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The Stony Brook Press - Volume 27, Issue 8

The Stony Brook Press - Volume 27, Issue 8

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Published by: The Stony Brook Press on Dec 09, 2009
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Of the nearly 200 countries in the world, 122are (or claim to be) democracies. This means,of course, that at any give time there’s proba-bly an election or two going on somewhere.The results of the recent Parliamentary elec-tions in the Palestinian Authority have sur-prised almost all observers, and with good rea-son. The victoriousHamas party is labeleda terrorist org a n i z a t i o nby virtually allWestern governments,including the UnitedStates and theEuropean Union, andpolls before and imme-diately after the elec-tion pointed to theincumbent Fatah party holding the most seats.Despite the exit polls, leaders from both majorparties soon announced that Hamas had taken amajority in Parliament. International observersreported that the election was carried out verywell, and was free and fair. Turnout wasaround 73-76 %.H a m a s powerful representation concernsmany in the West because it complicates thesituation in the Middle East. Whereas the for-mer Fatah-dominated government recognizedIsrael and had taken part in peace negotiations,Hamas leaders refuse to recognize the Jewishs t a t e ’s right to exist, and the Israeli govern-ment will not negotiate with them if they donot renounce violence. This jeopardizes thecurrent framework for peace, based on the1993 Oslo accords and the more recent “roadmap for peace,” both of which were agreed tobetween Israeland Fatah.Hamas con-trols 80 of the132 seats in thelegislature, andwill be able toform its owng o v e r n m e n t ,most likelywith lead can-didate Ismail Haniya as Prime Minister. Hamasinvited Fatah to form a governing coalition,but the offer was rejected as Fatah leaderschose to establish themselves as a politicalopposition. Although it is perceived largely asa militant organization, Hamas has run socialprograms in the Palestinian territories foryears, and is expected to work well on suchissues while in government. The main concernin the international community is about rela-tions with Israel and the loss of foreign fund-ing, which the Palestinian Authority relies onto continue operations, from the US and EU.These powers have said they will not fund aHamas-led government unless it renounces ter-rorism and recognizes Israel.Canada also held Parliamentary elections inJ a n u a r y. After a motion of no confidence waspassed against Liberal Prime Minister PaulMartin in November 2005, Parliament was dis-solved and new elections called for. Again, theincumbent party fell after the vote. The newgovernment will be formed by theConservative Party, who took 40% of the seatsin Parliament, with Stephen Harper as PrimeM i n i s t e r. Former PM Martin has resigned asthe leader of the Liberal Party, although he stillholds a seat in Parliament. The Conservativeleadership has vowed to fight corruption ingovernment, in the wake of a financial scandalthat led to the turn against the Liberal Party.Anothercampaign promise was closer ties withthe United States, although a dispute hasalready broken out between the two nationsover Canadian claims in the A r c t i c .On January 22, elections were held inPortugal to replace the Socialist PresidentJ o rge Sampaio, who was forced to resign dueto term limits. In Portugal, as in Canada, a con-servative candidate won. Former Prime
 Ja nu a ry Super Wo rld Election Roundup Bonanza
Every year, the president, by law, deliv-ers the State of the Union address in then a t i o n ’s capitol. On Tu e s d a y, January 31st,from approximately 9-10pm, this speech took place in the presence of the members of theCongress, the Justices of the Supreme Court,the diplomatic corps, and distinguished guests.Bush opened his State of the UnionAddress with praise to Coretta Scott-King,Martin Luther King Junior’s wife who passedaway this week. Awoman much deservingof praise, she fought with her husband forequality and the voting rights of black Americans. Ironically, this is the same pres-ident who stopped many black voters whowere trying to get to the polls on ElectionDay in the state of Florida. That wasn’t theonly ironic event that happened this evening.Bush pointed out a family in the audiencewho lost their son, Staff Sergeant Dan Clay,who was killed in Iraq. He said, “as we honorour brave troops, let us never forget the sac-rifices of A m e r i c a s military families howthankful we are to these families who arebeing deprived of their loved ones”. Ye tCindy Sheehan, a mother of a fallen soldier,had a ticket to attend the speech and wasphysically removed from the building thatnight. She wore a tee-shirt stating saying"2245 Dead. How many more?" and wasremoved for being a protestor. She didn’tsay a disruptive word; she simply unzipped a jacket. This is a woman who gave her ownblood for this war, someone we according tothe President should be thankful for, and sheis treated like a criminal for wearing a shirt!Even stranger was that Mrs. Yo u n g ,wife of congressman Bill Young, was alsoremoved from the Capitol for being a protesteragainst for wearing a shirt with a messageabout the war. Her message was "Support theTroops -- Defending Our Freedom." Howexactly the officers took that message to beo ffensive is something hard to understand.Both Young and Sheehan were apologized tofor their removal but the damage has alreadybeen done.More irony came as Bush spoke aboutcutting party lines that were made even moreobvious by the Democratic reaction to thespeech. Such points as Bush wanting to rein-state the Patriot Act made Senator HillaryClinton literally roll her eyes. The Democratsapplauded as Bush complained that his plan todestroy Social Security, the main point of hisaddress last year had been rejected. Ta l k i n gabout how the baby-boomers will be turning 60this year, he said, including two of his Dad’savorite people – him and President BillClinton. “This milestone is more than a per-sonal crisis – it is a national challenge.”Something everyone could agree onwas ending America's “addiction to foreignoil” and increasing health insurancecoverage. For a president who is soadamantly against abortion it wasamusing when he spoke about theimportance of women’s health andthe need for more available OB/GYNs e r v i c e s .He ended his speech withpatriotic optimism that thiscountry will finish well inall aspects, “excel in theglobal economy and renewthe defining moral com-mitments to this land,confident of victories tocome.” Here’s to only3 more years!
