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Hong Kong vote bill fails

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Hong Kong MPs have thrown out a bill proposed by China that would tighten its control over how the country’s leader, known as the chief executive, is elected. Only eight of the 70 MPs voted for the change.

The original move to alter the already undemocratic elections, decided by a 1,200-member committee loyal to the government in Beijing, to one where candidates had to be selected from a Chinese approved list, triggered one of the biggest mass movements in the former British colony’s history.

Students sell sex to pay for education

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A study released earlier this year made the headline-grabbing claim that 5 percent of students are sex workers.

The Student Sex Work Project, based at Swansea University, was set up to explore the specific experiences of student sex workers and review support networks and advice centres inside Higher Education.

The study has reignited debates around sex work, choice and sexuality. Sex work is defined as “the exchange of sexual services, performances and products for material compensation”.

Syria: regime in retreat

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It has been a disastrous few months for the regime of Bashar Assad in Syria following a string of military defeats at the hands of rebels.

Assad’s forces have been driven out of the northern province of Idlib, while his troops are said to be planning to abandon the key eastern city of Deir el-Zour to the Islamic State (ISIS). His grip on Aleppo, once the economic powerhouse, is also slipping.

War on ISIS backfires

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The Coalition campaign to destroy the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) has failed to dent the Islamist movement.

Despite thousands of bombing missions by Western warplanes, the Iraqi army and its Syrian counterpart continue to retreat in the face of a few hundred determined fighters.

The Coalition and its allies promised earlier this year that they were about to retake Mosul, Iraq’s second city that fell to ISIS during its lightning offensive last summer. Instead it is the newly rearmed Iraqi army that is once again in retreat.

Rohingya refugees set adrift to die

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People from a fishing village in Aceh organised a dramatic rescue to save hundreds of migrants who were in peril off Indonesia after they were shunned by navies in the region.

The refugees, who are from a Muslim minority, are fleeing persecution in Myanmar and Bangladesh.

The Thai navy threatened to open fire on their vessel if it attempted to land. Malaysia and Indonesia gave them a similar welcome.

Aceh, which was devastated by the 2004 tsunami, is desperately poor. But despite this, its people rushed to rescue the refugees.

Gallery bosses sack Candy

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The National Gallery in London has sacked leading PCS public service workers’ union rep Candy Udwin in a bitter fight over privatisation.

National Gallery bosses wanted to privatise 400 out of 600 jobs as part of its plans for the gallery.

In response the PCS union launched a campaign of strike action that won a number of concessions, including the living wage.

The strike left management with red faces. Now bosses want to take their revenge. They shipped in a union busting firm and targetted Candy.

Egypt regime arrests revolutionaries

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The Egyptian state has once again arrested Mahienour el-Massry.

Mahienour, along with renowned revolutionary Youssef Shaaban and six others, has been charged with storming the al-Raml police station in the Mediterranean city of Alexandria in March 2013.

On the day a small group of demonstrators staged a protest outside the trial of policemen accused of murdering political blogger Khaled Said, whose death triggered the 25 January revolution.

Battle for tower Hamlets

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Rabina Khan, mayoral candidate for Tower Hamlets, has launched her campaign with a strong anti-austerity and anti-racist message.

The election on 11 June was called after the government intervened to depose former mayor Lutfur Rahman.

The election has become a key battle for democracy. Eric Pickles, the Tory communities and local government secretary, deposed Rahman in April and is running the borough through unelected commissioners — among them Chris Allison, the former assistant commissioner of the Metropolitan Police.

Spanish left poll triumph

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Local and regional elections in the Spanish state on 24 May saw a significant battering for the mainstream conservative Popular Party (PP) and Socialist Party (PSOE), as well as significant advances for anti-austerity and social movement forces.

The PP vote dropped from 37 percent in the last equivalent elections to 27 percent. It lost 2.5 million votes.

Migrants condemned to drown at sea

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A general election campaign marred by grotesque levels of racism has been punctured by some of the most graphic images of the effect of racism — the bodies of the hundreds of migrants drowned in the Mediterranean Sea during attempts to build a better life away from war and poverty. The images have touched millions across Europe, and hundreds of thousands in the UK, interrupting the depressing competition between the mainstream parties about who can out-Ukip Ukip to win a racist’s vote.

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