International News

The first-ever major report looking into the secretive workings of the Big Four accountancy firms that assist individuals and companies to evade taxes has been released by members of European Parliament from the European United Left-Nordic Green Left (GUE/NGL) who sit on the European Parliament’s Panama Papers inquiry committee.

The study analyses the size, scope and location of the activities of the Big Four accounting firms. Its findings include that these firms are heavily over-represented in tax havens when compared with the population size and GDP, where they make exceptional profits.

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has responded to the latest threats to Venezuela's sovereignty from US President Donald Trump, in which the US leader promised "swift and strong actions" if Venezuela decides to proceed with the July 30 elections for a National Constituent Assembly.

Maduro called Trump's threats "vulgar", TeleSUR English reported. He said: "The process of the constituent assembly is already in the hands of the people who will exercise their right to vote. This is my response, the constituent assembly does not belong to me.

"Social justice isn't copyrighted," British Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn told Naomi Klein in an interview published at The Intercept on Thursday.

Argentine police violently evicted a group of laid-off workers from a PepsiCo factory in the capital city of Buenos Aires on July 12, after more than three weeks of occupying the plant.

Since June 20, a group of workers and labour rights activists occupied the plant to defend the 691 people who lost their jobs after an announcement made by the company confirmed that they would no longer operate.

The report below was compiled by the Free West Papua Campaign on July 8.

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We have received urgent reports from West Papua that between June 30 and July 6, about 150 West Papuan people were arrested, and many of them tortured, by the Indonesian police for peaceful actions in the Papuan province of Nabire.

As the battle for the right of Catalonia to vote on independence rages between the Spanish government in Madrid and the independence-oriented Catalan parliament in Barcelona, major developments have taken place in one of the most famous struggles for independence on the Iberian Peninsula — the Basque Country.

World leaders broke with the United States on climate change and reaffirmed their commitment to the Paris climate agreement at the Group of 20 Summit in Hamburg, Germany on July 8, which brings together representatives from some of the world’s largest economies. 

However, a new report has exposed the strong support for large fossil fuel corporations from G20 governments as a whole.  

The Police Service of Northern Ireland is investigating hate crimes committed at bonfires in unionist (supporters of British rule over Northern Ireland’s six counties) areas on the nights of July 11, An Phoblacht said the next day. Bonfires, which are set alight each July 11 by the members of the unionist community, were strewn with election posters for Irish republican party Sinn Fein and other non-unionist groups, as well as Irish flags and various expressions of sectarianism and bigotry.

It was in the autumn of 2014, only months after Islamic State (ISIS) achieved huge territorial gains inside Syria and Iraq, committing genocidal and femicidal massacres, that a revolutionary silver lining arose from the little-known town of Kobane in Syria’s north.

Having overrun Mosul, Tel Afar and Sinjar in Iraq, as well as a vast expanse of territory inside Syria, ISIS prepared to launch an attack on the north of Syria, known by Kurds as Rojava.

What ISIS did not anticipate in Kobane was that it would encounter an enemy of a different kind – an organised, political community that was ready to defend itself courageously by all means necessary, and with a worldview that turns ISIS’s death ideology on its head.

Arab women have announced the foundation of “Martyr Amara Arab Women’s Battalion” under the umbrella of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), ANF News said on July 12.

Formed in 2015, the SDF is an alliance of progressive armed groups — the largest of which are the Kurdish-based People’s Defence Units (YPG) and Women’s Defence Units (YPJ), although including a growing number of other groups  — that is subordinate to the grassroots structures of the Democratic Federation of North Syria.

Hundreds of thousands of people rallied in the Turkish city of Istanbul after a 280-mile Justice March against Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

The demonstration was in response to the widespread jailings and dismissals authorised by the Turkish government after last year’s failed coup attempt.

In regard to the charges about US President Donald Trump’s collusion with Russia to throw the election his way, it is worth mentioning that going through the list of all the nations that Washington has meddled in is far too long for one article. The US is, without any doubt, the world’s meddler in chief.

Even the list of countries where the US conspired to overthrow elected governments when electoral meddling failed is lengthy.

But one angle to the Russian controversy that is underreported is this: scratch the Russian connection and US-German relations pop up.

An informal summit of interior ministers from all European Union member states was held on July 7 in Tallinn, Estonia. The first issue on the agenda was migrants.

