International News

Palestinians and media groups have condemned Israel’s raid on of 11 Palestinian telecom and production companies in the occupied West Bank on October 18, which have since been shut down.

The next day, the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) called on authorities to stop their harassment of Palestinian media, as well as for Israeli forces to release the two journalists arrested in the raids in the West Bank.

Free West Papua Campaign has responded to Australia’s election to the United Nations Human Rights Committee by calling on the Australian government to cease supporting Indonesia’s brutal occupation of West Papua.

In a Facebook statement, FWPC said: “It has to break with the tradition of successive Australian governments that have simply turned a blind eye to the human rights atrocities that have occurred on our doorstep for decades, and instead take a principled stance.”

Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) finally liberated Raqqa, in northern Syria, from ISIS occupation on October 17, after a battle of 135 days. In 2014, ISIS declared Raqqa its capital, which makes its defeat a decisive event.

The SDF is a multi-ethnic and multi-religious armed force made up of dozens of militias that is committed to the political project of “democratic confederalism”, the participatory democratic project associated with the Kurdish-led Rojava Revolution.

Three things stand out about the October 14 truck bomb attack in the Somali capital Mogadishu.

First is the huge number of casualties. The detonation of a large truck packed with explosives created an apocalyptic scene of carnage. It levelled nearby buildings, killing at least 327 people and injuring more than 400 others.

Many of the bodies were burned beyond recognition, 160 being buried without even an attempt at identification being made.

Advocates of LGBT rights and religious freedom denounced President Donald Trump as he became the first sitting president to address the Values Voter Summit on October 13.

In his speech, Trump assured his supporters that “Judeo-Christian religious values” would be protected by his administration.

The Southern Poverty Law Center, which classifies the Family Research Council (FRC), one of the groups behind the summit, as a hate group, tweeted that “speaking to anti-Muslim, anti-LGBT groups, Pres. Trump says he is proud to be among so many friends”.

The Spanish People’s Party (PP) government of Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy has decided to implement direct rule in Catalonia.

In implementing article 155 of the Spanish constitution, which allows central government intervention in regional governments, Rajoy has the full support of the opposition Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party (PSOE) and the new-right party Citizens. The unprecedented intervention is the first since the present Spanish constitution was adopted in 1978.

The 100th anniversary of the Russian Revolution, the first socialist revolution in world history, is marked on October 25 — the date the Bolsheviks lead the revolutionary seizure of power by the soviets (councils of workers, peasants and soldiers).

Socialist activist and historian Paul Le Blanc has written a detailed overview of the revolution, from its background to its aftermath. Green Left Weekly is running it over four parts, with the first part here.

The United Socialist Party of Venezuela’s (PSUV) victory in the October 15 elections for state governors is a major blow to the country’s right-wing opposition, as well as to its backers in Washington and Europe.

The victory also marks a significant step forward in the struggle to defend the gains of the almost two decade-long pro-poor Bolivarian Revolution, spearheaded by late former President Hugo Chavez.

A leader of the community that lost seven members in an alleged police massacre has been assassinated in southwest Colombia, the regional government said on October 17.

Jose Jair Cortes was the spokesperson of the Alta Mira y Frontera community in Tumaco, Narino state, where anti-narcotics officials allegedly murdered seven people on October 5.

Veronica Heredia, the lawyer representing missing activist Santiago Maldonado's family, has said they will wait for the autopsy results of the body found on October 17 in the Chubut River, in Argentina.

Sergio Maldonado, the brother of the missing activist, also questioned how the body was found upstream, in a previously checked area, where a corpse could easily have been previously found.

The Austrian legislative elections, held on October 15, finished with one clear winner: 31-year-old Sebastian Kurz, who leads the conservative Austrian People’s Party (OVP). His party emerged as the biggest political force in the country, winning 31.7% of the votes and 61 of the 183 seats in Austrian parliament’s lower house, the National Council.

Kurz is now set to become Austria’s new chancellor – the youngest in the country’s history – and thereby completing his meteoric rise to the top.

One of the most important aspects of Venezuela’s pro-poor Bolivarian Revolution has been its promotion of women's empowerment through community organisation.

To get a sense of how this grassroots process of community organising is developing and the role women are playing in the process, we visited the Ataroa and Lomas de Leon communes as part of the Venezuela Analysis international solidarity delegation in late August.

The predominantly Tamil northern province of Sri Lanka was at a “complete standstill” on October 13, according to Tamilnet. All public and private businesses were shut down.

The strike was called by 20 grassroots movements to demand the unconditional release of all Tamil political prisoners.

Protesters blocked the A9 highway, and blockaded the secretariat of the Colombo-appointed governor of the Northern Province.

The next day protesters with black flags confronted Sri Lankan president Maithripala Sirisena who was visiting a school in Jaffna.

