India: Left stands firm on nuke deal
Leaders of India’s left parties and India’s governing United Progressive Alliance are at a stand-off over the Indo-U.S. nuclear deal. Left parties have been meeting with UPA’s Congress Party and its allies to overcome the impasse. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, after securing the support of one of Congress’ old foes, threatened to take the deal to the International Atomic Energy Agency, a move that would force the left to withdraw its support for the UPA. Left parties oppose the nuclear deal for a basket of reasons, including, they say, it would undermine India’s long-standing independent foreign policy and make the country a “junior” partner in the Bush administration’s drive for domination of Asia.
Israel: Rights group documents torture
The Public Committee Against Torture in Israel (stoptorture.org) released a report June 22 documenting violence directed at imprisoned Palestinians. The report’s authors, made up of analysts and lawyers, described “a routine of beating, degradation and additional abuse,” at every stage of the detainee experience including arrest, transportation, interrogation and incarceration. Findings were based on testimony since 2006 from 90 Palestinian prisoners. The report notes that scant legal and administrative remedies are available to prisoners and complaints are generally met with indifference. Jailers are accused of abusing minors.
Ireland: Unions help defeat Lisbon Treaty
Labor was central in Ireland’s rejection June 12 of the Lisbon Treaty, a pact aimed at firming up the European Union. Irish workers have faced downward pressure on wages, job loss and other economic challenges because of the EU agreements. For example, migrants from Eastern Europe, who face terrible economic conditions in their homelands, go to Ireland to work under EU auspices. Employers then can pay immigrant workers less than what they would pay Irish-born workers, effectively forcing a race to the bottom for workers while fattening their profit margins.
On its web site, the European Trade Union Confederation notes that “a majority of workers voted against the treaty.” It advised “European decision-makers to change course.” The Irish Sunday Business Post cited union condemnation of recent rulings by the European Court of Justice seen as anti-worker. With leader Gerry Adams castigating a “race to the bottom,” Sinn Fein gained during the process at the expense of the Labor Party.
Nigeria: Oil production down 50 percent
Office workers incensed at safety infractions and replacement of Nigerian workers with foreigners went on strike against Chevron last week. The workers stopped administrative staff from getting to their offices in the main commercial city Lagos, but output has not been affected, the government and company say.
However attacks by armed groups on a Chevron pipeline in the Niger Delta region and on a Shell offshore rig cut oil production by 50 percent, according to This Day, a Lagos-based newspaper. As a result, government revenues are down $84 million per day, and Angola has surpassed Nigeria as Africa’s biggest oil producer.
Delta region leaders have called for a cease fire beginning June 25, in preparation for an upcoming government meeting with insurgent leaders.
Haiti: Drinking water shortage
The U.S. government, intent upon pressuring the government of Jean-Bertrand Aristide, blocked $54 million in loans in 1998 from the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) aimed at paying for drinking water facilities. Loans were eventually approved, but the water projects are still a dream because Washington blocked disbursement of the funds. “One of the most egregious examples of malfeasance” was the subject of a report issued June 24 by the Center for Human Rights and Global Justice, Partners In Health, the Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Center and Zanmi Lasante. The IDB charter is noted as proscribing political interference. The Water Poverty Index, a common medical tool, indicates that Haiti presently ranks last among 147 countries surveyed.
Cuba: Free lung cancer drug
A Cuban Scientific Research Institute just patented a promising new drug that it says helps terminal lung cancer patients live longer. In some cases, the drug known as CimaVax EGF extended the lives of participants in the treatment trials by close to a year.
CimaVax EGF, is classified as a therapeutic vaccine, because it is composed of modified proteins that help the body recognize and destroy cancer cells for those already suffering from lung cancer. It does not prevent lung cancer. While the research team would not identify any side effects of CimaVax EFG, Gonzalez says it has numerous advantages over traditional treatments alone. Patients breathe easier, experience less fatigue, less pain and increased appetite.The new drug, like all other health care, is free for Cubans as part of their national health system.