News from Around the Globe, September 23, 2012
The following is an assortment of current news stories from around the world.
South Africa ….analysis and fallout of Marikana strike
When the Lonmin mining company accepted the worker’s demands of wage increases and improved safety standards; they ended the strike that had brought their platinum production to a complete halt. Now, many South African businesses fear that other workers will demand wage increases. The above article is an opinion piece from a South African daily. The writer is of the opinion that the workers were greedy (wanting a wage increase higher than the current inflation rate), the unions corrupt (one union leader actually has the audacity to drive a nice car – instead of walking barefoot everywhere I suppose), and that Lonmin sat a bad precedent for other industries. The comments after the article are the typical conservative talking points one would find at any American conservative website. Tough reading, I recommend lots of breaks.
A rare South African business article that cites an economist who says the strike was a good tactic for the workers. Most South African business articles focus on how bad a strike is for the workers, and the country as a whole. However, this article actually has an economist who explains how the workers benefitted from the use of the strike. The article does include the standard language that the strike was illegal. Labeling strikes as illegal is standard in South African news reports.
Nigeria.....Islamists continue attacks.
The Islamist group Boko Haram (which means: Western Education is Sacriledge) claimed responsibility for attacks on two Christian Churches that killed five, and left an unidentified number injured. Nigeria is a country with a population of approximately 160 million. The two primary religions of the country are Islam and Christianity. The country is almost evenly divided between Christians (who live primarily in the South and Muslims who live primarily in Northern Nigeria) and Muslims. In 2011 Boko Haram was responsible for more than 420 deaths, and in 2012 they have already killed more than 600 people. Boko Haram was founded in 2001 and seeks to establish Sharia Law in Nigeria. In August of this year, the Nigerian government attempted to establish formal talks with Boko Haram to bring an end to the violence. However, since the group is extremely decentralized with no formal leadership structure, the talks have yet to yield any real results.
From Afghanistan….China moves in as we move out.
The Chinese government has just signed a number of economic and security agreements with the government of Afghanistan. By 2014 the majority of NATO combat forces will be withdrawn from Afghanistan. China is eager to exploit the mineral resources of Afghanistan and has moved in to secure their claims to the country’s resources.
From Switzerland…..Voters support Second Hand smoke and mandatory musical education.
Swiss voters soundly rejected an outright ban of smoking in many public places, primarily, restaurants and bars, but passed a measure that calls for mandatory musical education.
As in America, the restaurants waged a campaign of disinformation, claiming that the tougher smoking rules would harm their businesses. In my opinion (and I’m a former smoker who still occasionally falls off the wagon), smoking rules are about labor rights. No worker should be subjected to second hand smoke as part of their job duties. Swiss voters also approved a measure ensuring that Swiss children will receive formal music education.
From Belarus….Europe’s last dictator endorses sham vote.
Belarus’ dictator, Alexander Lukashenko, is hoping that today’s fake elections will give his government the odor of legitimacy he craves. Belarus opposition parties are calling on voters to go fishing, mushroom hunting or any other activity except participate in today’s parliamentary election. Opponents of Lukashenko are calling today’s election a sham, saying that Lukashenko is merely seeking a rubber stamp parliament which will allow him to continue his dictatorial rule. Lukashenko, who has a record of human rights abuses which include arresting and jailing his opponents, has ruled the country of 9 million since 1994. In recent years the Lukashenko regime has had strained relations with the United States and the European Union.
From Fiji….new constitution being drafted, ideas sought from citizens.
Fiji has been experiencing political unrest for years. Much of this unrest is ethnic in nature, with power being fought over between indigenous Fijians, Indian immigrants, and descendents of Europeans and Chinese. In 2006 the military took over the country. In 2009 a State of Emergency was issued which consolidated all power in the hands of the military. In January of 2012, the State of Emergency was lifted and the government began work on drafting a new constitution. Input on the new constitution is being sought from the citizens of Fiji. Hopefully, the constitution will provide the framework for a workable government which represents the interests of all Fijians.