Despite fears of more flooding in Mozambique, restless flood victims are abandoning aid camps and heading back to their devastated villages. The government says it’s still unable to provide food and medicine to outlying villages hard hit by last month’s floods and warns that drinking the filthy flood water there could spark a cholera epidemic. Meanwhile, aid workers are paying more attention to Madagascar, an Indian Ocean island nation off the coast of Mozambique also hard hit by recent flooding. In Mozambique, one million people need aid, but the number is expected to decline. The UN World Food Program appealed for $27 million to feed an estimated 650,000 people over the next six months. Mozambique is not only hard hit by the floods, but by the debt that the United States and other countries says that it owes and will not forgive.
Iraq’s oil industry will continue to deteriorate, jeopardizing UN relief operations, unless more spare parts are allowed into the country immediately, this according to the UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan. He called for the Security Council Sanctions Committee to double the amount of spare parts Iraq can buy and to streamline its review of contracts for the equipment to “offset permanent damage to oil-bearing structures in Iraq.” The sixty-three-page report details how low oil prices, bureaucratic delays and blocked contracts have undermined efforts to improve life for 22 million Iraqis living under UN trade sanctions. Three leading UN officials have already quit over the continued sanctions against Iraq, and today a congressional aid delegation, the first to visit Iraq, will release a report in Washington, DC.
The Democratic and Republican nominations could be wrapped up today, as six states vote in the Southern Super Tuesday contest. Voters go to the polls today in Democrat Al Gore’s home state of Tennessee, as well as Republican George W. Bush’s home state of Texas. People also are voting in Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi and Oklahoma. Bush already has 701 of the 1,034 delegates needed to secure the GOP nomination. Gore needs only 249 delegates to secure his party’s nomination.
Consumer advocate and Green Party presidential candidate Ralph Nader predicted yesterday he’ll qualify for the November ballot in all fifty states. Nader says that while the Reform Party is somewhat fractured, his party is growing quite readily as an alternative to the Democratic and Republican parties, which, he said, is really one party with two heads wearing makeup. The abolitionist, trade union, environmental and consumer movements all have targeted the same evil “excessive concentration of power and wealth,” he says. Nader said too many working Americans have been left behind in the booming economy. Meanwhile, Nader says, Republican George W. Bush should welcome him as a participant in presidential debates with Vice President Al Gore, not only as a strategy to divide liberal votes, but also to help mask what he said were Bush’s poor debating skills.
A Connecticut police officer has been convicted of manslaughter. Scott Smith, who is white, fatally shot an unarmed black suspect in the back at point blank range in New Milford, Connecticut. A jury acquitted Smith of murder, but found him guilty of manslaughter for the death of Franklyn Reid in 1998. Smith says he shot Reid because he thought he was reaching for a gun. Smith had been the first Connecticut police officer charged with murder for an action committed while on duty. He could get up to forty years in prison, once sentenced in May.
Protesters at the University of Michigan have ended a thirty-seven-day sit-in at the office of a secret campus society. Students occupying the offices of Michigamua say the group has mocked and misused American Indian customs and artifacts. Michigamua’s members have included former president Gerald Ford and the late US Supreme Court Justice Frank Murphy. The group’s offices are decorated to look like a wigwam. On February 6th, a group of minority students occupied the office and demanded that Michigamua be expelled. The protesters say the ninety-eight-year-old society broke a 1989 promise to drop the use of Indian culture and pseudo-culture from its rituals.
And this news from Tyler, Texas: A union is seeking an injunction against Wal-Mart stores to prevent the giant retailer from eliminating meat-cutting departments at 180 stores. The United Food and Commercial Workers, which claims the changes are in retaliation for union organizing at one of Wal-Mart’s stores, asked the National Labor Relations Board yesterday to go to federal court for an injunction against the world’s biggest retailer.