International News

The Republican candidate in the November 8 presidential race is lining up his excuses for why he’s going to lose: the media is against him, Democrats are faking ballots from undocumented immigrants and dead people and on and on.

Marking a grim milestone, the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) has reported that 2016 is the deadliest year ever for migrants trying to reach Europe.

The agency said on October 26 that at least 3800 migrants — many of them fleeing war in their home countries — have died or gone missing in the Mediterranean Sea this year. This is despite a significant drop in attempted crossings compared to last year.

Filipino President Rodrigo Duterte’s statement declaring his intentions to “separate” from the United States in both military and economic relations should be welcomed, but it’s easier said than done. Hence the president’s constant “backtracking” on his statements.

Given the president’s inconsistency, the question is posed: What does it mean to be an anti-imperialist government today? And is lining up with China (and to a lesser-extent Russia) an anti-imperialist positioning?

Close to 100 students and youth were arrested on Parliament Hill on October 24 for their participation in what organisers described as “the largest act of youth-led climate civil disobedience in Canadian history.”

Protesters targeted the Kinder Morgan pipeline, which Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will rule to accept or reject this year.

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi announced the start of an assault to recapture Mosul, the most important Iraqi city held by ISIS, on October 16.

The assault is spearheaded by the Iraqi army and the peshmerga, the armed forces of the Kurdistan Regional Government in northern Iraq. It also includes the Popular Mobilisation Units (PMU), an umbrella group of militia groups loyal to the Iraqi government and based in Iraq’s Shi’a Arab communities, and some other Iraqi militias.

After a year of political turmoil, Venezuela turned a corner recently, at least according to an eye-catching October 21 op-ed in The Washington Post. Titled “It’s official: Venezuela is a full-blown dictatorship”, the piece claimed the country has become an “all-out, no-more-elections dictatorship”.

Venezuela is again grabbing headlines in the media, amid allegations of lack of democracy and exaggerated accounts of nonetheless very real economic problems.

Much commentary puts the problems facing the country down to the alleged “failed populism” of Venezuela’s pro-poor Bolivarian Revolution. Last month, the New York Times even compared Donald Trump to Venezuela’s late socialist president Hugo Chavez in an article titled “What Hugo Chavez can teach us about Donald Trump”.

Police arrested 141 people at Cannonball in North Dakota on October 27, moving in with pepper spray and armoured tanks on Native American water protectors and other activists who for months have waged resistance against the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL), Common Dreams said t

The tribulations of major European banks, starting with “venerable institutions” like the Monte dei Paschi di Siena (the world’s oldest bank) and Deutsche Bank (Germany’s largest), have raised the spectre of a repeat of the crash of 2008 — a “Lehman Brothers times five” in the words of one market analyst.

Deutsche Bank has been found to be seriously under-capitalised, both according to the standards set under the Basel III international bank regulation standards and according to its own targets. The same goes for British giant Barclays.

In a historic step toward lifting the blockade on Cuba, the United States abstained Wednesday in the United Nations General Assembly vote, unanimously calling for the end of the Cold War measure for the 25th consecutive year.

"The United States has always voted against this resolution," said US representative to the UN Samantha Power. "Today, the United States will abstain."

The statement below was released by Pakistani socialist group, the Awami Workers Party (AWP) in response to an October 24 terrorist attack that killed dozens of people in Quetta, the capital of the Balochistan province. Balochistan has long been the victim of violent attacks from both state and terrorist forces.

The announcement from Venezuela's electoral authority on October 20 that it would head a court ruling and not proceed with a recall referendum has unleashed yet another wave of critical articles and opinion pieces throughout the English-speaking media, labeling Venezuela government as “authoritarian” or even a “dictatorship.”

Students at universities across South Africa have been demonstrating for the complete removal of university fees for poor students.

They are pushing for the realisation of the demands raised by the #FeesMustFall campaign last year. This was the largest wave of protests since the fall of Apartheid and drew tens of thousands of students into the streets.

The US has announced it will continue giving millions of dollars in military funding to the Honduran government, despite the high-profile targeted assassinations and other human rights abuses documented this year in the Central American nation.

The decision was taken by the US Department of State on September 30. It was justified to Congress on the grounds that Honduras “has taken effective steps to meet the criteria specified in the Fiscal Year 2016 appropriation legislation.”

