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JFP 5/23: Congress says no auth for Iran war; Iran demands sanctions relief; anti-austerity bid at ILO
Submitted by Robert Naiman on 23 May 2012 - 7:49pm
Just Foreign Policy News, May 23, 2012
Congress says no auth for Iran war; Iran demands sanctions relief; anti-austerity bid at ILO
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I) Actions and Featured Articles
Avaaz Community Petition: Support targetted boycott of Israeli Settlement Goods
Someone in Ireland has put up a petition at Avaaz' community petition site, supporting the Irish government's threat to push for an EU boycott of settlement goods if Israel does not change its settlement policy. If you're already a member of Avaaz, signing the petition takes five seconds. Why not do so? http://www.avaaz.org/en/petition/Support_targetted_boycott_of_Israeli_Settlement_Goods
Would It Make a Difference to Progressives if Norman Solomon Goes to Congress?
If Norman Solomon goes to Congress, he would have a powerful national platform to oppose wars of choice, and his staff would be helping anti-war initiatives move through Congress.
Gareth Porter/Shah Nouri Evidence Mounts That Afghan Massacre Was Linked to Special Operations Forces' Response to Improvised Explosive Device
According to Afghans, the massacre had a context: threats from U.S. soldiers of retaliation against civilians if they did not cooperate with U.S. troops.
FCNL: Sen. Johnson's Landmark Statement on Iran Sanctions
Senator Tim Johnson (SD), Chair of the Senate Banking Committee, clarified that "it is not and has not been the intent of U.S. policy to harm the Iranian people" by prohibiting licensed humanitarian trade. Senator Johnson called on the administration to emphasize that law-abiding banks facilitating these humanitarian transactions will not be punished.
Muhammad Sahimi: Intervention Proponents Try to Scuttle Nuclear Talks with Iran
While it is well known that Israel is not a signatory of the NPT, it is less well known that Israeli is a member of the IAEA. When AP reporter George Jahn cites an "exclusive" revelation of a dire nature, provided by an official of a country described as an IAEA "member state," that country could be Israel.
1) All members of Congress are now on the record declaring that they have not authorized the use of military force against Iran in the latest round of legislation passed in the House and the Senate, writes Kate Gould of FCNL on Common Dreams. In the House, John Conyers championed the amendment to stipulate that the NDAA contained no authorizations with a bipartisan group of representatives: Ron Paul, Keith Ellison, and Walter Jones. Senators fiercely debated the same sort of provision offered by Rand Paul clarifying that the Senate sanctions bill is not an authorization of the use of force against Iran. Lindsey Graham and Joe Lieberman blasted this 'un-declaration' of war, insisting that it be taken out and new provisions added that emphasized the "military option." These objections blocked the bill from passage until a compromise was reached that retained Sen. Paul's language but also stated that the military option is still on the table.
2) Iran demanded that world powers improve proposals made in talks in Baghdad aimed at easing the crisis over Iran's nuclear program, saying future negotiations were at stake, AFP reports. P5+1 proposals were believed to call on Iran to suspend enrichment of uranium to 20 percent in return for incentives that fell short of meeting Iran's main demand of easing [the impending oil and banking - JFP] sanctions. The P5+1 offer reportedly included a pledge not to impose any new sanctions [beyond the oil and banking sanctions currently unfolding - JFP], easing Iranian access to aircraft parts and a possible suspension of an EU insurance ban on ships carrying Iranian oil. It also reportedly included a revival of previous attempts to get Iran to ship abroad its stockpiles of enriched uranium in return for fuel for a reactor producing medical isotopes.
3) The International Labor Organization, because it includes labor unions, is an international institution that could challenge the pro-unemployment, pro-banker policies of the European Central Bank and the IMF, writes Mark Weisbrot at the Guardian. On May 28, the ILO will choose a new director general. As head of the ILO, Jomo Kwame Sundaram of Malaysia would expose the fallacies of the labor market liberalization policies currently being touted as the solution.
