September 20th, 2014

Victory for the right wing in New Zealand

This Saturday’s (20) election in New Zealand has given a majority of parliament seats to the right-wing National Party, granting to Prime Minister John Key a third three-year term. The two largest opposition parties — Labor and Greens — lost votes, while the far-right New Zealand First grew and consolidated its position as fourth party.

September 19th, 2014

Australia detains terror suspects without charge

London-based daily The Guardian and The Sydney Morning Herald are confirming that the Australian police have detained without charges an undisclosed number of suspects, but are repeatedly refusing to disclose further information. In Australia, it is possible to detain suspects without charges for up to 14 days under the authority of emergency anti-terrorism legislation that is set to expire next year.

However, next week will likely see a vote on a government-sponsored bill that has opposition support and which will expand the extraordinary arrest powers for ten more years. The Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott, who is pushing for this legislation, took the opportunity on Friday (19) to criticize a small demonstration against the raids and terror laws that had happened the day before.

  • Paul Farrell. Terrorism suspects in detention: police won’t say how many are being held. 2014-09-19 The Guardian
  • Bridie Jabour. Terrorism raids: beheading attack could have taken place within days, says Tony Abbott says. 2014-09-19 The Guardian
  • David Wroe. Australian terrorism suspects held under powers introduced by Howard government. 2014-09-19 The Sydney Morning Herald

September 19th, 2014

United Kingdom saved

Despite victories in important cities such as Glasgow, secessionists will lose in Scotland as a whole. With more than half the votes counted and an almost eight-point lead for the No camp, the United Kingdom has been saved from dissolution and loss of nuclear weapons and gas fields.

More info

  • Scotland rejects independence with No vote set for victory 2014-09-19 The Guardian

September 19th, 2014

15 arrested in Australia due to terrorism threat

Australian police conducted their largest anti-terrorism operation of all time this Thursday (18), involving 800 agents to arrest 15 suspects of planning a beheading plot in conjunction with the Raqqa-based self-proclaimed caliphate commonly known by the acronym ISIS or ISIL. This would be the first of such gory executions performed by the Raqqa caliphate overseas.

Charges could only be confirmed against one of the suspects, the extant being either released (only two with orders show up in court later) or detained without charges. Another man was charged later that night with illegal ammunition possession, but released on bail.

The operation comes just a few days before the vote on the new anti-terrorism law, which critics such as the libertarian maverick Senator Leyonhjelm say will legalize torture by security forces. The bill had met opposition from the Australian Muslim community, who argued that Australia had not risen its terrorist threat level since 2001. This no longer holds true.

More info

  • Emma Partridge et al. Terror raids: 800 police, and only two men charged. 2014-09-19 Sydney Morning Herald
  • Bridie Jabour. Terrorism raids: ISIS ‘urging followers to behead Australians’, says PM. 2014-09-18 The Guardian
  • Paul Sheehan and Heath Aston. Anti-Terror laws will open door to torture, says Senator David Leyonhjelm. 2014-09-18 Sydney Morning Herald
  • Saffron Holden and Rachel Olding. Muslim leaders reject Tony Abbott’s proposed new terrorism laws. 2014-08-20 Sydney Morning Herald

September 18th, 2014

Brazil reported to attempt to enshrine gay rights in the UN

A draft resolution leaked today (18) to the Brazilian daily O Estado de S. Paulo suggests that the Brazilian government may attempt to enshrine protection against discrimination based on sexual orientation within the UN human rights framework. Such a move, which would face opposition especially among members of the OIC (Organization of Islamic Cooperation) has not been independently confirmed so far.

More info:

September 16th, 2014

Final leg of campaigning in Scotland

There are only two days left to the referendum in Scotland, with polls showing a persistent but indecisive advantage to the unionist camp. Many polls indicate a statistical draw.

In an attempt to keep the “No” vote in the lead, leaders of the three major parties in the UK signed today (16) a joint pledge to consolidate and expand the powers of the Scottish Parliament within a British state, albeit in vague terms. More importantly, they promised to keep under the regional body’s responsibility the matter of NHS (National Health System) funding. The Yes camp accuses the Westminster government of making cuts in the Scottish public health sector.

On the other side, documents leaked to the BBC indicate a budget crisis in the Scottish NHS. The public broadcaster and the No campaign quickly took this as an indication that there will be austerity measures to be taken by the pro-independence Scottish government of First Minister Alex Salmond  right after the vote. The documents, which are purported to be from a meeting on August 6th but only came to light this week, may benefit the No vote.

The BBC (which published the information together with The Herald, a newspaper that supports the maintenance of Scotland within the United Kingdom) is only one of the British institutions whose future would be uncertain in a post-independence country. Many supporters of the secessionist program highlight that it may be capable of putting an end to the expensive British nuclear weapons system, based on Scotland.

  • David Cameron, Ed Miliband and Nick Clegg sign… 2014-09-16 Daily Record
  • Eleanor Bradford. NHS in Scotland ‘faces £400m funding gap’ 2014-09-15 BBC News

September 15th, 2014

Fundamentalist booklet denounced in Brazilian campaign

Brazilian Representative Jean Wyllys, from the Socialism and Liberty Party (PSOL), denounced the distribution of extremist literature in the suburbs of Rio de Janeiro. The version of the document posted on the website of the weekly Carta Capital rages against abortion (which the authors try to link to Nazi policies), euthanasia (compared to gas chambers), regulated sex work (blamed, among others, on Communism), drug legalization (attributed to a “World Government” plot), land reform movements and a myriad of small environmental causes. Most of the ire, however, is directed to LGBT rights movements, which are blamed on an “anti-Christ.”

The booklet bears the name of a pair of state and national representative candidates, affiliated to two recently founded parties: Solidarity (SD), linked to centrist trade unions, and the rather obscure National Ecologist Party (PEN). Both, however, are preachers, and expressed support to the presidential candidacy of the poll-leading evangelical politician Marina Silva. Rep. Wyllys, currently the only openly gay congressman, demanded from Marina Silva’s campaign an explanation of whether they approved of such literature.

  • Jean Wyllys. Material pró-Marina chama Dilma e LGBTs de “anticristo”. 2014-09-14 Carta Capital