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JFP 3/2: The Lost Children of Haiti

Just Foreign Policy News
March 2, 2010

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Help Kucinich Use War Powers Act to Force Afghanistan Debate
This week, Representative Kucinich plans to introduce a privileged resolution invoking the War Powers Act to force the President to withdraw U.S. troops from Afghanistan this year. Because it will be a privileged resolution, Congress will be forced to debate the issue of the open-ended U.S. war in and occupation of Afghanistan. Ask your Representative to become an original co-sponsor of Representative Kucinich's resolution.
http://www.justforeignpolicy.org/act/kucinich

NYT video: The Lost Children of Haiti

Even before the earthquake, one "option" for Port-au-Prince's homeless children was "Restavek," an underground system that some call foster care, and others call child slavery. Now their numbers swell.
http://video.nytimes.com/video/2010/02/25/world/americas/1247467176636/the-lost-children-of-haiti.html

Beverly Bell: A Future for Agriculture, A Future for Haiti

Defense Daily: Hill To Weigh War Supplemental Next Month

Hill To Weigh War Supplemental Next Month
Defense Daily, March 2, 2010, Volume 245, No. 39, pg. 2
By Emelie Rutherford
http://www.defensedaily.com/publications/dd/Hill-To-Weigh-War-Supplement... (subscription required)

Congress is expected to start considering in mid-April President Barack Obama’s $33 billion request for supplemental war funding for the current fiscal year, which is expected to be approved without any major skirmishes.

Though Obama pledged to end the Bush administration practice of funding the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan through such emergency appropriations bills, he has requested the $33 billion FY ’10 supplemental to fund a buildup of troops in Afghanistan.

The House Appropriations Committee (HAC) is expected to kick off consideration of the measure with a markup session on or around April 15. That date falls on the week after a two-week congressional recess set to begin on March 27. Until then, the congressional defense committees will continue to be enmeshed in hearings on the Pentagon’s request for a $548.9 billion base budget and $159.3 billion in war funding for FY ’11, which begins Oct. 1.

Senate appropriators are also expected to take up the FY ’10 supplemental soon after the congressional recess.

The $33 billion war-funding proposal is dominated by operations costs and does not include much procurement. Yet it notably seeks $1.1 billion for buying additional Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles (MRAP) for Afghanistan; that money combined with $3.4 billion in the Pentagon’s war-funding request for FY ’11 is intended to meet the Pentagon’s requirement for 28,882 trucks in the MRAP family of vehicles, which includes the newer MRAP All-Terrain Vehicle (M-ATV).

JFP 3/1: Palestinians and Israelis Unite to Re-open Hebron Street

Just Foreign Policy News
March 1, 2010

Palestinians, Israelis, and Internationals Unite to Re-Open Shuhada Street

Since the 1994 massacre of 29 Palestinians at the Ibrahimi Mosque in Hebron, the IDF has instituted ever tightening restrictions on Palestinian movement throughout Hebron, and particularly on Shuhada Street where six settlement blocks were established. Today even Palestinian residents of Shuhada Street have to walk on complicated make-shift pathways on rooftops and climb over roadblocks to reach their home since walking or driving on the street is prohibited. On the anniversary of the massacre, Palestinians, Israelis, and internationals locked arms to try to re-open the street; video.
http://mondoweiss.net/2010/02/global-movement-joins-hebron-protest-to-open-shuhada-street.html

Haiti Relief and Reconstruction Watch: Debt Relief bill advances
The "Haiti Recovery Act" passed through the Senate Foreign Relations Committee last week. The bill, introduced by Senators Chris Dodd (D-CT) and Richard Lugar (R-IN) would eliminate Haiti's outstanding debt to International Financial Institutions (IFI) and any debt incurred during relief efforts. Also, the bill would encourage IFIs to make available grants rather than loans "in order to end the debt-relief cycle."
http://www.cepr.net/index.php/blogs/relief-and-reconstruction-watch/

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JFP 2/26: UN paying Haitians less than $5 a day

