Will the Postponement of the Tokyo Olympics Plunge Japan Into Severe Recession?

Will the Postponement of the Tokyo Olympics Plunge Japan Into Severe Recession?

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) took the unprecedented decision of postponing the Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympic Games due to the outbreak of coronavirus and in the face of ever-growing pressure from athletes and national Olympic committees. Athletes and fans are disappointed but this was a necessary step to further prevent the spread of COVID-19 disease. With the exception of the two world wars, the Olympic games had never been cancelled or postponed since they began in their modern guise in 1896.

 

It was expected that the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games would have a positive economic impact on Japan. The revenue would have been approximately 20 trillion Japanese yen in the Tokyo Prefecture alone and about 32 trillion yen nationwide. These unforeseen circumstances due to the crisis following the world-engulfing COVID-19 pandemic came as a nasty blow to Japan. The Japanese government had expected everlasting social, economic and cultural benefits from measures taken towards the success of the Tokyo 2020 games.

 

Fitch Solutions said in a report that the postponement or cancellation of the Tokyo Olympics Games could deal “a huge blow to Japan’s economy and prestige. Although the Japanese government would not necessarily be viewed negatively for postponing or cancelling the games, it would rob Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of a potential major national celebration in 2020 as he prepares to step down in September 2021,” the analysts said in a note dated March 17th, 2020. Conversely, if the Olympic games had not been postponed, it could have upset a significant part of the population who feared a second wave of infection, as Japan would have had to welcome athletes, staff and tourists from all around the world.

 

The government also projected about a 12 trillion yen long-term demand through projects which would be carried out before and after the opening of the 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games. These include the use of permanent facilities and the Olympic village, urban development of the city, expansion of the sports and culture industry, as well as the stimulation of the tourism industry. The direct increase in demand was estimated at around two trillion yen, generated by investment and expenditure directly connected to the Olympic and Paralympic games. This investment included constructing permanent venues, developing energy infrastructure, establishing security precautions and managing public relations. Furthermore, an increase in new employment of about 1.94 million people in the country was also anticipated. According to the Financial Times, the economic growth in developed countries that have hosted the Olympics since 1992 show the strongest growth in the years ahead of the Games as money is spent on infrastructure and investment. The actual year of the Games by itself delivers only a limited boost mostly due to the influx of tourists from around the world.

 

Therefore, postponement of the games is unlikely to cause serious economic harm. However, the economic recovery for the rest of the year definitely depends on the course of the coronavirus containment measures. It is predicted that Japan would expect a  5% dip in GDP if Tokyo moves to a full lockdown as claimed by Waqas Adenwala, Asia analyst at EIU. Japanese authorities, like their global counterparts, have introduced measures to soften the economic hit from the outbreak. These measures will be welcomed during a time of great uncertainty that the nation is facing.

 

 

 

Photo by Charles Deluvio on Unsplash

 

 

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Greenwashing Austerity: What Do Young Greens Feel About the New Government?

The General Election of February 2020 feels like a world away now. Not only do the pre-social distancing days seem like a weird alternative universe, but also the hopes for radical change which many, particularly young, people dared to hold as they headed to the ballot box are starting to seem like a crazy dream. As the coalition of Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and the Green Party settle into the Dáil, the political landscape of the next five years is beginning to come into focus.

Survival of the richest: As Brazil’s COVID death toll mounts, its president celebrates his own recovery.

Brazil has been devastated by over 2 million Coronavirus cases and more than 90,000 deaths, second only to the United States. In spite of these alarming figures the country’s far right president Jair Bolsonaro has regularly dismissed the severity of the disease, calling it a “little flu”, and boasting that his athletic background would save him from becoming seriously ill should he contract the virus. Bolsonaro was later held to this claim on 7 July when the president tested positive for COVID-19.

Honk Kong’s New Security Law

When Britain returned the former colony to China in 1997, it marked the beginning of Beijing’s attempts to re-integrate Hong Kong. The introduction of a new national security law signifies a more forceful and legally binding step in the removal of Hong Kong’s independence and autonomy.

The Forgotten Generation: The Children of Yemen

The largest humanitarian crisis in the world is occurring in Yemen right now, and the world is still glossing over it. Five years of war, pitting the internationally-recognised government backed by a Saudi-led coalition against the Iran-aligned Houthi rebels – and civilians are the ones who continue to bear the brunt of the conflict.

