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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.

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.
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.
Grandmothers Against Removals released this statement on January 28. * * * Activists from the national movement Grandmothers Against Removals joined the Aboriginal protest convergence in Canberra over the Invasion Day long weekend, including the march on Parliament House.
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.
Workers at International Flavours & Fragrances (IFF) began occupying the Dandenong factory on January 27 after negotiations for a new workplace agreement stalled. Negotiations have been ongoing since June, after contention arose over management’s proposal for a $0.55 an hour wage rise if workers forfeited one of their two paid 10 minute breaks.
Harold John (Hal) Alexander passed away on December 19 in Sydney. He was born on April 9, 1924 and was for many years an electrician, mostly in heavy industry. He joined the then-illegal Communist Party in 1941, at the age of 17, and was a member until its dissolution in 1991. He was an organiser from 1954 to 1967 in Sydney, then Adelaide. He suffered many arrests for his political activities and served three jail terms, two involving hunger strikes. He worked and lived with the Arrente people of Central Australia on and off from 1985.
A week before the Queensland election more than 500 people rallied against premier Campbell Newman and the Liberal National Party on January 24. Speakers included Indigenous activist Sam Watson, Secretary of the Electrical Trades Union Peter Simpson, Debbie Kilroy from Sisters Inside, Drew Hutton from Lock The Gate Alliance and Greens candidate Jonathan Sri.
"Today was the best Invasion Day protest that I have ever been to," Socialist Alliance councillor Sue Bolton told Green Left Weekly on January 26. "There was a real feeling of Aboriginal pride and resistance. The crowd was bigger today too." In Melbourne, the protest began with a smoking ceremony near Parliament House followed by a rally on the parliament steps. The rally then marched to the official "Australia Day" parade, moved the barricades and marched along the official parade route.