Sunday news round-up: September 7th-13th

Top Story: UN votes to raise Palestinian flag at Manhattan headquarters: Just days after Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu met with protests during his visit to London, the UN overwhelmingly approved hoisting a Palestinian flag at its headquarters in New York City. The move, proposed weeks ago by Palestinians seeking symbolic recognition of their liberation struggle, was met with 119 ‘yea’ votes, 45 abstentions (mostly European nations), and 29 ‘nay’ votes, including usual suspects Israel and the United States. Breaking from the status quo, the following European countries voted in favour of the resolution: France, Sweden, Italy, Spain, Ireland, Slovenia, Luxembourg, Belgium, Malta and Poland. Despite a mere symbolic victory, the reception to the resolution within the Israeli government has been typically hostile, with a failed diplomatic assault taking place in the weeks preceding to the vote in order to persuade countries to vote against it. One wonders why so-called advocates of a two-state solution like Netanyahu and UN Ambassador Samantha Powers would vote against the hoisting of a flag for Palestine, given that it will be one of the two resulting states…

Progressives elected to lead Labour for first time in decades: Labour voters have chosen progressive left-wing candidates to head major positions within the party for the first time since 1982. Results were announced this week that place housing reformist Saddiq Khan as Labour’s London mayoral candidate, Tom Watson as the party’s deputy leader, and socialist Jeremy Corbyn as the leader of the party. The results were announced on Saturday to a special Labour conference broadcast live on television, and show a noticeable shift back to the left for the party, which as of late has embraced neoliberalism. Tom Watson won the deputy leadership on the first round of voting, while frontrunner Corbyn won his nomination with 59% of the vote in the first round, with right-wing candidate Liz Kendall gaining a dismal 4.5% of the vote. In his victory speech, Corbyn attacked the media for its unprofessional character assassinations of politicians’ family members, criticized the aggressive militarism of the government, and promised to attend a rally for refugees later today. Several right-wing members of the Shadow Cabinet promptly resigned after the results were announced, including the unprofessional joker Jaime Reed and Tristam Hunt.

Rich Gulf states slammed for apathy toward refugees: Rich and powerful governments like Saudi Arabia faced criticism this week for apparently ignoring the ongoing refugee crisis, despite often having ties to the militias involved. A hashtag on Twitter titled #ArabConscience sprang up this week in response to news that Gulf states have been implementing grossly unfair and restrictive laws towards asylum seekers and refugees, even though they are home to a sizeable portion of the world’s wealth and have no shortage of job opportunities. While some have criticized implicated Western governments of doing too little, and rightly so, less has so far been said about the role of Saudi Arabia, a key European ally, in fuelling the rise of ISIS through its monetary network, and its indifference towards the suffering of refugees in Yemen too. Questions have also been raised as to why already encumbered states like Jordan and Lebanon have been left to take in millions of refugees, despite not having the wealth of resources that places like Qatar and the UAE have.

Putin confirms involvement in Syrian civil war: Russian President Vladimir Putin has confirmed suspicions that Russia is training and aiding forces loyal to Bashar Al-Assad, amidst the flames of the Syrian civil war. Putin admits that Russian forces are providing logistical support to the state’s forces, as well as military equipment, but called the opportunity for Russian ground troops “premature”. Putin claims that a resolution to the Syrian civil war cannot be done without Assad, and the example of Iraq seems to suggest that a regime change during this crisis will only destabilize Syria further. President Obama had little to say about the revelations, only pointing out that if evidence of chemical weapon attacks by the Assad regime are confirmed, Russia should “put a stop” to its support of his regime. The revelation of Russian involvement comes just days after Wikileaks founder Julian Assange told Russia Today that leaked cables show an intent by Washington to depose Assad as far back as 2006, by making his government paranoid and prone to outbursts of violence. As of this month, Assad’s forces have killed more civilians in the civil war than the Free Syrian Army and ISIS combined.

1.4 million people rally for Catalan independence in Barcelona: Over one million people draped in Catalan flags took to the streets of Barcelona this week, ahead of a poll which will act as a litmus test for independence. The rally, nicknamed the ‘Gateway to the Catalan Republic’ was welcomed by Jordi Sanchez, President of the Catalan National Assembly, and featured a giant symbolic arrow to point the way to an independent state, and was marched to the doors of the Catalan Parliament. Catalonian voters will head to the polls on September 27th to choose their new legislature, but the vote is seen as a high indication of whether the region desires independence. According to RT, the pro-independence Together for Yes coalition “is expected to win a majority of at least 68 seats in the 135-seat regional assembly”, a clear mandate for independence.

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