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”.
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.
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”.
This is what things have come to.
The Greatest Democracy In the World™ is subjecting its people, and the world, to an election campaign to determine who gets to order new crimes against humanity, in which one candidate is a far-right, racist, woman-hating, tax-avoiding failed property mogul, reality TV star and serial sex offender, and the other is, by all available evidence, a robot built by Goldman Sachs.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The federal government's much-vaunted parliamentary inquiry into the banking system was correctly called "a farce" by Labor MP Pat Conroy on October 4, the first day of a three-day hearing in Canberra. Conroy said: "I have two days of questions here" but no time to ask them.
The inquiry was an attempt by the government to deflect growing calls for a royal commission into the banking system.
Attendees at a conference of Momentum, a group of grassroots supporters of Jeremy Corbyn, in Liverpool to coincide with Labours' national conference.
It wasn’t a surprise, but that didn’t make it any less historic.