The West Bank Annexation

On May 5 2020, Benjamin Netanyahu was sworn in for his fifth term as Prime Minister of Israel. Among his campaign pledges was the proposed annexation of the West Bank. This annexation poses a serious threat to the long-sought two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The West Bank, and more specifically the Jordan Valley, is considered pivotal to the survival of a future Palestinian state among Palestinians.

New Government, Old Tricks: Women In Irish Politics

The 33rd Dáil saw Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin elected as Taoiseach in the midst of a coalition of Fianna Fáil, Fianna Gael and the Greens. However, despite the historic nature of the abandonment of Civil War politics, that age-old discrepancy in the representation of women in politics continues: out of a Cabinet of sixteen, only four female Ministers have been appointed.

UCDVO Development series: Review of Gaza, Push and For Sama

UCDVO Development series: Review of Gaza, Push and For Sama

The 8th UCDVO Development Film Series began on the 27th January and will continue until February 2020. The series includes 5 high-quality feature documentary films on subjects relating to global justice and development issues. The event’s highlight is that each screening is followed by a guest speaker with an opportunity for an open discussion. This takes place over 5 consecutive Monday evenings.

 

 

Gaza 

The series began with the screening of Gaza. This angry and heartfelt documentary truly captures the sense of ordinary life. As quoted by the taxi driver in the documentary, “Most of the people here are ordinary people like me. They just want to be left alone to live their lives. They just want to take care of their families and educate their children.”

 

The opening credits give a geographical and a brief history of the narrow strip of Mediterranean coastline bordered by Israel and Egypt that is home to nearly 2 million Palestinians.  The Islamic resistance movement Hamas came to power over the course of three elections and has been governing Gaza since 2007. Since then, Israel has imposed a blockade on Gaza, completely sealing its borders. The  film was shot during the Israeli war in 2014 and the border protests in 2018. Gaza, directed by Garry Keane and Andrew McConnell, received a complex reaction in some quarters when it premiered at Sundance in 2019. Some criticize that it only fleetingly mentions Hamas, while others found it to be manipulative.It is important to ponder the reason behind why an immobile child is shown with her eyes closed and the audience is encouraged to think she is dead but in a later scene, she opens her eyes.

 

However, Gaza definitely tries to avoid direct political engagement. The film shows ordinary people courageously going on with  their lives despite living in some of the most challenging conditions in the world. A young woman practises the cello, a young man records rap tracks, a theatre director rehearses a performance piece, a fisherman broods over the oppression of his industry – they are not allowed to fish more than three miles out, and the amount of fish that can be caught so close to shore is pitifully meagre. The film also showcases Deir Al- Balah, Gaza’s smallest refugee camp which hosts about  21,000 refugees who fled from villages in central and southern Palestine as a consequence of the 1948 Arab-Israeli war. This is where the audience is introduced to the largest family in Gaza where Ahmed Abu Alqoraan and his 13 brothers and 23 sisters live.

 

The film is a striking piece of film-making. Beautifully shot by McConnell as he manages to capture stunning images that draw out the characters we are introduced to during the film. The images are powerful enough to set forth the mood and intent. Unfortunately, the intrusive score tips the film more so towards manipulation rather than observation. I didn’t want the background score to direct me to think or feel in a particular way, I wanted to feel this emotion myself from the scenes that were unfolding. 

 

Watch the trailer here

 

 

Push

Push documents UN Special Rapporteur on Adequate Housing, Leilani Farha, as she travels the world in an attempt to figure out the reason behind the housing crisis. The documentary rightly explores why housing is considered to be a market instead of a fundamental human right. Push offers a worldwide wake-up call as it examines  the rapidly shifting patterns in the “financialisation” of housing. This crisis, as the film suggests, goes behind gentrification and the concept of financialisation was an eyeopener to me! Private equity firms are now the biggest landlords and houses are considered to be the assets. As prices go up while income stays the same, people are being pushed out of their homes and governments don’t seem to do anything about it. This has become a worldwide phenomenon, which has been particularly evident in Ireland over the last number of years.

 

“You know it’s time to move out of your neighbourhood when vintage shops open, poor people start to dress well (…)  prices go up and you get the push.“

 

Director Frederick Gretten follows Farha through her investigation that takes her to an interconnected pattern of hidden capital with networks in Toronto, Barcelona, Seoul, Berlin, London and other cities revealing just the tip of the iceberg. Her investigation further discloses  the process in which affordable housing becomes a token for hedge funds, investors and criminal networks to increase their profits while driving out ordinary citizens. The familiar sight of empty condos, homes and apartments, owned by anonymous foreign buyers who never set a toe in their luxury homes, paints the cities nothing less than ghost towns.

