United States

US Secretary of State and former CEO of oil giant Exxon Mobil Rex Tillerson has threatened Venezuela with a ban on oil exports, only days after hinting that the country’s president, Nicolas Maduro, could be overthrown by a military uprising.

Describing Venezuela’s armed forces as a possible “agent of change”, Tillerson suggested on February 1 that the military could “manage a peaceful transition” should they remove Maduro from office.

In a move that “smacks of something you see in a totalitarian country,” according to historian Douglas Brinkley, United States President Donald Trump is reportedly pushing for a huge display of his country’s military prowess.

In Tokyo on January 24, 11 Pacific Rim countries including Australia reached an agreement to sign a revived Trans-Pacific Partnership (rebranded the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership, CPTPP).

The huge free trade deal almost fell into oblivion last year when US President Donald Trump pulled his country out, citing concerns for the loss of US jobs.

In his now infamous statement on immigration last month, Trump expressed his views clearly: He doesn’t want immigrants from “shithole” countries in Africa, Haiti and El Salvador — Black and Latina — to be let into the US.

On the other hand, he wants to encourage immigrants from predominantly white nations like Norway.

There are few things more restorative right now than reading the work of US fantasy and science fiction writer Ursula K Le Guin.

Her writing offers a temporary reprieve from the terrors and traumas of our current political moment of soaring wealth inequality, and the daily struggle to resist the belligerent menace of US President Donald Trump and the ruling class he serves.

The celebrated novelist who authored more than 20 novels, as well as collections of poetry and children’s books, passed away on January 22 aged 88.

"Last year it felt like a funeral. This year it feels like a resistance."

Those words--from one of the many hundreds of thousands of protesters who took to the streets on January 20 as part of the massive Women's Marches marking the shameful anniversary of US President Donald Trump's first year in office--summed up the political mood.

In two words: Pissed off.

Trump properties around the world are facing blowback after US President Donald Trump’s racist comments about why the US accepts migrants from “shithole countries” to members of Congress on January 11.

Latin American leaders have strongly defended the world’s most impoverished migrants after US President Donald Trump reportedly referred to certain developing nations as “shithole countries”.

Bolivian President Evo Morales expressed his indignation on Twitter: “To insult African countries, El Salvador and Haiti, Trump insults the world and demonstrates his opinions and politics are contaminated by capitalist racism, fascism, arrogance, and ignorance.

“History has shown that those who offend like this end up eating their words.”

The demonstrations that erupted in Iran on December 28 and continued for days appeared to have died down. There have been clashes with the repressive forces, and more than 20 people have been killed and many arrested (there are widely divergent figures).

One of the most hyped "events" of American television, The Vietnam War, has started on the PBS network. The directors are Ken Burns and Lynn Novick. Acclaimed for his documentaries on the Civil War, the Great Depression and the history of jazz, Burns says of his Vietnam films, "They will inspire our country to begin to talk and think about the Vietnam war in an entirely new way".

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