Violent Protests For Education Reform In Chile

If you live in the UK you will probably know about the rising university tuition fees that caused large protests in London, and if you live in America you may have heard of the student protests to education cuts in New Jersey . In fact, wherever you liver, demand for education reform and changes to the system have the ability to mobilise large numbers of students.

In Chile, the protests to education reform are massive and have been continuing for 2 years, but the largest one in 2013 occurred yesterday. Approximately 100,000 people have been protesting in the streets of Santiago (the capital), even though the education system in Chile is said to be one the best in Latin America. The issue lies in the divide of education standards – the protesters are arguing that whilst the middle-class are receiving high class education standard, the lower classes are receiving a much poorer quality education.

Riot police in the city fired water guns, tear gas and used paintball guns to prevent the violent protest after being attacked by students. In total, 8 officers were injured and 109 people were arrested. One of the officers was hit by acid and is now in a critical condition.

Although the protest started off peaceful it soon became violent leading to widespread destruction of the city.

How can Chile progress and prevent further violence?

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Digestible Politics


Want to know more about the Syria crises? Then read on and get a basic overview of what is happening in the country and what the fuss is about:

Syria is a mountainous country in western Asia bordering Turkey, Iraq and the Mediterranean Sea. For many years it has been involved in conflict, invasion, occupation and other disputes. Most notable invasions include those of the Romans, Crusaders, Mongols, and Turks. As a result of such invasions, Syria has developed a very large ethnic diversity. Although there are a number of different religions, the two religions that make up the vast majority of the population are Alawite Shias and Arab Sunnis.


In 1946, Syria gained independence from the rule of France but conflict continuous as these different groups occupied in the country continue to dispute. From 1958-1961 Syria united with Gamal Abdel Nasser’s (the Prime Minister at the time) Egypt. However, in 1961 an army coup gained independence back from Egypt before the Ba’ath Party took control in 1963. This is a Renaissance party from the Alawite Shias religion and they have ruled ever since, but the uprising in 2011 made it uncertain how long they were going to last.

Under President Hafez al-Assad, from 1970-2000, Syria saw a dictatorial style of leadership. The  Six Day War in 1967 led to Syria losing the Golan Heights (an Area in Syria occupied by the Israelis). In Lebanon (next to Syria), civil war broke out in the 1970s allowing Syria to to extend its military influence in that country. In 2005, Syria pulled out  of Lebanon in 2005 after heavy pressure to do so, especially after the assassination of the Lebanese prime Minister Rafik Hariri – it is uncertain who assassinated him, but it is suspected the culprit is Syrian.

Domestically, opposition to the government has serious consequences with thousands and thousands killed in the 1980s uprising of the Muslim Brotherhood in Hama. In 2000, the death of Hazed al-Assed allowed Syria a brief moment of relaxation but it was not enough for the government to have a complete change around and create complete political freedom in the country. In 2011-2012 Syrian security stepped up their forces to tackle anti-government protesters using tanks and other dangerous weapons, inspired by the Arab Spring. The protestors became more organised and more militant against the Ba’ath government. The protest against the government developed into a civil war in Syria in 2012, and the desertion of many government officials highlighted the problems are only going to get worse.

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Guns In America

Gun policy has been a very contentious issue in recent years, especially in the light of the incidents at Sandy Hook and Aurora. As a result Obama has made some key proposals:

  • Reintroduce an expired ban on “military-style” assault weapons
  • Limit ammunition magazines to 10 rounds
  • Background checks on all gun sales
  • Ban on possession and sale of armour-piercing bullets
  • Harsher penalties for gun-traffickers, especially unlicensed dealers who buy arms for criminals
  • Approve the appointment of the head of the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives


Here are some statistics on guns in America which sparked Obama’s desire to propose such changes”

  •  9,960 people were killed by a gun in the USA in 2010, a rate of 3.2 per 100,000 people.
  • They have the 26th highest death rate by guns annually in the world
  • Gun ownership is declining – In 1990 46% of households and 29% of individuals said they owned a gun, today this has fallen to 32% and 21

The second amendment of the constitution gives American citizen the right to “bear arms”. As a result, the reforms proposed by Obama has created arguments, feeling that he is becoming ‘imperial’ in manner, taking the law into his own hands and becoming to dominant – something the Founding Fathers wished to prevent through their implementation of a series of checks and balances on the executive.

