austerity

This year will be the year of the showdown between Catalonia and the Spanish state over whether the Catalan people have a right to vote on self-determination in relation to Spain.

The year starts with the final battle lines already drawn in the contest between the right-wing Spanish-patriotic People’s Party (PP) government of Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy and the pro-independence Catalan government, headed by Carles Puigdemont.

New Year’s Day is usually a moment of peace in the chaos of Mexico City — but not this year. For Mexicans, 2017 began with nationwide protests against the government’s plans to deregulate petrol prices, a move opponents say will hurt everyone from the poor to middle class.

Since January 1, protests have only continued to spread, with almost daily demonstrations in nearly every large city. Major highways have also been blockaded by furious transport workers, who say they can’t keep up with rising prices at the bowser.

Northern Ireland is in the grip of a deep political crisis.

The power-sharing administration in the six northern Irish counties still claimed by Britain between the Irish republican party Sinn Fein and the pro-British Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) collapsed when Sinn Fein Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness resigned on January 9 and called for new elections.

Explaining his decision to resign, McGuinness cited “growing DUP arrogance and lack of respect, whether that was for women, our LGBT community, ethnic minorities or the Irish-language community and identity.”

In the early hours of last December 12, 55 Carlton & United Breweries (CUB) workers returned to work to the sound of bagpipes and applause.

Five hundred unionists and community members turned out to congratulate the workers on their successful 180-day campaign.

Job agencies are the government-funded organisations tasked with helping unemployed people find work.

There is growing evidence suggesting this “help” consists of the following:

It would surprise the federal Coalition government — that assumes we dislike welfare recipients as much as it does — that one of its biggest problems at the start of the year is the Centrelink debt fiasco.

Over the past six months, 170,000 people received debt notices from Centrelink, with the number gradually rising to 20,000 a week.

By comparison, only 20,000 debt notices were issued for the whole of 2015.

The staff who have to adminster Centrelink’s “robo-debt” system are under huge pressure and are demanding an immediate halt to the punitive approach.

A Centrelink worker told Green Left Weekly that the system was implemented without staff being trained and that they were ill equipped to explain the debts.

President-elect Donald Trump announced on November 30 that former Goldman Sachs partner Steven Mnuchin — a man described as “the anti-populist from Hell” — is his pick for treasury secretary.

Who Rules The World?
By Noam Chomsky
Hamish Hamilton, 2016

Noam Chomsky, who turns 88 this month, revolutionised the study of linguistics in the second half of the 20th century, starting with books like Syntactic Structures (1957) and Aspects of the Theory of Syntax (1965). He remains professor emeritus at the Massachussetts Institute of Technology.

As the year draws to a close, Jeremy Corbyn, the left-wing British Labour Party leader, might give a short sigh of relief. After one of the stormiest year in British politics for generations, he is one of the few who will enter 2017 in a stronger position.

Pages

Subscribe to austerity