ALP National Conference a sham

Bill Shorten surprised no one with his laughingly tiny reforms at the Australian Labor Party National Conference over December 16–18.

If you expected debate, let alone proposals to stop the Adani coalmine or refugee boat turn-backs or the closure of off-shore detention centres, then you would have been disappointed as these things did not happen.

If you were hoping that there might be a commitment to increase the Newstart Allowance or to back progressive industrial relations reforms that will actually change the rules for workers, you would be doubly disappointed as these things were also rejected.

Clearly delegates to the ALP National Conference decided that it was better to shelve, possibly indefinitely, all debates on controversial issues in an effort to win government next year.

Yellow Vests movement spreads as Macron, pushed onto back foot, tries concessions

Many "yellow vest" anti-government protesters in France vowed to press on with their demonstrations on December 11, a day after wringing out fresh concessions from President Emmanuel Macron. reported that Macron announced a series of measures the previous night in an address to the nation, including a hike in the minimum wage and tax relief for pensioners and on overtime work.

The wave of protests have developed rapidly beyond their original spark in a rise in petrol tax, drawing in wide sectors onto the streets with their struggles against aspects of Macron's neoliuberal agenda, and enjoying high public support. Macron's address, and the concessions it contains, came days after a new round of succesful mass protests on December 8 that defied state repression and government propaganda.

Occupied Western Sahara: A rare look inside Africa's last colony

 In an exclusive broadcast, US-based independent news outlet Democracy Now! broke the media blockade and visited the occupied Western Sahara in the northwest of Africa to document the decades-long Sahrawi struggle for freedom and occupying power Morocco’s violent crackdown.

Morocco has occupied the territory since 1975 in defiance of the United Nations and the international community. Thousands  of Sahrawi people have been tortured, imprisoned, killed and disappeared while resisting the Moroccan occupation. A 1700-mile wall divides Sahrawis who remain under occupation from those who fled into exile.

How George HW Bush’s 1989 invasion of Panama set the stage for US wars to come

The death of George H.W. Bush has dominated the U.S. news for days, but little attention has been paid to the defining event of Bush’s first year in office: the invasion of Panama. On December 19, 1989, Bush Sr. sent tens of thousands of troops into Panama, ostensibly to execute an arrest warrant against its leader, Manuel Noriega, on charges of drug trafficking. General Noriega was once a close ally to Washington and on the CIA payroll.

In a nationally televised address, Bush claimed the invasion was needed to defend democracy in Panama. During the attack, the U.S. unleashed a force of 24,000 troops equipped with highly sophisticated weaponry and aircraft against a country with an army smaller than the New York City Police Department. An estimated 3,000 Panamanians died in the attack.


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