HRW calls for investigation.
China (EAN) – It’s not often that the leaders of democracies like Switzerland and Spain gather with the heads of repressive regimes like North Korea and Uzbekistan, but it seems no one wants to miss China’s coming-out party for its “One…
This year’s lowlights from world politics, the culture wars, and the military-industrial complex.
Each year Conn Hallinan gives awards to individuals, companies, and governments that make reading the news a daily adventure. Here are the awards for 2016.
The Golden Lemon Award had a number of strong contenders in 2016, including:
General Atomics for its MQ-9 Reaper armed drone, which has a faulty starter-generator that routinely shorts out the aircraft. So far, no one can figure out why. Some 20 were either destroyed or sustained major damage last year. The Reapers costs $64 million apiece.
Panavia Aircraft Company’s $25 billion Tornado fighter-bomber that can’t fly at night because the cockpit lights blind the pilot. A runner up here is the German arms company Heckler & Koch, whose G-36 assault rifle can’t shoot straight when the weather is hot.
The British company BAE’s $1.26 billion Type 45 destroyer that breaks down “whenever we try to do too much with them,” a Royal Navy officer told the Financial Times. Engaging in combat, he said, would be “catastrophic.”
A Spanish wetland stopover for six million migratory birds is poised to become the first European Union site placed on UNESCO’s List of World Heritage in Danger.
Today is the deadline set by UNESCO for Spain to address threats to Doñana National Park in order to keep the site off the in danger list.
According to a WWF assessment, the country’s government has failed to cancel the destructive dredging of the Guadalquivir River as requested by the UNESCO World Heritage Committee. The committee urged the Spain to cancel the project and not to permit any future plans to deepen the river.
Five years ago Spain’s ‘indignados’ or the 15M movement erupted onto the scene in the context of a political and socio-economic crisis resulting from successive corruption scandals, social welfare cuts, and largescale privatization of public services. 2011 saw an intensive period of social mobilization with widespread grassroots participation, alternative forms of horizontal organization, and thousands of people talking to each other in citizen assemblies in the main squares and marching in the streets across the country.
Instead of listening to popular demands, the government proceeded to develop new laws aimed at limiting citizen protests, namely restricting the freedom of assembly and expression. Faced with the prospect of the so-called Gag Laws, civil society activists came together to create a new space for action. The result was “No Somos Delito”, translating as “We are not a crime”, a platform of civil society organizations formed in late 2013 to raise awareness of the Gag Laws and campaign against their implementation. Acts of peaceful resistance such as opposing home evictions or publishing images of police abuses are now heavily penalized.
Up to 800,000 of people in five towns have gathered to call for speedup of separation of Catalonia from Spain, taking the movement to a new level.
Hundreds of thousands of Catalonians have gathered in five different towns of Spanish autonomous community to encourage the speeding up of the process of breakaway from Spain, to which central government is fiercely opposed, according to reports of local media.
The European left can’t catch a break. There is more sad news from Spain. After the December 2015 elections shattered the traditional two-party system, and six months of failed negotiations detonated a call for re-elections, the new left coalition, Unidos Podemos, has failed to meet the number of seats that all polls had lined up for them. Last night, Pablo Iglesias’s plan to ‘take the heavens by storm’ has suffered a major setback since Podemos’s meteoric rise began two years ago.
1. Great expectations, mediocre results.
The polls didn’t even get the voter turnout right, which remained higher than assumed (69%). But the real problem came in estimating the vote transfers of left-wing voters.
For weeks, polls were suggesting a low mobilisation of centre-ground parties and a sharp polarisation on both ends of the ideological spectrum. The 7.30pm exit polls confirmed these expectations and projected a whopping 95 seats for Unidos Podemos (up from a combined 71 in December), overtaking centre-left rival PSOE (the party of old social democracy) – the main objective of these re-elections. Three hours later, as results started coming in, this didn’t happen: Unidos Podemos had stagnated at 71 seats and lost over a million votes. Against all odds, PSOE has somehow resisted the encroachment of the anti-austerity radicals and defended the throne of the parliamentary left.
Spain must end the overuse of underground water that is deteriorating the natural habitats of Doñana National Park, the European Commission has warned this week.
Spain has two months to improve the critical state of the underground deposits of water that feed Doñana, one of Europe’s most important wetlands and a UNESCO World Heritage site.