Category Archives: Governance

Massive anti-corruption protests erupt in Brazil


After a neoliberal legislative coup brought down the center-left Brazilian government of Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff, replacing her with a stalwart of the privatize-and-plunder agenda that seems to be all the rage these days, the self-installed replacement regime has been rocked by scandals of its own.

And the Brazilian people want those scandals investigated and prosecuted.

They took to the streets in drove Sunday to demand just that.

From El País:

Once again, Brazilians are taking to the streets to protest against their politicians. Sunday saw huge marches in cities throughout the country that are being seen as a warning to politicians not to tamper with the judiciary as it attempts to unravel a vast corruption network centered on state oil company Petrobras.

The protests were not directed specifically at President Michel Temer, who took over after Dilma Rousseff was impeached earlier this year, and whose popularity rating is just 14%, but were instead largely aimed at members of his PMDB party, several of whom are under investigation for corruption. Temer has promised to kickstart Brazil’s ailing economy with a series of reform measures he hopes to push through Congress.

The march in Rio de Janeiro attracted a wide range of protesters, from anti-abortion rights activists to those calling for a military government, along with many chanting the name of Sergio Moro, the judge overseeing the so-called Lava Jato investigation into corruption at Petrobras. Among those alleged to have been involved in a complex web of graft are members of the Workers’ Party, including former President Ignacio Lula da Silva, as well as Temer’s PMDB, and the conservative PP, which has supported both parties in Congress.

>snip<

In large part, Sunday’s protests were sparked by a vote in Congress in the early hours of Wednesday – while the country was in mourning for the victims of the Chapecoense plane crash in Colombia – that watered down a series of anti-corruption proposals put forward by the Attorney General’s office.

California teacher banned for Black Lives Matter pin


And in California, too — albeit in the conservative Central Valley.

Pathetic.

From teleSUR English:

A California high school substitute teacher was banned from the Clovis Unified School District after wearing a Black Lives Matter pin to class last month, local media reported Saturday.

“They said it was a violation of their policy of being neutral regarding political issues, but I don’t consider it a political statement. It is a moral statement,” David Roberts told local newspaper the Fresno Bee. “I was very surprised because I didn’t think it was a violation of anything.”

After working as a substitute teacher for the district for more than 15 years, Robert has now been banned from working in any of the district’s schools according to an incident report issued last month and seen by the newspaper.

The report claims that Roberts was wearing a “political” button which offended some of the students while also accusing the substitute teacher of not following the lesson plan, which he denied.

“A pin that reads ‘Black Lives Matter’ is not a political button. It is a peaceful request to end this violence,” Roberts said asserting that his firing from the district was solely related to the button.

Headline of the day: Finally, some really good news


At least until Trump takes office, that is.

From the London Daily Mail:

Victory! Dakota Access protesters WIN as the feds block oil pipeline that was to be built next to Native American land – kicking off wild celebrations in Standing Rock

  • Dakota Access Pipeline protesters cheered as the news emerged and cried ‘Mni Wiconi’, or ‘water is life’
  • Corps of Engineers said they would not be granting an easement for the DAPL to cross Lake Oahe
  • Federal agency said on Sunday afternoon that they would explore alternate routes for the pipeline
  • Cheyenne River Sioux Tribal Council Chairman Harold Frazier told DailyMail.com that he was ‘shocked’
  • Thousands of veterans arrived this weekend to support the protests as temperatures hovered around 30F
  • Clashes were thought to intensify after evacuation was ordered and area was to be shut down on Dec 5

Quote of the day: A call for resistance in Greece


As the austerians demand yet more draconian cuts as a condition for further financial assistance to a Greece reeling from the Wall Street bankster-created Great recession, a call for action comes from Stavros P. Psycharis, president of the Lambrakis Press Group, publisher of the influential newspaper To Vima:

It is clear that we are faced with the most serious financial crisis that Greece has ever experienced. For the past seven years the country cannot move forward aside from within the economic paths set by our foreign “rulers”. The United Europe is losing respect for Man and its political leaders are seemingly turning into second-rate cash lenders.

Against this situation, Greece must resist, fight and win. It is unacceptable to be blackmailed by a mob of “technocrats” who propose and impose measures like the village doctor hands out aspirin!

But what is done, is done. It is time to refuse the humiliation of the poor relative being humiliated by his own family.

One quick example. Greece cannot implement labor laws other than what is provided in the European acquis.

It is time for Greece to demonstrate that it has the power to ask and receive fair treatment from the people of Europe family. Otherwise the country’s political leadership must be united in facing the crisis that has brought poverty to Greece for the past seven years.

How many innocents killed by Mexican army?


The answer, it seems, is a state secret.

From teleSUR English:

Since President Enrique Peña Nieto took office in Mexico, the army has stopped reporting on the number of civilian deaths at the hands of the military, according to an investigation by local media outlet Animal Politico.

“They don’t mention dead civilians anymore, they’ve disappeared from official speech and there’s simply no way of exactly knowing those figures,” report Animal Politico. Since the beginning of Peña Nieto’s administration, which began in December 2012, the military has refrained from informing the public about these figures, it claims.

