Moments before Julia Gillard was whisked away from the angry crowd, losing her shoe in the process, she began an awards ceremony speech with these words: “Can I start by acknowledging the traditional owners of the land on which we meet and in the spirit of reconciliation pay my respects to elders past and present.” It was an expression she had used many times before, like an eastern mantra. A brief check of her press website shows she had said these exact words on 19 and 20 January 2012, 18 November 2011, 21 and 4 October 2011, and 1 Jan 2011.
Substantial changes proposed for East Timor’s Petroleum Fund law will expose the nation’s finances to high risk and open the door to corruption. Just a few years ago the fund was widely praised as a model of prudential and sustainable management, and a means of possibly escaping the “resource curse” of waste and corruption. That is all about to change. East Timor's AMP government, led by Xanana Gusmao, has a bill before parliament that removes most of the prudential controls on the fund.
The proposal for a carbon tax raises the issues of tax equity and political strategy. Yet despite their inter-relatedness, we need to disentangle these issues to focus on the original question. As a mean of addressing climate change, the carbon tax proposal comes in the context of difficult global negotiations, where almost any proposal has been seen as a breakthrough, and where (after the last financial derivatives bubble) there is justified suspicion of emissions trading schemes.
Australian illusions about Labor are likely to have more serious consequences in the very near future. Unable to charter any real alternatives to the neoliberal formula of war, privatisation and social exclusion, Labor’s pseudo-social democracy will fail, delivering us to neo-fascist regimes and multiple global crises. The Labor government of Julia Gillard will be replaced by as ugly a bunch of thugs as we have ever seen; just as Obama will be replaced by the same neo-fascists that drew us into a series of bloody wars.
Misunderstandings over Cuba run very deep — and not just among the enemies of socialism or those who have had little contact with the country. Naturally, people are influenced by the corporate media, which wages a ferocious and relentless propaganda campaign against the little independent island. As former Chilean president Salvador Allende, whose elected government was overthrown in a US military backed coup on September 11, 1973, told the Chilean Senate in 1960: “Day by day and minute by minute … [the corporate media monopolies] misrepresent what is happening in Cuba.”
Unexpectedly, it seems to me, a great opportunity for social change has emerged. This might seem strange, with another neo-fascist on the verge of becoming Australian Prime Minister. However remember that real change comes from widespread social participation, over longer periods.
A major split over the US blockade of Cuba has emerged between domestic “dissidents” in Cuba and their former partners in Miami. The US corporate media is paying attention to what appears to be a new anti-Cuban strategy. A letter signed by 74 of the “dissidents” on the island calls for an end to Washington’s ban on US citizens travelling to Cuba. On the other hand, most of the Cuban-American members of Congress are fiercely defending the nearly 50-year-old economic blockade in all its forms. The “new contras” are now up against the old.
The same weekend that Tasmanian Labor Premier David Bartlett congratulated the Tasmanian Greens on their “slick” electoral campaign — comparing it to that of US President Barack Obama — the NSW Greens refused to take part in an anti-war rally, afraid it reflected too heavily on the president.
On March 15, Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, spruiking his plans to revamp Australia’s ailing health care system, was told by Queanbeyan Doctor Jeannie Ellis, who has spent some time in Cuba, that he should look to the Caribbean island for ideas on how to develop a decent public health system.
US-Venezuelan lawyer Eva Golinger points out in her books exposing US intervention into Venezuela that the constant stream of lies about Venezuela and its popular President Hugo Chavez are best seen as the leading edge of an integrated strategy of destabilisation and “regime change” for the socialist-oriented, oil-rich nation.