This Week’s Under-reported News Summary Jan. 30, 2019

Compiled by Bob Nixon

  • Europe trying to choke off the flow of migrants — In Africa
  • Will Mexico’s new president seek justice for the disappeared
  • Federal shutdown hurt small businesses settling IRS disputes, low-wage contract workers

• Outside the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, the Hong Kong-based non-governmental organization Crossroads Foundation played out a simulation known as “A Day in the life of a Refugee.” It gave the bankers and CEOs who participated a taste of what life is like for asylum seekers, many of whom are targets of violent crime.  

(“A gun in the face: Davos ploy to reshape refugee debate,” Reuters, Jan. 23, 2019; 
“How Europe is trying to choke off the flow of migrants — In Africa,”
Christian Science Monitor, Nov. 19, 2018)

• Over the last 12 years some 37,000 Mexicans have disappeared during Mexico’s bloody war on drugs. Family members of the disappeared are putting pressure on Mexico’s newly-elected President Manuel Lopez Obrador, known as AMLO. During his election campaign, Obrador pledged to investigate the fate of 43 students of a teachers college who disappeared in 2014. But the Nation magazine reports that AMLO has been virtually silent about the tens of thousands of other Mexicans who have disappeared.

(“Will Mexico’s new president seek justice for the disappeared?” The Nation, Jan. 10, 2019)

• During the federal shutdown, many small businesses were trapped in a “Kafkaesque” maze with no way of settling tax disputes. Perhaps the most out-of-luck people in the recently ended shutdown, are the thousands of workers the federal government pays the least: low-wage contract workers who perform janitorial, security, and food service tasks at public buildings. Unlike furloughed federal employees who will receive back pay for wages missed, contract workers will likely receive no restitution. Some Democrats in Congress including freshman House Rep. Ayanna Pressley, D-Massachusetts and Sen. Tina Smith, D-Minnesota, support legislation that would reinstate back pay for low-wage contract workers who were held hostage during this longest government shutdown in U.S. history.

(“Shuttered IRS is sending automated warnings of asset seizures,” Intercept, Jan. 14,  2019; “At least 14,000 unpaid IRS workers did not show up for work,” Washington Post, Jan. 25, 2019)

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