AFL-CIO Considering Ellison Endorsement for DNC Chair
The AFL-CIO is considering an endorsement of Minnesota Senator Keith Ellison for the chair of the Democratic National Committee. On Wednesday, the labor federation sent out a straw poll to its members asking whether they would support Ellison’s bid for the DNC chair. If Ellison earns the endorsement, it would deliver a major boost to his candidacy. The senator has already received support from former presidential candidate Bernie Sanders. His bid is also supported by several labor unions, including the American Federation of Teachers, the Communication Workers of America, and the United Steelworkers. The straw poll will conclude on December 6th.
Hillary Clinton’s Popular Vote Lead Grows to 2.5 Million
Hillary Clinton’s lead over Donald Trump in the popular vote has reportedly surpassed 2.5 million votes. She now claims 48 percent of the popular vote to Trump’s 46 percent. Ten U.S. presidents have won elections with smaller leads. However, her deficit in the electoral college vote remains at 232 to 306. Clinton still will have lost the presidency unless electors defect from Trump or the recounts in Wisconsin, Michigan, or Pennsylvania overturn state results.
UN Warns of Ethnic Cleansing in South Sudan
The UN Commission on Human Rights in South Sudan found evidence of ethnic cleansing in the country. Commission chairwoman Yasmin Sooka cited incidents of starvation, gang rape and the burning of villages. Meanwhile the U.S is working to pass a Security Council resolution that would impose an arms embargo on the country. The resolution faces Chinese and Russian opposition. The U.S opposed the arms embargo up until last month. The efforts come after a UN report leaked in October found that Bulgarian and Israeli arms companies are fueling the civil war. South Sudan is the youngest sovereign country in the world and has faced years of brutal fighting between rebel and government forces. The fighting began shortly after the country gained independence in 2011.
Brazil’s Senate Approves Constitutional Amendment for 20-Year Austerity; Lower Chamber Guts Anti-Corruption Law
Brazil’s senate voted last Tuesday in favor of a constitutional amendment that will limit social spending in Brazil for the next 20 years. Tens of thousands of protesters took to the streets to oppose the measure. President Michel Temer had asked for the amendment as a means of imposing austerity on the Brazilian state behind his presidential rule. The amendment had previously passed the lower chamber of the legislature by a two-thirds super-majority. The measure will go into effect if approved in a second Senate vote on December 13th.
On Wednesday, Brazilian legislators passed another controversial measure that will undermine anti-corruption law already on the books. The vote passed the lower house almost unanimously. If it passes the senate, politicians will have far greater immunity against corruption charges and will be allowed to counter-sue prosecutors. Brazil’s prosecutors are threatening mass resignations if the law goes into effect. Brazil has been undergoing significant political upheaval following the impeachment of elected president Dilma Rousseff. Many Brazilian social movements are fiercely opposed to the new conservative government of President Michel Temer, who took office in what they call a legislative coup.
Colombia’s Senate Passes Peace Agreement
On Wednesday, the Colombian congress voted unanimously to approve the revised peace agreement with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, also known as the FARC. The original agreement was narrowly rejected in a referendum vote last October 2nd. The two sides have negotiated numerous changes which include the strengthening of transitional justice and the weakening the land restitution. Despite the changes, the far-right opposition, led by former president Alvaro Uribe, walked out in protest shortly before the vote. Following the vote, Colombian High Commissioner of Peace Sergio Jaramillo discussed the next steps in the implementation of the agreement.
OPEC Meeting Agrees to Reduce Oil Production for First Time Since 2008
In an unexpected move, OPEC countries agreed on Wednesday to reduce oil production by 1.2 million barrels per day. This is the first time OPEC countries have reached an agreement to reduce production since 2008. The change is scheduled to take effect on January 1st. The agreement however is contingent on a commitment from non-OPEC countries to reduce their production by a total of 600 thousand barrels per day. Non-OPEC countries are scheduled to meet on December 9th to discuss production levels. The announced cutback immediately led to a rise in oil prices. But analysts are questioning whether the cut would be enough to raise oil prices on a longer term basis, given the current glut in oil supply levels. Iran is exempted from the cut because it began raising production levels after international sanctions following the signing of the nuclear deal earlier this year. Previous efforts to reach an OPEC agreement had failed because of disagreements between Saudi Arabia and Iran about Iran’s participation in the reduction.