4) House Republicans have claimed that automatic cuts to military spending would harm national security, so they want to cut money from food stamps and health care for the poor instead, notes Katrina vanden Heuvel at the Washington Post. But military budget experts across the political spectrum say otherwise. A recent survey found that after receiving detailed information and arguments on both sides of the issue, the average American favors cutting the military budget by 18 percent. Why do House Republicans want to sacrifice the vulnerable to save unnecessary military spending? Last year, the military industry spent $131 million lobbying Congress.
5) Amateur video of Israeli soldiers watching idly as settlers opened fire on Palestinians throwing stones has emphasized the growing power of "citizen journalism" in the occupied West Bank, Reuters reports. B'Tselem, an Israeli human rights organization, provided the cameras used to document the event, as part of a program started in 2007 whereby it has distributed around 150 camcorders to "citizen journalists" throughout the West Bank. The group aims to use social media to bring alleged violations by settlers and the military into public view.
6) A prosecutor in Turkey has prepared indictments and recommended life sentences for four senior Israeli officers over the killing of nine activists aboard a Gaza-bound aid flotilla forcibly intercepted by Israeli commandos two years ago, the New York Times reports. Israel has consistently rejected Turkey's demand that it formally apologize for the raid and lift its blockade of Gaza.
7) Yemen is on the brink of a catastrophic food crisis, Oxfam says, with 10 million people – 44 percent of the population – without enough food to eat. In some parts of the country, the UN found that one in three children were severely malnourished. Some donors have justified their reluctance to respond swiftly and at the scale required by pointing to the security situation, Oxfam notes. But the work of the aid agencies shows that assistance can be delivered at scale and in a manner that is transparent and accountable, despite the difficult context, Oxfam says.
8) Prosecutors in southern Mexico announced they have captured a man suspected in the killing of independent U.S. journalist Bradley Will during protests against the Oaxaca state government in 2006, AP reports. Suspect Lenin Osorio is a former state government employee. One of the protesters was arrested in 2008 for the killing but was later released.
1) Congress 'Un-Declares' War with Iran
Kate Gould, Common Dreams, Wednesday, May 23, 2012 by
[Gould is Legislative Associate for Middle East Policy for FCNL.]
All members of Congress are now on the record declaring that they have not authorized the use of military force against Iran in the latest round of legislation passed in the House and the Senate. This unanimous 'un-declaration' of war by Congress is a crucial victory, with particular significance given its passage on the eve of the U.S.-Iran talks in Baghdad.
The House was the first chamber to 'un-declare war', with its inclusion of a proviso in the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that this legislation does not authorize war with Iran. This stipulation that "nothing in this Act shall be construed as authorizing the use of force against Iran" is a remarkably sober note of caution and common sense in an otherwise dangerous and reckless piece of legislation. The NDAA allocates billions of dollars of weapons that could be used for an attack on Iran and requires the administration to prepare for war and dramatically escalate the U.S. militarization of the Middle East. Notably, the NDAA exceeds the limitations on Pentagon spending that Congress agreed to in the Budget Control Act by about $8 billion--much of which is allotted for the anti-Iran weaponry.
Rep. John Conyers (MI) championed this amendment to 'un-declare' war with Iran with a bipartisan group of representatives: Rep. Ron Paul (TX), Rep. Keith Ellison (MN), and Rep. Walter Jones (NC). In less than a week, Congress received more than 1,000 calls through FCNL's toll-free number from grassroots activists across the country who support this and other anti-war, pro-peace amendments that FCNL was working on. Partly as a result of your advocacy against war with Iran, the Conyers/Paul/Ellison/Jones amendment was considered so uncontroversial that it made its way into the NDAA as part of a package (called 'en bloc amendments') of non-controversial amendments, rather than going to the House floor for a separate vote.
'Un-declaration' is 'Uncontroversial' in House, Hotly Contested in the Senate
Anti-Iran provisions are routinely given this special shortcut into "must-pass legislation" like the NDAA, but legislation containing the word "Iran" that is not agitating for either military or economic warfare rarely qualifies as "uncontroversial."
