International News

What seemed at first to be a depressing and predictable British election, with the hard right Tories under Prime Minister Theresa May set for a larger majority, has become a fascinating election contest.

Labour’s support has surged to the point where something unthinkable just weeks ago — a Jeremy Corbyn prime ministership — is now at least an outside chance.

In the face of ongoing attempts to violently depose the elected government of President Nicolas Maduro, the Socialist Alliance reaffirms its support and solidarity with the Venezuelan people, their government and the Bolivarian revolution.

Contrary to claims by the corporate media and right-wing governments in the region, Venezuela is not witnessing a peaceful protest movement for democracy but rather its opposite: a counter-revolutionary wave of violence that seeks to provoke greater bloodshed, and potentially, an international intervention.

Two murders and an attempted murder in Portland, Oregon, on the first day of Ramadan (May 26), by a white racist are the latest in a string of hate crimes inspired by President Donald Trump’s racist rhetoric and actions since he took office.

Heidi Beirich of the Southern Poverty Law Center, which keeps track of hate crimes, told Democracy Now! on May 30: “President Trump, whose words in the campaign unleashed against immigrants, against Muslims and others, unleashed a wave of hate crimes and bias incidents, especially right after the election.

The Organisation of American States (OAS) and its current secretary general Luis Almagro has pursued policies that aggravate the current crisis in Venezuela.

Rather than providing a way to help mediate the bitter conflict in Venezuela, Almagro has joined one side.

The position of the OAS sadly reflects the longer history of the organisation.

Less than a year after being installed in power via a constitutional coup, the government of Brazilian President Michel Temer is teetering on the brink of collapse.

Plagued by corruption scandals – the same pretext used by the right-wing controlled judiciary and parliament to topple centre-left president Dilma Rousseff – and popularity figures in the single digits, the Temer regime is now facing a growing revolt from below demanding “direct elections now!”

As security forces repressed anti-government protests in the capital, a military police operation to break up a protest camp left 10 civilians dead, with witnesses claiming they were killed execution-style.

None of this made it into the international media however, because it happened in Brazil, not Venezuela.

Filipino police and military forces in the small city of Marawi on the island of Mindanao attempted to arrest Isnilon Hapilon, a leader of the Abu Sayyaf criminal gang, on May 23. By the end of the day, President Rodrigo Duterte’s government had declared martial law throughout the island for 60 days and launched a military assault.

By June 2, that ongoing assault, including air strikes, had killed at least 160 people and displaced hundreds of thousands.

This dramatic escalation represents the further slide of Duterte’s administration towards authoritarian rule and a betrayal of his election campaign promise to pursue a negotiated end to Mindanao’s multiple insurgencies.

A rebellion has been raging in Buenaventura - Colombia’s largest port city - since May 16, when residents decided to embark on massive anti-government marches to demand an end to chronic state neglect and abandonment, corruption, crime and armed conflict.

The government’s inability to attend to protesters’ demands has only spurred an escalation of protests that has not shown signs of calming, even though the mayor’s office issued a decree declaring a curfew and a ban on public demonstrations.

Colombia’s national teachers’ strike marked three weeks on June 1 as tens of thousands of education workers continue to pressure the government to respond to their demands for better working conditions, higher salaries and more investment in public education.

In the latest mass protest, about 300,000 teachers took to the streets on May 31 to call attention to education issues in major cities across the country, including Bogota, Cali, Medellin, Bucaramanga and Barranquilla.

According to data from a new report, Venezuela and Uruguay have the most equal wealth distributions in Latin America, while Colombia and Guatemala are the most unequal nations.

The report was published by the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (CEPAL), which is a United Nations regional commission based in Santiago, Chile.

As of 2015 Venezuela and Uruguay each have Gini coefficients (used to measure inequality in which 0 represents the absence of inequality and 1 a maximum) of 0.40 or less, compared to the continent's average of 0.469.

As President Donald Trump delivered his expected announcement in June 1 of withdrawing the United States from Paris climate agreement, environmental group 350.org laid out steps for an energised people's movement that could “rise up like never before” and stop the anti-science White House from destroying the planet.

A new influenza pandemic is quite possible, according to a study by researchers at the University of NSW’s School of Public Health. The study notes that 19 different influenza strains have affected humans in the last 100 years, but the speed with which new strains have emerged has increased over the past 15 years. There have been seven new strains in the past five years alone.

After 40 days without food, hundreds of Palestinian prisoners have suspended their hunger strike in Israeli jails.

The end of the strike came after 20 hours of intense negotiations between the strike’s leaders, including imprisoned Fatah figure Marwan Barghouti, and the Israel Prison Service, according to a statement issued on the morning of May 27 by the prisoners solidarity committee.