 

Farha, alongside the United Cities Local Government and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights,  started the new worldwide movement The Shift to ‘reclaim and realize the fundamental right to housing – to move away from housing as a place to park excess capital, to housing as a place to live in dignity, to raise families and participate in community’. Gertten’s film captures the community spirit that endures and gives life to the cities. Push is ultimately an empowering story of resistance and the question the film poses is, “ Who are cities for ?”

 

Watch the trailer here

 

 

For Sama

Is the world listening? Are we getting used to documentaries based on Syrian war? Have those stories  that seem to plead with the world fallen on deaf ears or has the world decided to look in the other direction? Despite these questions clouding my mind often, For Sama may be the most powerful plea yet. Syrian filmmaker Waad al-Kateb began a video diary to keep record of events when nobody knew what it was like to live in Aleppo, Syria. Caught between the Assad regime and the Islamic state, every day seems  like a new chapter in the lives of Syrians. This documentary that captures al-Kateb’s life through five years is a human story with no propaganda in sight. It’s a simple appeal from people who bravely stayed behind to fight against the atrocities.

 

In collaboration with British filmmaker Edward Watts, Waad al-Kateb tells us the most compelling story of how this conflict negates  everyday life. The documentary is named after Waad’s daughter, Sama (Arabic for Sky). Through assembled extracts of her video diary, For Sama captures moments of loss, laughter and survival as Waad has to decide between fleeing Aleppo to protect the ones she loves or staying in the city.  Scenes where the new mother struggles to put her baby to sleep and dialogues like, “Lots of airstrikes today…but they didn’t hit us” when she talks to her baby is a sign that we have been silent spectators for far too long. The unforgettable moments come through at every other scene – the tense nighttime drive to get through a regime checkpoint, the time when Assad’s forces are just one street away and the Caesarean section to remove a baby from its wounded mother’s womb may probably be the most miraculous and intimate scenes. The most dramatic scenes unfold  inside hospitals as the documentary shows how they are being systematically blown up one after another. In 2016, airstrikes by Russian and Syrian government forces destroyed eight out of nine hospitals in rebel-held East Aleppo

 

The normalisation of conflict to this level is clearly depicted in this documentary. In my opinion, For Sama that recently won a BAFTA and was nominated for Best Documentary at the Oscars this year is a must-watch.

 

Watch the trailer here

 

 

 

Photos from Twitter

 

 

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The Innocence Files Review

STAND News reviews the Netflix documentary series, The Innocence Files, a whodunnit with a cause. How does the series that covers the failures of the U.S. judicial system holdup?

‘Stop Filming Us’ – Questioning Neocolonialism through the Camera Lens

In Stop Filming Us (2020) Dutch filmmaker Joris Postema travels to the city of Goma in the northeast of the Democratic Republic of Congo, where numerous conflicts and even more Western aid organizations have been in the past 25 years. The problem is, sometimes these Westerners would rather define Goma and its people on their terms. Can Postema portray the Congolese reality without becoming part of the problem?

The Obsession with Activism in Acceptance Speeches

Many of us may agree that millionaire celebrities collecting awards from other millionaire celebrities may not be a group best placed to preach to the general public about issues such as climate change and human rights. It has now become a mainstay of almost every award show, with celebrities seeing this platform as a challenge to make the most impassioned speech of the night.

Merchant’s Quay Ireland launches “The Lived Experience of Addiction” Exhibition

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UCDVO Development series: Review of Gaza, Push and For Sama

The 8th UCDVO Development Film Series is a yearly event which ran throughout January and February 2020. The series includes 5 high-quality feature documentary films on subjects relating to global justice and development issues.

Lack of Diversity Overshadows Another Award Season

For the last few years, award ceremonies have come under a huge amount of scrutiny for a lack of diversity in the talent which they choose to celebrate. Heading into a new decade it felt tempting to think that those behind some of the most prestigious awards in entertainment may have started to heed this calls for inclusion. Unfortunately, as the list of nominations came rolling in over the last month, we soon learnt that this was not going to be the case.

