Sunday news round-up: August 24th-30th

Top Story: Huge industrial union endorses Iran deal and BDS: The United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of America, one of the U.S’s largest and most prominent unions, has fired back at supporters of Israeli apartheid by endorsing BDS, the Boycott Divestment and Sanctions movement aimed at ending the occupation of Palestine. At their national convention in Baltimore, union members voted on a string of domestic and foreign policy measures aimed at taking a stand in the world, among them a measure to condemn Israel’s human rights record and its history of abuse towards Palestinians, “starting with the ethnic cleansing of 750,000 Palestinians in 1947-48 that turned most of Palestine into the State of Israel”, as well as a measure to urge the U.S. government to cease the $3.5 billion dollar annual aid package to Israel. Among other measures, the union also voted to condemn U.S. adventurism in the Middle East and to fully endorse the Iran deal, which sees international sanctions lifted on the proviso that Iran does not pursue nuclear weapons acquisition programmes.

Guatemalans threaten to unseat U.S.-backed mass murderer: Guatemalan President and mass murderer Otto Molina is facing calls to resign ahead of a government corruption scandal that has seen his Vice President arrested and most of his Cabinet exiled. Molina stands accused of participating in what Democracy Now calls a “multimillion-dollar corruption scandal in which importers paid bribes to Tax Authority officials to obtain discounts”, but he has so far denied involvement. Molina won the Presidential elections in 2012 despite having a well-documented history of massacring Guatemala’s indigenous Mayan population in the 1980’s, with the help of the CIA, the Reagan administration, and the Israeli government, but his grip on power is now under threat as popular opposition to his government intensifies and demonstrations on the streets commence. Molina has so far refused to resign and the U.S. government, which still supports his rule, has yet to comment either on the accusations during the 1980’s nor the corruption scandal.

Beiruti citizens clash with police over rubbish collection: Discontent over an ongoing rubbish collection crisis have drawn thousands to the streets of Lebanon to call for the resignation of Prime Minister Tammam Salam and a resumption of public services. Salam’s government, which brings together Sunni, Shiite and Christian parties, has been subject to massive sectarian and ideological fractures since his election, stalling basic public utilities like gas and electric and, worst of all, hindering border security with ISIS-controlled territory in Syria. Protesters marched through the streets of Beirut as part of the You Stink campaign, which seeks a resumption of rubbish collection services, amidst a worsening hygiene crisis in the capital which has seen tonnes of rubbish piling up on the roadsides. Although the protests have been mainly peaceful, dozens have been injured in clashes with the police. Sick of the responsibility of governing his people, Salam has since threatened to resign.

Turkey joins anti-ISIS coalition: American officials have reached an agreement with Turkey to involve the latter’s military jets in the airstrike campaigns against ISIS, in what is being praised as a “significant step forward” in the fight against the group. Although Turkey has issued limited assaults against ISIS in the past, the agreement with the Americans marks a turning point in U.S.-Turkey relations, which have been somewhat icy in recent years. Despite now being a full member of the ISIS-coalition, Turkey remains preoccupied with targeting members of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) for their alleged attacks against Turkish military targets, despite being one of few groups in the region fighting tooth and nail to reclaim Syrian and Iraqi lands. Iran, which also possesses the capabilities and the desire to combat ISIS, has similarly been left out of the arrangement, making the U.S.-led effort to fight the group looking increasingly pointless and juvenile.

SYRIZA splits ahead of snap elections: Incumbent Greek party SYRIZA faced a breakaway movement this month after disaffected members rejected the austerity measures agreed to by Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras. The breakaway party, called Popular Unity, is opposed to its former party’s capitulations to the European financial institutions, whose experiments in Greece have seen the child poverty rate sky-rocket and the small business rate plummet, and consider SYRIZA’s agreement with the IMF to be a betrayal of the principles that got it elected. Popular Unity is comprised of 29 SYRIZA MPs and headed by former Energy Minister Panagiotis Lafazanis, and promises to undo the damage done by the IMF and to reject the new €86 billion bailout package, most of which is not expected to find its way to the Greek people. Tsipras previously resigned after a Parliamentary revolt in his party, and called a snap poll in order to strengthen his rule and gain a further mandate for austerity, despite running on a platform totally opposed to further harsh financial measures.


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