In fact, on the same day that the House unanimously approved Rep. Conyers' amendment, senators fiercely debated the same sort of provision offered by Sen. Rand Paul (KY) clarifying that the Senate sanctions bill is not an authorization of the use of force against Iran. Sens. Lindsey Graham (SC) and Joe Lieberman (CT) blasted this 'un-declaration' of war, insisting that it be taken out and new provisions added that emphasized the "military option". These objections blocked the bill from passage until a compromise was reached that retained Sen. Paul's language but also stated that the military option is still on the table.
Why an 'Un-Declaration' of War Matters
While the legislation passed in both chambers of Congress has troubling implications for U.S.-Iran relations, the fact that Congress is now on record affirming that the legislation does not authorize war is a major achievement for the campaign against another war of choice. This 'un-declaration' of war sets a historic precedent that could be used to tone down the implications of future saber-rattling legislation.
And saber-rattling legislation is very much what this is all about.
The House's orders for drones, fighter jets, rockets, machine guns for mounting on warships, and heavy artillery systems designed to 'counter the Iranian threat' would escalate brinksmanship in the Persian Gulf, pushing the United States perilously close to the edge of war.
The Senate sanctions bill doesn't help matters either. The bill will further erode the President's flexibility, both technically and politically. Negotiations require compromise from both sides, and the key concession that Iran has sought is a significant easing of the U.S. sanctions regime against the Iranian economy. The "Negotiator in Chief's" ability to lift sanctions in exchange for Iranian cooperation on its nuclear program is already severely compromised.
Congress' assertion that neither the NDAA, nor a far-reaching sanctions bill, authorize the use of military force against Iran demonstrates progress.
Any progress in cooling down Congress' all-too common infliction with Iran war fever improves the broader political climate that will play into the U.S.-Iran talks on Wednesday. Given the fragility of U.S.-Iran relations, even slight progress can make the difference between a stand-off and a war.
2) World powers, Iran haggle in crunch nuclear talks
Simon Sturdee , AFP, May 23, 2012
Baghdad - Iran demanded late Wednesday that world powers sweeten proposals made in talks in Baghdad aimed at easing the crisis over Tehran's nuclear programme, saying future negotiations were at stake. "The points of agreement are not yet sufficient for another round," an Iranian official said on condition of anonymity as the meeting in the Iraqi capital looked set to enter a second, unscheduled day on Thursday.
Earlier Wednesday, EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton presented a new package of proposals on behalf of the P5+1 -- Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States, plus Germany.
The EU gave no details but they were believed to call on Iran to suspend enrichment of uranium to purities of 20 percent in return for incentives that fell short of meeting Iran's main demand of easing sanctions.
Reflecting official thinking in Tehran, state media ran reports slamming the package, with the IRNA news agency calling it "outdated, not comprehensive, and unbalanced."
Iran made a five-step counter-proposal that an official said was "based on the principles of step-by-step and reciprocity," which the ISNA news agency called "comprehensive... transparent and practical."
"We need the steps that both sides have to take to be clearly defined and there is no possibility of going back on them," the official from the Iranian delegation said. "For example, that they lift sanctions that they cannot then readopt two months later under a different pretext."
Sweeteners reportedly offered included a pledge not to impose any new sanctions, as well easing Iranian access to aircraft parts and a possible suspension of an EU insurance ban on ships carrying Iranian oil.
It also reportedly included a revival of previous attempts to get Iran to ship abroad its stockpiles of enriched uranium in return for fuel for a reactor producing medical isotopes.
Iran says that a lack of fuel plates for this reactor was the reason it started in 2010 to enrich uranium to purities of 20 percent, a capability that reduces the theoretical "breakout" time needed to reach a weapons-grade 90 percent.
Iran announced on Tuesday that it was loading domestically produced, 20-percent enriched uranium fuel into the reactor, and the Iranian official in Baghdad was dismissive. "A possible swap of uranium enriched by Iran for fuel isn't very interesting for us because we are already producing our own fuel," the Iranian official said.
