crisis of capitalism
As tens of thousands of activists from around the world converge on Tunisia for the World Social Forum, the annual anti-globalization confab, the country is facing a pending peckage of austerity measures as the condition of a $1.78 billion emergency loan from the International Monetary Fund—two years after economic misery sparked an uprising in the country that unleashed the Arab Revolutions. "We need to have economic reforms that work for the people, not for the global economy," Mabrouka Mbarek, a member of Tunisia's constituent assembly, told Al Jazeera. "It seems they have forgotten our history." (Al Jazeera, March 26)
Remember the incessant squawking a few years back, when oil prices were spiralling, about how we were approaching "peak oil"? Been mighty quiet from that set recently, hasn't it? Vince Beiser explains why in a piece called "The Deluge" in the Pacifc Standard, March 4:
The widely circulated fears of a few years ago that we were approaching "peak oil" have turned out to be completely wrong. From the Arctic to Africa, nanoengineered materials, underwater robots, side-scanning 3-D sonar, specially engineered lubricants, and myriad other advances are opening up titanic new supplies of fossil fuels, many of them in unexpected places—Brazil, Australia, and, perhaps most significantly, North America. "Contrary to what most people believe," declares a recent study from the Harvard Kennedy School, "oil supply capacity is growing worldwide at such an unprecedented level that it might outpace consumption."
More than 1,000 migrant workers in Shanghai went on strike and held 18 managers hostage for a day and a half following a dispute over the introduction of a draconian new disciplinary policy, which including strict time limits on bathroom breaks and fines for being late. Hundreds of riot police were mobilized to the Shanghai Shinmei Electric Company plant, after workers seized the complex Jan. 18 and held captive 10 Japanese nationals and eight Chinese managers. To give them a taste of their own medicine, the managers were prevented from using the toilet for the duration of their detention. They were released unharmed after the bosses agreed to withdraw the new speed-up policy, issued an apology for its introduction, and promised a pay raise. However, clashes broke out between workers and police after the managers were released, leaving several workers hospitalized, including with broken bones. (LibCom.org, Jan. 23; AP, Jan. 22; South China Morning Post, Jan. 21)
Some 3,000 marched in Athens Jan. 19, parading the coffin of a Pakistani immigrant who was stabbed to death earlier in the week by suspected right-wing extremists. The anti-racist demonstration gathered in the city’s central Omonia Square, holding banners reading "Neo-Nazis out" and "Punishment for the fascist murderers of Shehzad Luqman!" Immigrant Luqman, 27, was assaulted by two men on a motorcycle as he rode his bicycle to work in the Athens neighborhood of Petralona in the early hours of Jan. 16. Police discovered dozens of pamphlets from the ultra-nationalist Golden Dawn party in the home of one of the two men who confessed to the attack.
A wave of store lootings, the first in Argentina since 2001, started on Dec. 20 when people with covered faces broke into six supermarkets in San Carlos de Bariloche, in the southwestern province of Río Negro. At the request of local authorities, the center-left government of President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner sent 400 members of the Gendarmería militarized police to the city, which is best known as an Andean ski resort popular during the Southern Hemisphere's winter. The national government blamed small criminal gangs, while local authorities said anarchist groups were responsible.
Six people were injured Dec. 9 as Sudanese police used tear-gas against hundreds of student protesters near the University of Khartoum. The protesters—who chanted the iconic Arab Spring slogan "The people want to overthrow the regime"—were marching to demand justice in the case of four students from the Darfur region who were found drowned in a canal near the campus of Gezira University, south of the capital, on Dec. 7, after they had participated in protests against tuition hikes. The Khartoum protesters marched through the city center, chanting "Killing a student is killing a nation."
Protesters clashed with police in Slovenia's second city Maribor Dec. 3 in a march against austerity measures. Police said more than 20 were arrested and at least one officer was injured after some from a crowd of around 6,000 protesters threw rocks and fireworks. Protests began in the city last week to demand the resignation of Mayor Franc Kangler, who is accused of corruption. But over the weekend, deomstrations spread to the capital, Ljubljana, taking up general anti-austerity demands. Protests in Ljubljana and five other cities of small post-Yugoslav state were peaceful but large, bringing thousands to the streets.
Thousands of Bangladeshi workers blocked the streets of the Savar industrial zone near Dhaka Nov. 26, throwing stones at factories and smashing vehicles, to demand justice for 112 people killed in a garment factory fire. Responding to the protests, authorities two days later arrested three managers of the plant. Some 200 factories were closed for the day throughout the Ashulia industrial belt that rings the capital. Although the factory had a total of 335 fire extinguishers and 300 trained employees to fight fire in emergency situations, there was no visible efforts to douse the flames. The fire alarm went off, but witnesses say that a number of doors were locked by the management, preventing workers from escaping.