The Leaderless Protest Series – Chile

The Leaderless Protest Series – Chile

Every day we are witnessing the kindled spirit of the youth across the world. Political autonomy, corruption, powerlessness, poor economies, climate change and social media seem to be the chief contributors to the mass protest rage that has taken over. The large anti-government demonstrations have not been peaceful, with the number of human losses increasing as every day goes by. From Algeria, Bolivia, Chile, Ecuador, France, Hong Kong, Iraq, Lebanon, Iran and Pakistan and more, the story seems to be the same: voices that were never heard are gathering together for a scream to bring about a much-needed change! Does it mean the people’s voice will finally be heard?

In this particular article, Editor Deepthi Suresh helps us to understand recent developments in Chile.

 

 

How did this start?

The protests began in October 2019 due to an increase in subway fares by 3%, and soon paved the way to widespread vandalism, destruction and looting. The fare hike has definitely triggered  the public after years of “rising cost of living, miserable pensions, relatively low wages, deficient health and education systems and costly and inefficient public utilities,” according to a report by the New York Times. These demonstrations are Chile’s worst unrest in decades. The protests have transformed into a nationwide uprising with the protesters demanding dramatic changes to the country’s economic and political system and the ultimate demand of the resignation of Chilean President Piñera. As of December 2019, 29 people have died, nearly 2,500 have been injured, and 2,840 have been arrested and the number only seems to rise.

 

According to Victor Villegas, a sociologist at Santiago’s Alberto Hurtado University, “it’s not a coincidence that the movement began with high school students because they have always driven Chilean social movements”. As police attempted to forcefully stop the students at the stations, the protests had already begun to spread out into the streets. Metro stations, supermarkets, and petrol stations were burned, leading Piñera to declare a state of emergency.

 

Although the leaderless movement has forced the billionaire president to be on the defensive, which resulted in him replacing eight ministers and the announcement of emergency measures including a small increase in the minimum wage and higher taxes on wealthy Chileans, the protests have continued.

 

 

What are the protesters’  demands?

The protesters have called for a change in the pension system and a measurable like in the minimum wage in addition to Piñera’s resignation. Piñera  has addressed the demands in his reform plans but the protestors are furious that these proposals would cost the state, rather than the private industries. There have also been demands for a new constitution as the current one was drafted during the dictatorship.

 

 

Current developments 

Human rights organisations have received several reports of violations conducted against protesters. Human Rights Watch director Jose Miguel Vivanco stated that “indiscriminate and improper use of riot guns and shotguns, abuse of detainees in custody, and poor internal accountability systems” gave rise to serious violations of the rights of many Chileans. 

 

The 2019 United Nations Climate Change Conference, or COP25, with thousands of world leaders and government officials attending, was supposed to take place in Chile in December but had to be cancelled due to the protests. Ironically, the focus of this particular climate change conference was economic and social inequality.

 

The government has scrapped the subway fare increase and the president said that he is mindful of the broader grievances that fueled the unrest. He is, however, yet to outline a comprehensive set of policies. It seems that Piñera is finding it difficult to come to grips with reality and the population’s frustrations. It looks like the protests will continue until he steps down.

 

 

Photo by Carlos Figueroa

 

 

Browse more stories below or sign up to our newsletter to receive our top news straight to your inbox!

 

 

 

Greenwashing Austerity: What Do Young Greens Feel About the New Government?

The General Election of February 2020 feels like a world away now. Not only do the pre-social distancing days seem like a weird alternative universe, but also the hopes for radical change which many, particularly young, people dared to hold as they headed to the ballot box are starting to seem like a crazy dream. As the coalition of Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and the Green Party settle into the Dáil, the political landscape of the next five years is beginning to come into focus.

Survival of the richest: As Brazil’s COVID death toll mounts, its president celebrates his own recovery.

Brazil has been devastated by over 2 million Coronavirus cases and more than 90,000 deaths, second only to the United States. In spite of these alarming figures the country’s far right president Jair Bolsonaro has regularly dismissed the severity of the disease, calling it a “little flu”, and boasting that his athletic background would save him from becoming seriously ill should he contract the virus. Bolsonaro was later held to this claim on 7 July when the president tested positive for COVID-19.

Honk Kong’s New Security Law

When Britain returned the former colony to China in 1997, it marked the beginning of Beijing’s attempts to re-integrate Hong Kong. The introduction of a new national security law signifies a more forceful and legally binding step in the removal of Hong Kong’s independence and autonomy.

