Smiling NSW Liberal Premier Mike Baird is showing himself to be yet another ruthless political gangster for the billionaire class and a wide range of people are uniting in resistance to his assaults on democracy. On March 13, contingents from all around NSW joined in protest against the state Liberal government's attempts to remove the democratic rights of local communities by forcing amalgamation of almost half of the state’s local councils, reducing the number of councils from 152 to 112.
Freedom Is a Constant Struggle: Ferguson, Palestine and the Foundations of a Movement By Angela Davis Haymarket Books, 2016 180 pages, $15.95. In the summer of 2014, images spread across the world of protesters in Ferguson, Missouri, facing off against police in riot gear, driving tanks and hurling tear gas grenades in the wake of the police shooting of Black teenager Michael Brown.
The Victorian Environment Protection Authority is expected to file 12 air pollution charges against the Hazelwood power station operator, GDF Suez, over the Morwell coalmine fire. The fire burned for 45 days in 2014, covering Morwell in smoke and ash. Residents were advised to leave by health authorities. An inquiry found GDF Suez had failed to adequately prepare for the fire, which was sparked by a nearby bushfire, and that the fire probably contributed to increased deaths in the region.
A broad coalition of forces continues to challenge anti-protest legislation tabled in the Western Australian state parliament. If passed, the broad powers of the Criminal Code Amendment (Prevention of Lawful Activity) Bill will make it a criminal offence to be in possession of an unnamed “thing” or to disrupt "lawful activities". The bill also threatens two year’s jail and $24,000 fines for impeding lawful activity. Widely criticised by environmental, social justice, and legal campaigners the law smashes free speech and criminalises peaceful protest.
Earlier this month, a 10-year-old Aboriginal girl took her own life in a small Kimberly community near the town of Derby in Western Australia. It is believed that her life leading to her suicide was marred by “trauma and tragedy” and she had previously witnessed the suicide of a close family member.
Linc Energy will stand trial on five charges that it breached Queensland's environmental laws at its underground coal gasification site. The Department of Environment and Heritage Protection (DEHP) has accused the company of wilfully causing serious harm at its trial site near Chinchilla on the Darling Downs.
Hundreds rallied and marched in Sydney and Melbourne on March 12 to protest the federal government's "review" of the Safe Schools program. They were there to show support for the program, which aims to promote acceptance of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender students and addresses issues of bullying and vilification of young people who may be confused about or questioning their sexuality or gender identity. About 500 schools around Australia have signed up to the Safe Schools Coalition, which is convened by the Foundation for Young Australians.
"This is a law to protect the rich. We will need to break these laws to protect our democratic rights," Aboriginal activist and lead NSW Senate candidate for the Socialist Alliance team in the federal elections Ken Canning, said on March 15.
My name is Ken Canning. My traditional name is Burraga Gutya. My people are the Kunja clan of the Bidjara Nation of what is now called south-western Queensland. I was raised mainly on the coast of Queensland and in Brisbane and, although I have lived in Sydney since the late 1970s, I am still a very proud Murri. I have been fortunate that since living in Sydney the local Koori community has always taken me in and I feel very much at home here. Many First Nations peoples now living in Sydney are from all over this country and from many different nations.
An important conference for activists will be held in Sydney on May 13 to 15. “Socialism for the 21st Century” will focus on deepening the discussion about the theory and practice of the socialist movement today. Conference organiser Susan Price told Green Left Weekly that the conference would discuss the challenges of building movements for radical social change while taking the struggle into capitalist institutions, such as parliaments and councils.
The Refugee Action Coalition Sydney released this statement on March 13. * * * An Iranian Arab refugee was held naked and handcuffed for a night and a day at the Nauru police station after he was arrested on March 10. The refugee, who also works for Connect, an Australian service provider for refugees on the island, was arrested after police were called to an argument between the refugee and a local shopkeeper. Even though the shopkeeper declined to make any formal complaint, the police arrested the refugee.
On March 17, after a two-day meeting held in the town of Girkê Legê (Al-Muabbada) in Rojava (Syrian Kurdistan), a Constituent Assembly established a “Rojava-Northern Syria Democratic Federal System”. The Constituent Assembly was attended by 31 parties and 200 delegates representing Rojava's Kobanê, Efrîn and Cizîrê cantons and the Kurdish, Arab, Assyrian, Syriac, Armenian, Turkmen and Chechen peoples of Girê Spî (Tal Abyad), Shaddadi, Aleppo and Shehba regions.
During the early days of his campaign to be US president, Democratic hopeful Bernie Sanders wondered if the crowds that he saw on the street were headed to a baseball game, only to be told: “Actually they are on the way to hear you”. This story illustrates how the Sanders message of free education, affordable health care, a $15 minimum wage, taxing the mega-rich and support for renewable energy has taken off. Young Americans — the millennials — facing unpayable student debts, unaffordable health care, low wages and climate change inaction, are flocking to his campaign.
The federal government continues to drag its feet on marriage equality. It is now clear that Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull will not initiate a marriage equality plebiscite before the end of the year, as promised. LGBTI community organisations are increasingly losing patience with delays and broken promises. Australian Marriage Equality national director Rodney Croome described a plebiscite as “an incredibly costly and harmful opinion poll”, after PriceWaterhouseCoopers estimated it would cost $525 million.
Members of the National Tertiary Education Union and the Education Action Group at the University of Sydney rallied on March 16 against the university's proposed cuts to faculties and degrees. The protest was called in response to Chancellor Belinda Hutchinson announcing, shortly before Christma, that the University senate had passed a plan to restructure the University.
NASA dropped a bombshell of a climate report on March 11. February 2016 has soared past all rivals as the warmest seasonally adjusted month in more than a century of global recordkeeping. NASA's analysis showed that February ran 1.35°C above the 1951-1980 global average for the month, as can be seen in the graph of monthly anomalies going back to 1880.