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Despite Boris Johnson’s “Bung a Bob” crowdfunding appeal, Big Ben will not “bong for Brexit” at 11pm on 31st January. The Parliamentary Standards Committee has put its foot down and blocked the idea. Instead, the Tory government will project a countdown clock onto the wall of 10 Downing Street. So much for taking back control.

The election victory for Boris Johnson opens up a new, convulsive chapter in Britain. Rather than stabilise the situation, as the capitalist commentators believe, it will further intensify this epoch of instability. We are in a period of sharp and sudden changes, which is a reflection of the deep crisis of capitalism today.

The Lebanese Revolution has resurged after a period of relative inactivity, with protesters declaring a “week of rage" amid a continuing economic and political crisis. The struggling Lebanese pound and capital controls on foreign cash have provoked a new wave of indignation that has sharpened the stances of both the demonstrators and the state. The last two days have seen hundreds injured and arrested.

Antonio Gramsci died in 1937, after spending nearly ten years in prison under Mussolini’s fascist regime. All these years later, his ideas and legacy are still being debated and reinterpreted. Who was Gramsci? All manner of weird and wonderful answers have been given to this question, with plenty of distortions, if not outright historical falsifications, from petit-bourgeois academics and intellectuals, to revisionists in the labour movement.

We spoke with Leonid Shaidurov: a 17-year-old activist who has played a leading role in the School Strikes for Climate movement in Russia. He has helped organise students in schools and is a member of both the coordination council for Fridays for Future internationally and the organisational committee in Russia. He agreed to be interviewed in order to give advice to school students hoping to build on the movement around climate change.

The battle in France over Macron’s reactionary pension reform passed its 40th day on 13 January. A fourth interprofessional strike last Thursday and follow-up protests on the weekend brought hundreds of thousands onto the streets yet again, and further days of action have been declared up until 16 January.

The results of Taiwan’s presidential and legislative elections were largely as expected. Incumbent President Tsai Ing-wen won over 8.1 million votes (57 percent), defeating the KMT’s populist candidate Han Kuo-yu, who got 39 percent of the votes. Tsai’s Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) maintains its majority in the Legislative Yuan (Taiwan’s parliament), while the newly established conservative Taiwan People’s Party (TPP) replaces the liberal New Power Party (NPP) as the third-largest party in the Legislative Yuan. Behind these seemingly clear results, however, lurk significant contradictions. The Taiwanese workers, youth and oppressed still need to actively seek their own political

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The movement that has shaken Hong Kong to its foundations shows few signs of losing steam. It has entered 2020 with a mass protest of up to 1 million people on New Year’s day, proving that it has retained the support of the majority of the population despite all the storm and stress of the past six months.

The National Executive Committee (NEC) of the Labour Party have fired the starter pistol for the race to succeed Jeremy Corbyn. The main contestants have bolted out of the gates, with six candidates already announcing their intention to stand for the top job. But it is clear that the battle for the leadership position is a two-horse race.

At the time of writing these lines, the outcome of the struggle that began on 5 December is still uncertain. The government has made clear that it will not back down on the key elements of its “reform” (a counter-reform, in reality). Faced with this, the striking workers have demonstrated exemplary courage and militancy.

The birth of the New Year was celebrated with the usual razzmatazz. In London, revellers welcomed the start of a new decade with fireworks displays, as did many people in Edinburgh and other major cities. No doubt, Britain’s new Prime Minister Boris Johnson was celebrating even more enthusiastically than most other people. Having won the 2019 general election with a handsome majority, he is now free to lead the nation to a successful conclusion of the Brexit negotiations. That, at least, is the theory.

Those who follow the situation in Morocco can see that the repressive dictatorial regime has become more and more frenzied, and the police state has tightened its repressive grip on everyone and everything. They are arresting those who protest, who sing, who criticise, who write, and who show solidarity with those arrested.

Early Friday morning (3 Jan 2020), in an act of supreme arrogance the Trump administration carried out the killing of Iranian General Qassem Soleimani, as well as top Iraqi paramilitary leader Abu Mahdi al-Mohandes in Baghdad airport. Yet again, US imperialism is adding to the instability in the Middle East.

Note: this dramatic development means we have postponed Alan Woods’ new year article, which will be published tomorrow.