President Nicolás Maduro’s United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) won 17 of 23 states in Sunday’s gubernatorial elections, the National Electoral Council (CNE) has confirmed, Venezuelanalysis.com reported on October 15.

According to CNE President Tibisay Lucena, 61.14% of Venezuela’s 18-million-strong electorate came out to vote, marking a record participation in the country’s regional elections, second only to the 65.45% turnout in 2008.

Students and staff of Jaffna University rallied on October 4 in support of three Tamil prisoners who are on hunger strike.

The prisoners are accused of having been members of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, which fought for an independent Tamil homeland in the north and east of the island of Sri Lanka, until defeated in May 2009. The Sri Lankan government’s victory was accompanied by a genocidal massacre of tens of thousands of Tamil civilians.

About 500 people took part in the second annual Anti-Columbus Day Tour on October 9 at the American Museum of Natural History in New York.

The Columbus Day public holiday celebrates the anniversary of Christopher Columbus's arrival in the Americas on October 12, 1492.

After an acknowledgement of the ancestral territory of the Lenni Lenape First Nation people, three demands were put forward by those gathered: Rename the day, remove racist statues and respect the ancestors.

A member of the Knesset (Israel’s parliament) for the ruling Likud party, Anat Berko has presented Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with plans to change the status of 300,000 Palestinians in Jerusalem.

If implemented, Jerusalem would be formally divided and a group, similar in number to that of Wollongong would suddenly find itself stripped of permanent residency within Israel’s formal borders, as well as associated rights. The 300,000 would instead be considered residents of the Occupied Palestinian Territory of the West Bank.

Catalan Premier Carles Puigdemont officially declared an independent Catalan republic on October 10, only to announce a suspension in its implementation to allow for talks with Madrid.

The harsh reply of the conservative People’s Party (PP) government of Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy came two days later: abandon all thought of secession or see Catalan self-rule erased under article 155 of the Spanish constitution.

Hundreds of thousands of workers, retirees and students joined a third day of strikes and protests across France on October 10. The protests are part of ongoing efforts by unions, left parties and progressive organisations to defeat attacks on workers and the public service by President Emmanuel Macron.

Protests were held in 140 cities and towns and drew 400,000 people into the streets.

At the centre of the day was a strike called by the nine union confederations active in France's public sector.

A common feature of the rallies that have taken place following Catalonia’s historic October 1 vote for independence has been the outpouring of support for Catalonia’s firefighters, who played a critical role in the lead up to and during the referendum.

Catalonia’s firefighters are now calling on firefighters around the world to support their cause.

Canadian activist and writer Naomi Klein is the author of books that have helped define the thinking of the left for the past several decades.

Last month, Klein talked to Alan Maass about the whiplash pace of natural disasters and the unnatural factors that make them worse — and how we can fight back while working toward an alternative.

Workers in Venezuela are demonstrating what is possible when workers and communities take over the means of production.

Faced with a company shutdown and mass sacking, workers at the former Brahma beer factory in Barquisimeto, Lara state, occupied the factory in 2013. Today, the company is owned by the community, run by workers and geared towards meeting the need of local farmers and residents.

The approval ratings of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro rose to 23.2% at the end of September, according to a new poll conducted by private centre-right think tank Datanalisis. 

The increase in the head of state’s popularity comes just weeks ahead of regional elections scheduled for October 15, when Venezuelans will choose their state governors for the next four years. 

The term “Green Revolution” refers to the introduction of high-yielding varieties of staple food crops, particularly wheat and rice, into Third World countries, starting in the 1960s. The stated aim was to raise food production to end hunger and prevent revolution.

An unstated secondary aim was to raise the penetration of agribusiness into the Third World. Profits could be made by selling the new varieties of seed and the fertilisers, pesticides and equipment that were indispensable to their success.

The Colombian National Police massacred between 8 and 16 people, and wounded more than 50, in the municipality of Tumaco, Narino on October 5. The attack was directed against protesting coca growing families demanding the government fulfil its commitments to voluntary eradication programs.

Then, on October 8, the National Police attacked an international team sent to investigate the massacre. The police used tear gas and stun grenades to disperse representatives from the United Nations, the Organization of American States, and a journalist from the Colombian weekly, Semana.

As the Nobel Committee announced on October 6 in Oslo that  the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons had won the Nobel Peace Prize. At the same time, US President Donald Trump is expected to “decertify” the landmark 2015 Iran nuclear deal next week. Democracy Now! spoke with Tim Wright, the Asia-Pacific director of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons. The full transcript follows the video.

Delegates to the recent Labour Party conference in the English seaside town of Brighton seemed not to notice a video playing in the main entrance. The world’s third biggest arms manufacturer, BAe Systems, supplier to Saudi Arabia, was promoting its guns, bombs, missiles, naval ships and fighter aircraft.  

