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The Real News of the Day - April 29, 2016

Protests against labor law in France, against President Macri in Argentina, against Rousseff impeachment in Brazil, and against Trump in California; Zika test now available; Supreme Court broadens FBI digital search powers; run-off elections in Iran

Massive New Protests Against Labor Law Reform in France

 Several hundred thousands of protesters took to the streets in Paris and throughout France on Thursday to oppose labor law reform introduced by the socialist government. The actions were timed with work stoppages among the public transport and airport services. Protesters are angered by proposed changes to rules over working hours and regulations governing hiring and firing. Several dozens of police officers and protesters were injured and 124 were arrested in clashes nationwide. Union and student leaders who organized the protests spoke out against the violence. Earlier protests brought out as many as a million demonstrators. A semi-permanent encampment resembling Occupy in Zuccotti Park or the indignados movement in Spain has developed at a central plaza in Paris. More demonstrations are planned for May Day on Sunday, as well as the following Tuesday, when parliament begins to debate the labor law reform.

For more on France, go to: Unprecedented Student Involvement in French Labor Protests

Five Union Federations Protest Against Argentine President Macri's Neoliberal Policies

 Protests are underway in Buenos Aires, Argentina to oppose neoliberal reforms of the recently elected government of President Mauricio Macri. Government opponents are voicing outrage against the layoffs of 140 thousand workers in the public sector, price increases in public transportation, and a devaluation of the currency, which has increased the cost of consumer goods. According to the Argentine newspaper Pagina 12, this is the first time that all five of Argentina's largest union federations have agreed to a joint demonstration against a sitting government.

For more on Argentina, go to: Argentina's Presidential Giveaway to Vulture Funds

Landless and Homeless Organize Road Blocks in Protest Against Rousseff Impeachment

 Brazil's landless farm workers movement and the homeless workers movement organized a series of country-wide street blockades yesterday, to protest against the impeachment process of president Dilma Rousseff. Both groups are critical of the Rousseff government, mainly for turning towards more market and business-friendly policies during the past few years. However, both are opposed to what’s being described as a coup against Dilma Rousseff. Natália Szermeta from the State Coordination of the MTST in Sao Paulo said, “They may make an institutional coup or win in the Congress, but we won’t let them have peace on the streets”. Brazil's lower house approved Rousseff's impeachment last week. The upper house of the legislature is expected to vote on whether to proceed in the coming week. If it votes in favor, Rousseff will be temporarily removed from office until a final decision is made within six months.

For more on Brazil, go to: Brazilian Senate to Vote on President Rousseff's Impeachment

Protesters, Trump Supporters, and Police Clash in California

 Clashes broke out at a Trump rally in California late Thursday night between protesters and supporters. The rally took place in the Republican stronghold of Orange county. 20 people were arrested and at least one police car was damaged. Meanwhile, Republican candidate Ted Cruz has been campaigning in Indiana where he just picked up the endorsement of governor Mike Pence. Indiana is considered a key state in the Republican campaign because if Trump does not win the Indiana primary on Tuesday, the race could lead to a contested convention. On the campaign trail, the Cruz campaign has been making frequent references to Donald Trump's opposition anti-LGBT law in North Carolina. The law prohibits transgender people from using bathrooms that don't correspond to the gender assigned to them at birth. Trump enjoys a narrow lead over Cruz in Indiana, but pollsters say Cruz could exploit transphobia to his favor. In other campaign news, the Guardian newspaper is reporting that two campaign managers for Cruz and Trump also served as advisors in the 2011 right-wing presidential campaign of Manuel Baldízon in Guatemala. Tim Clark and Ron Nehring spent six weeks in Guatemala for Baldizon, who advocated for televised executions.

For more on the campaigns, go to: Lucifer, Trump and Who's Behind the GOP Factions?

First Zika Death in the US As Zika Test Becomes Commercially Available

 A 70-year-old man in Puerto Rico has died from the Zika virus, making it the first death on US territory attributed to the mosquito-borne infection. The news comes as a commercial test for Zika could be made available to doctors as soon as next week. Recent research confirmed that the virus causes microencephaly, which is the birth defect of an abnormally small brain. The virus is also known to cause other neurological disorders, such as Guillain-Barre syndrome, which can lead to temporary paralysis. Brazil is facing a major Zika epidemic, with one point five million reported cases so far. Hundreds of cases have been reported in Puerto Rico.

For more on Zika, go to: Zika Linked to Deforestation and Climate Change

Supreme Court Rules to Expand FBI's Hacking Powers

 "The US Supreme court has approved an expansion of the FBI's power to implement digital search warrants. Prior to the ruling, judges could only approve warrants for computers or servers in their jurisdiction, which commonly spans a limited number of counties. The FBI argued that this approach is outdated because digital information is distributed globally. The FBI thus sought permission to search data networks without geographical restrictions once granted a warrant for a particular investigation. The American Civil Liberties Union opposes the expansion on the grounds that it could permit the FBI to conduct unrestricted digital searches of private information. Democratic Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon responded to the announcing saying, “These amendments will have significant consequences for Americans’ privacy and the scope of the government’s powers to conduct remote surveillance and searches of electronic devices,” and, “I plan to introduce legislation to reverse these amendments shortly."

For more on surveillance, go to: The 'Anti-Manning' Positions of Hillary Clinton on National Security and Surveillance

Parliamentary Run-Off Elections in Iran Today

 Iranians are voting in the second round of parliamentary elections. 68 seats are up for grabs after no candidates in those constituencies won over 25 percent of the vote in the first round. So-called moderates are expected to make gains in Friday’s vote. Some analysts say that there is no deep conflict between so-called hardliners and so-called reformers or moderates. A Human Rights Watch report says that Iran’s election oversight council, which is made up of 12 Islamic Jurists appointed by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, had approved only 1% of self-identified reformist candidates in this latest election.

For more on Iran, go to: Iranian Elections: A Blow to Hardliners As New Fault Lines in Iranian Politics Emerge


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