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Blair’s Warning To Miliband

Tony Blair has warned Ed Miliband about turning the UK Labour Party back to a left-wing protest group that it had been in previous decades. In the New Statesman, a political magazine, Blair stated that Labour is “back as the party opposing ‘Tory cuts'” and is in danger of becoming a “repository for people’s anger” rather than a party with answer’s to the problems the country are currently facing.

Ed Miliband responded to Blair’s comments stating that the Labour party is “moving on and moving forward” and was leading the party in his “own way”. He appreciated Blair’s comments but Miliband feels it is necessary to “sketch out a different vision for the future” to ensure past mistakes are not made again.


Blair showed his concerns of the “old left/right battles” that was in British politics before he himself moved Labour further to the centre ground, through New Labour. He warns Labour against settling back into its “old territory of defending the status quo” and allying itself “to the interests that will passionately and often justly oppose what the government is doing”.

Others have feared the Labour Party, and Ed Miliband, are becoming a second conservative party. Although this appears extreme, Miliband is unwilling to return to traditional ideological grounds for the party. He states: “I always take Tony Blair very, very seriously, but I think what the Labour Party is doing under my leadership is moving on and moving forward. I’m leading in my own way and I think that is what’s most important.”

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London G8 Talks – Korea and Syria Important

The G8 are the world’s 8 wealthiest countries and include the USA, UK, Germany, France, Japan, Canada, Italy, and Russia. At the London G8 talks the crises in Syria and Korea have been high on the agenda for foreign ministers. For those of you who do not already know, North Korea is threatening to launch nuclear missiles and in Syria there has been an ongoing civil war between those loyal to the Syrian Ba’ath party and those who oppose it.

After the session had come to a close William Hague (the UK Foreign Secretary) said that there had been an “intense discussions about Syria, the DPRK (North Korea), Iran and North Africa as you would expect”, but the G8 also pledged to “work together to end sexual violence in conflict”.


Pyongyang, North Korea, have moved two missiles to the East coast of the country which means that it is possible they could be in range of US bases on Guam. Officials say that the launch date could be as close as Monday, corresponding with North Korea’s founder Kim Il-sung’s birthday.

In Syria, over 60,000 people have been estimated to have died since the uprising against the President Assad’s government, which began in March 2011. This conflict continues and the death toll rises, and the Syrian National Coalition (SNC) demand more and more humanitarian assistance.

Are you worried? Can the G8 make a difference?

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Digestible Politics

Congress of Uruguay Approves Bill Supporting Gay Marriage

The Uruguayan Congress has followed Argentina to support gay marriage and cast an overwhelming vote to legalise it. The bill has faced opposition from the Roman Catholic Church, but it still managed to achieve over two-thirds of the required votes in the lower chamber of their Congress. The proposal has also been backed in the upper house and the bill is expected to be signed into law within the next 2 weeks by the president (Jose Mujica) who has been keenly supporting the bill.

The Marriage Equality Law allows fo same-sex couples to chose the surnames of children they adopt and it increases the minimum age of consent for a sexual relationship from 12 for women and 14 for men to 16 for both genders.

marriage uruguay

The question is, how long will it be until other countries follow suit? Or do you not want your country to follow?

Although some American states have made significant strides in supporting and legalising gay marriage, plenty of others do not want to see gay marriage ever implemented to law. This has been a social problem that has divided people for a long time and it is a problem that politicians fear to face in case they lose support – Are they, therefore, not fulfilling their representative function?

In the UK, same sex marriage is not legal. Although the law differs between the 4 countries of the UK, since 2005 all UK countries have been allowed to enter into civil partnerships, a separate union which provides the legal consequences of marriage. In 2006, the High Court rejected a legal bid by a British lesbian couple who had married in Canada to have their union recognised as a marriage in the UK and not as a civil partnership

What are your views?