3) New ILO Leadership Could Push For Better Economic Policies
Poised to elect a new director general, the International Labor Organization needs to challenge the pro-austerity consensus
Mark Weisbrot guardian.co.uk, Tuesday 22 May 2012 16.58 EDT
The Troika – the European Central Bank (ECB), the European Commission, and the IMF – is dragging Europe into its second recession in three years. The ECB by itself has the ability to end this crisis, by guaranteeing low interest rates on the sovereign bonds of countries such as Spain and Italy. Member governments would then be able to restore normal economic growth and employment.
But the ECB refuses to do this – partly because the Troika is using the crisis as an opportunity to force changes, especially in the weaker eurozone economies, changes that the people residing there would never vote for. These reforms include shrinking government, privatization, "labor flexibility", and reduced public pensions.
Since, however, Europe has by far the largest banking system in the world, the eurozone crisis is also a significant drag on growth and employment throughout most of the world. This could easily do more damage if it is not resolved.
It is in this context that a struggle is taking place both within and between governments and international institutions over the economically and socially destructive policies in the eurozone. At the latest G8 summit in Camp David on Saturday, there were noticeable differences between Presidents Obama of the US and François Hollande of France, on the one hand, and Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany, on the other, over the wisdom of continuing to push Europe deeper into recession through fiscal tightening (as the Troika is currently doing).
While there are signs that many IMF economists and even the leadership of the IMF are not happy with the Troika's policies, the fund is not going to break with the Europeans on its board of directors. But there is one international institution that, because its governance structure includes labor unions, is sometimes able to take a more progressive stance on these vital issues.
That is the International Labor Organization (ILO), affiliated with the United Nations. The ILO is thus differentiated from such organizations as the IMF, the World Bank, or the OECD (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development) – all of which have an enormous influence which tends to reinforce the status quo, or worse.
The ILO estimates that the world has lost 50m jobs since the world economic crisis and Great Recession began – and the Troika is adding to the toll. In 2009, the ILO proposed a "global jobs pact", which picked up support from the UN and the G20, but with little result. Last year, it proposed a "social protection floor", which also won international support, but again, not much effect.
On 28 May, the ILO will choose a new director general. The frontrunner is Guy Ryder, a former general secretary of the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC). Last November, he secured the support of the workers' group, comprising a quarter of the ILO electoral college, before his rivals were even known. There are also other candidates with regional support, such as Colombian Vice-President Angelino Garzón.
But there is one candidate who is most likely to try to harness the ILO's potential to challenge the devastating economic policies that have caused so much unnecessary unemployment and suffering in the past four years. That is Jomo Kwame Sundaram of Malaysia, the only Asian candidate.
He is the Harvard-trained chief economist at the United Nations, also responsible for its technical cooperation programs. Reputedly behind the 2009 Stiglitz Commission report (pdf) on the crisis, Jomo has shown clear understanding not only of the causes of the current economic crisis, but also of the failure of the relevant government and international institutions to bring us out of it. He would also expose the fallacies of the labor market liberalization policies currently being touted as the solution. His track record indicates that he would provide the necessary leadership at the ILO.
Although the ILO's efforts to establish international conventions to promote a "rights-based" agenda for labor can be helpful, they are ineffectual in the face of high unemployment. They are also far from sufficient to advance the cause of the billions of workers who are unemployed or facing increasing insecurity due to precarious employment, stagnating wages, and declining benefits. The prospects for increasing employment, and even wages, in the near future will depend, in large part, on the macroeconomic policies pursued by governments – especially those of the largest economies.
Until now, these have been going in the wrong direction – and the ILO needs to confront these policy failures head-on.
4) The GOP's fear-mongering on defense
Katrina vanden Heuvel, The Nation, May 22
House Republicans voted last week to break last summer's deal to raise the debt ceiling and avoid default. "We are here to meet our legal and our moral obligations to lead," Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) said of the occasion, without a hint of irony.
The original debt deal required a bipartisan "supercommittee" to find [$1.2 trillion] in deficit savings, or "sequestration" would automatically be triggered - an across-the-board cut of $1.2 trillion in each party's priority: domestic programs and defense. Even under that self-imposed sword of Damocles, Congress failed to do its job, setting the cuts in motion. But House Republicans argued that the requisite cuts to defense funding would harm national security. Take the money from food stamps and health care for the poor, they cried, as they cradled the defense industry in their arms.