Cheney pulling the strings from underneath the desk,
Courtesy of rigged Ohio election voting machines
 The 2006 State ofthe Union A dd re s s
Continued on next page
“Any given time there ’sp robably an election ortwo going on some-w h e re.
Minister Anibal Cavaco Silva, of the SocialDemocratic Party, took 50.54 % of the popularvote, narrowly securing the majority needed towin. His two main opponents were ManuelAlegre Duarte and Mario Alberto Soares. Bothcandidates are members of theSocialist Party, which won theParliamentary elections lastF e b r u a r y, but only Soares was off i-cially endorsed by the party. T h eo ffice of President is largely ceremo-nial, but this result is still seen as abad sign for the ruling Socialist gov-e r n m e n t .Another Presidential election took place in Chile, resulting in then a t i o n ’s first female President.Michelle Bachelet, the moderate lib-eral candidate of the Coalition of Parties for Democracy, defeated hermore conservative opponentSebastian Pinera in a runoff election,garnering 53.5 % of the votes cast.B a c h e l e t s party has been in controlin Chile since the end of militaryrule in 1990. Her election continuesthe trend of victories for left-leaningcandidates in South America, follow-ing the election of Evo Morales inBolivia and the overwhelming victo-ry of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez’sparty in parliamentary elections.Ruling governments were also upheld inJanuary elections in Finland and Cape Ve r d e .The Caribbean nation of Haiti was supposedto hold elections this month, but a fourth delaypushed the poll back to February 7. Explainingthe delay, government representatives claimedmany voters had not yet received electoralidentification cards. Haiti, one of thepoorest countries in the world, hasbeen administered by an interim gov-ernment since an armed uprisingforced former President Jean-BaptisteAristide into exile in 2004. AU N -sponsored force from Brazil wasdeployed in the country to restoreorder following A r i s t i d e s departure.Still, more than 800 Haitians havedied since September 2004, and thedissolution of Parliament means thePresident has been ruling by decreesince January. The poor security situa-tion in the country – it is estimatedthat 10 people are kidnapped daily –and shortage of election workers haveraised concerns over thefeasibility of conducting a poll in Haiti, but there isstill hope that it will spark a democrat-ic reconstruction. The current favoriteto win the Presidency is Rene Preval,whose Hope Platform has strong back-ing from former Aristide supporters.Elections kick ass.Ford, "America's Car," founded in 1903by Henry Ford, is now in trouble. It plans tocut 30,000 jobs and close 14 manufacturingplants over the next 6 years.Ford Chairman and CEO, Bill Fordmade the announcement on Monday January23rd, after 10 years of losing market share andprevious cutbacks, such as the 2005 attempt toincrease profit by running the North A m e r i c a nplants at 75% capacity.Over these next six years, Ford will cutup to 30,000 jobs in North America. Half of them will be through "regular retirement andattrition." Some laid-off workers that have acontract through the United Auto Wo r k e r sunion will continue at nearly full pay throughSeptember 2007 when their contract expires. Itwill try to provide incentive packages to someof these and to others, to rid of them sooner.By the end of this first quarter it will reduceo fficer ranks 12% and cut 4,000 salaried jobs.All of these announcements have comeafter Ford made a deal with the UAWto lowerhealth care costs, which meant to reduce its$3.1 billion health care bill by $850 million.Ford cited health care costs as one of itsbiggest challenges.Within the next three years, manufac-turing plants in St. Louis (Missouri), Wi x o m(Michigan), Atlanta (Georgia), and Batavia(Ohio) will close. This year it will decide ontwo additional plants to close in the UnitedStates for the following year and it will reduceshifts of production in other plants. Ford's cut-back represents 20-25% of its 122,000 workersin the United States, reducing worldwide man-ufacturing capacity by 26%.Besides the closings, Fordannounced new changes and plansfor the future. For example, it willtry to make more hybrid vehicles,will design more smaller-sized cars,and try to reduce the price tag on allvehicles without the messy incen-tives and rebates that are nowo ff e r e d .Ok, so Ford has a plan. Butwhat are the people who have beenlaid off to do? I will admit that someof Ford's cars, Aston Martin, Jaguar,D a i m l e r, Land Rover, Lincoln,Mazda, Mercury and, Volvo, arequite attractive and a pleasure todrive. Some, like the Expedition andExplorer and quite large, evenunnecessarily so. If one wanted tobuy a family vehicle, minivans areactually safer, more fuel eff i c i e n t ,and better designed then large-sized SUV's,trucks, and the like. Still others are racy andhave fun looks.H o w e v e r, the way Ford decided to cutfunding is by first cutting health care pay andthen dropping people's jobs. Now, the unem-ployed individual has to pay more out of pock-et for medical costs in addition to findinganother source of living. The only advantage isthat workers in the union are covered until2007, but with the high trend of moving manu-facturing plants overseas and reducing the onesin the United States (with all industries in gen-eral), workers have little time to acquire a newskill to give them a more stable job.F i n a l l y, health care costs are going up,so the fact that Ford is paying less means dras-tic changes to retired workers and their fami-l i e s .Life isn't easy and it is not getting eas-ier any time soon. Perhaps with more standard-ized equipment in manufacturing plants, whichreduce costs, and a greater variety of smallervehicles, Ford will be able to increase profitand rehire some of its unemployed masses. Justdon't put your hopes on it.
Fo rd Will Cut 30,000 Jo b s,Close 14 PlantsElection Roundup Continu e d . . .
Continued from previous page
!Courtesy of workers who are now jobless
The Real Winners of January
Courtesy of Alex Walsh

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