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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.”

The Conscription Conflict & the Great War
Edited by Robin Archer, Joy Damousi, Murray Goot & Sean Scalmer
Monash University Publishing, 2016
Paperback, $29.95.

Foreign minister Julie Bishop was quick to reiterate the Australian government’s firm support for Israel and distance it from the December 24 vote on UN Security Council resolution 2334 reaffirming the illegality of Israeli settlements on occupied Palestinian territories.

The resolution was passed by the Security Council, with the United States abstaining rather than vetoing the vote, as it has traditionally done with resolutions that have criticised Israel.

When Donald Trump is sworn in as president on January 20, he will take over the running of the US intelligence agencies — the CIA, FBI, NSA etc — that have brought charges to discredit the outcome of his election.

The Electoral College has rubberstamped Trump’s election and Congress has ratified it. The storm over allegations of Russian interference in last year’s elections will pass as The Leader takes charge and cleans house in these agencies.

But there are some things that should be noted about this brouhaha.

More than 500 participants gathered at the Trade Union Congress headquarters in London on November 26 for the annual Latin America Adelante conference, now in its 12th year.

With more than 70 different speakers and 30 different workshops and plenary sessions, plus the concurrent Alborada film festival, Latin America Adelante has become one of the most important and well-known gatherings of solidarity with a continent that is increasingly facing a right-wing neoliberal backlash.

As thousands joined Cuban President Raul Castro to say goodbye to his brother, Fidel, the younger brother imparted one of Fidel's dying wishes: that his image and name never adorn public places, from streets and parks to government institutions.

"Fidel was always against the cult of personality until his dying days," said Raul Castro. "He was consistent with that attitude, insisting that after his death his name and figure never be used to name plazas, avenues, streets and other public places, as well as the building of statues."

While Fidel Castro is known as a committed internationalist, supporting independence movements in Angola to South Africa, Nicaragua and even French Polynesia, less is known about his support for the Irish struggle, TeleSUR English said on December 2.

But in 1981, when Irish Republican prisoners were in the midst of a historic hunger strike against the British state, it was Fidel who once again sided with the oppressed.

Earlier this year, a poll found the British public were generally proud of their country’s role in colonialism and the British Empire. The YouGov poll from January found 44% were proud of Britain’s history of colonialism, while only 21% regretted it. The same poll also asked about whether the British Empire was a good thing or a bad thing: 43% said it was good, while only 19% said it was bad. 

For years, those who had hoped and prayed for his death were repeatedly disappointed by a photo, a news clip or a commentary in that unmistakable style.

The rumours always proved unfounded. Fidel Castro, who had dodged some 600 attempts on his life orchestrated by the CIA, was very much alive and making the most of his twilight years.

There were no rumours this time. His brother Raul, voice quavering with emotion, read out a brief statement on TV and a sombre stillness descended on the Cuban archipelago.

The spectrum of Palestinian groups have expressed gratitude to late Cuban revolutionary Fidel Castro as a friend of Palestine’s struggle for liberation, TeleSUR English said on November 27.

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