Clinton breaks Korea oil deal
Clinton administration officials told the government of North Korea May 18 that Washington will delay oil shipments agreed to last October, accusing Pyongyang of "diverting" the fuel. In talks last year, the U.S. government promised more than $4 billion in new nuclear technology and oil supplies to North Korea if Pyongyang froze its nuclear program, which Washington contended was aimed at developing nuclear weapons. The U.S. government sent 50,000 tons of oil earlier this year. Representatives of the United States and North Korea began a new round of talks on the nuclear program May 20.
U.S. soldiers beat man in Seoul
South Korean police detained 12 U.S. soldiers in Seoul for beating a Korean man. According to police, the drunken soldiers dragged Cho Chung-koo, 28, out of a subway car and beat him May 19. Cho said the soldiers attacked him after he protested their sexual harassment of a Korean woman. About 60 protesters gathered in front of the police station demanding punishment for the soldiers. Washington maintains 37,000 troops in South Korea.
U.S. gov't seizes Japanese boat
The U.S. Coast Guard seized two Japanese fishing boats in mid-May for allegedly fishing in Pacific waters controlled by the United States. The two ships' captains admit casting their nets inside the U.S. fishing zone around the Northern Mariana Islands, a group of islands south of Japan. U.S. troops occupied the islands in 1944 to use as bases for a direct attack on Japan.
Protest says U.S. out of Okinaw
More than 13,000 demonstrators formed a nearly nine-mile- long human chain around a U.S. military base in Okinawa May 14 demanding the return of land. The Pentagon keeps some 40 U.S. military bases and facilities on Okinawa, scene of heavy fighting in World War II. Washington maintained military control of the island until 1972 when it was turned over to Tokyo. The protesters say the U.S. bases can lead to more war, and that the air bases especially are a hazard to nearby communities.
New Delhi condemns atomic pact
New Delhi rejected the indefinite extension of the nuclear nonproliferation treaty by the 174-member governments that signed the agreement in early May. The pact maintains the status quo by allowing Washington, Beijing, Moscow, London, and Paris to keep nuclear weapons while other governments must promise not to acquire them.
The Indian government, which did not sign the treaty and stocks nuclear weapons, claims its position is that all nuclear weapons should be destroyed. "The indefinite extension of the nonproliferation treaty means that the international community has accepted the institutionalization of nuclear double standards," an Indian government spokesperson said.
Jaswant Singh of the rightist Bharatiya Janata Party, the largest opposition party, has called on the government to develop its nuclear arsenal. The party vowed to build atomic weapons if it wins power.
Truckers from Mexico protest
Truckers from Mexico blocked the international bridges between Mexico and Laredo, Texas, May 8, to protest a drop in import traffic and tough new inspections by U.S. Customs agents of northbound goods. The rigorous inspections, part of "Operation Hardline," have cut down the number of trips a day a trucker can make from four to two.
The truckers also shut down the Laredo bridges - the busiest border point in U.S.-Mexico long-haul trucking - in late April to oppose Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) crackdowns. INS officials conceded they were lifting border-crossing cards of truckers returning to Mexico with empty trailers. After the April shutdown the INS backed off and returned the cards.
N.Y. officials rig housing lottery
Officials of a New York suburb violated the Fair Housing Act when they rigged a lottery for subsidized housing to exclude Blacks and ensure homes went to well-connected individuals, a judge ruled. Former village clerk Harold Scully testified that Republican senator Alfonse D'Amato ordered him to add his cousin to the list of people eligible to purchase one of the 44 financed houses. Officials tipped off politically-connected residents to get their names on the top of the list before others had the opportunity to apply.
The judge found Island Park, Long Island, liable for millions of dollars in damages. A U.S. magistrate will determine the exact amount at a later hearing. No Blacks received any of the homes.
Bill would outlaw anti-gay bias
Rhode Island may soon become the ninth state to outlaw discrimination against gays. Gov. Lincoln Almond said he will sign the bill, which the Senate passed May 19 and the House approved last March. The measure forbids discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation in employment, credit, housing, and public accommodation, except by religious organizations. An amendment allowing the Boy Scouts to refuse to hire homosexuals was defeated.
House votes to ease water control
The U.S. House of Representatives approved legislation May 16 to ease pollution controls contained in dozens of programs under the Clean Water Act of 1972. The bipartisan vote would rewrite major sections of environmental law. The bill would give more authority to state governments, and more weight to the considerations of corporations, in setting water-quality standards. President Bill Clinton threatened to veto the measure.
Court to reconsider vote
A three-judge appeals panel recently ordered a federal court to reconsider a lawsuit by Black and Latino inmates in New York who challenged a state law that prohibits them from voting. Nine prisoners filed suit last year arguing that forbidding inmates convicted of felonies from voting dilutes Black and Hispanic voting power in New York City, in violation of the Voting Rights Act. The plaintiffs noted that 75 percent of people in state prisons are members of oppressed nationalities from New York City and that Blacks are statistically more likely to be imprisoned than whites for the same felonies.
The court must decide if the state law violates the Voting Rights Act, which prohibits any practices that disenfranchise voters because of race. Plaintiffs are not required to prove that discrimination was intentional, only that it occurred. Thirty states bar inmates convicted of felonies from voting.
- PAT SMITH
Front page (for this issue) | Home | Text-version home