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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. 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.
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.
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.
“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 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.
King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz of Saudi Arabia has died at the age of 90. Abdullah was one of the world’s most powerful men and a key US ally in the region, controlling a fifth of the known global petroleum reserves. In a statement, President Barack Obama praised Abdullah for his “steadfast and passionate belief in the importance of the US-Saudi relationship as a force for stability and security in the Middle East and beyond.”
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?
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
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.
One of the pre-election promises of Tony Abbott’s government was to initiate an inquiry into workplace relations by the Productivity Commission. But the spectre of former prime minister John Howard’s WorkChoices, which lost the Coalition the 2007 election and the PM his seat, meant there was no great rush. The plan was to pave the way for an assault on wages and working conditions by first attacking unions through a Royal Commission specially set-up for the purpose.
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.
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.
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.
On a blistering hot Sunday in January, a group of Aboriginal activists and allies delivered their impassioned accounts to a captivated crowd at The Block, Redfern. The banners behind them displayed powerful messages: “Justice Now! Reopen the TJ Hickey inquest”, “Black Law on Black Land”, and “You may kill our warriors, but you’ll never kill our fight for justice”.
People with a disability, especially young people, are facing another wave of attacks and victimisations by the federal government in a new crackdown on those receiving the Disability Support Pension (DSP). In mid-December, the then-minister for social services, Kevin Andrews, announced that his department would begin investigating people on the DSP. This will be carried out by the Coalition’s leading attack-dog, Scott Morrison, who inherited the ministry after a cabinet reshuffle removed him from the position of immigration minister.

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