The Forgotten Generation: The Children of Yemen

The largest humanitarian crisis in the world is occurring in Yemen right now, and the world is still glossing over it. Five years of war, pitting the internationally-recognised government backed by a Saudi-led coalition against the Iran-aligned Houthi rebels – and civilians are the ones who continue to bear the brunt of the conflict.

The West Bank Annexation

On May 5 2020, Benjamin Netanyahu was sworn in for his fifth term as Prime Minister of Israel. Among his campaign pledges was the proposed annexation of the West Bank. This annexation poses a serious threat to the long-sought two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The West Bank, and more specifically the Jordan Valley, is considered pivotal to the survival of a future Palestinian state among Palestinians.

New Government, Old Tricks: Women In Irish Politics

The 33rd Dáil saw Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin elected as Taoiseach in the midst of a coalition of Fianna Fáil, Fianna Gael and the Greens. However, despite the historic nature of the abandonment of Civil War politics, that age-old discrepancy in the representation of women in politics continues: out of a Cabinet of sixteen, only four female Ministers have been appointed.

The Leaderless Protest Series – Iran

The Leaderless Protest Series – Iran

 

Every day we are witnessing the kindled spirit of the youth across the world. Political autonomy, corruption, powerlessness, poor economies, climate change and social media seem to be the chief contributors to the mass protest rage that has taken over. The large anti-government demonstrations have not been peaceful, with the number of human losses increasing as every day goes by. From Algeria, Bolivia, Chile, Ecuador, France, Hong Kong, Iraq, Lebanon, Iran and Pakistan and more, the story seems to be the same: voices that were never heard are gathering together for a scream to bring about a much-needed change! Does it mean the people’s voice will finally be heard?

In this particular article, Editor Deepthi Suresh helps us to understand recent developments in Iran.

 

The Begining of a Long Road

Economic hardships ignited the dimming spark that led to violent clashes between protesters and security forces. The days following November 15, 2019, thousands of Iranians took to the streets to demonstrate their dissatisfaction with an abrupt political decision. A 50 percent increase in fuel prices, came without warning. This apparently, came after Iranian President Hassan Rouhani announced that the country faced a deficit which amounted to two-thirds of the yearly $45 billion budget. 

Although the protests started off as peaceful demonstrations, soon it took a violent turn leaving about 180 people dead. Security forces open fire on unarmed protests who were largely either unemployed or low-income young men aged between 19-26.

These protests revealed the frustration among the citizens against their leaders. Although petrol remains cheaper in Iran – home to the world’s fourth-largest crude oil reserves – average incomes are too low to comfortably absorb the steep hike. The serious economic challenges faced by Iran are partially due to Trump administration’s sanctions on the country. The sanctions were levied to pressure Iran into renegotiating the 2015 nuclear agreement between Iran and major world powers which President Trump abandoned. According to Bourse & Bazaar, More than 1.6 million Iranians have fallen into poverty since the American sanctions were imposed. 

In relation to the protests, Trump tweeted, The United States of America supports the brave people of Iran who are protesting for their FREEDOM. We have under the Trump Administration, and always will!” The encouragement of the protests and expressions of satisfaction by the American administration only show that they may be campaigning for the fall of the Iranian regime in the guise of the claims that the aim of the administration was to  “change the behaviour of the Islamic Republic of Iran,” as quoted by Mike Pompeo.

The most unsettling differences from past demonstrations to the 2019 protests were the blanket of silence that fell over the country with an internet shutdown. Although, Iran was able to keep vital infrastructures running like hospitals and banks, they completely denied access to the only two global internet portals in Iran owned by the government. The regime has a stark choice between funding its proxies abroad and its nuclear program or addressing its people’s dire economic needs. If the regime chooses poorly then it will continue to provoke the kind of rage that was witnessed in the 2019 protests.

 

 

The US Intervenes

The protests in Iran have now taken an interesting turn with protesters protesting against the US intervention as well as continuing their demands for the fall of the Iranian regime. On January 3 of this year, US President Trump said that he ordered a precision strike to “terminate” a top Iranian commander who was plotting “imminent and sinister attacks” on Americans, adding that this decision was one of deterrence and not aggression. A US drone strike on a Baghdad airport killed Qasem Soleimani on Trump’s order. Iran, in a letter to the United Nations, called the attack state terrorism and an unlawful criminal act. Iran’s ambassador to the UN told CNN that the attack was an opening to a war. He said Washington has escalated a war it began by pulling out of the nuclear deal with Tehran. Thousands of demonstrators were seen marching in Tehran and other cities to protest the strike after Friday prayers. Men, women and children carried images of the slain commander, many crying and others shaking their fists, shouting “Death to America” and “Revenge, revenge, revenge.” 

