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Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi looks set to resign after the December 4 referendum on constitutional changes he backed is projected to be defeated. Ahead of the vote, Green Left Weekly's Dick Nichols looks at the issues behind the referendum and Yes and No campaigns.

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President-elect Donald Trump announced on November 30 that former Goldman Sachs partner Steven Mnuchin — a man described as “the anti-populist from Hell” — is his pick for treasury secretary.

The statement below was released by socialist groups from around the Asia-Pacific region on December 1 to coincide with protests across Indonesia and elsewhere in solidarity with West Papua’s struggle for freedom.

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We, the undersigned organisations, express our support to the struggle of the people of West Papua for self-determination.

December 1 marks the West Papua’s Independence Day for Papuans when the Morning Star flag was raised in 1961 before annexed by Indonesia. The flag symbolised the aspiration of many Papuans for a Free West Papua.

Chavistas march against right-wing attacks in September.

The government of Hugo Chavez, who was first elected in 1998, helped lead the Bolivarian revolutionary process that made impressive social gains by redistributing oil wealth and promoting participatory democracy.

Since Chavez’s death in 2013, the Bolivarian government led by President Nicolas Maduro has faced mounting problems. In recent times, a worsening economic crisis has undermined the revolution’s gains and, along with political gains by the counter-revolutionary opposition, has raised questions about the survival of the revolution.

Syria’s five-year-old war is reaching a turning point. In the north and west, ISIS is on the back foot. Its territory is declining, as it is in Iraq.

But as with Iraq, the defeat of ISIS is likely to create new conflict over what comes next.

The north-eastern Syrian city of Aleppo has since 2012 been divided between the city’s west, held by the regime of beleaguered dictator Bashar al-Assad, and its east, held by a fractious coalition of predominantly Islamist rebel groups.

Earlier this year, a poll found the British public were generally proud of their country’s role in colonialism and the British Empire. The YouGov poll from January found 44% were proud of Britain’s history of colonialism, while only 21% regretted it. The same poll also asked about whether the British Empire was a good thing or a bad thing: 43% said it was good, while only 19% said it was bad. 

Residents responded to ambulance workers’ calls to protest the proposed shut down of Fairfield’s Ambulance Office, with about 200 people gathering on November 26 to show their opposition to the NSW government’s plans to close it down.

The government plan involves basing all local ambulances at a new “superstation” at Bankstown, to coordinate with outlying paramedic response points.

As the year draws to a close, Jeremy Corbyn, the left-wing British Labour Party leader, might give a short sigh of relief. After one of the stormiest year in British politics for generations, he is one of the few who will enter 2017 in a stronger position.

The nearly two-year struggle against the Perth Freight Link (PFL) freeway project is entering what may be a decisive period. While the campaign on the street has quietened somewhat, that may soon change.

While the Colin Barnett government beat a strategic retreat on Stage 2, it has declared its intention to push ahead with Stage 1 (Roe 8) through the Beeliar Wetlands. The Premier even claims that construction may begin before Christmas.

The Victorian government has backed down on its plan to transfer Aboriginal teenagers from a youth detention centre to a maximum-security prison.

The government had planned to transfer 40 children in youth custody to a segregated wing of Barwon prison while the Melbourne Youth Justice Centre at Parkville was being repaired.

Fast food workers, many of whom are young, have been left without a union fighting for decent wages and conditions.

On November 21, a new union — the Retail and Fast Food Workers Union (RAFFWU) — announced its formation. It is a rival in more ways than one to the conservative Shop, Distributive & Allied Employees Association (SDA).

The SDA, long led by Labor Party officials, has been at the centre of a national wages scandal in which 250,000 people are being paid less than the award by major employers including Coles, Woolworths, Hungry Jack’s, KFC and McDonalds

At a packed meeting on November 25, National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU) members at Murdoch University in Perth expressed no confidence in the university bargaining team and called on the Vice Chancellor to intervene in the negotiations.

They voted unanimously to begin industrial action with a stop work between 8.30am and 12.30pm on December 7. 

They will be the first university workers in this round of collective bargaining to take industrial action.

The Zika virus, borne by the mosquito Aedes aegypti, was declared by the World Health Organization (WHO) on November 18 to no longer be a global emergency, to the dismay of many health workers around the world. This decision will minimise the amount of research and public vigilance against Zika infection.

Earlier this year Fremantle City Council decided to cancel its Australia Day fireworks next month, describing them as “culturally insensitive”. Instead, the council announced plans to hold a free concert in Fremantle’s Esplanade Park on January 28.

The event, titled “One Day in Fremantle”, features a concert headlined by John Butler, Dan Sultan and Mama Kin and will celebrate diversity and multiculturalism in Australia today.

Irene Bolger was branch secretary of the Victorian branch of the Royal Australian Nursing Federation (RANF) when 20,000 nurses went on strike for 50 days in 1986. It was one of the longest strikes in Australian history and it was led by women.

Now, flipping through a stack of trade union and history books, Bolger says: “Lengthy on an international scale, it was 50 days of rage. But still I can't seem to find any reference to one of the most significant strikes in Australian history. The sexism continues."

Supporters of the NSW Hunter Valley community of Wollar held simultaneous rallies in Sydney and Mudgee on November 29 against a coalmine expansion that threatens to wipe out the village. 

The NSW Planning Assessment Commission (PAC) is reviewing the proposal to extend the Wilpinjong coalmine. It held a public hearing about the project in Mudgee but Wollar residents and supporters boycotted it and protested instead. They said the process is stacked against them and the community’s legal rights have been taken away. 

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