Opinion

Tackling drug dependency

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Dundee is the drug deaths capital of Europe. Jim Barlow assesses the strengths and weaknesses of the recent Dundee Drugs Commission report, which suggests a number of approaches to a complex issue.

The Dundee Drugs Commission report published last autumn signified a major break with the policies around drug dependency pursued by successive UK governments ever since US president Richard Nixon launched the War on Drugs in the US in 1971.

It followed increasing concern about the issue in Scotland in general and Dundee in particular. In 2018 some 1,187 people died in Scotland from drug causes, with 53 of them recorded in Dundee. That’s one family a week in Dundee losing a family member to drug-induced death.

Battles ahead in Spanish state

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Catalan independence colours the results of the fourth general election in the Spanish state since 2015, as the far right party VOX makes major gains and the left loses support. Héctor Puente Sierra explains.

The Spanish general election on 10 November saw the possibility of a left wing coalition government but also the horrifying growth of the far-right party VOX to become the third force in parliament.

This is the fourth general election since December 2015, underpinning four years of political turmoil and instability.

Spain has been a stark example of the social polarisation and erosion of the neoliberal centre that followed the 2008 economic crisis, with the Labour-type PSOE and conservative PP becoming shadows of their former selves.

Andrew: parasite and pariah

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The exposure of Prince Andrew as an unapologetic ally of sexual abuser Jeffrey Epstein should serve as a reminder that the royals and their establishment friends treat people as commodities, writes Judy Cox.

Prince Andrew’s spectacular fall from “playboy prince” to international pariah means that all his hideous, arrogant bullying has been exposed. Skeletons are being pulled daily from his stuffed closet.

Uprisings are driven by common trends

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The protests around the globe may not be a coordinated wave, but they share long-term roots, writes Joseph Choonara.

Chile: millions on the streets, protests and strikes amid images of burning buildings. Ecuador: the government flees the capital in the face of demonstrations. Hong Kong: five months of pitched battles between police and protesters. Catalonia: a general strike in response to the jailing of pro-independence politicians.

Off the Shelf: Fontamara

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Fontamara was a literary phenomenon when first published in 1933. To many readers, it quickly became the great anti-fascist novel, translated into 27 other languages and selling over 1.5 million copies around the world.

The Fontamara (bitter spring) of the title is a fictional village in the Abruzzo region of central Italy. The bulk of the population work the earth to survive, emigrate if that proves impossible, and are largely ignorant of events in the outside world. Mussolini might as well be governing from Mars as far as they’re concerned.

Culture Clash: Superheroes are cinema too

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Three giants of cinema have come out against the phenomenally successful series of superhero films produced by Marvel.

In early October Martin Scorsese argued Marvel films were “not cinema” and were more theme parks than films. Shortly after Francis Ford Coppola called Marvel films “despicable”.

Most recently the great socialist film director Ken Loach declared superhero films “boring”, “nothing to do with cinema” and a “cynical exercise” to make profits for big corporations.

Angela Davis: America's Most Wanted

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In the second of three columns looking at the life, politics and activism of Angela Davis, we hear how her arrest made her an international symbol of resistance

It’s 1969, and Angela Davis is now an assistant professor at the University of California in Los Angeles. Unfortunately for Davis, the Governor of California at the time was Ronald Reagan who, alongside the university’s senior management, embark on a witch hunt against her.

They first tried to to fire her on the grounds of being a member of the communist party, but a judge dismisses the case; but not before more than 1,500 students attend her lectures out of solidarity.

Hong Kong: Tactics are up for debate

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Last month we spoke to Hong Kong revolutionary socialist Lam Chi Leung about the mass movement. Following events in the past month, as well as reponses from readers, we caught up with him again.

How is the mood in Hong Kong since Carrie Lam announced the withdrawal of the Extradition Bill on 4 September?

Lam’s announcement was largely a case of striking a pose. As early as mid-June she had halted the legislative change, but she had avoided using the word “withdrawal”. More noteworthy is the fact that she completely refused to accept the remaining four demands of the mass movement (for an independent commission to investigate police violence, the withdrawal of the “riot” designation, the release of arrested protestors, and genuine universal suffrage).

From segregation to black liberation

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This is the first of three columns looking at the life, politics and activism of Angela Davis, a living icon for revolutionaries

Angela Davis is an icon for many, a fighter for black and women’s liberation and a revolutionary to the core. But some seem to forget the revolutionary bit.

Davis’s childhood was defined by racism, violence, fear and resistance, shaping who she went on to become.

Trump forced onto back foot by Iran

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Donald Trump has learned that the Middle East is a complex and dangerous place where bellicose threats on Twitter count for little.

The US president has been talking up the threat of war on Iran since he came to office, prompted no doubt by Israel and Saudi Arabia, which have long feared the growing Iranian influence in an era of declining American power in the region.

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