International News Briefs

General strike in Greece

GREECE: The first general strike of 2013 in Greece saw tens of thousands marching through major cities, the BBC reported. In Athens, a 24-hour strike was held, called by the two largest trade unions, which together represent four million workers. Minor clashes occurred, such as when police fired tear gas at youth throwing stones. Peaceful protests were held in Thessaloniki, the second largest city in Greece, and on Crete, a Greek island. The government has imposed spending cuts and taxes to help get the country out of debt, but unemployment rates have reached 26 per cent as a result. Greece is billions of euros in debt. The strike took place days before a meeting in Athens with international lenders to discuss the next bailout installment.

North Korea threatens more nuclear tests

NORTH KOREA: After North Korea’s third nuclear test, which took place Feb. 19, U.S. president Barack Obama announced the country would be taking action against the threats, reported Al Jazeera. According to the report, China, North Korea’s key ally, has been told one or two more nuclear tests will take place this year in an attempt to force the U.S. into diplomatic talks. The Korean War was halted by a truce in 1953, but North Korea wants to sign a final peace agreement with the U.S. and establish diplomatic relations between the countries. The United Nations has banned North Korea from developing missile and nuclear technology and continues to tighten sanctions since the launch of a rocket in December 2012.

Opposition to ANC in South Africa

SOUTH AFRICA: Anti-apartheid activist Mamphela Ramphele has formed a political party to oppose the African National Congress (ANC) of Nelson Mandela, according to Al Jazeera. Ramphele accused the ANC of corruption, undermining democracy and abusing power at a press conference where she announced the formation of the party called Agang, which in the Sesotho language means “build.” Ramphele plans to contest the 2014 election. She said she will campaign village to village and serve South Africans who desire a new beginning. At the press conference, Ramphele addressed issues of high unemployment rates among the country’s youth and said she plans to change the voting system. Ramphele is co-founder of South Africa’s Black Conscious Movement and a former World Bank managing director. She was under house arrest for seven years in the 1970s enforced by the white-minority apartheid regime.

Women’s status elevating in Saudi Arabia

SAUDI ARABIA: Thirty women have become the first female members of Saudi Arabia’s Shura Council, also known as the Saudi Consultative Council, reported Al Jazeera. The group of women includes university graduates, human rights activists and two princesses. They were sworn in before King Abdullah and the 130 male council members. Strict Islamic law is in effect in Saudi Arabia, but King Abdullah is slowly working to change that. His Jan. 11 decision to allow the women into the council came after discussions with religious leaders throughout the country. In 2011, King Abdullah made it legal for women to both vote and run in the country’s upcoming election in 2015.  King Abdullah has said he wants the marginalization of women’s role in his country’s society to stop.

Published in Volume 67, Number 21 of The Uniter (February 28, 2013)

Related Reads