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Australia's political firestorm

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The startling effects of climate change have highlighted the global catastrophe for people who might have thought they were immune. Camilla Royle explains the political context of the crisis and Caitlin Doyle looks at why the government wants business as usual, despite the evidence.

The huge fires ripping through the Australian bush over the past few months have brought climate change home. Although people in the Global South are the most vulnerable, and the fires come at the same time as devastating floods in Jakarta, Indonesia, the climate catastrophe is also reaching the wealthier countries.

Lecturers head back into battle

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Tens of thousands of university workers are set to go on strike this month. Michael Bradley looks at the roots of the dispute and the debates about strategy within the movement.

Tens of thousands of lecturers across Britain, organised by the University and College Union (UCU), are set to come out on strike for up to 14 days in February and March in a dispute over pensions, pay, workload, equalities and casualisation. More than 40,000 workers have already taken part in eight days of strike action last December.

Love me Tinder, love me true…?

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Online dating has taken off spectacularly in the past decade, with up to 200 million users around the world. Sarah Bates asks how much services such as Tinder change the ways we relate to each other.

Are we living through a “Tinder revolution”? Has finding partners been radically transformed by new technological routes to sexual gratification? In some ways, it has — it’s estimated that 200 million people around the world use the internet to find romantic and/or sexual partners.

Statistics vary, but one piece of research found that 39 percent of heterosexual couples and 70 percent of same sex couples in the US met online.

Should we build more houses?

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The answer seems obvious but, as thermal efficiency expert Fergus Nicol says, once global warming and energy conservation are factored in, the solution to the housing crisis is more complicated.

The shortage of housing, particularly for people on low incomes, is a major issue. The extent of the shortage is made visible by the number of homeless people forced to sleep rough on the streets. According to research by the housing charity Shelter, at least 320,000 people are homeless in Britain, with more than 4,000 of these sleeping rough. The need for council housing vastly outstrips supply, with around 1.24 million UK households on local authority waiting lists.

Vasily Grossman always sided with the oppressed

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Some have tried to claim Russian author Vasily Grossman, whose novels Life and Fate and the newly translated Stalingrad are considered masterpieces, as a supporter of the West and proponent of rugged individualism. Bob Light reclaims him for a radical tradition that rejects all rulers.

When he died in September 1964 just one English-language publication considered the Russian writer Vasily Grossman worthy of a memorial, with only the New York Times carrying a perfunctory hundred-word unsigned obituary. None of his writing was available outside Russia, and next-to-none was available inside Russia. In the sub-zero atmosphere of the Cold War in the “West” Grossman was just another Stalin-period hack; in the Russian empire he was an unreliable has-been who could not find a publisher.

A bloody bitter pill

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The reasons for the Tory victory extend back beyond Jeremy Corbyn’s time as Labour Party leader and beyond Brexit. Joseph Choonara explains and points a way forward.

Yes, this was the Brexit election. Yes, Jeremy Corbyn, the most decent figure to lead a major British party in recent history, was subjected to a campaign of slander in the media, aided and abetted by the right-wing of the Labour Party. This was indeed the context in which Labour’s “red wall” of formerly safe seats in the north of England and Midlands came crashing down, paving the way for Boris Johnson’s landslide election victory.

But the wall began crumbling long before — back when Corbyn was a peripheral figure within the Parliamentary Labour Party.

Interview: Labour and the weaponising of antisemitism

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Tony Lerman is one of the authors of Bad News for Labour: Antisemitism, the party and public belief (Pluto, 2019). Rob Ferguson and Sophia Beach spoke to him about the Labour Party, antisemitism and the rise of the far right.

Rob: Bad News for Labour focuses on how news coverage of the debate over antisemitism in Labour has developed and, in particular, the disparity between actual numbers of allegations of antisemitism and the public perception of the level of antisemitism in Labour.

1919: Britain's forgotten war on Russia

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As celebrations commenced at the signing of the General Armistice that ended the First World War, the British army, among others, decided to continue hostilities, this time against the new Soviet Republic of Russia. Steve Guy tells the story of this shady episode in British history.

When the Russian revolution finally toppled the Tsarist autocracy in November 1917 and swept Lenin and the Bolsheviks into power, one of their first acts was to seek a peace settlement with the Central Powers, Germany and Austro-Hungary. In December an armistice was signed, formally ending hostilities on the Eastern Front.

A year of hope and horror

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Looking back at the world of 2019 we can see examples of fantastic bravery and resistance in the face of fierce state repression, but also attempts by the right to gain ground. Sally Campbell asks what awaits us in the year to come.

This year Graffiti has appeared on walls from Hong Kong to Santiago reading, “We won’t return to normality, because normality was the problem.”

As a slogan it expresses well the predicament of the moment. For the past decade “normality” has meant misery for millions of people across the globe, as working class people and the poor were made to pay for the last economic crisis.

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