The latest official statistic provided by the military states that between 2006 when Mexico’s drug war began up until August 2012, 3,000 people were killed by the military including 56 civilians who were not involved in drug trafficking.

When asked about compensation provided to the families of victims, the army acknowledged it had provided compensation to the families of 12 victims between 2008 and 2011, but left out figures for the current administration.

From the Peña Nieto administration, the military does however recognize 32 payments between 2013 and 2014 amounting to US$7.8 million, according to Animal Politico.

But this figure fails to take into account a a raft of abuses, such as the 22 people who were killed on June 30, 2014, in Tlatlaya, State of Mexico, 15 of whom were executed. The military personnel involved in the incident were not charged with any crime.

Trump calls Taiwan: Diplomacy for personal profit?


Donald Trump made a call to the President of Taiwan, an island China calls its own and which lost diplomatic ties with the U.S. in 1979, the result of Richard Nixon’s earlier move to restore ties with the mainland.

Before Nixon, the United States recognized the Taiwanese regime as the legitimate government of the mainland, denying recognition to the communist government in Beijing following Mao Tse Tung’s revolutionary victory over the Kuomintang forces of Chiang Kai-shek, who withdrew what was left of his forces to the island in 1950.

Since diplomatic recognition with the island was revoked, no U.S. President had spoken to its government,

Until Donald Trump.

Trump’s call complicates the ongoing Game of Zones being played by China, Japan, Vietnam, and the Philippines over control of oil, gas, and other resources beneath the contested waters.

China, needless to say, reacted to The Donald’s provocative ploy.

From Reuters:

China lodged a diplomatic protest on Saturday after U.S. President-elect Donald Trump spoke by phone with President Tsai Ing-wen of Taiwan, but blamed the self-ruled island Beijing claims as its own for the “petty” move.

The 10-minute telephone call with Taiwan’s leadership was the first by a U.S. president-elect or president since President Jimmy Carter switched diplomatic recognition from Taiwan to China in 1979, acknowledging Taiwan as part of “one China”.

China’s Foreign Ministry said it had lodged “stern representations” with what it called the “relevant U.S. side”, urging the careful handling of the Taiwan issue to avoid any unnecessary disturbances in ties.

“The one China principle is the political basis of the China-U.S. relationship,” it said.

The wording implied the protest had gone to the Trump camp, but the ministry provided no explanation.

But there’s another game afoot

And that’s a hotel apparently planned by a Trump corporation for the island.

That little but very significant fact would lead to a very big question: Is Trump planning to use the White House as a fulcrum to further his own business interests?

From the Guardian:

Weeks before President-elect Donald Trump’s controversial phone call with Taiwan’s president, Tsai Ing-wen, a businesswoman claiming to be associated with his conglomerate made inquiries about a major investment in building luxury hotels as part of the island’s new airport development.

The woman, known only as Ms Chen arrived from the US in September to meet the mayor of Taoyuan, Cheng Wen-tsan, one of the senior politicians involved in the Aerotropolis project, a large urban development being planned around the renovation of Taiwan’s main airport, Taoyuan International.

“She said she was associated with the Trump corporation and she would like to propose a possible investment project in the future, especially hotels,” said an official familiar with the project, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

“One thing quite sure from her side was that she would like to bring the Trump corporation here to build the hotel,” said the official, who did not know if Chen had a Trump Organization business card.

Can things get any sleazier?

Knowing Trump, we’re certain they can.

Will Pirates soon take the helm in Iceland?


That’s a real possibility, after conservatives failed to form a government coalition to head the parliament in the nation with the world’s oldest parliament.

And that could mean the next prime minister could be Birgitta Jónsdóttir [previously], cofounder of Iceland’s Pirate Party [Píratapartýið], and a woman who calls herself a poetician.

Birgitta Jónsdóttir, Prate Party co-founder and, possibly, the next Prime Minister of Iceland.

Birgitta Jónsdóttir, Prate Party co-founder and, possibly, the next Prime Minister of Iceland.

From RT:

The Pirate Party in Iceland, who won seats in parliament earlier this year, have been asked to try to assemble a government coalition, after two other parties with more seats failed to do so.

The radical Pirate Party, headed by Birgitta Jonsdottir, was asked to form a government with other parties by the country’s president, Gudni Johannesson, AP reported Friday, citing the president’s office.

The two parties who came first and second in the parliamentary election in late October, the Independence Party and the Left-Greens, respectively, had already held talks to assemble a coalition, but to no avail. No party won an outright majority in the election.

Prime Minister Sigmurdur Ingi Johannsson of the Progressive Party takes part in a debate ahead of parliamentary elections in Iceland, October 28, 2016. © Geirix Iceland PM resigns as Pirate Party makes election gains

The Pirate Party, founded four years ago by a group of internet activists and hackers, came third in the election, having won 10 out of 63 seats in the nation’s parliament. They will now have to negotiate with four other parties, both centrists and left-wingers.

According to Jonsdottir, the main issues on the agenda for the island nation are health care reforms and fishing rights, which have become sticking points for the lawmakers trying to form a coalition. The country has also suffered from troubles in its economy, after its banks collapsed during the 2008 global financial crisis.