The Militant(logo) 
    Vol.60/No.3           January 22, 1996 
In Brief  
Okinawa governor repeats call for U.S. forces to leave
"I'm determined to work toward establishing a peaceful Okinawa Prefecture [state] without any bases in the 21st century," Okinawa governor Masahide Ota told state government employees January 1. Ota has refused to force local landowners to renew their leases to the U.S. military, as demanded by Tokyo.

Opponents of the U.S. military bases, including Ota, placed an advertisement in the New York Times that cited the September 4 rape of a 12-year-old Okinawan girl by three U.S. GIs, currently on trial. Some 50,000 outraged Okinawans staged a protest against the bases soon after the rape.

Food used against N. Korea
The South Korean government announced December 27 it will no longer send rice to North Korea unless Pyongyang changes its "attitude" toward Seoul. Seoul shipped a miserly 150,000 tons of rice to North Korea, which is facing severe food shortages after floods devastated its summer grain crop. International aid agencies say the country needs almost 4 million tons of rice to prevent widespread famine conditions.

"For additional rice assistance, there must be a change in North Korea's attitude toward us," declared Song Young Dae, Seoul's deputy unification minister. The editors of the Wall Street Journal were even more blunt in wielding the shipment of food as a political club. In a January 4 editorial they declare, "If North Korea is to be given rice....donors must be allowed to supervise distribution. More importantly, rice must be tied to demands for policy changes in North Korea."

Palestine elections in January
The Palestinian election commission has declared the campaign open for 1 million voters to elect their first president and legislature on January 20. Palestinian residents in Jerusalem, the West Bank, and Gaza Strip who are 18 years or older and are not Israeli citizens will elect a Palestinian Council of 88 people in 16 districts.

Israeli troops pulled out of Ramallah December 27, completing a withdrawal from six West Bank cities. The move ended 28 years of occupation over much of the region, to pave the way for the elections. "Out!," shouted scores of jubilant Palestinian youths who hurled rocks and bottles at the receding Israeli convoy.

UN sanctions remain on Iraq
United Nations secretary-general Boutros Boutros-Ghali announced December 28 that economic sanctions against Iraq will remain. The embargo was imposed in 1990 as Washington prepared the Persian Gulf slaughter, in which U.S. forces killed tens of thousands in January-February 1991. "These sanctions cause me pain," Boutros-Ghali stated, referring to the disastrous conditions the embargo has inflicted on the Iraqi people. A recent UN study estimates that as many as 576,000 children in Iraq have died as a result of the economic embargo.

Meanwhile, Moscow shipped 27 tons of food and medical supplies to Baghdad December 28. Russian government officials in Jordan said the shipment was sent by truck via Jordan because UN officials barred it from being airlifted into Iraq.

S. Africa asks for Cuban doctors
Addressing a graduation ceremony for primary health-care nurse facilitators in mid-December, South African minister of health Nkosazana Zuma spoke about her recent visit to Cuba. On that trip she recruited doctors to come to work in South Africa in 1996. The announcement generated some controversy, which the health minister said "was based on ignorance, prejudice, and propaganda" against Cuba. Zuma said Cuba has one of the best health-care systems, not only among third world nations but in the world.

London to deport Saudi activist
The British government ordered the deportation of Saudi Arabian political activist Mohammed al-Masaari, saying that it wanted to protect relations with the ruling Saudi monarchy. Masaari will be sent to the Caribbean country Dominica. "British interests as a whole do require his removal," Home Office Minister Ann Widdecombe stated. "We have got enormous export considerations."

The government in Riyadh reportedly threatened to stop placing new orders with British companies unless London took measures against Masaari, head of the opposition Committee for Defense of Legitimate Rights, which the Saudi regime has banned. The Saudi government signed a contract eight years ago to purchase $7.5 billion in arms from British companies, including 48 Tornado fighter- bombers. The deportation came as a bill to tighten asylum procedures was being debated in the British Parliament.

Haiti cops losing support
Popular disenchantment with the U.S.-trained cop force in Haiti has grown in recent months. Since Washington's military invaded Haiti in 1994, U.S. officials have trained 3,000 cops for a supposedly new, improved police force to replace the hated thugs of the previous military regime. In one example of the changing mood, the new 24- man police unit in Cité Soleil, cheered by residents last June, was driven out of town in November under a hail of rocks by angry citizens who burned down the police station.

Meanwhile, the U.S. government is pressing the government of Jean-Bertrand Aristide to maintain a police force suited to Washington's needs. On December 22 a U.S. congressional subcommittee froze $5 million in funds earmarked for the U.S.-sponsored cop training program. Rep. Benjamin Gilman, chairman of the committee, charged that Aristide was packing the police force with his political supporters.

Surge in executions
Activists against the death penalty are forecasting a surge in the number of executions, with the annual rate soon to surpass 100. Prison authorities executed 56 people in 1995, the largest number of legalized murders in the United States since 1957. The U.S. government is waging an assault on the rights of inmates by shortening the appeals process and eliminating funding for centers that provide legal representation for working people who land on death row.

Deportations escalated in 1995
Clinton administration officials announced December 27 that the number of undocumented immigrants deported in 1995 was a record 51,600, up 15 percent from 1994 and up almost 75 percent from 1990. The Immigration and Naturalization Service also reported a sharp increase in the number of immigrants rejected at U.S. borders, from 5,669 to 9,400.

Scapegoating of immigrants by big-business politicians is on the rise and "is being exploited by people in the Republican and Democratic parties," said Lucas Guttentag, director of the National Immigrants Rights Project of the American Civil Liberties Union. Candidates of both parties have made attacks on immigrant workers a campaign theme.

AT&T to lay off 40,000
The AT&T Corp. announced January 2 that it would eliminate 40,000 jobs over the next three years, after offering voluntary buyouts to half the 150,000 employees in managerial positions. With the 8,500 jobs that AT&T already said it would eliminate from its computer company, Global Information Solutions, the total reduction will be almost 50,000.

"AT&T's decision comes when the company is healthy and when almost all segments of its business are profitable and growing," the New York Times reported. "Wall Street cheered AT&T's action - the company's shares rose $6.25 each, to close at $67.375 on the New York Stock Exchange."


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