Never mind that the Republicans are, as Jon Stewart said, turning a "suicide pact" into a "murder pact." Is this fear-mongering warranted? Will the looming cuts to the Pentagon's budget really threaten our security?
Not according to many experts on both sides of the aisle. The nuclear policy group Global Zero released a report this month recommending a significant reduction in our nation's nuclear arms arsenal. Signatories included such liberal pacifists as former Republican senator Chuck Hagel and Gen. James E. Cartwright, former vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and nuclear forces commander.
Republican Rep. Ron Paul (Tex.), a former presidential candidate, has argued that the doubling of military spending in the past decade "should be extremely troubling for those claiming to be fiscally conservative." In 2010, Paul joined Democratic Rep. Barney Frank (Mass.) to convene a Sustainable Defense Task Force, which identified $1 trillion in defense cuts over 10 years.
Earlier this year the Pentagon itself proposed slowing the growth of its budget by stretching out its purchase of F-35 Joint Strike Fighters, reducing ground forces, and eliminating obsolete or troubled programs. Ending the U.S. combat role in Iraq and Afghanistan will also save $44 billion a year after 2013.
At $700 billion, annual U.S. defense spending represents 57 percent of the federal government's discretionary budget and last year accounted for 41 percent of all global military spending.
Even with the proposed cuts, U.S. military spending would still be the highest in the world by an order of magnitude. "The additional $500 billion in cuts is entirely responsible," Matthew Leatherman, an analyst with the Stimson Center, an independent public policy group, wrote recently, "even if the [sequestration] process is not."
Despite the GOP's overblown rhetoric about security, the American people haven't been fooled. In a recent survey, the Stimson Center, the Program on Public Consultation and the Center for Public Integrity found that after receiving detailed information and arguments on both sides of the issue, the average American favors cutting the defense budget by 18 percent.
In other words, the American people have, once again, proven more rational than some of their representatives.
The GOP hypocrisy on the debt is thinly veiled. With most members having pledged life and limb to anti-tax zealot Grover Norquist, they refuse to consider any revenue increases, including allowing the debt-inducing Bush tax cuts to expire. Defense spending, too, is untouchable. What does it say about their commitment to fiscal responsibility when they treat the biggest pieces of the budget pie like kryptonite?
No, Republicans prefer to put a sledgehammer to the mere 18 percent of the federal budget that funds services for the neediest Americans. Those cuts won't make a significant impact on our debt, but they would have drastic consequences for people's lives. The $60 billion the House recently voted to take from these programs would push at least 300,000 children off their health coverage and 1.8 million people off food stamps.
And for what? To protect the F-35 spending - long seen and known as a boondoggle - that will cost at least $1.5 trillion?
Why do House Speaker John Boehner and his right-wing cabal want to sacrifice our most vulnerable citizens to save such programs?
Here's a hint. Last year, the defense industry spent about $131 million lobbying Congress. It contributed almost $23 million to congressional campaigns in 2010. As David Hess, chairman of the lobbying group Aerospace Industries Association, recently boasted, "We're a pretty effective group with a very loud voice." And nothing speaks louder in Washington than cash.
At a time when working families are barely scraping by, the GOP's shameless coddling of the defense industry reveals a great deal about its priorities.
5) Citizen journalism focuses on Israeli occupation
Noah Browning, Reuters, Wed May 23, 2012, 6:16am EDT
Aseera al-Qibliya, West Bank - Amateur video of Israeli soldiers appearing to watch idly as settlers opened fire on Palestinians throwing stones has emphasized the growing power of "citizen journalism" in the occupied West Bank.
Shaky footage, captured on Saturday from two angles by residents of Aseera al-Qibliya village, shows bearded residents from the nearby settlement of Yitzhar aiming a hand gun and assault rifle at the crowd, followed by sounds of gunfire.
A bloodied youth shot in the face was shown being carried away on the shoulders of fellow villagers. The video was soon posted on the Internet.
