Kerrie Smith

50 Shades of Grey Directed by Sam Taylor-Johnson Starring Dakota Johnson & Jamie Dornan Based on the novel by EL James In cinemas now Perhaps the most concerning thing about 50 Shades of Grey is not that it is a film adaptation of a novel that was written in an online forum — and a Twilight fan forum at that.
The self-styled Islamic State (IS) may be one of the few unifying forces in the Middle East. A range of mutually antagonistic regional and global powers and non-state groups have joined the fight against them. While Western politicians’ pronouncements that the IS has declared war on the world are clichéd, they are echoed by the group’s own statements.

Police attacked students with pepper spray during a protest against university fee deregulation in Sydney on February 13. About 30 students gathered to protest against education minister Christopher Pyne, who was giving the Inaugural Hedley Beare Memorial Lecture at the Sydney Masonic Centre. He planned to “outline the Australian government’s achievements in schools since coming to office”. Police sprayed students to stop them entering the lecture to take part in an advertised Q&A with Pyne.

The world has started looking at Kobane and the other two liberated cantons of what the Kurds call Rojava (Western, or Syrian, Kurdistan) since the resistance in Kobane liberated the town from the brutal Islamic State (IS) forces. Their success is not good news for Turkish President Recip Tayyep Erdogan, achieving a symbolic victory against an underhanded ploy by Turkey’s regime to crush Kurdish resistance in Syria and weaken the Kurdish resistance against the Turkish state.
A man seeking asylum in Australia, who was due to be deported by immigration officials in December, is being held in Villawood detention centre after a protest on December 19 on the plane blocked the deportation. One plane passenger, Steph O’Donnell, said the asylum seeker, Wei Lin, made himself known to passengers on the plane before take-off.
After a fierce struggle lasting 134 days, mainly Kurdish fighters belonging to the Peoples Defence Units (YPG) and Womens Defence Units (YPJ) finally freed the town of Kobane on January 26 from attackers belonging to the terrorist group that calls itself the Islamic State (IS). Kobane remains intact — although, only just.
Fee deregulation will be resurrected this year. This gives education activists that general zombie-slayer feeling any sane human gets from fighting a piece of legislation you thought you had killed already. Last year, fee deregulation was booted out of the Senate, with student boots doing most of the kicking. But it doesn’t want to die and is set to return to parliament, presumably with enough amendments to appeal to the biggest fence sitters.
Blue King Brown (pictured) have are back on tour in January to promote their new album Born Free and just generally to spread the love with their fans. The , which was released in November, is a cutting-edge roots selection of tracks centred around the message of internationalism and the people of the world coming together to support social justice.
The National Union of Students (NUS) Conference 2014 kicked off at the Mannix College in Monash University, Melbourne last week to decide policy and administrative reform for the next year. They also voted to for the reintroduction of a new series of Office Bearing positions for 2015. The conference was dominated by Young Labor Right, Student Unity, The Labor Left, National Labor Students, Socialist Alternative and Grassroots Collective. A scattering of independents also attended.
Nicole Judge worked at refugee centres on Nauru and Manus Island and despite warnings from various bodies, stood before a packed crowd at a Refugee Action Coalition forum in Sydney on November 17 to give an account of her time there. When Judge first set foot on Manus Island she knew she was not getting what she had been promised. When she first signed up to work on Manus Island, she thought it would be a “working holiday”. She was looking for a break; what she found was despair, desperation and the deterioration of minds and bodies.
The education reforms of the 1970s occurred in a very different political climate from today's education movements, yet there are still lessons to be learnt from it. The political agitation and mood for change of the 1960s opened the door to a number of movements, many coming from the Vietnam War. Students were not only shocked by the disturbing images of the war on the TV news during this time, but male students were also liable to be conscripted via a lottery process.
Kyol Blakeney was elected President of the Student Representative Council (SRC) at the University of Sydney last month and the makeup of the new council promises a fresh approach to student politics. Blakeney’s election win marks the first Grassroots and non-Labor candidate to run the SRC in 14 years. One of his main aims as president next year is to create more affordable living circumstances for students.
A fierce debate over women’s participation in video game culture has erupted online. Known as “GamerGate”, it is a battle over power and sexism in video games. Women now represent nearly half of those who play video games, and the traditional gamer identity is being challenged. The problem of sexism in video games is part of a wider problem of misogyny in society, and in the same way misogyny is being confronted in parliament or at universities, it is also being confronted in gaming.
University of Sydney professor Barry Spurr has been suspended following a protest at the university on October 17. Students and staff rallied to express their disgust over the professor had vilified minority groups in emails to his colleagues by using terms such as “abos, mussies, chinky-poos” and referred to a woman as a “worthless slut”.
University of Sydney staff, student groups and alumni voiced their opposition to the government’s proposed education reforms at a Sydney Town Hall meeting on August 25. Twenty-six speakers addressed the proposed fee deregulation. University of Sydney Union board director Edward McMahon put forward an informal motion calling on all university bodies to campaign against deregulation. “These cuts and reforms are being inflicted, ironically, upon my generation by the people who benefited from the more enlightened education policies of yesteryear,” McMahon said.
Progressive activists are concerned about reported unprincipled deal-making in the upcoming elections for the new University of Sydney Student Representative Council. The Sydney University student newspaper Honi Soit reported the Socialist Alternative Sydney University club had decided to support the ALP presidential candidate over the activist Grassroots presidential candidate in the upcoming elections.

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