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Digestible Politics

Obama’s 2014 Budget

President Barack Obama is proposing a $3.77 trillion U.S. government budget for 2014 that would change taxes for the wealthy and adjust how Social Security benefits are calculated, a plan that fails to satisfy members of both parties.The proposal intends to reduce the deficit by nearly $2 trillion during the next decade, through a combination of new revenues and budget cuts.  It includes a minimum 30 percent tax on people making $1 million or more a year. Obama is pushing for a compromise between Republicans who refuse to raise taxes and Democrats who are seeking to protect popular programs that provide pensions and health care to the elderly and poor.

budget 2014

The president says his proposed budget is not his ideal plan to cut the deficit, but an effort at compromise to end what he says has been a cycle of short-term, crisis-driven decision-making. Competing budget plans have already been passed by the Republican-controlled House of Representatives and the Democratic-controlled Senate, setting the stage for tough negotiations.

Republicans are opposed to raising more government revenue, after a deal with Democrats earlier this year that increased income-tax rates on wealthy Americans.  And lawmakers in the president’s Democratic Party are angry over his suggestion to switch to a modified formula to measure inflation, which will lower annual cost-of-living increases for Social Security recipients.

President Obama’s Proposed 2014 Budget Overview:

  • Includes $1.8 trillion of additional budget deficit reduction over 10 years
  • Closes tax loopholes and reduces tax benefits for the wealthiest
  • Includes $400 billion in health savings
  • Includes $1 billion investment to launch manufacturing innovation institutes
  • Provides $50 billion for infrastructure investment

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North Korea – Are You Concerned?

Today South Korea has indicated that North Korea is a “vital threat” due to concerns that they are testing out nuclear missiles. A test launch would violate the UN Security Council Resolution 1718, passed in 2006, stating that the North “must not conduct any further nuclear test or launch of a ballistic missile”.US and South Korean sources believe that North Korea has at least one ballistic missile with a range of 3,000km ready and waiting to fire.The launch, according to South Korean Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se, could happen “anytime from now”.

Furthermore, away from nuclear missiles, South Korea has been hit by a major cyber attack which affected a number of banks and broadcasters – it is suspected that North Korea is to blame.

Currently this ‘cold war’ is at a biting point and the consequences could be devastating!

What are your views? Are you concerned?

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Digestible Politics

Margaret Thatcher – What is your reaction?

With the recent death of The Iron Lady various emotions have been felt throughout the world. She did good and she did bad for the country, including the substantial rise in GDP during her time as Prime Minister but also caused a huge increase in unemployment. Here is how some  have reacted:

David Cameron (Prime Minister)

We have lost a great leader, a great prime minister and a great Briton.

As our first woman prime minister, Margaret Thatcher succeeded against all the odds, and the real thing about Margaret Thatcher is that she didn’t just lead our country, she saved our country, and I believe she’ll go down as the greatest British peacetime prime minister.

Her legacy will be the fact she served her country so well, she saved our country and that she showed immense courage in doing so. And people will be learning about what she did and her achievements in decades, probably for centuries to come.


Barack Obama (US President)

The world has lost one of the great champions of freedom and liberty, and America has lost a true friend. As a grocer’s daughter who rose to become Britain’s first female prime minister, she stands as an example to our daughters that there is no glass ceiling that can’t be shattered. As prime minister, she helped restore the confidence and pride that has always been the hallmark of Britain at its best. And as an unapologetic supporter of our transatlantic alliance, she knew that with strength and resolve we could win the Cold War and extend freedom’s promise.

Mikail Gorbachev (Former Soviet Leader)

Our first meeting in 1984 marked the beginning of a relationship that was difficult sometimes, not always smooth, but serious and responsible from both sides. Gradually, human relations developed as well, they became more and more friendly. Eventually we were able to reach mutual understanding, and this contributed to changes in atmosphere between our country and the West, and to the end of the Cold War. Margaret Thatcher was a great politician. She will remain in our memory and in history.

Ed Miliband, (UK Labour Leader)

She will be remembered as a unique figure. She reshaped the politics of a whole generation. She moved the centre ground of British politics and was a huge figure on the world stage.

The Labour Party disagreed with much of what she did and she will always remain a controversial figure. But we can disagree and also greatly respect her political achievements and her personal strength. She also defined the politics of the 1980s. David Cameron, Nick Clegg and I all grew up in a politics shaped by Lady Thatcher.

What is your reaction?


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