A new report from the United Nations released on October 17 brought another dire warning of the catastrophic consequences of climate change, Common Dreams said that day. The report warned that without putting immediate environmental safeguards into place, more than a hundred million more people could be driven into extreme poverty and hunger by 2030.

The struggles of Ethiopians protesting repression and government-sponsored development programs have gone virtually unreported over the past year — and so has the murder of hundreds of people by the state for taking part in the resistance.

The struggles are centred among the Oromo people — the largest ethnic group in Ethiopia, but who have suffered marginalisation and oppression.

As Facebook gives the Israeli government more access to posts deemed as “incitement”, Israeli forces have been raiding the homes of Palestinians children and detaining them for months over posts on the social media site, a report by the Defence for Children International-Palestine (DCIP) said on October 17.

The group spoke with several Palestinian minors who were arrested for their Facebook posts, interrogated for hours and held in jail for months without charges under the Israeli policy of “administrative detention”.

Pakistan's south-western province of Balochistan is the site of an intense struggle for self-determination against the federal government.

Despite the province being rich in natural resources, the Baloch majority ethnic group remains economically marginalised and receives little benefit from development in region.

In its efforts to counter the Baloch struggle, the Pakistani state has resorted over the years to violent repression and indiscriminate warfare.

After the final debate in the US presidential race on October 19, Democracy Now! spoke to Dr Jill Stein, the Green Party’s presidential nominee. Stein and Libertarian nominee Gary Johnson were excluded from the debate under stringent rules set by the Commission on Presidential Debates, which is controlled by the Democratic and Republican parties. The interview is abridged below.

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What is your response to the debate?

Burma: ‘Stop violence against the Rohingya’

The Rohingya are an ethnic group facing extreme persecution in Burma (Myanmar). Australia has been criticised for failing to accept Rohingya asylum seekers as refugees.

The statement below was released on October 18 by 35 groups in Malaysia and the Asian region, including human rights groups and political parties such as the Socialist Party of Malaysia (PSM).

 

The Australian captain of a women-crewed boat, which tried to break the Israeli blockade of Gaza last month, firmly believes the mission was worthwhile.

“The Women’s Boat to Gaza managed to reignite the spotlight on Gaza and on the terrible conditions that the Gazan people suffer”, Madeline Habib told Green Left Weekly.

The systematic police repression of African Americans that Black Lives Matter (BLM) has exposed has prompted Black athletes to express their solidarity. The latest has been the silent protests at sporting events initiated by Colin Kaepernick, quarterback for NFL team, the San Francisco 49ers.

His protest is simple. He kneels when the national anthem is played before games. In spite of attacks against him, other professional athletes have emulated his protest. Perhaps most significant has been the many high school players across the country who have joined in.

A new investigation by In These Times has revealed that, by percentage of population, Native Americans are more likely to be killed by police than any other sector — including African Americans.

It also found that while cases of African-American police deaths tend to dominate headlines, killings of Native people go almost entirely unreported by mainstream US media.

At least 2000 Seattle teachers sported Black Lives Matter shirts at schools across the city on October 19, TeleSUR English said. The action was part of several rallies under the banner of “Black Lives Matter at School” to push for racial justice in education in the United States.

The protests were organised by Social Equality Educators, a group of educators within the Seattle teachers union.

Tens of thousands of women across Argentina walked off the job on October 19 to “make noise” against gender violence and economic inequalities in the first women’s national strike in the country’s history.

The strike came in the wake of a brutal gang rape and murder of a teenage girl that has reinvigorated the fight against femicide and gender violence across the continent. Protesters showed signs with the stories of missing or murdered women, chanting “We won't forgive, we won't forget”.

Protesters against the Temer government's extreme austerity plans in Rio on October 17

Riot police cracked down and fired tear gas on thousands of protesters in central Rio de Janeiro on October 17 as marches flooded the streets to reject unelected President Michel Temer’s proposed 20-year freeze on public spending, which critics say will spell disaster in the cash-strapped country.

Students peacefully end their occupation of the Caetano de Campos school in Sao Paulo to avoid confrontations with military police.

Brazilian high school students occupied schools across the country – mostly in the southern state of Parana – to protest against the unelected government of President Michel Temer and his administration's assault on public education in a wave of protests launched on October 3, TeleSUR English said on October 9.

US Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton's full remarks to several Wall Street audiences became public on October 15 when the transparency group WikiLeaks dumped its latest batch of emails obtained from the account of John Podesta, Clinton's campaign chairman. WikiLeaks called the latest release a “holy grail” for journalism.

Thousands marched in Venezuela’s capital of Caracas on October 12 to commemorate the Day of Indigenous Resistance — previously known as “Colombus Day”. The march also sought to counter opposition mobilisations in favour of the recall referendum against socialist President Nicolas Maduro.

A little-known but controversial World Bank tribunal has bucked tradition and ruled against corporate power on October 14.

The tribunal rejected Canadian-Australian gold mining giant OceanaGold’s claim that El Salvador interfered with its profits when the government pulled the plug on a proposed gold mine.

The seven-year, multi-million dollar, largely secretive court battle had pitted mining-affected Salvadoran communities — supported by international human rights groups — against the deep pockets of OceanaGold.

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro announced his proposal for the country’s federal budget for 2017 on October 14 — indicating that a staggering 73.6% would be dedicated toward social investment. It comes in a context of an economic crisis, including shortages of some goods.

In the days leading up to the announcement, the governing Untied Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) held street assemblies with thousands of Venezuelans to discuss and debate the proposed budget.

“In a democracy like ours, the budget is debated by the people,” Maduro said on October 12.

During a debate in Miami earlier this year between the candidates for the Democratic presidential nomination, Bernie Sanders came out against the Monroe Doctrine.

This doctrine dictates that the United States government could intervene throughout the hemisphere and overthrow whatever government does not suit Washington.

Ernesto “Che” Guevara was executed by a Bolivian soldier in the village of La Higuera, Bolivia, on October 9, 1967. The soldier was acting on orders that came directly from Bolivia’s then-president Rene Barrientos.

Guevara was summarily executed for fear that a trial would become a public spectacle and garner sympathy for Guevara and his revolutionary socialist cause.

Thailand’s King Pumipon Adulyadej died on October 13 aged 88, after more than 70 years on the throne. Thai socialist Giles Ji Ungpakorn has been in exile since he was charged with lese majeste (insulting the monarch) over a 2006 book criticising the king’s support for a military coup. Below he assesses the monarch’s role as a block to democracy and social justice.

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King Pumipon was a weak and characterless monarch who spent his useless and privileged life in a bubble, surrounded by fawning, grovelling toadies who claimed that he was a “god”.

US naval forces fired cruise missiles at targets in Yemen on October 12. This was the first direct Western involvement in the war in Yemen. However, Western powers — in particular the US and Britain — have been arming and bankrolling Saudi Arabia throughout the war.

Since March 2015, Saudi Arabia, along with its Gulf State allies, has pursued a relentless bombing campaign and siege of the nation of Yemen. It aims to influence its neighbour’s political order.

A flotilla bound for Gaza carrying food, medicine and other humanitarian aid was intercepted and seized by the Israeli Navy on October 5. The Women’s Boat to Gaza had set sail from the Spanish port city of Barcelona in mid-September in an effort to break the ongoing Israeli blockade of Gaza, Democracy Now! said on October 12.

Sixty million people are on the run worldwide, most from countries in the global South. The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) says one third of the refugees originate from Africa.

Wars, human rights violations, political instability, discrimination, poverty and the consequences of climate change and natural disasters are often named as causes for flight. But there is also ecocide — the destruction of livelihoods through the ruthless exploitation of raw materials and the subsidy politics of industrialised countries in the West.

There is a very sinister, hellish thing behind the tepid concern that rears its head when a country like Haiti suffers a tragedy.

As 800 people died and 90% of parts of southern Haiti were destroyed by Hurricane Matthew earlier this month, leaving whole towns flattened, and people homeless and without basic infrastructure, the trending hashtag was #PrayForFlorida.

The images and accounts of Haiti’s devastation following Hurricane Matthew’s passage on October 4 are gut-wrenching. The death toll is in the hundreds and continues to rise. Entire villages in the country's southwest were obliterated. The response of a Haitian government, left besieged and without resources by decades of foreign plunder, is anaemic. The victims’ anguished appeals for help are heart-rending. The United Nations now says 1.4 million people are in need of assistance, urgent and immediate for half of them.

My heart breaks over Category 4 Hurricane Matthew’s slamming of Haiti, Jamaica and Cuba.

When Hurricane Sandy struck New York City where I live, our entire neighbourhood was destroyed — every single house was uninhabitable.

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