News Roundup 05/15/19

1. Discussions between Sudanese government and protesters come to a halt

After violating a de-escalation agreement, Sudan's Transitional Military Council (STMC) announced that it is suspending talks with its opposition, the Alliance for Freedom and Change (AFC), for 72 hours. Shortly before the crucial discussions between the two sides were supposed to continue, eight protesters were wounded by gunshots near the capital of Sudan, Khartoum. The first two days for talks went relatively smooth, in which they agreed on a three-year transitional period to civilian rule and a parliament composed of 300 members, over two thirds of which must be from the AFC. Both sides reached a stalemate, as the AFC wants a civilian-led transition while the STMC wants a military-led transition. Confrontations between Sudanese security forces and protesters are still frequent, with six people being killed on Monday. If an agreement is finally reached, and the transition is successful, the country would have its first election after overthrowing former Omar al-Bashir’s 40-year-long rule.

Source: CGTN

2. Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro is destroying Brazil’s environmentalist policies

Last week, eight former Ministers of Environment from Brazil warned that right-wing president Jair Bolsonaro is stripping away most of the environmental ministry’s powers and increasing deforestation in the Amazon. Only inaugurated four months ago, Bolsonaro has put environmental agencies under anti-environmentalist ministers and lowered funding dramatically for such agencies. Journalist Alexander Zaitchik  reported that there is a large wave “...of illegal incursions throughout the Amazon on two formerly protected lands by loggers, miners, agribusiness interests who are emboldened by the rhetoric coming out of the government, where they just feel like the laws won't be enforced.” With one-fifth of the Amazonian forests already destroyed, scientists predict that if another fifth is destroyed, “dieback” might occur, in which a feedback loop might cause the systems of the remaining three fifths of the forests to simply die, as they will be unable to sustain themselves.

Source: The Real News

3. Trump administration pushes for war with Iran

Over the weekend, oil tankers were attacked in the Persian Gulf, and subsequently, US officials have been blaming Iran, despite offering no concrete evidence. Meanwhile, the New York Times reported on Monday that US President Donald Trump reviewed a plan to send 120 thousand soldiers to threaten Iran in the Middle East. The top British Major General, Chris Gika, contradicted US National Security Advisor John Bolton’s claim that there has been an increased threat from Iranian-backed forces in Syria and Iraq. Speaking from his deployment in Baghdad, he said, “We monitor them along with a whole range of others because that's the environment we're in… If the threat level seems to go up then we'll raise our force protection measures accordingly." Amidst economic difficulties from US sanctions, Iran is trying to restart negotiations with Europe in relation to the Iran nuclear accord.

Source: Common Dreams

4. Alabama passes law that makes most abortions illegal

Yesterday, Alabama lawmakers passed a law that effectively bans most abortions in the state, including abortions performed in cases of rape or incest. The law only permits abortions for cases in which the mother’s life is threatened. The new law is set to take effect on January 1, 2020. Jessica Mason Pieklo, a legal analyst and published author, stated, “What just happened in Alabama is that lawmakers launched a full frontal attack on legal abortion in the state and across the country with a law designed specifically to challenge Roe v. Wade in the long term and in the short term sow chaos in the state of Alabama for folks who need access to abortion.”

Source: Democracy Now

5. Anti-war activists legally occupy Venezuelan embassy in Washington DC

The Embassy Protection Collective, an activist group of independent US citizens, have occupied the Venezuelan embassy in Washington DC for 36 days. With the invitation of the Venezuelan government, their goal is “ prevent the US from potentially making a unilateral decision that could impact the security of embassies around the world and lead to military conflict.” The collective has publicly cited international law as evidence for the legality of their agreement, specifically the Protecting Power Agreement found in the Vienna Conventions. According to international law, when diplomatic relations are severed between two countries, an organization or group, the “protecting power”, is allowed to diplomatically represent the other sovereign state in the country where it has no diplomatic representation. Currently, protesters in support of US intervention surround the Venezuelan embassy and are being protected by police, who cut off the building’s electricity on May 8.

Source: Mintpress News