Brazil’s president forced to rescind order calling out the army against protesters

by Bill Van Auken, WSWS

Brazil’s President Michel Temer Thursday was forced to rescind an executive order he had issued the day before calling the army into the streets and giving it powers of arrest for the period of one week.

The measure was ostensibly taken to quell a protest Wednesday in the capital of Brasilia called by the unions and social movements to oppose pension and labor “reforms” attacking basic social rights and to demand Temer’s ouster and replacement through the calling of direct elections.

Calling out the army, however, had the air of an act of desperation on the part of a president who is facing multiple corruption charges and is viewed as illegitimate by the majority of the Brazilian population.

The most recent opinion polls indicate that Temer, the former vice president who was installed in the presidential palace through the impeachment of his predecessor, Workers Party (PT) President Dilma Rousseff in August 2016 on trumped-up charges of budgetary irregularities, is opposed by 95 percent of the population, with 85 percent favoring the immediate convening of new elections…

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Quebec premier amplifies threat to outlaw 175,000-strong construction strike

by Keith Jones, WSWS

On the second day of a strike by 175,000 Quebec construction workers that has shut down hundreds of building sites across Canada’s second most populous province, thousands of workers took to the streets to highlight their opposition to the construction bosses’ sweeping concession demands.

While the workers were marching Thursday morning, Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard announced his Liberal government will illegalize the strike if workers are not back on the job by Monday morning.

“We can’t let the economy bleed $45 million each day,” declared Couillard from Israel, where he is on a trade mission to promote Bombardier and other Quebec-based businesses. “I have asked the government to be ready to act Monday.”

Already last week Couillard signaled he would move rapidly to outlaw a building workers’ strike, saying his government would not “remain arms folded” while a “vital part” of Quebec’s economy was paralyzed.

Among the largest worker job-actions in North America in years, the Quebec construction strike has angered and unnerved the Canadian ruling elite.

Quebec’s largest employer group, the Conseil du Patronat (CPQ), has denounced the workers for taking the province “hostage.” It is urging Couillard not only to pass an “emergency” back-to-work law, but to consider permanently stripping construction workers of the right to strike.

What has piqued the ire of big business and their political hirelings is that the strike has pointed to the enormous social power of the working class. When Couillard and the CPQ rage about the $45 million a day the strike is “costing” Quebec they are admitting, albeit backhandedly, that the workers produce vast wealth. This wealth is appropriated by the construction bosses, banks, and other sections of big business in the form of immense profits…

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Syria’s al-Qaeda affiliate escapes from Canada’s terror list

by Evan Dyer, CBC

The Syrian branch of al-Qaeda, currently calling itself Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), has succeeded in getting itself off Canada’s list of designated terrorist entities following its latest identity shift.

That complicates the task of prosecuting Canadians who travel to join the group, send it money or propagandize on its behalf.

It also illustrates the pitfalls of Canada following the lead of the U.S. in designating terror groups…

Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (the Organization for Conquest in the Levant) began life as an expeditionary force called Jabhat al-Nusra (the Support Front), despatched into Syria in 2011 by the leader of al-Qaeda in Iraq, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, now “caliph” of the Islamic State (ISIS). Jabhat al-Nusra was led by Syrian jihadist Abu Mohammad al-Jawlani.

The United States put the group on its terrorist list in 2012, as the Syrian branch of al-Qaeda, and Canada followed suit.

Al-Baghdadi soon crossed into Syria himself, renouncing his allegiance to al-Qaeda and founding ISIS in April 2013…

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What’s In A Name? U.S. Takes Syria’s Al-Qaeda Off Terror Watchlists

by Whitney Webb, Mint Press News

It turns out that getting off the U.S.’ and Canada’s terror watchlist is as simple as changing your name. While the terror watchlist in the U.S. has long been both secretive and controversial – as “reasonable suspicion” is enough to label any individual a “terrorist” – terrorist groups tied to al-Qaeda have found that getting off the watchlist only requires minor rebranding.

The terror group, long known to most as Jabhat al-Nusra or the al-Nusra Front, has continued to function as al-Qaeda’s branch in Syria long after Daesh (ISIS) renounced its allegiance to the group in 2014. It was first placed on the U.S. and Canadian terror watchlists in 2012.

But by changing its name to Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), the group has managed to secure its removal from terror watchlists in both the U.S. and Canada, allowing citizens of those countries to donate money to the group, travel to fight with them and disseminate the group’s propaganda without incident.

In response, Nicole Thompson of the U.S. State Department told CBC News last Monday that while “we believe these actions are an al-Qaeda play to bring as much of the Syrian opposition under its operational control as possible, […] we are still studying the issue carefully.”

But the State Department is likely hesitant to label HTS a terror group, even despite the group’s link to al-Qaeda, as the U.S. government has directly funded and armed the Zenki brigade, a group that joined forces with al-Nusra under the HTS banner, with sophisticated weaponry…

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