UK Parliament Approves Most Widespread Surveillance Powers in ‘History of Western Democracy’

Both Houses of the UK Parliament have passed the Investigatory Powers Bill (IP), also known as the ‘Snoopers Charter’. The legislation, which is awaiting Royal Assent, grants the security services, Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) and the police far reaching electronic hacking and surveillance powers. Former employee of the Central Intelligence Agency and National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden tweeted, “the UK has just legalised the most extreme surveillance in the history of western democracy. It goes further than many autocracies.” UK civil liberties and human rights campaigners Liberty issued a statement saying, in part, that the IP bill represents a “sad day for British liberty – but the fight does not end here”.

For a breakdown of the legal powers enshrined in the IP Bill click here.

Presidential Election Polls in Haiti Close

The voting polls for the Haitian presidential elections closed yesterday, and the public is currently awaiting the results of the vote count. Former Haitian president Michel Martelly resigned in February after five years in office. He was replaced by the temporary appointment of Jocelerme Privert, whose term has since run out. Twenty-seven candidates stood for the position of president in the Caribbean country of over ten million citizens, which shares the island of Hispaniola with the Dominican Republic. The Republic of Haiti was founded by former slaves who rebelled, and was the first independent black state in the western hemisphere.  The country recently suffered from a devastating earthquake in 2010 that killed between 200,000 and 316,000 people along with a hurricane that left at least 546 dead this autumn. The country has also suffered from political strife in the form of a coup d’état in 1991-1994 facilitated by violent U.S intervention which also occurred in 2004, when the elected president Jean-Bertrand Aristide was kidnapped by U.S forces. Just prior to the current elections, Interim President Jocelerme Privert warned of an impending food crisis in Haiti. This comes at a time when Haiti continues to suffer the consequences of a sever cholera outbreak that has been blamed on poor screening of UN Peacekeepers along with an incompetent post outbreak response.

Fillon Defeats Sarkozy in France’s Republican Primaries

Nicola Sarkozy, who served as president of France from 2007 to 2012, has conceded defeat and endorsed François Fillon in the Republican Party primaries yesterday. The declining popularity of France’s incumbent president François Hollande of the Socialist Party and the rising popularity of the extreme-right Marine Le-Pen’s National Front, has placed the Republican Party in France in a strong position. The Republican Party hopes to draw voters who want to support a strong conservative party while blocking the National Front. François Fillon will compete in the second round of the primaries in May against Alaine Juppe. Both Fillon and Juppe served as prime ministers of France. Fillon served as prime minister under Sarkozy. Fillon’s anti-Muslim views may assist him in taking votes that would otherwise be destined for the extreme right.

Havoc Ensues Following India’s Sudden Currency Reform

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s surprise announcement on November 10th that India’s two highest currency denominations would be abolished is causing havoc on the Indian economy. Small businesses that rely on cash payments are facing a steep decline in sales, and many workers await delayed payment of their salaries. Manufacturers are cutting production due to a shrinking market. Modi explained that the policy was devised to curb cash-based corruption and terrorism. However, in the last ten days since the policy came into effect, the main people who appear to be affected thus far are Indians living in poverty, who do not have the means to hold out until the cash flow resumes. On Saturday the death toll as a direct result of the demonetization policy was reported to be 34, mostly from people who suffocated or were crushed to death while waiting in lines for ATMs.