Sunday news round-up: October 5th-11th

Top Story: Trans-Pacific Partnership finalized by world powers: One of the gravest threats to democracy and open internet, the TTP trade deal, has been signed by negotiating powers, signalling the first steps towards implementing its thus-far secretive clauses. The specifics of the deal have remained sealed off from public scrutiny or parliamentary oversight, but revelations from whistleblowers reveal worrying passages that undermine democratic elements. Among them is a deliberately vague clause that makes it an offence to reveal corporate wrongdoing by posting details on the internet, while another forces firms like Facebook and YouTube to remove any content that garners at least one complaint from governments. There are also allegations that TTP allows states to confiscate personal property with reduced probable cause if alleged copyright infringement is suspected. Despite being signed and covering 40% of the world’s economy, the specifics of the deal will not be revealed to the public for years.

Ankara peace rally bombed by unknown assailants: Videos have emerged of a peace rally in the Turkish capital of Ankara suffering explosions that have killed nearly one hundred people. Several left-wing pro-Kurdish groups were gathered in Ankara to call for an end to hostilities between the Turkish state and Kurdish groups in the South-East, who have long been a persecuted minority in the country, when suicide bombers erupted in the middle of gathered crowds. Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu initiated three days of national mourning for the victims and called for the country to rally together in its fight against terrorism, while it is reported that President Barack Obama spoke with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to reaffirm their security ties. Although Turkey claims to be preoccupied with fighting ISIS at the border with Syria, it has thus-far dedicated more time trying to eradicate Kurdish resistance groups, making the timing of the bombings suspicious. No group has yet claimed responsibility for the bombings.

Footage shows Israelis impersonating Palestinians and throwing stones: Damning footage has emerged of Israeli police officers participating in violence in order to destabilize the political situation in Palestine. A Reuters correspondent snapped the footage – which shows Israelis dressed in Palestinian resistance garb throwing stones – accompanied by revelations that Israeli forces routinely disguise themselves to motivate actual Palestinians to partake in acts of civil disobedience. According to The Electronic Intifada’s Ali Abunimah, the footage shows “the “Palestinian stonethrowers” suddenly pull out guns and turn on the other Palestinians, revealing themselves as Israeli agents”. Under international law, it’s not clear whether these impersonation tactics are entrapment (inducing law-abiding Palestinians to break the law), or simply a covert attempt at shoring up an illegal occupation by baiting the resistance movements out into the open.

Impeachment draws nearer for besieged Brazilian President: Brazil’s federal accounts court, the TCU, has ruled that Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff does not have impunity amidst an ongoing fraud scandal, leaving her government open to the possibility of impeachment. The unanimous ruling, the first against a head of state in nearly 80 years, is not legally binding, but establishes that Rousseff’s government deliberately manipulated its accounts amidst an election where she was facing the possibility of being ousted. In short, Rousseff and her government stands accused of faking prosperity in the government accounts to make her more popular in the run up to the 2014 election, which she eventually won. The ruling is a severe blow to the moderately left-wing regime, which now faces the possibility of impeachment by the centrist opposition party, the Brazilian Social Democracy Party. Rousseff’s party, the Workers’ Party, has experienced a slow withering of power since its landslide in 2002, where it won all but one state, and is expected to lose the next election.

Russian forces reportedly destroy 40% of ISIS’s infrastructure: Russian military forces have made a mockery of Western intervention in Iraq and Syria by severely debilitating ISIS’s power in the space of a few days. Syria’s Ambassador to Russia, Riad Haddad, estimates that nearly half of ISIS’s infrastructure has been damaged or irreparably destroyed since Putin gave the go-ahead for intervention, with cruise missiles and warships making it extremely difficult for the rogue group to plunder and pillage as it had done previously. Western media outlets have sent themselves into a dizzy spin to find any strategic flaws in Russian intervention, but the superpower has done more damage to terror networks in a few weeks than U.S. forces have done since 2003. Despite his impressive military might, Putin faces criticism from some human rights activists for supporting the al-Assad regime, which to date has killed over 179,000 civilians since the 2011 uprisings. Despite this, Putin remains clear that Assad is the only key to resolving the civil war.


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