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On January 21, hundreds of people rallied in Melbourne in support of the ongoing hunger strike on Manus Island. Katie Roberston, a social justice lawyer said "What is going on in Australia when people in New York are rallying against our human rights abuses. Our government does not respect human rights in relation to refugees and it is getting worse everyday. The Immigration Minister can bring these people back to Australia but he chooses not to."
Speakers from the SYRIZA -- the radical left force poised to win Greece's January 25 general elections -- addressed the topic of “How To Recover From Unemployment” and the role of the Manpower Employment Organisation (OAED) in Athens on January 20. The meeting was addressed by SYRIZA candidates Despina Spanou, Dimitrios Stratoulis and Nazos Iliopoulos, as well Maria Karamesini, a SYRIZA member and economics lecturer at Panteio University.
Fifteen people gathered outside the Department of Immigration and Border Protection in Darwin on January 19 to show support for asylum seekers and protest against indefinite mandatory detention. The vigil was called by the Darwin Asylum Seeker Support and Advocacy Network. It was an opportunity to voice concern about the deteriorating health of an Iranian man in detention in Darwin, who had been on hunger strike for more than 50 days, and the ongoing hunger strike, protests and violent clashes inside the Manus Island detention centre.
“Australia's probably never had a PM this bad,” Wil Wagner, frontman of Melbourne's Smith Street Band, told Faster Louder on January 13. Wagner was explaining his band's latest single, succinctly titled “Wipe That Shit-Eating Grin Off Your Punchable Face” and released with artwork featuring the prime minister looking extra punchable with an especially shit-eating grin.
Maithripala Sirisena has taken office as president of Sri Lanka after winning the island's January 8 election. Sirisena won 51.28% of the vote, defeating incumbent president Mahinda Rajapaksa, who got 47.58%. Seventeen other candidates won 1.14% of the votes between them. Rajapaksa had been elected president in 2005 and re-elected in 2010. In his first term, he presided over the most brutal phase of the war between the Sri Lankan government and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).
The statement below was released by Resistance Young Socialist Alliance on January 20. *** Popular concern grows for the well-being of refugees in detention, as more than 700 asylum seekers on Manus Island enter their eighth day of hunger strike, and up to 200 are suffering dehydration. Witnessing an outpour of reports detailing increasingly desperate acts of self harm, the Australian public stands up to say enough to the torture of refugees, and calls on the Coalition government for compassion.
The statement below was released by Resistance Young Socialist Alliance on January 20. *** Popular concern grows for the well-being of refugees in detention, as more than 700 asylum seekers on Manus Island enter their eighth day of hunger strike, and up to 200 are suffering dehydration. Witnessing an outpour of reports detailing increasingly desperate acts of self harm, the Australian public stands up to say enough to the torture of refugees, and calls on the Coalition government for compassion.
New phase in the Cuban epic In ther aftermath of freeing of all the Cuban Five prisoners held by the US and the announcement of new openings in Cuba-US relations, Marxist economist Claudio Katz looks at the new wave of economic reforms in Cuba. Broad opposition movement rises in Mexico
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.
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).
Greece will hold elections on January 25, which polls indicate are likely to be won by the Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA), which campaigns against the brutal austerity that has caused widespread misery across Greece.
The struggles against police murders of African Americans have spread nationally since the events in Ferguson, Missouri last August, when the police murder of an unarmed Black teenager sparked angry protests. A nascent new movement of Black people is being formed, with young Black women and men in the vanguard. A racist backlash centring on defense of the police, a reactionary counter-movement, has also developed, which has strong support in the ruling class.
NSW Labor has anointed a new leader less than three months before the state election in March. With the ALP trailing Mike Baird's Coalition government in the polls, it must have calculated that it has nothing to lose by dumping former leader John Robertson.
Releasing the interim report of the Royal Commission into Trade Union Governance and Corruption on December 19, employment minister Eric Abetz said the findings showed the decision to hold a royal commission into unions had been “vindicated”. However, the fact that almost every substantial case examined by the royal commission was already making its way through the legal system, suggests the system is working. A royal commission is a tool government can effectively employ when there is a serious failure by the existing regulatory system.
Left-wing London-based US journalist and author Mike Marqusee passed away on January 13 from cancer, aged 61. Below, radical sports writer and socialist Dave Zirin pays tribute. It is abridged from The Nation. *** Radical journalist Mike Marqusee, the greatest professional influence on my life, has died. Losing Mike is like losing several pints of blood. I’m left dizzy by the prospect of his absence.
Lisa Cruickshank, long-time activist, feminist, union stalwart, friend, sister and mother died peacefully at home surrounded by family and friends on November 2. Lisa lived her life with courage, commitment, determination and love. She once wrote that: “I’m not about to prioritise class v gender v ethnic struggles — if there’s a decent blue going on, it deserves support.”

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