Duroyan Fertl

Leading trade unionists, Irish republican party Sinn Fein and a range of other left voices have backed a call for a new anti-austerity force in Irish politics capable of winning government. In the wake of SYRIZA’s historic win in the Greek elections on January 25, Sinn Fein national chairperson, Declan Kearney, called for formal discussions to begin on building an Irish left coalition to cohere an anti-austerity government in the South.
An estimated 33,000 people marched through the Basque city of Donostia on January 17 to protest ongoing Spanish state repression against civil rights activists and lawyers in the Basque Country. Marching under a large banner reading “Human Rights, Resolution, Peace”, the demonstration included members of the Basque pro-independence left coalition EH Bildu, trade unions and supporters of Basque political prisoners.
A demonstration organised by a new right-wing movement in Germany against the “Islamisation” of Europe on January 12 drew 25,000 people in Dresden ― the largest such march yet. However, anti-racist counter-rallies drew 100,000 people across Germany the same night, and 35,000 in Dresden just two-days earlier to reject the racists. Since October last year, Germany has become increasingly polarised by weekly marches against “Islamicisation by the new right-wing movement Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamisation of the Occident (PEGIDA).
Outrage and disbelief met a report in the December 30 Irish Times that British TV station Channel 4 was commissioning a comedy set to the backdrop of the Irish Famine. The Famine lasted from 1845 until 1852, with more than one million people dying from starvation and disease. Many of them were buried without coffins in mass pauper graves. Others were left where they dropped for fear of contagion, their mouths green from the grass they ate in desperation.
Up to 100,000 protesters shut down Dublin city on December 10 in the latest mass demonstration against the introduction of water charges. Protesters from across the country braved media hysteria, riot police and police barricades, and the threat of a fierce storm, to descend on the centre of Dublin, placing Leinster House – home of the Dáil (Irish parliament) – and other government buildings in “lock down”.
Faced with growing public revolt against the introduction of water charges and faltering support, the Irish government is in a deepening crisis. The government ― a coalition between the right-wing Fine Gael (FG) party and the Irish Labour Party ― came to power in 2011 on the back of public outrage over austerity and social spending cuts.
Nearly twenty-five years to the day after the fall of the Berlin Wall, socialist party Die Linke (“The Left”) looks set to form government in the eastern German state of Thuringia for the first time. After two months of uncertainty following September 14 state elections, the way was cleared for Die Linke to head a coalition government in December, alongside the Social Democrats (SPD) and the Greens, on November 4 when nearly 70% of SPD members in Thuringia voted to enter the coalition.
Twenty-three years too late, the real truth is finally being told about the Hillsborough disaster of April 15, 1989, which killed 96 football fans and injured hundreds more. A new 354-page report, released by the Hillsborough Independent Panel after accessing more than 400,000 pages of secret documents, has implicated the police, media and British government in what has been described as “the biggest cover-up of British legal history”.
Elections in the German state of Saarland on March 25 have dealt a heavy blow to the federal coalition government of Chancellor Angela Merkel. Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU) kept its 12-year hold on power, holding steady at 35.2% of the small state’s voters. But Merkel's allies at a federal level ― the neoliberal Free Democratic Party (FDP) ― were wiped out at the state polls. The FDP’s share of the vote dropped from 9.2% in 2009 to 1.2%, well below the 5% required to enter parliament.
German President Christian Wulff resigned on February 17 after prosecutors applied to have his presidential immunity stripped in a corruption scandal. Wulff has been accused of having received kickbacks from businessmen, including a home loan of 500,000 euros (paid via an anonymous bank cheque) in 2008. When German tabloid Bild threatened to publish the allegations, Wulff left voice messages on the editor's phone threatening "war".
Germany’s domestic spy agency, the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution (BfV), has been exposed for spying on left-wing MPs. German magazine Der Spiegel said on January 23 that the BfV spied on MPs from Germany's biggest left-wing party, the socialist Die Linke ("The Left"). Der Spiegel said the intelligence agency had 27 of Die Linke's members in the Bundestag ― more than one third of its federal MPs ― and a further 11 members of state parliaments, under surveillance, costing 390,000 euros a year.
Elections in the city-state of Berlin on September 18 delivered another serious blow to the government of German Chancellor Angela Merkel, even as her party’s vote increased. Merkel’s centre-right Christian Democratic Union (CDU) came in second place in the Berlin election, winning 23.4% of the vote – up from 21.3% in 2006.
Elections in the eastern German state of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania on September 4 resulted in another humiliating defeat for the conservative government of German Chancellor Angela Merkel.   Merkel's centre-right Christian Democratic Union (CDU) had already suffered five election defeats this year.   The Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania defeat was particularly galling for Merkel because the state includes her own constituency.  
The debate over genetically modified (GM) food has flared up again recently, after Greenpeace destroyed an experimental CSIRO wheat crop in Canberra on July 14.   The Australian Federal Police is now investigating Greenpeace over the incident, which CSIRO scientists claim has set their research back by up to a year.   Greenpeace argued the crop posed a threat to the environment and human health. Plans are underway for human trials of the GM wheat before tests are conducted on animals.  
Shortly before noon on July 21, officers from the Australian Federal Police raided the Sydney office of Greenpeace Australia Pacific, confiscating material but making no arrests. The raid was conducted in relation to an “alleged trespass and property damage” on July 14, when Greenpeace activists in Hazmat suits used whipper-snippers to destroy a CSIRO trial of genetically modified (GM) wheat being grown in Canberra’s north. Greenpeace claimed that the wheat was planned for secret human trials and had already caused allergic reactions in mice.
The German government announced on May 30 that Germany’s 17 nuclear power stations would all be permanently shut down by 2022. Germany’s seven oldest nuclear power stations ― temporarily switched off after public outcry following the Fukushima disaster ― will remain off-line and be permanently decommissioned. An eighth was already off line, and will stay so. Six of the remaining nine stations will be shut down in 2021 and the final three will be turned off in 2022.

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