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Samsung service worker Choi Jong-beom committed suicide on October 31 in protest against poverty wages and harsh working conditions at the company's operations in South Korea.

The 31-year-old was found dead in his car the following morning. He left behind a wife and a 10-month-old daughter.

Choi was a contract worker employed at a Samsung after-sale service centre that provided repair and maintenance services to customers. The service centre was owned and operated by an outsourced contractor.

“They did it,” TheBlaze.com said on November 15. “Seattle voters elected a Socialist candidate to the city council.”

Kshama Sawant, a member of Socialist Alternative and former Occupy Seattle organiser, defeated four-term Democratic incumbent Richard Conlin. She was finally declared the winner in the November 4 election on November 14.

A national day of action against rape drew thousands of protesters onto the streets across New Zealand on November 16. Outrage continues to grow at revelations police were aware of an Auckland “rape gang”, which posted videos boasting of their exploits on social media, for at least two years, but did nothing.

About 100 people attended a vigil for refugees in Melbourne on November 15. The action was initiated by Secondary Students for Refugee Rights (SSFRR).

SSFRR formed during the federal election campaign in response to refugees being demonised by politicians.

The main purpose of the group is to raise awareness among young people about refugees.

Over the years, I have heard many left-wing activists say that mass peaceful protests do not achieve anything. Rather, “militant actions” which “take it up to the ruling class” are more important.

But for smaller direct actions to have any real political significance, they have to be connected to a patient and democratic approach to building mass movements that can win reforms. Smaller direct actions that are not tied to this political aim are a posture.

Vocational education has become one of the fastest growing markets in Australia. There are more than 5000 private providers; half receive government funding and many accrue enormous profits.

This huge rise in private providers has made it impossible for the regulatory system to adequately police them, so there is little guarantee of the quality of courses.

But federal and state governments have embraced private providers' “user-pays” ideology rather than commit to free, high-quality public education for all as a human right.

For as long as rulers have abused their power there has also been political satire. Satirists have used wit and comedy as a weapon against the powerful, sometimes braving imprisonment, torture or the gallows.

Another round of United Nations climate talks were being negotiated in Warsaw, Poland, this week when the strongest typhoon recorded to hit land swept across the Philippines before moving on to Vietnam.

Typhoon Haiyan, known locally as Yolanda, has killed an estimated 10,000 people in the area of Tacloban, mostly from the strong tsunami-like storm surges that accompanied the typhoon. Entire villages were flattened and a large rescue effort is underway to evacuate survivors.

A meeting of about 160 residents called by Moreland City Council voted unanimously to reject the proposed East West Link on November 12. The first stage of the major road project is planned to link the Eastern freeway with the Tullamarine tollway at an estimated cost of $8 billion. Residents called instead for the money to be spent on improved public transport.

Andrew Munro, from the Metropolitan Transport Forum, spoke of the need for more investment in public transport.

The Western Australian government has finalised its acquisition of land in the Kimberley for future development, despite long-standing opposition from environmentalists and the local Aboriginal community.

The 3414 hectares of land near James Price Point — part of one of the most ecologically opulent and pristine stretches of land left in the world — north of Broome, was bought from traditional landowners as “unallocated crown land.”

The area is now under management of LandCorp and the Broome Port Authority.

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