A fire broke out at a migrant camp on the Greek island of Lesbos on July 10, following a protest at the site demanding better living conditions.

Local authorities told the Xinhua News Agency that the fire at the Moria camp had been extinguished and that at least five container units and three tents were destroyed. No injuries were reported.

Venezuelans were taken by surprise with the announcement that opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez would serve out his jail term under house arrest. The move is an unprecedented concession that seeks to calm the waters in the lead up to the July 30 Constituent Assembly elections. 

But the conflict in the country is showing it has multiple faces. On July 10, a day after the official election campaign began, a candidate was assassinated in the middle of a campaign event.

Former Brazilian President Luiz Inacio "Lula" da Silva was sentenced on July 12 to nine years and six months jail over corruption charges in the Operation Car Wash investigations. The ruling came a day after the Brazilian Senate's approval of President Michel Temer's unamended labour reform bill, which has been heavily criticised by trade unions and social movements.

Thousands of landless workers marched on July 12 through the streets of the Paraguayan capital, Asuncion, to demand the cancellation of debts contracted with the national bank.

The demonstrators have been blocking the centre of the capital since July 10, setting up their camp in front of the National Congress.

Hundreds of Haiti's factory workers protested in Port-au-Prince on July 10 against the government’s proposed paltry rise in the minimum wage.

Currently paid US$4.75 a day, workers mainly from factories outsourced to foreign companies are demanding wages rise to US$12.75 dollars for eight hours of work.

However, the government has said the minimum wage should only rise by 55 cents.

In February, a video filmed in the village of Mwanza Lomba in the Democratic Republic of Congo in Central Africa, went viral.

It showed unarmed civilians — including children — being massacred by soldiers of the state army. The clip quickly moved from the social networks onto television news channels around the world. But then it vanished again without any further debate about what it meant and what it revealed.

Nearly one in five frontline firefighter jobs have been cut since 2010, the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) said, the Morning Star Online reported on July 6.

The union has warned that continued “savage” cuts seriously threaten public safety. It said a post-war record of 11,000 jobs had gone in the past seven years. The cuts include almost 8000 full-time firefighters and nearly 3000 “retained” (on-call) workers.

Survivors of the Grenfell Tower disaster are not being offered suitable accommodation by Kensington and Chelsea Council, Morning Star Online reported on July 6, as British Communities Secretary Sajid Javid announced yet another taskforce would be sent in to cover the calamitous Tory local authority’s failings.

In Northern Ireland — the partitioned statelet made up of the six Irish counties still claimed by Britain — the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) is the largest unionist party (supporters of an ongoing “union” with Britain).

As the European Union called on member countries to contribute more to the effort to resettle refugees, Amnesty International released a blistering report on July 5 that said EU policies have made the Mediterranean route from Africa to Europe more deadly than ever for the tens of thousands of refugees who attempt the crossing.

The cycle of belligerency and threat making on both sides is intensifying. And it is always possible that a miscalculation could trigger a new war, with devastating consequences. 

But even if a new war is averted, the ongoing embargo against North Korea and continual threats of war are themselves costly: they promote and legitimise greater military spending and militarisation more generally, at the expense of needed social programs, in Japan, China, the US, and the two Koreas.

The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe recently won a major legal victory in federal court which may have the power to force the shutdown of the $3.8 billion Dakota Access pipeline.

After burying former dictator Ferdinand Marcos’ remains at the national heroes’ cemetery and helping Ferdinand’s son Bongbong Marcos in his bid to become vice president, Duterte has now placed all of Mindanao — and threatened to place the entire country — under martial law. 

Today, we may now be just one “security crisis” away from outright military rule.

South Africa is at crossroads, facing its biggest upheavals since independence in 1994. Globally, since the 2008 Great Recession there are growing explosive class and social conflicts due to the deepening crisis of capitalism.

With the focus on dramatic images of German riot police using tear gas and high-powered water cannons to disperse G20 protesters in Hamburg on July 6, the message from those demonstrating in the streets was clear for those willing to listen: a better world is possible.

Workers at a PepsiCo factory in Argentina have occupied the plant following its closure on June 20, which left 600 workers without a job.

