1122

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.

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.

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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.

New Year’s Day is usually a moment of peace in the chaos of Mexico City — but not this year. For Mexicans, 2017 began with nationwide protests against the government’s plans to deregulate petrol prices, a move opponents say will hurt everyone from the poor to middle class.

Since January 1, protests have only continued to spread, with almost daily demonstrations in nearly every large city. Major highways have also been blockaded by furious transport workers, who say they can’t keep up with rising prices at the bowser.

Northern Ireland is in the grip of a deep political crisis.

The power-sharing administration in the six northern Irish counties still claimed by Britain between the Irish republican party Sinn Fein and the pro-British Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) collapsed when Sinn Fein Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness resigned on January 9 and called for new elections.

Explaining his decision to resign, McGuinness cited “growing DUP arrogance and lack of respect, whether that was for women, our LGBT community, ethnic minorities or the Irish-language community and identity.”

The Conscription Conflict & the Great War
Edited by Robin Archer, Joy Damousi, Murray Goot & Sean Scalmer
Monash University Publishing, 2016
Paperback, $29.95.

I wonder what the recently dumped federal Liberal health minister Sussan Ley’s private reaction was to former MP Bronwyn Bishop rushing to her defence over the expenses scandal?

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