1129

There’s a new bogey man on the block.

It is credited with the rise of brazenly crude figures such as Donald Trump and Pauline Hanson. It is behind outrageous-sounding propositions like Safe Schools, anti-discrimination laws and gender equality. It is running around Melbourne, putting a tiny skirt on the little figure on traffic lights.

In this increasingly polarised political climate, political correctness has emerged as the new villain.

Quito-based research institute, the International Centre for Advanced Studies in Communications for Latin America (CIESPAL), has decided against renewing its contract with the British security company G4S after meeting with BDS activists who informed it about G4S’s complicity with Israeli violations of Palestinian human rights. 

With the passage of the Climate Change Act (CCA) that mandates a target of zero net emissions by 2050, Victoria is formally in the leadership among state and federal governments. 

A study by student advocacy group End Rape on Campus has revealed the systemic failure of some of Australia’s highest ranking universities to deal with rape and sexual harassment allegations.

Over the past five years, more than 500 complaints of sexual assault — including 145 complaints of rape on campus — were made to the university administrations of several high-profile universities across NSW, ACT, Victoria and WA:.

Of these allegations, End Rape on Campus reported that only six cases — just 1.2% — resulted in the expulsion of the alleged perpetrators.

On March 7, Victoria became the first state in Australia to permanently ban hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”), the dangerous process used to mine unconventional gas. This important victory sets the stage for other states to follow.

The Victorian government has also decided to extend the moratorium on onshore conventional gas drilling until June 30, 2020.

Ecuador will return to the polls on April 2 after a first round presidential vote failed to deliver a decisive victory for Lenin Moreno, the candidate seeking to continue outgoing President Rafael Correa’s pro-poor “Citizens’ Revolution”.  

Moreno now faces the challenge of ensuring Ecuador does not join the list of countries in the region where the left has recently lost at the ballot box.  

A large commercial beekeeper in Darlington Point in the Riverina, southern NSW, has been forced to pack up and move after hundreds of beehives were devastated by pesticide-drift from nearby cotton farms. It is thought the bees died due to the spraying of neonicotinoid insecticides.

Monsanto, one of the world’s biggest pesticide and seed corporations and leading developer of genetically modified crop varieties, had a stock market value of US$66 billion in 2014. It has gained this position by a combination of deceit, threat, litigation, destruction of evidence, falsified data, bribery, takeovers and cultivation of regulatory bodies.

Thousands of unionists attended protests around the country on March 9 in opposition to the federal government's new building code, the reintroduction of the Australian Building and Construction Commission (ABCC) and its planned penalty rate cuts.

The rallies were called by the CFMEU Construction Division and supported by the ACTU and individual unions. Community anger against the cuts to wages and conditions was palpable.

There have been destructive attacks on the homeless in the past year in Melbourne, but the vitriolic hate campaign and physical attacks on the street, and on squatters, has reached a deadly level: murder. 

Just before midnight on March 1, a cowardly arson attack set off a blazing fire at Kinnear’s rope factory in Footscray, which took 40 minutes for the fire brigade to control. Three squatters were tragically killed: Tanya Burmeister and her 15- year-old daughter Zoe were among the dead.

The campaign against the NSW Coalition government's controversial WestConnex tollway is mounting. In addition to various locality groups maintaining their protests, a combined rally — “Grand Theft WestConnex — has been called outside NSW State Parliament on March 30 from 4.30pm.

The rally has been endorsed by a number of anti-WestConnex groups, and is seeking further endorsements. The rally is demanding that the $1.6 billion federal loan for WestConnex, which is yet to be paid, be stopped.

Protest in Tbilisi, Georgia.

Women were striking, protesting, and rallying for their rights across the United States and around the world on March 8 in honor of International Women's Day.

In January, the Socialist Alliance decided to embrace animal rights when it adopted a new animal welfare policy.

The Socialist Alliance has the twin aims of fighting the capitalist system and pursuing freedom from all forms of oppression. The animal welfare policy continues that goal in aiming to better the lives of animals.

The public debate over the problems of electricity supply displays a curious disconnect. On the one hand, there is virtually universal agreement that the system is in crisis. After 25 years, the promised outcomes of reform in the electricity industry — cheaper and more reliable electricity, competitive markets and rational investment decisions — are further away than ever. 

A hastily called International Women's Day rally attracted around 150 people in Brisbane on March 11. Speakers condemned the state parliament's failure to pass laws decriminalising abortion, expressed solidarity with transwomen and Muslim women and pointed to the many ongoing attacks and campaigns for women's liberation. One person carrying a transphobic sign was answered by an expression of trans solidarity from the rally platform, widely and enthusiastically supported in the crowd.

Sex workers and their allies held their first public rally for law reform and an end to stigma in Brisbane on March 8.

[Photos by Kamala Emanuel. Full report here.]

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