News from Around the Globe, September 7, 2012 Stories of interest from around the globe presented for those who find the American media’s ‘news’ sorely lacking.
South Africa – continuing coverage of the Marikana miner’s strike….
The Union representing the workers striking against the Lomnin Company, is at odds with a majority of its members. Union leaders are asking that its members return to work on Monday, before contract negotiations begin with the Lomnin Company. However, the majority of union members at the Lomnin Marikana mine strike are refusing to return to work until Lomnin begins negotiations. The company has not offered any counter proposals to worker demands of improved safety and increased salaries. Instead, the company says that workers must return to work before negotiations can begin. Currently, workers earn an average of 4000 – 5000 Rand and are asking for a base salary of 12,500 Rand. The Lomnin Company is the world’s 3rd largest producer of platinum.
On September 6, 2012 the final group of 106 miners was released from jail and the murder charges against them dropped. The State had used an Apartheid era law to charge the 270 miners with murder for their participation during the August 16, 2012 riot in which police killed 34 strikers.
Representatives of the FARC have announced that in October they will ask the Colombian government for a ceasefire. The FARC (Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia, or The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia)was formed in 1964 and has been fighting the longest continuous insurgency in South America. The last serious peace talks (1998 – 2002) between the government and FARC are widely viewed as a failure. The government is dismissing the idea of new peace talks and most observers do not believe that the latest proposed peace talks will yield any progress. FARC has lost much popularity with the majority of Colombians as their involvement in the drug trade (the primary source of FARC’s financing) and their use of child soldiers has increased.
An interesting opinion piece from a Mexican perspective on the above story concerning the peace talks in Colombia between the FARC and the Colombian government.
Russia is one of my favorite countries in the world. I find it absolutely fascinating. The literature is powerful, the people unbreakable and the landscape harsh but beautiful. After the fall of communism I think that there existed a very narrow window of opportunity for Russia to become a true democracy. However, many different events, from DeBeers blacklisting Russian diamonds to America’s own unresolved cold war fears, allowed the opportunity to slip away, and Russia continued on its familiar path of dictatorial governments. Last month, three of the members of the band Pussy Riot were sentenced to jail, ostensibly for engaging in hooliganism, but actually for singing songs that were anti-religious. Strangely, the religious community is one of Putin’s more ardent supporters. Now, everyone wants to sue Pussy Riot for the pain and suffering caused by the band’s anti religious songs. In the above story a Russian court has dismissed the first of several lawsuits filed by people claiming to have been emotionally damaged by the Pussy Riot’s music. Of course, I think that millions of Americans would have happily sent the Dixie Chicks to Guantanamo if the opportunity had presented itself.
Although only 15000 to 20000 Roma live in France, they are a source of constant debate for Europe’s second largest country which has a population of 65 million. While reading this article I could not help but hear echoes of our own country's debate on illegal immigrants. The French Roma come primarily from Bulgaria and Romania. They say that they cannot return to those countries as only poverty awaits them there. The French government is proposing new laws which will make it easier for the Roma to find legal work.
The always calm and reasonable Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu says that he is ‘at his wit’s end’ with U.S.‘s stance on Iran. I simply cannot understand how anyone thinks that an attack on Iran is a good idea, however, it seems that there are plenty in the let’s go to war camp. Old men do love their wars.