 

Ukranian Passenger Plane Crash

For a third reason in a matter of weeks, Iran witnessed a further series of protests after the government admitted it had mistakenly downed a Ukranian passenger jet that killed 176 passengers. Some of the video posted on social media showed some chanting “They are lying that our enemy is America, our enemy is right here” as other footage captures riot police clashing with the protesters and responding with tear gas. After a U-turn by the Iranian government that had initially rejected reports of the downed plane, a judicial spokesperson, Gholamhossein Esmaili, said at a news conference that an undisclosed number of people had been arrested in connection with the crash.

January 11, 2020, witnessed large crowds of students who demonstrated outside Amir Kabir University for a candlelight vigil. Demonstrating outrage at the shooting down of the aircraft, they chanted “death to the dictator” and “resignation is not enough, a trial is needed!”

However, the students summed up the general feeling surrounding recent protests in the country when they also stated that “today, we are surrounded by evil on all sides.” 

Tehran has announced that it would stop abiding by limits on uranium enrichment which had initially been agreed upon in return for the relaxation of the sanctions. The US, as a result, has pressed ahead with further sanctions against Iran. 

 

Photo by Mojnews 

 

 

Browse more stories below or sign up to our newsletter to receive our top news straight to your inbox!

 

 

Greenwashing Austerity: What Do Young Greens Feel About the New Government?

The General Election of February 2020 feels like a world away now. Not only do the pre-social distancing days seem like a weird alternative universe, but also the hopes for radical change which many, particularly young, people dared to hold as they headed to the ballot box are starting to seem like a crazy dream. As the coalition of Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and the Green Party settle into the Dáil, the political landscape of the next five years is beginning to come into focus.

Survival of the richest: As Brazil’s COVID death toll mounts, its president celebrates his own recovery.

Brazil has been devastated by over 2 million Coronavirus cases and more than 90,000 deaths, second only to the United States. In spite of these alarming figures the country’s far right president Jair Bolsonaro has regularly dismissed the severity of the disease, calling it a “little flu”, and boasting that his athletic background would save him from becoming seriously ill should he contract the virus. Bolsonaro was later held to this claim on 7 July when the president tested positive for COVID-19.

Honk Kong’s New Security Law

When Britain returned the former colony to China in 1997, it marked the beginning of Beijing’s attempts to re-integrate Hong Kong. The introduction of a new national security law signifies a more forceful and legally binding step in the removal of Hong Kong’s independence and autonomy.

The Forgotten Generation: The Children of Yemen

The largest humanitarian crisis in the world is occurring in Yemen right now, and the world is still glossing over it. Five years of war, pitting the internationally-recognised government backed by a Saudi-led coalition against the Iran-aligned Houthi rebels – and civilians are the ones who continue to bear the brunt of the conflict.

The West Bank Annexation

On May 5 2020, Benjamin Netanyahu was sworn in for his fifth term as Prime Minister of Israel. Among his campaign pledges was the proposed annexation of the West Bank. This annexation poses a serious threat to the long-sought two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The West Bank, and more specifically the Jordan Valley, is considered pivotal to the survival of a future Palestinian state among Palestinians.

New Government, Old Tricks: Women In Irish Politics

The 33rd Dáil saw Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin elected as Taoiseach in the midst of a coalition of Fianna Fáil, Fianna Gael and the Greens. However, despite the historic nature of the abandonment of Civil War politics, that age-old discrepancy in the representation of women in politics continues: out of a Cabinet of sixteen, only four female Ministers have been appointed.

The Leaderless Protest Series – Lebanon

The Leaderless Protest Series – Lebanon

Everyday we are witnessing the kindled spirit of the youth across the world. Political autonomy, corruption, powerlessness, poor economies, climate change and social media seem to be the chief contributors to the mass protest rage that has taken over. The large anti-government demonstrations have not been peaceful, with the number of human losses increasing as every day goes by. From Algeria, Bolivia, Chile, Ecuador, France, Hong Kong, Iraq, Lebanon, Iran and Pakistan and more, the story seems to be the same: voices that were never heard are gathering together for a scream to bring about a much needed change! Does it mean the people’s voice will finally be heard?

 

In this particular article, Editor Deepthi Suresh helps us to understand recent developments in Lebanon. 

