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Anti-government protests in Bahrain, 2011.

Sectarian Gulf: Bahrain, Saudi Arabia & the Arab Spring That Wasn’t
Toby Matthiesen
Stanford University Press, 2013

In 2011, when a wave of protest and rebellion swept the Arab world, the monarchical states making up the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) were not exempt from the unrest.

What Happened, Miss Simone?
Directed by Liz Garbus
Distributed by Netflix

Liz Garbus' beautifully composed and riveting documentary What Happened, Miss Simone? honours the African American musician and civil rights activist who came to be known as “The High Priestess of Soul”.

Showers off Lake Xolotlan sprinkled the huge crowds massed on July 19 for the 36th anniversary of the triumph of Nicaragua's popular revolution over the murderous tyranny of the Anastasio Somoza dictatorship in 1979. The revolution was led by the Sandinista National Liberation Front (FSLN).

“When I graduated from high school - Catholic high school - in 1983, I didn't even think that this would ever be on the map,” said Jeff Mead, now a middle school teacher from San Francisco.

The “map” that Mead was referring to took on a drastically new appearance on June 26 when the US Supreme Court announced its five-four decision to strike down state laws banning same-sex marriage. This effectively legalised such marriages across the US.


Fans at a US college football match.

It is a rare day when we wonder what National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) coaches are saying about racial justice and social change in the United States.

“Protesters rallied in Columbia on Tuesday to demand the flag's removal from South Carolina's state capitol,” the BBC reported on June 24.

The protest comes in the aftermath of the racist mass murder carried by Dylann Roof on June 17 in Charleston, South Carolina. Roof, who killed nine people in a historic African American church, was photographed with the flag, which still flies over the state's capitol.


President Nicolas Maduro supported reparations for slavery after a ceremony that paid tribute to Afro-Venezuelan independence fighter Pedro Camejo.

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro expressed support on June 24 for the Caribbean call for reparations from their former colonial powers.


The original African Methodist Episcopal church, Charleston, which was burned down by a white mob after Denmark Vesey's planned slave uprising in 1822.

The mass murder of nine African Americans in Charleston, South Carolina, by a white racist on June 17 has been widely denounced. But to understand this hate crime — a terrorist attack — it has to be put into the broader political context.

The BBC’s Panorama program on May 28 made explosive revelations about British state collusion with paramilitaries in the north of Ireland occupied by Britain. It implicates British authorities in the murder of hundreds of people, and in subsequent cover-ups.

The documentary, titled “Britain’s Secret Terror Deals”, detailed the vast scale of British security forces' involvement with illegal paramilitary groups, running thousands of informants and agents.

Serial killers

Thomas Sankara: An African Revolutionary
By Ernest Harsch
Ohio University Press, 2014
163 pages, $18.56.

A popular uprising in 1983 in Upper Volta (now Burkina Faso), a small and poor land-locked country in western Africa, had led to an obscure, but charismatic army officer becoming head of state.

This was inspiring news for those looking for a new breakthrough against imperialism. It had come after the depressing news that Margaret Thatcher's Britain had defeated Argentina in the Malvinas and Ronald Reagan's United States had crushed Grenada's revolution.

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