Weekly Report, 15 December 2017

Photo: Harlem Désir, OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media, this week said that the decision by Poland’s National Broadcasting Council (KRRiT) to impose a fine on one of the country’s leading private independent broadcasters, TVN SA, is unjustified and disproportionate – PhotoCredit: OSCE Did you like this Weekly Report? Please SUBSCRIBE and receive the Weekly Update every week, automatically, by email. The United States of America “A peaceful beginning to the workweek was shattered Monday after an explosion rattled through one of the busiest transit hubs in New York City, causing the authorities to evacuate hundreds of commuters and throwing the morning into chaos,” writes the New York Times. Mayor Bill de Blasio spoke of an attempted terrorist attack and said no other devices had been found. Akayed Ullah, main suspect, made it clear from a hospital bed where he was being treated for burns from the pipe bomb he strapped to his body that he was on a mission to punish the United States for attacking the Islamic State group, said acting US attorney Joon Kim. The suspect had clearly hoped to die in the act, taking as many innocent people as he could with him, but through incredible good fortune, his bomb did not seriously injure anyone other than himself. Also on Monday, a federal judge ruled that transgender people will be able to join the U.S. military as of January 1, 2018. The ruling denies a request by President Donald Trump’s administration to enforce his ban on transgender troops while the government appeals an order that is blocking it. The army members who sued Trump, defence Secretary James Mattis and military leaders in August had been serving openly as transgender people in the U.S. Army, Air Force and...

Palestinian Nonviolence in the context of Trump’s Jerusalem announcement

Photo: “Jerusalem itself has seen some of the largest protests, as here in front of the Dome of the Rock Islamic shrine at the al-Aqsa mosque compound in the Old City. Hundreds of additional police were deployed to control the masses after Palestinian calls for protests after Friday prayers.” (Getty Images/AFP/A.Gharabli, via Deutsche Welle) Published on 13/12/2017 A week ago, President Trump’s announcement of recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s official capital and moving the US Embassy there has sparked strong reactions globally and in the region, fostering ongoing tensions. BBC wrote that the “status of Jerusalem goes to the heart of Israel’s conflict with the Palestinians”, as both sides make their claims to the city. Jerusalem is home to key religious sites for Jews, Muslims and Christians, especially in the East. While Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has welcomed the US’ move and labeled it a “historic landmark” and “courageous and just”, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas blamed the decision to be unacceptable and to undermine every peace effort. Leader of the Islamist movement Hamas, Ismail Haniya, has called for a “new intifada” and sees the American move as an aggression against his people. Meanwhile, “Fatah Central Committee Member Nasser al-Qudwa called for participation in ‘non-violent’ and ‘unarmed’ protests“, reported The Jerusalem Post. UN Secretary General António Guterres stated the issue “would jeopardise the prospect of peace for Israelis and Palestinians”, the status of Jerusalem better to be negotiated between the two parties. During a UN Security Council emergency meeting which was held on Friday, the move was also met with widespread international condemnation. US Ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley, countered...

Weekly Report: 08 December, 2017

Photo: “Opposition presidential candidate Salvador Nasralla gives a speech to thousands of supporters taking part in a demonstration claiming that he won the November 26 elections, near the Supreme Electoral Tribunal in Tegucigalpa on Sunday.” (Photo: Agence France-Presse, via South China Morning Post) Venezuela Last Saturday, members of Venezuela’s government and opposition coalition met in the Dominican Republic to resolve the Venezuela’s political crisis. The parties however failed to reach an agreement and set a new meeting for December 15th. The talks held at the Foreign Ministry in Santo Domingo were “difficult, heavy, hard and full of debate and confrontation” according to opposition political Julio Borges, while Venezuela’s information minister Jorge Rodriguez sounded more hopeful stating his side to be “’deeply satisfied’ with the two-day talks.” Reuters stated that few Venezuelans expect further talks to bring a breakthrough, considering the opposition’s current divided and demoralized state. Opponents have accused President Maduro of exploiting the talks to buy more time, while he accuses the opposition of preferring violence. According to an anonymous source, the two sides did not compromise on any key points. Amidst Venezuela’s deep economic crisis and hyperinflation, Nicolas Maduro announced the introduction of a new crypto-currency in the country, the “Petro”. While Maduro said it is supposed to be backed by oil, gas, gold and diamond reserves, not many other details are known about the currency, which is usually not backed by governments or central banks. The opposition said such plans needed congressional approval and many doubted credibility and any potential success for the plans. “Still, the announcement highlights how sanctions enacted this year by U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration are...

Fighting Big Corporations – Attac-Activists Occupy Apple Store Paris

Protest at the Apple store in Paris on Saturday Credits: Christophe Archambault/AFP  Published on 05/12/2017 Over the weekend, Apple was the target of a wide-spread protest-campaign. Groups of activists all over France protested against alleged tax-evasion by the US-based multinational technology company.  The occupation of the Apple store in Paris was the event that generated most media-coverage. About a hundred activists invaded and occupied the expansive two-level store near the Paris Opera for several hours. Activists demanded that the US technology giant pays billions of euros of overdue taxes.   The actions came after the August 2016 reporting by the European Commission, in which it estimated that the company owed $14.5 billion in taxes after it negotiated highly favourable tax arrangements with the Irish government. Last month “Paradise Papers” shed light on Apple’s tax avoidance strategy, by which the company transferred funds to the small island of Jersey, which typically does not tax corporate income and is largely exempt from European Union tax regulations.   The French protesters were a part of Attac, an international organizational network of activist groups that seeks alternatives to unbridled globalization, particularly opposing its neo-liberal aspects. The group held about 30 demonstrations across France on Saturday. “From Rennes to Marseille, from Dijon to Saint Brieuc, Lille or Velizy”, Attac was everywhere in France over the weekend. The direct actions were mostly directed at physical Apple-stores, ranging from public display of discontent to exchanging ideas and information with Apple customers.   But how does one fight the big corporates of this world? What is the ‘Grand Strategy’ used to curb the power-structures on which their malpractices rely? These companies represent immense economic interests and their powerful leadership seems to have no direct interest in seeing the current power-structures to be altered. Despite the fact that Apple might know it does something which is morally questionable, the company supports its actions by structurally stating that it follows the law...

Weekly Report: 1 December, 2017

Photo: Pope Francis with Myanmar’s de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi in Naypyidaw. While Francis has stressed the importance of “unity in diversity” while meeting leaders of several faiths as well as the army in Burma, he has made no mention of the violent campaign by the Burmese military against the Rohingya Muslims – Credit: AFP Democratic Republic Congo On Sunday, the Democratic Republic of Congo government banned rallies that were planned this week in the capital Kinshasa, over the extended rule of President Joseph Kabila. Both the coalition in favour of Kabila, as well as the opposition coalition had planned a march, to voice support or disagreement with the delayed elections. Despite concern over a crackdown, the head of the opposition coalition, Felix Tshisekedi, said he would not heed the ban. “There’s no question of depriving us of our rights and freedom,” he tweeted according to the Daily Nation. The opposition march was planned for Thursday this week. Then on Monday, AFP reports that a group of influential bishops in the DRC urged President Joseph Kabila to pledge he will not seek a third term in office in order to ease fears of unrest. The Catholic church plays an important role in the country, as bishops last year already tried to help broker a deal under which elections for a new president would be held in 2017. In a statement, the bishops stated that “It is essential, on the grounds of (demonstrating) sincere political will, to reassure the Congolese people and international partners by providing guarantees that elections will effectively be held.” On that same day, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations published their latest DRC-situation report. The report displays the unrest of the last month and...