International News

Writing in the October 28 New York Times, conservative columnist David Brooks said the preceding week was “when Donald Trump and Steve Bannon solidified their grip on the Republican Party and America’s national government”.

Brooks speaks for the Republican establishment — and sorely deplores this development.

New Zealand Labour leader Jacinda Ardern, who says capitalism has been a “blatant failure”, became the country’s new, and youngest ever, prime minister on October 19.

Asked a few days after becoming PM if capitalism had failed New Zealanders, 37-year-old Ardern responded: “If you have hundreds of thousands of children living in homes without enough to survive, that’s a blatant failure. What else could you describe it as?”

Judge Carmen Lamela of Spain’s National High Court — direct descendant of the fascist Franco-era Court of Public Order — took the war of the Spanish state against the Catalan pro-independence government to a new level of judicial violence on November 2.

Just after 3pm on October 27, the Catalan parliament voted to ratify the results of the country’s October 1 referendum on self-determination, proclaiming Catalonia “an independent state in the form of a republic”.

Outside parliament the vote was greeted with cheers from the tens of thousands of people who had gathered for this historic moment.

Argentina went to the polls on October 22, in what many saw as a crucial mid-term test for President Mauricio Macri and the right-wing coalition behind him, Cambiemos (Let’s Change).

In the end, Cambiemos came out strengthened, while the Left and Workers Front – an alliance of revolutionary parties – continued to build on its previous electoral successes, winning 1.2 million votes.

Ahead of the crucial Gujarat elections, the chinks in the propaganda armour of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Gujarat model of development continue to get brutally exposed. Indeed, the popular narrative on development that has emerged from within Gujarat – where Modi was chief minister prior to becoming PM – and that has taken social media by storm is that “vikas gando thayo chhe” – “development has gone crazy”.

United States Secretary of State Rex Tillerson met with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to discuss China’s growing influence in Asia on October 25.

Tillerson recently gave a speech regarding the US’s desire to "dramatically deepen" ties with India to combat what he described as a negative Chinese influence in the region.

One of France's largest union confederations, the General Confederation of Workers (CGT), held a strike on October 19 as part of the campaign against the anti-worker and anti-union ordinances adopted by the Emmanuel Macron government.

The mobilisations were far smaller than the previous three days of protests and have further fuelled discussion within the movement over how to overcome divisions and weaknesses and mobilise the widespread latent public opposition to the government's attacks.

Outraged by government failures to honour a peace deal with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), rural communities across Colombia have initiated a “national strike” demanding widespread solutions to poverty, violence and drug trafficking.

The strike is the most far-reaching since 2013, when farmers took to the streets decrying abject poverty and negative economic effects of a free trade agreement with the United State

I was in Honduras last October visiting Azacualpa, a municipality under threat from Canadian corporate mining giant Aura Minerals and its San Andres mine in La Union, Copan.

At the time, residents from the rural municipality were successfully holding off the combined forces of the mine management, its security forces, the regional police, the local mayor, the provincial governor, the regional military commander and the Minister for Homeland Security (who arrived in the community by helicopter with his own entourage of state security bodyguards).

A year on, Aura Minerals, with the collusion of the post-coup Honduran regime, is moving to break the stalemate.

Colombian indigenous leader Aulio Isamara Forastero was assassinated on October 24, close to the Catru Dubaza Ancoso shelter, shortly after armed assassins reportedly forced him out of his home.

Forastero, from the Pacific province of Choco, is among more than 150 activists killed in Colombia since the beginning of the year.

Socialists organised mass protest rallies in Petrograd (as Saint Petersburg was renamed after the outbreak of World War I in 1914) in February 1917. These protests took place on March 8 (February 23 according to the Russian calendar used at the time), International Women’s Day, rallying women workers to demand bread, peace, and liberty. But, as a contemporary police report stated, the women workers “got out of hand.”

They attracted the support of large numbers of male workers as well. The police proved unable to contain the growing and increasingly volatile protests. Soon 385,000 workers were on strike and many engaged in confrontations with the police in the streets.

More than 600,000 Rohingya have fled Myanmar (also known as Burma) to Bangladesh since August 25. With about 300,000 Rohingya refugees already in Bangladesh, tens of thousands in hiding in northern parts of Rakhine State and about 100,000 detained in Internal Displacement Camps, the United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres has described this mass exodus as “the world fastest-developing refugee emergency and a humanitarian and human rights nightmare.”

The military intervention that the United States political and Pentagon establishment never talked about is suddenly in the news after a joint patrol comprising 12 US troops and 30 Nigerien soldiers was attacked by a small group thought to be an ISIS affiliate known as ISIS in the Greater Sahara (ISIS-GS).

The incident itself was little mentioned until US President Donald Trump – after two weeks of silence on the matter – offended the family of soldier La David Johnson in a characteristically insensitive condolence call to his widow Myeshia Johnson.

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.

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