 

When and Why?

 

Large scale protests took over Lebanon on 17th October 2019 shortly after the government announced new tax measures – in particular, this included a proposed ‘Whatsapp Tax’  charged at $2 a month for the use of all free apps on mobile phones. The closure of Lebanon’s banks for two weeks from the start of the protests fuelled anger, as people were denied access to their money.

 

Underlying frustrations with the government and the political elite have been accumulating within the state for years. These frustrations include the Lebanese government’s failure to find solutions to an economic crisis that has engulfed the country, particularly over the past year, due to corruption, wastage of public money and other issues. According to the World Inequality Database, nearly a quarter of income is held by the richest 1% in Lebanon. 

 

The Lebanese protests have witnessed scenes of tens of thousands of protesters from different religious and class sectors of society assembled in almost all cities across the country. Thousands of protesters have made their voices heard by waving the Lebanese flag and chanting demands for the “fall of the regime”, with many slogans including “all of them means all of them”. Despite government attempts to placate the protesters with announced reforms, demonstrations have continued in Beirut, Tripoli, Zouk, Jal el Dib, Saida, Nabatieh, Sour and Zahle. On the thirteenth day of the protests, Prime Minister Saad Hariri announced his resignation.

 

Recent Developments:

 

The protests, however, have taken a more violent turn since they first began in October. Dozens of people were injured in clashes between protesters and the security forces in central Beirut on December 15th. It is believed that Lebanese security forces used water cannons, rubber bullets and teargas against protesters who in turn pelted rocks and firecrackers. This time around, the protest chants were targetted mainly at interim Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri, who is widely expected to be named head of the next government. 

 

If the parliament’s next choice is anything like the last, Tripoli billionaire Mohammad Safadi who was briefly nominated before widespread protests convinced him to withdraw his name, it is highly unlikely that the protests will deescalate. Unlike older generations, today’s protesters in Lebanon are unwilling to compromise. As we begin the new decade, it appears Lebanon is gearing up to be leaderless amid continuing protests for the foreseeable future. 

 

 

Photo by Nadim Kobeissi

 

 

Browse more stories below or sign up to our newsletter to receive our top news straight to your inbox!

 

 

Greenwashing Austerity: What Do Young Greens Feel About the New Government?

The General Election of February 2020 feels like a world away now. Not only do the pre-social distancing days seem like a weird alternative universe, but also the hopes for radical change which many, particularly young, people dared to hold as they headed to the ballot box are starting to seem like a crazy dream. As the coalition of Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and the Green Party settle into the Dáil, the political landscape of the next five years is beginning to come into focus.

Survival of the richest: As Brazil’s COVID death toll mounts, its president celebrates his own recovery.

Brazil has been devastated by over 2 million Coronavirus cases and more than 90,000 deaths, second only to the United States. In spite of these alarming figures the country’s far right president Jair Bolsonaro has regularly dismissed the severity of the disease, calling it a “little flu”, and boasting that his athletic background would save him from becoming seriously ill should he contract the virus. Bolsonaro was later held to this claim on 7 July when the president tested positive for COVID-19.

Honk Kong’s New Security Law

When Britain returned the former colony to China in 1997, it marked the beginning of Beijing’s attempts to re-integrate Hong Kong. The introduction of a new national security law signifies a more forceful and legally binding step in the removal of Hong Kong’s independence and autonomy.

The Forgotten Generation: The Children of Yemen

The largest humanitarian crisis in the world is occurring in Yemen right now, and the world is still glossing over it. Five years of war, pitting the internationally-recognised government backed by a Saudi-led coalition against the Iran-aligned Houthi rebels – and civilians are the ones who continue to bear the brunt of the conflict.

The West Bank Annexation

On May 5 2020, Benjamin Netanyahu was sworn in for his fifth term as Prime Minister of Israel. Among his campaign pledges was the proposed annexation of the West Bank. This annexation poses a serious threat to the long-sought two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The West Bank, and more specifically the Jordan Valley, is considered pivotal to the survival of a future Palestinian state among Palestinians.

New Government, Old Tricks: Women In Irish Politics

The 33rd Dáil saw Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin elected as Taoiseach in the midst of a coalition of Fianna Fáil, Fianna Gael and the Greens. However, despite the historic nature of the abandonment of Civil War politics, that age-old discrepancy in the representation of women in politics continues: out of a Cabinet of sixteen, only four female Ministers have been appointed.