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Focus This Week in the World

This Week in the World | 12.09.19

Hal Conte December 9, 2019

Illustration credit: Peter Naktin

Protests And Strikes Against French President Macron Over Pension Reform

by Hal Conte

Plans by French President Emmanuel Macron to reform France’s pensions code, which includes 40 separate plans, into a single system, have run into quicksand as CGT trade unions, public sector workers and yellow vest protestors have demonstrated in the hundreds of thousands in marches throughout the country. Police teargassed protestors en masse on Thursday and Saturday and Macron’s main left-wing opponent and presidential rival, Jean-Luc Melenchon, was slapped with a prison sentence on Monday. The French government claims that the pension reforms will help keep the country competitive with the U.S. and China.

Image: AFP

Brazilian Pentecostal Ultras Attack Religious Minorities At Gunpoint

by Hal Conte

Evangelical terrorist gangs, including the far-right “Soldiers of Jesus,” are on the rise in Brazil in a challenge to Catholicism. Bearing Israeli flags, gangsters have killed priests and stoned children, but their real target is the country’s Afro-Brazilian religious minorities, violence of whom has multiplied over ten times since last year. The Soldiers of Jesus have invaded Candomblé temples and forced priestesses to burn down their own artifacts. Pentecostal extremists have been tolerated and even endorsed by President Jair Bolsonaro, and TV shows are flooded with televangelists.

Image: Washington Post

Sanna Martin, 34-Year Old Social Democrat, Becomes Youngest World Leader

by Hal Conte

Finland’s five-party coalition government has elected Sanna Martin, formerly minister for transport, as prime minister, making her the youngest premier in the world. A leftist who plans to reverse years of austerity policies in the country and cut income inequality, Martin came to power after the country’s postal service successfully fought off an attempt to cut their wages. The economically liberal Centre Party voted out Antti Rinni, a trade unionist, for alleged lack of leadership. The Centre Party and the other parties in the coalition – the Left Alliance, the Green League, and the Swedish People’s Party – are also led by women.

Image: EPA-EFE

Corporate Front Generator Used By Global Super-Rich Unearthed

by Hal Conte

A “notorious and suspicious” corporation, Formations House, has been exposed as a mass generator of front companies and legal firms for billionaires, with some 400,000 phoney companies created. The London-based corporation has allowed oil oligarchs, an African dictator, the Italian mafia, Swedish Hell’s Angels, and car smugglers in Eastern Europe. Formations House readymade companies were also used to fool investors into taking out loans with shell groups using fake brochures and made-up characters claiming wealth and nobility. Even the corporation’s London headquarters is a lie: the company is in reality run out of Pakistan.

Image: Formations House

Documents Expose Years Of U.S. Lies On Afghanistan War

by Hal Conte

Top U.S. generals and officials from the Bush, Obama, and Trump administrations said they “lacked a basic understanding of Afghanistan” and “did not know what [they] were doing” in a massive trove of documents published by the Washington Post and added that “The American people have been constantly fooled.” The papers detail U.S. incompetence, waste and public relations spin during the course of the war, which has been going on for over 18 years. Just last year, over 5,000 children were killed or wounded as part of the conflict. U.S. wars against Muslim countries were cited by an Islamist mass shooter who killed three at a U.S. air base earlier in the week as a reason for his attack.

Image: Washington Post

Boycotts, Controversy Swirl Around Nobel Prize For Literature

by Hal Conte

Austrian fiction writer Peter Handke, who is set to be given the Nobel Prize for Literature, has been subject to a torrent of criticism for his opposition to NATO airstrikes against the Serbian government during the 1990s-era Balkan Wars and for appearing at the funeral of Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic, a convicted war criminal. Kosovo and Albania, which opposed Serbia during the war, are boycotting the ceremony. An Albanian ambassador said the award gives credit an apologist for “the ‘butcher of the Balkans,’ who led so many mass atrocities during the bloody collapse of the former Yugoslavia.” Handke’s supporters say that he had spoken out due to his antiwar views and support for the old multi-ethnic Yugoslavia.