Just Foreign Policy News
February 26, 2010


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Is the UN Violating Haiti's Minimum Wage Law?
Press reports haven't provided enough detail to be certain, but there seems to be some evidence that the United Nations may be violating, if not the letter, then at least the spirit, of Haiti's minimum wage law with its cash-for-work program.
http://www.justforeignpolicy.org/node/496

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1) UN peacekeepers in Haiti didn't contribute to disaster relief in the critical 72 hours following the earthquake, Reuters reports. U.N. troops in Haiti have over the years gained a reputation for toughness and abuse more than for easing suffering, Reuters says. "The only time I've seen one of these U.N. troops jump out of the back of a truck was to beat up on somebody or take a shot at them," said a member of the U.S. Army's 82nd Airborne Division.

2) Former Taliban fighters in Herat interviewed by the Washington Post said they were promised jobs if they gave up the fight, but for the past four months, the government has honored none of these commitments, the Post reports.

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Is the UN Violating Haiti's Minimum Wage Law?

Press reports haven't provided enough detail to be certain, but there seems to be some evidence that the United Nations may be violating, if not the letter, then at least the spirit, of Haiti's minimum wage law with its cash-for-work program.

A recent AP report indicates that the minimum wage in Haiti for non-garment sector work is the equivalent of about $5 for an eight hour day. (If you're producing clothes for export to the United States, you can be paid less than the minimum for other workers - about $3.09 for an eight hour day.) Estimating from other press reports, I gather that the minimum wage in Haiti is actually 200 Haitian gourdes for an eight-hour day, or about $4.97.

A UN press release says workers in the UN's cash-for-work program are "receiving the equivalent of just under $5 a day."

But press reports here and here seem to indicate that the actual wage is 180 Haitian gourdes, or about $4.47, for six hours of labor.

If one looks at the UN wage as an hourly wage, then it's 30 Haitian gourdes an hour, or about 75 cents an hour. At that rate, a person working for eight hours would make 240 gourdes, or about $5.96. So, viewed in this hourly way, the UN could argue that it is paying more than the Haitian legal minimum.

But as we all know, food, shelter and clothing for a worker and a worker's family cost the same whether the person is working for 8 hours or 6 hours. There's no reason to believe that workers in the UN program have other wage income - the UN certainly hasn't provided any.

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JFP 2/25: Rachel Corrie Gets Her Day in Court

Just Foreign Policy News
February 25, 2010


Rachel Corrie Gets Her Day in Court
On March 10, in the Israeli city of Haifa, American peace activist Rachel Corrie will get her day in court. Rachel's parents, Cindy and Craig Corrie, are bringing suit against the Israeli defence ministry for Rachel's killing by an Israeli military bulldozer in Gaza in March 2003.
http://www.justforeignpolicy.org/node/494

Urge the NYT Public Editor to Investigate the "Kill More Civilians" op-ed
The New York Times has revealed that the author of the "mystery op-ed" denouncing the U.S. military for "overemphasis on civilian protection" in Afghanistan is employed by Booz Allen, a major Pentagon contractor. Urge New York Times' Public Editor Clark Hoyt to investigate why this op-ed was published and why the Times did not inform readers of the author's employment by those who stand to benefit financially from the indiscriminate use of U.S. airpower.
http://www.justforeignpolicy.org/act/nyt-op-ed

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1) The Afghan human rights commission reported that 28 civilians had been killed so far in NATO's offensive on Marja, AP reports. The commission based its numbers on witness reports. NATO has confirmed at least 16 civilian deaths.

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Rachel Corrie Gets Her Day in Court

On March 10, in the Israeli city of Haifa, American peace activist Rachel Corrie will get her day in court. Rachel's parents, Cindy and Craig Corrie, are bringing suit against the Israeli defence ministry for Rachel's killing by an Israeli military bulldozer in Gaza in March 2003.

Four key American and British witnesses who were present at the scene - members of the International Solidarity Movement - will be allowed into Israel to testify, despite having been barred previously by the Israeli authorities from entering the country. This reversal by the Israeli authorities is apparently due to U.S. government pressure, the Guardian reports. (Three cheers for any U.S. officials who contributed to this pressure. What else could you make the Israeli government do?)

