Uruguay took a major step on July 31 towards becoming the first country in the world to put its government at the centre of a legal marijuana industry. President Jose Mujica's Broad Front coalition narrowly squeezed the measure through the lower house of Congress after 13 hours of debate, with all 50 government deputies overriding the 46 opposition MPs present. The measure will now go to the senate, where it is expected to pass.
A member of Israel's cabinet has declared his backing for killing Palestinian prisoners, rather than bringing them to trial, 972mag.com reported on July 29. The Huffington Post said on July 29 that Israel announced it would release 104 Palestinian prisoners, as part of the US-brokered plan to renew peace talks with the Palestinian Authority.
The 50th anniversary of the historic civil rights march on Washington led by Martin Luther King Jr will take place on August 24. In 1963, a quarter of a million people marched for jobs and freedom. They gathered in front of the Lincoln Memorial where King got up to deliver his “I have a dream” speech. A year later, in 1964, the US Congress passed the Civil Rights Act. It outlawed racial segregation in public places, introduced equal employment opportunities, and guaranteed the right to vote regardless of colour.
If Bangladesh represents the worst of exploitation in clothing factories, India is home to the most rapacious conditions for auto workers. Auto workers and union supporters in Manesar, India, launched an indefinite dharna (sit-in and hunger strike) on July 18. They demanded the release of jailed co-workers. A staggering 147 workers have spent a year in jail on trumped-up criminal charges after a company-provoked altercation led to the death of a human resources manager who supported the union. Hundreds have pledged to take part in the dharna.
Detroit hit the Trifecta on July 18 — the third in a series of body blows that politicians have landed on the city’s working people. The Michigan legislature passed “right-to-work” in December and gave the governor the right to impose “emergency managers” on cities two days later. When Detroit’s emergency manager Kevyn Orr announced Chapter 9 bankruptcy on July 18, he was following a predicted trajectory that will lead to further impoverishment and privatisation.
In The Shadow of Gallipoli: The Hidden History of Australia in World War 1 By Robert Bollard New South Publishing, 2013 223 pages (PB), $32.99 Every year, around ANZAC day on April 25, hordes of Australian tourists and backpackers descend on the shore of Gallipoli in Turkey to commemorate the first battle in which Australians took part in World War I in 1915. ANZAC day has experienced a resurgence in popularity over recent years. Governments have helped by promoting nationalistic myths about how the unsuccessful campaign was “where Australia was born”.
Towards the end of 2008, I joined thousands in Toronto to protest Israel’s attack on Gaza. At York University, where I was a student, we mobilised the campus to defend Palestinian rights. A few months later, bombs were falling on my own people ― in the predominantly Tamil Vanni region of northern Sri Lanka. And once again, we hit Toronto’s streets in protest. I realised then that even though our homelands are oceans apart, Palestinians and Tamils have much in common. Through the “war on terror”, the Israeli and Sri Lankan armies have waged war on civilian populations.
Nicolas Maduro completed his first 100 days since being sworn in as president on July 29 — a period marked by his new street government initiative, Latin American solidarity, and debate over spiked inflation and moderate economic growth. Maduro’s presidency began amid protest and claims of electoral fraud from Venezuela’s right-wing opposition. They continue to reject the results of the April 14 presidential election in which Maduro won 50.6% of the vote, a 1.6% margin over Henrique Capriles. Since then, polls have pegged his approval rating around 56%.
Cuban Vice-President Jose Ramon Machado Ventura praised Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa and Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro on July 31 for their fight against US imperialism. Machado said greater Latin American integration was aiding development across the region during the closing session of the 12th summit of the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America (ALBA) in Ecuador. But he stressed that social movements should lead the charge.
NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden finally left Moscow's airport, where he had been stuck for weeks evading capture by the United States government, on August 1 after being granted political asylum for one year in Russia. Snowden had sought to apply for asylum in places such as Ecuador and Venezuela.