Teacher Ibrahim Makhlouf, who filmed the incident, lives by the brush scorched in the clashes on the village's edge, beneath the gaze of the prefabricated suburbs of Yitzhar, which lie outside the official settlement boundary.
"We want the whole world to see what Israel and the settlers do to us. They steal our land and they attack us, and the world said we were the terrorists and criminals," he said. "Now we can make it clear who's the aggressor and who's attacking whom. The truth contradicts their claims about our situation."
The Israeli Defence Force has ordered an investigation and confirmed that live fire was used during the confrontation. "That said, it appears that the video in question does not reflect the incident in its entirety," it said in a statement. A spokesman for the settlers said the violence flared when they were pelted with stones as they tried to put out a scrub fire allegedly started by the Palestinians.
B'Tselem, an Israeli human rights organization, provided the cameras used to document the event, as part of a program started in 2007 whereby it has distributed around 150 camcorders to "citizen journalists" throughout the West Bank. The group aims to use social media to bring alleged violations by settlers and the military into public view.
"The importance of our work is that we show what is being done in (Israel's) name in the West Bank by our soldiers and by organs of our government," said Sarit Michaeli, B'Tselem's spokesperson. "The media might just show one minute, but anyone who's interested can watch this whole playlist and make up their own mind," she said, referring to numerous videos showing the shootings uploaded to YouTube.
A senior Israeli officer was suspended after being filmed striking a young Danish activist in the face with the butt of his rifle during a pro-Palestinian rally last month.
Lieutenant-Colonel Shalom Eisner argued that the initial video was deliberately fragmentary and concealed the violent nature of their gathering. Other clips released subsequently showed Eisner striking other people.
Circulated among army personnel, an internal memorandum obtained by Israeli newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth in the wake of the Eisner affair underscored mounting concern by the Israeli leadership over the influence of video on the media narrative. "Remember it takes only 10 seconds out of hours of video footage to cause irreparable damage to the image of the soldiers, the army and the state," the memo said.
In villages and at demonstrations throughout the West Bank, cameras now accompany stones and tear gas as an increasingly permanent fixture.
"Our impact is excellent if you consider that Nabi Saleh is a village of less than 600 people," said Bilal Tamimi, an activist and wielder of a B'Tselem camera from a flashpoint area near an Israeli settlement and military base in the West Bank. "People from around the world have learned what happens here through this distinct medium," he said.
6) Turkey May Indict Israeli Generals Over Flotilla Raid
Rick Gladstone, New York Times, May 23, 2012
A prosecutor in Turkey has prepared indictments and recommended life sentences for four senior Israeli officers over the killing of nine activists aboard a Gaza-bound aid flotilla forcibly intercepted by Israeli commandos two years ago, Turkish news services reported Wednesday.
The indictments, which have not been formally approved by the Turkish judiciary, could further strain relations between Turkey and Israel, which were once close but which deteriorated badly after the flotilla raid on May 31, 2010.
Israel has consistently rejected Turkey's demand that it formally apologize for the commando raid and lift its blockade of Gaza.
Turkey's semiofficial Anatolia news agency said the prosecutor, Mehmet Akif Ekinci, had prepared a 144-page indictment package that would seek life imprisonment for Gabi Ashkenazi, the former chief of general staff for the Israel Defense Forces; Vice Adm. Eliezer Marom, former commander of naval forces; Gen. Amos Yadlin, the former military intelligence chief; and Brig. Gen. Avishai Levy, the former head of air force intelligence.
7) Yemen on brink of hunger catastrophe aid agencies warn
Press Release, Oxfam International, 23 May 2012
Yemen is on the brink of a catastrophic food crisis, seven aid agencies said today (23 May 2012) with 10 million people – 44 percent of the population – without enough food to eat. The aid agencies warned that malnutrition rates recorded by the UN in some parts of the country were alarming, with one in three children severely malnourished.