The following statement was released by Filipino socialist party Partido Lakas ng Masa (PLM) on May 25 in response to the government's May 23 declaration of martial law in Mindanao for a 60-day period.

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An eco-socialist and international coordinator for the Greens Party of England and Wales, Derek Wall is challenging Conservative Prime Minister Theresa May as the Greens candidate for May’s seat of Maidenhead under the slogan “Make June the End of May”.

Campaigning against racist migration controls, austerity and May’s support for fox hunting is giving Wall’s campaign traction, and it enjoys strong support from the Kurdish community.

In his first hours of freedom after 36 years behind bars in US prison, Puerto Rican independence leader Oscar Lopez Rivera vowed on May 17 to continue to fight for freedom and independence while expressing solidarity with progressive movements across the Americas.

“During the years I was jailed I always thought I would return home,” Lopez said during a press conference, thanking all the progressive organisations and world leaders who supported him and worked for his release over the years.

In recent weeks, there have been some worrying developments in the Italian political scene. Extremist, anti-refugee and xenophobic ideas are increasingly gaining ground.

In a growing climate of uncertainty and social instability, all major political forces seem to be riding the wave of discontent to raise their electoral profiles, rather than trying to calm things down.

A maternity hospital in Venezuela's Miranda state was attacked on May 17 as the death count in ongoing violent anti-government protests rose to 53. 

The attack comes as violent opposition protests demanding early presidential elections enter their seventh week, with new deaths being reported as opposition supporters clash with authorities, attack public institutions and state security personnel, and blockade roads nationwide. 

As violent anti-government protests continue in Venezuela, supporters of the right-wing opposition have begun targeting Venezuelan government officials and their families in Australia. The actions are part of a string of recent attacks abroad on government representatives by Venezuelan opponents of President Nicolas Maduro.

For the better part of six years, Baba Jan, a founding member and activist of the left-wing Awami Workers Party (AWP) in the Pakistani-occupied disputed territory of Gilgit-Baltistan, has been behind bars on a life sentence for ‘terrorism’ charges. His crime? Demanding rights for Hunza’s poor and displaced.

A year on from the parliamentary coup that ousted former Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff, Brazil has become a neoliberal disaster and approval ratings for the incumbent right-wing government have slumped to record low levels.

The democratically-elected president was ousted in May last year without any proof of wrongdoing. Michel Temer, who then served as vice president, was installed as interim president. On August 31, Rousseff was formally removed from office.

A day before whistleblower Chelsea Manning's release from military prison on May 17 after seven years behind bars, WikiLeaks announced it had set up a "Welcome Home Manning" fund and asked people to donate Bitcoin’s in support of the soldier imprisoned for leaking hundreds of thousands of classified military documents.

Manning walked free from Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, after former US President Barack Obama granted her clemency in January, saying she had taken responsibility for her crime and her sentence was disproportionate to those received by other whistleblowers.

Thousands of Venezuelans took to the streets of Caracas on May 9 to rally in support of the country’s commune movement.

Socialist revolutionaries from across the country joined the march, calling on the government of President Nicolas Maduro to endorse a proposal to provide constitutional recognition of communes.

The Bolivian government has proposed a bill that would allow workers to take over the private companies they work at if they go bankrupt, and convert them into “social companies” to stimulate production and address unemployment, Pagina Siete reported on May 16.

The government justified the measure as part of the state's duty to protect labour rights and generate job opportunities while improving the productive apparatus of the country.

The mood in Turkey is low, and not just among those who oppose President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his Justice and Development Party (AKP). Even some of his supporters are disoriented by developments in the country.

In the aftermath of the failed coup of July 15 last year, Erdogan orchestrated the dismissal of tens of thousands of government employees. The figures from the ongoing Turkish purges are startling.

We live in strange times. A white, nationalist, billionaire businessperson has been elected president. His 24-member cabinet is made up primarily of wealthy white men, many former Goldman Sachs executives, who US President Donald Trump’s most extreme nationalist ideologues call “New York liberals.” Trump has appointed the fewest number of women and minorities to his cabinet since Ronald Reagan.

In these almost two years of socialist government, it has been possible with the support of the left-wing parties, to reverse privatisations in public transport, restore four previously eliminated national holidays, reverse salary cuts for public sector workers, reduce the working week in the public sector to 35 hours, eliminate the surcharge on individual income tax and increase the supplementary solidarity payment for the elderly as well as family allowances and other social subsidies.

However, despite this progress, the current and future situations is not without cause for concern.

US President Donald Trump fired FBI director James Comey for one reason: he was not 100% loyal to Trump. The boldness of the move was to underscore Trump’s drive to establish an increasingly authoritarian presidency.

