Sunday news round-up: October 19th-25th

Top Story: Wikileaks releases “The Brennan Emails”: Whistle-blowing website Wikileaks has obtained emails from a non-governmental email account used by current CIA Director John Brennan, just days after a pro-Palestine teenager broke into his account. Of the emails released so far, one consists of a letter from Vice Chairman Bond which suggests keeping torture of terror suspects within the scope of the Geneva Conventions, and urges relevant parties to develop new ways to “interrogate” suspects in the future. Another email is one written by Brennan himself before the 2009 Presidential election, addressing whoever wins on “the conundrum of Iran”. Brennan urges a more moderate approach to Iran, and is keen to point out the consequences of Bush-era aggression towards it, but finishes off with a suspicious piece of advice when dealing with the Iranians: “Hold out meaningful carrots, as well as sticks”. Among other things, Brennan has been a key apologist for Obama’s drone strike programme, and has lied on several occasions about the civilian casualties that have resulted from it. More emails are expected to be released in the coming days.

Netanyahu suggests Palestinians responsible for Holocaust: The Butcher of Gaza stepped up his anti-Palestine rhetoric again this week, suggesting at the World Zionist Congress that the Palestinian leadership in the late 1930’s successfully initiated the Holocaust by getting Adolf Hitler to change his stance on Jewish extermination. Netanyahu suggested that in the run-up to the Second World War, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Amin al-Hussein, successfully convinced the Nazi leader to exterminate Jews in Europe rather than just expel them, out of supposed fears on the Mufti’s part that if they were only expelled they would come to Palestine. Despite being resoundingly rejected by mainstream historians (the mass murder of Jews began five months before Hitler met with the Mufti), this isn’t the first time Netanyahu has attempted to whitewash the Nazis to attack the Palestinians, suggesting in a 2012 Knesset speech that Palestinian leaders were pushing for the Final Solution. Twitter reacted very negatively to the PM’s comments, with commentators like Mehdi Hasan accusing him of using the Holocaust to score political points (something he has made a career out of).

UN inspectors to arrive “within days” to investigate UK government: The UK will soon be the first nation on Earth to be subject to an international investigation over its treatment of disabled people. UN investigators are expected to land on UK soil soon to conduct a probe into whether the government’s disabled benefits cuts are a “systematic and grave” violation of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which was established in 2008. The convention grants disabled persons the unequivocal right to freedom, equality, respect and dignity, but disabled charities argue that the government has barred access to these rights through its pernicious austerity policies, which have seen severely disabled people declared ‘fit for work’ and had their benefits reduced, or, in some cases, stopped entirely. The suicide rate relating to the work capability assessment has been subject to some debate since the Conservatives came into office, with around 6,000 people committing suicide some time after being declared fit for work. The Department of Work and Pensions “strongly rejects” claims that its policies have negatively affected disabled people, and will introduce a new round of cuts in 2017.

Mexico braces for strongest hurricane on record: Bearing winds of over 165mph, one of the strongest storms on record has begun to make landfall on the Pacific Coast. Tens of thousands of Mexican people were evacuated late Friday night as the unstoppable torrent named Hurricane Patricia approached, amidst warnings that it could be “potentially catastrophic”. Evacuees hid in schools and other public buildings as the storm announced itself, and the Mexican government now expects to ship out over 390,000 tonnes of food to displaced people. Mexico’s private airlines will also couple themselves with government rescue missions to fly people out of endangered areas free of charge. Despite being one of the strongest storms ever recorded, Mexico has wasted no time in creating evacuation and rescue plans, in stark contrast to the negligence and stupidity of the Bush Administration’s response to Hurricane Katrina. It is thought that some, if not most, of any loss of life may be avoided by careful planning alone.

A decade of Conservative rule ended in Canadian election: Stephen Harper, who has been Prime Minister of Canada since 2006, has been ousted in one of Canada’s most decisive general elections for years. The Conservative Party has taken a serious beating, handing victory to the centrist Liberal Party, headed by Justin Trudeau. The left-wing New Democratic Party also failed to rally its troops and secure electoral victory, leading many commentators to see the election as a victory for centrism, common ground, and moderate politics. Despite being the leader of the “Liberal” Party, incoming Prime Minister Trudeau has a mixed record amongst progressives. He now promises three years of intentional budget deficits in order to invest in infrastructure, and promises to make the 1% pay their fair share. However, he is notably hostile to the Palestinian right of self-determination, Tweeting back in March that a discussion about Israeli apartheid or BDS has “no place” in Canadian universities. Trudeau has also promised to remove Canadian fighter jets from Iraq and Syria, and is in talks with U.S. President Barack Obama to finalize Canadian withdrawal from the ISIS missions.


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