Venezuela has abolished entrance visas for Palestinian visitors among a set of new agreements with the Middle Eastern country. Venezuela became the first country to abolish visas for Palestinians carrying civil or diplomatic passports as part of talks in early December in Caracas between representatives of the two countries. Venezuela also committed itself to build a new hospital in Palestinian territory and made new agreements in the areas of health, education and tourism.
At a one-day assembly of more than 500 delegates on November 28, the militant socialist Party of the Labouring Masses (PLM) introduced its candidates for national elections scheduled for May 13 next year. The PLM, which now holds positions in several Barangay (neighbourhood) councils, is running 20 candidates for municipal councillor, vice-mayor, mayor and Congress. They include candidates in Negros and Iligan, in the Philippine archipelago’s south. Most candidates, however, are in Metro Manila or the semi-urban provinces surrounding the capital: Cavite, Rizal, Bulacan and Laguna.
The People’s Coalition Against Regressive Taxation held a 4000-strong blockade of the upmarket Manila Shangri-La Hotel from December 5 to 6. The Bicameral Conference Committee, representing the upper and lower houses of the Philippines parliament, were inside debated the Sin Tax Bill, which will double the prices of cigarettes and alcohol. Workers and farmers were represented in the blockade, whose ranks were drawn predominantly from the urban poor.
The Plurinational State of Bolivia released the statement below on December 5 about the United Nations climate talks in Doha, Qatar. It was translated by Richard Fidler. Below that is Bolivia's official statement to the Doha talks. Both are reprinted from Bolivia Rising. * * *
There is no political will among rich nations to find funding for developing countries experiencing the brunt of changes in global weather patterns, South African Professor Patrick Bond, an analyst and activist on climate change, told the Inter Press Service as the United Nations Conference of Parties on Climate Change met in Doha. The talks took place in the capital of Qatar from November 26 to December 7.
President Hugo Chavez announced on public television on the night of December 8 that he would return to Cuba to receive surgery for new malignant cells, and that vice-president Nicolas Maduro will be in charge during his absence. Chavez said Cuban doctors informed him that the area where he has previously been affected will need to be operated on again, as new malignant cells have appeared. He also said that “there are always risks in processes like this” and that “if anything happens to me that hinders me [from performing as president]”, Maduro was his preference to replace him.
The latest economic data for the European Union, released on December 6, confirms that the region has officially entered a “double-dip” recession. Over the year to September, Gross Domestic Product fell by 0.4% in the 27-state European Union (EU27) and by 0.6% in the 17-state eurozone. On the same day, the European Central Bank revised its September forecast of 0.5% growth in the eurozone in 2013 down to -0.3%.
Sam Wainwright is a Socialist Alliance councillor in Fremantle. Below is a talk he gave on the topic of how to achieve social change in Australia. * * * It's pretty obvious for anyone that cares to look that capitalism is a socially destructive and ecologically unsustainable system. Based on the unequal distribution of wealth, it condemns billions to living in poverty worldwide.
Protesters have taken to Tunisia's streets to insist the transitional government of Hamad Jebali fulfill the demands of the January 14 revolution that overthrew dictator Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali. The regional city of Siliana, located 130 kilometres south-west of the capital Tunis, was rocked by days of protests over the lack of investment and jobs in the region.
A call by 62 top football players, many from English Premier League and first division teams in Europe, condemned Israel’s recent attack on Gaza and the decision by UEFA, the European football federation, to hold its 2013 Under 21 tournament in Israel. The call has received wide and favourable coverage. This takes the Palestinian campaign for the boycott of Israel, especially the sporting boycott, to new levels of international mainstream prominence and legitimacy.