The predominantly Tamil north and east of the island of Sri Lanka were brought to a “complete standstill” on April 27, Tamilnet reported, as a result of a strike called by unions, civil groups and Tamil political parties.

It was supported by the Northern Provincial Council, which suspended its sitting. In some towns Muslims joined Tamils in the strike.

Throughout the battle against the Dakota Access pipeline (DAPL), the  US$3.78 billion pipeline that will carry about 500,000 barrels of oil a day, indigenous campaigners and supporters repeatedly warned it was not a question of if, but when a breach would occur.

Now, before the pipeline is even fully operational, those warnings have come to fruition.

An ISIS attack on May 2 near the Rajim Salibi border crossing between Iraq and Syria left 37 refugees dead and at least 20 injured. Victims were as young as three months. “The attack was repelled [by] the intervention by Syrian Democratic Forces [SDF] fighters,” Firat News Agency reported.

Most of the refugees were fleeing the Iraqi city of Mosul, which for months has been the scene of heavy fighting as Western, Russian, Iranian, Iraqi government forces and allied militias try to retake the city from ISIS.

Many things have been said about Venezuela, its leaders and its people; namely, the ability of its process to survive the historical challenges of the growing economic crisis and attacks from the political opposition.

Now is the time to stand in solidarity with Venezuela and really get to know its people and process.

Opposition groups in Venezuela have been waging an economic war similar to that perpetrated against former Chilean president Salvador Allende. Hoarding, smuggling and currency speculation have caused shortages of food and basic necessities and hardship, particularly for poorer people.

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro announced at an International Workers’ Day rally on May 1 that he would convene a National Constituent Assembly in an attempt to resolve the country’s current political crisis.

The constituent assembly, which will be made up of delegates elected on a territorial basis and from among the country’s different social sectors, seeks to prove an electoral route out of the current impasse premised on national dialogue.

Venezuela has been rocked in recent weeks by almost daily protests and counter-protests, as right-wing opponents of socialist President Nicolas Maduro seek to bring down his government.

While the media portrays these events as a popular rebellion against an authoritarian government, supporters of the pro-poor Bolivarian revolution initiated by former president Hugo Chavez say the country is witnessing an escalation in what is an ongoing counter-revolutionary campaign seeking to restore Venezuela’s traditional elites in power and reverse the gains made by the poor majority under Chavez and Maduro.

It is official: solidarity and activism are, according to the Ukrainian government, criminal acts. It seems paradoxical, but it is true.

Ukrainian Prime Minister Petro Poroshenko has demanded the Italian government extradite members of the so-called Anti-Fascist Caravan (AFC), a group of activists who recently visited the separatist region of Donbass in eastern Ukraine.

Moon Jae-in, of the liberal Democratic Party, won South Korea’s May 9 presidential election with 41% of the vote, easily defeating his arch-conservative opponent Hong Jun-pyo, who won about 24%.

The elections took place after the impeachment of conservative president Park Geun-hye for her involvement in a huge corruption scandal. Park, from Hong’s right-wing Saenuri Party (renamed Liberty Korea Party in a bid to rebrand), was forced out by the huge “Candlelight Revolution”. Millions of Koreans mobilised in an ongoing series of candlelight protests to demand her impeachment.

The elections also took place in a context of the threat of war in the Korean Peninsula with US President Donald Trump’s administration ratcheting up tensions with North Korea.

Emmanuel Macron won the second round of the French presidential elections on May 7, receiving 58.21% of the vote compared to the 30.01% share for far-right National Front (FN) candidate Marine Le Pen.

Despite the apparently decisive victory, the vote signals continued political uncertainty in France fuelled by widespread disillusionment with France’s democracy. It raises questions as to whether Macron’s supporters, organised in a new centrist movement called En Marche!, will be able to form a working government out of legislative elections scheduled for late June.

Media coverage encouraged and inflamed Britain’s referendum campaign on whether to leave the European Union last year to make it the “most divisive, hostile, negative and fear-provoking” in British history, according to a new report.

King’s College London’s Centre for the Study of Media, Communication and Power (CMCP) analysed more than 15,000 articles published online by 20 national news outlets. It found the media coverage “acrimonious and divisive” and dominated by “overwhelmingly negative” reports about the consequences of migration to Britain.

Today, it is Timor-Leste that is giving the tutorial in politics. After years of trickery and bullying by Canberra, the people of Timor-Leste have demanded and won the right to negotiate before the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) a legal maritime boundary and a proper share of the oil and gas.

Australia owes Timor Leste a huge debt — some would say, billions of dollars in reparations. Australia should hand over, unconditionally, all royalties collected since Evans toasted Suharto’s dictatorship while flying over the graves of its victims.

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