other organizations, was demanding a 7-8 percent raise, while Tel Aviv said it could go no higher than 3.1 percent. As part of the agreement, Histadrut promised not to engage in further industrial action until October.
U.S. gets okay to sanction EU
The World Trade Organization ruled April 7 that European Union (EU) import rules on bananas cost U.S. companies more than $191 million a year in lost business, clearing the way for Washington to slap sanctions equaling that amount on EU goods. The ruling will be retroactive to March 3. The U.S. government's claim was that EU countries shifted their trade policies with Chiquita Brands International and Dole Food Co., in favor of bananas from former colonies in Africa, the Caribbean, and the Pacific.
The U.S. regime will impose 100 percent tariffs on a number of products produced in EU member states. EU trade commissioner Leon Brittan charged Washington with "fanning the flames" of a dispute between the two biggest trading blocs on earth. The banana war is only one of many sore points in U.S.- EU trade relations.
Ultrarightist becomes state prime minister in Austria
Fascist-minded Jorg Haider, head of the Freedom Party of Austria, was elected prime minister of the state of Carinthia April 8. His party won 42 percent of the vote in elections held March 7, defeating the Austrian Peoples Party, who won 20 percent, and the Social Democrats, with 33 percent. The Social Democrats had been the largest party in the state since 1945. Haider was prime minister of Carinthia from 1989 until he was forced to resign in 1991 for praising the Nazi's labor policies. In this election, however, Haider won office on the basis his own party's majority. The People's Party deputies attended the parliamentary vote, but abstained, ensuring Haider's victory. In this year's election, Haider particularly targeted women with a campaign promise of payments of nearly $450 monthly to mothers for newborns for the first six months.
Japan: rightist elected governor
Rightist politician Shintaro Ishihara was elected governor of Tokyo April 11 on a campaign of Japanese nationalism. He received nearly twice the votes of his nearest rival. An outspoken opponent of U.S. military presence in Japan, Ishihara said in his acceptance speech that he would press Washington to give up its Yokota Air Base in Tokyo. There are more than 45,000 U.S. troops stationed in Japan. In the past Ishihara has called for Tokyo to develop nuclear weapons and denounced as "a lie" the 1937 Rape of Nanking in which Japanese soldiers slaughtered tens of thousands of Chinese civilians. Ishihara's election reflects deepening moves by Japan's rulers toward militarization, including public debates among big-business politicians on putting Japanese troops in combat situations and developing first-strike capabilities. While Tokyo remains subordinate to U.S. strategic air and naval power in the Pacific, it maintains the second-largest military budget of any imperialist power after Washington.
Salvador gov't lets U.S. troops in
The Salvadoran Congress agreed March 25 to permit the U.S. government to deploy troops in El Salvador, ostensibly to help the regime's own army repair damages left by Hurricane Mitch. Opposition politicians have denounced the move, suspecting it would lead to U.S. training of Salvadoran soldiers. The defense ministry denied the allegations. When the hurricane whipped through Central America last October and early November, Washington's response was slow and aid was superficial at best.
INS won't free innocent Arab
Palestinian immigrant Hany Kiareldeen was found innocent in a court of law of terrorism charges related to the bombing of the World Trade Center in New York. Judge Daniel Meisner ordered his release and granted him permanent residency. But Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) officials blocked his release, claiming they suspect he is linked to the bombing a few years ago. The INS cops, who have put forward no concrete evidence, cite "classified evidence" that supposedly cannot be revealed. Kiareldeen immigrated from the Gaza Strip in 1990 and resides in New Jersey. He has been jailed since March 26, 1998, on charges of overstaying his student visa.
Kevorkian convicted of murder
Jack Kevorkian, a doctor who has helped consenting adults to commit suicide, was convicted of second-degree murder March 26 for administering a lethal injection to a man fatally diagnosed with Lou Gehrig's disease. Kevorkian was put on trial four other times for similar criminal charges, but was acquitted each time. Prosecuting attorney John Skrzynski called Kevorkian "a medical hitman in the night." The doctor argues he was attempting to assist patients who wanted to end their pain and suffering.
Maryland: abortion ban rejected
Registering the overwhelming sentiment supporting a woman's right to choose abortion, the Maryland House of Delegates rejected a ban on intact dilation and extraction - a late-term abortion procedure. Pro-choice forces won narrowly, by just two votes. The failed bill included a provision allowing for a woman's spouse or a minor's parent to file suit if the procedure was performed without their consent. Opponents say that it was unconstitutional. Twenty-five states have banned intact dilation and extraction, but many of the bans have been blocked or overturned in court. Seven states currently have the ban in effect.
Virginia leads in execution rates
The state of Virginia carries out more executions per 10,000 people than any other state with a million or more residents. Courts have scheduled five legalized killings for the month of April. Washington Post writer Stephen Fehr predicted in an April 4 article, "When 1999 is over, Virginia could break its record of 17 executions in a single year." Part of what makes that high rate possible is the elimination of many of the appeal laws set up for death row inmates. Since 1976 only six of the 107 death sentences handed down in that state have been overturned.
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