Ministers from the UK, Saudi Arabia and other countries are set to meet at the Friends of Yemen conference in Riyadh today. The agencies - CARE, International Medical Corps, Islamic Relief, Merlin, Mercy Corps, Oxfam and Save the Children – called on those attending the meeting to scale up efforts to tackle the crisis. The UN humanitarian appeal for the country is just 43 percent funded – a $262 million shortfall.
Penny Lawrence, Oxfam's International Director, who is visiting Yemen, said: "Yemeni families are at the brink and have exhausted their ways of coping with this crisis. A quarter of the population has fallen into debt trying to feed their families. Mothers are taking their children out of school to beg on the streets to get money to survive. Donors are focused on politics and security, but failure to respond adequately to the humanitarian needs now will put more lives at risk, further entrench poverty and could undermine political transition in the country."
Yemen's political crisis last year increased hunger in the country as food and fuel prices surged. Hunger has doubled since 2009. A quarter of the hungry – some 5 million people – are in need of urgent emergency aid. In Hodeidah and Hajjah, child malnutrition rates are double the emergency level. The UN estimates that 267,000 Yemeni children are facing life threatening levels of malnutrition.
Conflict in the north and south the country is also exacerbating the crisis. Over the last two months, nearly 95,000 people have been forced to leave their homes as a result of conflicts, bringing the number of people displaced in the country to close to half a million.
Women are particularly at risk, as they generally eat last and least. Oxfam partners have reported an increase in early marriage as families marry off their daughters young in order to ease the burden of the crisis.
Jerry Farrell, Save the Children's country Director in Yemen said: "Almost half of Yemen's population now does not have enough to eat. Political instability, conflict and high prices have left families across the country going hungry. We know that children always suffer the most when food is in short supply, and unless urgent humanitarian action is taken, Yemen will be plunged into a hunger crisis of catastrophic proportions."
Some donors have justified their reluctance to respond swiftly and at the scale required by pointing to the security situation and the continued political instability in the country. However, the work of the aid agencies shows that assistance can be delivered at scale and in a manner that is transparent and accountable, despite the difficult context.
Hashem Awnallah, Islamic Relief Yemen (IRY) Country Director, said: "The hungry of Yemen cannot wait. The aid community is ready and willing to scale up in Yemen. Donors need to heed the lessons of the Horn of Africa and respond now before the crisis further deepens."
There is food in local markets in most parts of Yemen, but millions of people cannot afford to buy enough food for their families. Oxfam gave cash payments to 100,000 people in Al Hodeidah helping them to purchase food, with Save the Children running a similar programme in Sa'ada. Mercy Corps has implemented cash-for-work projects in Taiz City providing a fair wage to local people with little other means to earn income and buy food. CARE's recent livelihoods project in Haradh reached 4373 people including 1794 internally displaced persons. In addition, government programmes like the Social Welfare Fund, which provides cash payments to millions of Yemenis, could be further supported and scaled up.
8) Mexico captures suspect in 2006 slaying of US independent journalist
Associated Press, Wednesday, May 23, 4:07 PM
Oaxaca, Mexico - Prosecutors in southern Mexico announced Wednesday that they have captured a man suspected in the killing of independent U.S. journalist Bradley Will during protests against the Oaxaca state government in 2006.
Suspect Lenin Osorio is a former state government employee who allegedly shot Will as he videotaped a clash between protesters and government supporters.
Osorio had worked in the state education department, but it was unclear whether he was working there at the time of the killing of the New York man.
Osorio was apparently angered by the acts of an alliance of protest groups that blocked streets and paralyzed Oaxaca's state capital for several months in 2006, said Samuel Castellanos, a special prosecutor for the Attorney General's Office.
Will was covering the conflict for Indymedia.org. He sympathized with the protesters, one of whom was arrested in 2008 for the killing but was later released.
Osorio was captured early Wednesday. Castellanos said he apparently acted alone, and had no known ties to political or union groups. He alleged fired with a .38-caliber pistol from a distance of 43 meters (yards).
The protests started as a teachers' strike to demand higher pay but quickly ballooned into a wider movement against then-Oaxaca Gov. Ulises Ruiz, who was accused of rigging his election.
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