A Palestinian doctor from Gaza who treated Corrie after she was injured has not been given permission by the Israeli authorities to leave Gaza to attend. (This would seem to be important testimony concerning the nature of Rachel's injuries - did U.S. officials exert pressure for his appearance?)

This case isn't just about accountability for Rachel's death. It's a test case for the power of the rule of law in Israel, when the rule of law comes into conflict with the policies of military occupation.

JFP 2/24: Afghan Senators Demand Execution of US Troops Responsible for Civilian Deaths

Just Foreign Policy News
February 24, 2010


Urge the NYT Public Editor to Investigate the "Kill More Civilians" op-ed
The New York Times has revealed that the author of the "mystery op-ed" denouncing the U.S. military for "overemphasis on civilian protection" in Afghanistan is employed by Booz Allen, a major Pentagon contractor. Urge New York Times' Public Editor Clark Hoyt to investigate why this op-ed was published and why the Times did not inform readers of the author's employment by those who stand to benefit financially from the indiscriminate use of U.S. airpower.
http://www.justforeignpolicy.org/act/nyt-op-ed

Beverly Bell: Collapsed House, No Number
"Collapsed house, no number" is an old expression that Haitians used to indicate that their flimsy homes of sticks-and-mud or shoddy cement blocks had finally fallen apart.
Today that expression could serve as the motto for the capital city of Port-au-Prince.
http://www.michaelmoore.com/words/mike-friends-blog/collapsed-house-no-number

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JFP 2/23: Kucinich Demands Answers from Gates on Civilian Deaths in Afghanistan

Just Foreign Policy News
February 23, 2010


Haitian Garment Workers Should Get $5 a Day
Americans want to help Haiti; Democrats control the U.S. Congress; the Haitian Parliament has passed legislation saying Haitian workers should be paid at least $5 a day; and specific legislation that provides preferential access to the U.S. market to garments from Haiti is already U.S. law. Therefore, the following policy reform ought to be a slam dunk: Haitian garment workers whose products receive preferential access to the U.S. market under the HOPE II Act ought to be paid at least $5 a day.
http://www.justforeignpolicy.org/node/491

Derrick Crowe: Reporters Blow It On "1,000 Deaths in Afghanistan" Story
The Reuters and AFP stories announcing the 1,000th American death in Afghanistan are wrong, Crowe notes. All of these stories cite iCasualties.org. The front page of the site does have a number in the table that's at 1,000. This number is for all of "Operation Enduring Freedom," which includes the Philippines, the Horn of Africa, and other areas. icasualties.org's current figure for "U.S. Fatalities in and around Afghanistan" currently stands at 930.
http://www.dailykos.com/story/2010/2/23/132034/504

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Haitian Garment Workers Should Get $5 a Day

Americans want to help Haiti; Democrats control the U.S. Congress; the Haitian Parliament has passed legislation saying Haitian workers should be paid at least $5 a day; and specific legislation that provides preferential access to the U.S. market to garments from Haiti is already U.S. law. Therefore, the following policy reform ought to be a slam dunk: Haitian garment workers whose products receive preferential access to the U.S. market under the HOPE II Act ought to be paid at least $5 a day.

The international community is dusting off a plan to expand Haiti's low-wage garment assembly industry as a linchpin of recovery, AP reports. The Obama Administration is on board, encouraging U.S. retailers to obtain from Haiti at least 1 percent of the clothes they sell. Garments are central an economic growth plan commissioned by the UN and promoted by former President Clinton, the UN's special envoy for Haiti.

In 2008, Congress passed the "HOPE II" Act, which lets Haiti export textiles duty-free to the U.S. for a decade.

Currently, the minimum wage in Haiti for garment workers who produce for the U.S. consumer market is $3.09 a day. Last year the Haitian Parliament passed legislation to raise the minimum wage for all workers from $1.72 a day to $5 a day. But factory owners in the export sector producing for the U.S. consumer market complained to Haitian President Preval, and he refused to implement the law. A compromise was reached: the minimum wage is now $5, except for the garment workers; they get $3.09 a day.

AP gives the example of Jordanie Pinquie Rebeca, a garment worker:

 

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