The company claims the closure is due to an “economic crisis”, despite making millions of dollar in profits last year. However workers at the factory, which is located in Vicente Lopez, in Greater Buenos Aires Province, see the move as part of a broader anti-worker offensive by bosses and the pro-corporate government of President Mauricio Macri.

Police brutally repressed thousands of Brazilians who took the streets on June 30 to oppose austerity measures and the Michel Temer government. The actions were part of the second general strike in three months.

The “general strike” included work stoppages by teachers and workers in the banking, metals, health care and oil refinery sector, among others.

Revolutionary activist and sociologist Reinaldo Iturriza has spent many years working with popular movements in Venezuela and writing on the rise of Chavismo as a political movement of the poor. He also served as Minister for the Communes and Social Movements, and then Minister for Culture in President Nicolas Maduro’s cabinet between 2013 and 2016.

Together with activists from a range of grassroots revolutionary organisations and social movements, he is standing as a candidate for the Popular Constituent Platform in the July 30 elections for a Constituent Assembly that will seek to find a political way out of the current turmoil gripping Venezuela through the drafting of a new constitution.

PepsiCo is a multinational that owns nearly all the brands we expect to see in any general store around the world, including Pepsi, Lay’s, Quaker, Dorito, Starbuck’s Ready-to-Drink, 7UP, Cheetos, Aquafina, Mountain Dew, Gatorade and Tropicana. The sheer corporate strength of the second largest food and beverage company in the world makes the struggle of over 600 workers in Buenos Aires against a PepsiCo snack factory both an uprising against great odds and an inspiring stand against corporate dominance.

Tens of thousands marched through central London on July 1 to protest privatisation and austerity that has led to cuts in spending for education and public services.

Many carried signs reading: "Austerity Kills," "Cuts Cost Lives," "Not One Day More," and "Tories Out."

After holding a minute's silence in honor of the victims of the deadly Grenfell Tower fire in London, which killed at least 80 people, those in the crowd also staged a round of applause for the emergency services.

In a little-discussed move that could spell disaster for unions and workers, US President Donald Trump announced on June 27 the nomination of William Emanuel — a lawyer for a firm that represents large corporations — to fill a vacant seat on the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB).

Emanuel is a member of the Federalist Society, an ultra-right-wing group of lawyers and donors. If Emanuel and Trump’s other nominee — Washington attorney Marvin Kaplan — are confirmed by the Senate, Republicans will control the NLRB for the first time in nearly a decade.

Donald Trump never missed a chance during his presidential campaign to rail against reproductive freedom, including women’s rights to abortion and birth control.

He is now doing his best to make good on these promises. In the process, he is helping to create a climate where women's right to decide what she does with her body is in peril.

During one moment of Election 2016, Trump shocked even other anti-choicers at a town-hall-style forum with MSNBC’s Chris Matthews when he said he believed women who have abortions should face “some form of punishment”.

“Fearless Cities” was the name of the inaugural international municipalist meeting that took place in Barcelona on June 9-11. It was hosted by Barcelona en Comu (Barcelona Together, the radical citizen-based coalition which runs Barcelona Council in alliance with the Party of Socialists of Catalonia).

One hundred years ago, the Russia Revolution rocked the world, first with the overthrow of the Tsar in February and then with the Bolshevik-led taking of full power by the soviets (elected councils of workers, soldiers and peasants) in October.

Convened by the Bolivian government and social movements, a global peoples’ summit on migrant and refugee rights attracted more than 4000 pro-migrant and refugee rights activists from 43 countries. Dubbed the World People’s Conference “For a World without Borders Towards Universal Citizenship”, it was held in the town of Tiquipaya, on June 20-21.

One National Guardsperson was killed and three people set on fire across Venezuela as violent anti-government protests continue. 

In Aragua, National Guard Sergeant Ronny Alberto Parra Araujo died on June 27 of wounds sustained during what the Public Prosecution (MP) described as an “irregular situation” the day before.

Journalist Ramon Camacho has reported that Parra was shot while attempting to prevent looting at the Walio Supermarket in Maracay on the evening on June 26.

The parliamentary majority President Emmanuel Macron’s coalition won in the second round of legislative elections held on June 18 was reported as a triumph against the weakened forces of both the left and the traditional right.

But questions have emerged over the real strength of the government as it prepares an assault on the rights of workers and their unions.

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