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Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro told a meeting of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) in Costa Rica on January 28 that Latin America is living in a “new historic era” marked by unity and great opportunity. CELAC was first launched in 2011 in Venezuela, uniting all countries in the Americas except for the United States and Candada. It was set up as a counter-point to the Organisation of American States, which traditionally been dominated by the US.
Update: An earlier version of this article reported that asylum seeker Puvaneethan reboarded the plane after protesting passengers had been removed. Reports have now confirmed he is now back in Maribyrnong detention centre in Melbourne. *** Three passengers were removed from a Qantas flight from Melbourne to Darwin this morning after refusing to take their seats in protest against the transfer of an asylum seeker on the same flight.
“I want to see Cuba before everything changes,” is how many reacted to Barack Obama’s surprise December 17 announcement that he would restore diplomatic relations with Cuba — severed by the US in 1961 — and urge Congress to lift the US blockade. Seeing Cuba for oneself can only be encouraged, but those who fear that it will soon be transformed by American tourists, US corporations and commercialism need not rush to book flights.
The Barking Dog Edited by Caroline Lund Order via lundshep@att.net US$20 in US or $25 elsewhere I asked Barry Sheppard, the longtime partner, friend and comrade of late US socialist, auto-worker and union activist Caroline Lund (pictured) to collect and publish The Barking Dog, because I thought it was one of the best shop floor newsletters from an auto worker I had ever read. I believed this collection would be an inspiration and a guide for the next generation of rank-and-file auto workers. But I was wrong: The Barking Dog is much more than that.

The fishing community of Baga, by Lake Chad in Borno state, Nigeria, was under siege by armed Islamic fundamentalist group Boko Haram for a week at the start of January, writes Baba Aye. Nigeria’s President Goodluck Jonathan, who condemned the “dastardly terrorist attack” against Charlie Hebdo cartoonists within hours of the tragic event in Paris, did not say a word about this tragedy.

As predicted by opinion polls, Liberal National Party (LNP) Premier Campbell Newman was an early casualty on election night, January 31. He was defeated in his electorate of Ashgrove by Kate Jones, the Environment Minister in the previous Labor government. He is the first incumbent premier to lose his seat in Australia. With more than 70% of the votes counted at the close of counting on election night, the outcome for the ALP was even better than opinion polls had predicted.
The National Freedom Movement is planning a second sit-in protest at Parliament House in Canberra when federal parliament resumes on February 9. Protesters will raise issues, including the large numbers of Aboriginal children being taken from their families and the destruction of homeland communities. Aboriginal leader Michael Anderson said: “Unity is how we will achieve anything. We need to come together as nations, support and educate each other on how we take what is ours.” VIGIL FOR BALI NINE HELD
The sound system was playing the famous Italian resistance song “Bella Ciao”. Flags of parties from across the left and the continent wiggled as their bearers danced and sang along to celebrate SYRIZA's win in the January 25 Greek elections. Ouzo flowed and fireworks flared. We could have been outside a G8 summit in the early noughties. Only the explosives weren’t directed at police lines, but in the air. The crowd chanting at the politician wasn’t protesting, but cheering. An international movement that has become very good at licking its wounds was learning to celebrate.
The Cross Border Collective released this statement on January 28. *** Thousands of men, women and children held in Australia’s detention camps are growing increasingly desperate in their second year of incarceration in camps described as “hellholes”.
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.
At least a dozen anti-government protesters were shot dead by Egyptian security forces on the fourth anniversary of the uprising that ousted dictator Hosni Mubarak. More than 15 people were killed in Egypt on January 25 in anti-government protests marking the fourth anniversary of the popular uprising that toppled former dictator Hosni Mubarak in 2011. The slaughter marks the bloodiest day of protests since Abdel Fattah al-Sisi was elected president in June, with security forces and plain-clothed police officers reportedly firing at demonstrators.
I have decided there’s no longer any point trying to write these columns while we have a government as truly mad as this one. What’s the point of trying to think up witty ways to mock this bunch of heartless, cruel, out-of-touch, poor-hating, Tory scum if their leader just wanders about doing bat shit insane things like “knighting” Prince Philip?