It seemed a perfidious symbol of a party in which millions of Britons now invest their political hopes. Once the preserve of Tony Blair, it is now led by Jeremy Corbyn, whose career has been very different and is rare in British establishment politics.

The United States has been criticised for voting against a United Nations resolution that sought to eliminate the death penalty for the LGBTIQ community. The US was among 13 nations including Saudi Arabia and Iraq to vote down the resolution.

The resolution condemned “the imposition of the death penalty as a sanction for specific forms of conduct, such as apostasy, blasphemy, adultery and consensual same-sex relations”.

Despite the US vote, the United Nations Human Rights Council approved the historic resolution with a 27-13 margin.

The world media’s attention has focused on the very real humanitarian crisis gripping hurricane-ravaged nations in the Caribbean and regions of the United States, but the “world’s worst humanitarian catastrophe” (in the words of The New York Times in August) is in Yemen.

The unfolding disaster in Yemen is entirely human-made, is worsening and is the result of policies pursued by the United States and Britain.

Is it possible to have a successful referendum when your country is effectively occupied by 10,000 police and paramilitaries with orders to stop it?

The holding of Catalonia’s October 1 referendum on independence shows it is: all you need is a mobilised people with a clear view of where they are going, Europe’s most powerful and persistent social movement to help guide them, and a government committed to carrying out its promises.

Just days before he was set to speak at the 2013 Trade Union Congress (TUC) Conference in Britain, Colombian union leader Huber Ballesteros was arrested and imprisoned in his home country on trumped-up charges of rebellion and financing terrorism.

Following a prolonged international campaign – in which Britain’s peak trade union body played a key role - Ballesteros was finally released in January after 40 months in jail.

In September, he attended this year’s TUC conference.

The National Liberation Army (ELN) has announced a temporary and bilateral ceasefire with the Colombian government.

The group said the ceasefire, agreed to in September during peace talks in Quito, Ecuador, will be implemented from October 1 to January 9, 2018.

Members of the National Political Council of the Revolutionary Alternative Forces of the Commons (FARC) rejected the threats and violence that have claimed the lives of 25 people since signing peace accords with the government last November.

“Since the signing of the peace agreement, five former combatants, nine militiamen and 11 relatives of members of the FARC have been murdered,” the group said in a statement on October 2.

France’s Council of Ministers approved five ordinances on September 22 that undermine union power and employment rights within France’s Labour Code, which came into effect the next day.

The government imposed these changes by using undemocratic measures in France’s constitution, which allows it to push new measures into law without passing legislation through parliament.

In the face of this, the movement against the changes continues to build. 

Nearly 2000 retired workers and Social Security department workers gathered in Athens on October 3 to protest “inhumane” cuts to pensions.

An army of 1500 senior citizens marched behind banners, chanting “shame on you” and calling for the government to cancel the memorandum that has led to ongoing cuts since 2010, with further cuts set for 2019.

Scotland vowed on October 3 to ban hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking” due to “overwhelming” public opposition to shale gas.

Scottish energy minister Paul Wheelhouse said Scotland’s current moratorium would be extended “indefinitely” through planning powers — removing the need for legislation.

Last week a conceptual barrier carefully constructed by South Africa’s elites since 2015 was suddenly cracked at the University of the Witwatersrand Great Hall, by two of the country’s leading economic personalities: Pravin Gordhan, who served as a pro-business finance minister for seven years until being sacked in March, and super-consultant Iraj Abedian, who in 1996 co-authored the country’s post-apartheid structural adjustment programme. Two more solid bourgeois representatives would be hard to find.

The Agricultural Social Production Unit (UPSA) Caquetios, located in Cabudare, in Palavecino municipality, Lara state, is run by the Brazilian Movement of Rural Landless Workers (MST). A campesino organisation, the MST shares similar objectives to those of former president Hugo Chavez and the pro-poor Bolivarian Revolution he led – in particular, land collectivisation as the best way to grow food and put an end to rural inequality.

In 2006, the MST was invited to Venezuela to take over a 40-hectare estate as part of Chavez’s attempt to transform Venezuela’s countryside. Since then, the group has been joined by several Venezuelan farmers, with both groups learning new experiences from each other.

Everyone sensed the new energy at this year’s Labour Party conference, held in Brighton from September 24-27.

The reality of the conference was something not seen in Britain for a long time: thousands of determined and self-confident members of a Labour Party that boldly stands for what they believe in.

Puerto Rico is facing a huge humanitarian crisis after being hit by two super-strong hurricanes. It suffered a glancing blow by Irma and then a direct hit by Maria, both storms greatly strengthened by warmer ocean water caused by climate change.

The crisis is still unfolding weeks after Maria hit. The full picture and extent of the damage will not be known for some time.

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