1122

Good riddance to former state Liberal Premier Mike "Bad" Baird who announced on January 19 that he was resigning from his position.
 
A year ago, Mike Baird was the most popular politician in the country. By the end of last year ose, suffering one of the biggest falls in opinion polls in Australian political history.
 
Serena Williams and Common discuss race, gender and sport in an ESPN interview.

One of the best tennis players and athletes of all time, US star Serena Williams has been scrutinised so much for being a strong, Black woman that she herself began to doubt her own strength and body, the star told her long-time friend and rapper, Common, in a special ESPN interview last month.

“There was a time where I didn’t feel incredibly comfortable about my body because I felt like I was too strong,” Williams said during the one hour-long ESPN special, The Undefeated In-Depth: Serena with Common.

Hendrix, possibly the greatest-ever rock guitarist, arrived in public consciousness at exactly the right moment. His music summarised the desire of millions of youth to break through to a new society.

In 2014, Hong Kong was rocked by the “Umbrella Movement” — an ongoing series of mass protests featuring sit-ins against a series of attacks on democratic rights.

Robin Lee, a British left-wing activist living in Hong Kong who is an editor of the Borderless Movement, was interviewed by Green Left Weekly’s Alex Bainbridge about the current situation.

***

Can you make some comments on the current political situation in Hong Kong since the 2014 democracy uprising?

Deputy secretary-general of the socialist Awami Workers Party (AWP) Ismat Shahjahan expressed deep concern about the mysterious disappearance of renowned literary figure, university lecturer and progressive activist Salman Haider from the outskirts of Islamabad on January 6.

That night, Haider’s wife received a message from an unknown number informing her that Haider’s car could be picked up from Koral Chowk. The AWP calls on the authorities to use all of the means at their disposal to identify his whereabouts and secure his immediate safe release.

Millions of pounds in taxpayers’ money will be used to fund the Conservative government’s bid to smash rail unions so that firms can impose the widespread use of driver-only operated (DOO) trains, rail union RMT warned on January 12.

Research by the union shows that government ministers were inserting new clauses in franchise agreements to allow train-operating companies to claim back any revenue lost to industrial action over the plans to get rid of guards.

Thousands of wetlands protectors participated in a peaceful protest on January 12 at the site of the state government’s Roe 8 highway project, a $450 million extension to Stock Road across the Beeliar Wetlands.

Work on the project was delayed as hundreds toppled the temporary fence surrounding the exclusion zone around the culturally and environmentally significant site. They continued through to encircle an inner compound where a front-end loader for clearing more bush was being kept.

The Socialist Alliance is fielding four activists in the March 11 Western Australia state election under the slogan “For the billions, not the billionaires!”

All four candidates are involved in the campaign to stop the Roe 8 highway and are passionate about creating a society that puts people and the planet ahead of the big corporations.

As the people on Manus Island prepared to see in the New Year, drunken immigration officials and police beat up asylum seekers who were then taken into police custody and denied food and medical treatment. PNG politician Ronny Knight responded by tweeting “They deserved what they got”.

Barely a week earlier Faysal Ishak Ahmed, a Somali asylum seeker in Manus Island detention centre, died on Christmas Eve after months of being denied adequate medical treatment.

The New South Wales state government has released changes to the state’s planning law which, if passed, will grant big mining companies more power and reduce communities and councils’ already limited rights of appeal.

The government says the changes to the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act (EP&A Act) 1979, released on January 9, are primarily about promoting “confidence” in the state’s planning system.

Pro-choice activists in Queensland say the campaign for abortion law reform is entering its “final, most important stage”.

This was the assessment of Kate Marchesi and Olivia King from Young Queenslanders for the Right to Choose about the campaign to support abortion law reform measures introduced by independent state MP for Cairns, Rob Pyne.

When Fremantle councillors voted in August last year to end the Australia Day fireworks display that it had been running for the past eight years, I fully expected a conservative backlash. But even I was surprised to see the decision featured in news bulletins for months on end.

On one level the whole thing is bizarre. Local governments are not obliged to do anything special on January 26 and most of them don't.

What drove the conservative media and Coalition politicians into a frenzy was the council's reason for doing dropping the fireworks display.

As Invasion Day approaches, Murri leader Sam Watson told Green Left Weekly that January 26 was “only a date when a motley collection of boats made landfall on Gadigal country to establish the colony of NSW”.

“It is important to mobilise and march [on Invasion Day] to remind everyone that an illegal invasion took place on this soil," he said..

“They came here to launch a war of genocide against the 500 sovereign nations of this land.

“They came to invade as a fully-armed military force. They massacred and slaughtered tens of thousands of innocent people.

Donald Trump may have won the US elections with demagogic, strongman promises to “Make America Great”, but, in the lead up to his inauguration, the hollowness of such claims is clear as he stocks his Cabinet with oligarchs collectively worth billions.

Last year’s presidential election was marked by deep divisions in both the Democratic and Republican parties, on top of a stalemate in Congress between the twin parties of US capitalism.

This year will be the year of the showdown between Catalonia and the Spanish state over whether the Catalan people have a right to vote on self-determination in relation to Spain.

The year starts with the final battle lines already drawn in the contest between the right-wing Spanish-patriotic People’s Party (PP) government of Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy and the pro-independence Catalan government, headed by Carles Puigdemont.

New international talks aimed at ending the Syrian conflict may be unlikely to succeed, but they do mark shifts in the alignment of competing forces.

The United Nations Security Council unanimously voted on December 31 to support a ceasefire in Syria that started the previous day. The latest round of international peace talks are scheduled for January 23 in the capital of Kazakhstan, Astana.

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