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This Week in the World

This Week in the World | 9.30.19

Hal Conte September 30, 2019

Illustration credit: Peter Naktin

French Ex-President Chirac Dead at 86

By Hal Conte

Jacques Chirac, president of France from 1995 to 2007, and prime minister twice, during the 1970s and 1980s, died on Thursday. A Gaullist, Chirac’s attempts to install Thatcherite economics after being elected as prime minister under Socialist François Mitterrand was met with backlash, and he and the right were only returned to power seven years later on a program of opposing ultra-liberal economic policies, which he then turned and attempted again but gave up after a massive general strike in November-December 1995. Re-elected in 2002 with over 80 percent of the vote against Jean-Marie Le Pen, Chirac gained international acclaim in 2003 for opposing the Iraq War. By now a fan of statist economic policies, a 55-45 defeat in a referendum on a European Constitution and suburban riots ended his career. In July, Vladimir Putin described him as the world leader whom he most admired.

Photo credit: Sipa

International Civil Society Slams UN-WEF Corporate Pact

By Hal Conte

Over 200 NGOs signed an open letter opposing what they described as “a privatized and undemocratic global governance” advanced by a new agreement between the United Nations and the World Economic Forum, often known as “Davos.” They say the deal provides multinational corporations preferential access over governments within the UN and threatens to undermine serious action against climate change given multinationals’ destruction of ecosystems, promotion of unsustainable agriculture, and war profiteering. As a result of the agreement, the WEF might promote market-based solutions to climate change and dodge accountability.

Low Turnout as Afghanis Vote in US-Backed Election

By Hal Conte

Just 25 percent of Afghanistan’s 9.5 million voters turned up at polls over the weekend as Taliban guerillas said they would target polling stations on election day. Turnout was 70 percent in 2004, but elections since then have never come close to that total. The current US-backed Afghanistan government is viewed by the Taliban and its supporters as an illegitimate US puppet regime. Among the candidates were representatives of the past 40 years of the country’s history: members of the 1979 Soviet-backed socialist government, a former Islamist prime minister from the 1990s, and an early U.S.-occupation-era women’s rights campaigner.

Photo credit: EFE

Haitians Rise Up in Mass Numbers Against Government, Price Increases

By Hal Conte

Some of the largest protests ever recorded in Haiti took place in Haiti on Friday, with barricades built and building set ablaze as tens of thousands of people armed with sticks and machetes demanded an end to the15-year-old U.S. backed government, which they described as neo-colonial. Current President Jovenel Moise has been unpopular for years, but shortages of food and oil and attempts to impose IMF reforms, along with allegations of corruption, were too much for many Haitians. Moise has reshuffled his cabinet with more pro-opposition figures and called for dialogue in response, but many protestors say he is unable to provide solutions.

Photo credit: Reuters

Deadly Collapse of Kenya School Draws Attention to Building Codes

By Hal Conte

Seven, and perhaps more, Kenyan sixth, seventh, and eighth-graders died as a wing of their school fell down completely while they were preparing for exams early in the morning on Monday. Equipment took over an hour to arrive and volunteers had to use their hands to rescue injured students. Government officials and private contractors have since been fingered by citizens who have described Precious Talent Top School as a deathtrap and buildings across the country as below quality standards, with only sheet metal used to support the school’s second floor. A parent of one uninjured student said that the greed of the school’s owner was “killing our children.”

Photo credit: AP

Tanzania Accused of Hiding Ebola Outbreak

By Hal Conte

Officials from the World Health Organization issued a statement Saturday claiming that Tanzania’s government is covering up cases of Ebola in the country, as three have been hospitalized across the country with symptoms and one testing positive. Tanzania has refused to allow secondary testing of samples in an outside laboratory. Experts consider the alleged lack of transparency to be a serious problem because it increases the potential that the virus, which has killed over 2,000, could spread more wildly. Suggested motivations for the government’s supposed coverup, which it strongly denies, could be the desire to maintain tourism in a country where 45 percent of all foreign revenue comes from the industry.

Photo credit: Getty